New and Old Ideas…
So, I attended a session Friday morning at the CLA Conference on, “The Library of the Future: Conversation with the Director.” It was insightful, with innovative ideas and, well, most of the things that I’ve come to expect from the two on the panel that I know – Stephen Abram and Michael Ridley. Now, while the conversation covered many topics including what employees of the library of the future would look like and where funding comes from at the library of the future, the most interesting question, for me, was regarding new and old ideas. Jane Dysart posed a question beginning with this quote:
I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.
- John Cage
The question itself being:
what old ideas and what new ideas frighten you as directors of the library of the future?
Well, there were a few answers. One of the first, from Mike Ridley, was the fear of the old idea that leadership comes from the top down. I found this one refreshing. Primarily, I suppose, because as a new professional, and fresh from a leadership role myself, one that I feel I succeeded in, it seems frightening to me that I might no longer have the opportunity to lead in any respect until I get a few more years under my belt. I feel that while I still have a lot to learn, I also have a lot to offer, and regardless of my position in the hierarchy, I hope that I will still have the opportunity to do that. Just as I know that I can and will respect leadership from above, leadership can be respected from below.
The next frightening idea came from a woman from Calgary Public Library – and I didn’t quite catch her name, but Sarah, I think(?) my hugest apologies on this one. She mentioned that an old idea that is frightening at her library of the future is that it’s not okay to fail. Another particularly lovely idea as a new professional. As I mentioned, I will still have a lot to learn – as we all do, I think. Learning is part of being human, but if learning is, then so to is failing.
Similarly, Juanita Richardson noted that one her frightening old ideas is the old adage that “we’ve always done it this way.” This first three to me are all quite similarly in that they are simply noting that change is good, that growth and new ideas and possibly even subversiveness are good. Shaking things up equals GOOD! And quite frankly, I’m loving my field even more now.
A common theme though, from all of the speakers, which I found really interesting, was the fear of always adopting new technologies regardless of whether or not they are actually any good, but because they are new. It’s an interesting problem in our field, to adopt or not to adopt. Some people will use every new technology, really jumping on the band wagon. Others will never adopt new technologies, thinking all of them too trendy and that the appeal will fade in time. So, what is needed is the balance that these directors of the library of the future mention.
It was an enjoyable talk.