Each day I get emails from patrons asking me to do stuff for them, like check our catalog for a book, or tell them how to download something. And I'm amazed. At their perseverance.
You see, to send me an email, it takes a minimum of 8 clicks through different pages and within a form with mandatory fields. They also get a warning that anything they send becomes entered into the public record, accessible by anyone who makes the request. And yet they continue.
But to check our catalog or access our downloadables, it takes only 1 click. To borrow an ebook takes 3-5 additional clicks or fields that need to be filled in.
So it takes about 50% more effort to send me a message than it takes to download an ebook, or check our catalog, or do pretty much anything else on our site.
Librarians often get asked things that are way beneath our training: where's the bathroom? where's the pencil sharpener? do you have a tissue? can I use the tape? can you tie my shoelaces? why are you choking me?
So when I see that someone has emailed me with a request that takes only half the effort that it took to find me and ask a question, my first thought is that this person "is awesome!" They can fill in an online form that requires several sets of information entered into the correct box, including an email address and library card number. So they understand these relatively complex tasks.
And so when I read their request that I search our catalog for them, I want to tell them, "You can do it. You sent me this message. You can do anything!" So that's how I reply. I don't do the search. I give them the support and confidence to do it themselves.
So that's my new motto. My inspirational mantra: "You can do it. I believe in you."
If you email me and ask me to check our catalog for a book, I will reply with "You can do it. I believe in you."
If I see you reaching for a book on the top shelf, far out of your reach, I will say, "You can do it. I believe in you." And then I will walk away.
For all your endeavors, I say, "You can do it. I believe in you." And then I will sit and read the paper.
And to all you librarians, I say, "Yes, I believe I am helping them." Because "belief" is a powerful thing. Happy holidays.