Services framed by setting

Had my regular eye doctor appointment on Saturday – and ended up talking about . . . . what else? Libraries. The technician who did the screening saw my occupation on the health history form. Then she told me that she and her family liked to go to library X much better than library Y (both in our region) because X has better children’s books. Library Y is even in the town where she lives.

Now the interesting thing is that both X and Y get the same books, ordered by the same selector. Only difference is that X is a beautiful new library, with lots of artwork and a skylight. Y is a . . . . well, let’s just say it’s an older facility in line for a facelift or replacement. But when my eye technician goes in, she sees the collection illuminated by the environment. Hmmmm, makes you think.

I Quit – and it’s OK

April 2008 will go down in my personal history as memorable not because of something I accomplished, but because of something I quit. I’m a high-energy person, thriving on conquering challenges. But I’m also a nurturer to those around me, advocating for taking care of yourself, all things in balance, setting reasonable limits, yada yada yada.

I even wrote about quitting (or not) last August, when I reviewed Seth Godin’s book The Dip. So, it was to that blog post I returned when I found that my latest journey to 23 Things on a Stick wasn’t working out the way I planned. In the book, Godin talks about slogging through the long dip between the excitement of starting and the triumph of finishing. He talks about the light at the end to which you power toward when you’re in the Dip.

So it was in January, when I signed up for the 23 Things along with over 1,000 other library folks in Minnesota. I pumped it up and was overjoyed when many of the staff in our regional library took the journey with me. There were warning signs that this was destined to be my first big failure (oh, there have been others I suppose, but I forget). In the first place, I wasn’t willing to garbage up (my perception) this, my real blog, with 23 Things posts. So I created another blog. Secondly, I barely signed up in time to participate, and only managed 3 Things for the month of February. Thirdly, I should have known I was a little too over-zealous when others around me didn’t want me to know that they were doing the program, lest they disappoint me. What a crock!

Well, that inner voice inside me kept getting louder and louder. Real life intervened as I moved into a new house and learned how to install baseboard trim (including staining and finishing). Days at work were long: dark in the morning, dark at night. And I only did 3 Things. And frankly, my posts about those 3 were way below even the *good enough* standard I promised myself I’d satisfy for.

So, I dug out the blog post. This is one book I didn’t buy, and boy, am I sorry. Here are some of the review points I wrote with my very own paws, and my personal eye-openers as they related to my lack of success with 23 Things:

  • If you can’t be #1 or #2, get out (ala Jack Welch) yup, my posts weren’t #1 or #2 in quality or quantity
  • It’s easier to be mediocre than it is to confront reality and quit. Mediocre is not part of who I am or ever will be – and I like it that way.
  • If you’re not able to get through the Dip in an exceptional way, you must quit. I neither had the strength or desire to get through the Dip. The light was invisible to me.
  • The opposite of quitting isn’t waiting around, it’s rededication. There was plenty I should be excelling at, and 23 Things wasn’t one of them. (Stop by some time and see my baseboard, curtains, etc.)
  • It’s OK to quit if the project isn’t worth the reward at the end. I anticipated 2 rewards: new knowledge (I knew most of this stuff) and a flash memory stick from the sponsoring organization (I have gazillions of them around the house.)
  • Pride is the enemy of the smart quitter. yup that hit me where it hurt. Especially when other librarians across the state e-mailed me about my lack of posts. ouch.
  • Decide in advance when you should quit. While I hadn’t done this, my lack of commitment was certainly evident.

April 16th was the last day to win a prize. About the 1st of the month I thought about ramping it up, like some of my friends did. Just about then 2 events in my family climaxed and sapped my attention and energy. So, here it is today, April 17th, and I’m a 23 Things quitter. Ugh.

But wait . . . . I may be a quitter, but I’m not a failure. I started the program, so did lots of others. I did learn one new thing – I created an avatar. It never interested me, and I’m sure I’ll never do it again. Lots of people didn’t get to magic #23. But everyone tried something new and acquired familiarities with something different and potentially valuable. There’s the value.

I’m fairly bursting with pride for the 8-10 librarians in my region who did finish (haven’t got the final report yet). Hip hip hooray. And I fairly whooped when I opened our library blog this morning, and saw one of my colleagues’ appropriately used new trick. She said it was one of her 23 Things. No, she didn’t finish either. And we’ve agreed that we’re going to walk through it together on our own time, recognizing our successes and forming our own support group. Anyone want to join us?

Yin and yang of life

Welcome to the world, little one

In the midst of sorrow for losing one, comes the joy of birth of another.

Ecclesiastes 3 – A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Every once in a while it’s good to remind myself how good my job is, and how important and valued is the business I’m in. It would be tempting to lose heart with the daily battles that aren’t easily won because of inadequate funding or ill-informed news stories like the one in my previous post stating “. . . . libraries have slowly lost their place at the forefront.”

Then a blast of sunlight cuts through the gloom, and I am re-energized. Such was the case this week, when I was asked to travel north to one of my communities to join community members in touring a potential new library site. In that town, the much loved branch library is crammed into a space one quarter the minimum size that it should be. While everyone has agreed that the library needs more space, it looked like it would not happen for a good long time.

Then a property went on the market and it appears to be a strong possibility for a new home for the library. So I joined the group of community movers and shakers that included the mayor, city council, library Friends and board, county commissioners, and city and county officials. Even a representative of the Congressman’s office came and presented her personal check. We toured the facility and then sat down to talk about how to make this happen. It was one of those pinch-me-this-is-a-dream moments. While there were healthy questions and resolute plans to research potential pitfalls, the over-riding attitude was we can make this happen.

It was a wonderful afternoon. This town values their library and the role it plays in the community culture. I was reminded once again why we’re there, and in every other community in our region.