I’m no adrenaline junkie, but I’ve done a few exciting things. I’ve spent some time on the trapeze. I’ve bounced through white water on a flimsy rubber raft. One time I went skydiving (I had to take a nap afterwords, all the fear** drained the life out of me).
Libraries and Librarians are often viewed as safe and quiet. No matter how many crazy ideas are contained therein, or how many banned books weeks are run, or how many times the federal government gives us the hairy eyeball (check out this article on libraries and the supreme court, it opens as word doc, don’t be alarmed), the stereotype of the kindly old lady reading stories to contented children will never die.
So I found something I didn’t expect from reference librarianship, it’s kind of a rush.
There is a certain kind of sheer terror which comes out of being asked to be an expert in something about which you have absolutely no clue. Librarians know that we are there to help find answers, not to give them, but patrons don’t know that. There must be a similar sort of fear if you are a spy in disguise, or commit identity fraud. And then when you get away with it! You pull it off! You say, yes let me help you, with a certain brash confidence in your own ability, and manage to find the answer, or the resource, or to say “this requires more research, would you like me to email you with my findings?” Or you turn it into a teaching moment and say “let’s look into this together, shall we?” And they go away happy. Because you know EVERYTHING and you’ve helped them.
Phew! What an awesome job.
**For those of you who don’t know this feeling, take a look at my face below. That sums it up.