Tuesday, October 23, 2007

39 steps cont'd

So, the lady at the copier knows exactly what type of copy she needs but hasn't quite the English to explain it, and two library staff twice her tiny height who are assuming that because of her age and her accent she does not know what the new copier can do. My colleague is so used to training that she treats everyone as a trainee (she used the phrase "Good girl" to a sixteen year-old who agreed that, yes, she did know her PIN number), And I'm the new staff member who finally sees that, although I don't know the new machine, if we take it slowly and listen the lady will show us what she wants.

The lady got her copy, eventually. She politely thanked me when I was very little help. There's a few things you could draw from this encounter, but for now it's enough to say that going through the checklist of our assumptions might be just as important as going through the instruction in the user manual.

39 steps

Ours is one of many public libraries which have installed copying and printing activated by membership card in the same way as unis and many schools. So instead of putting coins directly in the photocopier box you scan your card and deposit coins in a separate box on the wall, then scan your card agin at the copier/printer, select your print job, and print.

It's not quite 39 steps but there's more than the three steps the training advertised. WE're all carfully taking the public through their paces learning the new system. Many people patiently learn it, accepting that it takes twice as long to make a photocopy for no extra advantage to them, and that they must type in a 14 digit membership number to obtain a hard-copy print from the web. Some people, mostly elderly males, walk out angrily saying ' This is too complicated'

My colleague, a very efficient circulation supervisor, and I wer helping an elderlt Chines lady to make a coloulr copy with the new system. She had used it once before, but our minds were so much in the groove (there's an outdated metaphor. What's the CD update - in the pits? Flasgdrive - in the circuit? MP3 - in the download?) of training people in copy cards that it tok a while to see that the lady did not want help with that, but with how to use the copier touch screen to make a copy that was in colour, reducing a double-page A3 sized spread to A4.

Closing bell's gone. To be continued