As I was reading Annie’s post about comfort zones (Larkin, 2017), I had to laugh at myself because of course I became a librarian through my love for books and the tidy and calm atmosphere of libraries. My hobby did lead me to my career. It’s true that librarians tend to be bookish and introverted, as reported by Agada (2008), and discussed by Keach (2012). So, it makes sense that we do not have a fondness for marketing ourselves and our libraries. Advocacy involves interaction with potentially large numbers of people we don’t know well, and that is exhausting. But, as Annie states, we have to “stop being so damn comfortable amidst our books.” Growth in our careers and success for our libraries will only come when we step beyond our comfort zones.
So, how do we overcome our personalities to break through comfort zones and become leaders in our libraries and schools? Being aware of the problem is a good first step, along with a healthy fear of defunding if the library’s worth isn’t known. Next, get and offer help to build relationships. By serving on committees, for example, you can get to know the people to whom you need to market the library, making it less difficult, and as well form alliances that will benefit multiple groups (Collins, 2010). Third, find some “easy” ways to advocate. Social media can get information out to the public quickly, and requires no actual interactions with other people – perfect for the harried Introvert! Finally, practice. For example, I used to work for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. In my division, we took turns being the “on-call” person for questions from the (often angry or confused) public about environmental regulations pertaining to land development. I used to be hesitant about talking with strangers on the phone. Not anymore! I am confident that the more a librarian practices collaborating, leading, and advocating, the easier it will become.
Agada, J. (1998). Profiling librarians with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: studies in self selection and type stability. Education For Information, 16(1), 57-68.
Collins, C, (2010). Survival tactics for the warrior librarian. LMC, 29(3), 18-19.
Keach. (2012, October 14). Personality Types and Librarians Part 1 [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://libraryworksuccess.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/personality-types-and-librarians/
Larkin, A. (2017, February 20). Learning Journal Post 3 Comfort Zones [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://callnumberninja.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/learning-journal-post-3-comfort-zones/