I seem to have an attitude problem these days. In my defense, I have been on vacation and off work for 11 days. Tomorrow I return to the real world of libraryland, which is a bit of an oxymoron considering that I have often suggested that many of the assumptions and beliefs held by librarians are not always based in reality. And I still dislike the term “libraryland.” I think librarians should have both feet firmly planted in the camp that sees the world the way it really is, not the way someone thinks it should be.
I have been checking my work email, but not doing much in the way of answering it. My Google Reader is full of unread blog posts and news items. I have spent little time on Twitter or Facebook. I haven’t missed them, and I doubt that I missed anything vitally important that I haven’t heard elsewhere by other means.
Mostly, I have been disconnected from the world of libraries (and the world at large), except for a lovely visit to a library by the sea last week. So, I have nothing new to say about libraries because I haven’t been paying attention. And I have to say that I’m not in any particular hurry to start paying attention again, at least not in the same way as before.
That doesn’t mean I’m not ready to dive back into my job or my organization. I do feel refreshed and recharged and ready to return to work, which I left in pretty good shape before my leave–a bit of a clean slate. I’m also eager to catch up on some events that occurred while I was away. I’ll be ready to tackle all those emails and meetings when I get to my desk tomorrow morning.
What I have discovered, though, is that less is more when it comes to information. I often identify myself as an information junkie, as do many librarians. However, when one tries to keep up with too many sites and posts and opinions and issues and perspectives, it all starts to become a kind of virtual white noise. It becomes boring, and in turn, it becomes boring trying to write about the same things that everyone else is trying to write about, too.
I’m going to try to be more discriminating about what I pay attention to and what I don’t pay attention to. When your attention is diverted and drawn in too many directions, it’s easy to lose your focus and become bored and boring in the process. The worst thing anyone can do is to write about something just because it’s the topic or issue of the moment rather than writing about topics and issues that create moments because the enthusiasm, passion, and commitment of the writer shine through.
Someone wiser than me once told me to stay away from writing about ebooks. He was right. There are more than enough librarians who are energized about that particular topic.
What energizes me is writing about library culture and how it affects the way libraries are operated and how they are viewed by society. Oh, there’s always the occasional, specific topic or issue–maybe even a hot topic or issue–that gives me pause to think and a reason to write. But mostly it’s the less obvious. I would say that library culture is to libraries what soft skills are to job applicants. These are the means by which attitude, conduct, and behavior are defined. These are the personality traits we use to create relationships. And relationships are vital to the future of libraries–more vital, in my opinion, than ebooks.
Libraries have personalities as do librarians. The culture of libraries is fascinating. Maybe that’s boring to some of you. But it’s what intrigues me. Hopefully, I can make it intriguing to those of you who may doubt its importance in comparison to other issues libraries face.
My daughter has been working as a book reviewer/interviewer for Used Furniture Review. In a recent interview, author Robb Todd said this, “If you are not afraid when you write, then you are not writing anything important.”
I hope to fear more when I write.
If I can lose the attitude and stop being bored and boring, that is. I will worry about that tomorrow. I still have one half day of vacation–and disconnect–left to enjoy.