I feel pretty competent when it comes to finding information and locating books that I’m interested in (As a librarian, you’d hope this would be the case, right?!). I love talking with my colleagues in other departments, but rarely ask for help finding things. The other day though, I had an experience that reminded me of how helpful it can be to just ask for assistance, even when you’re pretty sure you can find something on your own.
I was browsing in the Children’s Department for books to take home to my kids. My 2-year old is still pretty easy (books by Rosemary Wells are a safe bet!), but my 4-year old is suddenly very interested in superheroes, particularly Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. However, I usually find that books about those characters are slightly too old for him, or maybe just a little too scary. As I browsed the comics I said hi to the librarian, and when she asked if I needed help I asked her opinion (instead of my usual “Nope, just looking!”). She immediately thought of several books about superheroes that a 4-year old might like: Princess Super Kitty, Timothy and the Strong Pajamas, and Superdog: The Heart of a Hero. We also found a Superman book that was written for a younger audience. Success!
In the Reference Services department where I work, people are often reluctant to “bother” us at the reference desk. When people do ask us something, they sometimes apologize or seem a bit reluctant to ask for our help. Those “Ask a Librarian” signs are there for a reason, and we love answering your questions (that’s our job!). We’ll stop and ask if you need help if we find you wandering the stacks with a confused look on your face, but if we haven’t approached you first and you’re feeling stuck, try stopping by a desk with one of those big red signs– we’ll be happy to help you find anything from the newest book in a YA fantasy series to statistics on a neighborhood where you’re thinking of moving to books and articles for your research paper or whatever else you can think of.