January 8, 2007
A View from the Stacks: If you hit that bell one more time…
I have a theory about service bells: when a person sees a service bell, they are almost certainly compelled to ring the service bell. This is the case no matter what the circumstances of the situation, including life and limb.
This theory was developed in the most scientific method of ways. My hypothesis was born one afternoon while on the reference desk. I got to thinking that even after making eye contact with me, a person would still ring the bell in order to get my attention. Of course, my null hypothesis was that this would not be the case. After an exhausting hour (hour!) of data collection, I determined that my hypothesis is correct. People love to hit the damn service bell, even if I happened to be two feet in front of them. (I am excluding children from this data set since I believe that the shiny nature of a service bell is like a beacon to the under 9 years of age crowd).
To make matters a little more annoying, these same people have the utmost look of satisfaction after hitting the bell that leaves me slightly uncomfortable. Why so smug? It is not as though you have outsmarted me with your invisible ways and I only can now see you once the bell has been rung. Chances are, I saw you and was about to get up when you hit that bell (My apologies to anyone who can only become visible after ringing a service bell).
Because I do not want to leave anyone with the impression that I am just complaining about an issue to complain, I polled the other employees here at my workplace, and of those asked, 50% said they hated the bell and 50% said there needed to be a buffer time between when a person arrives at the reference desk and when they can ring the bell. This has led me to the conclusion that the bell is a serious issue of workplace morale. What can be done to balance the use of the service bell with the sanity of the service provider?
Since I am more of a decider than a whiner, I wanted to take this opportunity to ask you all, in the New Year, to resolve to ignore the bell more often. Please only hit the bell if you cannot see anyone behind the desk. This is why the bell has been made available. Think about a service bell like you think about Ben Affleck: only in moderation.
Stina McClintock, Library Technician, King County Law Library (Seattle) and Beer Judge (BJCP)
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