An "Empowering" Story

by Jing Liu ~ May 11th, 2006. Filed under: Experience.

Hello, my fellow librarians (and librarians-to-be), I’d like to share with you a story of my working at VPL as a student librarian last term. I’d be very pleased if this story will reassure you even in the slightest way that you have made the right choice to become a librarian. Though this story happened in a public library, I’m sure those who work in either academic libraries or special libraries must have had the same rewarding experience as I did from helping a patron in their particular library settings. Here is the story:I was working at the desk at OAK the other day. A small boy came and asked whether I could help his dad while pointing to the direction of the computer workstations. I said: “Sure, I’d love to.” I walked to the workstation and found a middle-aged man sitting in front of the computer and looking obviously pretty nervous when I was approaching him. “I’m working at St. Paul Hospital”, he started, “and my job was mainly dealing with pigeon feces. My friend told me that it’s a dangerous job, because many people died from the toxin in pigeon feces. I’m wondering whether you could help me find some articles that report the death of victims caused by pigeon feces, and then I can show them to my boss. I tried, but I couldn’t find anything.” “Which sources have you looked at so far?” I asked. “I don’t know. I got a website from my friend but it seems it’s invalid” “Well, I think we can try PubMed”. It’s a free database provided by the American National Library of Medicine and indexes many medical journal articles.” I directed him to the homepage of PubMed and suggested to him he should try the search terms ‘pigeon feces’ and ‘death”. He struggled a lot while typing the words and I found he was single finger typing and he couldn’t get the words spelt right at the very beginning even though I was spelling aloud for him. He finally got it right and there were a couple of results pulled out and we read the first three together and found all of which were relevant to what he was looking for. He felt so relieved and kept saying: “Thank you, Thank you” and he printed out them and walked out of the library with his son. That day I truly understood the meaning of the word ‘empowering’. We always claim that our job is to empower the users of library but the word stayed at a very abstract level in my mind, but that day I finally saw the word coming into life.

1 Response to An "Empowering" Story

  1.   Jing

    Oh, 鸽子糞,I didn’t know it was toxic. Learnt alot from this ref interview. I am proud of you and our profession!

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