bound·a·ry noun pl. boundaries -·ries
any line or thing marking a limit; bound; border

Over the last year, I have made the jump into “managing” people at my job.  I use quotes because A) I don’t really manage people since the term isn’t in my job description, B) it doesn’t feel like managing, and C) when you put quotes around a word it totally means you’re joking and that no one should take you seriously.  Basically, disregard this post if you’re looking for enlightenment.  It’s just me fuddling my way through my gooey thoughts and feelings.

One of the things that I keep hearing and thinking about are boundaries.  You know what I’m talking about.  Libraries seem to have a love for boundaries.  YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL.  YOU ARE A PARAPROFESSIONAL.  YOU ARE A VOLUNTEER.  YOU DO THIS.  THEY DO THAT.  EVERYTHING IS IN IT’S RIGHT PLACE.  I don’t know where this came from, but I blame it on cataloging and all those strict guidelines to follow (I LOVE YOU CATALOGERS).

I don’t like boundaries.  I don’t like saying that so and so can’t do something because they’re at this level or something like that.  I like to adhere to the idea of having members on my team who have these awesome secret powers that I have to unlock somehow.  I’ve quickly realized that I don’t have all the answers, connections, or energy to make everything happen.  But that’s where teamwork is so important.  The people I surround myself with in the library are THE KEY TO EFFECTIVELY SERVING OUR COMMUNITY.


Someone else may know better about certain materials than I do.   Recently, I asked two of my frequent teen patrons to give me a list of 50 movies that they think the teens of my city would like.  I told them I’d buy them all and ask no questions.  All they had to do was have an open mind and try their best to represent what teens want and not what they wanted.  In other words, I gave them a bit of my budget and acted as a personal shopper for the movie watching teens of my city.

Some people have much better ideas for teen programming than I do. Do I disregard their ideas just because they’re not coming from me?  Who appointed me MASTER OF THE TEEN LIBRARY UNIVERSE?  I sure as hell don’t want that title.  What I want is for my community (all ages!) to enjoy the library and get something out of their visit.  I’ve recently hit a pretty cold streak when it comes to programming (a bit of burnout?  Possibly, but that’s for another post) but thanks to some staunch individuals things are happening and dammit, they’re pretty awesome. What comes first?  Our ego or the community we serve?  If you picked ego, please quit working in libraries right now.

What have I learned about boundaries?  I’ve learned that we don’t need them.  They complicate and muddle things and what’s left in the end is a lot of missed opportunities for our community.  A library needs to be better than this.


  1. Yes, yes yes. WHO CARES WHO DOES IT, JUST AS LONG AS IT GETS DONE AND DONE WELL. This has been my major source of stress this year.

  2. I consider myself a “Nike” Librarian… JUST DO IT! 😀
    When/If I am told I have overstepped my boundaries I find an apology followed by “I was trying to be a bit proactive” works well 😀

  3. Ooooh the other term I HATE is god damned “RED TAPE” seriously people we have a stationary closet… stop being lazy and all political… go and get some scissors and cut through it!

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