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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

And Another Thing

On 20, May 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

A few weeks ago I talked about how staying home with my daughter is, much to my surprise, making me a better librarian. I have also talked about how my parenting philosophies have crossed over into my professional philosophies. I have since realized another crossover between my parenting and my career.

Now, I have virtually no experience with babies and very young children. I was terrified when they wanted to send me home from the hospital with no manual for my daughter. To calm myself down I did the next best thing, I read. I read a lot. I read books and websites and just about anything I could about parenting. After a few weeks with my daughter, I realized that my instincts and common sense were enough to get me started.

I also realized I could rely on all the literature I had read, instead of choosing one method or approach. There was a lot of trial and error as we figured out things like sleeping arrangements, feeding, weaning, sleeping, schedules and the like, but I was learning what suited our personalities and our family values in terms of parenting techniques. And that in turn made it easier for me to find ideas for what to do when my daughter cried in the middle of the night or how I wanted to go about introducing solid foods.

It may not be a new or particularly original idea, but I think it’s really important to realize that knowing your culture is applicable to libraries. Just as I needed to discover our family culture, it is essential to learn the institutional culture in order to know what kind of tools and programs will work. I love to look around at ideas for library activities and services, but that doesn’t mean every good idea I come across will work for whatever library I find myself in. I can pick and choose activities, services, and technologies or adapt them to fit the culture I find myself in. The whole messy parenting process taught me this.

I think I should note that none of this is meant to imply culture can’t or shouldn’t change. I think changing the culture of an institution can be extremely necessary and important, but knowing the culture will help you implement programs and innovations much more successfully. It can also be immensely helpful when beginning to work toward changing the culture itself.

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