Everything, Libraries

On Understanding

This post has been in the works for some time. However, I attended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at my university Monday and listened to a fantastic keynote speaker before the service started. He stressed that we should think about making every day a service day and to serve others beyond a few hours of volunteering. His speech motivated me to think about the ways I serve others in my life.

So far, I know that I have chosen a career path that will allow me to serve others in a meaningful way, and I constantly strive to be the same person I present on social media that I am in person. I also realized that part of how I serve others is how I treat the patrons at my library. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on being understanding and nonjudgmental…

Everyone has a bad day at some point in their lives. Many people have days that are a lot worse than my worst bad day will ever be.

My best friend and I (on the left) before service started.
My best friend and I (on the left) before service started.

There is no rule or law that states people who come into the library must be having a good day in order to use our resources.

Yet many people (in general, not just at libraries) are quick to judge someone based off of one interaction. Perhaps they were having a horrible day. Maybe they really are just a rude person. We don’t know, and it shouldn’t be our job to judge them; we should try and help them or let them be.

Judgments don’t just apply to personalities though. They apply to things like how one dresses and what they come into the library to do.

We as humans are quick to judge others based off of what they wear and how they present themselves, but one of the first lessons I learned when I started working for the library was to not assume the man in the suit is rich or that the not-so-pleasant-smelling patron is experiencing homelessness. People do all sorts of things to hide their true situations, which includes what they do at the library.

Assumptions harm people. They affect how we view people, how we treat them, and if spoken, they are likely to harm the person they’re about.

If there is a not-so-nice-smelling patron who comes in regularly, we don’t know what their life situation is. They could have a mental illness and not have the money to access proper treatment, so they let themselves go. Depression has a strong ability to stop the person with depression from taking care of their self. People who experience mania might be so involved in an idea that they completely forget to shower or practice self-care and thus charge into the library to research how to make their ideas reality.

If a patron comes in wearing a suit every day, they might have lots of money, or they might not. What if they were raised to dress nicely every day so that good opportunities will find them? What if they are extremely poor, but they allow themselves the luxury to wear a nice suit or to have an awesome phone?

My point is that people aren’t always what they seem, and I shouldn’t treat people poorly based on assumptions I make about their life.

People who come into the library want one thing: resources. Why should an assumption I make about their life change how I give them access to those resources?

My job is not to badger the man in the suit who has a lot of fines but never pays them, nor is it my job to make assumptions about any of the library patrons (or anyone else either).

Me working to prepare a Valentine's Day craft program.
Me working to prepare a Valentine’s Day craft program.

My job is to treat everyone with understanding and kindness, and my job is to accept things as they are. I simply have to notify the patron in the suit that they have fines, and I treat them just as I treat the other patrons.

In terms of being understanding and not judgmental, my job is to:

-not make assumptions

-find and provide resources to all of our patrons

-listen to the patrons

-work with them

-serve them, and

-avoid judging them

As with many people, my first instinct is to judge people on first sight even though it’s not something I want to do. However, I have the choice to let my initial judgments rule how I treat people, or I can just follow the saying and treat others the way I would want to be treated.

In my line of work, I have the choice to acknowledge that I am not in the same shoes as the patrons I serve. Their lives differ from mine, and I don’t know what they might be going through (regardless of what they tell me or project to the world).

If we truly are a world that wants equity for everyone, we need to accept that, yes, we make judgments and assumptions about others, but no, we don’t need to allow those judgments to rule how we treat other people.

If we do that, then maybe we will be able to make progress towards an equitable world.

Moral of the story? Let go of our judgments and be more understanding towards other people. After all, we’re all in this whole living thing together; let’s do each other a favor and be good people.

Everything, Libraries, NaNoWriMo

My Year in Review: 2014

2014 was quite an interesting and jam-packed year for me.

Here’s some of what I did (in no particular order):

  1. I got married.
  2. 10469373_10204820749021207_3642174395043947195_nI graduated college.10372307_10203783494930503_788805432666866692_n (1)
  3. I started working at a job that will lead me to my future career as a librarian.10559826_10204448443393799_8855281968239146763_n
  4. I joined a sorority.1779709_10203300696580846_1738315318_n
  5. I completed the 100 Happy Days challenge.10438359_10204292761821857_4367586535198569635_n
  6. I completed a Mud Run.10253790_10203810478965087_185805523995482963_n
  7. I went back to England (where I studied abroad in 2012), and visited my best friend, friends from my study abroad experience, London, and Dover.10881695_10205427552070904_1623741020512548941_n
  8. I finished a journal for the first time.60671_10205360847203324_1370337100781811454_n
  9. I became a Big Sister/part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters.10392370_10205357125830292_8343976812616011101_n
  10. I started Square Dancing.1618561_10205160074104122_4574066075674137892_n
  11. I moved into my first “real” apartment with my husband.10885043_10205438670948869_5105261343330654992_n
  12. I completed NaNoWriMo.10521174_10205217335535622_685972538609730621_n
  13. I’ve read 36 books since the start of the summer. UPDATE! I have now read 38 books! The 37th book goes to The House of Hades and the 38th book goes to The Blood of Olympus, both by Rick Riordan.image
  14. I started this blog!

