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Why I went into the profession

Photo by Eric @ Flickr

Photo by Eric @ Flickr

Tonight I remembered why I went into librarianship in the first place — to make a difference and actually help people.

Often in your career (and in life) you get caught up in the mundane, day to day stuff: going to meetings, prepping for classes or presentations, whatever project you are working on next.  You put yourself on autopilot or stress out about things that do not go your way.  Or, especially with librarians, you get overwhelmed with all that you have to do, often leading to burnout.

Sometimes though, it is nice to step back and recognize, “hey, there is a reason I am doing this,” or “is this really worth worrying about…isn’t this just minor in the grand scheme of life?”

Every once in a while you get reminders of this.  One great example are reference sessions when you are able to find the perfect information for someone and they get really excited and thank you for all your help.  You can actually see yourself making a difference.

Tonight I did an instruction session with a Sports Management class.  I thought it went pretty decent for my first one of the year, except for a slight setback with setting up wireless for laptops.  The one thing that I really was pleased about was the information literacy gem that I presented them without even realizing I was going to do it.  I told them that sometimes in order to find information you must be creative.  You can’t get caught up always going to the same place for your information, no matter if that place is Google or the library catalog, or your uncle Jerry.  Information comes from a plethora of different places.  You may need to go out and observe a basketball game and document it, or e-mail someone at Burton Snowboards to get what you are looking for.  Don’t handcuff yourself by using only one source of information.  Think creatively…be a detective!

I didn’t say all that, but that was my general message.

What was really rewarding though was that after the session the instructor e-mailed me and told me, based on student feedback, that I “opened their eyes.  One said you hit a home run.”  I guess that is a little Sports Management humor.  Getting comments like that would make anybody’s day.  But it really made me realize once again why I went into this profession.

I take two things out of this:

  1. Write more thank you letters.  They are really powerful and appreciated.
  2. Even if you don’t get praise every day, try at least once a day to step back an look at the big picture.  We may get caught up in the mundane, but seeing things in their larger context puts things in perspective.  Stressful things don’t seem to be as big of a deal, and simple things have some of the most power to them.

Andy Burkhardt

2 Comments

  1. Good post Andy. It’s sometimes difficult getting students to understand their need for investigative skills. I often try to get that point across by showing them how my thought process works when I search. But the phrases/ideas of “think creatively” and “be a detective” are great. I’m going to use those in the future.

  2. Good post Andy. It’s sometimes difficult getting students to understand their need for investigative skills. I often try to get that point across by showing them how my thought process works when I search. But the phrases/ideas of “think creatively” and “be a detective” are great. I’m going to use those in the future.

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