Since studying my undergrad and then finding work in a library I’ve been frustrated by the slowness in our profession. Slow to change, slow to adapt, which sometimes verges on a dogged unwillingness to do anything different at all. (I’m well aware that external factors like lack of support from parent organisations, layer upon layer of bureaucracy and lack of funding et. al contribute to a lack or inability to take action).
Should I have been surprised? How was I to know? And to be honest part of the reason I began exploring work outside libraries, even though I was so new to the profession, was because of this lack of action. (Plus a realisation that that I’m more information than library . . .a post about this is seriously overdue).
Anyway, I was surprised and frustrated and annoyed to find that my new profession seems so stuck. Particularly because I could see innovation, change, rebelliousness happening, just nowhere near me!
Twitter was and is my lifeline. If I wasn’t directly disrupting and changing things in my own workplace, I could talk about it online. And learn from and admire these Twitter folk. Stealth mentoring anyone? And it’s these people who give me hope for the future of the profession. Because part of me believes that our profession can be less “this is how we’ve always done it” and more “just say yes, you’ll figure it out afterwards“.
What has been confirmed for me over the last seven years is that change happens slowly. But it can happen and you need to be immersed in the profession if you want to be part of change, both in your workplace and as a member of our diverse profession.
Don’t just dip your toe in, dive in!
Co-convening NLS8 has meant spending a lot of time with smart, radical, big thinkers . . . dreamers who have taught me to SLOW DOWN, be patient and that the best kind of change comes from within. It’s also confirmed for me that there are plenty of people who are happy with the way things are. That will never be me, I’ll always be asking how about this? and that? why do we do it like this?’ because that’s me and I love finding patterns, making connections and figuring out other ways of doing things.
I got involved with NLS8 because having attended NLS6 and 7, I knew what an important event it was and still is for GLAMR students and new grads and wanted to be part of the next one. Plus I had ideas about how to make it a better learning experience, and wouldn’t you know, so did the people who joined me on the organising committee. After the symposium is over (and we all have a good long lie down, it’s been a long eighteen months!) I want to rejoin the ALIA Students and New Graduates group. Because as a regional person I don’t think there are anywhere near enough PD opportunities outside of the major cities. So I’m going to change that by working with a great group of people and asking for support from ALIA state managers and the Twittersphere. If there’s one thing that NLS8 has taught me, it’s to ask for help. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They say no. Oh well, ask someone else!
Repeat after me, change is good
Back to change. I think our profession can be better, we can dare to do better. Change goes beyond just turning up to an occasional event. And let’s be real, there’s only a small proportion of people in this industry who do get involved (as with any community). And that’s the group I am a part of, because it’s where the change happens. And the people who do get involved, they are my kind of people, my tribe. The more time I spend with them, the clearer my professional path becomes. And the clearer the path to the kind of profession I studied hard to join becomes. I don’t hope for the future of libraries and information professionals. I drive and push and argue, sometimes badly, but mostly quietly and by taking part, staying connected and surrounding myself with why not? people.
This isn’t for everyone. And some of us choose to use this passion for being involved in other areas of life, that’s cool. Whatever works for you! For me, driving and supporting change in our profession is what I’m going to put my energy into, it’s where (after many years of trying to find my tribe) I know that my skills and knowledge can be best used. Feels good to know that, and I can thank the people I’ve met and teamed up with for helping me figure it out.