Apparently, timing and technique are everything. Perhaps it is because I read both articles today, or their uncanny timing in coming out. Either way, my mind quickly drew parallels.
A forefather in our field Samuel Swett Green talked about “Personal Relations Between Librarians and Readers” way back in 1876. He encouraged librarians to "mingle freely with … users, and help them in every way", and to ice the cake he offers suggestions to improve “[p]ersonal intercourse and relations between librarian and readers." Hot, right?
May's issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine will publish a survey of sex therapists which concluded "the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was 3 to 13 minutes."
While the journal Biblioletra, recently published an article which points out "sometimes questions are quickly resolved, while other questions seem easy but [take longer]."
This same article notes that a librarian "must be willing to modify [their technique], because some patrons would have been unsatisfied..." and further "a well-trained reference librarian will sometimes initiate....if a hesitant user appears to need assistance.”
While the sexy article noted "... research has shown that both men and women want [sexy time] to last longer." The therapists did rate sexual intercourse that lasts from 1 to 2 minutes as "too short."
Extrapolating from all of this, a few points that librarians should keep in mind during a reference interview:
1) If it feels like it has lasted long enough, it probably has.
2) Use an established technique. Does your library have guidelines?
3) Asking more questions can lead to a more satisfying experience the second time around.
4) It is not necessary for it to last more than 13 minutes, even if the patron wants it to last longer.
5) Librarians should always make eye contact.
6) Satisfying the customer can lead to a true happy ending. They may even tell a friend!
7) One to two minutes is probably not enough.
8) Stay on top of your patrons - initiate if necessary.
9) In academic settings, often the patron wants it quickly.
10) In public settings, often the patron wants it anonymously.
11) In special settings, often the patron expects to be billed.
12) Small talk can often make the intercourse more enjoyable for both parties.
13) Keep in mind their are others waiting, you may have to do this dozens of times in one night. Pace yourself.
14) If their are children, involve them! They hate standing on the sidelines.
15) Use hash marks to keep track. You may determine that you need a helping hand on certain nights!
16) If you can't finish, get the customers e-mail address or phone number.
17) If you don't call back the next day, statistically the customer may never return to use your services.
18) Don't point. Guide the customer to exactly the right spot.
19) Customers don't always ask for exactly what they want. Probing them can lead to full satisfaction, in many reader/librarian situations.
and of course..
20) Always practice safe reference.
So you can see, our jobs are very important. We should see parallels in everything we read. Librarians should strive to keep the customers coming. Without them, what would we do?
Moral of this blog: Librarians do more than check patrons out.