Two Librarians Attempt to Knock Down Walls

A few weeks ago we toured Columbia College Library (love the web site!) as part of my intro class. I bumped into a librarian who had heard me speak about extending services outside the library walls. She mentioned they had tried it to some interesting results. I asked her to write a few sentences to share with TTW readers – and here it is:

As promised, I am sending you a note about an activity that I and another Reference Librarian undertook to advance our Library along the Library 2.0 way! Following a model you mentioned in your talk with us in February 2006, wherein a faculty member with a laptop frequented a Panera Bread, we took some laptops and sat in a dorm lounge and student campus hub for 2-hour stretches at what we deemed to be crucial times in the semester (mid-term, two  weeks before the end of the semester). Students to our surprise…and dismay…actually didn’t embrace this idea as wholeheartedly as we hoped.  They seemed startled and uncomfortable about engaging in library-type interactions in non-library settings. While students are usually thought of as the open-minded ones, on this note they seemed firmly set in their thinking that they must be in the Library for this kind of exchange to occur. Even so, my colleague and I admit we still learned a lot through our attempts. The most important is that we need to be sure that Library wants and will support the work that will be necessary to build this as a means of communication and assistance with our students over the long haul. Also as I write this, a couple of other things jump out at me: first,  establishing a fruitful connection as we conceived it could take quite a bit of time given the limited opportunities in which we allotted to work  it and secondly, since our guesses as to when and where to host it have not met with the greatest of success, it’s apparent that we need to solicit students’ thoughts on where and when (and if) such a service might be useful to them.

Shirley L. Bennett, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Columbia College Chicago

Thanks Shirley. I appreciate the candid take on trying new things. maybe time and student input would make the path clearer. What have other librarians found as they move outside the library? Care to share?