Transcript File

Communication in Library
Areas of Consideration
What is communication?
• "Any act by which one person gives to or
receives from another person information
about that person's needs, desires,
perceptions, knowledge, or affective states.
Communication may be intentional or
unintentional, may involve conventional or
unconventional signals, may take linguistic or
nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through
spoken or other modes."
(National Joint Committee for the Communicative Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities, 1992)
Why study communication to
diagnose user needs?
• “One of the most important tasks of a
librarian who acts as an intermediary
between the inquirer and the system is
query negotiation – determining what
the inquirer really wants to
know…[T]here appears to be no
systematic approach to teaching
librarians how to conduct the reference
interview.” (Dervin and Dewdney, 1986)
Major Issues
Non-Verbal Communication
Diffusing Situations
Education Level
Special Populations
Gender Issues
• Management and Authority
– Transactional vs. Interactional Leadership
• “She concludes from her studies that
organizations run by women tend to be "webs
of inclusion." [T]hey rely heavily on distributed
responsibility and authority, instead of on a
command and control model. Women's
communicative styles and greater interest in
human motivation and individual needs give
them further advantages…The men…tended
to…see their relations with subordinates as a
series of exchanges: rewards for service;
punishments for poor performance.” (Euster, 1994)
Gender Issues (cont’d)
• Employee Interaction
– Men generally need more personal space than
– Men are more goal-oriented and are more
comfortable being approached with problems that
need solutions, rather than opportunities to
express empathy.
• Emotional responses
– Juliet Funt:
“Cross Gender Communication”
• Changing language
– Textual shortcuts
• Are = r
• B4 = before
• U = you, etc.
– LolCatz
• An internet created language
• A guide to grammar exists
• Common words include:
yr doin it rong
Technology (cont’d)
• A new web vocabulary
– Most of us now take our expanded vocabulary for
granted, but some patrons may need help
communicating on the web
– Internet vocabulary quiz
• Other technologies with new vocabularies:
– MP3 Players
– Bluetooth
– Cell Phones
Non-Verbal Communication
• Body language
– “Learn to Speak Body: Tape 5”
– Rules of body language
• Rule 1: Read Gestures in Clusters.
• Rule 2: Look for Congruence.
• Rule 3: Read Gestures in Context. (Pease 2004)
Non-Verbal Communication
• Smiling, light laughter, and frequent eye contact =
friendliness and courtesy.
• Head nodding by service providers = empathy, courtesy,
and trust.
• Frequent eye contact by service providers = credibility.
• Hand shaking = friendliness and courtesy.
• Slower speech rate, lower pitch, moderate pauses, and
less inflection = friendliness and credibility.
• Faster speech rate, higher pitch, high vocal intensity, and
higher inflection = competence, but reduces friendliness.
• Touch = friendliness and empathy.
• Physical attractiveness = friendliness, credibility,
competence, empathy, and courtesy.
• Attire color and intensity = friendliness, competence, and
Diffusing Situations
• The frustrated user
– Let the user express their frustration
– Offer a compromise within library protocol
– Stick to your guns!
– Unshelved comic strip:
Diffusing Situations (cont’d)
Diffusing Situations (cont’d)
Diffusing Situations (cont’d)
• The frustrated librarian
– Remember you are the professional
– Assume every patron needs some amount
of library education until proven otherwise
– Find an associate or superior to help with
or handle the situation if necessary
– “Cookie Monster”, “Librarian”
Education Level
• Differences in librarian response
– Should you offer college textbooks or Dr. Seuss?
• Differences in user’s queries
– “I need a book on dogs.” vs. “Do you have a howto manual for raising and training Turkish
Livestock Guardian Dogs?”
Special Populations
• Mentally disabled
– Offer services, materials on their
• Developmental age vs. actual age
• Avoid being the teacher, case worker,
or parent
• Know your library’s limitations
– Some come in with a case worker
• This person may know their charge’s
• Identify the case worker quickly if you
can, and develop a good relationship
with them and their clients.
Special Populations (cont’d)
• Different cultures
– A humorous story (early native New Zealanders
encounter Europeans):
• “Because they wore lap laps and trousers … the people
said, ‘We think they have no wastes in them. How could
they when they were rapped up so neatly and
completely?’ We wondered how the excreta could be
passed. We wondered much about that. … ‘One of the
people hid’, recalls Kirupano, ‘and watched them going to
excrete over there.’ He came back and said, ‘Those men
from heaven went to excrete over there.’ Once they had
left many men went to have a look. When they saw that it
smelt bad, they said, ‘Their skin might be different, but
their shit smells bad like ours.” (Connolly & Anderson
1988: 43-44)
Special Populations (cont’d)
– “Innumerable interpretations and judgments are
made of the other persons long before one word is
understood or even uttered.”
– “As we have argued, matters are not that simple,
and it is precisely the acknowledgement of this
vagueness and complexity of what it is to be ‘a
member of one’s community’ which can (or
should) enhance successful interchange. Only if
‘we’ are ready to acknowledge the temporariness,
flexibility and dynamics of many different forms of
life, will we be able to avoid this ethnocentric point
of view which inevitably hinders fruitful
interchange with people from different cultures.”
(Previous three quotes from Vandenebeele, ?)
Special Populations (cont’d)
• When encountering different cultures,
– Be sensitive to read the other person’s
non-verbal body language
– If possible, educate yourself on important
cultural differences
– Try learning a few words in their language
relevant to the library
– Be understanding and give them time to
learn your culture too
National Joint Committee for the Communicative Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities (1992).
Accessed on website:
Dervin & Dewdney
Euster, Joane E. (1994, September) “What’s the Difference Between Men and Women Leaders?” Wilson
Library Bulletin, 69: 66-67
Funt, Juliet. (2007, September) “Cross Gender Communication” Accessed on website:
LolCatz. Accessed on website:
Alderman, Jim. (2001, March). A Concise Web Vocabulary. Accessed on website:, BodyVox Dance Company. (2006, June). “Learn to Speak Body: Tape 5.” Accessed on
Sundaram, D. S. and Webster, C. (2000). “The Role of Nonverbal Communication in a Service Setting.”
MCB UP Limited.
Pease, Barbara and Allen. (2004). The Definitive Body Language. New York: Bantam Press.
Barnes, B. and Ambaum, G. (2008, April 14, 15, 17, 19). Unshelved Comic Strip. Accessed on website:
Children’s Television Workshop. (2006 June). “No Cookies in the Library.” Accessed on website:
HauntedLove. (2007 April). “Librarian” Accessed on website:
Vandenabeele, B. (?) The Importance of non verbal communication in first contacts between different