Out of My Element

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Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

My husband and I joined Anytime Fitness gym last month.  My daughter and son-in-law have been members for a while and raved about it, so when we had a recent health wake-up call, we decided to take the plunge.

I went in the first day  to complete the paperwork and work out just a bit.  The only other gym I’ve belonged to was Shapes, a Curves-like place with additional cardio equipment like bikes and ellipticals.

Anytime Fitness has top of the line equipment – and lots of it.  I recognized treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals.  But how to use these technological wonders?

Then there were the other – things.  Strange contraptions with seats, handles, cables, foot rests, weights, etc. litter the floor.  I was extremely intimidated by all of it my first day.  If not for the friendly owners and a personal trainer’s help, I doubt I would have attempted to use any of it.

Who feels out of his element in a school library?

I don’t often find myself feeling as out of place as I did on that first day.  I started wondering if our school library ever makes anyone feel as uncomfortable as the gym made me feel.  Probably.

How do students and teachers  using their school library for the first time feel?  Are they instantly at home, do they approach the shelves with trepidation, or do they just seem to throw up their hands and pretend disinterest rather than risk appearing ignorant of library ways?

We attempt to familiarize students with our library through orientation in their English II classes, but as I found out Wednesday, one time of being shown where things are does not equate to understanding how to use them.  Our students complete Scavenger Hunts during orientation that require them to circulate through the library, using the print and nonprint resources.  But is that enough?

Current Approaches

We make an effort to greet students and faculty with a welcoming smile (and a personalized greeting once we know a patron’s name) and a pleasant, “How can I help you today?” We have created some signage (I need more in this new library space) to help guide folks to the areas they seek.  We are working to create another inviting seating area that encourages students to relax with a good book or magazine.

We circulate when students are looking for materials or using the computers and offer help when we feel it is needed.


What else can we do to put our patrons at ease and help them feel not only welcomed, but at home in our media center?

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