When Jolly Librarians Get All Whiny and Stuff

This has been a busy couple of weeks in the library as students are rushing to get their sources for projects due in the next few weeks. As one student said today, “I didn’t realize how close that after-Thanksgiving deadline has become.” For the most part, this is one of our happiest times of years. We get to help students, and we get to help look up all sorts of interesting information. What’s not to love?

Except that librarians are human too. And like everyone else, there are things that turn us into whiners. Here they are a few of them:

  • The expectation to perform library magic. You come in on Friday afternoon and want to work on your paper during the weekend: if the book you want is not in our library, we can’t get it to you from another library in a hour. That’s simply not how it works. It’s not even how Amazon works. We can probably find you other sources if you give us a chance.
  • The lack of response. Today I answered an email from a student who could not access an ebook. I sent her information and asked questions hoping to get at the root of the problem. I never received a response. The best-case scenario is that my information solved the problem. But I am worried that there’s a bigger problem out there and other students are going to encounter it soon. (I can’t always tell from campus what off-campus problems are occurring.)
  • And while I’m on the subject of emails, life would be easier for both of us if you could make sure your email address is correct. It’s pretty disheartening to write a long, informative response only to have the message bounce back because there’s no such address 😦
  •  Lack of attention. One of my colleagues, known to all for her patience and helpful demeanor, finds her blood pressure rising when she’s showing someone a helpful database only to find the person texting away while she’s the one doing the actual research. That is a major no-no.

But then just when I’m getting all whiny and self-pitying, a student brings me a cupcake or another comes up to the desk at the end of the a long day and says, “You guys are awesome.” And the jolliness returns.

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