Thanks for reading about my year. How was yours?

Everything, Libraries

On Teamwork and Libraries

Last week, the library system I work for held their annual Staff Day, which worked like a mini conference for all of our employees. I had a great time, and I left feeling validated and excited for my future in libraries. Below are some of the main concepts and ideas I took away from the meeting:

The Main Library on Staff Day.
The Main Library on Staff Day.

Teamwork and Outreach

One of the sessions I attended focused on outreach and collaboration between our library branches and the surrounding communities. However, I found a hidden message in the speech: teamwork is essential to the success of a library. One of the speakers, a manager from a branch in a neighborhood similar to mine, spoke about how she encourages her staff to work together to help their branch reach their potential.

Rather than taking on the job, as the branch manager, of reaching out to and forming partnerships with community organizations alone, she allows her employees to go to community meetings, form partnerships, maintain those partnerships, and so on. She shares the task of keeping the branch involved to her employees, and she trusts them to understand how partnerships work, how to keep them going, to know when to end partnerships, and how to enrich them.

Together, they have combined their knowledge and resources to bring in organizations that can help their patrons and they have made their branch a focal point and gathering place for the community. That is what I hope for every single library I will ever work for.

Libraries and Communities

Me working on a Valentine's Day craft program.
Me working on a Valentine’s Day craft program.

Libraries are no longer a place to find books, they are community centers in disguise. They work with and for their patrons. They are information hubs, and they don’t just know books anymore. They know community resources. They know where to find help for struggling patrons. They either know it, or they know where they can find it.

However, a library can’t just open up and say, “We’re here; let’s get started.” They need to listen to and know their community. What her patrons need may not be what my patrons need; what my patrons need isn’t what a branch in a wealthy neighborhood needs. We, as libraries, can’t go into a community and assume we have all the answers. We need to know our patrons; we need to know the needs of our community; and we need to know what our community needs from us. Our job isn’t to tell them what we do; our job is to listen to our community and then work with them to figure out what we can do to best help our community grow stronger.

Whether we serve as a gathering place for community leaders, or whether we offer and instruct classes and programs that help our patrons succeed, we need to listen to our communities first.

Teamwork and Your Library

Family Craft Night in November 2014.
Family Craft Night in November 2014. I’m honored to have the opportunity to step away from my normal duties to have fun with our young patrons.

In this post, I have done my best to try and explain the importance of libraries and communities using teamwork to make the community stronger, and I have done my best to outline that it’s not the job of the library to determine what the community needs; the library has to listen to the community to best figure out what they can do to be a part of the community and make it grow.

I want to return to a point I made earlier about the branch manager and her staff. They did everything together and as a team. They demonstrated what makes libraries work best, and that is delegating tasks and trusting each other.

No one person can hold a library together. The community uses the library, the library needs the community, and the library staff makes sure nothing falls apart. A library works best when the tasks are delegated to all of the staff members. Being given responsibilities outside of their “regular” duties allows staff members to feel connected to their branch, and it gives them a sense of purpose.

Our events calendar and some of our displays for Halloween 2014. I have the responsibility to create our events calendar and to help with displays, which gives me more motivation and happiness when I come into work.
Our events calendar and some of our displays for Halloween 2014. I have the responsibility to create our events calendar and to help with displays, which gives me more motivation and happiness when I come into work.

When staff members feel like they matter to their business more than just their job outline, I think they are likely to perform better. This all is just my opinion of course, but I’ve seen it happen.

As always, there are people who are just there for the paycheck to survive, and that is absolutely fine. But for employees lower on the “totem pole” and who are passionate about the work they do, being given responsibilities encourages them to perform better, and it boosts their morale.

I’m thankful to have been given the chance to attend Staff Day and to have listened to such an inspiring and thought-provoking session. A lot of what I’ve said here is just my opinion, but I think there’s some merit to it.

To be a successful library, we have to work together with our fellow staff members, and most importantly, we have to work with our community.

Everything, Libraries

Library Love

To people that know me, it should be no secret that I love pretty much everything to do with libraries. I happen to love them so much that I hope to get a Masters in Library and Information Science within the next couple of years, and I currently work in two libraries.

So it should come as no surprise that when one of my coworkers introduced me to some really cute websites that sell tshirts, tote bags, gifts, socks (?!), and so much more related to libraries and books that I went into full geek mode and had to post them on here.

So here are the links: http://outofprintclothing.com/ and http://www.zazzle.com/library+gifts

On Zazzle, you can search a range of gifts. I just typed libraries in the search bar, but I know there are other gifts available depending on what you search for. They have all kinds of really neat things to buy.

Out of Print has a lot of really neat items, too. My favorite is this tote bag. 











Second, if you work / have ever worked in a library, you’ll probably be able to relate to the comic Unshelved by Ambaum and Barnes. I can’t relate to every single comic, but they’re still funny. Even non-library people can probably find the humor. 

If I’ve got you curious, head over to www.unshelved.com to read their daily posts and comics. And if you happen to fall in love, pledge to their Kickstarter.

I’ve been following them on and off for several years at this point, and I never get tired of it.

But that’s all for today! Hope you found something you like.

Keep Reading!