Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On The Outside Looking In

Last week I had the opportunity to visit my former media center, and I so loved the changes that have taken place. As I looked around, it was impossible not to say to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?" Certainly, we have all had that experience. We have worked to build a library program, but there is always room for improvement. We have our strengths, and we have our weaknesses. Sometimes it is difficult to admit to those weaknesses when we have invested our heart and soul, but we need to do so in order for our libraries to grow.

I am lucky that the new school library media coordinator at my former school is not only a respected colleague but a friend as well. After seeing her awhile back she sent me a great text to let me know that my leaving was not a divorce just that I traveled a lot. Wish I had kept that text to get the exact wording, but I had not thought to share that conversation and the one that ensued when it was initially written. After sifting through some older emails, I was able to find the email I sent her in response (a text did not give me enough characters). Here is what I had to say:

"Thank you for understanding my attachment to my former home. I look back on my baby, and value all the growth she has undergone in the last few years. However, I know she has lots of room to grow. She is an ever-changing organism. An organism that has caused me pain and suffering, but one that has brought me lots of joy over the years as well. She sometimes has unwelcome intruders, but just remember to stand strong in the face of adversity. You will be glad you did in the long run, but welcome those that will help make her stronger. I am trying to relinquish my attachment, and that is made easier because of you. It is no longer my library. It is yours to feed and nurture. You bring so many talents and strengths that she needs. Areas that I have sorely neglected. While I will be back to visit her, know that is not because I am checking on you. It is simply because I want to watch her grow past her infancy. I know that you are the perfect person to do this. I may have known before you even knew you wanted her.

I love you for respecting my attachment, and as you saw yesterday, I still get choked up when I talk about you taking over. That is not because I am sad that I am gone, but it is because I am so grateful to you."

It is important for us to take a closer look at our practices and day-to-day operations. Sometimes it is difficult due to the attachment we have. For some, it is hard to take criticism. I share this with you, because I want you take a second, third and fourth look at your media centers. What's missing? What can you do differently? Approach it like an outsider. You might be surprised at what you will find. If you are really brave, swap libraries with a trusted colleague for a day or two. Imagine the possibility of growth for you and your library.

**This post is dedicated to Natalie. A friend, a colleague, and most importantly a gardener for the library soul.

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