This is the first time in my life where I’ve had the opportunity to grace the pavement of an Historical Black College University (HBCU) library in a professional setting and be of service to others. I find it to be one of the best places in the world to interact with students and faculty every morning that I wake up at Lincoln University-Missouri. Then on the other hand, having the opportunity to tour the entire campus of Lincoln University and come to grasps with the culture — I’m in a state of shock. Here is a post placed on one of my social media outlets to give you a vivid picture since arriving about how I’ve observed the culture in the library and on campus:
…i am so thankful for the people that invested time, energy, love, and support in my life. I have come to see that many in this current generation are COMPLETELY oblivious to tough love. Many of them feel as though you are being mean to them — when in actuality you are trying to school them for what is to come – LIFE. I mean this when I say the following: LIFE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR EXCUSES (some grown folk need to read this too)! Life does not care about how you dress, the car you drive, and the friends that you hang with… LIFE will kick you so hard until you wish that you had listened. I once was there > in the same predicament that I see a lot of our youth in — the only difference is that I wanted to change. I wanted to become someone. I wanted better. I am praying for this generation, because they need us and they need tough love. I only hope that some of them will have the ears to hear and the mindset to realize that LIFE does not care, people do!
After reflecting about my time on this campus and in the library, I believe that there is a lot of work to do. Students have a right to express themselves and be as they choose. However, there is a time for everything. I also believe that students in this generation have no clue as to what a library will and can do for their collegiate careers, nor are they aware of library etiquette. I’ve been torn about writing about this observation, but this is what I’ve witnessed and I can’t bite my tongue. We need a major cultural shift on this campus, and in the world and students need to understand what the library is meant for in their daily lives. Librarians have a responsibility to share with them the ways of how to search, retrieve, and evaluate information, explain to them why we exist in academia, and provide the necessary tools to be successful readers, technologists, researchers as in institution within an institution. As the Information Literacy Coordinator at Inman E. Page Library, there is an excellent opportunity to train students and faculty where we are now, by creating a centralized information literacy toolkit for students and faculty to utilize and access for research purposes, as well as have the opportunity to schedule library-instructed research workshops, and students will have the capability to book one-on-one sessions.
With that being said, I’ve entered into a phase in my life where I have to acknowledge that this is not going to be easy. I find that a lot of students are disrespectful to their elders, have entitlement issues, and the audacity to not give a damn about their education (but still want passing grades). Now, this is my observation as a librarian: We see the entire educational system and if it is working or not when your – (my) – our students walk into the library. Remember, it’s an institution within an institution. Everything that they have learned from their professors is played out from the moment they walk through our doors searching for information about different subjects. Now if the students do not know the name of their books, professors, or class numbers for books that are on reserve for their classes– How can I really serve them? I am going to go back on the path that I want to stay on, because the state of the educational system in this entire country is way off base if you ask me – but who is asking me, right?!? I had a talk with one of my mentors, and he expressed to me that I have to help the students that want help and unfortunately leave the rest where they are… In like manner, we are living in times where the black community has turned its back on our youth, and need to be held accountable for our lack of authority (discipline) and involvement in their lives as parents, mentors, friends, family members, extended-family, etc.
Furthermore, the entire student body is not lost at Lincoln University-Missouri. I dare say that they all need to take a class on the history of the university that they are attending and required to write an essay about their experience and the history that they learned about and how it affected them, by their senior year. Lincoln University-Missouri was coined by W.E.B. DuBois as the “Harvard of the Midwest”, the pavement is blessed beyond measure, the hills on the campus make your back stand tall. I’ve meet some great students that are well on their way, and I’ve had the pleasure to meet some exceptional faculty members that are willing to go above and beyond for LU students. I’ve decided to challenge myself by continuing to walk into the library and be the example that I need to be in order for students to see and understand that it takes work to get to where I am — Nothing has been given to me in life (free of charge). I hope that my observation is different in the new year and that things become a little bit better as it pertains to the culture at this university. There have been a many that have come before us, including W.E.B. Dubois, Langston Hughes, and Duke Ellington that walked the same pavement that I do only a daily basis and made a difference in the lives of LU students and faculty. I aim to do the same in the spirit of excellence!