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Don’t Overthink It

, , , , , | Right | August 4, 2022

Working the information desk at a library is about 50% IT support these days. “How do I log on to this computer?” “How do I print a document?” “What’s the password of my email?” “How does my online bank work?” “Can you show me how to use my phone?” “Who is Mr. Google and how does he know everything?” And so on, and so on.

Most of the time, it’s perfectly understandable that people have a learning curve for these things and not everyone gets digital information half as well as everyone thinks.

This was a new one, though.

I’ve just helped a new patron set up their account, showed them how to browse the catalogue — “I don’t get why everything needs to be on computers!” — showed them where the books they’re looking for are, and left them to browse.

A few minutes later, they walk up to the self-checkout machine, plonk down a bunch of books on it, and stare at me. 

Patron: “So, how does this thing work?!”

I walk up to them and show them how to follow the instructions on the screen.

Me: “Tap ‘Check out’, put your card on the picture of a card, punch in your PIN where it says, ‘Punch in your PIN’, and put the books one by one on the sign saying, ‘Put books here'”.

The entire time, the patron is muttering about how everything is computers these days. But eventually, they start scanning their books and I walk back to the front desk to help the next visitor.

Ninety seconds later, the first patron yells at me while waving one book.

Patron: “The computer tells me I can’t check this book out!”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. There might be something wrong with that one book. If you’ll just bring it up to the information desk, I’ll help you as soon as I’m done helping this gentleman.”

Patron: “This again? I told you I don’t know s*** about computers! How do I do that?!

Me: “You take the book in your hand and then walk over to where I am standing.”

The patron pauses.

Patron: “Oh. Right. Sorry. I do know how to do that.”

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