Every time an astronaut goes up in a rocket there are countless people who help them get there. When folks come in to the library, the librarians represents those countless people. While librarians cannot step into the space suit and walk on the moon, we are there, on the ground, supporting the mission. Of course, you know that I am not really talking about space here, what I am talking about is the patron who came into the library today asking for books about how technology is changing our culture. He has a paper to write but it’s obvious that he does not know where to start. I did not write his paper for him, but I did guide him to a workable thesis. After he had narrowed his topic enough, I offered him several research options and sent him on his way with a good luck.
People come into the library every day not knowing which direction to go – some just need to know where the restroom is while others want to know how best to start climbing down their family tree. The questions require completely different approaches, and yet, both patrons are at a loss. As far as I am concerned, when someone comes to the library to find answers, there is no place to go but up. Rarely will a patron be left stranded when I am on duty; I may not have right concoction of expertise, but somebody else in the library will, and if not that then we can always elevate their question to super-duper second-level reference. Yes, short of flying to space for them, I will do what I can to get them there.
If someone comes to me with desire, I will provide the fuel. But it’s not just the people who know that they have questions, librarians also launch those that are hobbling around in space suits without a ship or destination. Children will often accompany their ‘net-using parents to the library and wander around with nothing to do – I approach – let’s go to this chair over here, here’s something for you to do…Find Waldo! Oh hi there, Miss Lady, you look like you could use a book to read, what was the last book you liked? Really, that’s fantastic because I was just talking to another patron about a book you’ll love. Let’s walk over to the shelves and take a look. At my library, I battle boredom and confusion daily – if you walk around like you’re lost, I’m tackling you and taking you to where you want to go before you know what hit you. I’ll approach softly and confidently inquire whether I can help you find something. Maybe you’re just looking, fine, I’m not trying to sell anything, but if you need help I’ll be over there at the launch pad near the “Ask Here” sign.
My goal is not to “meet information needs,” my goal is to send you on the journey you’ve dreamed about but couldn’t fathom in reality. The world is less lonely when you have a librarian with you because I will show you how to format your big bad resumé on Microsoft Word, I will walk you into the endless stacks right to the very book you were looking for, I will lend you my brain while I am with you to make your life easier. When you come to my desk, we will work together until you are satisfied. But wait, maybe it’s not space you’re trying to get to, maybe you want to go the other way. Not to worry, please allow me to conduct you to a charming science fiction title by a man named Jules Verne…