Self Help Guide: How to Avoid Awkward Moments @ the Library
September 12, 2012
The following is an example of a conversation that has occurred more than once in my ten years of employment at the MCPL:
Customer: "Excuse me, can you tell me where I can find the self-help section?"
Me: "Unfortunately, our library does not have a dedicated self-help section; our books are organized by topic. If you’ll let me know the subject area you’re interested in, I can direct you further."
Based on body language and a look of panic, it’s at this point that I realize that the subject the customer is interested in is something they wish to remain private. This is awkward for both of us. I shared this with you now for the purpose of letting you know that we take great pride in making sure that people leave here with the information they are looking for; and we also respect your privacy. Our ability to help you find what you’re looking for is limited by the information you are comfortable sharing with us. Understanding the personal nature of some requests, here are four suggestions to help you navigate our library to find what you need:
- Ask for the General Section and Browse. Consider what major subject your concern would fall under…is it Medical? Mental Health? Relationships? Parenting? Spiritual? Legal? Business? If you are able to give us a general idea, we can direct you to a section of shelves and leave you to browse. Some sections are bigger than others,and this may prove to be very time consuming and frustrating. You could also try…
- Make an Anonymous Call. Call our branch ahead of time (816.761.3382) and ask for the specific call number for what you are looking for. Once you have that, you will be able to walk into any library and find the subject you are looking for in the adult nonfiction section by following the sequential Dewey numbering and letter system.
- Google it. From a home computer, go to www.google.com and type the following in the search box: "What is the Dewey decimal number for ______________?" (Fill in the blank with the topic you are looking for). You may get lucky and find the Dewey number you are looking for. Write that number down and go to the adult nonfiction section in the Library to find what you’re looking for.
- Search our online card catalog from a home computer (with internet access) or here at the branch. You can put items on hold with a valid library account. When they come in, you can use the checkout machine to check your materials out. I’ve created a document to help you navigate this process.
We are committed to help you with any request for information you have. It is up to you how much information you are willing to share with us to assist in pinpointing the location of the material that will meet your needs. We want you to leave here satisfied with what you have been able to find!
Blue Ridge Branch