This year’s National Library Week falls during San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order. Even though our physical library is closed, we are maintaining robust service points virtually. As part of a series of celebrations during National Library Week, National Library Workers Day highlights the critical work of library staff and advocates for an increase in library staff compensation. Over at Gleeson Library | Geschke Center, our critical staff include our wonderful student assistants who work across various departments to provide innovative and student-centric services. An essential aspect of our library’s continued online presence is the work put in by our students to create virtual displays, learn transferable skills through professional development, and update our digital assets.
Even in these current circumstances, our student assistants have gone above and beyond in their care and dedication to the USF community through their remote library work. Our student assistants continuously provide us with unique perspectives and expertise on the current student experience which helps the library shift and prioritize our services. Student assistants are a major piece of the library as a whole, and our daily operations would not function without their help. Not only do our students consistently contribute in meaningful ways regarding their work, but their camaraderie with students, staff, and faculty is truly what makes Gleeson Library a special place on campus. We owe it to our student assistants for fostering such a welcoming environment today and every day.
Here is a post about National Library Week from Reference Student Assistant Juliana, who wrote this while working from home.
Hey y’all, this week (April 19-25) is National Library Week! The theme for this year is “Find Your Place” a sort of homage to all the resources and opportunities that libraries grant us. Public and academic libraries have been fundamental in our society for a variety of ways. They serve as a place for collaboration, a host of knowledge, and a place to get lost in fantasy. At a university level they provide safe spaces, overwhelming amounts of resources, and a typically loving and caring academic staff. Public libraries have been a reliable spot for individuals of many backgrounds, from those who are low-income to those who just want to advance their knowledge further.
National Library Week is set to honor the different aspects of the library that support patrons in various ways. First and foremost, what is a library without books? They are the core essence of the library and the distribution of knowledge which is why it’s shocking when the “Top Ten Most Challenged Books” list comes out every year. A quest for unfiltered knowledge may lead to some challenges, but knowledge persists! At Gleeson we put on a display to acknowledge the challenges to intellectual freedom. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see reference librarian and zine connoisseur Matt Collins hosting a zine session based on these books!
The Library workers who create a warm environment where individuals can find their own interests and passions deserve to be honored as well, from the reference workers to the janitorial staff, each contribute in one way or another to the library experience. A kind-hearted librarian can make a difference on whether a book is taken home or not, and that is a lot of power. The reference desk is a prime example of this. We are there to help ensure patrons get the best guidance when it comes to their sources and books, even if that means spending quite a while trying to find the best source possible! As reference student workers and librarians, we all try our best to ensure that our patrons know we got their backs at Gleeson.
I know I was one of those kids who always enjoyed the library. It is only fitting that I would enjoy working for Gleeson when I got to USF. The staff in all departments are fun and a delight to be around! Though with some bias, I must say the reference department is the best. I have learned a lot during my time at Gleeson and this job has taught me to apply myself in so many ways. A quick example is the joy of finally being able to find a specific book using its call number. It took me so long to understand the Library of Congress system but I feel a sense of pride everytime I help a patron find a book. It feels pretty useful to have all this reference knowledge accumulating the longer I work at Gleeson. I slowly find myself utilizing everything I’ve learned on the job, either to help myself or my friends with assignments. If I had a dollar for the amount of times I have been texted for reference help outside of work hours by my friends, I could probably afford an apartment in the city! Also, I’d like to say that I’m starting to develop a skill and a deeper appreciation for zines. I ended up making an informational zine on the presidential candidates for a presidential forum my LLC hosted this past semester!
When this global pandemic has calmed down and we get to return to the Hilltop in the Fall, I can’t wait to help a patron find a book in the stacks. Or even refresh myself on how to navigate our databases, heck I’m even excited to be asked where the printers are every 10 minutes! But most importantly, I can’t wait to sit down at the reference desk with a librarian not too far from me knowing cheesy jokes are coming my way and that without a shadow of a doubt, I will learn something new.
All these wonderful aspects of our libraries deserve constant recognition, not just a week in a year. Federal funding for public libraries and institutional funding for University libraries is not something that should be debated, the detrimental impact of losing libraries are too dire to even imagine. Throughout this week honor the libraries you love and use their e-resources, or maybe even send your favorite librarian an email!
Introduction co-written by Reimi Akin and Ariana Varela.