People visit the library of our office on a regular basis. Our librarian is very helpful to colleagues and outsiders, providing books/journals/publications available in the library – fulfilling the job of a good librarian. However, what she once shared with me is a perfect example of going an extra mile. Before I share this, I must add that she does not want to be named saying, in all humility, this is her job. How beautiful the world would be if such an attitude of feeling ‘accountable’ was universal..
A young research scholar once telephoned her from a small town, enquiring about some reference books she needed for her thesis. The research scholar had been struggling to source the books for some time but with no success. As a result she was behind her submission deadline.
Our librarian listened to the caller patiently. She informed the caller of the books that she could provide. In addition, she offered the contact details of other libraries that the researcher could approach. The prompt information delighted the caller who informed that she intended to make a trip to the city to research the material. She had one query: Would it be possible to access all the books, including visits to other libraries in one day so that she could return by evening? This would save her the hassle of arranging for an accommodation.
On the morning of the caller’s scheduled visit, she was pleasantly surprised to find books staked on a table in our library. These books were placed alongside publications that didn’t belong to our office – a sign that our librarian had gone that extra mile. She had taken it upon herself to contact her counterparts in other libraries and run by the caller’s list of reference material. Then she requested the respective libraries to send across the short listed reading material for a day when the researcher was coming to our office. She had empathized with the caller, understanding her unease at staying the night in a new city.
The researcher was extremely grateful to discover all the books under one roof, and that someone had taken that effort to source the books as per her check list. If our librarian had only provided books that we had in our library, and given information about other sources, she would have still done the job of a good librarian. But sourcing books from other libraries, and keeping them available for the use of researcher was the extra mile that had saved the researcher time and resources. At the end of the day, it was an extremely satisfied and grateful researcher that shook hands with our dear librarian.
We can do a lot within our areas of influence to help people. Let’s remember this episode, and try to emulate this in our lives/work.
One more point before I close. When it comes to doing something for people close to us – our friends, siblings, relatives – we all do whatever we can. We explore all possible options, and knock at several doors. But when it comes to people we do not really know, we are generally not so forthcoming. So, next time a stranger seeks your intervention, think before delivering your verdict. What would have been your response to the request had the stranger been your friend or cousin or aunt? Go ahead and do the same for new faces too. The term ‘going that extra’ needs to extend into life and reflect in our everyday behaviour.