Monday, October 4, 2010

You Always Fail Someone

Unfortunately, the new awesome e-only journal model at the library where I work doesn't satisfy everyone.

One older doctor said today, in a wistful way, "I don't like the library as much as I used to."

Aw. That made me kind of sad.

I could only sympathize. I know, if you want to come in and browse through the journals of your field to see what's going on, it's just not the same on the computer.

Especially if you're not really that familiar or comfortable with the conventions of online journals. Which, let us remember, not everyone is, even in a high-tech profession.

How do you find the title you want? How do you get to a particular issue? How do you get the full text of an article you want? (Naturally, the journal he was looking at also picked that moment to have problems with providing full text.)

Sigh. It's the shelves, I told him. The online versions aren't as easy to use as the traditional print, but they take up a lot less space.

You can't do everything, and there's no way around that, but he seemed very nice and I felt kind of bad that we've sort of nudged his model of library user out of the picture. I mean, we'll help him, I did the best I could to direct him to the exciting possibilities of the e-journals, but if that's just not how he prefers to read, I don't know how much use he'll get out of it, and I'm afraid he may just find that the library isn't for him anymore.

I suppose you'll always fail to be what someone is looking for (often many people in many different ways!). You just have to do the best you can for people with the resources you do have, and recognize that that won't always be exactly what they want.


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