Thursday, August 21, 2008

Save The Time of the User

During my studies in library school (that term hardly covers it, but I'm trying to use commonly recognized terminology), I was introduced to S. R. Ranganathan who famously articulated five guiding principles of library science back in 1931.

Today, I felt as though the fourth law ("Save the Time of the User") was not being honoured. I don't work with the public in my present position (except for those rare occasions where they somehow call my office line directly and then I help them with great energy), but I am still concerned with the user experience. As a rule, libraries and archives should not set up obstacles to users and yet that seems to be happening. I suggested that a current problem - which could cause significant delays for users - be put online. We may not know when or how this Big Problem will be solved, but we can at least let people know about the nature of the problem. Then they can determine how it affects them - only then can they make an informed judgement on how to use their time. This suggestion was denied and the reasons were not terribly good.

I'm starting to think more about whether there is any kind of coherent philosophy that can hold together the information profession. Public service may have worked, but that leaves out all the private sector people...

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