Executive Director's Desk - September 14, 2017

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Sometimes you Should do Nothing

As executive director for the Michigan Library Association for almost five years I can tell you one thing for sure, this job is never boring. It's like people in Michigan say if you don't like the weather wait five minutes. It's very similar at MLA. New issues crop up daily or sometimes it's the same issue but from a different perspective. For instance, a short time ago we fought and won a hard and expensive battle against assault on the first amendment and the right to educate our patrons. We also successfully fought back an effort to move all millages to November. Now, this fall we're facing both those obstacles again. Sounds like same old same old. But this time we not only have new legislators to educate but we're more knowledgeable about the issue and the purpose behind it. Libraries are rarely the target, but we are often the collateral damage. So same issues but often a whole new way of handling and looking at them.

But not being bored at your job is different than the phenomenon of needing constant distraction from our digital devices. I'm a firm believer in the need for down time to renew and create. However, that can be a difficult challenge when faced with constant email, social media and other distractions demanding our immediate attention.

Next month at MLA 2017 we'll hear Manoush Zomorodi talk about bringing back boredom. Her new book Bored and Brilliant, explores why putting greater emphasis on "doing nothing" is vital in an age of constant notifications and digital distractions. She'll explain "mind wandering"- what our brains do when we're doing nothing at all, and the link between boredom and creativity with insight into how we can rethink our relationship to our devices without completely leaving the digital world.

If you never have any down time, your mind can't spark those unusual and radical ideas. How many times have you come up with the answer while you were in the shower or woke up with a solution to a problem you've been worrying about? It's the same idea. I'll be reading Manoush's book this month and trying to apply her premise during MLA's busiest season.

I hope you'll join me in Lansing on October 18-20. Please join us for the MLA Annual Meeting on Thursday October 19 at 4:45 p.m. at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan. Register Here

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