Last week I was discussing my library school escapades in two different situations with two very different results. The first interaction was with a seventy-year-old uncle who said “I don’t understand library school, can you explain it to me in one paragraph?” This query presented several challenges, especially since the guy is not a library user. The conversation lasted less than a minute and I could tell that he wasn’t super interested in what I was saying. It was frustrating not only because I did not really know what to say, but also because whatever I said didn’t quite seem to resonate with him. It’s almost like he was trying to pick a fight, but neither of us was willing to throw the first punch.
The next interaction was much more engaging and pleasant. It was between myself and three teachers from a prestigious private school in Connecticut. One of the teachers is currently being encouraged by the school library director to pursue a library degree, so he had all kinds of questions. Another worked part-time in a library after having kids, and said that if she hadn’t just completed her master’s degree in math she would have pursued library school. All three teachers were excited about what I am doing, and had all kinds of questions and library anecdotes.
Lesson learned: While I think that my studies and career possibilities are awesome, not everyone feels the same way. Each time I tell someone that I am in library school, I cringe a little while waiting for the reaction. Sometimes the conversation is abruptly over, sometimes the person exhibits genuine interest, and sometimes the response is “really?” or “why?” or the dreaded “oh.” I can’t imagine that someone in business or medical school has to absorb those disheartening utterances of consternation. So, while my second interaction was better than the first, each is valuable in its own way, and I will have to be prepared for both as I progress in the library world.