Wednesday (March 12), Syracuse, NY received 12.1 inches of snow. This was the most snow in one day in several years. You would think that I spent the day at home or in my office, but you would be wrong. Instead I was traveling, so I could attend a committee meeting in Albany, NY. Since I had decided to travel by train for this day-trip, the weather and other factors turned it into a very...long...day. Because this committee meeting is one way that I serve the profession, yes, I would do it all over again.
What is serving the profession? These are generally volunteer activities that we do in order to ensure that libraries, librarians and library staff members have the correct resources, education, etc., in order to serve their communities. When we "serve the profession", we are also "giving back" to the profession. In other words,
others before us gave of their time in order to make things better, and
now it is our turn to do that. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or calling to do this. For those that are willing to do it, there are always opportunities to do more.
Serving the profession comes with a cost. Sometimes we must use vacation time or our own money in order to do this work, when our employers won't fund the activity. Sometimes this is what we do at night, on the weekend, or during lunch. We squeeze it in, knowing that it must get done. The reward is seeing the result of the efforts, whether those results have to do with libraries, the staff than run them, or the communities that they serve.
And that's an important point...if somehow you get paid (or reimbursed) to serve the profession, that's wonderful, but that is not what service is about. This is giving of your time and talent because it is the right thing to do.
My Wednesday, was a day of service. Although I could have driven it, it was just as cost effective - and more relaxing - to take the train to Albany for a meeting of the USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council. This is a council that provides advice to the Board of Regents and I am the representative for the library community. This trip normally goes smoothly, but the weather and train traffic (freight trains on the same route) caused delays. I did make part of the meeting, was able to contribute to the conversation, and talk to a few people afterwards. While I actually could have attended this meeting by conference call, the face-to-face conversations made the trip worthwhile. These conversations would not have happened if I hadn't been there!
As you read this, consider how you are serving your profession. Are you giving of your time and talents? If the answer is "no", is there something that needs to be done that you could do? You may not need to spend an entire day traveling by train. Perhaps help is needed to make phone calls, organize an event, mentor new professionals, review proposals, or do something else. There is indeed a role for you! If you're not sure where to jump in, ask someone who is active in volunteering his/her time for advice.
And...yes, you are needed! The more people, who are involved in serving the profession, the better our profession will be. We all see things that could be done differently...these are all opportunities.
Nota Bene: By the way, you will undoubtedly note that I haven't blogged in a while. Work is keeping me very busy. If I could blog by just thinking of the words, I would be very prolific, but that technology is available yet.