Melting Down the Sacred Cow

I have previously mentioned that MPOW is going through a strategic directions process. In pursuit of that, one of the other committee members sent this blog post to us, entitled “Death By Risk Aversion.” (Thanks, Karen, for the heads up and I see you added your .02 already.)

Practice LETTING GO
Here’s where the Buddhists have an edge. Too many of us hold on to practices or ideas (including sacred cows) long past their sell-by date. If it doesn’t serve us any longer, it’s time to give it up no matter how well it served us in the past. (emphasis in original)

Does this sound like the library where you work?

I know I see this every day and the inability to even discuss old practices in a meaningful way is often what leaves us crippled. We do sometimes discuss them, but the discussion is painful and usually results in absolutely nothing happening. This applies to the way we teach, our signage, handouts, the way we view our OPACS, MARC, how we view our users (lazy and dumb), and how we define the space in our buildings.

I am often amused by what becomes our sacred cows.In my department is a handout that is a list of all of the electronic databses to which we subscribe. It no longer fits on a single sheet of double-sided 8×11 paper, so it has graduated to a special order goldenrod colored 11×17 paper. The time and evergy spent on this one handout is staggering added to the fact that even a change in color caused an uproar. Seriously, a piece of goldenrod paper.

Of course, the argument is not really about the paper and it never is so do not fool yourself into beleiving this untruth. The argument is really about the way our services are changing and how the core reference philosophy of the department is not solidified.

–Jane, what do you need to let go?

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