Every library system is different when it comes to programming. Some systems designate their programs from on high and staff have little choice or say-so in the matter. Others are pretty hands off and let staff do their own thing at the branch level. HPL is the former. My current system is the latter. Here are my current thoughts about that.
When I left HPL, I thought they were THE. WORST. library system on planet earth. And they do kind of suck for the most part. That said, the further removed I become, the more I can see some of the positives and being in administration makes me better understand why they might have done the things that they did.
Honestly, It’s so easy to fall into the “I’m in admin so I know better than all these people under me” mindset. So easy. Truthfully, some staff do drag their feet and aren’t doing the things that they should be. Since I’m an overachiever who prefers to work alone, it is my natural instinct to step in and do things for people. Why? Because I’m better at their job than they are. Is that arrogant? Hell yes, but it’s also, for the most part, true.
But so what? Just because that’s mostly true doesn’t mean much. True doesn’t necessarily mean good and it certainly doesn’t mean kind, inclusive, compassionate, or supportive. Exclusion in the name of truth and control is not a path you want to go down. I saw that path at HPL and it doesn’t lead anywhere good. Would it feel good? Sure. Does that mean I should do it? Absolutely not. In fact, when something appeals to the ego, it’s probably good to not do that thing without some serious deliberation.
All of this is to say that I don’t agree with the way that my system currently views library programming. I’m not a fan of hiring outside programmers for every little want or need. I prefer learning about subjects that are of interest to the community, mastering them to a certain degree, and then sharing my knowledge with the community. That’s the fun part of being a librarian–we get to be a little bit of everything.
When all you do is sing some songs and bring in magicians, the library becomes a vessel for entertainment instead of enrichment and the librarian stops being a community educator and instead becomes the community event scheduler. There’s nothing wrong with creating partnerships for programs that are outside the library’s scope. Librarians can’t be everything, but they do need to be something. Event coordination is a great skill but it can’t be your only skill.
Imagine Buffy if Giles had to call for outside help every time a new monster popped up. The world would have ended in season 1. Let’s all live to see season 7, guys. Step away from the crafts. Learn some new things. It’s going to be just fine.