I apologize for my absence from this blog. Between end of the semester projects and a recent retirement within my department, I have been spread a little thin. However, with the recent changes I have been named as the interim head of the Access Services Department. We are in charge of circulation activities, course reserves, interlibrary loan, and building security. We currently have four full time staff and twenty-two student workers.
The recent change has gotten me thinking about the concept of expectations in academic libraries. A recent post on the Academic Librarian blog touched on this concept through the context of the relationship between librarians and faculty members. I appreciate the candor of Wayne in this post as it helps remind us that we are here to meet the needs of our users. While librarians may feel that they play a different role in that relationship, I feel the following quote puts that relationship into perspective. Wayne writes, “if faculty perceptions of the library are discordant with the perceptions of librarians, why would it make sense to assume the faculty are wrong? Libraries are there to serve researchers, not the other way around. If our professional organizations and our professional excitement aren’t about supporting faculty research, then perhaps we’re excited about the wrong things.”
This quote got me thinking about my unit and the expectations that are placed on us by our users. To explain my situation, I work for a regional university in a nearly bankrupt (or soon to be) state that has to squeeze every penny out of every dollar in our budget. Our budget is, to be kind, stretched to the breaking point. But even with financial limitations, I feel that we should be striving to meet the expectations of our users. The emphasis will be on thinking creatively to overcome the previously alluded to budgetary issues.
One common request from faculty and students is that we pull material and deliver it to them. We do not currently accommodate this request as we do not have the man power to respond to every phone call request, nor are we capable of accommodating delivery requests. The work around for this was to explain to faculty members how to request our specific copy of the item through I-Share. This allowed us to pull the specific book for the faculty member and hold it for them to pick up. This does not address the issue of delivering books to faculty offices, but it does address one of the issues. This may not be a perfect solution, but it did provide an adequate work around.
I am guessing that we will be working on a number of solutions similar to his over the following months as we attempt to meet the needs of our users within the changing structure of our unit. I will keep an eye out for good examples to highlight here.