April 28, 2009

Over the Rainbow

Ahh, the end of the rainbow. As the semester wraps up that's where I'd like to be about now. Last Thursday I attended Peter Bromberg's lecture on The Value of Leadership, The Leadership of Value. He began with a quick history of technology to set the scene. Sounds kind of boring, but it went pretty fast. The point? That's it. Currently, tech is changing so fast that the old ways of thinking-long range plans, eras of little to no change and the times when librarians were the "high priests of information"-are just that. Old. Whether you like it or not times are a changin and we have to adapt.

One metaphor he used that particularly stuck in my head was that of permanent whitewater to express the modern model of change. No more calm before the storm, no more status quo. It actually sounds a little scary. What it really means is that as librarians we have to stay on our toes, keep an eye on the trends in order to better serve our clients.

There is some small comfort, though. We're still in the filtering business! There is one opinion out there that libraries and librarians are a thing of the past now that "everyone" has internet access and can find his or her own information. But...there's so much out there. A constant bombardment. The news is split into 3 screens each flashing and swirling a different kind of information that you absolutely must know now! How do I make it stop!? The librarian can make it stop. Or at least filter out the garbage and get you the good stuff. That's still the same. We just have to change the filters every once in a while to reflect current values and needs.

Mr. Bromberg wrapped up his talk with some points to keep in mind about leadership. One of them was a bit of a surprise. He pointed out that good improvisationalists and good leaders have a few things in common. They both have to let go of the fear of failure; they have to listen carefully and be in the moment. They must be active, be willing to give up control and go with the flow, have the ability to recognize opportunities instead of mistakes, be part of a team that also empowers individuals and always add something more to what is given to them. It was like he was describing a eutopian workplace! The office at the end of the rainbow! The boss that no one has ever met! Well, maybe if Drew Carey were your boss...It all sounds like kind of a tall order, but for some reason I left this leadership talk actually feeling like it might be possible some day. There are small steps we are all capable of taking that will not eventually lead us to that place over the rainbow, but help create it ourselves. Hopefully the birds won't be as twitteringly annoying as they are in all those animated fairytale movies...

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