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Library phobia is the
syndrome whereby person entering a library becomes utterly disoriented and
looses the facility to seek assistance. Those
afflicted, may be unable to formulate comprehensible questions, and thus
receive crummy advice from librarians and library staff.
Sufferers who can actually formulate a question, may find themselves
further confounded by answers from librarians and library staff that are doused
with a good bit of library terminology. In
other words, user is confused, user canít quite get the question out,
librarian trying to understand may or may not answer the question, user goes
away further confused. Throw into this mix a rather confusing library building
(Carrier), and you have a recipe for disaster. We canít fix the building in this column, but we can work
to alleviate the phobia.
I donít have official survey results to work from, but I imagine if you polled most folks who work in the library profession, you might find that many have suffered from library phobia. In my own experience I donít think I ever asked a question of a librarian until way after I had become a librarian. I was an insecure and inefficient library user as an undergraduate, and probably wasnít much better until the middle of my masterís degree in library science. What the library degree did do, was take away the fear of finding out. Once I knew (and became) a person who was trained to help, it became a lot easier to ask for help.
Most library phobics will
probably not become librarians or people who work in libraries.
With my admission, I hope to allow our users to skip that step.
Your questions may seem dumb to you, but trust me, weíve heard many
crazy questions in our time, and youíve got the right to ask as many as you
want. You are not, disturbing the
person whoís job it is, to answer your question, so you donít need to
preface your question with an apology. Donít leave the building, get off the phone, or stop
sending email until you get the information you need.
If you donít understand, say that, and ask for clarification.
Library folk are a compassionate and understanding lot.
Not only do we get paid to understand and help you, we do this because we
like it. Ask around, you wonít
find many who became librarians for the glamour or the money.
(When/if you do find some, Iíd love to meet them).
Now an update from the
invitational from the last editorís column.
I had, two entries, both from Rebecca.
The question you will recall:
You are asked to think up
a book that you would like to see published and submit a corresponding review.
The Secret Lives of
Librarians. Oryx Press,
Librarians at Home.
Rebecca wins the clock and my thanks to her dutiful support.
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