New Year’s Resolutions @ My Library

Once upon a time, when public library collections revolved around the paper of books and magazines and the vinyl of locking CD and video cases, the midwinter high school break was nigh and all of the teen workers employed at my public library wanted to schedule extra hours of work. One of the reasons we had created and maintained this worker classification was to give adult staff more awareness of how teens saw the library as a working environment, and another, of course, was to expose the teens to the library as a working environment. With those two (among about five) documented rationales for “extra” teen worker presence as the year slid to its close, I asked them to spend one afternoon organizing personal lists of resolutions for the new year and then find materials in the collection that might help them reach or maintain these goals.

Needless to say, what the kids turned up in the way of collection abundance (college application essay writing) and paucity (career planning advice for a serious female wrestler), datedness (useful guidance for exploring weight control for an adolescent diabetic) and out of age scope coverage (religious conversion) ranged from the expected to the laughable to the frightening. The kids had the role of canaries in the info mine and some of those birds weren’t going to be singing much longer.

Since then, at the bitter end of each calendar year, I look ahead to how libraries play a role in my resolving for an improved me in the new year. This turn-of-the-cycle, it’s a resolution to act on the good advice, or adopt the commendable insights, of some of the librarians I know:

From Michael Cart, I learned years ago to be a readers’ advisor anywhere anytime. In 2013, I resolve to listen to more book talkers and follow through on their suggestions, instead of hewing so closely to my abundant assignments and what strikes me in print reviews.

From a cooperative project between the human resources officer and some union members, Berkeley Public Library experimented with a staff walking program that involved local scavenger hunt style inspirations and the opportunity to learn Twitter to report sighting the week’s target. In 2013, I resolve to act on “lifelong learning” including  physical as well as intellectual renewal.

Ryan Deschamps, a librarian I was lucky enough to meet during my short stint in   Nova Scotia, used his double degree–MLIS combined with a master in public administration–to feed and nurture his care for community, rather than as a boost up a corporate or civic ladder. In 2013, I resolve to continue to explore who needs what and where and how to smooth access to information, innovation and imagination.

And finally, a librarian with whom I worked for years, amidst all those comings and goings of teen workers, has the perfect response for someone who can’t quite pull off what they had hoped just now: “Well, every day’s a new day.” And so, in 2013, I resolve to have 365 new days.

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