I recently read a blog post from the Chronicle of Higher Education about a new twist to roving reference. Roving reference means that a librarian strolls around areas where students are computing answering questions that may arise. While that model takes the librarian to the users, some students are bothered by the continuous strolling of the librarian – perhaps thinking, “is s/he watching me, checking out everything I’m doing?” Others may feel the librarian’s “May I help you?” a bit disruptive in their work flow? How then do librarians reach out to the students and respond quickly without interrupting or too much in the students’ space?
Brian Matthews, Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech, takes an idea from a chain restaurant and other pager models. He suggests that libraries offer some mechanism at each work station that students can use to signal a question or need for assistance. Think of turning your restaurant coffee cup over to signal you’d like a cup of coffee. It could be as simple as putting a solo cup on the top of the user’s monitor or desk, or flipping a card up beside the desk (remember putting up the flag on your mailbox when there was mail to go out?).
If you have ideas for signaling that you need help from a librarian, please let us know what they are!