At my university, there is a group of student tour guides who give tours of the campus to prospective students and their families. The library is included in their tour, and it is often amusing to listen to the misinformation about the library that they sometimes include. We periodically provide updated information, and the tour guides are trained each year, but errors are always present and we accept them with good humor.
What was harder to chuckle about not long ago was overhearing a tour guide give an explanation of the reference desk followed by an explanation of the nearby “Media Hub.” It went something like this:
(Spoken in a sad tone): “Over there is the reference desk where there is a librarian who can, um, help students find things to use for their research papers and things, and they are experts in different subject areas … There is a reference desk on each floor.” (In our building with four floors, there is Circulation and some student technology help on the first floor, reference on the second, student technology help on the third, and nobody on the fourth.)
“Moving over this way, that is the Media Hub, which is self-explanatory.”
It seems to me that we’re getting our message out okay regarding what we do, but most students here don’t connect to the service we are providing once they hear us describe it. It seems to me that overworked faculty members are not scrutinizing students’ papers to the point where the students would see any need for our help. So we say, “We can help you get a better grade,” but I think that from the students’ point of view it is hard to see how we could possibly do that, given the more immediate obstacles to better grades that they experience. There are exceptions, of course, and most days those are enough…