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Frustrations Abound!

August 17, 2010

Don’t get me wrong.  I love deadlines.  I thrive on deadlines.  I would not survive in a world without deadlines.

But whenever I am surprised by (or suddenly given) a deadline, I reserve the right to freak out a little.

Today it happened when a reference librarian at my alma mater (Indiana State University) e-mailed me with a deadline for a chapter in a book he’s editing about library spaces as a marketing tool.  (My bit is on finding a balance between new technology and traditional library services so as to attract new users without alienating old school bibliophiles.)  I’m supposed to have a rough draft (read: 10 pages) to him by October 1st.

Cue the deer-in-headlights expression and the dramatic chord.

So as soon as I get the chance, I launch myself back into my research for this topic.  Unfortunately, the databases at my (public) library are somewhat limited – at least compared to what would be offered at an academic library.  So I truck on over to the San Jose State University Library – the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.  I find the database that supposedly has the full-text of an article I want to look at.  As a remote user, I’m asked to log in.  I enter my student ID.  I create a PIN.

But I can’t get in.

The first time this happened (when I was first accepted to the SLIS program and wanted to poke around the databases), I figured I just wasn’t in the system yet.  I sent an e-mail (using the Ask a Librarian) feature to see if this was true.  I got a very vague answer.

So this time, I sent a text message.

Now, at the public library where I work, we’ve had the ability to answer SMS reference questions for a few months now. We route it though Meebo, so our IM and SMS questions get lumped together into one platform.  It’s less we have to keep open on our desktops/laptops, and less to remember.  All around, it’s a good deal.  So I was a little surprised when I got two automated messages from SJSU’s library before getting an actual response to my question.  The real kicker is, I’d mentioned in my initial message that I was a SLIS student.  The answer to my logging-in dilemma?

I’m supposed to come into the library to get it sorted out.  They can’t do it via text.

Cue barbaric yalp.

Maybe their policies are different, but if I have no issue handing out my SID# over SMS…why can’t they?  It’s not like I can stroll into one of San Jose’s library branches after work. I live in South Dakota!

Also, and I shared this with my co-workers, I’m glad that we answer each and every text we get, as we get it.  When you text us, you’re texting a person – never a machine or a vendor-operated system.

All my rage and frustration aside, I’m sure that when I call the San Jose Library system, I’ll be able to get it worked out.  Still, it’s interesting when, as a library worker and someone savvy to most of the possible goings-on behind the scenes, I still experience patron woes.

(Also, you can see the nifty promotional video I made for my library’s texting service below!)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2010 9:56 am

    Not sure, but there might be some ALA guidelines about patron privacy that don’t allow them to accept the SSN any way but in person. I know when I was working at CML we weren’t allowed to let people access their patron records that way. Of course, we also just tried to avoid discussing their records with them over the phone no matter what… but that might have something to do with it.

    • August 18, 2010 10:41 am

      I was finally given the contact information for Access Services. Everything is working now, but if I was able to do that over the phone with AS, why not via text with the library staff? Unless they didn’t have access to that system. I don’t know.

      In the end, it made me feel better about our reference interview procedure/customer service standards.

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