If you know me at all, you know I’m suspicious about endings–finishing up, getting to the end of things, looking for finality, it all seems akin to the death drive. “Oh, let’s just get it all over with.” So it was refreshing and a good reminder yesterday to see Char Booth’s presentation on an experiment in video kiosk reference work at Ohio University.
I’m always suspicious about next-gen technologies and library services. There’s always this persistent lack of data showing me that any of these things work. Sure, I know the stats about how many people are gaming and how many people are occupying virtual worlds, but I don’t see any data that convinces me that people are playing library games, or occupying virtual library worlds. So I appreciated Char’s gentle reminder that my insistence on immediate statistical evidence of success is maybe a little misplaced. The video kiosk at Ohio University didn’t really work, at least not in the ways that would traditionally reflect ‘success.’ The staff tried kiosking two or three different ways, but students didn’t use the system–the librarians ended up getting around two questions a day. But does this mean it was a failure? No. We need to embrace an ethic of experimentation and play, and a willingness to try things and let them fail and then let them teach us what we might try again. Of course we’re all up against the burden of the annual report, but we can’t let that determine what we’re willing to risk.
And I might give this video/IM reference thing a spin on my campus. We might be different. Who knows, yet?