[Libs-Or] Technology Assistance - How much is too much?

Marta Murvosh murvosh at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 6 21:07:21 PST 2016

Hi Aaron,
I was in SLIM's Oregon10 cohort. I'm working for Sno-Isle Libraries. 

While I'm going to draw on my experience and offer you my opinion on this topic, I need to be clear that I don't speak for my library system. 

One thing that hasn't been raised is the role reference interview plays when in helping patrons with technology. 

While libraries can't replace the geek squad or troubleshoot computer glitches or update software, we can point patrons to resources so they can make decisions and DIY, just like we help them find information on how to fix their own cars or build a shed.
I do a reference interview and what I think of as a technology interview, asking questions to see aptitude and figure out what the patron wants. 

When a patron wants tech support that we don't provide, I use these requests as an opportunity to see if they would like thee resources to help them resolve the issue themselves, just like I would for any other reference question. If appropriate, I consider such requests as information literacy teaching moments. 

I help the patron find information on there computer or software just like I would help them find information on any other topic. And I write down the steps I used to find the information. 

I show the patron how to do focused web searches for answers using the support pages and forums at Microsoft, Apple, or the software company that they need help with. It's amazing how excited people get to learn about how they can use a search engine to search a specific site to target the information. 

So I'm not just teaching the patron tech, I'm modeling and teaching them IL skills to problem solve and the next time they have a problem, they can use those skills. 

I'll print out instructions and point them to books to check out, just like I would help a patron who needs to know how to replace his brakes but doesn't know how to use the automotive database. 

I use a lot of qualifiers when I'm talking to patrons. While I can't fix your laptop for you, I can find you directions or articles that may help you figure out what's going on with your computer. 

Of course, I also keep an eye on the time and I set appropriate boundaries saying things like: I think this is going to take some time to research, can I get your contact information and I'll call/email you once I find what you're looking for. Or helping you with ebooks is going to take longer than 15 minutes, can we set up a book a librarian appointment?

When we're busy, I rotate though our computer area briefly check in with the people who wanted tech help. It's sort of like being a waitress and making sure a table doesn't need water. A lot of what I do is encouragement and reminding people that computers are like cars, which need regular maintenance. I say: You didn't learn how to drive your car overnight and sometimes you can take care of somethings and sometimes you have to take it to the mechanic. And I remind people that they learned 2 or 3 new things. 

 Marta Murvosh, MLS
librarian and freelance writer
murvosh at yahoo.com360-610-9642 - mobile
Everett, WA - Pacific Time zone
Linkedin - Facebook - Website

      From: Barratt Miller <BMiller at crooklib.org>
 To: Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney <kbrodbeck-kenney at lincolncity.org>; "libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us" <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us> 
 Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 4:19 PM
 Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Technology Assistance - How much is too much?
#yiv2412885124 #yiv2412885124 -- _filtered #yiv2412885124 {font-family:Calibri;panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4;} _filtered #yiv2412885124 {font-family:Tahoma;panose-1:2 11 6 4 3 5 4 4 2 4;} _filtered #yiv2412885124 {font-family:Verdana;panose-1:2 11 6 4 3 5 4 4 2 4;} _filtered #yiv2412885124 {panose-1:2 11 5 2 4 2 4 2 2 3;}#yiv2412885124 #yiv2412885124 p.yiv2412885124MsoNormal, #yiv2412885124 li.yiv2412885124MsoNormal, #yiv2412885124 div.yiv2412885124MsoNormal {margin-right:0in;margin-left:0in;font-size:12.0pt;}#yiv2412885124 a:link, #yiv2412885124 span.yiv2412885124MsoHyperlink {color:blue;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv2412885124 a:visited, #yiv2412885124 span.yiv2412885124MsoHyperlinkFollowed {color:purple;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv2412885124 p.yiv2412885124MsoAcetate, #yiv2412885124 li.yiv2412885124MsoAcetate, #yiv2412885124 div.yiv2412885124MsoAcetate {margin-right:0in;margin-left:0in;font-size:8.0pt;}#yiv2412885124 span.yiv2412885124groupwisereplyheader {}#yiv2412885124 span.yiv2412885124EmailStyle18 {color:#1F497D;}#yiv2412885124 span.yiv2412885124BalloonTextChar {}#yiv2412885124 .yiv2412885124MsoChpDefault {font-size:10.0pt;} _filtered #yiv2412885124 {margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in;}#yiv2412885124 div.yiv2412885124WordSection1 {}#yiv2412885124 #yiv2412885124 p.yiv2412885124MsoNormal {margin-left:12.0pt;}At Crook County Library, we have a 15-minute rule for all reference and technology questions. If the problem can’t be solved in the time limit or it’s obviously something we don’t have the ability to solve, we refer the patron to tech support for their particular device. From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us]On Behalf Of Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 4:05 PM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Technology Assistance - How much is too much?    This is essentially our policy, as well. We also have a policy that we don't handle patrons' devices; we'll verbally walk them through the process, but we don't touch anything.  

 Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, MLIS Library Director Driftwood Public Library 801 SW Hwy 101, #201 Lincoln City, OR 97367 541-996-1251 (desk) 541-996-1262 (fax) www.driftwoodlib.org   >>> "Dunham, Charles" <Charles.Dunham at corvallisoregon.gov> 1/6/2016 3:54 PM >>> We only offer technology help related to library services. We stray over the line sometimes, but this policy prevents us from going down a troubleshooting black hole.   Charles Dunham 541 766-6965 Adult Services Librarian Corvallis-Benton County Public Library     From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us]On Behalf Of Aaron Novinger
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 3:48 PM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [Libs-Or] Technology Assistance - How much is too much?   Hello!

When helping patrons with technology, where do you draw the line? Does your library have a policy, or does each staff member set their own limits?

Showing them how to download and use e-book apps is one thing, but what about things like...

installing free software, such as Adobe reader or an anti-virus?
walking them through system updates?
transferring pics from phone/tablet to cloud storage?

We're trying to teach them to fish, and there is a reason they aren't going to Geek Squad; however, complaints and perhaps liability issues could surface when working with patrons on their devices.

Do you set time limits, tell the patron you're "hands-off" prior to helping them, and is the service they receive consistent from staff member to staff member?

Looking forward to any advice you have. 

Thank you, Aaron
--  Aaron K. Novinger, SLIM '14 Emporia State University,Oregon Campus anovinge at g.emporia.edu 
    Disclaimer: This e-mail message may be a public record of the City of Corvallis. The contents may be subject to public disclosure under Oregon Public Records Law and subject to the State of Oregon Records Retention Schedules. (OAR:166.200.0200-405) If this is an unsolicited spam message, please click this link to report it:Report Spam 
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