Think about all we covered during this term in Reference & Instruction and Special Collections. What stands out to you as most valuable for you as you consider your interest in libraries and work (of any kind) you may do in the future? What learning or skills will you take with you as you continue learning and head into a life after Carleton? What was the biggest surprise? What would you have liked to have done if it were a longer term or there were no pandemic?
I started thinking about this prompt by scrolling through the weeks of this term on Moodle, just to remind myself of everything we managed to fit into just ten weeks. I think works like “The Reference Interview” were really valuable for making sure I had a broad and thorough understanding of the role of a reference librarian in the larger context of the library, but some of the readings that I believe will stick with me the most were the ones after that, such as “They Can and They Should” by Hailley Fargo and “Mapping Whiteness at the Reference Desk” by April Hathcock and Stephanie Sendaula. Partially, I was just surprised by how much of my own experience of public library desk work helped contextualize the things I was reading; it made me feel like I was more qualified than I realized to engage in conversations about librarianship. Kristin and I had many interesting conversations about what the experience of working at a reference desk is like, so even though it wasn’t possible for me to actually shadow anyone at the reference desk, I do feel as though I got as complete an understanding as possible of the responsibilities and philosophies of those who work there, and I can see myself exploring that! It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it was so rewarding and fascinating to even get a glimpse of the behind the scenes work that librarians do to ensure that their patrons feel as welcome and as supported as possible, and the kinds of interdisciplinary and intersectional thinking that goes into that goal by necessity. If there were no pandemic, I definitely would have wanted a chance to shadow at the reference desk for a little while, and if it were a longer term, I would have loved to get to know the other reference librarians more. But I’m glad I got a chance to speak with each of them!