Life Lessons from the Library: Be the Headlights on a Dark Road.

I’m in the process of hiring a new director for the Testing Center, and it’s not a job I enjoy. Oh, I enjoy meeting new people and talking with them. I enjoy getting to spend time with the hiring committee, people whom I don’t see on a regular basis. But I have to admit that I’m not comfortable with the final stage of hiring: There is only so much you can tell about a person in an interview and listening to references. In the end, he/she has to come in and do the job before you really know if you’ve made the right choice.

It’s like driving on a dark night, something that I’ve never been fond of either. I could never understand why people would leave for trips at night. “The traffic is nonexistent,” they’d say. “You get there so much faster.”

Perhaps so, but I like to be able to see around me, and I like to see where I’m going and where the potential hazards may be in the miles ahead. Of course, it is a fallacious comfort I find in driving during the day. My only wreck was in broad daylight where I could see five or six streets in front of me. And that was the problem. I was so focused on the red light 500 feet ahead, I didn’t see the one right in front of me.

I’ve think, in most things, we’re all driving at night on a very dark road. We see as far as we can and have to make our decisions based on that. We can never be certain that anything we do will have the results we desire. But we have to keep moving forward.

I often feel that way in the library. Some students make us their home away from home. They give us updates on their classes and tell us where they’re going to university. But for most, we see them only once or twice. The student I helped today is an older adult with children, a job, and  a lot of fear. I can’t do much about any of those things. But like those headlights on a dark road, I lit up a small space for her to be able to get this one assignment done. And for this day, it was enough. And if she comes back, we’ll be here to provide a little more light. Because that’s what we do here.

And that’s what we all should be doing for each other.

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