It’s the end of summer, and a group of new students are being sent out on a ‘scavenger hunt’ to orient themselves to campus by taking pictures of themselves in various locations. The part of the handout relevant to my workplace is this one:
“2. Are you stressed out over homework? Have a research paper due? Where is a quiet place you can go that is full of books and computers? Take a picture of your group in a quiet place with one person holding a book involving their major.”
I want to emphasize that this isn’t bad. It is not, for instance, like the year where they were sent to find something that was no longer kept on display. But… it’s certainly not something that the staff of the library would write. At the very least, I hope someone here would have changed it to “Starting a research paper?”
Ten years ago or so, I wrote about a scavenger hunt that required the students to interact with library staff. This one… doesn’t. I’m not saying that they changed it to guide the students away from me personally, but the effect is the same. In fact, the whole thing seems designed to minimize interacting with non-students, which may be because this event orientation is before the beginning of classes and there aren’t all that many staff folk around. On the other hand, I feel like interacting with people is an important part of orienting students to being students here.
Library folk tend not to like to think of libraries as quiet places full of books and computers. I mean, the institution that employs me has done a lot of work over the last ten years or more positioning ourselves as not-a-quiet-place, so there’s that part of it. But I think we tend, on the whole, to think of the staff of the library as more or less central to the operation—libraries, either academic or public, are places where people get help from librarians. Either directly, by interacting with them, or indirectly, as we choose, curate and provide various resources—including, but scarcely limited to, those books and computers.
Of course, that’s our experience of it. I suspect most people who have never worked in a library think of libraries, if they think of them at all, as quiet places full of books and, possibly, computers.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,