Thursday, May 22, 2008

Taking time to plant the roses

I've been reading a number of blog responses to Meredith Farkas' legit concerns on how our profession penalizes people who present at conferences. The entire discussion is a sad comment about how little we, as a profession, support continuing education. There are several aspects, including state associations that can't afford to provide incentives for their own members who make presentations, and libraries not paying conference expenses for their staff. As a library manager, I'm more concerned about the latter.

It's a challenge for staff and managers (and governing bodies) because there are always pressing needs. So we face hard choices that shouldn't be "either/or", like getting training or buying books. But if we're going to do a good job buying books next year, we need to keep up our skills this year. Libraries are educational organizations: respecting the training needs of our own staff should be part and parcel of operations.

It's a matter of thinking in the long term. There are always urgent problems demanding attention. But sometimes we have to step back and pay attention to the important things, even if they aren't urgent.

The main thing is not to get discouraged, and keep on creatively seeking resources to do what we need to do. Education is an investment in the future. Runner & author George Sheehan wrote:

Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit.
and he's right. The little voice that wants you to quit is the little voice that tells you it's pointless to try, the little voice that says it's not worth it, the little voice that says you can't do it. We're never going "win" against all the people that want to cut funding, that don't believe in libraries. We'll never convince everyone, and resources will always be tight. While we need to honestly deal with questions, we have to believe in ourselves and what we're doing. We need to believe in the future more than we believe in naysayers and seeds of doubt.

We have to believe in what we do; we have to invest in ourselves and our future. So we don't give up on training, even with tight budgets. Professional associations should look at incentives to encourage, not punish, speakers -- and libraries in particular should look at training opportunities and incentives for staff. We can keep doing good work and grow our own future.

1 comments:

Jeff Scott said...

"Don't give up on training, even in tight budgets"

Here, here, very well stated. That's the key.