Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Need for Speed

It's the time in the semester when everyone is starting to look a little frazzled. We're seeing a lot of last-ditch efforts in the library. Several students I worked with in the classroom earlier this year are back, having seemingly forgotten everything I covered. They've exhausted the open web and now need the library sources that their professors are for some reason requiring. Any library sources will do, as long as they are available RIGHT NOW. The clock is ticking, and the librarians are either Everything or Nothing.

At no other time is our array of services put through such a stark pass/fail test -- suddenly the flaws in the printer system are magnified, the online resources ever more vital. There is no time for a leisurely stroll through the stacks, or a prolonged search in the databases, or talk of a process with a feedback loop; bring up any of those things and we fall in the Nothing category.

For those of us who spend a lot of time meditating on how best to do research, this is a painful period. Likewise for those of us who obsess about trying to provide useful, careful service, and try to teach information skills at every opportunity instead of just giving away answers. The stress of deadlines is made apparent  through short tempers.

But in a few short weeks it will be graduation, and there will be smiles all around again. Hang in there, everyone!

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