LIB 5020 Reference Librarian Interview Analysis

All of the librarian/patron interviews went well.  I believe we were all a bit nervous.  There was a definite apprehension in the room; no one was anxious to get started.  Once we started, the “librarians” all seemed to do a good job.  There were several positive comments from the rest of the group which proved to be very helpful.  Knowing the others were as nervous as I was seemed to make the interview a bit easier.

For my reference interview, I interviewed Bethany.  She was a fourth grade teacher, looking for resources on North Carolina for some upcoming lessons she was planning for her class.  She wanted geographical information on North Carolina as well as resources on the state symbols (flag, flower, bird, etc.).  She was very easy to interview.  She knew what she needed and was very clear in relaying that information.  She let me know why she needed the information; lessons for her fourth graders; and how she was going to use the resources.  She was very patient when I had some technical difficulty.  It would be nice if all patrons were as easy to work with as Bethany was.

My interview went reasonably well.  The outline of the pathfinder was precise and detailed and it was very easy to follow.  I was glad I took the time to review the pathfinder before the interview.  Even with that, I was very nervous about the initial interview.  I felt like I was stumbling over my questions.  I knew what I wanted to ask but I felt like I couldn’t verbalize it properly.  I found myself repeating my questions more than I should have.  I tried to recall conversations I had with librarians in the past; hoping I could use them to help me organize how I wanted to approach this interview.  It helped to a point but I still felt like I was missing a lot of what I should have been doing.

It was also strange doing a chat interview.  I have only used online chat for tech support purposes or with my cellular provider.  I have always gone into the library so doing an online interview was a bit different.  It made the reliance on technology even more important since face-to-face interaction wasn’t possible.  I wasn’t always sure what parts of the conversation I should type and what parts I should say.  I was a little frustrated with the technical issues I had at the beginning of the interview not only because I couldn’t get to the information as fast as I wanted but I felt that maybe the patron would get a bit irritated waiting.  In a face-to-face interview, it’s easy to see what the librarian is doing and know when there are technical difficulties; being online, the patron can’t always be sure if the librarian is really working on their questions or not.  I was just very concerned that I couldn’t get the information to her quick enough.     

Again, the pathfinder was very good.  They did a great job in putting the pathfinder together.  Even with not knowing that Bethany was going to ask, I felt confident I could use the pathfinder to answer whatever she asked.  I felt I was somewhat knowledgeable on the subject of North Carolina but it was so much easier having a list of resources in one place.  It made me appreciate pathfinders as well as sites like Novelist and Kirkus.  Using this list made directing Bethany to the appropriate resources much easier.  I liked the fact that I was able to message her call numbers of several resources she could use and confirm that she received the message.  I realized after the interview however, I should have messaged the resource description as well.  If she was on the library website while we were chatting, she could simply insert the call numbers and look it up but if not, the call numbers were not as useful as the complete description.  I know next time I want to send more resource information in the chat box.

I was very grateful Librarian Geri was working with our group.  I appreciated her taking the time to work with us.  She was great!  I was a bit intimidated by her being there since she is a professional librarian but she quickly dispelled that intimidation.  She offered some wonderful insight and suggestions without making me feel like I really didn’t know what I was doing.  It was helpful having her outlook on our interviews since she is so familiar with how a successful interview should go.  She made some suggestions on how to keep the patron informed as to what we, as the librarians, were doing during the chat and not having a long period of “quiet”.    She also commented on letting the patron know that we were using something called a “pathfinder” or a list of resources; I wasn’t sure how to approach addressing the fact that we are using an established list.  I am glad we had the chance to talk with her.

Honestly, I have dreaded this interview all semester.  Talking about the interview process was nothing compared to actually doing the interview.  I have been to the library more times than I can remember and have talked with the reference staff most every time I was there.  I have simply never thought about the interview from the librarian’s perspective.  I have always assumed the librarian knew everything I was going to ask!  And even if they didn’t, they seemed like they did.  I was afraid that I was going to sound like it was my first day in the library.  The interviews have made me more aware of the broad scope of a librarian’s job.  It amazes me what all is involved in what seems like a simple task of finding a book or resource.

This interview has showed me things I need to work on.  I love to talk to people but because I have an attention deficient issue, I have a tendency to get side-tracked.  I need to focus on staying more on the subject we are talking about.  I also feel like I need to work on time management.  I don’t want the patron to feel like I am taking too much time in helping them.  I understand that it may take a few minutes to find what the patron is looking for but I do want to use the time wisely.  I want to show them that I respect their time but do it without making the patron feel like I am rushing.  Finally, I need to become more familiar with the wide range of resources and references available.  Working on the pathfinder showed me there are numerous classifications for resources and I want to make myself more comfortable with suggesting them.  I have done several research assignments and used countless forms of references but I didn’t think about how those resources were categorized.  I need to become more familiar with indexes, bibliographies, and ready references.  I want to be able to direct patrons to these types of resources and feel like I know what I am talking about.     

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