While I didn’t get tagged yet, the passion quilt meme really spoke to me. For this meme, you’re supposed to post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about.
When I was in high school, I had a best friend I was pretty much joined at the hip to. She and I both had part-time jobs, though hers was for money to pay for college while mine was just for spending money. As a result, I always had more spending money than she did. So, if I wanted to do something with her that involved money, I had to pay for both of us. I never felt like that was a sacrifice, because spending time with her was so much more important to me than money. But my mother used to get really angry about it, saying that she was taking advantage of me and whatnot. She felt that things like this had to be “tit-for-tat” and if she wasn’t paying me back, then I was being taken advantage of. I didn’t buy that argument then, and I don’t buy it now. I realized then that sharing was rarely going to be tit-for-tat, but that people were more important than things or money. And frankly, I was benefiting. Sharing my money with my friend made me much happier than if I hadn’t. I wouldn’t give up the memories of that summer before college for anything.
I feel the same way about sharing in the library profession, but of course now it’s ideas. I really believe strongly in sharing knowledge. I do it on my blog, on wikis, through Five Weeks to a Social Library, in my column, in my LIS class, etc. Lots of people hold on tightly to what they know and don’t give it out unless someone’s paying. I believe strongly that my willingness to share has been a driving force in my professional success. It’s not always a direct “tit-for-tat” but I believe all the good I’ve given has come back to me ten-fold. I even found out late last week that I won a Nintendo Wii for attending a feedback session at Computers in Libraries. Wow! I don’t know if all this is luck or karma or what, but I know that I’m going to keep sharing because good things seem to happen when I do.
So maybe you think your knowledge wouldn’t be useful. I used to feel that way too, and I’ve learned how wrong I was. Maybe you feel it’s not worth sharing. I assure you, it is and it will help others. Maybe you just don’t want to make the effort to share. I promise you, your sharing will benefit you; maybe not immediately, but it will. You can’t look at sharing in the short-term what’s in it for me? sense, because the benefits are much more long term and much less direct. Sharing will help others. Sharing will make you feel good about yourself. Sharing will help you make friends. Sharing will make others see you as someone “in the know.” But most importantly, sharing will encourage others to share. And when there’s a culture of sharing, when we’re all sharing knowledge, we will all benefit.