The task of understanding attributions and attitude changes when consulting a
reference librarian must be divided into two parts. The first part will be my own
imagined dialogue between myself and the librarian. Along with the dialogue my
discourse thinking is written as well as my imagined librarians discourse
thinking. The second part of the assignment is the actual dialogue which took
place between myself and a reference librarian at Hamilton library. For the
second part no discourse thinking is written in the discussion following the results.
TABLE 1: An imagined dialogue with a reference librarian (with inclusion of
1. Me: Uh...excuse me...uh...hello...
2. L: Yes?...One moment please. (busy, busy, busy)
3 minutes later---
3. L: Sorry to keep you waiting. What can I do for you?
4. Me: Uh...yeah...can you help me find something? I'm doing
a research paper on the literary works of the 15th and 16th century and I
can't seem to find any thing about it in the card catalogue. That do you
recommend I do?
5. L: Have you tried locking under literature: The Renaissance?
6. Me: Uh, no. Thanks.
7. L: Uh huh. (busy3 busy, busy)
MY DISCOURSE THINKING
1. Well there's the librarian. Gee, she looks terribly but
...maybe I should just come back later. Oh hell I gotta get this done---here goes nothing.
2. I knew I should've waited. Well at least I got her attention.
3. Jesus, it's about time! I should've known something like would've happened. Very typical.
4. Boy, I bet it's gonna be a silly question to her but...
5. I knew it. She must think I'm a real dunce.
6. I'm so embarrased. Gotta scram.
LIBRARIAN'S DISCOURSE THINKING
2. I have to get this stuff filed away by 5:00, I
hope this guy can wait a couple of minutes.
3. I hope he's not upset.
4. I enjoy helping, especially the undergraduates
who are still feeling their way around.
7. Well back to the tedious stuff.
TABLE 2: An actual dialogue with a reference
librarian(no discourse thinking)
1. Me: Excuse me...I'd like to find where the magazines
2. L: Are you looking for back issues or current issues?
3. Me: A current issue.
4. L: Okay you see that room(she points) there? That's
where current magazines are kept. On the front
desk there, there should be a book with a listing
of the magazine your looking for, If you have
any problems there should be some one at the
desk to help you.
5. Me: Aliright, thanks.
6. L: (smiles)
It appears from my observations that the fears
that had evolved in my imagined dialogue were
unfounded. There was no thing in which
suggested any annoynce or criticism of myself
for not knowing something that was quite
obvious. The fact that I had attributed some less
than desirable qualities to librarians in general
had colored my opinion of what a specific
librarian would actually be like. It is possibly
due to the stereotyping of librarians as bent-over,
old hags who are enraged at the sound of a
human voice within the library and who persist
in shushing any one who even breaths too loud.In the true situation the reference librarian was
help as well pleasant about the whole matter.
Assuming that this particular instance is in
accord with normal librarian/student relations
then there is no reason for avoidance of consulting the reference librarian, other than
misattribution and an unhealthy attitude towards
approaching them for help.
Situations like the approaching of a reference
librarian are all to common with people in
everyday life. The concept of attribution plays a
powerful role in lives of all people. It's not that
we should mark this concept as bad, but rather
that we realize the dangers of misattribution.
There must be a balance between dispositional
and situational attributes and this can be
accomplished only if we can see things through
the other persons viewpoint.
Attitudes must also be changed. The idea of
institution al depersonalization reflects more
unhealthy attitudes that people have towards
others. A mentally unbalanced person must be
treated like other people---only with more care
and more understanding. Only after one takes
into consideration the ideas and differing
thoughts of others can a healthy attitude be
developed towards human relations.
Unfortunately you can lead a person to
knowledge but you can't make him think. This is
where the concept of self-wittnessing comes into
play--- by first understanding oneself it is so
much easier to under stand others. Attitude
change is slow to come about but with
self-witnessing the process is much easier and
more likely to happen.