Where Does Your Library Energy Go?

Everyone has a different outlook and experience. I recognize and appreciate that. For me these days when the topic of ALA (American Library Association) and their conferences come up you can count me out.

I attended the conferences, took part in some groups, and got to see how things work between 2009-2011/12.After about 1.5 years of what felt like busy work and resume padding I stepped back from it. My interest started strong, then wore down in the middle, and eventually came to a crashing halt at the end. Simply stated, as a public librarian who worked on the front lines with the community an organization that was seemingly so busy with resolutions, motions, committees, and listservs served little to no importance to me. The real action for public libraries took place day to day and that was what mattered the most.

Every year the conferences come up and there will be a few tweets that come through my feed that catch my eye. At first I recognized these on the Friday of the conference. The next year it was the Saturday of the conference. By this year it was Monday morning when I first noticed that the conference was going on.

For me the decision was easy: the most important things that happen in public libraries happen in the day to day interactions that the library staff has with their community members. These moments in public libraries involve your neighbors and fellow community members. These are the moments that build and grow public libraries and in turn local communities. I decided a few years back that instead of investing in a twice a year conference and lots of committee work that my energy would be better if I invested it in the community. I’ve been happy with that decision. I urge other public librarians, no matter what job role you currently occupy, to consider where you’d like to invest your energy. I hope you chose to invest in your community.


  1. Touché! It’s the everyday things, the so-called “little” things–helping a patron find a book, a smile at checkout, leading a program, showing a genuine interest in your community–that really make all the difference in a good library.

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