Today is getaway day after a very full day yesterday, at the Project Compass National Convergence 2012.
So, what happens when you stick someone like me, a non-librarian; someone with his patchwork background in workforce development, a writer and publisher, with a strong entrepreneurial bent, as well as someone that understands how to partner and the value that comes from one’s personal network–smack dab into the middle of 200+ librarians for two days? I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’ll be able to better answer that later, when I finally put together my final wrap-up post, which will probably go up late Sunday, or early Monday.
As of this moment, Thursday morning before sunrise, on the 10th floor of the Sheraton National, here’s how I see it, so far.
Let me first start out by saying that I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the Project Compass team, as well as the folks I’ve met from OCLC/WebJunction and the State Library of North Carolina. It’s obvious after Day 1, from the materials provided, the general seamlessness of the proceedings, as well as being made to feel welcome, and providing exceptional value to me by attending; you have obviously put countless hours in organizing a conference like this, and that you are darn good at what you do.
Now that I have the niceties out of the way, let me say a couple of things that I picked up on at the tail end of yesterday’s terrific afternoon panel with Susan Hildreth, Jane Oates, and Terri Bergman. Some of you need to get over yourselves. What do I mean by that?
While I’m all for airing our grievances and being honest, the general bitching that took place at the microphone, directed mainly towards Jane Oates and the One-Stop Centers bothered me. Now if you know me, you know that people bitching and complaining don’t bother me, per se, but bitching for the sake of bitching, without any clear plan on how to make the situation better, does (and did).
I’m a great networker, strong at collaboration, and I model doing whatever’s necessary to make partnerships work. If you’ve got issues with the One-Stops in your part of the country, then find a way to work together, locate commonalities, and make it happen. If the person you are working with is lazy, or indifferent, or you don’t like the way they dress–find someone else to work with. Your job seekers–the people struggling to put their lives together again after layoffs, downsizings, feeling like the world’s passed them by without any hope of stopping their freefall–they need you to figure this partnership thing out really soon! I can help you with that if you aren’t really sure how to fix it.
Here’s what I’ve observed in spending 36 hours together with a small group of you, here in Arlington. Some of you need to embrace reinvention. You appeared tired, maybe even burnt out, and the issues aren’t really with your local One-Stop, or even the LWIB–the problem is you! I can say this, because I had that moment ten years ago when I got really honest with myself, and I’ve been on the most exciting journey ever since. Life’s too short to do something you no longer enjoy doing.
Are all the employees of One-Stops perfect people? No. Do some LWIBs do a lousy job facilitating partnership in their region (which is one of their primary reasons for existence, btw)? Yes. Are all librarians great networkers–you tell me.
Find a project you can work together on. Take some best practice you found out about here, and bring it back and make it your own, back home. There are some terrific librarians, doing some amazing work in every part of the country. My hat’s off to you and I’m thrilled to be part of your posse, even for the next couple of months in the work I’m doing back in Maine.
It’s time for me to get ready to face my day, put on my game face, and pack my suitcase. I’ve been so honored to have met all of you, especially those of you that I’ve had the chance to have a conversation with, learn a bit about your heart and your passion and a little bit more about your home state.
Here’s a Thursday morning shout out to Zola, for your passion and for not being afraid to share your heart. Jennifer, for the amazing work you’re doing with small businesses, Brian for our conversation at the elevators last night, waiting for 100s of middle school kids to get on ahead of us. Jerry, for teaching me a few new tricks about building partnerships. There are countless others that I’ve had the chance to meet, chat with, and recognize what an amazing fraternity librarians really are, and you do so much more than keep me supplied with awesome reading material. You all have the power to change the world, and many of you are doing that.
Let’s make our last day a great one!