Today I spoke with librarians from the four branches of the Plumas County Library. Margaret Miles, the director of the library, invited me to speak at their all-staff meeting, and we shared a provocative conversation covering many topics, from lockdown software, to tracking public computer use, to low-fi PC reservation processes, to patron training. I heard stories of the challenges some face with monitoring patron usage of the computers, and I shared with the staff Renee Goss' solution from Richland County Library of using the pagers many restaurants use to alert diners when a table is free.
And again, the topic of communicating with technical support people surfaced... in Plumas County's case, they outsource their technical support. We chatted about asking the technical support person to document his work in order to help the librarians understand the setup and better support the computers. Closely linked to this solution is knowing what types of questions to ask the technical support person in order to learn more and be more involved. In an earlier post, Kevin Smith, from Cass District Library spoke of being as specific as possible when asking questions. Laura Crossett from Meeteetse Library in Meeteetse, Wyoming, talked of addressing situations in a way that allows for both parties to consider a solution, rather than saying, "you need to fix this." In this way, Crossett added, "I try to pitch it as, 'Let's use our brains.' Because I think many people do interesting work because they like to think of solutions to complicated problems. And I do very much try to present it that way." She added, "and I've been trying to educate myself a little bit more about what does a static IP address mean, and how does that work so that I sound a little more like I know what I'm talking about, which I think also shows a respect for the work that they do."
These are all good ideas, and I'm certain only offer just a taste of what's to come as we consider this topic in future Cookbooks. I look forward to hearing more approaches!