Thanks to ALA & NOPL for the fantastic experience I had helping out the Children’s Resource Center (links to flickr mix) branch of the New Orleans Public Library during volunteer days at last week’s conference. We spent Friday moving books, shelves, and painting. Other teams worked throught the weekend to complete the renovations. I went back on Monday to check out the opening – and the fruits of all our hard labor. My lessons: (1) Never assume that you know what other people need. Being there, listening, and then deciding what action to take is what really makes the difference. Knowledge is power. I know it’s cliche and I’ve already said it elsewhere but I can’t stress this enough. (2 – this is a super personal one) Stop being cynical about ALA. Our presence in New Orleans and on these volunteer projects are enough to make me think twice the next time I’m tempted to spout off about this, that, and the other. Critique is good, but so is active participation. (3) When literally hundreds of people get together at one time and in one place and decide to do something, it feels a bit magical. Do this more often.
Many, many thanks to our colleagues in NOPL’s and at ALA for the opportunity to take in all this, and more! And finally, thanks to Leslie Berger for making sure bloggers were encouraged to reflect on all this (at her reception) – and that my treo didn’t get paint on it during our painting project.