Librarians and Customer Care

By , December 28, 2012 10:39 am

by Amy Eaton


I recently received a link to this article from March 2012.  In it, the author, Jeff Rundles, laments the lack of customer service in both businesses and government entities.  The one bright spot he found: libraries and librarians!  Of course, this comes as no surprise to those of us in the field. Our number one priority is to take care of our customers, whether they are attorneys, students or members of the general public. Why do librarians excel when other entities, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, fail? I think librarians are given a great amount of authority and freedom to assist our customers. My daughter had an internship at a large hotel chain one summer. She was working the front desk one day when a customer came to the desk with a complaint about their room. No one at the desk had the authority to offer the customer additional services or remove charges from their bill. The staff had to wait for manager approval. The customer left angry and frustrated and my daughter learned the importance of empowering your staff to handle problems as they arise. I know librarians who have had their children, attending universities in other states, pull and copy articles for rush requests. Many of us spend untold hours on the phone with customer reps for online services seeking to understand the vagaries of their databases in order to explain why we received the results we did.  I have used Google translate to try and submit requests through foreign websites written in languages I don’t understand. What is the greatest length you have gone to in order to provide top notch reference service?

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