Disruption

I’ve had a hard time bringing fingers to the keyboard in any sort of blog entry lately. It’s not that I haven’t had any thoughts or things I’ve wanted to write about, but I feel like I’m stuck in a manner of speaking. Since I don’t get it out and onto the screen, they just start to pile up like the old McDonald styrofoam food packaging: discarded but not going to degrade on any short time scale.

On one hand, my thoughts towards libraryland feel like they are building a callus of cynicism. It’s hard to get terribly excited about anything, even the pet issues that I’ve come to champion over time. While it would be convenient to blame it on a social media culture that foments persistent outrage, I take some of the blame for basic naivety as a person who is still relatively new to the profession (new being less than ten years in). It’s hard not to think that there will be more rapid action, but the library innovation cycle doesn’t follow the much more highly visible technology version that has brought us so many within the last decade. It’s only so glaring because our fortunes seem to be linked so closely with this technology as part of our information access and education mission.

On a similar train of thought, I’m not sure what library disruption looks like. One of my first blog posts on LISNews was about finding the next big thing in libraries; now, about five years later, I feel like I’d have a hard time identifying it. eBooks are hardly disruptive given how much we have to treat them identically like their print counterparts. Makerspaces are just the arts and crafts programs that libraries have had for years but for adults and more costly equipment. Social media profiles are just the heir apparent to email and the grandchild of telephone reference. What does truly disruptive library innovation look like? Because I’m guessing we haven’t really seen it if one simply takes existing offerings and just adds expensive tech to it.

On the other hand, I feel my cynicism melt away every time I look at the sonogram printout of my in utero son. It’s so very cliche, but I simply can’t help it. I now have new facet of understanding to some of the feelings and emotions that I have heard from new parents, something that is impossible to quantify outside of experience. I feel young again, alive in the moment, and full of curiosity and hope and wonder. I want to hold onto that moment for when I’m up in the middle of the night with a sick kid or changing a diaper that qualifies for Superfund designation or a pain in the ass teenager. I know I have a lot to learn and that there will be moments of frustration, but I want that kernel to always be with me in my journey into parenthood. I don’t know if it will or how it will change, but I’m just hopeful in ways that I haven’t been in a very long time.

That could be some of the tension I am feeling as I turn away from some library interests and towards this new step in life that is parenthood. It’s not that I don’t think I could do both at the same time (a choice that is certainly easier as a man in society), it’s that I am choosing one over another. In imagining my post-childbirth life, I’d much rather be the best father I can than the next big leader or pundit or consultant in libraryland. The library world has been my life for so long and through great personal and emotional adversity; and now something is coming that will usurp that from the peak of my personal priorities. It may end up being my saving grace, for it really sharpens a lens onto which issues are true concerns and which are just babbling bullshit. Or perhaps, like all things, the relationship between my life and my work will just be… different.

If you were to ask me what the most pressing issue has been in the last month, I’d have to say looking at different stroller models. Seriously, these things are the types of engineering-based punishments that would have made the Greek gods says, “Shit, you are screwed, bro.” I’d have to think about a library issue that has really caught my attention in that same time period. It’s not that I don’t care deep down, but that my focus has changed. I don’t think of this as good or bad, it just is. And it’s where I want to be.

5 thoughts on “Disruption

  1. Welcome to the fold of parenting. I think you have eloquently articulated what most parents feel, regardless of profession. My career as a librarian is very important to me. But my children and my husband come first. One of the challenges is navigating the waters of colleagues who don’t understand and just perceive it as your waning dedication. As a woman, on the other side there are the folks who can’t understand why you are working at all. *sigh* Congratulations and find the path that is right for you and run with it. Just don’t forget to check the diaper before you leave the house.😉

  2. Parenthood involves a lot of shifting of priorities – you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. I love and am passionate about my work, but it’s a lot different since I became a parent and there’s a lot more competition now for my mental and emotional energy. Library stuff gets shut off for a few hours when I get home – I’m doing a lot less extra-curricular activity around libraries outside of my actual job. Also, I find that I’m more accepting of the pace of library change and progress since I became a parent, because it’s already hard enough to keep up with my various priorities and obligations.

    And the stroller question is a big one! That sucker is going to be a big part of your life for a while. Not sure what your budget is, but we loved our BOB stroller: http://www.bobgear.com/strollers – they are great if you are active and want to do a lot of walking or jogging with your baby. And they turn beautifully – very easy to handle. Downside: they don’t lock into place when folded, so you have to develop a little method for getting them in and out of the car easily. It’s not hard once you figure it out. I recommend test-driving as many models as you can – get a feel for them by pushing them around the store. Make sure the handle height is adjustable or that it works comfortably for both you and your wife.

    Best of luck to you!

  3. Though not a parent myself, I applaud your willingness to step back a little and re-direct your energy towards your most important relationships. I think that is both healthy, and a recipe for a happy life. People should always be the top priority in our lives, though I know that’s easier said than done to do live that out. Thanks for writing this, and saying it.

  4. Pingback: A Freebie for Your Patience | A Wrinkle in Tech

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