Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Making Libraries Magic

I have watched so many librarians perform magic for their patrons. They pull the reference out of a faint phrase. They find the ILL that only exists at one obscure library from a bad citation, and get the library to lend it! They find the reserve item when the student can't remember the professor's name.

But then, being librarians, and modest by nature, they hand it off and shrug as though anybody could have done it. They don't want the patron to think they put anybody out by this outrageous request at 5 minutes to closing just before the big holiday. Who else would act this way, I ask you?!

I want to make a plug here for librarians showing the world that what we do is, by golly MAGIC! We whine and whinge on and on about how we don't get any respect and nobody realizes just what we do. Well, whose fault is that, then?

We are WIZARDS, folks! And I say we should certainly play the part. Just how has it come about that those durn fool IT ejits have come to look like wizards when Jim just quoted a nice story showing that they call up reference librarians to help them do their searching? It's because we are too darned modest to make our case, that's why.

I don't ever want my patrons to be afraid to ask for help, but I make a point of telling them a bit of what went into getting them their book, their citation, their reserve item. Just as I hand it to them. And if they came by at 5 minutes to closing on Holiday Eve, then we have a bit of a talk about planning. We are wizards, but where does it help anybody, least of all the professor, the student or even the dean, to think that you are their doormat? I try to be nice about this, but we try to make a plan for the future so that this is not the regular formula to deal with the library. They are much more impressed with the book, the reference, the citation when they get it. It's Library Magic!

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