(Loved this sign in the NJ State Library, when entering the moveable shelving)
This past Friday, approximately 30 librarians new to the profession or to New Jersey met at the New Jersey State Library for the first session of NJLA's 2008-2009 Emerging Leader's Program. I was fortunate enough to be one of them, and I wanted to record some of the benefits of doing this. I'm really thankful to have the support of the library where I work. Although I work in an academic library and the majority of the participants were coming from public libraries, I found the experience valuable for a number of reasons:
1) The opportunity outside of a home organization to do new things & try new roles. Like it or not, we all get comfortable in our little cocoons and easily become pigeonholed by our daily responsibilities. The Emerging Leaders experience requires librarians to step away from their everyday jobs and think about leadership and the big picture, or at least other libraries besides the one where they work.
2) Networking, networking, networking. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet other librarians in the state. We're all struggling with similar issues, all motivated by similar ideals, and putting us all in a room together invariably results in solutions or at least fresh thinking.
3) Someone pointed out that it's important for every librarian in the state to see the New Jersey State Library. Before Friday, I would not have been able to say what the state library did. I really didn't know a thing about its mission or collection, never mind its location. I mean, there's a research library about 20 minutes down the road from me, and I had no idea I had access to it. I also got to see the famous Norma Blake in person, whom I recognized from being Library Journal's 2008 Librarian of the Year.
So, two thumbs up to everyone involved. Next time I'm looking forward to talking with the people I didn't get the chance to!
(Another great sign in the NJ State Library. Couldn't figure out what it means exactly, though.)