March 05, 2005

The New Guy

What to say about the Service Meeting at OCLC HQ in Dublin, OH last week? Naturally, being a new employee, there is a learning curve. It will all be clear soon enough. Much of it is already. Like a good librarian, I am learning where to go to find the answers I need. HQ in Dublin was an excellent place to get some answers…and lots of questions.

It’s starting to dawn on me just what this organization strives to accomplish. We all likely know about the cataloguing and the ILL work accomplished here. This is absolutely amazing, vital foundation stuff and it is very “digable”. While appreciating, admiring and participating happily in this work, it’s pretty clear that it is the “other” stuff that really sparks my imagination. If you read my posts about emerging tech or hear me talk about the “Environmental Scan” you know where this is coming from.

When I was younger I loved to play tennis. This didn’t always serve (pun intended) me in good stead while growing up in Indiana, where basketball and football are supreme sports kings. There weren’t lots of kids in my ‘hood playing tennis, so I spent a great deal of time knocking balls against brick walls by myself. When I did get a chance to play with other kids, I usually beat the socks off of them. Eventually I found some grown ups to play with who were better than I was. Those difficult and exciting tennis matches were some of the happiest moments of my childhood. It was challenging and rewarding as I saw my skills improve. I also got to hang out with kind adults who were happily spending time with me.

The last three week with OCLC have left me with a feeling similar to what I got from those tennis matches of old. Some of the people I’ve met with and spoken to, you likely know and have heard of. And if you haven’t yet, you will. Some of the ideas floating around the halls of Dublin are challenging, outstandingly important, bold and full on exciting. I’m not completely on top of all of the ideas I heard, but I understand them and have thought about most of them in depth. I’ve also got some ideas that I think should be included in some of the discussions I heard and was included in.

I want to be a top notch trainer and provide the sort of support that helps libraries grow, thrive and evolve. I also really want to be the sort of “next generation” librarian that “gets it” and has an important role in “making it happen” all the while improving the role of the library in the communities they serve, despite how large the changes and challenges we face might be. After working with the Gates Foundation Library Program I was concerned that I might not be able to do that on such a large scale again. After my week in OH, I think I may have been plunked down in the right place. I am more excited about learning and the future of libraries than I have been, well, ever!

Posted by libraryman at March 5, 2005 08:18 PM