“Uncertain times” is a phrase you hear a lot these days. It was actually in the title of the ALA Town Hall that took place in Atlanta last month (ALA Town Hall: Library Advocacy and Core Values in Uncertain Times). Political turmoil, uncertainty, divisiveness, and vitriol have so many of us feeling a bit unhinged. When I feel rudderless, adrift, even completely lost at sea, I tend to seek a safer port. I’ve exercised this method personally, geographically, and professionally and it has always served me well. For example, the stability and solid foundation provided by my family gives me solace when times seem dark. Professionally, I seek refuge in the like-mindedness of librarians and the mission of libraries.
Have you ever encountered a profession more earnest than librarianship? When I feel despair, I recall how lucky I am to be a member of the best profession around. We’ve all made jokes about the value of the degree, we’ve all suffered fools and the bewildered expressions of strangers who ask our line of work, but never once have I questioned my decision to become a librarian.
Now some of you might be saying, “Really? Even now? Even in the wake of controversial press releases, reduced numbers attending conferences, dismaying Executive Orders, protests, and conflict?” I say “Especially now.” Once again, my profession has not let me down. You got it wrong, Publisher’s Weekly. Where you see despair, I see thousands of professionals coming together to solve common problems. I see shared understanding, shared values, and a professional organization that strives to support its membership with a solid pragmatic, strategic, and financial platform.
I see passion, civility, and earnest devotion to core values in a Town Hall. Thank you, American Libraries and the ALA Membership.
I see introspection and activism come alive among my IT brethren. Thank you, Ruth Kitchin Tillman.
I see false dichotomies challenged and the professional and the political trying to find a symbiotic relationship. Thank you, John Overholt.
I see the ALA stepping up, reminding us about our core values, and even preparing for a fight. Thank you ALA and Julie Todaro.(full disclosure: I am a member of the ALA Executive Board that helped release this statement).
And then I need only thank the thousands and thousands of librarians and library workers who have never diverted from their mission, their core values, and their day-in day-out devotion to serving library users. When I need certainty, librarianship is my rudder, librarians are my life preserver, library workers my oarsmen. And libraries are my port in the storm.