All Hail Librarians!
Time to sing the praises not only of libraries but of librarians — because a library is not only an architectural structure, a physical location, or simply a collection of books and other written and audiovisual materials. While I have ample appreciation of the physical space of the library, which can be a pleasant oasis or a life-saving refuge, and the books and other materials that are contained therein, I also want to give a shout out to librarians. I am proud to count several librarians and archivists (not quite the same, but close relatives to librarians, in terms of training, breadth of knowledge, and passion for the written word) among my dear friends (although at least one is no longer working the field). For academics and researchers — especially ones like myself who are temporarily away from home — library staff (at both my own university library and other institutions) are true lifesavers. I am still in awe of interlibrary loan, and view it as a minor miracle, especially for articles: even though my university library does not subscribe to all the journals and databases I need, nor does it have all the books I’d like. But I’ve rarely requested an article or book that interlibrary loan has not SOMEHOW managed to find for me. The library staff has also been generous enough to scan some book chapters for me, as I am a few thousand miles away in a different country and not easily able to march over and sign out books.
While I am especially appreciative of my university librarians, I also have found that even in somewhat remote branches of the public libraries, a conversation with the library staff is usually productive and rewarding. If there isn’t already a “librarian’s appreciation day”, there oughta be!