I started working at the library in my first semester at SLU at the iCommons desk on the first floor. This was before the massive remodeling when the technology available to students was more limited. But even before the library got its makeover, we offered a pretty amazing standard of service. You have class in .3 seconds and your printer broke down? We can help you with that. You have no idea how to start the massive essay that’s 20% of your grade? We have a subject librarian for you. While students were the majority of our patrons, we helped many non SLU students and guests as well. A lot of them couldn’t afford a computer of their own, and the other student workers and I learned how to guide people through processes I take for granted as easy and familiar, like setting up an email account. On some days, a recent immigrant might come in and I’d find myself explaining the complicated English on a job application website. I wanted to work at Pius because I had a feeling it would be this way; the library is a place where there are answers waiting, where the world is quiet, and everyone is welcome.
Now, of course, we’ve updated. New technology brings with it new opportunities to support students academically. You need a 3D model of a human heart for anatomy class? We can make that happen. Your student email decided you’re not allowed to see your own emails? The IT department can help.
I think people might be a little intimidated by the glass walls and the Apple products, but even for all our new technology, the library is still a very human space. If a student is unsure about something, say printing a giant poster for a club event, there are such kind people at the IMC who are happy to walk you through the steps. Even with our new, “Genius Bar” look, I still get our regular non-SLU guests coming in for the old fashioned desktops. If anything, the new technology only means that we’re better equipped to help our patrons with complicated and more common requests. No printing crisis seems daunting anymore, not when there’s an actual talking robot in the studio.