Be a Forward-Moving Thinker

Our deputy director asked for input from staff on being a 21st-century librarian – what skill sets are needed for the librarian of today/tomorrow/next year.

I had some thoughts, and I also poked around on some articles and posts discussing the topic. A lot of them mention “the ability to embrace change” as an important skill set.

I don’t think “embracing change” is necessarily the end result we’re looking for. Here’s why. It’s quite possible to do nothing until you are told to change, and then to embrace that change. One of those “ok, the boss says I have to blog now. I can do that.”

You could be patting yourself on the back for your mad “embracing change” skills, but are missing the point entirely. I think there are some librarians in our profession that go about change in this passive way – and to be fair, many of them are well-meaning. They’re just doing their jobs. The job changed, so they accept – even embrace – those changes as they occur.

Let me ask: Managers – is that what you meant by “embracing change?” I’m guessing the answer is “no, not quite.” It’s part-way there, but not all the way.

Here’s what I’d like to switch the “embracing change” idea to: “Being a Forward-Moving Thinker.”

To me, being a “forward-moving thinker” means that the librarian is actively pursuing and making and suggesting changes – to the boss, to the team, to the library – rather than passively waiting for those changes to happen. To me anyway, this hits on that active approach I’m thinking about. It’s a librarian DOING SOMETHING to make his or her job better, to adapt to new technology as needed (maybe even a little before it’s needed). It’s a librarian thinking strategically about their job.

See the difference? Thoughts?

Photo by Eric Magnuson