This post is due today, and I’m only just starting to write it, which makes me nervous. For as long as I can remember, I have been a hyper-organized type-A personality. I usually finish all the homework for my classes by midterms at the latest and turn them in at the beginning of the week in which they’re due. And so this writing a post on my lunch break on the day it’s due is unusual, for me.
I’ve been doing this a lot this semester. I haven’t been participating nearly as much as I’d like. I can see my classmates’ conversations whizzing around me and somehow just can’t bring myself to chime in. I have a reason, and a good one, which I can explain in brief by saying that I spent my Thanksgiving weekend with a family member in the hospital for what we think will be the first stay of many, until, suddenly, there aren’t.
Suffice to say, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect these past few days. And you know what? I keep coming to the conclusion that what we do matters, matters tremendously. I’m going to be cutting my coursework back severely next semester, and in all probability taking the fall semester off. And I keep thinking — if I have to do this, since I have to do this, what can I do to ensure that I keep learning? Michael Stephens tells us that “We must always keep working to be there, to be present, to be at the edge of what’s happening, and to be very visible while focusing on people, not technology, not the collection. Those are merely tools,” and I keep thinking about how serious a charge that is. The library matters, of course. But the people are the root of the thing. And so as I step back from my coursework, I’m going to actively try to ask questions and to listen with an open mind. I’ll try to hope for the best, even as the best outcome keeps getting bleaker and bleaker. I will do my best to consistently, always, be learning, even if my formal education can’t be a priority for awhile.
As I’ve said before, I haven’t been blessed with my big break yet. However, when I do find myself in my first library position, I am going to try my hardest to keep in mind that the people are the thing — even the people who yell at me or smell funny or think that my job is a waste of their tax dollars. I can’t know their whole story, and most of the time as a librarian it won’t be my place to find out. But making sure that people know that they have a place, in their communities, where people have their best interests at heart. I think, sometimes, that’s the best we can do.