This month, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what I’d like to say to a room full of aspiring librarians. B Sides Co-Founder Angela Murillo and I were invited to give a keynote at the Unpacking the “Library” conference at the University of Iowa on March 25th, which is literally just a few days away.
We immediately knew we wanted to talk about the importance of innovation and creativity in our field. These were the driving forces behind the birth of B Sides, and ideas we’re both very passionate about. As we started collecting our thoughts, we realized we wanted to dig up the “creation stories” of some of our favorite library innovators — from Melvil Dewey to the Maricopa County Deweyless Library; from Charles Folsom’s hole-punched card catalog to Oakville Ontario’s BiblioCommons Social OPAC — and share those inspiring stories with our peers.
But it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally recognized what’s at the core of what I want to share on Friday, which is the advice to: Take ownership — realize that no one else is going to fix this for you or give you a break. You are your institution’s best advocate.
I think my profession tends to defer to those whom we view as “authorities” — database vendors, product distributors, city council members — and trust them to act benignly in our best interests, making things better for us. But that’s not how it really works, usually, and we don’t have to buy into that fiction. We can make our own decisions and advocate for ourselves. I remember feeling so professionally empowered and liberated when Angela and I realized that we could take ownership of our ideas and choose to make things really happen for ourselves last year, and that epiphany has become a driving force in my career.
I’m looking forward to sharing the rest with you on Friday. Stay tuned for our presentation notes and slides!