Being inattentive, avoiding eye contact, and not listening are among the behaviors that we were told are unacceptable in my class on reference librarianship. In this class, which instructs us on the basics of assisting visitors to the library, we're learning about nonverbal messages that convey approachability, such as making eye contact, smiling and nodding, and leaning toward the patron. When asked why some librarians don't practice these positive nonverbal skills when dealing with the public, the professor said, "Maybe they're overworked or burned out." Or maybe they're having a bad day? Still, at work it's important to be professional, and librarians are supposed to be welcoming. If, one day, I become a public librarian, I hope not to inspire a letter to the editor like the one Jourdan wrote to the Post.
Above image from: http://dancingwithdaisy.blogspot.com
Washington Post * April 13, 2012
Letter to the Editor
Please Do Not Bother the Librarian
While I have always known that librarians such as myself are stern, horn-rimmed shush-ers, I didn’t realize until reading John A. Galotto’s April 5 letter to The Post [“A flawed medical model”] that we are also inattentive and avoid eye contact: “As my perceptive daughter said to her new doctor, who sat typing into a laptop instead of looking at her and listening to her, ‘Are you a doctor or a librarian?’ ” Very perceptive, indeed.
Michael Jourdan, Washington