Many months ago now, I attended a couple of meetings with the deans of two library schools.
We library directors had some ideas about the desirable skill sets of new graduates. The deans were eager to hear from us what public libraries were looking for these days.
After a while, I started to feel a little sorry for the deans. It turns out that all we wanted them to do was give us smart, emotionally intelligent, and experienced project managers who not only had a good handle on their own high ethics and professional standards, but also inspired others to be as good as they were.
To put it another way, what we wanted couldn't be simpler. We just wanted them to guarantee that we would never make a hiring mistake again.
The problem, of course, is that such an expectation is utterly unreasonable. No matter how good any new professional may be, the hiring organization still bears a lot of responsibility.
Professional programs impart a body of theory. They provide an introduction to a career.
The library provides something else: the real career.
By Rochelle Logan, Associate Director of Research & Collections
Of all the phases in my life, the time I am most proud of was spent as an Air Force spouse. My husband was a pilot, now retired. We moved eight times all over the US and overseas until we landed in Colorado in 1992. It was a wonderful life, but also a hard one. We never knew where the military would send us next. Will it be in a part of the country or world we’d rather not live? How will the children take another move?
There were plenty of times I was anxious and lonely and those were during times of peace for our country. Now I have friends whose sons and daughters are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military and their families deserve our thanks and support from our government. The GI Bill is one way the United States helps veterans.
A year ago, after the 2007 election, I did something I hadn't done before. I took a vacation, all by myself, to a place where I knew no one.
Last year, it was Milwaukee. I rented a cheap hotel room close to Lake Michigan. And I spent several days walking the shore, walking the city, walking and walking and walking.
When I got back, my wife asked me, "So whom did you talk to?" Usually when I travel I return with lots of stories. And that's when I realized that I really hadn't talked to anybody, other than to check into the hotel, or to order a meal.
I returned, I think, better than when I'd left. I had found my center. Sometimes you just need absolute quiet and physical release. You need solitude.
And if that's one side of the equation, here's another: civic engagement. I know that after the recent, interminable election process, no one wants to think about this.
Back in the day, I lived for a while as a wandering poet. The pay was terrible, but the experience was rich.
At one point, I found myself at the home of a newspaper publisher. He admitted that he did not understand poetry at all, or know how to tell if it was any good. So we got to talking. How, I asked him, did he recognize good writing in journalism?
He started rattling off some characteristics. Good newspaper writing was clear, fresh, free of cliches. It had immediacy and structure. It told a story. It was poignant but not sentimental.
And when he was done, I said "the same thing is true of good poetry." Every discipline has its quirks, of course, but by comparing samples of poetry to samples of newspaper writings, we quickly found that we had more in common than he'd thought: good writing is good writing.
Much the same thing is true in the worlds of for-profit, and not-for-profit. The end is different -- newspapers and libraries, for instance, have discrete purposes. But when you take a look at how private sector and public sector organizations operate, it again doesn't take long to identify some commonalities.