Now that the semester is in full swing and I’ve gotten more into a groove, I hope to update this blog in a more timely fashion. This fall I’m taking three classes:
IST605 – Information Resources – Users and Services with Megan Oakleaf
IST 616 – Information Resources – Organization and Access with David Pimintel
IST 661 – Information Management in Schools with Renee Franklin
Needless to say, my head is swimming with information. I find that I tend to try to tie everything together from each class. This doesn’t really happen on purpose per se, but something said in one discussion will remind me of something in another and I end up making connections all across the curriculum. Personally, I think this is great since as a school media specialist I’ll be doing just that, somewhat on my own as (most likely) the only librarian in the school.
I find I’m also making connections to discussions in class in the “real world” which may or may not be driving my friends and family crazy. For example, this past Thursday I went to a frame store with my boyfriend to have a picture custom framed. Unfortunately, the girl working behind the counter was fairly new and didn’t have much experience yet so we were left to our own devices in terms of figuring out what color matting we wanted as well as which frame would enhance the photo without taking away from its beauty. Neither of us were art majors so we were looking to her to help us and this was less than ideal.
Apparently, mattes are available in various colors that come with both number codes (that the staff uses for their computer system and matches those of the matte company’s ordering system) and names that were similar to those of Crayola Crayons, like “Dark Coal” and “Rawhide.”
We asked to see something in a “dark brown,” “neutral khaki,” or “charcoal” to see how it would line up with the picture. After sifting through her samples, the girl said that they didn’t carry brown, khaki, or charcoal but she did pull out other colors she thought would match, mostly in the blue family. Unfortunately, the blues she was pulling out were very far off base from the color scheme in the photo.
It took me about a half an hour before I noticed that instead of looking at the sample color on one side of the matte, she was limiting herself to only reading the names of the colors. Not one was called “brown” or “charcoal” or “deep tan” as we had asked for but, filed under “red” there were a number of colors that seemed brown and filed under “black” there were a number of dark grays that may have worked. Upon further research, I found out that the number codes determine where the matte is filed based on which color is primarily used in the actual dying of the board which is why browns were filed under “Red” and deep purples were filed under “Blue.” Once we were all on the same page, we stopped asking for specific “names” of mattes and started asking for base colors.
Immediately, I related this to 616 and our discussion of indexing, indexers, and how they go about providing access points from which you (the user) may find information. Here it was fairly obvious that the indexer who organized the mattes had a system in place that made sense for both the manufacturer and the frame store (from an ordering viewpoint) but was less than ideal for the store’s patrons who are not privy to this system and are primarily using visual cues to determine if the information retrieved is correct. Of course our “retrieval system” (the girl behind the counter) was using keywords we were not using so that also added to the confusion. A more seasoned professional may have been able to apply more keywords to her search and been a better help.
This ties in with 605 and our discussion of the “reference interview.” Never during our 2 hour stay at the frame store did the girl ask us what we were looking for nor did she clarify what kind of final product we wanted. In the end, she did suggest we come back the next day because the more experienced employee would be there and she would be able to help us more on the creative front, so at least she did try to follow up and hand us off to someone with more knowledge on the subject.
What is mind-boggling to me is that even outside of a libarary, every possible job requires a certain degree of organization and information retrieval as well as customer service; how can you provide a service if you cannot communicate with your customers or cannot easily access the information they need?