Book of the Civilized Reference Librarian

Hello fair readers!

I have been thinking a great deal recently about etiquette on the Reference desk.  It seems that every library has their unstated set of manners

Whether it be about how to answer the phone (“Reference Department, may I help you?”) or what to wear (no jeans, nothing too lowcut…sigh).

However, there are massive gray areas.  And the one that has been particularly bother me is reading on the Reference desk.

In my first Reference class in grad school I was told by my teacher that this is a *big* no-no.  He says it is better to be playing on the internet and look available than to look completely engrossed in a book and therefore, unavailable.

When I explain this to the average layperson (aka non-librarians) they are usually horrified and surprised.  Horrified because working around tons of books and not being able to read them is well….difficult. And surprised because they expect it.  They expect librarians to be able to read while they wait for the next patron to come along.

Think about it…in all the studies and surveys that I have done about what people think about when they hear the word librarian….book is the #1 response.  Every time.

So where do I stand on this issue?  I’m not quite sure.  I have definitely worked in libraries where it is acceptable to read on desk and even do homework, especially if it’s a slow day/night.  But do I think this is OK?

I kind of do.  As long as you are not nose deep into a Jane Austen novel and ignoring everything around you…well I’m not sure I see anything wrong with that.

Then again…it’s easy to get lost in a book…

Very easy.

And I’m as guilty of it as anyone….

So I guess what it really boils down to is the individual.  If you can control yourself and if you are able to read while also managing to look available and welcoming…then by all means, bookworms, have at it!

At least…that’s my interpretation. 🙂

Have a lovely weekend, fair readers and I hope you have a wonderful book to keep you occupied!

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One response to “Book of the Civilized Reference Librarian

  1. Pingback: Touchy touchy! « La de da

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