“Eighty percent of success is just showing up” – Woody Allen
I’ve found the above quote to have a lot of truth in my career so far, but I’m not talking about just showing up at work. It’s easy to simply spend all your time in your office. You have a lot of work to do. It’s comfortable there. It’s safe. But I’m not sure that just showing up at your office is going to bring success.
What I’m talking about is just showing up in other places, especially outside the library. Go to faculty senate meetings. Go to community gatherings. Attend board or town hall meetings. Join committees. Go to conferences or informal gatherings of librarians. Go to social events or holiday parties. The benefits of just showing up at events or meetings quickly become clear. You begin developing relationships with others. People remember your face, know who you are, and know that you are from the library. By just showing up you become an ambassador of the library. You’re getting out of the library and spreading your message of information and helpfulness in multiple places. If you go where the action is, good things just start to happen.
You may be able to help someone on a project that they have been thinking about for a while. You may have a great suggestion at a meeting that utilizes library resources. You may find a colleague or faculty member to collaborate with on a shared interest. Informal conversations with community members, faculty, staff, or students outside the library can and do lead to much bigger things. But these things won’t happen if you are sitting in your office all day. The first step is to just show up.
A student from SGA approached our manager of circulation and our director with an idea for a flash mob rave. After some thought and further organization (and realizing it’s a fair amount of work to set up and tear down speakers) it became just a somewhat abbreviated rave. There was some wariness on our part because of concerns about students studying and having to ask one of our circulation managers to stay late, but ultimately we agreed.
The word was spread by mouth and a Facebook event page. At 11:30pm the DJs (curiously named Laserdisk Party Sex) set up their gear and started doing their thing. The event was filmed and edited by one of our digital film-making students. As you can see in the video, there were a lot of people dancing and enjoying themselves. After several encores, it wrapped at around 12:30am.
Overall it seemed like a fun way to de-stress before finals. There were no formal complaints that I know of (though I heard mild complaining on Twitter). I think it helped that they decided to do it close to closing time. The thing I think that is really cool about it is that it was completely student organized and they chose the library for their venue. I like to see students making the library their own and taking it over for something like this.
Last Friday I participated in the Meaningful Books Series at Champlain College which is run by my colleague Sarah Cohen. I don’t normally do things like this, but I really love this event series every time I’ve gone, simply because you get to learn a lot more about a member of your community. So I figured I would share myself with the community and help out my friend. We also recorded it so people who couldn’t attend could see it as well. Here’s the last 5 minutes:
Also, my friend Becky from library school at UW-Madison told me about a community reception her library runs that highlights faculty scholarship and creativity. So you’d be able to learn more about the accomplishments and wider lives of community members in that way. I just think stuff like this is so cool and think that we should be doing more of it.