Today is the day to celebrate those folks who work in libraries. Give your local library worker a friendly smile or a quick thank you this week.
For me, libraries have been home as long as I can remember. In rural Alabama, I made a weekly visit to the Bookmobile each summer. In elementary school, I set a goal to read every book in our school’s library. I soon learned that I was not going to be able to achieve that goal but decided to keep trying anyway. In junior high, I worked my study hall period in the library and became friends with our librarian. And now, after many years, I have gone full circle and work in a library again.
At our library, on any given day, we do many, many things. And some of those things include ordering, processing, cataloging, shelving, and then checking out books. And I will never downplay the importance of books to libraries, but they are only part of our mission. We also have databases that provide students with articles on subjects for their research papers. We run workshops on topics, such as word processing and presentation software, MLA format, apps and mobile devices, and social media savvy. We answer research questions in person, on the phone, and online. We provide computers and tablets as well as a quiet place to study. For some students, the library as a specific place is an integral part of their education.
And then we do the other things that don’t pop up in our job descriptions:
- We console students who have just failed a test and think they should drop out of school.
- We help students figure out the eccentricities of their course management system.
- We show them how to register for courses.
- Because we tend to be open whenever students are here, we answer lots of basic questions about the college.
- We serve as cultural translators for ESL students who may not understand an assignment or the connotation in a poem or short story.
- We encourage.
- We even provide pens when a student finds himself on campus without one.
We want to be a welcoming place for all, whether you are a prospective student at the front desk wondering where the admissions office is located or a student fifty miles away trying to access a database. And I bet your local library is the same.
So today, thank a library worker.