I’m a reference librarian, because I like to connect with people. A colleague once compared me to sunlight. I’ve heard this before (see my first post). She watches me interacting, while she’s at the loan desk. She says I’m a circular conversationalist: patrons ask questions, I answer, then I ask them questions, they answer and so on. Aren’t all reference librarians affable? Oh, I see her point.
I manage my sunny side 50% of the time because of mental illness #Anxiety #PMDD. Once a month, I crash and burn. I never know exactly when, but I know when I see it. I forget things (my keys, my freakin’ keys!). I’m an insomniac (I max out my own library account and read at night). I lose my temper. I’m irritable. Basically when I’m mentally ill, I want to be left alone or run away from people.
Hence, I found the best approach to interact with patrons, regardless of my state of mind. Here is how I try to cope in a customer service oriented work environment.
When answering simple questions from patrons
Come rain or shine, here is my way of attempting to guide patrons into knowing the answer, by figuring it out themselves.
Alright, it’s a long answer to a simple question about citing case law. But I like to think that patrons feel empowered and forget for a few seconds the stress of paper deadlines. I’ll be more firm on my unexpected “sick” days, and more gregarious on “normal” days.
When answering complicated questions from patrons
When answering to the librarian’s questions
Discussions are often reciprocal : patrons, too, teach me new things, not just in law.
When answering to myself
I talk to myself all the time (a typical trait of anxious people). More questions, which I answer with more questions…
Presenting during a research workshop
Same same… I start very structured and by the end of the presentation I’m losing my train of thought. I talk too much. Brevity in communication is more effective than verbosity. Truth be told, I can’t slow down! That’s neuroticism doing all the talkin’.
Recently I freaked out about appearing at CALL/ACBD 2022 in Montréal, my hometown. I was obsessed about providing the right headshot for the event website. Strangers still think I’m 20. I’m ambivalent about soon turning twice that age #AsianEternalYouth. I’m obsessed with updating my LinkedIn pic, as soon as it makes me look older. Like a teenager getting a fake ID.
Has the warranty expired for me? This study says maybe higher neuroticism can actually protect against mortality.
Presenting during a conference
During my premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) dark days in May, I came up with these unusual ideas for my five sessions of CALL/ACBD 2022. Though my private life suffered from my terrible mood swings, I created fun videos, made-up names, aesthetic slides, geeky jokes and theatrical voices. There’s evidence to suggest that people who score higher on measures of neuroticism also score higher in creativity. I asked for help and advice. Everyone was inspiring and supportive. I did it my way, with familiar performance cues #BetterLaughThanCry. These are the tips I want to pass on.
Throughout my CALL/ACBD 2022 sessions, I had an exceptional cheering crowd via the Zoom chat (¡Muchas gracias Marcelo!). In the end, I DID have fun. #Yoga@work After each performance as moderator or presenter, I felt an amazing level of dopamine run through me. Check this book I’ll be reading. I still get lovely feedback from law librarians across North America who attended the annual conference. Stay tuned #CALL/ACBD 2023 #Thankful #Networking #GlassHalfFull.
Just… hanging out!
Some things will always remain a challenge. Like bonding with my colleagues. They’re like family: loving AND annoying. I include myself in this description. Typical work day:
Enjoy the last days of Summer, y’all.
Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not those of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.