The cover story for the October issue of Library Journal is titled What We Need. It centers on the results of a survey of Movers & Shakers, the annual group of people recognized by Library Journal for innovation and leadership. It contains a lot of great information, and even a few surprises.
Most of all, if you are in a job situation where people are not encouraged or rewarded for innovation, don’t feel that you are isolated and alone. Many of those surveyed come from similar circumstances. What emerges from this article is not so much the people who excel because of a supporting environment and management, but in spite of it. Most received more support and encouragement from their peers at work than from their supervisors.
What surprised me so much that I had to put down the article and simply let it sink in was the following passage:
Nearly half of all respondents (48.6%) stated that their organization did not celebrate their being named as an LJ Mover. Many of the total respondents commented that internal recognition was limited to a librarywide email from the director or a brief comment at a staff meeting.
Think about that. Library Journal picks about 50 people each year to recognize their enthusiasm and contributions to libraries. Nearly half of their workplaces didn’t think this recognition important enough to celebrate. My first thought was about the unhealthy workplaces; however, that large of a number signifies to me a sickness in the profession. Consider the following:
Some respondents noted that the recognition from outside of the library actually hurt their work life. When asked if and how their being named a Mover was celebrated, one respondent answered “not at all, created a lot of problems.” Another noted “friends and colleagues celebrated; administration ignored the award.”
These are the cream of the crop! How many potential Movers & Shakers (and I am not limiting this to those officially recognized as such) have been demoralized over the years by this environment? More importantly: what can we do about this?
Simply put: celebrate innovation, wherever it may come from. Support your coworkers, whatever their “level” or title, when they succeed at something new. Support them even more when they fail… the attempt is of the utmost importance.
I feel strongly for these people when I hear these stories, because I have experienced those environments. I know people who are still existing in situations that rob most people of their enthusiasm for libraries. I can tell stories, but often do not because of the pain and frustration the memories invoke. Not only careers but lives can and do get ruined.
What you can do is this: Take heart, and keep on striving to do everything you can to learn, and apply what you learn. Try… Fail… Try again. Support each other, because sometimes all you have is each other.
Just keep at it.