One of my shortcomings (and there are many) is that I have trouble remembering the names of people that I have met. There are many library users who call me by my first name*, but I am unable to pull theirs from the recesses of my brain. After years of handling their library cards, taking their phone calls, and filling out reserve forms in their names, I still draw a blank when they approach the reference desk. They even greet me at restaurants and movie theaters. I feel awkward.
Our library clients do have an advantage in that I am wearing a name tag when I am on duty. I have given out quite a few of my business cards in the past, and they see my name in the newsletter and on the website. My name is out there to see.
My problem goes beyond the building. There are other librarians whose names escape me when I see them at meetings and conferences. If you are one of them, I apologize. I should remember. I am glad when you wear a name tag that I can read. This summer at the conference in New Orleans, most people wore their name tags on lanyards that hung down around their belly buttons. They were almost impossible to read without stooping. I added looking awkward to feeling awkward.
Maybe there is hope for me. I used to have very good recall of major league baseball players' names. I could open a package of baseball cards and identify most of the players without looking at their names. I could do this because I had seen many of their previous cards and read about them constantly in the newspaper. I had seen many of them on television. I heard their names repeated on the radio. The key to my recall was repetition and obsession.
I do not think I can ask clients for their photos so I can create trading cards. I think that is a very bad idea.
So, how can I improve my library user name recall? My strength is my ability to create and use reference tools. Is there a way to draw from this strength? Can I create An Index to Readers or A Spotter's Guide to Library Clients? It would be a pretty obsessive thing to do.
Does anyone have suggestions? Perhaps others have this same concern.
*I also have several library users who call me Eric. I think they blended Aaron and Rick into Eric. There is also another who insists on calling me Nick.