The Librarian and the Client

“It is sometimes said that the spirit of the library should be that of a merchant and his well-trained clerk, anxious to please their customers…. [Rather,] it should be…the fine spirit of a hostess with the daughters of the house about her greeting guests” (Wiegand, 1986, p. 207).

When individuals come to the library looking for certain information, they expect the librarian or assistants to have all the answers to their queries. However, the librarian and assistants do not have all answers to a client’s queries. The solution to the problems, or answers to queries of the client come from the librarian or assistant’s experience and skills in the field. It also depends on the way the client defines his or her queries, i.e. is it too broad or specific? The reader or client should not become dependent on the librarian. Samuel Green (1876, p. 80) declares: “Give them as much assistance as they need, but try at the same time to teach them to rely upon themselves and become independent”.

Library clients are always too dependent on the librarian and his assistants. Librarians should therefore identify the information-seeking behaviours in order to eliminate the dependency of clients upon them. Clients should be directed to where they can find materials they are searching for. The focus of the librarian is to assist every individual to achieve his or her goals, whether academic, research or personal. In addition, librarians and their assistants strive to give hope to the hopeless.

The reference librarian tries to unlock all mysteries behind the library patron or user. The reference librarian is not meant to be glued in the office but he or she should also explore the outside environment and mingle with people of all vocation. In this way, the reference librarian will gain more knowledge and information from the outside in order to better serve his or her clients.

The librarian and his or her assistants are always calculating the minds and needs of the library users. The question is: “How do we know if the reference librarian is engaged in the psychological investigations with the client?” This is a little bit difficult as nobody can measure these experiences except for the librarian him or herself. However, even the librarian cannot be sure of what is happening. Many thoughts run through the reference librarian’s mind. He or she often asks the questions to oneself, like: “Will I be able to help this user who looks so desperate? How will I be able to do so in order to calm his or her nerves? Will the user be satisfied of the service I provide?”


Book Selection

The National Library of Namibia will be selecting materials published from 2005 to 2010.

We are focusing on replacing old and out-dated materials with new editions. The other dimension has been through the encouragement we give to people to create knowledge through research writing and making available copies of such researches.

We intend to fill the missing gaps in our collection. By updating our collection, we will fulfill the mandate of “co-ordinate and supplement the acquisition, exchange, disposal or retention of any library material to ensure an adequate national library resource”, which is outlined in Section 5: 2(b) of the Act.

We are also trying to educate people that books are not the only sources of information.
Davenport & Prusak (2000: p. 29) states that “…we are suited by temperament and our role as information guides to the task of making people-to-people as well as people-to text connections.”

Our great pioneers said we must turn libraries into the reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, and lakes of mental energy. This is what the National Library is doing, and Carl Sagan also illustrated it as connecting people “with the insight and knowledge,… of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species.” Cosmos

Our influence of selecting books comes from the hourly contact with a constituency of readers, advising, helping and elevating their lives and exerting a far-reaching influence for good not to be exceeded in any profession open to women or to men.

In 1886, Melvil Dewey said: “In the library profession, the best work will always be done on the moral plane, where the librarian puts his work with as distinct as a minister or missionary and enters the profession and does the work because it is his duty or privilege. It is his vocation.”