Here we come a-roving…

…among the pods so green. No, I am getting confused.* But we have now started roving in earnest. It has been a varied experience for most of us, so far. It being the beginning of the academic year, there are lots of people around who don’t know who to find things, or look on the catalogue, or how to borrow books, or return them, etc., so we have had a fair number of queries. However, there have been times when it hasn’t been particularly busy out on the floors, and then an hour out there without anything much to do apart from to try to look friendly can be rather dull.

I must say, though, that I’m enjoying the roving so far. It’s nice to have positive experiences of dealing with library users; times when you can see that you have actually helped someone learn something, or find something, or just feel better about using the library.

It is odd, but having a pod to stand by, a folder of helpsheets (kept in the cupboard in the pod) and a mobile phone helps me to feel more secure when I’m out on the floor. I don’t feel as if I’m just randomly wandering around; or just wandering around to keep an eye on people and dish out the occasional librarian stare, like I used to when we tried roving before. We have signs to tell people when we’ll be available and what to do if they need help when we’re not there, and a phone on the pod so people can also phone through to the office if they need assistance. We have nice green badges to wear. I like green. It all feels quite positive, which is obviously a good thing.

I’m hoping that library users are also seeing the roving librarians as ¬†positive things. I do worry that sometimes I become a bit like a prowling tiger looking for people to help, and following likely suspects around the floor to make sure they’re OK. I will have to be careful not to become annoying, but on balance I think that trying too much to be helpful is probably better than not trying hard enough.

At the moment we only have enough members of staff to have them roving around the floors for part of the day, but it is better than it was before, and hopefully, once vacancies are filled,we can increase the number of hours in which we’re roving. I think the danger may be that we will never be out there enough to satisfy everyone, but there is only so much we can do with a limited number of people – not to mention all the work some people have to do in the office. At the moment, I think the office-based work will probably be what has to give, but it can only be put aside for a certain amount of time before the situation becomes untenable. So, we await the future with interest and a certain amount of trepidation.

*With this song.


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