On the weekend I was honoured to receive the John P. McGovern Lectureship award at the Medical Library Association (MLA) conference. It was also a real privilege to speak to the nearly 1,000 librarians attending the conference. This is the second talk I’ve given at a librarian conference and once again I was struck by how much the theme of adventure and exploration resonates with librarians.
It seems to me that one of the key traits that drives people to become librarians is a life-long desire to learn, uncover information and share that with others, which is also a common characteristic of adventurers. Furthermore, this field is undergoing rapid change as advances in information technology shrink physical book collections and replace them with digital information.
I’ve discovered that the ability to deal with change is one of the most important skills one can have on an expedition. Generally, the only certainty we have, is that things will not go as expected and that to succeed we’ll need to be able to adapt, improvise and persevere. I’ve learned over time that there are things you can do to prepare to deal with unexpected challenges, and then strategies to implement when you’re in the midst of it. These strategies apply whether you’re an adventurer or a librarian.
I was touched to see how strongly these points resonated with this group and by their standing ovation. Plus, it’s always nice when someone says, “Now that I’m in my sixties, I’ve noticed I’m less adventurous, but you’ve made me decide to change that.”