Text needs help

Melly Tango
Jul 12 · 2 min read

Helping another individual ought to be the easiest task on earth. Libraries are the best place to ask for help. But as time goes by, I find some staff turn this simple task into a convoluted mess and involves double handling. Why oh why must it be this way in 2019? Think of time management people! Being time deficient and short of staff only makes this helping business worse.

Whenever I receive a follow up email from a patron, they are usually re-directed ones. Most of them are simple Q&A. Then there are the ones, where patron wants clarification around instructions given by another staff from another department. The patron is often baffled as to what the next steps are, especially when the instructions are given in the form of paragraphs.

Should staff be given training on how to write instructions or should there be templates for staff to use? I would prefer the latter. Over the years my team has diligently tweaked email templates. However, this is not widely practiced throughout the workplace, leaving trails of discrepancies in email communications. Has this led patrons to become frustrated? The answer is yes. Sadly, my team cops the brunt of the storm.

Also, we are to treat each patron as if this is their first time using our services. The assumption that a patron would know where to go and how to use something is absurd. Mind you, the instructions were about common services, which are readily available on the corporate website. There are videos and library guides, but often they are not included in the email that was sent to patrons.

Services such as:
• How to request to material for viewing;
• Download our of copyright images;
• Self-copying options available and cost.

Consistency is the key. If collection materials are held in different locations, then explain the access methods per a location separately. If materials are in different formats, then give them the various copying available in dot points. If you are explaining complex window and tab jumping, then use screen grabs. Text alone is not sufficient for novice users.

Melly Tango

Written by

Tech fanatic. Luv comedy. Anime connoisseur. Works in a library. Idol_ Mjr Motoko Kusanagi 草薙素子 [Ghost in the Shell].

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