So long, and thanks for all the books!
May 16, 2014 6:55 AM   Subscribe

What thank-you gift for a couple of nice librarians?

I'm wrapping up a big research project, and would like to get some sort of thank-you present for 3 staff members at an academic library who provided quite a bit of relatively high-effort help along the way (including some accession/circulation rule-bending that was 100% beyond the call of duty). I don't really know these people beyond the level of pleasantries, though, so I have no idea what might be appropriate to get. A small gift of sweets over the holidays was well-received, but at least one of them may have a serious health issue related to food, so I don't think I want to go the big-box-o'-chocolates/ office donuts route. Flowers might be allergenic or overly smelly for a small, windowless workspace. No idea if anybody drinks. Not sufficiently in command of anybody's fashion sense to try to get scarves/ little jewelry pieces or anything. And my default idea, a Starbucks/ Dunkin' Donuts giftcard, would be OK, I guess, but seems sort of... perfunctory?

Thus, two questions: first, what should I get for these awesome people? And second(related), in terms of scale... how much seems appropriate to spend for this level of thank-you? Thanks, Metafilter!
posted by Bardolph to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts card in cute coffee cups or a nice waterbottle/thermos.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:05 AM on May 16, 2014

I (and other librarians of my acquaintance) have received bottles of wine or homemade cookies as thank-you gifts...but this is truly such a rare thing that even a small trinket is pretty awesome and will make the recipient's day.

If you don't want to go the Starbucks gift card route, a nice mug and fancy tea or coffee would be a great gift. A heartfelt thank-you card for the department--the sort of thing that would get passed around, exclaimed over, and ultimately cross the desk of a director (who will say "my librarians are fantastic and appreciated by our patrons")--would almost definitely be appreciated. (Uh, maybe leave out or be vague about the rule-bending part, though.)
posted by 2or3things at 7:09 AM on May 16, 2014

First and most important: A fulsome and detailed note of thanks, cc'd to their bosses. (And the cc'd version shouldn't mention the rule-bending.)

If this is a book (or similar) and you get acknowledgements, that would be a very kind thought indeed.

For spending I'd say $10/person, or $20 max. (I feel like above that gets into "payment" mode, especially for a gift card.)

I like the tea idea. Do they have a K-Cup maker in their workspace? If so, you could find a K-Cup assortment that includes coffee and tea. And depending on the type of food issues, an Edible Arrangement might work -- it's just fruit. I personally am allergic to them but I have the feeling that's pretty rare. We have gotten them at my office and I can confirm that everyone was psyched and ate freely.
posted by pie ninja at 7:11 AM on May 16, 2014

A professional thank you letter, copied to the Library Director, omitting rule-bending. Individual thank you cards, with flowers in a mug, and/or chocolates, and/or gift cert. for coffee, books, tea. It's excellent that you're doing this, it will totally make their day/ week/ month.
posted by theora55 at 7:29 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

My friend is a university librarian and I asked him; here's his response:
followed up a few minutes later with
"Really, baked goods or telling their supervisor. Librarians that did that are just doing their jobs. They already know that their work helps people but the level of appreciation is unclear until someone expresses it."
I'd just like to follow that up and really underscore that in addition to whatever little gift you want to give, making sure their boss knows that they were awesome is about the best thing you can do.
posted by phunniemee at 7:30 AM on May 16, 2014

A professional thank you letter, copied to the Library Director, omitting rule-bending. Individual thank you cards, with flowers in a mug, and/or chocolates, and/or gift cert. for coffee, books, tea. It's excellent that you're doing this, it will totally make their day/ week/ month.

Yep. The best gift is one you don't overthink and that actually gets delivered. Whatever you give should say "Thanks!" and in no way say "I'm interested" if that makes sense. Most librarians I know would enjoy a gift of booze or coffee even if they weren't drinkers because people share that stuff around. A nice workplace mug (or one from your home if you're from far away) and/or a gift certificate to the local coffee/snack place is always appreciated. But really a nice letter to them explaining how much they helped that was cc'ed to their boss is a big deal. Write a letter to the school paper even (omitting the rule bending) just to tell people how valuable the library is.
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, definitely a nice letter or email that copies the boss!

A gift card is great, too.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2014

Nthing writing an accolade for their director. Universities are a bit better than most when it comes to funding their libraries, but every little thing counts. Especially when it comes to showing that their positions are needed and necessary!

I'm not a huge fan of gift cards, mostly because of the idea of putting a monetary value on things (you are worth $X.XX to me), but something simple and nice would be good. Tea, coffee, mugs, or if you're feeling extra fancy, maybe some baked goods, librarian-specific merchandise, local treats, or a unique consumable goodie.
posted by PearlRose at 7:43 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just sent a Library Card Tote from Out of Print as a gift for a librarian friend - they loved it, and the site donates books for every purchase made. Lots of good stuff on there.
posted by 41swans at 7:56 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you are writing a book or article thank them in the notes.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2014

I'd rather have a letter to the boss than any gift...except maybe wine.
posted by Riverine at 8:03 AM on May 16, 2014

I'm an academic librarian and i am prohibited from receiving gifts (since i influence a multi-million dollar collection budget, they are super interested in making sure no impropriety could even be hinted at). If i get gift cards, coffee, wine, etc., from vendors or patrons, i put it in a drawer to give out as a prize to a patron later! So, letter to the director, stating the people who helped you by name, and how it helped you do your work. It's connecting library work to real research/education that is needed. On preview, an acknowledgement in an article/book/thesis is also nice.
posted by holyrood at 8:06 AM on May 16, 2014

Nthing the letter. Those a really useful during promotion/review times. Gift cards are good as a "tangible" thing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:10 AM on May 16, 2014

And acknowledgement in a letter or in the publication itself.
posted by calgirl at 8:11 AM on May 16, 2014

A Librarian Action Figure.
posted by Rob Rockets at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

As an academic librarian, I second all of the above, especially the letter to the boss! And thanking them in your forward would be lovely :) But, any little thing like a mug or a gift card or food would be so appreciated.

(However, my first few thoughts were: 1. Booze 2. Grant funding 3. A taser for rowdy patrons 4. Tattoo, maybe I'm not the best example...)
posted by heathenduchess at 9:18 AM on May 16, 2014

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