This week, I had a patron come to the desk looking for help with the printers. She started off by declaring her question as stupid and continued to apologize multiple times as I was helping her. I felt guilty. Was I not being welcoming enough? Did I look unapproachable at the desk? I don’t think this was it. She began our interaction apologetically.
How many times in the past have I been too afraid to ask question or apologized in advanced for sounding dumb? Most of my reference questions this week were directional–where is this building or how do I get to that classroom? I can’t say how happy I am when I receive a question, even one like these. I love that my patrons feel comfortable enough to walk up to a stranger and ask any question, big or small.
For me, and for many, it takes courage to ask for help. Saying out loud that you need help tells others you are vulnerable, that you are not fully self-reliant. There is a certain shame in doing this in our individualistic society which is why I love when people admit that they do need help, that they can’t meet all of their needs and need others in a community to aide them.
So, a question for the curious: how do you find the courage to ask for help? What can others do to make asking for help or asking questions seem less daunting? Librarians, what do you do to make your patrons more comfortable in seeking your services?
Books Read This Week