By Carl A. Harvey II
I just ended a few days back home in Indiana attending the Indiana Library Federation. It was a great conference—good sessions, great keynotes, a full exhibit floor, and a well-organized and fun conference. But, I have to tell you my favorite part was networking with my friends. Sure, now that I’m living in Virginia, it is even more special to get together with my Indiana school library friends because it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but it’s more than that. These are the librarians I “grew up” with in the field, and for that I’ll be ever grateful.
Over the last almost 20 years (good grief….where has the time gone?), these are the folks with whom I’ve shared my successes, commiserated when things didn’t work out well, and brainstormed the next great adventures. We’ve done that for each other countless times. They have been (and I’m certain will continue to be) invaluable to me.
School librarians are often the only ones in their building who do what they do. These types of networks and friendships are so important to the success of the school librarian and the library program. You need that support network to build and grow. Nowadays, we can have our PLN online with Twitter, Facebook, etc. These are wonderful ways to connect, but I have to admit my favorite is a table of friends, some good food, and wonderful conversation.
Over these 20 years, some of my library friends have become some of my best friends. We share about our families, our lives, and our hopes and dreams. When it’s been months between our gatherings, it takes but a few minutes for us to pick right up where we left off, and it’s as if no time has passed. I KNOW that even once we’re all old and retired, we’ll still find time to get together and have a few laughs.
So, I hope you’ll all think about taking time to make your own library friends. Whether you strike up a conversation at a conference, or begin an interaction online, you’ll soon find just the right friends for you. For each of us, the type of library friend is probably different, but look for those folks who won’t just agree with you but will help stretch your thinking and your actions. I don’t always agree with my library friends and we can make a ruckus and have some arguments, but in the end we learn and grow from them.
When I think back to where I started and then take a few minutes to reflect upon the journey and where I am now, I know it would NEVER have happened without the support, encouragement, pushing, and learning I got from my library friends. They have made me a better school librarian, a better friend and, in the end, I think a better person.
Carl A. Harvey II, MS, is instructor of school librarianship at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Harvey received his master’s degree from Indiana University and is the author of five books, most recently Leading the Common Core Initiative: A Guide for K-5 School Librarians (with coauthor Linda Mills). He is a past-president of the American Association of School Librarians, and his school has been the recipient of the National School Library Program of the Year.