Back in March, when this community was forming, I was in the middle of reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Among other things, the story involves a butler reflecting on his career. The story captures the familiar experience of how seemingly trivial, everyday working tasks can seem significant and meaningful to those performing them. Ishiguro manages to avoid belittling his characters while capturing the importance that many working people attach to their duties. As he contemplates his years of service, the narrator repeatedly returns to the question of what makes a great butler.
And so correspondingly I began to wonder, what is a great two-year library? What does it look like? Here are three of my own ideas, and I’m curious about what others think:
1. A great two-year library is one where students who leave the college appreciate and understand the value of an academic library.
2. A great two-year library is one where materials and services are used heavily, staff are happy and busy, and there is a lot going on in terms of events, exhibits and displays. The atmosphere of discovery is vibrant.
3. A great two-year library is one that is fully integrated into the academic life of the institution. It is not seen as merely a requirement for accreditation or to make the college look legitimate, but as important and valuable.
Near the conclusion of The Remains of the Day, the narrator admits that the reason he was ultimately not a great butler was because the master he served was not a great man. I don’t know whether a great two-year library can exist independently at a college that is not equally great, but I’d like to think it can.
Do any of us work in a truly great two-year library? If not, what are we doing to make it so?