Thursday, July 21, 2011


Class 511 - Introduction to Library and Information Professions

I used to be shy.  I still am in a sense.  I don't like talking in big groups, and I am hesitant in confrontation.  But I work on that.  Sometime in high school I got tired of my friends taking advantage of me.  It wasn't their fault.  The way I communicated with them, the way I acted, they figured that was the norm and accepted it.  But the unfairness of it all built up until I exploded.  There was a fight, and it took the rest of high school to put those relationships back together.  They still weren't the same.

It's all a learning process.  But I am not here to have you all pity me for my high school woes, just bear with me.  After the explosion, I began my own personal Renaissance, and worked out exactly what had happened and where the communication failed.  It was puzzle solving, and through that I managed to salvage a little of what was left of those bridges I had almost burned.  Since then I have continued to work on my communication, my body language, and all my ticks and nuances.  Now I have perfect strangers sit next to me on a train and tell me their life story or the horrible day they had.  People see me as someone they can trust.

I feel all librarians, no matter what their demeanor, become someone the public trusts.  Whether they want it or not, whether they have earned it, doesn't matter.  That is one old stereotype, one ancient relic of the past that I believe is positive of librarianship: reliable trust.  But the trust wont last unless we communicate.  If a stranger talks to me on a train and I don't respond, in words or body language, or are abrupt and rude, they peter off and that awkward silence falls.  If I engage them back, I find out new things, new ideas that I never would have known had I not known how to communicate.  Not only is it interesting, it builds, and solidifies a trust. If I ever see those people again, they engage in discussion with me, even let me hold their kids, give me business cards.  It all ties in together, and in the end the more personally connected a community feels towards its librarians, the more they will come to the library.


Matthew Gunby
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I definitely agree with the need to engage people (even if I am not exactly great about doing so myself, it is a work in progress). Going along with your other post on the limitations of technology and the importance of presence, I would say that perhaps one of our greatest missions as librarians (particularly public librarians, but not exclusively) is to engage people where they are. If we only engage the people who come to the library we may well keep that group coming, but I think it is a disservice to the community to limit our contact to those who come to us.

I would honestly like to be in a position where I could live in the community I worked at, not only so I could walk to work (a lifetime goal of mine that has never really been realized), but so that I can connect with people at the grocery store, on the streets, at cafes. Also, I feel that part of my job (ideally a paid aspect of it) would be going to some of the places in the community in an official capacity to show them that we care about what they are doing and are there as a resource to them. Whether this is schools, small businesses, community centers, etc. will vary based on the community, but I absolutely believe we need to engage the community on its terms, as we find it, rather than trying to move it or worse still assuming it will move to us.

A.A.Van Fleet
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

(I guess this is a but of a tangent but I have to say it)

I had a history teacher in high school who was very hard to confront. He was abrupt, brutally honest, and intimidating. He was also one of the most known and loved teachers in the school. Why? Every sport event, every band practice, every little arts and crafts night he was THERE. Sure he was a sort of silent shadow but he was there. None of our other teachers were there who felt they didn't need to be. He even showed up to out Latin Club party night.

Also, he lived close to the school and walked there every day, rain or snow =P

It amazes me that just by being there everyone knew of him, and everyone felt a sort of comfort with him being there. Even people who disliked his attitude liked him in some way. Getting into one of his classes was near impossible since so many wanted to be there.

So I guess being social is a minor part in comparison to presence. It's something more to think about in any case.

I wonder how much he'd be liked if he TALKED to people too O_O

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