13 November 2009

You Never Know

Like many librarians that design IL curricula and especially librarians that teach, you really wonder if what you are doing is having impact. Am I getting through to the students? Did that student walk away from the class with an idea of how to move forward in their head?

Or even at reference: is the patron leaving our time together thinking I was helpful?

Is this work I'm doing working?

This week, I was surprised by how many ways the answer came to me. And that the answer was yes.

Yes, our IL curriculum is making students think differently about information. It might not always be obvious from how they participate in class or how they look while we are up in the front of the room, but this students' post reminded me that the work we are doing does work.

That alone would have been enough for me. But the love just kept on coming! Yesterday, a faculty member sent this email out to all faculty:
Dear Colleagues,

Our librarians are wonderful. A little while ago I asked them to find a photograph of Friederike Maria Beer-Monti. “Friederike who?” you ask. Exactly - her only claim to fame these days is that she was the one person to be the subject of portraits by both Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

In less than an hour, (librarian x) found me a usable photo in which Friederike Maria Beer-Monti’s pose resembled that in the Klimt portrait.

Impressive, wouldn’t you agree?

Best regards, (professor A+)

I was beaming when I read that. I'm not the librarian mentioned in this email. But I don't care. It was a fellow librarian, someone I work with and love, and yup...they rock. Getting an email like this was incredible.

More incredible was the wealth of response this sparked:

-Our Librarians are the best!!!

-I couldn’t agree more. Our librarians totally ROCK!

-I'd like to chime in with high praise as well. I insist that my art students find their way to that nice building on the hill every semester. As much as they may enjoy their cozy computers, when students conduct research in the library or consult the staff there, they invariably discover that Champlain is blessed with a stellar library staff that simply couldn't be more supportive.

-Oh yeah, and the students actually look INTERESTED when the librarians at the reference desk are talking to them. They work magic for sure!

-I am going to jump on the bandwagon and say that I too, think that we have a truly crackerjack library staff. One of the things that I find to be most impressive is that in a time when Universities are closing libraries, we have a thriving one due to our staff of professional’s abilities to seamlessly integrate “old school” and new school ways of getting at information. Kudos to the whole crew at MIC!

-I assign a lot of research papers and projects, and always recommend that students use the Librarians for what they are, a critical resource in their learning. Of the students who do tap into this valuable resource, all of them report back to me how helpful the librarians have been. You all DO rock!

-I'm not usually one to hop in on the emails in praise of X, but for the librarians, I happily will. "Helpful" is a nice little adjective, but it doesn't really capture the MIC folks, for whom "above and beyond the call" is the norm. I loudly second Professor A+'s laudatory comments.

Be still my pounding heart!

What's the point here? The point is that you never know when your work is truly making a difference. You never know the value of your helpfulness. You never know how much you are appreciated. That is until someone kindly shares it with you. But even if they don't, you never know. You might be making the world of difference.

Believe it. Surprises abound.


Andy Burkhardt said...

You forgot to mention that someone made us cookies (I had 4) after that email barrage. It truly is pleasant (and delicious) to feel appreciated. It is things like this that make librarianship so rewarding.

The Sheck said...

Yes, those cookies were DELICIOUS.

Carolyn Foote said...

Thanks for sharing that moral support! Some days we all need that!

I think because we help people from afar, often we have no idea the role we played in some project.

Thanks for sharing!