Shut up and say "thank you"
Posted by lpearle on 6 May 2006
Last week, mpow had its big Book Fair. Here, the parents association really does all the work (and the funds go to their budget, not the library’s). That’s fine. The parents committee works really hard for a number of months and it’s usually a huge success.
This year, not knowing any better, I helped. One complaint was that the suggested reading lists were “old”, so I worked with the Head of the English Department to revise them. I collected suggestions from students and added them to an annotated list already started by my predecessor. I met with the parents many times about which books should be ordered. And during the Book Fair, I (and my intrepid, overworked staff) made sure that there was at least one librarian there during the entire run of the Fair, offering purchase suggestions and helping with questions, etc..
When the committee would comment on the amount of time spent, my response was usually, “well, it’s part of my job and I’m happy to help.” Except, you see, it sort of wasn’t part of my job. My predecessor didn’t help in this way. I don’t know why, exactly, but she didn’t. My feeling is that these are books, and we (the librarians) are the ones trained to help people choose appropriate books, recommending things that they’ve never seen/heard about and generally doing our job. Just at the Book Fair, not in the Library. Seems natural, right?
There was a debriefing last week, and I saw a draft of the report to the Parents Association. It’s one of those template things, asking about what the event was and who was involved and what money was spent/made, etc.. There’s also a section that mentions “people that went above and beyond” to make the event happen. There were two paragraphs, one about a parent that helped design the space (we’d moved the Fair into a new room on campus, so the old floor plans wouldn’t work). The other was about me.
Me. Li’l ol’ me just doing my job. So there I am, at this meeting, feeling totally embarrassed that they’re so happy with me just doing my job. Or what I think my job should be. Whatever. It’s still embarrassing. I insisted it was nothing, that it was my job, blah blah blah.
Which brings me to the big question: why can’t I just shut up and say “thank you”?