In a recent conversation with my parents, after being asked, “What’s new?” I said, “Nothing, really. There’s not much going on right now.”
And then I started to think about the two weeks or so prior to that conversation during which the following happened:
My two daughters returned from college, safely home for the holidays.
My husband’s uncle passed away–he had been ill, was in his 80s, and lived in California. We didn’t see him often, but he was one of the nicest people I have ever known.
A friend’s brother passed away. I didn’t know him, but I feel sadness for her.
I went to see a movie with a friend, who packed me my very own bag of handpicked trail mix and bought me a Starbucks iced tea and a hot apple cider for herself, which we brazenly carried into the movie theater since the ticket-taker (I think they’re actually called “choppers” according to my daughters who worked at that theater for years) was a teenager who wouldn’t dare chide two middle-aged women who could be his mothers.
I had a dentist appointment, along with a nice conversation with my dentist who is a remarkable human being and actually cares deeply about his patients as people first and puts service above profit. He remembers everything! And if you run into him in the grocery store, he will likely be wearing denim overalls.
My husband and I attended the annual Christmas party for my book group–a longstanding tradition (at least 15 years now) and always a good time.
Another friend’s mother passed away. Again, ill and elderly, but a loss no less.
I received a nice compliment on my blog.
I watched a documentary made by my younger daughter for one of her French classes. She was speaking French!
I commiserated with my older daughter over an unfair grade.
I marveled at my son’s new maturity and stature as an almost-16-year-old.
I came home from work for lunch one day, and my husband had my lunch made and waiting for me.
Our family, all together, had good conversation over good food several times, many times.
I got angry about something that happened at work.
I was tired, more than once.
I complained about many things.
I ate too much.
I worried too much.
I secluded myself in our bedroom for several hours with half a bottle of wine, two movies, and a pile of Christmas presents, now festively wrapped and ready for giving.
I slept soundly at night in a warm house.
I had clothes to wear every day.
I got up each day, breathing.
How could I say not much was happening when everything was happening? Little things (and not-so-little things) add up to high impact. I’m sure I could add 20 more things to this list without trying too hard. Sometimes its easy to overlook the fact that simply by going about your day and living your life you are creating stories. They may be little stories, but every story is of some consequence. And together they add up to the narrative of your life, which is no small thing for sure.
I suspect that libraries have a high impact on the people who rely on them by creating little stories every day. Libraries are easy not to notice or care about, but to the people who use them and get value from them, they are part of the narrative of their lives. I think the key to libraries’ survival in a digital world is not to go about creating massive digital collections (although that may be part of it) but rather to find a way to make the leap from having a high impact on a relative few to having a high impact on society as a whole. Or at least a meaningful impact on society as a whole. Many believe libraries already do that (mostly people who work in libraries); however, I think that is idealistic. But I do think its an ideal that is possible to achieve if we choose to move in the right direction, pick the right battles, and show a willingness to challenge ourselves and some of our time-honored traditions.
I realize all of that is very vague–all gravy, no meat. But today I’m thinking about the little things. Libraries do need big ideas, and I have a few of my own as do many others. And they’ve been blogged about and will continue to be blogged about. There’s plenty of time for that. But for today, I’m content with recognizing the value in the stories that libraries can tell and should continue to tell well into the future.
My last library post was kind of warm and fuzzy, too. I guess it’s the holidays. While warm and fuzzy is nice sometimes, it doesn’t really advance anything. So in the New Year, I hope to add some real meat to that gravy and get back to the business of libraries, brainstorming with others of both similar and opposing viewpoints about exciting possibilities for the future.
I admit to not having the time or energy to think too deeply about the business or the philosophy of libraries at the moment, although I have admired many posts this past week from those who have, including this from Andromeda Yelton and this from Lane Wilkinson.
But for me, right now, everything is new and there’s much going on in the story of my own life.