Yes, we live in that kind of culture. Yes, our society demands satisfaction from us RIGHT NOW. I have never been more aware of this need for speed now that I assist 13-year-olds with their research every day of the week. What is it about waiting for answers that makes us so itchy? Has Google gotten THAT good? Have we gotten that lazy? I ask myself these questions as I sit at this reference desk after I’ve had three different students ask me in a matter of 15 minutes what the difference is between reference and reserves, and why in the world they can’t take these books out of the library. I suppose the library does seem antiquated with it’s rules about not being able to take certain books out and only being able to take out only so many books/dvds/cds to a generation of young people who get whatever they want whenever they want it on the world wide web. This younger generation doesn’t want to be limited. They want access…to EVERYTHING.
In my reference class we’ve been discussing the importance of the different elements of the reference interview. Our professor stresses how important it is to make eye contact and connect with the patron. I’m 100% behind this idea. I’m all for reaching out, walking with the patron into the stacks, and making sure they have everything they need. I just don’t know if the patrons of the future want that. So many of my students/patrons want the quickest of ready reference answers that are good enough. GOOD ENOUGH?! I have a hard time accepting this concept. In fact, I reject this concept until I realize that perhaps they’re not looking for “good enough” and then walking away. Well, they are walking away from me, but not from their purpose. They’re looking for a starting point to leap off the cliff into the chasm of information that is the world they live in. They’re looking for a way in. I think it’s hard for librarians of any stripe to give up that element of detective work. Helping a patron find the right resource is an exhilarating rush. The thrill of the chase is what people in our line of work love. But in an age where the reference is going virtual, I believe we can expect our patrons to love us and leave us in what feels like seconds.
So what do we do? How do we become that efficient for the next generation of information seekers? I have a good idea that could put me on the cover of Time: ”Librarian Discovers Way to Make Brain Work Faster!” Stay tuned for that next big idea.