Life Lessons from the Library: We’re Always Beginners!

“. . . for everything you gain, you lose something else.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

In many ways, to work in a library is to work in a state of perpetual ignorance.  “Wait,” I hear you say, “How can this be so? Librarians are surrounded by information at every turn.” Which may be the thing that reminds us constantly of our ignorance.

For the past two weeks, technicians have been setting up one of our classrooms so that we’ll be able to teach and run workshops live with our campuses in Waverly, Dickson, and Cookeville. This is great, and we’re all looking forward to it. Well, except for one thing. We don’t know how to use any of the equipment, so we’ll have to be trained. So in the space of a month, we’ve gone from experts to novices.

No one likes making mistakes in front of classes, but the thing is, in libraries, you get used to change or you’re left behind. Of course, much of this has to do with technology. In the past year, our library system was updated, and we bought a new federated search. Both require learning new procedures. So one day, we were conducting searches like the information wizards, and the next, we wondered what key to hit. It was humbling.

But it’s also good for us. As library staff at a community college, we are constantly coming across students at all ends of the spectrum. There are some who probably could build a library system if we gave them access. And we have some who are totally insecure about computers and need help logging into the system. Always being learners ourselves reminds us to be patient with those newbies.

Every gain is a loss of something else. We have a room worthy of Star Trek, but for the moment, we have lost our ability to go in and conquer the equipment with ease. We admit we have lost that comfort, but that loss makes us more patient with students.

As usual, Emerson was right.

 

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