Monday, April 16, 2007

Information Services : Part 1.

A little earlier I posted a link to my presentation called "New forms of information service". I think it is high time to discuss two issues: what information services are and how libraries with different levels of technical equipment can organise them So, basically information services consist of 3 main points, and libraries should
1. Provide information services to the patrons
2. Provide access to information
3. Satisfy patrons' needs in information
Libraries should form the amount of services and resources considering different patrons' needs. The whole variety of patrons' needs can be generally divided into three main groups. Now let's try to think how can we develop service realisation and information access to meet patrons' needs.

THE FIRST NEED - open access to different kinds of information in different forms and on different media.
In other words, a patron may need textbooks, reference works, dissertations, reviews, biographies, etc. in different languages and publication date. They may need a printed original or a digital copy, they may want to watch a screen version of a book or listen to some audiobooks. A library must provide not only the resource itself, but an opportunity to read, watch, listen or study it. So, if a library possesses a nice collection of e-books or e-journals, to work with them there should be computers for patrons. If a library has audiobooks - it must have a couple of mp3-players or, at least, earphones. And so on...

THE SECOND NEED - means to convert information from on format to another.
It means that a user might need to digitilize a traditional printed resource. This can be executed at least in three ways - to scan, to photo, or to type on PC. So to cope with this task a library should have a good scanner, prosumer's digital camera and, of course, PCs for users to type their research works or other assignments.
And, on the contrary, a user might need to print a text or image - so, libraries need printers. I can't but mention photocopying, saving information on various portable data media, though they have already become a must in all libraries.

THE THIRD NEED - our patrons wherever they are want their questions to answered 24/7.
The first thing that comes to my mind regarding this issue is virtual reference, but not every library can find resources to manage such a great project. So I suggest more simple variants. Telephone reference - with great amounts of mobile phones and respectfully low call costs - this service will be in great demand. The patron doesn't need to go to the library to learn its working hours or to find out if the book she needs is in the library. She or he can call. A lot of problems can be solved this way.
If a library has its own website or a webpage - all the information may and must be published there, so that users that got used to search all kind of information via don't feel lost and helpless.
And for that category of patrons that doesn't like to use phones or computers, a library can make a kind of booklets, where all addresses, phone numbers, working hours and services should be noted.

.... to be continued

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