Monday, June 1, 2015

10 Ways Librarians Can Rage Against Conformity

Dylan Thomas had it right:
     "Do not go gentle into that good night...Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Okay, maybe rage isn't the exact word I'd use for librarians.  But the theme of this poem is exactly what I'd use for librarians.  It's amazing how fast libraries and our profession has altered in the last 10 years.  I remember having a card catalog still available in the school where I started my first job as librarian. (and no, it wasn't in the sixties or seventies either...more like the late 90's).

What Thomas is conveying in the poem is to never give up, never stop fighting the good fight, always move forward and onward despite difficult times.  With this rushing tide of change we are part of, when it comes to libraries and our roles in them, this is a theme we must adopt.  But it doesn't always mean you have to be on the frontline taking it all in at once. 

Moving forward doesn't have a speed limit as long as it continues to go forward.  Some librarians have moved quickly and embraced change while others are more tentative, waiting to see how things work, what is going to happen and then act on it. Collectively, we become that tide with change following in our wake.

Last night I was in an exceptional Twitter chat with Angela Maiers where the topic was "#youmatter. When was the last time someone said that to you?  When was the last time you said that to someone? So, I'm here to say you DO matter!  Not only do you matter, but what you do matters too.  Librarians shouldn't be pigeon-holed to a stereotype that keeps perpetuating and the further our profession moves forward, the more we will be valued for what we are today.  There should be no excuses, no reasons to not want to be professionally fierce.

And not wanting to change are the difficulties we must rage against, and they are our most powerful enemy. It's time to fight AGAINST dark days and be a part of the battalion who want better than what once was.  It's about goals we can make and do our best to fulfill; making and committing to a change (small or large) to make yourself part of the fast-paced change our profession now demands.

Oh, I'm not saying anyone should spend their entire summer working, but we all know that educators take their work with them even when summer break is happening.  Asking the "what if..." question and then pursuing it can make all the difference (and that's another poem by Frost for another day :)

Here are a few ideas:

1. Look at your procedures and tweak them to allow more fluidity.  It's not about the "stuff" but about the positive relationships you can create.

2. Take a web tool you've never used before and teach yourself through Youtube videos, tutorials on the website, or by Googling how to use it.  Make a goal to incorporate this into your library or teach it to a class.

3. Network.  More than that, bring in a positive perspective and shy away from those who network and bring complaints.  Even if you don't like something, find that one thing that made it good.

4. Read books.  Lots and lots of books (or as many as you possibly can).  Now take them and share them with your campus however you'd like.

5. Create an orientation presentation for students or new teachers. Delete the facts from the slides (because you're going to tell them) and adapt it to capture attention, not be read.

6. Attend a workshop and make it your goal to accomplish it during the school year, not one you just attended for summer credit.

7. Let someone or more than one know they matter and why.

8. Volunteer to be part of staff development.  It can be a variety of ways from offering equipment, helping with information, presenting, creating ideas.  The more involved you are, the more you'll be seen as part of the team.

9. Look at the library spaces and see what could be a possibility to accommodate students or classes. Think about everyone's needs, not just a specific audience.  Kids aren't quiet by does this impact the library? How can it be changed?

10. Challenge yourself to be available.  Not just behind the circulation desk or your office, but on the floor, in the halls, at events and functions.

Now let's make some waves!~~

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