Last week, I was spending some time working at the circulation desk when a student checked out two books by Virginia Woolf. “Good old Virginia,” I said. “I wrote my thesis on her.” Now most of the time when I say this (not that Woolf gets checked out that frequently here), students smile politely and edge away.
But this student, after I handed her the books, hesitated for a moment. Then she asked, “You said you know about her?” I nodded.
It turned out she was writing a paper on Woolf. She was a smart student and already had some good ideas. But she wanted to know if I could suggest some other of Woolf’s writings to her. And I could.
Now, as I said, she was a good student, and I think she would have been just fine if we hadn’t talked. But college should be about more than being just fine.
And on any given day, this is what we do:
- Talk with a student worker who wants to practice her English.
- Ask a student about a film he just returned, resulting in his thinking through and evaluating it before recommending it.
- Show a student how to do a PowerPoint presentation so that he’s not completely frazzled by the bells and whistles part instead of the content.
- Notice a pattern in some materials being checked out and asking if the student knows about a local activity that fits in quite nicely with the topic.
Librarians do this daily and think it’s no big deal. Still, when I hear conversations about whether librarians are necessary any more, I think maybe we haven’t done a good job marketing ourselves.
So here’s a reminder!