Friday, December 31, 2010

Library New Year Resolutions

I spend quite a lot of time working on my blog in 2010, and in return it has brought me many rewards. Blogging has allowed me to articulate, reflect and clarify my thoughts on librarianship and sharing with the larger international librarian community at large has led to many fruitful discussions.

I'm also honored that readers of my blog have told me that the ideas I share on my blog have occasionally helped them with their work, or even inspired them.

Nevertheless, at the back of my mind throughout the year I often wondered if I could be better off spending less of my energies on blogging, that perhaps the sum total of my blogging efforts is just preaching to the choir, or as Ned Potter puts it simply shouting into the echo chamber.

I was struggling to write something insightful to conclude the year 2010, but inspiration eluded me.  Today I saw a post from the always insightful, always inspirational David Lankes that perfectly captures what I was trying to say.

I hope he doesn't mind if I reproduce large parts of it here.  It's from "Beyond the Bullet Points: New Years Resolution 2011"

"In the coming year you will hear many ideas and “certainties” about our future, and our needs. You will hear the inevitable backlash and conservatism of those who fear change. You will read blogs and tweets and Facebook updates full or quotes and links and videos. Some things will scare us, some appall us, and some inspire. But if all you do is hear them, or watch them, or read them, then we all have failed – both the progressives, and the conservatives. For words, images, and all the media in the world that does not lead to action is useless.

The true test of the future of librarianship is not in my presentations, or the words I write, but in the actions I perform and enable. Inspiration without execution is a false drug – it deludes us into thinking ourselves involved.

If all I do is preach and then return to my ivory tower, then I am a fraud. And if you hear my words and yell “amen,” but do nothing then you too are a fraud. Agree, disagree, yell, fight, prove me wrong, prove me right, try something else just do something.

If there is anything that this past year has shown us it is that there is a bright future for librarians, but it will not be delivered to us. We break usage records and they cut our budgets. We show up in the newspapers and on TV and some still question our value. No, we cannot simply continuing our current path and expect salvation and restored budgets. We must act – change – improve.

So here is our resolution for this year – act. Make one positive change every day. Start small: fix the signs in your library. Start small: enforce a 30 minute time limit on all meetings. Start small: replace fines with food donations for the needy. Then get bigger: read 10 blogs each day. Then get brave: map every service you spend money on to the needs of your community – kill any service that doesn’t map. Get brave: leave your buildings on a regular basis for a space in the community.

Then get active: start your website from scratch, and center it on the members not your stuff; convene a town meeting with your members. Start a community mentoring program where you loan out professors, and hackers, and accountants, and lawyers. Then hunt down every post on my blog, or that of the Annoyed Librarian and tell us where we are wrong or right.

If 2010 was the year of the librarian, then let’s make this the year of the librarian in your face. The librarian proactively helping members. The librarian holding administration to account. The librarian demanding more from LIS education. The librarian on a first name basis with the business community. The librarian doing office hours in academic departments. The librarian in the face of their community always helpful, always pleasant, always a radical agent of positive change."

Over here, being "in your face" has negative connotations (though I suspect there's a pun here?), so I won't wish 2011 to be "the year of the librarian in your face", but I do take Professor's Lanke's point.

For me, it's easy and safe to stay behind a computer and blog ideas and tech stuff. By now, It's almost as easy to stand up among my librarian peers both within and outside my institution and articulate ideas or projects for us to do (and we do actually do them, including some of the changes mentioned above!)

But for me personally to affect positive change for our members, our community, to proactively be a agent of positive change, to be "in your face" is something that for me at least is difficult and dare I say scary (due to cultural, personal reasons) but I will be working on this in 2011.

I won't say exactly what those things are, but suffice to say I resolve to spend more of 2011 interacting with members of our community, learning their needs and helping them to the best of my ability.

Here's wishing all of you a Happy 2011, I have a feeling, it will be a very very good year for us all!

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