Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Room to Think

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Onion Talks. As you might guess from the name, they are an Onion-y satire version of TED Talks. Before anyone else brings it up, yes... I have mixed feelings about The Onion (everyone still remembers their horrible tweet about Quvenzhan√© Wallis, right?), but then again I also have mixed feelings about TED. Be that as it may, my introduction to Onion Talks came at a point when Barbara Fister's "Some Assumptions About Libraries" was still fresh in my mind. Fister's ideas about libraries and knowledge and learning culture resonated. I'm supposed to be a knowledge worker, but I rarely feel like I have enough time to explore my own ideas - with the obvious exception of this blog - since so much of what I do lately is administrative (bills don't pay themselves).

Back to my friend and the Onion Talks. Imagine me sitting there, with Barbara's post still running around the back of my mind, watching this:

Again, ideas and thinking and knowledge creation and all, but from a very different perspective. Did you catch the slide that popped up at the 1:49 mark? "Ideas Are An Inneficiency"?!?! Compare that statement to Fister's "Libraries are not, or at least should not be, engines of productivity." It was almost a physical shock when I saw that slide. Immediately after I was done watching the video, I filed it under "too true to be funny," and tried to go on my way. But I couldn't... that video has stuck with me, so now I need to do something with the turmoil it caused.

It all comes back to room to think. I'm always trying to read more and do more and be more efficient and pack more into my days. Some of that is a byproduct of my job. Since I'm the director at a library that is understaffed and, like most academic libraries - especially at small, liberal arts colleges - underfunded, it's not like I'm going to be able to block out time just for thinking. Instead, I'm going to have to try to do things more intentionally. Slowing down on occasion to examine my underlying assumptions and goals for my daily activities is one way I can do this. Letting go of my MUST READ EVERY AWESOME THING ON THE INTARWEBS mentality is another.

I'm not sure where this will all end. This intention to give myself room and permission just to think may crash and burn the first time I get a panicked faculty member coming to my office because s/he NEEDS this or that from me for an accreditation or a grant application (for the record: this has never happened where I work now), but I'll never find the space if I give up looking for it before I've begun.

Just think... an Onion Talk (combined with something that Barbara Fister wrote) is making me seriously reexamine my professional practice. Who'd'a thunk it?

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