I’ve written before about our Research/IT desk, and how we sit elbow-to-elbow with student workers who don’t actually work for the library. These students work for the SCIC (Student Computing Information Center), but they’re in the library for almost all of its open hours to answer technological questions and keep the printers humming merrily along. (Have I mentioned how much I love this recently? It’s helped us concentrate on actually working with research related questions rather than spending most of our time filling printers with paper.) Well, I’ve never been good at learning names, and I’ve found it especially difficult to learn the names of the string of students who may sit beside me during any give week of reference shifts. So this fall I instituted the practice of getting their shift schedules from their supervisor and entering them into a calendar that I then shared with the rest of the reference staff. Now I can turn it on next to the reference librarian’s shift calendar, or my own calendar, and quickly “cheat” to find out who’s sitting next to me at any given time.
It always takes quite some time to build this calendar, since each shift requires between 14 and 18 clicks to enter… But it’s time well spent, in my opinion. It started as a way to cheat, but it’s actually helped me learn names over time. I feel like I’ve gotten to know students better this year and can carry on conversations with them much more easily, and I’ve drastically cut down on the mental shenanigans involved in trying to have conversations with people whose names you just cannot for the LIFE of you remember. You know the kind of conversations… “How can I talk about this without ever prompting the need to insert a name…” I hate those conversations, so I would often just sit there and not talk to the students, which contributed to the vicious cycle or awkwardness and lack of name recognition. Who would’a thought that a simple calendar would make such a difference in my ability not to look like a dork at the reference desk… oh, and have a great time with student workers?