Just yesterday, Valerie (@vforrestal) posted an article on the culture in library land of achievements and recognition. To summarize, my takeaway from it is that our focus as librarians should not be winning awards and getting into the “in” crowd, but to do our work well and that we should strive for recognition from colleagues recognizing our everyday contributions as our achievements. Being a fairly new librarian, reading the article was a great reminder that getting awards and proposals accepted is not as important as we might make it out to be.
So, if I agree, why am I writing? Because the responses I’ve read are thought provoking. Most of the responses were positive as you can tell if you do a search for the article link on twitter. However, there have been a couple of negative responses too. One example, while not specifically pointing to Valerie’s post, I was told that this tweet is in response to her article:
What is the gain to one librarian in badmouthing the public recognition of another?—
Library Loon (@GaviaLib) September 19, 2013
While I don’t think the tweet was attacking Valerie’s article, but likely more a rhetorical question, this and other tweets that I have seen (some which do directly refer to the article and were definitely not rhetorical) seem to completely miss the point of the article. Why is sharing a bad experience where organizations or people are named seen as hostility towards or badmouthing of peers? Dismissing the article as simply a rant of some sort against an organization or a group of people seems to only further Valerie’s point that we sometimes focus on the wrong thing.
Why It Was Encouraging
Okay, I’m done with the slight ranting on my own part, but I think the reason I’m writing this post right now is because of how much her original article hit home for me. I have read a lot of touching articles on a more personal level, but this one really got to the heart of one of the things I’ve been struggling with professionally. Despite being a relatively new librarian, seeing my colleagues be picked for awards, keynotes, or even just to present, made me feel inadequate at times.
What is wrong with me that I don’t get chosen to present at conferences?
The answer is nothing. However, somewhere between entering the library world and now, I got it into my head that getting awards and in on conferences is how we are recognized. Reading Valerie’s article reminded me that: no, that’s not true. I started remembering this recently, but her article finally nailed it down for me. I don’t need to get accepted into conferences or win awards or do a super innovative project that everyone talks about, I should just keep doing what I like doing, what I’m passionate about, what I’m good at (fixing bad library websites!).
The best feeling in the world is being told you’re awesome by your colleagues, especially those you respect.
On a side note, of course, this is probably why I continue to love being on the reference desk and teaching. Beyond imparting knowledge, you are (sometimes) appreciated for the small things you do. (Yay, ego booster!)
So here’s a big thank you to all the people who do awesome work every day by contributing to the community, but don’t necessary get recognized, and further appreciation for those who have told me that I’m awesome. In no particular order:
And non-twitter folks too, of course:
- Shelley Gullikson (whom I’ve never even met, but sent me a wonderful email)
- Paul Joseph
- Susie Stephenson
- Pat Gibson
(I’m sorry if I missed you. My mind is a bit muddled having just come out of a copyright session.)
Thank you, you’re a big reason I enjoy and keep doing what I do.