There are a lot of good reasons for this proposed division to become an actual division, most of them related to leveraging material resources to build a better experience for division members, leadership, and staff. And when I am honest with myself, I can see these good reasons and can believe in what the leadership of each of these divisions is trying to do. But I am often not honest with myself. I am often sad and angry that a thing I loved and worked so hard to build is growing and changing and I am in danger of being left behind.
Neither Rachel nor I have blogged in a while. It's been since April 2019. I know because I checked. But this great blog post by Eira Tansey led me to tweet this tweet, which led me to think that I needed to process my Core Question thoughts in a very public way.
Acknowledging your own professional mortality is really hard. I know because it's a thing I've been struggling with since I started to realize that I probably won't be long for cataloging after the next round of changes to our cataloging code. The combination of the fact that I am in a doctoral program in a field that isn't librarianship and the fact that I just don't really understand what a post-MARC, post original RDA world looks like means that I will probably be finding my way out of cataloging by end of the next decade.You will not be in your job forever. You will not be in your field forever. And your struggle will be trusting the people who come behind you to do as well as (if not better than...hopefully better than) you to take care of the field you were handed so many years ago.— Erin Leach (@erinaleach) February 13, 2020
We spend a long time working to build our skills and our reputation in a particular field. We become experts in our craft and set policy and practice around how we want to grow the field in which we work. We write papers and give presentations and build the infrastructure that undergirds the present and the future that we think makes the most sense to us. And then a new generation of practitioners enter our field and they want to space to become experts and set policy and practice and to build the infrastructure that undergirds the present and the future that makes the most sense to them.
If we are gracious, we make space for those "new professionals." We help them find work and we give them opportunities to grow and take on leadership roles. And then we get the hell out of their way so that they can get to work. But most of all, if we are gracious, we trust that those who will replace us in our field will use their sound judgement to not only take care of the field but to make it better than we ever could.
Our challenge is to accept that not only are we mortal, but so are our careers. And that by holding on more tightly to the past--to the world we've created--doesn't lead to professional immortality. Gate keeping doesn't lead to professional immortality. We don't ensure our legacies through gate keeping or by standing in the way of progress.
I am sad that ALCTS will almost certainly be dissolving. But my grief doesn't mean that the decision to move forward with establishing Core is wrong. And my challenge is to accept that the people who are building Core will take care of the field I helped to build.