Since I’ve been banned from Facebook because someone marked me as spam for sending out too many invitations to library parties. I’m going to defend myself a little bit here.
I’ve been thinking more and more about partying as a professional activity so the next few posts that I do are going to be about how partying Makes It Happen. This post is going to be about communities of Librarians.
We desperately need a more closely knit library community. One of the best things I’ve learned from JP, Allen, and the ALA Think Tank is that if you want to build a community, you have to party. Partying builds social connections, strengthens our relationships, allows us to get to know each other without a Robert’s Rules Agenda, and because partying is a positive activity, it allows us to come together in a way that meetings about budget cuts or trainings just can’t.
So, here are all the reasons we need to party to build our local communities of librarians.
The world works on Social Connections
As I get older and watch the world around me I’ve come to the realization that the only reason that some people get ahead and others don’t is because of their social connections. If you look at people who are considered great and take a step back from the person, you’ll quickly see all the people around them that help them to make it happen. Nearly everyone, from politicians, to business owners, to movie stars got their start because of the people around them. If we want to get our start and get ahead as a profession, we need connections. No man is an island, Entire of itself.
I’ve been involved in a bunch of mentorship organizations for libraries and usually it’s extremely difficult to be a mentor when we live hundreds or thousands of miles apart and never met. If you want to be a mentor or if you want a mentor, getting involved in a community is a great way to do that. In fact, all of my mentors have been people that I’ve partied with at conferences, gotten to know, and been a part of my community of professionals.
Did you know that other, more successful, professional groups who are vying for tax money have very organized local communities? The police, for example, when general fund money is being discussed, have a large group of people that they can call on locally to go to city council meetings, run from a script, and help advocate for the money. We are much more powerful in large numbers and we desperately need those numbers.
Celebrate your Profession
While this is more about the party than the community, I want to point out that having a large group of local professionals that you are friends with, that you can text or email or call when you’re feeling down about what’s going on in our profession, is so extremely helpful! I have a quite a few librarians that I can get a hold of at anytime if I want someone to help me celebrate all the amazing things we do for our citizens.
Have you ever run out of ideas? Don’t feel bad, that happens. But how do you get new ideas? Well, if you have a community of professionals around you, it’s easy to find out what they’re doing and get some inspiration. We are all surrounded by so many great librarians and we hardly ever get the opportunity to see what the people working in the library down the street are doing. Having a community of professionals around you that are part of other organizations really helps!
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and we look at our own organizations through the lens of the employee who has been there for so long that we forget about the excitement. Getting out with a community of people who work in other organizations might get you to find ways to energize your own library, or it might make you realize that yours isn’t so bad after all. Either way, that’s a win!
One of my biggest frustrations in our profession is that we don’t collaborate enough across our organizations. For example, Cheryl Lee is a fantastic librarian who does some amazing work at a library about 2 miles away and I really want to work with her to do something awesome (I don’t know what yet). The only reason that I know that she does awesome stuff is because she is part of our small but growing local library community. If we had a better and closer community, we could potentially do more together, share costs, and just generally be more awesome.