Thursday, March 04, 2010

The most-used portion of most academic library collections is digital. This means that we as librarians are acting more as lost baggage claim agents than connectors of information.
Hypothetical situation:
Customer: "Why can't I open this full-text document? I could yesterday." Librarian: "Well, it seems that the vendor did not forward our check to the document supplier, so they now consider us former subscribers and have cut off our access to the 10 year collection of articles. Please enter your information on the document delivery request [formerly known as interlibrary loan request-th], and you should receive it within 2 business days."
I predict that academic librarians that are furloughed because of library closures or drastically reducing budgets could easily transfer into lost baggage claim agent jobs. We are used to dealing with angry, confused people asking questions about what they were led to trust would happen did not, in fact, happen when they needed it most. A library customer, who really needs a full-text document in order to get their paper done by Friday, accessing the library's online journals collection only to be denied access and told that someone would search for it and deliver within 2 days, can be compared to an airline customer who really needs their suit for tomorrow's interview and is told that they are denied said suit until someone searches for it and delivers within 2 days. Neither customer is fully served, but both have paid in money, time, and lost trust.

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