Reflection and my ALA Core Presidency
I think some of you probably think you’re not good at journaling and reflection, so I wanted to start this post by revealing my best dirty secret– all of this is reflective journaling. My Twitter = concise reflective journaling. My blog = longer reflective journaling. My publications = formal reflective journaling with citations. I process and make sense of the world in words, and so when I think of my Core Presidential year, I will always think of sitting down each Friday and writing a message to members. The interval gave me a means to articulate actions, approaches, and progress during another pandemic year that limited but did not curtail an ambitious agenda. Happy Friday posts are reflective journaling too, as you might have guessed, but they are all meditations too, from a place of gratitude and accountability. I want to make sure my service is a benefit, a gift, to those who choose to be a part of Core.
Let me reveal now that even though I do A LOT of reflective journaling, I don’t think I am particularly good at it. My notes at work are my main reflective journal, and they are a veritable junkyard of sentence fragments. The only punctuation is question marks, maybe an interrobang here or there. But here’s the thing- I don’t think reflection is something to be good at, I think it’s a tool. For me, the act of articulating my thoughts is important not for itself but for the clarity it allows in the actions I take and defining next steps. I reflect because it helps me figure out what to do and how to do it. It makes me happy when folks respond, but ultimately these channels are places where I share because of the kind of leader I want to be. Open and candid, brave enough to be both those things and seek feedback/input. Creative and practical. This is why I reflect loudly, a lot, and often in public spaces. My stances and actions seldom come as a surprise, and the responses, both positive and negative, seldom surprise me.
In the library profession there’s plenty of quiet perfectionism run amok. Folks startle and talk past one another all the time with the best of intentions, bringing multipage memos to preliminary conversations in an attempt to be thorough. They hide the important point in the midst of that report, and hope that a good reader will bring it up because they don’t want to be rude. We are bad at direct dialogue and iterative negotiation. I am intentionally loud and experimental. It’s a sometimes uneasy but usually productive tension between the profession and me. At Core, I have attempted to ride that tension like a wave.
I am proud of what we’ve accomplished, devastated by what we lost, and hopeful about what is still to come. All my reflections could be described as an inefficient Walt Whitman cover, because I contain multitudes, baby.
The end of my term is approaching so fast– is the distance between Fridays collapsing or is it just me? All the same, I am proud to think that the most unique feature of my time as Core President is simply committing to checking in once a week even if it was just to share a gif because that was all I could manage. I managed that.