No Way Out

Excuse me, how do I leave?

You can exit through the middle barrier.

Yeah, but, how do I leave?

It’s okay, you don’t need to swipe, you can just walk right through and the barrier opens automatically.

Yes, but, like, how do I leave? Where do I come out at?

What do you mean?

You know, when I walk through the barrier, how do I get out? How do I exit the building?

In hindsight, the question I should have asked was: How did you get in here in the first place?

I mean, really. Even if you’re having a really, really, *REALLY* bad day; surely the floor-to-ceiling windows offering a stunning view of the Square (i.e. the outside) serve as a slight clue. Perhaps the stairs down to the floor below could be a starting point? Try thinking about it logically maybe? You know, common sense? Sigh.

Sadly, that’s precisely the problem- not thinking.

Much debate (and ranting from me) has ensued this week about the noticeable shortcomings of some of the new crop of students. Unfortunately, a (thankfully, minority) proportion of them appear incapable of thinking for themselves.

Of course, everyone needs a little help sometimes; and that’s what we’re here for- to help.

We enjoy helping. It’s a wonderful experience to offer assistance, impart knowledge, or offer an understanding ear to somebody; and then to watch them grow in confidence as a result. And, quite understandably, certain students (e.g. from overseas, or new to higher education) take a little longer to adjust to our academic surroundings.

But too many of our newbies are, well, frankly (I hate to say it) lazy. They’re increasingly reluctant to listen to advice, they walk away before you can give them the information they need, have no patience whatsoever for anything more than a soundbite inquiry and, perhaps most disappointingly, have little regard for the need to learn how to learn. Many of them seem so used to being spoon-fed their education, that they don’t see the need/importance/necessity of learning how to use the Library, explore resources or work independently. They apparently think we are an extension of the support services, here to do everything for them. Is the new culture of increasing fees is, in turn, fuelling the notion that students expect to be given their degrees?

Is education fast becoming an economic exchange?

If you think this is just the bitter Friday ramblings of someone tired and emotional (cough) I offer this example:

As well as working, I study part-time, and have recently begun my academic year. Over the last two weeks, I have been shocked by the complete inability of some of my classmates to think for themselves. I’ve lost count of how many minutes have been wasted by inane discussions about which items are core texts, which are background, how this tutor did it like this, and how it’s not clear where we download this week’s reading from, etc.

At one point this week, several classmates freaked out when they realised the lecturer’s bullet points were different to those on our handouts. It didn’t occur to them to just make a few more extended notes. No. They interrupted him to complain/point out the error, then wasted 5 minutes discussing the point.

Astonishing.

I’m not the world’s best student. I’m not the world’s best Library worker. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I do dumb things. I have a memory like a sieve. I ask really stupid questions. Everyone does, from time to time.

But it seems independent thought and effort are fast becoming disposable commodities; much to the detriment of my desk-side manner.

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2 thoughts on “No Way Out

  1. This reminds me of a conversation I had today:
    This book ____ isn’t on the shelves, I’ve also looked on the recently returned trollies, the to-be-shelved shelves, and there is one available on the catalogue
    have you checked the catalogue?
    yes
    are you sure? (checks catalogue) well… have you looked in the local area?
    yes
    if *you* want it then it’s probably being read by someone else, try looking over peoples’s shoulders…
    it’s not on any reading list, I have checked
    it might be missing
    yes I know…


    you need to fill in a form, then we will make periodic checks, then if we cannot find it we will send it to the subject librarian who will *then* mark it as missing
    but the other copy is due in december
    yes
    and I have to wait for the checks before I can even request the other one?
    yes

    can I have the form?
    not from this desk.

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