MLA's educational opportunities help each of us to continuously grow. Growth and creativity go hand in hand with discomfort. "The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears." - Dan Stevens. As we grow and nurture creativity working through our discomfort, we help our libraries become more relevant and valuable in our communities. The staff at my library regularly participates in professional development to ensure we stay in touch with the ever evolving library environment and to better connect with many segments of our community and culture.
Issues such as social justice, the topic of this year's MLA Academic Libraries program on March 9, is a perfect example. By helping libraries to encourage civility and make the library a welcoming place, we can assist people as they engage with each other in a learning environment. When we learn and teach others how to have civil discussions without major disagreements and how to respect our differences in a civil and compassionate way, then we will build stronger communities. This includes learning to identify and interrupt bias when it occurs.
Understanding these issues is essential if we are to adequately serve everyone. This lively Academic Libraries presentation hits on those subjects making it relevant to all libraries; academic, public and school. It provides an opportunity to discuss different methods of outreach to make patrons feel welcome and included in the library. I highly encourage librarians from all library types to attend this MLA event.
MLA Spring Institute is bringing in journalist and author Cory Doctorow who says "Librarians know the truth: information is power. Unless we seize the means of information, it will be used to control us." His science fiction and young adult novels have broad appeal and Cory can inspire us to step up and make libraries and librarians a voice for change.
Often, I take away the best inspiration from a speaker who challenges my thinking and makes me want to step up and be a better advocate for my library and my patrons. The MLA keynote speakers at our upcoming events can help us learn to confront bias in a positive and proactive way. Libraries have so much interconnectedness in our communities. Think about how these professional development opportunities can help you and other library staff strengthen those community connections.