Musings, School Libraries

Back to Basics

I don’t know about any of you, but I love having conversations with people where I’m the least smart person in the room. Last weekend, a book group consisting of friends I’ve made on various book award committees met and as much as I read, I’m definitely not the smartest person there. Far, far from it. And, as with many book group conversations, our veered from the book (The Thursday Murder Club, if you’re interested–we loved it) to current politics and to our current work situations.

Two of us currently supervise staff, and one of the others had been a supervisor. We talked a little about how morale among our staffs was relatively low (I’m the only school librarian in the group; everyone else works in either a public or academic library). Everyone is dealing with working hybrid, remote and “as usual” while our places of work are dealing with the current political climate and trying to layer on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work or strategic planning or other initiative, in addition to all the personal stuff that has overtaken us thanks to the pandemic.

One friend said “STOP – why don’t we take this opportunity to bring services/education to the very basic level and then see what’s needed to go forward. This is the perfect time.” I’ve been mulling over this ever since. How many times have we complained about new services, technologies, expectations or encroaching on our time and workspace? What if we stripped all that away: what does the library really need to do? what can we lightly layer? what can we leave behind?

Then I attended a webinar on Managing Library Teams in Complex Times. Unfortunately I had to leave halfway through, but one of the presenters said “this is the year to survive, not thrive.” Going back to basics would definitely help with that.

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