With life, we know change is inevitable and guaranteed. Even in the field of librarianship and education. Especially in the field of education and librarianship. I look back with nostalgia into the way-back machine to what it was like to work as a librarian in my youth, but that doesn't mean I could, should, or would wish upon myself, or anyone for that matter, to be locked into any of my past "the way it was" moments in library land.
Do I honestly want to go back to those days? Transformative moments in the field can bring about invigorating and electrifying feelings that recharge me professionally. Conversely, there are occasions when change is forced upon us, for good or ill, and might even go against our professional instinct or core, institutional knowledge. No matter the frustration change can periodically bring, do I want to relive the past to spend an inordinate amount of time filing card catalog cards, to communicate without the speed digital resources, to be pigeonholed, or to climb back up from the marginalization of the library programming and leadership in my school? Absolutely not. So, when I think I might get a little tired of the next shift in education or libraries, I remind myself to embrace the opportunity to shed my skin, morph a new me, and develop a newly diversified program, while holding true to the consistency and traditions that communities and schools value in libraries and school librarians.
This may sound incongruous, but change is the one, reliable constant I have found through my years working in libraries. It may feel as if once we get comfortable, change happens. Just when we get used to what to expect and feel as if a process has become routine and simplified, it is time to review that program, process, or resource's value for retention, adaptation, or discard.
Alas, change can be difficult, but do not lament and think we are alone. The business world even has a name for it: change management. Universities and colleges like Cornell, and professional development organizations like Dale Carnegie, offer certificates, workshops, courses, and conferences, and there are a plethora of books related to the process of successful implementation and buy-in of organizational change in business.
To successfully navigate the process of change, I like to borrow from our information technology friends. According to Wikipedia, the field of information technology service management describes change management as typically being "composed of the raising and recording of changes, assessing the impact, cost, benefit and risk of proposed changes, developing business justification and obtaining approval, managing and coordinating change implementation, monitoring and reporting on implementation, reviewing and closing change requests." Sound familiar? For librarianship, I amend "closing change requests" to "reevaluate in order to modify changes" for practical sustainability or elimination.
The above definition helps guide my thoughts on library metamorphosis. Those in the library field know change cannot and should not happen just for the sake of change. Any reform must be assessed for value before implementation and if there is no value added, change is not necessary at that moment, although reassessment might be done in the future as value shifts and the right moment might be forthcoming. But, if it is opportune to test a change in programming, process, community services, or resources, once implemented it must continue to be assessed in an ongoing manner to make adjustments for effective implementation, communication, and infrastructure.
Consider this quote attributed to Winston Churchill, "There is nothing wrong in change, if it is in the right direction. To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often" (Schon 1998).
Schon, Karl-Georg. "Wit& Wisdom." Finest Hour 100 (Autumn 1998). https://winstonchurchill.org/publications/finest-hour/finest-hour-100/wit-wisdom-10/.
"Change Management (ITSM)." Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_management_(ITSM). Accessed March 19, 2019.