Three Lessons of 2011

As I did last year, I am writing a post that reflects upon the lessons I learned in 2011. So, without further ado, here we go.

Lesson #1: “Take More Chances”

True story.

Anytime I write something that might not be the most diplomatic, or I know will upset people, or portray a contrary view on a controversial subject, or even just has the potential for generating grief, I always tell myself the phrase, “blog fearlessly” and then hit the Publish button. It’s my moment where I resolve to be brave and put my words out there. That’s not always an easy thing to do in this online world of potential scrutiny and possible vilification, but I know deep down that being brave for this split moment will let me take the chance that my words will make a difference in an idea, a conversation, or a movement.

(It should be noted that I do perform a “Am I off my rocker?” check before I get to this point. It doesn’t always work, but it has caught some doozies.)

We as a profession will never get to where we want to be in terms of innovating the information field by embracing a risk adverse mindset. I look forward to taking more chances in 2012 with the topics and issues on this blog and taking on challenges at my library. I certainly hope you do as well; there is freedom in uncertainty, discovery, and the unknown. When your moment comes, be brave for that one moment.

Lesson #2: “Pace Yourself”

It seems silly, but there are times when I think that I didn’t do enough this year. Then, like the look from a bewildered friend, it hits me: The eBook User’s Bill of Rights. The HarperCollins petition at (70,000+ signatures). Presented for ACRL, ALA Virtual, NJLA annual, and did a workshop for PaLA. The MARC Madness Tournament thing. Oh, and that whole (still largely unresolved) NJ Q&A virtual reference debacle. Attended Computers in Libraries. The campaign with the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom. Plus whatever I was blogging (remember that “librarian unemployment is a boring topic” blog post?), whatever I was tweeting, and whatever I was talking about in the ALA Think Tank group.


There were some other things I found when I was just reviewing the year. I guess I was busier than I thought or remembered. But the other thing I came to realize? I got really, really tired.  I wouldn’t say I was burnt out since that implies that I’m done; no, I’d say I was out of fuel. All of these things take their spiritual and mental toll, especially when there is a certain amount of spotlight hogging and cause hustling required to keep them moving and fresh in the online eye.

In taking this to heart, I’ve learned to pace myself and be a bit more critical in assessing the projects that I take on. I’m looking forward to continuing to blog and my presentation at CIL2012, but otherwise I’m looking for projects that are less intensive on the public side and more for moving certain ideas within library circles. I’ll certainly have to see how this plays out, but I will keep in mind the notion of pacing myself.

Lesson #3: “Timing is Everything”

Over the course of the year, I’ve been fortunate enough to have people appear in my life at just the right moment. They have lent me much needed support when I was down, been an advisor and confidante when I need someone to talk to, and been a partner in crime for shenanigans, mischief, and other goings on. It’s been a year in transition for my personal life and I really wouldn’t have been able to do it and come out mostly alright without them. To these people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

In examining the idea of timing, I’ve stopped seeing it in terms of being “good” or “bad”. The missed opportunity now could allow me to be available for something down the road while fortuitous chance may close a possible path. When I think of all of my choices over the years, it is a combination of these timings (both “good” and “bad”) that have yielded the person I am today. It’s a reminder that the complete bargain of this life is a culmination of these successes and failures. A simple lesson, but one that I often forget.


I look forward to hearing the lessons that you took away from 2011.