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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Helpful Complaints

Well, it was bound to happen.  Yesterday I walked into the lower library to find a colleague in distress.  When I asked her if she needed some help finding books, I think she uttered something like, "I hate this new system."  My eyebrows shot up in disbelief.  Really?  I had never heard anything like that before. I downplayed my surprise and sincerely asked, "What do you mean?" (Because in all seriousness, it's this kind of honesty that we hope for from all of our users so that we can improve Metis to better serve everyone, not just the students.) 

To answer my question, my very literate colleague added, "It was easier when you just searched by the author's last name."   

Hmm?  Sometimes, I thought.  But what if you don't know who the author is?  And then it dawned on me that this was her first visit to our library since her leave of absence last year.  She had never attended any of our 5 to 10 minute introductions that explained Metis.

Gesturing toward the computer, I asked, "May I show you how to use the catalog?"  We typed in the title of the first book and found it exactly where she had been looking based on her intuition.  We proceeded to type in the next two titles and it turned out that we actually don't have them in our collection.  Her fourth request had an "ask" logo on top of the image in the catalog which means that there is some special circumstance going on, and the browser should ask the librarian about it.  Did my colleague leave the library totally satisfied?  Probably not since she walked away with only one book when hoping for four.  But we'd be hard pressed to blame it on Metis. 

Before implementing Metis last year, we promised our administrators that if our new system did not work well for everyone, we would promptly resurrect Dewey.  We truly welcome questions, concerns, recommendations and even criticism, if it helps to enhance our community's library experience. Yesterday's exchange was definitely helpful.  We will look into the two missing books to see if we should add them to our collection.  Unfortunately, her fourth book is out of print so we can't do much about that. (Amazon doesn't even have a copy.)  And lastly, with pleasure, I will continue to show anybody who wants to learn, how to use the computer catalog to search for books using Metis.

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