It’s not uncommon for patrons to apologize when they approach the reference desk. They apologize for asking me to remind them of an author’s name. They apologize when they return to the desk for the second or third time with questions. They apologize when they’re not sure how to navigate the catalog or where to find a book. They apologize when I get up to walk them to the right items. They apologize when I make a trip to the back room to try and find something on the sorting shelves. They apologize when the iPads are dead or the computers are acting up.

"Sorry. Sorry. Sorry."

But here’s what those patrons don’t know: when they aren’t asking me questions, I wish they were. When the library is quiet, I sit and wonder, “Where is everyone? I miss them.”

If we look busy sitting up there at the reference desk, it’s because we are. Busily ordering new books and going through our current collections to check for wear, tear, and relevance. We are busy planning and preparing library programs and displays. We are busy creating booklists and doing a thousand other things that keep a library running. But when a person wakes up one day and decides to become a librarian, it’s because they’ve been dreaming about helping patrons, not staring at computer screens. 

So don’t feel bad about coming up to the reference desk, or stopping a librarian who’s busily walking by. Our patrons are the best! And finding ways to help them out never makes me sorry. 


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