I was recently explaining to a fairly new hire some of her duties. She is a terrific employee, but as I was saying she would need to do some shelf reading, create ready reference guides and sometimes handle the ILL’s she was giving me a very puzzled look. I realized she was more than willing to do the work, if only I could tell her in plain English what I wanted. I could tell that she felt bad that she didn’t understand, but the more I thought about it, why would she?
As a smaller library our front of the line staff doesn’t have their MLS. A couple of them don’t have their Bachelor’s Degree, and realistically they probably don’t need it to work the circulation desk here. However, I was left wondering whether I should explain it to her or apologize for my arrogance in assuming she’d understand. I opted for explaining it, of course.
After this initial wake-up call I started to notice it in meetings and emails. My mother taught school for 36 years and I remembered back to when she and her teacher friends would sit around and talk in a language that seemed foreign to those on the outside. It was off putting at times. I love that our profession has its own language. In a way I think that’s part of what makes a profession. But, as small libraries I wonder if it doesn’t put a distance between us and staff and/or patrons. I’m not sold either way, but it’s food for thought.