The #Partyhard Post: How Partying Can Make Libraries Better

This post stems entirely from @librarianjp and our conversations on FB and his youtube video. From what I understand, he got inspired by Andrew W.K. so I’m researching that guy too. Anyway, I wanted to give him credit for getting me to think about this in a more creative way. Here it is…

Librarians need to party more and party harder. Now I know what you’re thinking! Yes, I have been to ALA and I know that librarians do party pretty well, but my thoughts go beyond this and I can only explain them from some of the things that have happened in my experiences with partying with librarians and what I think can come from librarians embracing some aspects of the #partyhard community.

A Celebration of our Profession
One of the first things that JP said to me about the profession of librarianship and the whole party hard theory was to the effect of needing to celebrate our profession more instead of mourning it. This really hit home for me at the time it was said because I was just reading about layoffs, libraries closing, hours lost, budgets cut, etc… I really feel like there are quite a few people who are quietly mourning the loss of this profession. But there’s no reason that we need to go out quietly. If we do really wind up going out, we should go out loud, kicking, screaming, and celebrating everything that libraries have done for the people of this country for the last 236 years. Really, our fellow librarians have accomplished a whole lot when you sit back and think about it! So now let’s celebrate it!

This leads me to something I despise but I will name it here. It’s a book called “The Secret.” Let me state that I HATE this book for a number of reasons. *But really, the power of the theory behind the book is the power of positive thinking. By believing that what you want can be accomplished you can accomplish it.* So, as a profession we need to begin this cycle of believing we can accomplish everything we need to. I don’t think that this can start from the position of negativity or self-doubt that I keep seeing and hearing but needs to begin from a position of positive actions. What better way to begin this cycle than through a party and celebration of our profession?

Party With Each Other
This is a conversation that I have had many times. In fact, I said something similar here in Loida’s video. The summary is that I’m always a little weary of going to sessions and workshops at conferences. This is generally because these were put together up to a year or more in advance. The people I’m interested in hearing from all write about what they’re excited about online and whatever it is that they’re presenting on was talked about on their blogs, twitter, youtube, etc… when they first thought of it. I almost never learn anything new from sessions. I do, however, learn incredible amounts at the socials and meet-ups. The people I’m excited to learn from are talking directly with me and telling me about what they are working on and excited about right now. I get to ask questions and get feedback on what I’m excited about on a personal level. People say what they wouldn’t or couldn’t say at a workshop and there is a significant barrier that is broken down in the social scene. The end product of this is that I have never learned more than when I partied with the people who I am a geeky fan of.

My other problem was brought up by Andy Woodworth and I fairly snarkly answered that the problem could be solved if we partied more. The problem was that library systems don’t collaborate enough. I think that a large part of the lack of collaboration and sharing between library entities is that many of the people involved in those organizations never meet. So, to help with this, Andrew Carlos and I started some Librarian meet-ups in the Bay area. We have only had two and I’ve only been to one, but at just this one meet-up I found out about a project happening in my neighboring library system that is only about a mile away that would allow for some kind of partnership with a project that I’m working on. If we hadn’t partied together, we wouldn’t have had this opportunity to learn from each other and see what we are each doing. Now, I have new collaborative project for Fall, I know what other libraries in my area are doing, how we can collaborate, and I know new people to plan exciting new services and programs with.

Party with our Patrons and Our Community
This was a completely random and recent thought that I had in the ALA Think Tank group. I have not really tested or tried this so I’ll just throw it in here at the end in case anyone is still reading.

What if we partied with our patrons? What if we just went to the bars in our communities and hung out all night, danced, drank, and really got to know our patrons in ways that we don’t get to know them at the reference desk? What could we learn about their real needs and wants? What would they tell us in a social setting at a bar or restaurant or concert that they wouldn’t tell us in the library? What do you think?

I guess I should say that at some level I have actually done this but not exactly in the way that I was thinking. While I haven’t really tried to make connections by partying in my community, I have partied in my community and I have made some connections. The first was that I was introduced to someone who already knew about my Guitar Project and had been following it because he wanted his organization to donate money to it! He actually knew me before I ever met him! (I was famous in my own mind for like 10 seconds) and the second was that I found out about a local chapter of the group called Guitars not Guns and they also want to help with the guitar project. But again, I wasn’t looking for connections as I’m proposing here, just out for the night. What if I was actually looking to meet folks?

*that summary just saved you $14.00 on Amazon so buy someone a drink.



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About pcsweeney

Currently, I'm the Branch Manager of the East Palo Alto Library in California. If you find yourself to be extremely bored (and would like to be more bored) you can find all of my internet mind droppings about libraries by googling pcsweeney.
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2 Responses to The #Partyhard Post: How Partying Can Make Libraries Better

  1. Kirby says:

    Oh the Secret, that book kills me! And when I worked at a branch I got asked for it at least 5 times a day. On the collabing we had that talk non stop at Eureka, thanks for putting it up on the blog :)

  2. Pingback: Towards A Librarian Party Agenda // Drop the Reference Bomb

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