There are many things library staff here are good at. Delivering excellent customer service, promoting information literacy, cataloging, public speaking, delivering training, organising stock, managing online information, singing our own praises, baking, dressing up, eating cake, raising money for charity…
Yes. I really did write those last four things. And yes, they are important.
Our clients, be they students, staff or members of the public, witness our “professional” expertise in action each and every day. What they may not see, but will nevertheless receive the benefit of, is us pulling together as a strong and effective team behind the scenes as well as when we’re “on show”.
Yesterday, we spent the day dressed as princes and princesses. Some of us wore full fancy dress, representing the whole royal spectrum from Disney to the House of Windsor. Some preferred a more subtle nod to the theme, donning tiaras or crowns over their usual attire. Visitors to the building may have found themselves greeted by Snow White at reception, or guided to a bookshelf by Elsa or Anna from Frozen. They may have spotted tutus on the most unlikely of men, or wondered about the more regal than usual appearance of staff offering roaming support. They might even have asked a question of the wicked queen at the service desk. Some will have asked us “why?” and others won’t even have registered that there was anything unusual in it. What they won’t have seen though, is the iceberg of fundraising going on behind the public tip.
Those who have followed this blog or used the library for a while may have noticed that we’re enthusiastic supporters of many charitable causes. This particular day though, had an especially poignant stimulus.
September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a cause especially close to our hearts. One of our colleagues recently lost her 3 year old niece, Delilah, to cancer. Delilah was beautiful and brave, and loved to dress up as a princess. We’d followed her story with hope during her short life, and opened our hearts to the family through the difficult months of treatment which Delilah bore with such courage and strength. So yesterday we dressed up as princesses in her honour. We also held a cake and savoury sale in our staff room, with all manner of home-baked treats being sold, alongside a raffle and a blackout competition, to raise money for CLIC Sargent (whose support throughout Delilahs illness was invaluable to her family) and The Joe Ellis Trust, a children’s registered charity based on the Isle of Wight, which helps island children who have cancer and their families in their time of need.
Yesterday was all about keeping Delilah’s spirit alive, and doing something positive for other families facing similar situations. As a large but friendly team, we understand the incredible value of support – something both of these charities provide in abundance. In offering this to our colleagues in the first instance, we find many ways together to reach out and extend this support further, whether to our clients, or those outside our institution such as the many charities we have supported.
Vala Afshar is frequently quoted as saying “We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we respect, trust and care for each other.” If we had a motto here for our staff, I think maybe this would be it.
We haven’t quite finished adding up the money raised yesterday, but we’ll post an update just as soon as we have.