A while ago Laura blogged about her idea of putting WalMart-like greeters in the library. When I read it I remember thinking that this might work for some people. I imagined someone (other than myself) feeling all warm and fuzzy that somebody had bothered to smile and say “hi.”
Then I imagined me… I’d be trying to figure out if there was a back entrance or an open window I could use to get in without having to walk past a greeter. Then I’d have all my routes mapped out in the library in such a way that I’d be able to avoid all eye-contact with that poor greeter. On the up side (from a library statistics point of view), once I was in the building I’d be loathe to leave because I’d have to pass through the dreaded front entrance if I wanted to check out any materials. I imagined myself timing my departure to be on the far edge of a group of other people, buffers between me and certain greeting. This could be a devious strategy for increasing the length of time patrons spend in the library.
But now I’ve just heard another argument against implementing this idea at our library. My student worker was just in a discussion with some of his friends about WalMart greeters and how it’s obvious that they’re only there to keep people from running out of the doors without paying for their merchandise. “Why else would they pay somebody to stand there all day? They obviously don’t trust anyone,” was the comment one student made a couple of times. This was seconded by the group in general.
So it’s not the strongest evidence, but since I have a pathological aversion to greeting people who are paid to smile and say “hi,” I’ll take whatever falls in my lap. “No,” I affirm to myself as I twist this conversation to fit my ends, “I don’t want to seem distrustful. I don’t want my students to think that I only see them as book thieves. And heaven help me, I really, really don’t want to have to sneak in and out of my own library.”