Impatient patrons, particularly busy students facing a looming deadline, may not be receptive to bibliographic instruction. While best practices suggest that librarians should find teachable moments and instruct patrons on how to access library resources for themselves, this is not always possible with patrons in a hurry. In the session below, the librarian is faced with an impatient student working on a school assignment. Sometimes, students just want the librarian to email some articles, as in the case with this session:
Patron: the effect of height on speed of tumbling in gymnastics
Patron: Please hurry, my class starts soon
Librarian: Hi, [patron name]!
Librarian: My name is [librarian’s name]. I am a librarian who is helping to answer questions for your library. I am reading what you wrote to see how I can help you...
Librarian: Would this be the height of the gymnast?
Patron: yes the height of the gymnast
Librarian: I'm seeing what I can find.
Patron: it's for the science fair project
Librarian: Okay. Are you thinking that you would need to test this out?
Patron: i need to find specific articles that support the hypothesis that shorter gymnasts tend to do better
Librarian: Ah, okay
Patron: and yes i need to test them out
Librarian: Let me take a look at some databases...
Librarian: [librarian sends link to library databases]
Librarian: These can be accessed with a library card number...
Librarian: Okay, see if you can click on the Science Reference Center at the bottom...
Librarian: "Science magazines, and more! (EBSCO's Science Reference Center)"
Librarian: I did a search for: gymnastics AND height
[librarian sends link to an article matching search results]
Librarian: Can you see this article?
Librarian: "Short bodies and limbs are also easier to spin fast and flip through curves, which is why most gymnasts, figure skaters and ballet dancers are smaller than average."
Librarian: Does that help?
Librarian: It also mentions weight
Librarian: "Daintier athletes fare best at sports such as ultra-distance running and gymnastics, where their superior power to weight ratio gives them an advantage."
Librarian: Can I help you with anything else?
Patron: thanks :)
Patron: I am trying to email the article to myself but it won’t work. Can you send me this article to my email? I have to go, class is starting
Librarian: And is your email: <rpatron’s email> ?
Patron: yes! Thank you!
Librarian: Okay, you will get this transcript sent to your email
[ Librarian adds note to session that she has emailed the article to patron]
Librarian: Thanks for using our service! If you need help with anything else, just contact us again. Goodbye for now...
In this case, the librarian started the reference conversation by clarifying the request to determine what the student needs. Next, the librarian did a focused web search to pull up anything that would help the student with the science fair project – information the student could use to “test it out”. Then the librarian went to the databases of the patron’s library to show the patron (1) which database to use and (2) a suggested search strategy.
This busy student asked the librarian to email the article, and the librarian did so. When is this ok? As with many reference situations, the answer is dependent on circumstances. In this case, the librarian had made sure the student was aware of his library’s databases and how to locate articles on point. The librarian emailed an article that the student had access to – in other words, the librarian did not send an article from her own (chatting librarian) database, which the student would not have access to. So, in this situation, it is fine for the librarian to email an article directly to the student.
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