Meetings are the lifeline of a public library advocacy plan. Chamber of Commerce meetings, visioning meetings, program meetings, partnership meetings and on and on...they are all what we are for. If you want to have a "librarian at every table," then you need to be at the table. Often.
Showing up is the least of our issues. We have to show up and listen. We have to show up and be proactive in our information gathering. There is no better feeling than getting a phone call from a local organization asking me to come in and help them rewrite their by-laws. Why, you may ask? Because if they do this, they recognize that their local librarian has expertise that is of value. Value often equals donation dollars. In the end, isn't that what is going to keep our doors open.
Being in charge of a library is tough work. If you want to do it correctly, you're really never off the clock. Directors are repair people and HR experts and on and on. Today in a conversation, another Library Director told me all about how she has to "suck" the oil from the shaft of her elevator. In a perfect world, we'd have repair people to do these things - but in the real world, we'd rather save the money so we can buy more books. So we do these things with enthusiasm, or at least a sense of responsibility.
I sit at a lot of tables. I've recently joined the Board of Directors of HSLC. I'll be joining the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce in January. I'll also be joining the Board of Directors for a very small library in the area I live, a different county from the one in which I work. There are about three dozen committees and projects that I chair and/or sit on. The hardest part of all of this is the organization of information, so a librarian is a natural fit to help create the organizations that support our communities. That being said, I hope that other directors start to stop whining about their 40 hour work week and start realizing that when you take the job, you ARE the job and the job is you. We all know that none of us are in it for the money...so your time shouldn't be an issue.
I guarantee you that I am probably in the minority here. Most people tell me I work too much, that I need to "take it easy," that I'm neglecting other parts of my life. To them I say, look at what my community uses our public library for. It's all worth it....