or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

“New Program” At My Library

   April 2nd, 2007

This email was sent to all the staff at my library yesterday, for an April Fools joke - it met with mixed results:

Announcing a New Reference Program

In order to reach out to teenagers who use the internet more than the library, the Reference Department is launching a new program designed to appeal to these kids.

Since kids are online so much, this new program is geared to reach kids where they spend time. Instead of the Reference Desk, we will use accounts on MySpace and Facebook, and launch a new blog with podcasts and YouTube videos. This will show the kids that the library is as hip and cool as they are, which will make them more comfortable in asking us questions.

We also came up with a hip and cool name and image for the program, based around the look and language of teens today. To show that we're funky-fresh, the program will be called "RephrenZ" (the teen's phonetical spelling of "reference).

A core service of this program will be a new 24/7 chat/IM reference service. The Friends of the Library have graciously given the library funds to purchase five new laptop computers, one for each member of the Reference Staff.

To be able to answer chat and IM reference questions day or night, all Reference Staff will be required to carry their laptops with them at all times, and answer chat questions during their regular desk shifts as well as while they are at home. The Friends are also buying two extra laptops, so other staff can volunteer to answer chat reference questions from home.

The blog and chat login and everything else will be centered in our new website. For more information, please visit Da Rephrenz webpage at http://www.chelmsfordlibrary.org/rephrenz

Are you ready to Git Yo Reph On?!?


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3 Responses to ““New Program” At My Library”

  1. herzogbr Says:

    I’ve had some questions about the “mixed response,” so here’s how people reacted. To most people, the idea of a 24/7 chat reference service is good (and having our Friends group buy us laptops is great) and realistic (we already are a part of MassAnswers.

    The joke part came in with the name (“RephrenZ”), and with staff being required to be on call day and night. I knew that would anger people – being told they have to answer questions from home. And it did, too – some we so mad that they didn’t even click the link, and sent me a reply without realizing it was a joke.

    That was kind of the point, but still – if a joke needs to be explained…

  2. Nicole Burchfield Says:

    Now, see I actually liked the name “RephrenZ.” I’m not sure I’d use it, but if someone else had the cojones to use it I’d like it. But yeah, the 24/7 thing – not so much fun…

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Nicole: ha… but it seems I am the only one to use it. Oh well.