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Brenda Hough & Cindi HickeyBrenda Hough & Cindi Hickey

Brenda Hough
Library Training Specialist for the MaintainIT Project. She is also a doctoral student in the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University

Brenda blogs both for TechSoup and on the Librarians with Class site.

Cindi Hickey
Continuing Education Librarian at State Library of Kansas and WebJunction Kansas coordinator

You can see more of Cindi’s work on the WebJunction Kansas site.

The future, as always, is a great big unknown. We can be sure of one thing, it will look different than today. It will require different skills and different knowledge than library work today. To be successful in the future, librarians need to be innovative and adaptable. One thing that will help foster an innovative and adaptive approach is to be role models for lifelong learning. Here are five suggested ways to do that:

  1. Understand that learning is not just about gaining new skills. It is about seeking learning opportunities that expand your worldview.
  2. Be a “galumpher”
  3. Just do it – try things!
  4. Individual efforts vs collaborative efforts
  5. Put yourself in the path of new perspectives, new ideas, and new people.
  1. Understand that learning is not just about gaining new skills. It is about seeking learning opportunities that expand your worldview.  
    Many of us are required to consider our professional development goals, perhaps putting them into a plan we have approved by our supervisor. Most often we try to be very concrete and skill based when identifying those goals. In reality, however, the learning opportunities that can be most influential, don’t imbue us with specific skills, but instead help to broaden our horizons, to take us farther down the path than we are right now. Seek learning opportunities that challenge you, that take you out of your comfort zone into new territory.
  2. Be a “galumpher”. 
    Karl Weick, a thinker we admire, has written about “galumphing” – or purposeful play. In Making Sense of the Organization (p. 416) he says, “Play makes us flexible and gives us exercise in the control of means that we are capable of using which are superfluous right now…. From this standpoint, play is not a direct means to an end: it is a crooked line to the end.”  In our minds, a galumpher is one who understands that we are not machines in a factory and that by allowing ourselves to experiment and play… we are preparing for a future that is not quite clear at the moment.
  3. Just do it – try things! 
    A role model for learning does not wait for things to be delegated, assigned or spoon-fed. He or she follows interests, hunches, and curiosities. He or she reads and talks and tries things. Sometimes these efforts will not lead to anything concrete and in fact efforts may fail. But a spirit of action, a spirit of innovation, will always win in the end.
  4. Individual efforts vs. collaborative efforts 
    Creativity has traditionally been viewed as an individual process. What we’re discovering, however, as we strive to be adaptable and innovative in an organizational context, is that there is great power in collaboration. An idea may “spark” in one individual’s head, but by releasing it into the world, it grows and gains momentum because of the power and energy of many minds. Social networking tools like Twitter have fostered this potential.
  5. Put yourself in the path of new perspectives, new ideas, and new people.
    It is human nature to stick to the people we know, the people we like and feel comfortable around. New ideas, however, are often to be found in new experiences. Online networking tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) can expose us to new people and new ideas on a daily basis.  Staying connected to a diverse network can help us keep our minds open for our next great idea.
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