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?”


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