Please join us for mediations 3.3:
Friday November 29th, 2013 at 2:30 in NCB 293
Jennifer Robinson presents:
Service: The Synergy between the Servers and the Served
Respondents: Yimin Chen and Zac Bronson
Purpose – This paper examines how ideas about what service is and should be have changed in the public library setting and speculates on the impact of these ideas on public libraries as organizations, as well as their staff and users.
Design/methodology/approach - The paper presents themes derived from a qualitative analysis of the professional literature focussed on the topic of service from 1980 to present. An operational concept is developed from an authoritative reference source as a framework to discuss the critical criteria of service (identified as the server, the served, and the purpose and context of interaction.) Thematic analysis places the operational concept of service into 4 thematic areas: Technology, Equity, Accountability, and Vision. Each theme is deconstructed to define its constitutive elements and describe how the components interact to reveal discourses.
Findings –A working definition of service entails librarians helping patrons through resources in hopes of meeting aspirational goals while adhering to an institutional qualitative/quantitative system of measurement integrated with a professional philosophy. Contested elements of service include: the disputed aim of service as a humanist principle, the derogated server as a professional exercising judgment, and the dissolved served as a collective interest. These aspects develop in the public library field as the commercial reconstruction of value (action - service) which redefines the role of the human intermediary (actor – librarian) and the locus of impact is the relationship between the user (actor - patron) and institution (interaction – political economy of the library).
Originality/value –A comprehensive review of the dense literature articulates coherent structures and patterns to help practitioners understand and re-imagine the service model.