Talk about a curveball. My younger sister had a stroke about six weeks ago. She is now “finding the new normal” in a rehabilitation center. She, like many of us, is a high-energy, hard-working, go-the-extra-mile type. In these last six weeks, a few platitudes have been brought sharply into focus, and without sounding too cheesy (as the middle schoolers here would say) here are a few things I will try to incorporate into my library practice.
Don’t be Quick to Judge. Ask Questions. Give the Benefit of the Doubt
When I say “my sister is in rehab” I sometimes get a fleeting “Oh really?!” look. I usually add “for a stroke” but with or without the qualifier there can be an awkward silence. Do I jump to conclusions with students and colleagues? Do I cut people some slack when I can?
No One is Indispensible (part one)
No matter how important you are (I see the comments from solo librarians and traveling librarians who are wearing a lot of hats these days) life will go on without you. If your heart (or some other organ) is telling you a change needs to be made, start figuring it out before the decision is somehow made for you. Ultimately, it is not your problem to make it work for everyone else. Things will go on. You will be missed, but things will go on.
No One is Indispensible (part two): and Shouldn’t Try to Be
Learn how to say no, if you need to. There are lots of books on being more assertive. Be willing to share information with your colleagues and family. Don’t be the only one who knows how to unjam the copy machine, or where the list of contact phone numbers is kept. You may not have time to leave notes or hand off projects. I will try to remember to share the practical knowledge about this library with my colleagues when I can.
Build up Good Karma When You Can. You Never Know When You Will Need It!
Ellen’s neighbors, colleagues and friends have been incredible. Truly, jawdroppingly amazing. One of the reasons for this outpouring is that Ellen and her family made many contributions into the “favor bank” over the years and now they are able to make significant withdrawals without running dry. The give and take is all a part of being collegial, and I will try to look at it as more of a marathon than a sprint.
Best wishes for a summer that rejuvenates you,
Trinity Valley School
7500 Dutch Branch Rd.
Fort Worth, TX 76132
Wise words, Maggie. It’s sad that we often learn the most important lessons through such hard times. My colleagues from the past may remember my oft used phrase “when I get hit by a bus” when discussing library procedures I want to share with my staff. It’s an (admittedly mordantly) ‘humorous’ reference to this very issue of sudden unexpected crisis. Hoping I’m not screwing with the Karmic Balance, but it does acknowledge that none of us are indispensable. Hoping your sister improves and regains her life.