Off The Shelf: It’s easy to find reasons to be grateful


Matt Coan, Librarian

As usual, it seems the price of a wedge of pie in November comes down to some mention of gratitude. So long as it isn’t mincemeat pie, I’ll take that bargain every time. Actually, now that I’m not 12, I would probably like mincemeat now that I understand there is no actual meat in it.

As a librarian at Madison College, I know I have a lot to be thankful for. We work in a beautiful library, my library colleagues are fantastic people, we have the best student workers, and, with rare exception, the students we help are interesting, polite and a lot of fun.

Are you grateful? According to the Harvard Medical School Commentaries on Public Health, researchers have found an association between mental health and regularly expressing one’s gratitude. Other researchers have also found that you are more likely to get along better with your significant other if you remind your partner that you appreciate them. The same probably goes for friends: “Thanks for not beating me at ‘Call of Duty!’”

If you need help in the area of gratitude, Madison College Libraries can be of assistance. We have a book of poems by Ross Gay called the “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” featuring poems such as “Ode to buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt” and “Armpit.” We also have Brené Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Making Friends with Your Mind” by Pema Chödrön on audiobook. Have a longer drive to school every day? A good audiobook will make you grateful for the time.

I am grateful I could look up information for the last two paragraphs right from my desk. Unlike in days of old, I didn’t have to get up, find the card catalog and then find each individual item for more detail. Those who are non-traditional students and the more seasoned staff and faculty know to what I am referring. Just this week an older student gasped when I demonstrated how easy it is to generate citations in library databases. It’s easy to take for granted, once you get used to it. Still, the wealth of information that we have access to and the ease at which we can organize it is really remarkable.

The other day I noted that a friend on Facebook does not like pie. I think it’s wonderful that people are different. Just think how dull it would be if everyone looked, dressed, acted and thought the same. Mostly, though, I am grateful that, because she’s not a pie person, there’s more pie for me.