Beyond Mediocre; or thoughts on running for ALA CouncilMarch 5th, 2008 by infomancy
As ALA election season kicks off with the verification e-mail to make sure members get their electronic ballots in a couple of weeks, my thoughts keep turning to why I want to run for ALA Council. Some of what I have read and heard about Council might make me want to avoid this at all costs; so why run? My answer has been that I want to do what I can to work collaboratively with my colleagues to help improve our profession. But is that enough?
Reading a post by Seth Godin this morning made me think about this a bit more. Writing about the Forces of Mediocrity, Godin makes the case for going the extra distance for a vision in which you truly believe.
Remarkable visions and genuine insight are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. Products, services, career paths… whatever it is, the forces for mediocrity will align to stop you, forgiving no errors and never backing down until it’s over [Godin].
I am not claiming to have the remarkable vision or genuine insight that will save libraries, but I do have some ideas that have been working rather well in the region where I help support libraries. We have implemented a next-generation library portal that gets students excited about reading and the library, we successfully offered an online Library 2.0 Leadership Institute that challenged school librarians to find solutions through carefully considered use of new tools and practices, we launched a new game library that brings curriculum-aligned board games into school libraries as another tool for learning and exploring, and we generally went about ignoring the “box” and telling (then showing) everyone that our school libraries are critical parts of the region’s schools. As Godin notes, it wasn’t easy. We had many twists, turns, detours, and even a few outright u-turns as we sought the best path to keep us moving forward.
So are we on the right path? John Berry III, writing in a recent Library Journal editorial isn’t so sure about all of the changes taking place in libraries right now. Though it will be a rough road that will need to be mapped as we proceed, I do think we are on the right road in seeking positive changes that maintain the position of libraries as centers for all types of information. As Godin reminds us in a phrase that mirrors Berry’s concerns about the devaluation of library services: “If it were any other way, it would be easy. And if it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would ultimately be devalued [Godin].” For our work as librarians not to be devalued, we need to change. And, ALA Council must change.
It is the role of the ALA Council to provide leadership and guidance to our profession as well as to provide a clear definition of librarianship and the valuable role of libraries and librarians to the rest of our society. Eyes wide open, knowing the challenges we face, I would like to be part of that leadership.
That is why I am running for ALA Council. I would greatly appreciate your vote.