Practicing Compassion

One of the things that drew me to librarianship in the first place was the helpful and non-judgemental environment that many librarians throughout my life have created for me. While I recognize that not everyone may have had that experience, the interactions with librarians as I was growing up and as an undergraduate student really shaped me and I try to bring that same energy now that I am in their shoes, so to speak. 

As I’ve observed and taught information literacy sessions for first-year undergraduate students for the past two semesters, one value that is strongly emphasized is that we (the teaching librarians and library fellows) are here to help our students as best we can without judgement. For example, we don’t judge students if they come to us requiring really last minute research help. Instead, we try to find a time to get them the help that they need as soon as we can. We understand that, especially nowadays, sometimes life happens and something may come up that prevents a student from working on their assignments. Regardless of why the student is asking for last minute help, they are still doing the right thing in asking for help and support when they need it. 

I would imagine that many librarians and library students might agree with that sentiment, especially in a school or academic setting. It’s not our job to judge a student, especially when we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. The important thing is to support the student. While it may seem like the end of the world if an assignment is turned in late or an extension is needed or if a subpar project is submitted, there are more important things. Like, sleeping, eating, resting, etc. Do you agree? (And do you see where I’m going with this?)

If we, as library students, practice grace, compassion, and understanding with our students who may need last minute help, why not do the same for ourselves? While we may be earning a different degree than students we may work with, we are all still students who are trying to make it through a semester in a different format, during a global pandemic, and, if you are in the United States, before, during, and after a tumultuous presidential election. Plus, many library students have full-time jobs, graduate assistantships, pets or a family to take care of, plus other real-world obligations. We are juggling a lot and I’m proud of us all

If you have a condensed semester which ends after (American) Thanksgiving, you’re almost there! I believe in you! And, if you can, take some time to rest during the break. You’ve earned it.

For those who are on a standard semester schedule and will have classes after Thanksgiving, keep going! You’re doing great! And, here’s a quick reminder to take a look at your final project/paper assignments and get started on them if you can. Be kind to yourself and start them early so, if life does happen in a couple of weeks, you’ll be ahead. (This is just as much a reminder to myself as it is to you!)

I’m wishing you all a happy, safe, and compassionate end of the semester. We’ve got this!


Jane Behre is a second-year MLIS student at the University of Maryland. At UMD, she is the coordinator for the First Year Book Program and a Research & Teaching Fellow. Her academic and professional interests include information literacy instruction and health literacy.

Photo by Zachariah Clark on Unsplash

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