Just when I think the insanity might end, I find something new to be annoyed about, and it's a darn good thing or this blog would come to an end, and that would bring untold grief to both of my dedicated readers.
The latest BIG IDEA from the Library Five-O crowd is imitating Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart! Particularly their greeters. Someone actually wants Wal-Mart-like greeters in the library, because the Wal-Mart greeter training course is "right out of the 2.0 playbook." Oh my goodness. For a while I was just speechless.
I'm not a big fan of Wal-Mart, as their aisles are always so jam packed with cheap crap that I can't get my cart through and the customers often seem like something out of a William Faulkner novel. But maybe that's just the Wal-Marts I've been in. I recall one place I lived where the local Wal-Mart had a greeter who was--what's the politically correct phrase--mentally challenged. To say the least. I'm sure he was a perfectly nice mentally challenged man, but that didn't make it any better when he lunged headfirst at all the customers screaming "Welcome to Wal-Mart" as he shoved shopping carts into their thighs.
But at least the person doesn't want librarians acting as Wal-Mart greeters. That was certainly what I expected when started reading the post and I was ready to fume. After all, what could be more "library 2.0" than librarians lunging at library patrons and shoving reference books in their faces. (I was going to say shoving personalized, interactive OPACs in their faces, but I couldn't figure out what that would entail.) However, the call for greeters is slightly more sensible than that. This person suggests that students be the greeters. She's talking about academic libraries obviously, which somehow makes the notion even more appalling. So much for the life of the mind. No, instead we could have students lunging at everyone who enters the library. And then it gets better. The students could also be "roving peers"!
"Imagine a rover stopping by the group study area and asking, 'Anyone need help using the library?'"
I'm trying to imagine that. I imagine the student saying "Anyone need help using the library?" and "I am a big geek!" at the same time. Maybe the students at her university are a lot more ENTHUSIASTIC and "2.0" than the students in my library. I actually caught a student worker at our information kiosk the other day eating her dinner. It took me a while to tell her to go eat elsewhere because I had to rip the earphones out of her ears and throw her Ipod across the reference area to get her attention. And this is one of our better student workers. Does anyone really imagine that some student worker is going to walk around offering help in a friendly, slaphappy way to fellow students?
And do we think the other students would really like this? If I was a college student sitting around studying, I certainly wouldn't want some library geek pestering me. Big Smile--Oh, do you need help using the library? No, I bloody well don't, and if I did I'd go talk to a librarian, not some fellow student who probably doesn't know any more than I do!
Wait, no, I take it all back. I'm probably just being too cynical I've been told that's a problem of mine. There are probably plenty of students who could be trusted to walk around the library offering all kinds of helpful help. I'm also trying to convince myself that this retail model these librarians are so excited about is delightful. Maybe imitating Wal-Mart in the library is really a GREAT THING, and it'll become a HOT TREND. And then maybe all the librarians could start wearing matching cheap polyester shirts with name tags and working split shifts and having their benefits taken away.
But try as I might to squash that little cynic, it still whispers in my ear, "If they like Wal-Mart so much, why don't they just go work there, and leave the academic library for scholars."