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Now with more librarian!

April 10, 2009

(By the way, Liss and I are doing our “recap” tomorrow evening.  First three chapters of Secret Vampire.  I promise not to cry…much.  Since it’ll be a chat log, it’ll be posted pretty quickly, I’d think.)

Library school would be awesome if not for the homework.

I mean, not that the homework hasn’t been fun.  It’s that I stress myself out about it.  Purely my issue.

I swear, every day I could post a quote that fascinates me.  Today’s would be:

A patron’s first question may be a way to find out if you are approachable and not an expression of the information need.


It’s really about insecurity.  When you read a zillion articles on the reference interview (that’s the process a reference librarian goes through/should go through when you have a question), you find that the first thing someone says about their topic is vague.  This is a representation not of the person but of a natural fear of being seen as ignorant.

This is my one of my biggest fears after death and airplanes.  I HATE being seen as someone who doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  As a kid, I was one of the “smart ones” and “always” knew the answers.  The work wasn’t on my level, so I got used to being the one who knew what was going on.  As my world expanded, I realized that wasn’t always going to be the way and I got terrified of no longer being seen as the smart kid.  I developed a habit–one I like, despite its underlying insecurity–of keeping mum unless I knew what to say or I had a question that I felt was an intelligent (rather than stupid) one.  However, it eventually gave me a whole ISSUE with making mistakes.  For example, last night before I went to bed, I made a post in my person journal, and for some reason spelled “Kanye” wrong twice.  TWICE!  This morning I woke up and found I had a comment pointing out the error and felt mortified.

Mortified over a typo.  Written when I was exhausted.


I really need to work on that.

The point is, from this really bad place, I’d like to think I’ll be a better librarian, because I can understand the fear of being seen as ignorant, dumb, ridiculous.  I would never, ever want someone to feel stupid when talking to me.  I wouldn’t want them to ever feel like their question didn’t have worth.  All questions have worth.

Sometimes people need that extra boost.  One of the articles we read talked about how someone might give a general term right away, and then eventually get to what they really want, and at first I didn’t understand that, because I’m a direct kind of gal.  But now I see it isn’t about the question at first, it’s the validation.  “Is it okay that I ask you this?”


Now I have to figure out how to make that work, strategies for friendliness and comfort and rapport.


(Except for all the self-imposed stress.)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2009 12:38 pm

    I love that quote, and I love this post. I think being able to empathize is the biggest key to success in communication, and it sounds like you will make a wonderful librarian.

    It’s funny, because I’m the opposite way: I’ll speak up even when I think my question/comment might be stupid. I figure that if I’m wondering about it, there might be someone else in the room who is, too, so I’ll take one for the team. This may be because I have very little sense of shame, which is not always a good thing, but sometimes it works out for me.

    • bookslide permalink*
      April 10, 2009 9:10 pm

      I forgot to mention that I will play dumb as rocks if I have a question I think is stupid or clueless. If I can’t watch someone do something first, I’ll ask the kinds of questions I need to ask but I will do it like I’m channeling the ditziest person to ever walk the face of the planet. But that’s fun too, in its own way; it’s like playing a role, and people are VERY sympathetic.

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