President's Update - September 8, 2016

MLA President Kathleen Zaenger

Fall is here. School is back in session. The Michigan Library Association conference is coming up soon. So much is happening that we can become overwhelmed or be energized – depending on how we view things.

My topic for this column is “MLA Volunteers”. Why volunteer when there are so many other things that need our attention just to sustain our daily lives? One reason may be that sustaining our lives in the same manner day after day becomes boring. Humans naturally seek variety in order to continuously grow, e.g. to learn to do something new or to do something in a new way that takes us into uncertainty which can be both scary and joyful. This is the path to feel dopamine, serotonin and possibly oxytocin surging through our systems. These happy chemicals can boost our physical and mental energy. What better way to get this feeling than to volunteer for something that will help us grow and may also reap benefits for those around us.

For reasons not thoroughly understood, we experience more joy when we help others and contribute to a better world.  Volunteering is not about money. In fact, money can spoil the effect. Volunteering is about giving, contributing, and helping other individuals and the community at large. It is working with others to make a meaningful contribution to a better community.

People volunteer for an endless variety of reasons. Many people want to gain experience, acquire new skills, meet new people, or expand their network of contacts as a way to get a new job or start a career or a way to seek out serendipity. Others just want to give back to their community, to help a friend or promote a worthwhile activity. They do it because it makes them feel good – those happy chemicals again.

The MLA annual conference is a golden opportunity to volunteer. There will be a need for bodies on the ground to help collect tickets, help with program room details, MLAgents to do social media, etc. Consider saying yes when the call goes out soon.  Celebrate the 125th anniversary of MLA in a meaningful way.  

Over 100 members volunteer in a variety of ways for MLA

I want to personally thank all of you who have taken the time and energy to help make our library community more vibrant by volunteering in some capacity. If you haven’t volunteered for MLA yet or if it has been a long time since you have done so, think about it as a way to add some variety and possibly some more joy to your life. 



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