Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well, you’ve been as productive as you’ve wanted to be and have something fun planned for the weekend. I also hope you had a lovely Halloween, if you partook in celebrating it. Today I want to talk to you about something that has been pinging around in my mind for the last few weeks. I want to talk about caring and I want to tell about why I’ve been thinking about it so much at work over the last few weeks.
So I was feeling in need of some inspiration a few weeks ago and requested a copy of The Big Moo again through the library lending service at work. I really enjoyed reading it a year or so ago and there was a chapter in it I wanted to especially re-read. Unsurprisingly that chapter was entitled, “Care!” [Also, an aside, even if you don’t like marketing books, I recommend The Big Moo, it is quite good]
So I’ll let you in on why I was thinking about caring so much. At my university we are going through a lot of assessment processes at the moment, and gearing up for WASC accreditation visit. And I believe in assessment and figuring out how to do what we do better and connect more with our students and keep the morale of our staff and faculty up and really be the best we can be. What I’m not quite as much a fan of is writing a lot of reports and having complicated forms to fill out, whether that is at work or just filling out forms at the DMV. I know reports are important, and I also do my best in filling them out, but I agree with the author of “Care!” that basically things will take care of themselves if you care and hire people that care because it shines through in whatever they do.
Books and reports can only tell you so much if you want to improve your services or products, no matter if you are a library or a giant corporation. You really have to care and you have to talk with people to see what they like, what they need, what confuses or frustrates them, and how you can help. You may think you know what people need, but you really don’t until you ask and they’ll only tell you the truth, well most of them, if they can tell that you actually care.
I care deeply about what I do. It comes through when I’m on the reference desk and when I’m teaching, when I’m on committees and when I’m researching. It doesn’t matter if I’ve answered the same question twenty times today, it is the first time that I’m answering the question for this particular student. While I may be tired of answering printing questions, it is of the greatest importance to the students trying to print their midterm exams. When I’m teaching, answering emails promptly, reviewing tricky concepts in class, and taking the time to talk with students about the concepts that are giving them problems demonstrates caring. Enthusiasm shows people that you care. I might dislike committee work when meetings seem to eat up the majority of my day, but they are vital if run properly and vital to actually look people in the eye and say that “I hear you” and that we are going to work together to get things done. In my research, I care about being truthful to my data and to my respondents and caring in how I suggest implications for improving practice or theory or learning.
The saying is really true that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. That is why I believe that it is important to be caring in all that we do (or at least try, because we are all human). Caring will show up in policies and in how we treat not just our patrons, users, or customers, but our colleagues, supervisors, and supervisees. Communication is, as it always is, key to building and maintaining good relationships and caring allows one to do this.
So bring on the assessments and reports, give me the opportunity to tell you why our people make this library vibrant and vital, but please show me that you care and that we’re people to you. Caring makes it all worthwhile and much more pleasant, too, when deadlines loom and there is so much to get done.
And because one needs to care for self as well, here’s a lovely photo that will hopefully help you feel calm as you finish up the work week and hopefully plan some time for yourself this weekend:
I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be back on Tuesday with more. Allons-y!