Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Working For (And From) My Values

Short post today, but I'm hoping to start a conversation instead of espouse a specific view, so bear with me...


Lately I've been thinking a lot about what I value in librarianship, and why. I'm in the middle of reading The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, and one of the things that's stuck with me was about how attaching our day-to-day activities to our value system can make the annoyances of day-to-day activities less annoying. Or, put more simply, things done purposefully - even the horribly annoying ones like driving to work amidst wretched traffic - make a big difference. So I'm thinking about my values and intentionally tying my day-to-day into those values. The goal is to get to a point where I'm doing things more purposefully and less like a proverbial chicken running around with my head cut off.

Here's what I've come up with so far:
  • While libraries can perpetuate power differentials, when done right libraries can be democratizing. And I've long owned that my library agenda is to graduate well informed voters.
  • Equal treatment and acceptance are hugely important to me. It's why we did a display about protest culture and Black Lives Matter. It's why we have gone out of our way to add materials about different religious practices and cultures (especially books by and about Islam). It's why I've reached out to the LGBTQIA+ group on campus.
  • Fostering curiosity is another thing I love about libraries. You can't have lifelong learning - a value every public and academic library lists as important - without curiosity.
  • But most of all, I want people to know libraries can be fun. Maybe it's a bit "a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down," or maybe it's just "all learning and no entertainment makes you a very dull person." Whatever my motivation, I value the whole patron and not just their academic needs.

This list is a work in progress, as I said, so I'm curious what you value about libraries. Please comment here or elsewhere. Also, please join me in leaving the headless chicken brigade behind. 

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