Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Remembrance of Things Past

No, I haven't tackled Proust! I did, however, attend a retirement party, one of many I expect to attend over the next couple of years, and had a disturbing interaction with a former co-worker that has been sticking in my craw. I just hate it that her infamous negativity swamped over me and I've been trying to analyze it ever since Friday evening.

Our library system has been graced with an exuberant, visionary group of people who came to the profession in mid-life. We went through graduate school together, encouraging each other every step of the way. We soaked up all that we learned at conferences and participated in leadership seminars. Now, after the requisite twenty years, we are facing our next iteration, whatever that may be.

I mentioned that evening that we will soon be losing our corporate memory and that I would be interested in writing a history to enhance the timeline several of us worked on a few years ago while preparing a five year strategic plan. This person scoffed at my suggestion and said in no uncertain terms, "no one would care, no one would read it." She went on to say that no one remembers you the day you walk out that door (and it may be true in her case!) and if you think they do you need to have you head examined. Ouch.

What she failed to see was that this isn't about me or any one person but about a generation of idealistic librarians who have embraced their career paths and, dare I say it, changed people's lives. Sometimes with encouragement, other times without, we have made innovations that have brought new services to those who may not have had access before.

Will we ever forget the pride we felt seeing our first library director's face on the cover of Library Journal - Librarian of the Year! Can I ever forget the encouragement and mentoring that I received from Pete Smith, the Bookmobile librarian who supervised me for two years while I was getting my degree? Will we ever forget Lesa Holstine who single handedly got the Southwest Florida Reading Festival off the ground? (now a sought after speaker and reviewer)

So, do we learn from history? Our country's continued war in Afghanistan, so like the Vietnam quagmire, tells me that no, we probably don't. But should we stop trying? No way! As we sixty somethings straggle out the doors of our libraries over the next couple of years I have no doubt that there will be fabulously inventive young people to take our places. I've just written a personal recommendation for one such lovely young woman and this I know is true. If I hand her a copy of the corporate history, she'll read it.


dschirtzfl said...

One of the things that has nagged at me for years is the lack of history about LCLS. The new librarian at FGCU, many years ago, asked me how it was that no one had bothered with a history.
I would guess we were all so busy doing what it was that we were doing that it was put on the back burner.
I would encourage you to follow your instincts, and I imagine there are a few around who would not only encourage you but contribute to the collective memory.
In case I haven't told you lately, I love your blog!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Sally. I think it's a great idea! Maybe we should get some of us together over dinner to discuss it.

Sallyb said...

Thank you ladies. Betsy happened to be spring cleaning at home yesterday and found tons of photos of kids she did storytime for down in Bonita. Many of them now come to SC with kids of their own. How much fun is that?
Dorothy, sounds like an excuse for you, Maryellen, Linda, Andrea and I to get together and do this thing!