Module 13: Reflective Practice & the Hyperlinked Library Course as a whole
Librarianship. Adulthood. Both are concepts that we naturally don’t think to attach words like error and mistakes too. I remember growing up as a child not thinking that adults could make those mistakes, even into my experience working in libraries. I never thought that they could make mistakes and I’m sure that a lot of the patrons I’m working with and see now initially believe to.
Depending on the situation, I see myself as a perfectionist. I like to make sure things are done by the due date, that each and every little word and sentence is the way I like it. It’s really about the routine I have – to double check and double check again. To refine and perfect is something that we all think about. It’s something I remember being told from my own family – to always learn and learn the newest technology and to perfect that skill because others expect me to because of my young age. It created a lot of pressure to be honest because of the stereotypes that younger people should automatically know everything from being able to troubleshoot a laptop or a ipad to teaching people how to code. It made me realize we work to improve things and reach new heights of accomplishment. We never think about the journey, however embarrassing it may be to fail and fail again. We never stop to realize that we’re all human and it’s okay to not be perfect.
Fast forward to the present, where I am fully aware that I make mistakes and honestly I always keep asking questions despite my experience in libraries.T here’s always something to learn – in fact today, I learned that our copier machines went to sleep mode similarly to my laptops. Who knew? It stumped even the reference librarians at my workplace, who have worked in this profession for far longer than I have. That moment made me realize that there’s always a new way to look at things and that there’s always something to learn regardless of our personal skill set or knowledge.
Reading the conversation between Warren Cheetam and Justin Hoenke made me realize that we’re only human and that we shouldn’t be embarrassed of our failures. During the conversation, Justin revealed that he was testing out On Air Google+ Hangouts with his co-worker James McNutt to record the guest speakers they have for their DEV DEV:<summer of code/> camp at the Chattanooga Public Library.
Justin found it fascinating to see the process of how they worked through the tests. I got my aha moment when he was asked by Warren if it was embarrassing to have the public be able to see their mistakes. Justin stated, “Part of the fun is trying out new things and seeing how the community reacts. If they don’t respond to something we do on the 2nd Floor, all that says to me is ‘keep on thinking, keep on trying.’ It’s actually pretty exciting” (Cheetham & Hoenke, 2013). His sense of optimism, joy, and that sense of play assured me that I can look positively at my mistakes, reflect upon how they improve my work interactions with the public, and how I can do better in the future.
Warren stated, “I think it’s good for us to remember that while we might be good at librarianship, and a few others things, there are people in our community who use our libraries who are much better at certain things, and their input and observations on our library processes and trials can help build better services” (Cheetham & Hoenke, 2013).
This quote by Warren made me realize that I can certainly learn from our patrons, and in fact I have. They have taught me about new policies, the new app of which I had never even known about before, and we have shared together sometimes in our mutual loves for titles, worked together on rebooting the copier machines and fax machines, reveled in food and travel and more.
Justin revealed his own childhood experience, that his thinking that adults were perfect and did not make an error placed pressure on himself to be a perfect adult. He revealed, “What I was doing was something that I could not keep up with. We all make mistakes and you know what? We grow from those mistakes. I think making these mistakes and keeping them public is a great thing. It shows that we’re all human and that we’re all learning and growing.” (Cheetham & Hoenke, 2013).
In an open conversation on Being Human with Dr. Stephens, we see the challenge that librarians face in communication with the very patrons of the community that they serve. What does this mean for the topic of being human?
Jan explains that, “librarians have the greatest difficulties communicating with patrons, finding it difficult being just an acces-sible human expert with a recognizable face and voice. Better hide behind the walls of your organization and feel safe. Thinking technology and digitization will save us in the end. But things are changing” (Klerk & Stephens, 2010). He also states, “just connect and interact as an individual with your patrons as a human being. Treat them as humans and not as members of an anonymous crowd. Share your knowledge and stories with them, join the conversation” (Klerk & Stephens, 2010).
I have learned that yes, we depend on technology and our organization as a whole to shield ourselves in times where we may lack confidence. But this course has taught me that people really value the humanity of an interaction. Why else do we seek out conversation in our social groups? Why do we want book clubs? Why do we like going to programs at a library? We want a place to participate with others, and I think that the essence of being human is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable regardless of our position. This can be a great and healthy mindset to take when we find ourselves pressured by questions on what to do and find ourselves asking if we should. I have learned that it’s okay to not always have the answer for everything and that it’s always important to try to take that chance even if there’s a possibility of failure. That’s really what librarianship means to me, a means through which we can have openhearted and honest human interaction and that we try new things and have fun exploring. In the end, librarians and the library patrons have one thing in common and that’s being human.
Cheetham, W, & Hoenke, J. (2013). Making mistakes in our daily work: A TTW conversation between Warren Cheetham and Justin Hoenke.
Klerk, J., & Stephens, M. (2010). Open conversation: Being human.