Growing up in southeastern Virginia, I remember hearing that phrase when my parents took us on the occasional visit to the local Baptist church. The pastor would be in the middle of a very passionate sermon when two or more people in the congregation inevitably shout out those words.
Although I've been an active Catholic for about 7 years, I tend to go back to those evangelical protestant roots whenever I teach. I consider information literacy the gospel, and I am there to give the congregation the good news. Like a good evangelist, I try to whip my congregation into a shouting frenzy. For the most part, I fail. But I do occasionally get the academic version of an amen: conversation and engagement. Instead of silence, I am greeted with animated voices that share research problems and questions. I am surrounded by various dialogues and disagreements as students work together to make sense of the research process. I feel the hum of excitement. And then I realize why I became an academic librarian.
In less than two hours, I face my congregation once again. Most members will silently walk into class, after braving a foggy and snow-laced landscape. Some will be engaged in animated conversations about the latest episode of a "reality" TV show. The congregation most likely will expect a lecture and perhaps a test to exercise their knowledge.
Nonetheless, I try to exercise their spirit and their intelligence. I try to rouse them out of their social and political lethargy to become fully active citizens (Can I get an amen, somebody!).
I know I cannot save their souls or their minds in a one-shot bibliographic instruction session. I can, however, model the curious, probing spirit that underwrites much innovative research. I can be the shepherd who patiently guides the flock, who searches for those lost in the abyss of information overload and data deluge.
For an evangelical librarian, this mission is enough to face the congregation each and every time.