Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Small acts

Dear Reader,

So after yesterday's wallow, I'm feeling surprisingly better.  The heart to heart with myself I had been holding at arms length for several months was actually productive.

Or maybe it was my neurons reassembling themselves to make way, on the solstice, for my genetically programmed stubborn streak to resurface.  Although as a dear friend remarked, "You aren't actually as stubborn as people might think."

I have heard often, and recently read the phrase, "Both things are true."  I need to spend some time re-reading and practicing the skill of observing shadows more often.  What is a shadow and why does it change?

What picked me up off my moody floor was the realization that the act of buying books, with public money for the public's use, is powerful.  I spent a wonderful week-end at the Book Club of California at the Fellowship of the American Bibliophic Society symposium and met some amazing collectors that rejuvenated my knowledge of the power of books.  Small, portable, paper based items that have traveled across time and space with their message.  Books held and conserved by families and individuals, known through bibliography.

Books in a public access place face various hazards, not just being handled and taken out of the building, but of being marked by stamps, stickers, labels, bar codes, and security devices.  Shelved, or incorrectly shelved, by size or genre.  Yet so many of them survive to be read again.

But that is their power--they are here.  And I am going to quit moping and resume my small acts of providing access to information.  Let's review some of my small successes:

1.  Purchasing a copy of Greg Friedler's Naked New York in 1997 for a large, southern, public university.

2.  Purchasing as many of the books and films by and about African writers and artists as I possibly could, taking every recommendation from a literature scholar from Kenya teaching a world literature class at another smaller but still southern public university.

3.  Fulfilling as many requests from students and faculty at my present job as I possibly can, spending every cent of my collection development money and sniffing around the funds of others not as obsessed with collection development as I am.

4.  My next act:  getting more students into my library to see what we have.  I'm done with fancy tutorials and counting clicks.  I am going to host some open salons and bring out the artists books and build a community of people that want to be inspired by the works they can see right here.

I admit, I'm a tame revolutionary.  Sometimes I'm the spider, sometimes I'm the web.  Sometimes I'm the web spun by the spider that is later grabbed up by a hummingbird to build a nest.  I believe in public service and I believe in hospitable open learning spaces where people are free to choose what they want to read.  I believe in quiet and sustained concentration and taking notes by hand.

But I'm also a facilitator rather than a tear-er-down-er.  I can't handle being in big crowds, and find my mojo in writing letters and attending my local city council meetings instead of hauling myself to a parade or the state house.

I will do what I can.  Because that's better than eating myself up with resentment because I can't do it all or even enough.

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