Friday, 2 November 2012

MyBloPoMo: Tech Support to the World

It's NaNoWriMo time (follow link for information) but this year I just don't have the time to participate.  I have too many other things that I need to be concentrating on instead of working with entirely new idea, etc.

But, because my alternate plan will not cause problems (I hope) with those other tasks, I'll be trying to post to one of my blogs each day.  I might also keep an eye on the total wordcount, and see if I get anywhere near 50,000 for the month, but I won't be necessarily aiming for it.

I followed the #internetlibrarian hashtag on Twitter last week: it was a conference happening in Monteray, California.  I found a lot of stuff from that conference interesting and other stuff from it really quite frustrating.  But the one that has resonated for me was a comment about librarians now being "tech support to the world".

It's true, we are - but I'm not convinced that (as another tweeter from the conference said) if we're not prepared to be tech support to the world we're in the wrong job.  And we're certainly not all *trained* to be tech support to the world, or even just to our users.  Nor do our sponsoring bodies necessarily understand or embrace the whole "TSttW" concept to the point of helping us be trained as such.

A few examples: 
  • Of our staff we have one dedicated IT person, whose understanding of libraries is because he's had to gain it on the job, rather than because he loves what libraries do.  There are two more of us who I would consider relatively techy, but it's not even at hobbyist level: more just what you learn by being either internet-fannish for the last fifteen years (me) or being part of Gen Y (the other staff member).  Two of our staff are not techy at all.  I have learned to run new backroom resources (Wiki additions, switching from iGoogle to Symbaloo when iGoogle's demise was announced) by them because they are the lowest common denominator when it comes to understanding tech.  Until I learned to do this, I was getting frustrated by people not using the "perfectly good" Wiki I'd set up.  My point being - can we expect our staff to be tech support to the world when we can't even be tech support to ourselves?
  • We have two playstations here in the library.  They are well used, but we do get kids come in to play on them that have never played before, and then they expect us to help them out.  Resultant problems: Most of us don't know how to play most of the games.  (For example, I have two of them at home, but on the Wii, I have no idea how the PS3 works.)  Playing the games isn't seen as actual "work" (we did have a go on a particularly quiet day between Christmas and New Year, but we don't open at that time of year anymore), and most of the staff have no real interest in learning.  (I don't particularly want to learn how to play the beat-em-up games or the car/dirt-bike racing games, for example.)  If we're "TSttW" we should be able to show the five year old how to navigate the Toy Story game, but... what employer will support the time out for a full staff to familiarise themselves with the ins and outs of seventeen PS3 games?
  • As part of Seniors Celebration, we were all geared up to offer "Master Your Gadget" sessions, wherein participants would let us know what gadget they wanted to master, and we would find a volunteer to assist them.  Unfortunately, our prospective gadget masterers far outnumbered our volunteers, and they weren't always very good at telling us exactly what they wanted us to teach them.  Or at turning up when they'd been booked in.  All of which lead to us not necessarily having anyone on hand who knew anything about the object in question.  In that instance we tried to be TSttW but overreached ourselves.
I'm not saying it's not a good concept, and I'm certainly not saying it's impossible, but it is difficult, and I think more difficult than some of the blithe twitter comments during #internetlibrarian made it seem.

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