Reply To: Trend Reflection – Virtual Reference

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Nicole Steer

Hi Chris! I liked this reflection. I was really interested to see you drew parallels between customer service and librarianship. I’ve always felt that there are strong connections between customer service and customer support and librarianship. On the customer service side, there will always be people who prefer ordering drinks or buying clothes from an actual human in an actual shop or cafe, even if they can get the same service online or from a self-service machine, and there will always be people who will prefer dealing with an actual librarian in an actual library than an “Ask A Librarian” service on their local public library’s website. The human element really helps.

On the customer support side, I like to use the metaphor of when you, the savvy, smart, worldly technology user, buy a new computer, and it’s great – but then something starts going wrong, it slows down, the screen only shows in shades of green and blue. It could be the RAM, it could be the CPU, it could be the motherboard, who knows? You’re smart, but the ins and outs of what goes on inside computers isn’t your field of expertise. And so you call up customer support. Similarly, even people who are cool and smart and know all about books and the internet will need help from a librarian for things when they find themselves a bit out of their depth – whether it be ordering in books from a different state, doing a serious business thesis, or just trying to figure out how QUT Library Search actually works when it’s your first semester!

Okay, that got a bit rambly! But I hope it was interesting to read. 😛 I liked reading your reflection and it got me thinking about what I think of virtual vs in-person librarianship in the modern age.