Let’s face it—we all get frustrated at work from time to time. Whether it is because we have been denied (or delayed) approval to launch a project we feel would benefit our library, or just dealing with the many layers of bureaucracy. At times it can be easy to throw your hands up and say “whatever” instead of remaining upbeat. Careers can be like navigating a maze: knowing which path to take may end up taking you in directions you did not plan on going, possibly getting lost in the process. Finding positive solutions to counter, bureaucracy, resistance to ideas, and other issues can make navigating the career maze much more successful.
Recently I came across a reference book in my library on American innovators called They Made America by Harold Evans. This book details the big idea people that truly changed the American way of life. Important inventors and innovators ranging from historical figures like Eli Whitney, Levi Strauss, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney to current innovators like Larry Page and Sergey Brin the founders of Google, are each given a chapter. What do all of these people have in common? An idea (or two) and the passion and energy to act on it! Librarianship is a field that is still seeing almost constant change and lends itself to people with ideas who are not afraid of challenging the way things have always been done.
When I worked at the Delray Beach Public Library, I sat across the room from an underutilized computer lab. Ten computers in a quiet and ideal environment just glaring at me, almost begging me to be used. These underutilized resources irked me, and I was even more frustrated when patrons pointed at the lab when all the public internet computers were being used and asked, “Why can’t we use the computers in there?”. I had no good answer besides the fact that we only ever used the lab for our computer classes. I was beyond fortunate to have the opportunity as a member of the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute to use this lab as my culminating project and turn the space into the Empowerment Zone – a career, eGov, and education resource that in a year would allow over 100 patrons a month to use the space and computers.
Next year, I would like to challenge everyone in our profession to try to smash the status quo. As mentioned previously, giving up takes little effort, but trying to find a way around a road block can be an important challenge. On March 21st, the anniversary of the founding of Twitter (facilitator of change throughout the world), I propose #SmashTheStatusQuoDay, where every library professional attempts to create or reimagine an idea, or just plain blow up the status quo in a way that is beneficial to their library and profession. You can tweet about it, or mention it on Facebook and other social media platforms. The challenge is positive change for you and your organization. Good luck and remember that there are plenty of resources out there, including Public Libraries Online, to help you formulate your plan of attack!