February 08, 2007

At your service....

The below articles reference the growing trend for government agencies to place forms online only and then send the users of their services to the library to access and recieve help with these forms. I haven't worked in a public library, just academic, but this came as no surprise to me. The forms may be different, but in many ways, academic libraries fill these roles for their students.

In my time at the reference desk, especially at the beginning of the semester and in the summer, we frequently had students coming in to complete financial loan paperwork and other student aid paperwork. Many with slips of paper with the wrong information - bad URL, erroneous password, a step left out, etc. We also helped students enroll in classes - it's all online now and many don't have computers. And, I've helped a few get in and do their taxes online.

The good was that our computers were newer (upgraded about a year ago and about 20 were added), the bad is the same as for the public libraries. Lack of training or just no information about what's going on and who's going to be coming over. I'm happy to help, but that help would be better if I know they're coming.

Drafted: I Want You to Deliver E-Government in Library Journal (August 15, 2006)

Librarians expected to become our e-government service in The Florida Times-Union (January 31, 2007):