Extending a Librarian’s Reach

A colleague of mine just told me of a very positive experience that she had in an instant messaging transaction last week. A patron had contacted her via our IM reference service and was needing to find financial ratios for hypermarkets in France. This sounded like a pretty tough business question, and unfortunately I’ve been out for the past two weeks, so I wasn’t around to offer any in-person assistance. However, my colleague searched the Biz Wiki for ratios and found where I had suggested a few resources. She wound up using Mergent Online to help the patron find what he/she needed. I was so pleased that my colleague was able to find the answer to the rather tough question by using the Biz Wiki. It really is very rewarding to see that using a wiki as a research guide continues to work, and I continue to be amazed at how patrons and colleagues are using the resource.

After my colleague helped the patron find the answer, the patron informed her that it was 11:00 where he/she was, and that it was time for bed. My colleague questioned this, as this transaction took place during normal business hours. As it turns out, the patron was studying in France this quarter, which explained the time difference. Despite the distance of time and space, the patron was able to get help with his/her information need via our IM reference service. This is yet another way that technologies are making the world a little smaller. Because my colleague was available via IM, it did not matter if the patron was in Paris (France) or Athens (Ohio). The librarian was available to help via a service that was accessible and familar to the patron.