Monday, October 31, 2011

8:45 am to 9:45 am - reflection

In a perfect world, my job would include an hour or two reserved purely for thinking, reflecting, planning, and mulling things over.  Some of this thinking would be targeted at particular issues facing existing or upcoming programs - trouble-shooting, fine-tuning, problem-solving, and improving - but some of the reflecting would be unfocused and undirected.  How lovely it would be to feel free to wonder "what if..." and see where that question takes me. 

As is the case for so many people these days, the reality is that there isn't enough time in the day to spend on all the projects I'm responsible for, much less time to dream and ponder.  Surely this is a problem!  There is great pressure for libraries - and for my library system in particular, which is trying valiantly to pull itself out of a slump caused first by a decades-long, head-in-the-sand culture and now by terrible budget woes - to be innovative.  Yet can there be innovation and creativity if we're fighting hard just to keep our noses above water? 

As I've gotten older, I've discovered some truths about myself, some of them rather dismaying.  The main thing I've learned over the past 5 years is that I'm simply not creative in that brilliant, lightbulb-flashing-on way that I so admire in others.  I don't get sudden fabulous ideas.  I'm not going to be the one who comes up with an amazing new service model that wows the crowds at a future ALA conference.  (Well, never say never - I could be a late-bloomer, right?)

Luckily, along with the sad self-revelations come positive ones as well.  For instance - it has become more and more clear to me that not only do I do my best work when collaborating with others, but I love it.  For an introvert who felt for years that I could be happy shelving books all day long if I could get a decent wage for it, this is Big News.  And happy news, too - because my colleagues are intelligent, hard-working, and (most importantly) brimming with amazing, creative ideas.  Aha!

So my tiny Youth Services staff met with a handful of fiercely dedicated YA Librarians on Thursday and with similarly enthusiastic Children's Librarians on Friday, and together we created the outlines - and even fleshed in some details - of what will be a terrific 2012 Summer Reading Program.  My job was to lay out all the things we needed to discuss and decide - and then guide the discussion, coax out details, keep folks on track and enthusiasm high...

...and then get to the unglamorous task of turning all the great ideas into a program we can implement.  Because that's another one of my strengths - being practical and hard-working. 

But to help transform LAPL into not just a well-functioning library system but also a dynamic and responsive one, I need to encourage the creative people around me to share their ideas with me and prod me into figuring out a way to make them happen. 

And even a busy workhorse like me needs some time just to dream and ponder. 

What if...?!

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