- At first, he couldn't find the book on the shelf even though the OPAC said it was available.
- After he contacted the librarian (via their IM service), he was informed that it was at the New Arrivals shelf.
- His next problem was not being able to locate the New Arrivals shelf.
Admittedly, this is also a limitation of the our public library's OPAC. The current OPAC system can only display the permanent location.
I had to smile at Kevin's photo. He wrote a note that says "Access Denied" and placed it where the book should be.
Come to think of it, this is a simple solution for library's whose OPAC cannot show the temporary location. If the volume of new arrivals isn't too high, I suppose it's worth the time to place temporary placeholders to direct users to the new arrival shelf.
In the second instance, it appeared that Kevin encountered a "navigational" issue within his library. I've not been to UB library so I can't comment on how clear its directions are.
This isn't a problem unique to libraries. We encounter the same thing in any large and unfamiliar location -- roads, shopping malls.
Kevin's suggestion of having in-library GPS is a dream for many librarians. If the technology becomes cheap enough, I'm sure libraries would be the first to implement it.
But from Kevin's post, I noted several things that were right.
- He got the book eventually!
- The book was acquired by his library, and he learned about it by checking his library's website
- His library provided access to the librarians via Instant Messaging
Systems can be upgraded. Directional signages can be improved.
But I think what's more important is dialogue between library users and librarians.
No system is perfect.
In the midst of running the library, things are overlooked.
I'm glad Kevin blogged about it, and also offered constructive suggestions. I wonder if he sent his UB librarian his blog post link. I know the NLB libraries appreciates -- and acts -- on feedback like this.
Libraries may not be able to right every wrong immediately.
But what tends to tip the scale in favour of users would be the feedback of the majority.
When enough users ask for the same things -- constructively -- it'll be foolish for the library not to act.
Of course not everyone would want to inform the library directly. Libraries need to proactively seek what customers are saying -- in blogs, forums etc.
Or perhaps help from Friends of Libraries to pass those information along.
Libraries and libraries can always use whatever help we can get :)
[Related: 23 Jul 06 - A long term solution for how the library collection is organised?]