Executive Director's Desk - November 10, 2016


According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” This topic came up in a recent discussion I had with MLA President Kathleen Zaenger who recommended reading Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth, a renowned researcher and child psychologist, lists grit as the secret to success.

Through her research she discovered that without passion and perseverance, intellect alone will not foster success. In fact, many highly gifted and intelligent adults stagnate or even fail in their chosen field because they do not have the ability to endure the trials and persist through the sometimes debilitating failures that come with achieving success or fulfillment.

She also highlighted the importance of finding joy and purpose in what we do if we are to be truly successful at it. This book struck such a chord with me because while many people may not think of librarian as an especially “gritty” profession, I recognized librarians on nearly every page in the book. Duckworth says grit is not necessarily related to talent. That doesn’t mean librarians are not talented, quite the contrary. Librarians are hugely talented and well educated. What it meant to me is that librarians have the perseverance to stick with their chosen future day in and day out. Librarians find success because they stick with what gives them joy and purpose. This sense of purpose was demonstrated at MLA2016 as library professionals took the time to enrich their professional development and learn from and network with their peers.

Duckworth talks about growth mindset which is a belief that the ability to learn is not fixed. It can change with effort. Librarians teach this to patrons every day; helping students succeed with schoolwork or research, offering assistance for a hobby or vocation, providing study aids and resources for career challenges or classes to help communities’ residents live happy more fulfilled lives. Librarians understand the importance of motivation and how to help someone find what motivates them.

One of the most important take-aways from this book is the recognition that failure is not a permanent condition. To enjoy success, you must be strong and willing to start over with lessons learned. This is something we can all apply to our lives every day and especially today.

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.”

You can listen to Duckworth’s Ted Talk https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance

But I highly recommend that you read the book. 158.1 Duckworth. My copy will be back in circulation shortly.

Thank you for Joining us at MLA2016

Thank you to everyone who attended, presented and volunteered at MLA’s annual conference and 125th anniversary celebration. The education and networking opportunities were well attended and well thought out. Congratulations go the MLA Annual Conference workgroup and workgroup chair Vanessa Verdon Morris for putting together a creative and engaging conference. Kudos to MLA staffer Kristy Doak for her hard work and expertise as well.

If you missed some of the sessions, many handouts are available on the MLA Website. www.milibraries.org.

Lansing Center is a large and spacious venue. It gives us plenty of room to spread out. So, we’ll see you there again next year October 18-20, 2017.

Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME) Conference

The school librarian’s conference MAME 43 in Grand Rapids followed the week after MLA2016. I had the pleasure of attending, exhibiting and presenting two sessions, one on advocacy and a second on leadership. It was a great opportunity to learn about school libraries and their challenges and meet some very dedicated and talented professionals.


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