Reference Desk Observation
For my library observation, I choose the Cleveland County Memorial Library (CCML) in Shelby. There always seemed to be a steady flow of library users anytime I visit and Tuesday, September 4th, was no exception. During an interview with Carol Wilson, the library director, I learned that the library is the busiest during the hours of 3:00 to 7:00, Monday through Thursday. I decided to observe from 4:00 to 6:00.
From where I was sitting, I had a good view of the circulation desk and the computer stations. There were between 3 and 5 employees working during the time I was observing. There could have been others in the back but I didn’t see them. These people kept the waiting line to a minimum. They handled all the library patrons quickly. Many patrons used the self-checkout and didn’t require librarian assistance. The questions I heard from the library users were all normal questions I would have expected. There were a couple of new library users that needed to set up a library account. The ladies came in at different times; both were helped by the same person. After the librarian got their personal information to set up their account, she took them on a tour of the facility. She showed them both how to use the self-checkout and how to use the computers to do a search. She went over the library policies and procedures. She talked about some of the services the library offers; the computer classes, the after-school program, the library outreach van, etc. I felt she was very thorough with talking about what the library has to offer.
The first thing I noticed about the patrons was a large number of students, varying in age from elementary to high school. The library after-school program starts in October but there were still a large number of kids there. As I walked around, I noticed a large number of older students using the computers and the study rooms. Though it seemed a few students were on Facebook or checking email (just from glancing at the screens), it appeared that most were working on school assignments; using the computers and the books that were on the tables. The bulk of the questions I heard were basic reference questions. Some asked where materials were located; there were a couple questions about how to get books from the other library branches; and apparently one of the teachers assigned a North Carolina history project and a couple of students request to use the Genealogy/Local History Room. A couple of students needed copies made from books NOT available for checkout and several had to get printouts from behind the counter.
There were very few younger students in the main library; most were in the children’s room. I walked in and most of the kids in there were looking for books to check out. I didn’t see any younger children working on homework. The Accelerated Reader list was on the computer so I assumed someone was looking for AR books. There were also children on the kids’ computer stations playing games. The few adults that were in the room were at the tables; evidently waiting for the children.
There was a constant “rotation” of library users in and out during the time I was there. I did notice that most of the students began leaving shortly after I arrived; many of them had been there when I arrived so I couldn’t tell how long they had been there. Even with the students leaving, there were still a large number of people coming in; especially between 5:00 and 6:00. I would assume this was because many of these people had just gotten off work. Some came in and went to the computers while some exchanged books and left but none had real difficult issues to deal with.
I was actually surprised at how smoothly everything went during the time I was there. There were a large number of people in and out and there were many questions asked but they were all questions I would have expected and probably had asked myself at one time or another. I was impressed with how efficiently the front desk was handled. All employees that I observed conducted themselves professionally. They were able to help each person that came to the counter without any difficulties. To be honest, I would have liked to have seen a difficult situation or two but I suppose the library staff was glad it was an easy night.