Sometimes we all need a little reminder why we got into the library field in the first place. When you hear about the lack of a librarian shortage, the low wages, the closing libraries, the bureaucracy that keeps change from happening, etc., it can all seem pretty discouraging. From the listservs I subscribe to, I’ve seen a lot of young and new librarians questioning why they decided to enter the field in the first place. I know the job market is terrible, but I am just as passionate, if not more passionate, about this field. It may take me a while to find a job and I will probably never afford the trappings of wealth, but I didn’t get into this field just to make money.
A great new blog has come out to remind us of what is so incredibly great about being a librarian. The Feel-good Librarian keeps the focus where it should be… on the patrons. The author doesn’t write about the newest tech developments for libraries or the librarian shortage or the latest library budget cut disaster. This blog is about the people librarians deal with every day, and the tremendous impact we librarians can have on our patrons. The stories show how simple it is for us to make a patron’s day by just making a little effort or going the extra mile. Essentially, the Feel-good Librarian is filling a major void in the blogosphere. I really haven’t been inspired by a blog or reminded about what really matters. And while I love my tech blogs, my next-gen blogs, and my librarian activist blogs, it’s so nice to read something that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Because I didn’t get into this field just to work with technology, though it is a great bonus. I got into this field because it was such a natural extension of my work as a social worker. I wanted to help people. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I remember when I first started working as a Library Assistant how satisfying the work was. Not checking out books or shelving the new fiction. Not the nitty gritty technical stuff. It was the people. What was really satisfying was helping the elderly man find a CD with the song he and his wife had danced to at their wedding when he had very little information to start with. It was calling someone hours after they’d left to tell them I found the book they were looking for (mishelved, of course). It was helping the Spanish speaker find good materials for learning English and helping the elderly woman set up an email account to keep in touch with her family. It’s about exceeding people’s expectations. It’s about helping people and empowering people to help themselves. That is why I knew I wanted to be a librarian… I liked helping people, no matter how small and seemingly inconsequential the help was. Because, like the Feel-good Libraian says, it is so easy to brighten someone’s day.
We have the power to make or break someone’s day. Think about it; a nasty cashier can ruin your afternoon, make you feel the entire world is gray and gloomy. Or that good-looking creature who gave you the big smile full in your face and made you feel successful and attractive – did the sun just come out?
Sometimes it’s our looks that push the button – we remind them of their cousin Jenny they always loved. Or their grumpy Aunt Ethel, who always wore that huge floral print which has suddenly come back in style. Sometimes it is our tone of voice or our facial expressions, physical mannerisms that trigger a reaction in someone else.
If you can, why not push the feel-good button? It’s the obvious choice.
It’s no deep revelation, but sometimes we need to be reminded of these simple truths. Rock on Feel-good Librarian!