BUT ARE WE DOING OUR JOB?
My plan of action for this week’s installment was to review an area that doesn’t get much attention in our curriculum, but is becoming more prominent in public debate and scholarly pursuit: the synergy between religion and science. Quite a few books were published recently (you can go to http://www.huc.edu/libblog/newacqsla.html and browse for our new acquisitions), and many more articles can be found in current theological, educational and scientific journals dealing with faith, science, and all that’s in between.
But National Library Week (April 15-21) - when communities across the country and all types of libraries celebrate the many contributions of our nation’s libraries and library workers - is coming upon us, and I decided to stop and think about the work we do, our own “contributions”.
Now, I happen to know what kind of work we do in our libraries, and how much work (and money) it takes to meet the challenges of our mission statement. I even know what is going on in my own God’s little acre, the Frances-Henry Library in Los Angeles.
What I don’t always know, however, is whether we are doing our job!
Put yourself in my place for a second, and picture this: I come to work (almost) every day, ready to meet planned challenges and unexpected crises. I want to make sure that books are processed and shelved properly, reference questions answered correctly, elusive items paged and found, computers and photocopier are humming in harmony, and the staff vigilant and courteously responding to your requests and needs. But since this is an academic and research library, I am inclined to tear myself away from this generic and idyllic vision of a Librarian’s job description, put myself in your place and repeat the question:
Am I doing my job?
Are you finding the materials you need when you need them, and where they are supposed to reside? Can a staff member help you “crack” an elusive citation in an obscure publication? Are you sitting comfortably in the carrels? Is there sufficient light in your area? Are we equally accessible to all users? Is our physical environment equally accessible to all users? Do we smile often enough? Do you know our names, our skills and areas of specialization? Do we know yours?
I suspect that there will be no resounding “YES” response to some of these questions. I know that I probably did not ask all the right ones. But it’s a beginning. And if you don’t tell me – I won’t know.
Happy National Library Week!