Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On being the change you wish to see

There's a really great thing happening on LibraryTwitter in November called #BeTheRainbow. The brainchild of @winelibrarian and @sarainthestacks, #BeTheRainbow asks librarians to identify the good things that are going on in their professional lives instead of complaining about the awful stuff. It's amazing to see the really neat things going on that people are proud of and it's fun to see a redirection of energy, as people focus on positive things instead of negative ones.

Look, let's be clear. We all have unpleasantness in our daily lives in the form of problem patrons or problem colleagues or problem policies. And social media makes it easy to put a rant off the tips of your fingers into the ether of the online world. But it's not just the ether. People read it and not only does it reflect on the kind of person you are, but it also creates an energy around the profession.

I'm not suggesting that you refrain from venting. Dashing off a quick tweet or Facebook post is often cathartic and helps us make space to get back into a positive place. Goodness knows I've done my fair share of venting. But if venting is all you do in online spaces, maybe it's time to put things back into perspective. It's easy to forget to say the things we're grateful for aloud because it's easier to find the bad things than it is to find the good. We shrug off the positive things in favor of wallowing in the bad ones and it makes us into certain kinds of people: sadder, more cynical, snarkier.

LibraryTwitter and LibraryFacebook can sometimes seem like an echo chamber of negativity and snark. But if we want to leave librarianship a better place than we found it, we have to flip the script and focus as much on the things we're doing to better the lives of the people we serve as we do on the things that they do that make us mad.

What is that one thing that's happening in your professional life that you can be grateful for? What's that one thing that's going right in a sea of things going wrong? Focus on that for a second and feel how that gratitude makes you better at being not only a human being but a librarian.

Stay positive,

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