Digital Media: RTFM

I've been replaying in my mind that 75-minute phone call Saturday, in which I helped a woman get OverDrive audio book downloads working on her PC and her iPod.  As good as I felt being able to talk her through it to a satisfactory result, I now think that  was the wrong way to handle it.

I broke our rule:  when the desk is busy, it's not fair to our coworkers to spend more than about ten minutes with someone before we break off and offer to get back with them later.  We used to have an IP who drove me crazy that way, spending a half an hour with someone while I had to scramble to handle everything else.  And on some level I knew it was busy while I was on the phone.  When our volunteer, L, left, she seemed drained, eager to get away.  She and SE had to handle all the other traffic for that 75 minutes.

The thing is, I realized as we went along that the woman had not bothered to read any of the excellent help that OverDrive offers on their page:  the Quick Start Guide, the Digital Help FAQ, the Check Out Assistance.  She had tried to download an audio book without having installed the OverDrive Media Console first.  I should have begun our reference interview by asking her whether she had read the help, and if not, to do so and then call with questions.  The help I provided was basically to read it for her.  I may have been seduced by a desire to play the guru.

It is easy to tell by the number of OverDrive titles that have waiting lists that our digital media are heavily used.  Calls for help are relatively rare.  When they come, they often will be from someone who has leapt before they looked.  An audio book must be like a podcast, they assume.  You just download it and play it.  But it's not that simple, because of Digital Rights Management, (DRM).  You must install the OverDrive Media Console to track your downloads, get licensing permissions, transfer the files to portable devices.  And with Apple devices, like her iPod, you have to change your iTunes configuration as well, to "manually manage music."

She could have saved our time by taking the trouble to read the help.  I could have saved our time by finding out up front whether she had done so.

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