Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why "Deep in the Stacks"?

As I said, I'm a librarian. We often refer to our book shelves as 'stacks'. For a career that isn't rocket science, we have a fair amount of professional jargon.
I'm a librarian because I love books. I love to read, but more than that, I work in what I call a “great big candy store for the brain”. I can wander down any given aisle, reach out my hand without looking and pull a book from the shelf, and find therein something interesting to read about. I do not know how anyone could be a librarian without a hearty curiosity. I tell my boys now and again that “the world is full of interesting stuff – all you have to do is look around.”
Now I am an expert at very few things, maybe at nothing at all. But I can with confidence enter into a conversation with just about anyone on just about any topic because at some point in my career (over 10 years now) I've run across a book or journal article about it and I remember just enough to ask intelligent questions. That's the key to conversing when you know a lot less than the other person. Ask questions, and let them do the talking. Everyone likes to talk about the things they know, so show your interest and let them impress you. They'll appreciate it, and will have a favorable impression of you.
When I'm working at the Reference desk (the place where librarians sit and hope someone will come and ask them something so they can sound clever) I get questions on just about every topic there is. College libraries are like that. Every time I get a new question, I add that to my collection of experiences and things I know just a little about. That's one of the great things about being a librarian. You are always learning something you didn't know about. It doesn't matter that I know (next to) nothing about what the student is interested in because as I often say, “I don't have to know that, I just have to know where to find it”. I try to teach the students how to find information, my specialty, and they, without knowing it, teach me about their specialties. 
So in summary, being a librarian is the coolest job in the world. If you are a trivia loving voracious reader with a "what happens if I push this button" curiosity. Your experience may differ. 

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