Monday, January 13, 2003

Reference

I'm currently reading The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine. It opens by discussing the importance of small talk to professionals. The dentist, hairdresser, realtor, salesperson often use small talk to establish a rapport with the client. Many professional encounters such as interviews also begin with small talk.

I'm a cataloger, not a reference librarian. However, I have worked the reference desk. I tried to avoid small talk with the patrons; I focused on their information needs. Maybe, some chatting as we went back to the stacks to get the materials might have been more productive. "Such an interesting Tattoo, what's its meaning?" As I think about it, the more professional encounters include small talk while the fast food sale is apt to exclude it. Do good reference librarians use small talk to connect with their users? Should we? This is something I do not remember being addressed in library school, but the details are fading. I am nearing my 10th year out of school.

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