Teaching Gopher and more
This post is part two of a series I’m writing describing the changing face of technology at my library over the past 25 years to commemorate my quarter-century of employment there as of next month…
By 1991, we had staff computers at our two service desks. I must confess, I had to practically drag my fellow librarians kicking and screaming to the keyboards. Remember that back in those days we were working on black and white screens using DOS prompts and command lines. It was pretty scary since the wrong command could wipe out an entire disk drive! We had basic word processing using WordPerfect and a very rudimentary search engine called Gopher – so named because it was developed by a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Constructing search strings with those Boolean operators was pretty hit and miss unless you did it on a daily basis. It was up to me to convince other staff members that it was worth their time and effort to learn this new way of finding information for patrons.
I think my favorite success story involved our children’s librarian. She was an avid and talented photographer. That was the “hook” I used to lure her into Gopher-land. Once she discovered the amount of data relating to various models of cameras and photography techniques available on the Internet, I had to physically pry her away from our shared computer. To this day, even in her retirement, she stays connnected to me via Facebook .
As in the case of our children’s librarian, I ended up using this same technique of training with the rest of our staff. As with any group of individuals, some were eager & easy learners and a few just never felt comfortable searching online rather than pulling a trusted, but dated, reference book off our library shelves. It was a long, slow transition during the period of the early 1990’s! Thankfully our director was – and still is – a firm believer in technology and the need for staff to be fully trained and competent in the area of computers and online resources. She was truly supportive as we all moved forward on the cutting – and sometimes bleeding – edge of library technology.