Ramblings from the Representative-at-Large

Submitted by Patty Lunsford, Representative-at-Large, Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health, Lafayette, Crawfordsville, and Rensselaer, Indiana

“The State Liaisons Committee shall serve as a conduit for communication between the chapter and state health sciences library associations, local library groups and library science educational programs. It shall serve as a mechanism for chapter officers and committees to distribute information and receive feedback at the state and local level.”

 Several years ago at an annual meeting of a regional library organization, which brought together, several for the first time, colleagues of several states, one of the “ice-breaker” activities in the Introductions part of the agenda was to describe what we would be doing, or in which profession we would be spending our work lives, if we were not librarians or members of the information sciences profession.

An enlightening, and often hilarious, round of communication ensued—in the group of approximately twenty folks, there were twenty distinct responses—all of professions or work or dreams which completely diverged from the somewhat stereotypical perceptions we tend to create—whether we have known folks for years, or are meeting them for the first time.

Who could have imagined that the Dean of Libraries (this is a fictitious scenario) of a major research institution originally aspired to become a professional chef, or that another member of the group majored in Music Performance with hopes of becoming an opera performer… the aspirations were as diverse and varied as the world itself.

Pondering the more serious aspect of this ice-breaker activity, several realizations –which are likely familiar to us all—wove through my mind—first, that the library and information sciences professions are all-encompassing and welcoming, and they beckon folks from nearly every area of interest, talent or aspiration, and college major—and also that most of us who found our way into the library /information sciences professions were, and are, inspired by the desire to serve, to teach, to share information not only locally, but globally—and to make a positive impact  in the world and on the quality of human life.

Moreover, when you respond, in another realm, to the familiar ice-breaker question:  “Why did you become a librarian/information scientist…?” you are NOT likely to hear “…because I could not go to chef’s training…” or a similar response; you will hear more about one’s desire to teach (I always regarded becoming a reference or outreach librarian as a way to become a teacher without having to create lesson plans or work in a classroom), to impart knowledge, to broaden one’s approach to the world, to enhance access to information, to  become an engineer of human interactions and intelligence, to make medical and scientific languages tangible…

In essence we entered the library and information sciences professions for a dozen reasons of WHY, but likely no real reasons of why not! And for those of us who have been in our work world for more than a few decades, our work methods and techniques, instruments, environments, procedures, and policies have likely changed significantly (HOW did we pre-1980’s graduates get through Library school without computers and databases)?

But our universal missions, whether we are newly graduated or veterans of our profession, have been, and remain—that of outstanding service, preserving the history of humankind and cultures, and seeking to bring the world and the love of learning to our patrons of every profession and age and path in life.

As your Representative-at-Large, one of my responsibilities and “joys of this work” is to communicate with our State Representatives and Presidents—and all of our members, actually—and to encourage all of us to share various questions and situations which arise—either as a presented question or issue or challenge…please—share with us all experiences of this kind—how you have planned, gotten the job done, what worked and what did not, and how you coped…and succeeded.

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