Monday, March 29, 2010

What does it take?

Ever since my first library job took me behind the desk where the librarians worked and I began to join them in their mysterious process, I have had a increasingly distorted view of information seeking. From that point on, finding library materials and information is very different from what I remember as a patron. It's not that I can see over the counter any better, although I'm taller than I used to be. It's more that I understand some of the secrets librarians learn in library school and while on the desk, helping patrons and each other.

And there are many! It just depends upon who you talk to; if you find a colleague entrenched in 'library-speak,' you can really gain some valuable tips. Like, calling audio books "nonmusical recordings" so that you remember to use this search term on the catalog. And that's sure to impress patrons.

Or is it?

In my ideal library, patrons can look up audio books through a variety of terms; audio books, recorded books, talking books, books on tape, downloadable books, ebooks, and yes, nonmusical recordings will all bring the same results. Exactly.

We use our expertise to help, and that's impressive enough. When we click with a patron, it's amazing. And when we work together to find, learn, discover, and locate the treasure of information, that's the relationship building aspect of library work that lasts forever. It can happen with children, students, peers, adults, home-bound, seniors and teens. It's a social interaction that provides substance to the questions asked. It's the tension of the moment of internalizing, growing those synapsis, and always respectful of the customer's turf in which we are invited (or sometimes subtly need to invade) to participate in the world of our patrons.

Instead of correcting and instructing, maybe we can someday make our catalogs and resources reflect each side of the desk, like a double rainbow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Transition Months Bring Treasures

The last few early spring mornings and lengthening evenings rouse even the most grumbling, sleepy lives. Each day moves onto our streets and yards and into our homes as we go through our routines, bringing rosy-golden light and relaxing warmth, like the palm of a loving mother on our backs. The birds and squirrels play and chase. Songs fill the air and I catch myself humming a tune I really don't like, so it surprises me. But then I nod and acknowledge that it is, indeed, appropriate:

"Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!"

Every day is filled with surprises. I shy away from the darkening clouds and bad news (of which there are plenty to last a decade) in favor of a smile at these charming discoveries: a nest building here, a compliment from a neighbor, an unexpected "thank you" email from a library patron, a funny story, sweet talking telephone calls.

Here, to help greet you with a silly video is Hugh Jackman singing...yes, you guessed it. "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'!" complete with farmer's garb. (Honest, it's Hugh Jackman!)

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shoulds are invasive

Lately, "should" is a word that has been creeping in around me, infusing my thoughts and conversations like an unwanted ivy that has invaded every space of my garden before I realized it was there. Now I see lengths of wiry green tendrils drape my deck, trees, swinging chair, statuary, even the bushes. And when I look closer, I see new ivy growth everywhere. The "shoulds" are buds sprouting into my life.

Personally, I am on a brink of a major change. These life-changing challenges affect every aspect of my life, from my daily awakened world of work and play to my nightly dreaming world of processing and rest. "Should" comes knocking, politely asking questions as it enters my home;

"Should I allow myself to feel...what? Sad? Happy? Relieved? All of the above?"
"Should I show these feelings? Should I scream and be dramatic or be silent and calm?"
"Should I stay away or continue on as if these moments are a continuation of a string of changing days?"
"Should I seek help or refuse it?"
"Should I rejoice or mourn?"
"Should I plan or wait to make any decisions?"

But then, the Should starts showing signs of worry, coloring the innocent questions like a drop of food dye in a crystal glass of water. I begin to hear judgments;

"She should've known."
"She should've known better."
"She should've been a better [fill in the blank with a noun]."

Is this the cousin of the innocent Should, or just another side to its personality?

Instead of becoming overwhelmed, I decide I can find a reasonable solution. Options:
  1. Change - stop using Should.
  2. Accept - so what if "should" is used?
Should can be a harsh and fierce judge standing on the soapbox of Assumption. I hope to be careful about my use of this word as I work with patrons, students, my family, and myself. Although I sometimes "should've known," I am capable of not knowing and even defiance (though not so much as when I was a teen). Despite knowledge of what we should do, we can choose to try some new style, accent, plant, life lesson...

...but with the steps in that direction comes the responsibility wrapped up in choice.

And that is a topic for another time.

May each of us balance Should with Want and find our heart's desires!