Monday, August 25, 2008

First day of classes

Classes start today. I have mixed emotions about this, even though summer really was over two weeks ago. I think most of my negative emotions come from people around me, and aren't really as negative as the words they say. The professors never feel ready, and to listen to them, sometimes they sound like they dread the students coming back. But most of them love teaching, or else they wouldn't be at a college like this. It's mostly just the dread of having to get back on a schedule and come into the office regularly.

I have been on a schedule all summer, but it has been relaxed. We only have to work until 4, we don't have to work nights and weekends, we don't have to sit at the reference desk, and we can easily leave here and there if we need to take care of something.

I'm dreading sitting at the reference desk. I'm wondering if admitting this publicly is safe. I love working with students one on one, or in small groups, more than any other part of my job. I love helping them solve their research problem, educate them, and make them realize there are friendly people who would just love to help them. The reason I dread it is because we sit at the desk for so long without anyone come up to us. I then tend to slouch, day-dream, or get so into my computer stuff that I know I look unapproachable. That's not what I want...

In grad school I worked as a reference assistant for distance learning students. Usually, there was a steady stream of people contacting us for help... not because they were more willing to ask for help, but because 20,000 students' library needs were entirely served by our tiny little office. I was the sole reference assistant the entire day on Sundays. Some days I would come in and have over 100 e-mails to answer, and many of their questions were really hard. It was absolutely exhausting, but I loved it and I miss it very much.

I know many librarians feel this way about reference. I wonder if the students realized this, would it make them approach us more readily?

1 comment:

Susan said...

I'd love to be able to do more reference. Most students here only ask us if we have x book or need help searching online databases. Most of their questions revolve around "instructional" issues about how to find information.

They don't seem to have specific questions about the information they are finding or their topics.