By Meredith Farkas | July 29, 2005
I’ve been feeling very guilty about my lack of posts this week, especially since they will probably become even more sparse during the month of August. My mind is truly in a million different places. We’re leaving Chicago for Vermont on August 3rd and I start my new job on August 8th. Unfortunately, we don’t close on our house until August 12th — and who knows when the movers will actually get our stuff to us — so we’ll be living nomadically until the 12th and will be without “stuff” for probably a week longer than that. I’ve never bought a house, so I’m having mixed feelings about it. I’m terrified of the responsibility of having to take care of everything myself. Up until now, if something happened in my home, I’d call the landlord and it was someone else’s problem. Now it’ll be my problem (and Adam’s). The expense of buying a house is daunting too, but the monthly payments would be about what we would have paid on a dingy apartment 1/3 the size. And on the other hand, I’m totally excited about ripping out carpets, painting rooms the colors I like, and just having something that truly belongs to me and Adam. I vacilate between exhuberant joy and sheer terror. That’s probably how most first-time homebuyers feel, I guess. I’ll just be happy when we get there and all of our stuff gets there and we can feel at least slightly settled.
Then there’s the job, which I am insanely excited to start. I have about a million ideas in my head about how our library can better serve distance learners. I think the most difficult thing for me in this job will be to learn how to effectively present my ideas. It’s great to have ideas, but you need to present them in such a way as to get people to see the need for what you want to do. I wish they could teach a class on that in library school. I mean, so much of a librarian’s job is convincing people of the need for change — supervisors, IT people, faculty, patrons, library boards, funding sources, etc. I don’t know if it’s something that can be taught, but I wish it was at least addressed in library school.
I really haven’t been spending as much time as I should on the wiki, but I see it as a long-term project that hopefully will develop organically as people discover it and think about the successes they’ve had at their libraries. I’m happy to host it for the rest of my career if necessary, but if wikis don’t prove to be a good tool for information sharing within the profession, that’s ok too. I hope the wiki will get people to think about how we can develop communities online and to focus more on our successes and how we can make libraries better, rather than always looking at what’s wrong. One woman at a public library on an Indian Reservation in Nebraska wrote an amazing “success story” about what her library has done to improve literacy and encourage parents to read to their children. It’s quite innovative and inspiring, so go take a look! It reminded me of two things. First, it reminded me of why I wanted to become a librarian in the first place and why I found it such a natural transition to go from social work to librarianship. Secondly, what she wrote was exactly what I’d initially wanted to see in the wiki and what I hope it will become in the future. The links to articles and websites we like are great too, but I really hope to see more stories of success that describe what librarians actually did to improve things for their patrons. We need not only to see successes, but to know how to replicate them.
Speaking of successes and wikis, I was wondering if anyone knows of libraries that are doing innovative things in developing online communities (and I mean communities within their service population rather than among librarians). I’ve been looking for good examples of libraries who’ve created community wikis, online book discussion groups, interactive websites, community portals, blogs, etc. that have resulted in successful online communities. If you do know of one, could you please email me or comment on this post? I’ve been surprised by how few library websites (and even library blogs) I’ve seen that I would consider “online communities”. I think we’ve been very good at developing online communities for librarians to share ideas and network, but we haven’t replicated those successes quite enough in our libraries. So if you know of any good examples of libraries who have created online communities for their patrons/communities, please let me know.
Now back to packing…