The Combined Desks

The idea of the “combined desks” has not appeared a lot in the library literature. I, personally, came across only one article a year or two ago. I have found the idea very logical but its application in existing libraries is very difficult or even impossible. When I ‘m talking about combined desks I refer to the circulation and reference desks. In most libraries, the circulation desk is either across from the entrance or on the side very close to it. The reference desk, on the other hand, is further in and, in most cases, it is invisible from the entrance. Some libraries have more than one reference desks. This depends on the size of the library, which would include more than one floors and an arrangement that would separate different collections from each other. In the latter case, a general reference desk can be combined with the circulation desk, leaving the specialized desks where they are. The problem, as I mentioned above, is that the existing libraries would have to change their set-up to accommodate this idea. Such task would require a major renovation and interior rebuilding, thus significant expenses. The idea of the combined desks can work in the libraries of the future. I should also mention that, obviously, the general reference collection would have to be in the same area as well.

Why would this idea be more effective? How would it help the library functions and the users? The first reason that comes to mind is that the users would not have to look for the invisible reference desk. It would be right in front of them. As I mentioned earlier, in libraries with multiple reference desks a general one can be combined with the circulation desk. Another obvious reason is that the users would be able to access both services in the same area, right by the entrance. Think about it; the user goes in, drops off the returned items, requests a certain item or information, and checks out new items. Finally, a third reason is that everything would start from and end in this central area, an actual front desk. This would allow successful communication between the staff members from different departments of the library and would create a feeling of centrality for both staff and users, regardless of the size of the library.

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