There is an article, In Praise of Libraries (The Rotarian Magazine, March 2015), that is getting a lot of buzz in library circles. Even if you aren’t in the library world, you should read it. It’s a hymn of praise, as you can see by its opening paragraphs:
The public library is the only civic institution in my community that is uncompromisingly successful. Not everyone in my small town is crazy about the police force, and not everyone is all that pleased with the public schools. No one ever seems terribly happy with the planning board, the architectural review board, the board of trustees. Some people think the volunteer firemen get too much money for new equipment, though no one ever dares say it out loud.
The public library is different. The public library is the community’s kindly grandmother: helpful, patient, understanding. Nobody in my town ever stands up and says he dislikes the public library. Nobody in your town does, either. Grumpy old librarians who keep shushing you, sure. But not the library itself.
There are some great points like: the library is taken for granted, the library is free (“come one, come all”), the library makes society better, the library is not judgmental. . . and on and on. As I said, the article is getting a lot of praise and appreciation. The following Twitter post is just one example:
And I agree. It’s a fantastic article. But, I also think talk is cheap. From my experience there are lots of people who think the library is great. There are even lots of public officials who think libraries are great. But they don’t want to pay for them, or have their constituents pay for them, or fund them properly in their budgets. So we need to go one step further. We need to speak out, to our local officials about how great libraries are, AND how we need them to appropriate sufficient funding. Libraries are great and important things for society, for communities, and the folks who live in those communities. But good libraries don’t come cheap. Praise alone is not enough.
Today’s assignment is to edit my blog’s title and tagline. But I’m not going to, because I “sort of” took the Blogging 101 course last year, and I changed my title and tagline then. I thought about them again today in conjunction with this assignment, but I decided I still like them.
When I started blogging someone told me to use my name as the URL, I think to make it easy for people to find, so I did. She also told me to use my name as the blog title, so I did. I added “A Life in Libraries” as the tagline. Last year when I changed the title and tagline, I changed the title to “A Life in Libraries,” and the tagline to “what I’ve learned . . . and am still learning.”
I call it A Life in Libraries, because I feel like that’s really what I’ve led. I started using my local public library as a child. I worked in that same library when I was in high school. I worked in my college library when I was a student. Then I was, in this order:
- a bookmobile “librarian” in a small town
- a branch “librarian” in a smaller town
- a graduate student at UW Madison School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), while also working at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)
- head of reference at a university library
- reference librarian at another university library (wearing many different hats in several different positions there)
- library assistant, then assistant director, at a small public library
- library consultant at a public library system
- happy retiree, who also consults and offers training/workshops at local libraries, and part-time online instructor
Enough said, about that, I think. I think you can see why I say I’ve led a life in libraries. (The word “librarian” is in quotes in the first two bullets because although that was my title, I wasn’t officially a professional librarian because I didn’t have my Masters degree (MLS). Those of you in libraries will understand.)
And I made my tagline “what I’ve learned. . . and am still learning” because that’s what I try to write about here. Both things I’ve learned from my life in libraries, but also a lot of new posts I run across about libraries and library management (and management in general.) I share a lot of other people’s posts, but I often add some of my own thoughts from my own experience.
So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! And that’s my title and tagline and I’m sticking to them, too!
I’m a retired librarian who has worked in public and academic library settings in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
I’ve been blogging here since 2012, almost three years. I started this blog because I had recently retired, but because I had done so a little “early” I hoped I would be able to continue to do some online teaching and consulting, so I wanted a place where people could “find” me and see I was still connected to libraries.
So I blog here about stuff related to libraries, mostly public libraries, but also stuff about management, and organizational stuff. (Apparently, I use the word “stuff” a lot.)
So that’s who I am and why I’m here. Here on this blog, not here in an existential way.
The post 4 Easy Steps to Solving Every Problem in the Workplace resonated with me when I first read it. Then I set it aside, and just found it again today. And again, it resonates! The article is not specific to libraries, but a library IS a workplace. I think it works at home, too. What are those simple steps? I’m glad you asked!
Ask these 4 questions:
- What is the problem?
- What have you done to solve the problem?
- In trying to solve the problem, what have you learned about it?
- What’s your action list?
But to better understand this works, read the whole post and the examples of the process in action.
Here‘s a post from Fast Track that begins:
When organizations believe they must change to survive, they often bring in an outsider to drive that transformation. But that can be as disruptive as it is stressful, leading to turnover, reduced productivity and sinking morale. The better solution may be in harnessing the power of existing teams to come up with ideas that trigger change and drive innovation.
The post identifies two questions employees can ask themselves to determine if they could be good change agents:
- Is there something I can do to make the organization a better place?
- Is there something I personally need to change to make myself a better employee?
Change is hard, and sometimes we do a lot of it in libraries. I suggest you read the post to learn more about change, change agents, and how to find such agents in your organization.
I wrote about makerspaces in libraries awhile back. There is so much written about them that I don’t earmark every one to mention in this blog. But Five Things to Remember When Opening a Makerspace has some good tips, especially for those just starting such a space. Here’s an important point: “[I]t’s a very different type of service to create, and you most definitely WILL be surprised by something.”
Like so much of what we do in libraries and in life, we’re learning by doing, learning as we go.
I just re-read this post I had saved awhile ago. I needed it today. My state is deeply divided politically. My country is deeply divided as well. So I have to pay attention when I read things today like:
If you are tired of “us vs. them” attitudes… if you are feeling frustrated or hopeless about those who don’t agree with your views… if you are concerned about the polarization in this world today… if you are waiting for leadership that unites instead of divides…
… the best place to start is by taking responsibility for yourself.
It’s time to let go of forgone conclusions, set my viewpoints aside, and pay attention to others and their viewpoints. This is true in all aspects of our lives: work, home, and play, as well as in our interactions with the world.
So at your workplace, take the time to listen to others, search for points of agreement, and find ways to collaborate.