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Thoughts on Vegas and the nature of the Service industry

Recently, I took a trip to Vegas, and noticed a few interesting things about the service there. Recently, when talking to a Librarian friend of mine in Ohio, I realized that there are some ideas for service that might be able to be adapted here on Campus.

 First off, the idea that sparked it all for me.

 I am in Vegas, sitting in a restaurant underneath Ceasars where there is this very extensive complex. Its confusing, there are a lot of pathways, and if we really had a specific place to go, it may have been difficult to find where we needed to be.

As I am watching the people go bye, I see several people frantically looking for something, and I noticed that these people on Segway Scooters regularly drove bye. They had a sign that said "Mobile Service Point" on them, and were easy to see and flag down...or drive up to distraught customers and answer their questions.

 When one of these segways passed close to me, I saw that they were each fitted with a small laptop, a little folder with maps, and a walkie talkie to communicate with security or whomever.

It occured to me that this could be a really neat idea for Reference service, but it also seemed kind of far fetched.

Thats where talking to my friend in Cleveland comes in. I told her about these Segway stations and she explained to me how a couple years ago their Library went to a completely mobile Check out system. Basically, they have a Wireless computer terminal on a desk with a printer, a scanner and a De-sensitizer. The employees wheel the desk around and check out books to people while they are sitting and studying. 

Well, if Circ can be handled on a wireless network, why not reference? More and more we are less tied to a physical location and more tied to our access to online databases for reference service. With a portable terminal, and constant movement through the Stacks, we might even be serving multiple purposes...we would have a regular presence in the stacks, increase our visibility and probably our number of questions, Plus, we may be able to strongly reduce the need for security because more Librarians would be roaming the stacks regularly. 

Obviously a Vegas institution is going to easily fund and maintain vehicles like a Segway in a manner that might be difficult for a Library. However, it seems to me that some similar idea could be used in a space as large as Doe to great effect.

Imagine if the Staff led stacks crew for finals were regular fixtures of the Library...with laptops in hand to help answer last minute questions as well as to support a clean invironment? Or if the Stacks crew was a totally normal part of the environment in Doe? It seems like this might not only improve our relations to the students, but also our image overall, as helpful providers of information rather than the staunch enforcers of food and noise regulations.


Comment from: Marijane White [Visitor] Email
Marijane WhiteI agree that reference services on a Segway seems a bit far-fetched, but one of my library school classmates works at the Northwest Library in Columbus, OH, where they provide roving reference services using Ultra-Mobile PCs. UMPCs have all the capabilities of a laptop, but they are designed to be used while standing up, and are small enough to fit in a pocket. I think this is an avenue for reference that more libraries need to consider.
04/08/08 @ 12:35
Comment from: John Kupersmith [Visitor] Email
John KupersmithNot long ago I was in one of the Apple stores, talking to a salesperson, and decided to buy something. Using a small portable device, she scanned the barcode on the item, swiped my credit card, printed a receipt, and we were done! No trip to the cash register, no waiting in line, great feeling of being catered to.
04/09/08 @ 08:43