my pockets are empty

You can pretty much guarantee that if I’m at the reference desk, I’m going to post something…

Our color printers are broken on campus — they one in the main lab and the one in the library were bought at the same time from the same vendor, same model, and they broke together.  Bummer.  We’re waiting on a service call and some parts.  There are big signs up explaining the brokenness, with apologies.

A student just came and asked me if the color printer was broken.  As I answered, and gestured to the sign, he said he’d read it.  He was, clearly, coming to me in hopes that I’d pull a secret color printer out of my sweater’s pocket and offer it to him because he knew the secret handshake.  I was unable to pull off this trick, as the only things in my pockets are 20 cents and my office keys.

And I apologized to him.  It sucks.  I’m sorry about it; I know it’s an inconvenience to our students, and I wish it weren’t true.  But it is.  We’re trying to fix it, we really are.

My takeaway, though, is that, clearly, I need a magic sweater pocket that has color printers in it.

Barring that, I would like to have a reputation among our users that we are forthright and transparent.  The kind of reputation that means when the sign says something is broken and indicates the solution, our users will believe what they read because they trust us.

I don’t mean that our users don’t trust us now; I think we do relatively well in that area, working hard to be fair and honest and consistent in all of our interactions.  But I want it to be bigger, and better, and as a result never have students suspect that we’re hiding the good stuff from them and saving it for someone else.

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