A Summer Job in Hawaii:
"Ask Me Anything!"- My Experience as an Information Concierge
I spent two months this summer working for Sinclair Library at the University of Hawaii. Although I spent a few hours a week at the library's traditional reference desk, most of my time was devoted to staffing the "Information Concierge Desk" that Sinclair had recently installed. This desk is part of the new Student Success Center at Sinclair Library, which is devoted to better meeting the academic needs of UH's students.
So what exactly did being an "information concierge" entail? Basically, meeting any and all of the patrons' information needs to the best of my ability. The information concierge desk is the first thing someone sees when they walk into Sinclair Library; it's designed so that everyone comes to me (or whoever is staffing the desk) for help. And I helped them in any way I could (with the usual caveats--no dispensing of legal advice and so forth). But I was able to help library users in many other ways. I walked through the stacks with patrons to help them find materials, I helped students configure their laptops for wireless network access, and I answered questions about nearly anything and everything. Yes, most questions were pretty straightforward, ones typically fielded at library information desks: "Where can I find such-and-such book?", "How much does it cost to print?", "Can you help me request a DVD?", and--of course--"Where's the bathroom?" But I did get some real doozies: I had people come up and ask me about recycling bicycles on campus, class registration policies and procedures (several students asked me to help them register; others asked for help figuring out what classes to take), even restaurants in the area! There were times when I really did feel like a concierge at a hotel.
Overall, I had a great time working at Sinclair this summer. I learned a lot about providing information services and meeting user needs. The response and feedback I got from the patrons I helped was overwhelmingly positive, and it was so rewarding to know that I was providing a valuable service for the university community.