It seems I’m on a bit of an advocacy kick lately. Everything I read/watch reminds me of advocacy in some way. This week in my school media centers course we were discussing readings from School Library Management (7th edition). As I read my readings and the posts of others I kept thinking of comfort zones.
Each one of my group members discussed something that ultimately was about breaking out of a comfort zone. It may be a personal comfort zone, or just the comfort zone of the library itself. I’ve never heard someone say “I’m going to save the world. I’m going to become a Librarian” (though we really are heroes.) They say “I’ve always loved books.” “I love to read.” Some variation on the book theme eventually occurs. Congratulations, you have a hobby, but let’s talk about a career.
Careers aren’t passive and they certainly don’t involve staying in your comfort zone. Careers take risks. Careers involve innovation. Careers involve marketing (yourself and your profession). Is it any wonder with all these bookish types retreating to the stacks librarian is one of those professions that everyone thinks is dying off?
Advocacy includes building relationships-within the library and as part of a larger community. Advocacy can come from unexpected places. Hartzell (2012) suggests that librarians target advocacy efforts at educational administration programs and journals. Going to where the people are rather than preaching to the choir.
Building on my previous post, we need to break out of comfort zones to advocate. I do not like leadership, I do not being the one forging the way and being a supervisor has never been a goal of mine. For some reason in every position I’ve had I’ve been promoted to a supervisor, expected to lead a team. Despite my waking distaste for the responsibility of leadership I have dreams where I am exactly that, where I am the one that leads. Even in World of Warcraft I eschew leadership in dungeons and raid, queuing as DPS when in solo play I am always spec’ed as a tank. Why does my comfort zone avoid something that so many others see as one of my skills?
As librarians we need to abolish our comfort zones if we are to really excel in our careers. It may be small, it may be huge, but if we are to really make a difference we need to stop being so damn comfortable amidst our books. We need to stop reading about heroes and become the heroes.
Comfort zones are made by our experiences. They are also malleable, changeable. Fear keeps us in those zones. Fear keeps us from speaking up, speaking out. I’ve had my share of fear. I have 40 years of missed opportunities where I can directly point to fear and say “that’s why.” I am intensely afraid to fail. I always sell myself short. But lately I’ve made fear work for me. I’ve used it as fuel to do things I might never have done. Now that I’m finally here, pursuing the education and career I’ve wanted for nearly 2 decades, I just don’t think I have time for fear anymore.
Dickinson, G. K., & Repman, J. (Eds.). (2015). School Library Management. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. (7th edition)
Hartzell, G. (2015). The need to shift and widen school library advocacy efforts: An opinion piece. School Library Management, 109.