When I told my writing group buddies that I couldn’t meet this week because I was going on a library retreat, one of them actually laughed and said, “A library retreat. People go to libraries to retreat. What do you guys need to retreat from?” Another asked if we all sat silently in a room all day and read books. I didn’t admit that I could really get on board with that idea. Even the Jolly Librarian likes to keep her number fairly low on the old nerd-meter.
Each summer, the Tennessee Board of Regents Library Deans and Directors meet to discuss issues that don’t get covered in our regular business meetings. Now as a member of higher education for many many years now, I have to say that in most cases, I am not a big fan of meetings, no matter if they’re called meetings, conferences, or retreats. But I make an exception for these regular get-togethers with library colleagues. I never return home without good ideas and some practical tips that I can put to use in our own library immediately.
Librarians, by their very nature, seem to be sharers. I remember the first meeting I attended. One of the directors had an incredibly well-thought out plan to teach research. I asked if I could use it. There was no hesitation at all; the only requirement was that if we added anything to it, we let her know so that her librarians could benefit from our knowledge. As one libarian said to me at another meeting, “We think of everyone ours. It’s not your students versus our students. As far as we’re concerned, they are all students. And if we can help them, we do.”
Maybe it’s because librarians certainly don’t enter the field expecting to become millionaires or as famous as rock stars. Maybe if they were paid an enormous sum to be the opening act for Snow Patrol giving dramatic readings of research guides, they would become more possessive of their creations. But I somehow doubt it. Librarians believe in the power of information and the duty to make sure that every person can access it.
So they share freely what they know. And what they know is considerable. I am very proud to call them colleagues.