Friday, January 20, 2006

On backstage tours

I read about this idea of backstage tour back in November 2005 at Wanderings of a Student Librarian, and I saved it on my Bloglines clips to ponder about it later. Well, this seems as a good a time as any to ponder. We don't do an open library orientation per se, but a lot of the introductory classes often request a "basic library orientation." Some of those classes will request an actual tour of the library as well. What I often do is combine some classroom instruction with a tour that gives some highlights of the major areas in our library (circulation, reference, the collections). They do see where the reference office is, but we have a shared office, so they actually see where the librarians are at along with the ILL operation since we share our space with them. Technical Services, given the way our library is built, is pretty much restricted access in the sense I could not just walk in there with 25 students or so. It has one entrance down a narrow hallway, which makes tours impractical. The second entrance that leads to the periodicals collection is locked. But would it not be nice if we could show students, "this is what happens when we order a book, and it comes in." Being a small library means that Technical Services is a personal operation. I mean this in the sense that we do not have armies of assistants. What we do have is some very good library students and some good library assistant workers. It's their space. I am not sure I could tell our Assistant Director of Technical Services, "hey, I am bringing a bunch of young students just to see where the operation takes place." Our building is not quite set up for that, but I do really love the idea of showing them how things work. Technical Services are such an important part of what we do. My cataloguing professor used to remind us that cataloguing is a public service. I know they make my work possible. But I am sure there has to be some way around this, some way to give students a glimpse of what else happens in our library besides the visible parts. I am intrigued by the possibilities, so for now, I will think it over. Odds are I may revisit this idea.

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