Burning the time of the staff

So, I'm talking at the OLA conference at the end of the month on the subject of Saving the Time of the Reader: The impact of new technologies on public service.

We all know that online journals and bibliographic databases are wonderful, but they blur all sorts of lines, and undergraduates don't understand where one service ends and the next one starts. I regularly hear people say that they found the journal articles "on the library's web site".

Then there's wireless: It's great for patrons, but forces library techs to all become computer support people, or at least feel like they should, in order to provide appropriate service.

But that's all I'm going to say. If you want to hear the rest, come to Toronto.


I agree wholeheartedly about online access to databases blurring the lines. To the non-librarian mind, through the library's site is equivalent to at the library's site.

To make matters more confusing the Boston Globe offers content on boston.com, where you can get their archives if you pay (I'm a little foggy on how far back it all goes and how much and what you have to pay for... never been willing to pay, myself). Our library offers access to electronic versions of the Globe (among others) free of charge, essentially the same versions you get at Boston.com. But when you say, "Did you check the online database of the paper on our site?" they immediately think they did... via Boston.com. They think paying is the only way.

Sometimes I think the lines blur because as libraries we don't advertise clearly, if at all. Other times I think that people get so much electronic information that they've taken to skimming and not really paying attention where they're getting their information. Most likely, a combination of the two.

Good luck with the conference, as well!

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