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Buyer Beware Investigating the quality of customer service to young adults in a major urban public library. Patrick Jones Connecting Young Adults and Libraries BUYER BEWARE PROJECT OBJECTIVES.

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Buyer BewareInvestigating the quality of customer service to young adults in a major urban public library

Patrick Jones

Connecting Young Adults and Libraries

buyer beware project objectives
  • To identify the best practices of quality customer service to young adults in the urban public library setting
  • To identify obstacles to quality customer service to young adults in the urban public library setting
  • Propose a model for quality customer service to young adults in the urban public library setting.
buyer beware project objectives1
  • The research question posed by this study is as simple as it is vital: How well do libraries answer reference questions for young adults? The research only speaks to the availability/use (quantity) of reference service, but not to the more important factor of quality. Related, the same research found that most public libraries do not provide a YA librarian, thus generalists offer reference service to young adults. Finally, the research indicates these generalists are poorly trained. The purpose of the study is to identify the traits of successful/ unsuccessful of such service (reference service generalized to customer service) and then propose a "model" of quality service.
buyer beware project
  • Choose twelve of the reference questions from the attached page.
  • Approach any reference desk at the Main Library of the ***** Public Library (except the children’s room). You can ask the questions all in one visit or during several visits. Try to get helped by different librarians. The questions in bold could also be asked over the phone or via email, but at least three of your questions need to be done in person.
buyer beware project1
  • ANY CIRCUMSTANCES “blow your cover” and state that you are a “secret shopper.”
  • For each question, you will need to:
    • do the behavior checklist
    • write a short account
    • answer the questionnaire
behavior check list

1.Greeted you warmly

2.Smiled, acted pleasant toward you

3.Let the desk act as a barrier

4.Demonstrated welcoming body language

5.Got up to show you where to find your info

6.Asked you follow-up questions

7.Answered your question completely

8.Tried to rush you through

9.Offered follow-up help

10.Knew right where to find information

11.Asked you “why” you needed information

12.Gave you his/her full attention

questions asked

1.I need a biography about a professional wrestler. It can’t be a kids book.

2.Do you have any information on how to remove tattoos?

3.Can you recommend a good scary book for an English assignment I have. I need to read a work of contemporary horror fiction but not Stephen King.

4.I heard that Cosmo magazine was going to have a spin-off magazine for teens. Where can I find the name of this magazine and an address?

5.I need to read Kurt Cobain’s obituary. Where can I find it?

6.I need to know the main event at the first Wrestlemania in 1985.

7.I need to find the pros and cons of cloning. I just need one good book on the subject. Today all I need is the name of the book, not the book itself.

8.I need to find two articles about teaching writing that were published by my English teacher. Her name is Johanna Atwood.

questions asked1

9. I need the addresses for TNN, TBS, MTV, VH-1, and BET cable channels.

10.Can I have an email address to write a comment to the library?

11.I need a fiction and a nonfiction book about the subject of self-mutilation.

12.My teacher told us we have to read a “classic”. Do you have a list of classics or books for the college bound? I don’t want a book over 200 pages long.

13.Is there anyplace you know where I could buy a term paper?

14.How do I cite a web page in my term paper? We use MLA format.

15.I need to get driving directions from my school to the state capitol.

16. I need to read the book which won the 2000 Printz award

some choice comments
Some choice comments
  • “If we went into a library, the librarian would look at us like, why are they here. Like we’re going to cause trouble or something, like we’re being watched.”
  • “Some of the librarians don’t even care about you. Libraries at school, the are nice. But outside, they are kind of rude and they don’t really care.”
some choice comments1
Some choice comments
  • If I ever go when I need a book, I’m scared to ask them where it is, because I don’t want them to think I’m stupid.”
  • “When you ask them how to find something, they’ll just tell you to go over there.”
  • “I don’t think its so much the age (of the librarian); it’s the way they speak to you. The point is that a person needs to know how to communicate with people no matter what age they are.
some choice comments2
Some choice comments
  • “Some librarians just don’t like you. They pick on you, especially us teens. “
  • “The library is so very serious. Everyone has very solemn look. It’s depressing. It’s very, very depressing to walk into a library.”
the ideal would be staff that is
The ideal would be staff that is:
  • Friendly, knowledgeable and helpful
  • Treats everyone with respect
  • Is younger, or at least that the staff is of various ages
  • Has customer service skills
  • U
  • I
  • C
  • K
great ya reference service is
Great YA reference service is
  • Quality: We pledge to get the answer right 100% of the time, not 66% percent. Part of that is knowing where to look, but just as important as knowing how to ask the question, and being energetic enough to do the work. Retail establishments use secret shoppers on a regular basis and there is no reason that libraries should not adopt this same proven technique of measuring, and then improving customer service. Remember, quality is cool.
great ya reference service is1
Great YA reference service is
  • User focused: we need to rethink everything we do in terms of what is best for user. Not what is easiest for staff, what causes the least amount of headaches, or what makes the clerical staff happy, but what is best for users. The implications of this focus are enormous and run through everything we do: from how we design our buildings, to signage, to how we staff our desk, but mostly how we approach out work.
great ya reference service is2
Great YA reference service is
  • Inviting: a vision of reference service for teens must include the idea that staff needs to be inviting to teens. Inviting is more than approachable; it is an attitude that is eager to invite teens to use libraries, have a positive experience, and return. Inviting information service finds users where they are: in the stacks or on the computers or any place in between, and then offers assistance. Remember the quote from the teen about feeling stupid asking for help.
great ya reference service is3
Great YA reference service is
  • Convenient: this is a logical extension of a user-centered approach. We offer reference one on one in the library, but also through every other way that technology and cost will allow: e-mail, chat, phone, and consider whatever technology presents itself to become more convenient. A constant complaint from teens about libraries is we are not convenient or easy to use.
great ya reference service is4
Great YA reference service is
  • Knowledge sharing: A vision of reference service for teens must also include the idea that we are open to every opportunity to empower teens to work on their own. Any transaction in a public library, for example, should now include an offer for the teen to learn more through classes, tutorials, or through practice. Knowledge sharing is youth development in action.
for more information
For more information:
  • Connecting Young Adults and Libraries: A How-To-Do-It Manual, Third EditionBy Patrick Jones, Michele Gorman, and Tricia Suellentrop
  • Neal-Schuman, July 2004
  • 1-55570-508-1. 8 1/2 x 11 . 438 pp.
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