Once upon a time (1889 to 1898, to be precise) there was a director of the Denver Public Library named John Cotton Dana. He was, in fact, Denver's first library director.
He was a beacon of "progressive" librarianship. In his view, most libraries of the day were mere warehouses and prisons of books. Librarians were more concerned with protecting the collections from patrons, than in seeing those collections used.
One of the things you grapple with as you get older is this curious contradiction: there are a lot of good, smart, conscientious people in the world, who just can't seem to get simple things right.
I could illustrate this principle with many examples from my own life. But let's pick on the phone company.
For many years, our libraries have had their own phone numbers. Because of the way Qwest sliced up the various phone books (Castle Rock/Parker, South Metro, etc.), it was almost impossible to get all of our listings and locations in one book.
As I've written before, I am a "delegate" to an international library cooperative called OCLC.
So far, this has entitled me to attend the quarterly meetings in Ohio. OCLC pays for the trips. In exchange, I attend about 2.5 days of meetings, often intense, for which I have to prepare in advance, and at which I'm expected to contribute something thoughtful and useful.
This year, OCLC decided that since it is an international business, it should hold a meeting outside the U.S.
Recently, I did a workshop with a friend of mine. The topic, according to my friend, may address one of the key issues around the nation.
How do you fire somebody?
Obviously, firing should be the last step in an unproductive relationship. But every single one of us can think of people who accept a paycheck, then seem to feel no compunction of any kind to work on behalf of the organization that pays them.
And often, it's worse than that: they actively work AGAINST the goals of the organization.