Recently, there's been some pretty serious strife within our library system and I am reminded of another time in the history of LSLC that this happened. There were arguments, meetings full of passive aggressive hostility and frustration. At the time, we were not a big library. She, however, had big ideas and, perhaps surprisingly, the unwavering support of the Library Board, the Friends and the community. She was loved within the confines of our community. Beyond that, however, she was considered an intimidating bully.
I'm sure she argued passionately for her points and came off as aggressive. The truth is, however, that it was just passion. Passion for the long-term health and stability of the library she helped build; passion for a solid, stable future of libraries in general; and passion for her vision. She would return from these meetings visibly spent. Sometimes her hands would shake. It was at this point that I'd wander into her office, take a seat and learn. I learned more during those hours than I ever learned in library school. I learned about history and politics and economics. I also learned the meaning of community.
At a recent meeting, I heard someone mutter behind me. He said her name and when I turned around he was looking at me. I don't know if it was a good comparison or a bad one. Either way, I take it as a compliment.
The most important lesson I learned from those times in her office is that good librarians are fighters. We have to be. We fight for space, for money, for privacy, for literacy, for freedom. Change is never easy. For many librarians, this is especially true. I'm not sure if it's the personalty type that is drawn to this profession, or if these folks have already tried fighting and have just given up. Either of these is understandable.
I've spent very little time this week being a librarian. I've been a cheerleader, a fundraiser, a salesman, a counselor, an HR specialist, a board member, an advocate and a beggar. These are the weeks that both invigorate and annoy me. Within the confines of my community, I have unwavering support. Beyond that, however...well, you get the idea.