Quite often I receive emails from students in MLIS programs asking for advice. This can be as simple as help with a paper, a cataloguing question or long-term career advice. Sometimes these emails also involve in-depth questions regarding the future of cataloguing, areas of the profession that are growing, my professional opinion on certain topics or participation in studies, research or interviews.
Receiving these emails on an almost monthly basis, I continue to take the time to answer them, thoughtfully providing responses, direction, opinions or, when I have no answers, other resources or individuals that I believe will be helpful. However, what always stands out when helping these individuals is that I rarely, if ever, receive a “Thank You”. It’s easy to send an email. Easier than picking up the telephone or writing a letter. While I am not so long in the tooth, I had it drilled into me from an early age that a simple Thank You letter goes a long way. And, to me, it does. When a new professional wants something, how easy it is to send a quick email or text. And then — “ding”– their smartphone goes off when they receive a text or email back, providing them with answers to their queries. But how much effort does it take to send a simple “Thank you” in return? Apparently, a lot.
Within the past two weeks, I received two requests for assistance. And, given my ongoing experience with young professionals who are used to instant gratification (in this case, quick and “easy” answers with no thought to the professional’s time on the other end), my knee-jerk reaction was to say “no”. How terrible of me. Why should these students face the consequences of their peers’ actions? So, of course, I am taking the time to do it. Why? Because I am a professional who believes in mentoring and growing the profession through working together, sharing information and building relationships. Because, for every 1 out of 30 young professionals who take the time to say “Thank You”, I know that perhaps, one day, I will meet or read about that young individual making a difference in our profession. And, by some small chance, maybe I made a positive impact in their career choices and path.
However, I do find the lack of a professional “Thank You” troubling. Why are our young professionals not learning about how to conduct themselves professionally? Should they have to be taught about professional conduct (which in this case, seems more like common courtesy) at the graduate level? Should we be addressing this behaviour at conferences? In the classroom? While I am not sure where this needs to be addressed, we certainly need to take note of this or someday, an aspiring mover & shaker may write an email that is never responded to; never answered because the respondent no longer takes the time to respond to emails and is no longer interested in mentoring or sharing their expertise. What a shame that would be.