Posted by: Memo | April 14, 2007

You, the library user, and Carl Friedrich Gauss

GaussI attended the 2007 OCLC Western Members meeting at my university: “Mapping the User-Centric Environment.” I skipped the cataloging-heavy sessions but attended those that dealt with statistical analysis of resource sharing, delivering information at point of need, and learning more about the online catalog and search box widget.

One session, “Information on the run: delivering content how and when it is wanted” was particularly interesting in that the question of delivering content and information–both online and off, effectively and according to user need–was even achievable between the two extremes of library users: book lovers on one end, and digital natives on the other.

This got me to thinking on the users in the middle, those that straddle the generational gaps between these two extremes. Namely, those in the bell curve (or, as my wife called it, the Gaussian distribution), also know as “everyone else.” As a librarian I serve those in the bell curve 90% of the time, with a smattering of book-only patrons and extreme digital-only consumers.

This may sound facile, but as long as you–as a library professional–strive to provide the best service possible to meet the information needs of everyone in the middle, you’re doing all right. That makes YOU the nexus, the necessary ingredient, the key player, that connects the right information to the person that wants it, when they want it, from whatever generational extreme they may come from.


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