Who Is the Catalyst?

A few thoughts that have been rolling around lately regarding change or rather, the lack if it.

The students are back on campus and I am reminded equally of why I became a librarian and why I occasionally get fed up with human nature. Ah, the joys of being in public service.

The fresh, new, and sometimes lost, faces of the freshman and transfer students remind me that we have to try new things. Going to college is a great unknown. A new place, a new culture, new information, and new people. Going to college is a risk. You could fail, make bad choices, make friends you will keep long past you have left campus, and be changed by knowledge in ways you never dreamed possible. Risks are something we must take to grow.

So why do libraries sometimes have difficulty taking risks? Are we afraid of failure? Change? The man who taught my Management for Libraries class in graduate school told us that in order to succeed, we must be willing to fail. I believe this is true.

I am not suggesting that libraries jump on every technology or cultural bandwagon. However, if we encounter a tool that will make our jobs easier or help our patrons, we should not hesitate in moving forward. We should not, as an institution (both micro and macro) take so long to consider implementation, that the technology has passed us by and we are the dinosaur.

So you decide to take out all the books in one of your branches and people outside of your organization harshly criticize you, at least you tried something new. Only time will tell how UT’s decision will impact their campus. It was bold. It may fail, but it may be a step in the right direction for them.

Next time you start thinking of implementing somethingnew@your library, do not let it languish in a committee for a year as you discuss the logic of it. Be decisive. Take risks. Create an RSS feed of your catalog. Bring rock bands in for the Summer Reading Program. Start a game night. Start a library blog. Hand your business card out to people you meet on the street or in bars. Above all, do not forget why you started doing this in the first place.

–Jane, delta force