Working Knowledge

A Monthly Column about Life on the Job


By Mary Pergander
American Libraries Columnist

Mary Pergander is director of the Deerfield (Ill.) Public Library. Send comments or questions to

Column for January/February 2008

Be It Resolved . . .

Twelve resolutions for the New Year at your library

How will you make a difference this year in your own professional life and those of your library colleagues? Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Can you name three librarian colleagues working in similar roles in nearby libraries? Reach out and connect this year. Start simply with a call and a question, and work up to inviting them to go for coffee.
  2. Is there at least one professional journal you read cover to cover each month? Stretch yourself. Scan another print or online journal related to an aspect of the library profession that differs from your own role. Watch for opportunities to increase your scope of understanding and improve your own results.
  3. Attend a professional conference, if you can. Many now post handouts on the conference website, so if you cannot go in person, go virtually.
  4. Subscribe to at least one RSS feed on a library topic of interest.
  5. Are you a technology superuser? Learn at least one new shortcut or feature of your library’s automation program. Earn a bonus point if you also teach it to someone else.
  6. Share your librarianship ideas more broadly. Start a blog, write an article, create a poster session, or post to a library discussion list#151;whatever appeals to you.
  7. Vote. There will be plenty of opportunities this year, professionally and politically. Paid ALA members as of January 31 are eligible to vote in the Association election (AL, Dec., p. 13). If you are not yet registered to vote in the general election, do so now.
  8. Take a local or web-based continuing education class related to your own information needs. Bolster your computer techniques, learn a new language, or improve your presentation skills. Then, look for new opportunities to use these in your library.
  9. Serve on a committee in your library, school, or professional organization.
  10. Nominate a librarian for an award. There are many ways to recognize excellence in the profession. All it takes is the time to fill out the application. Even if your nominee does not win, he or she will feel honored by your efforts.
  11. Apply for a grant. Do you have an exciting idea but lack the money to carry it through? Develop your concept and find a funding match. There are even some grants for first-timers, so no more excuses!
  12. Take a vacation, and visit a library. We all need time away from work. Why not seek new inspiration by visiting a library in a new city, state, or country. Perhaps you will make a new librarian friend while you are there.

You now have a dozen ideas for the new year. Even two or three, faithfully executed, will give you renewed energy and confidence. Write me about your successes at


Try something new this year. Librarians are pros at accessing the world of ideas, so grab some for yourself! In doing so, you will enhance your own librarianship and perhaps that of your colleagues as well.

    (c) Copyright 2008 American Library Association