Just Showing Up

“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.

Andy Burkhardt


  1. I am a huge fan of this approach, too, Andy. Thanks for the good thoughts!

  2. I notice in your archives that you have a quote that Obama gave at the ALA 2005 Conference in Chicago:

    “I want to work with you to ensure that libraries continue to be sanctuaries of learning, where we are free to read and consider what we please without the fear that Big Brother may be peering over our shoulders to find out what we’re up to.”

    So how do you feel about the fact that the Library Provision has been extended year after year under Obama?

  3. Faun, thanks for your comment. There are a number of things that have been disappointing under Obama but also some positive things. I do think that librarians themselves though, are doing a great job getting around the law, by not saving records and creating awareness around the Patriot Act. How do you feel about it?

  4. This is so true!

    I really love the line about “spreading the message of information and helpfulness” in places beyond the library walls. I work in a hospital library, and taking the time to go to Grand Rounds presentations and the cafeteria drum up so much more interest in the library than staying put and working there.

    People are usually so thrilled that the library is ready to help them, so it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

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