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A Somewhat Risky Business

Working in a public library means I am surrounded all day by books (duh).  Books are such pretty things - there is a reason why publishers spend big bucks on cover design, and that's because we pretty much ignore the old "don't judge a book by its cover" and happily judegy-judge away.  We can't help it, bright and shiny things attract us!

So as I was standing at the circ desk the other day having a bit of a rest between patrons, I found my eyes drawn yet again to a book that was on display.  I had been gazing at it on and off all day, and I couldn't really make out the title but it was the dress that caught me, and the shiny peach converse trainers, and the pose, and the luxurious hair.  I decided that the universe was telling me I had to borrow it, even if I had absolutely no idea what it was about.  I took it home without even reading the blurb.

The book was titled "This is just my face; try not to stare" by Gabourey Sidibe, the actress who starred in the film "Precious".  I saw Precious years ago and I remember it being a very moving, but I didn't really remember the actress who played Precious at all. I certainly know all about her now!

Some people just have a way with narrative that makes you feel like you're sitting next to them on the couch, having a glass of wine while they tell their story.  This whole book felt like that.  And it was so ENTERTAINING, like laugh out loud stuff that conjures up some quite vivid, almost unbelievable imagery.  Gabourey Sidibe has had an undeniably remarkable life, but it's wasn't really the vignettes of her life that got me it was her outrageously fabulous confidence; it was her admission to crippling, annoying reliance on others for validation and approval; it was her pride and vulnerability.  Kind of a weird paradox, but I guess a lot of us are random assortments of characteristics all bundled together in unique packages.

Most of us are cautious and realistic about life, we are taught not to dream too large, or maybe we are encouraged to pursue a dream but it is our own fear of failure or disappointment that causes us to close that particular door.  And I recognise that I am the same.  Apart from a career left-turn into Librarianship I have never done anything particularly risky or extraordinary (apart from pick up random books from the Library without even reading the blurb!).  In some ways reading this book made me realise that that caution is my choice alone.  I could absolutely take a few more risks, try a few different things.  I'm not talking skydiving here (or maybe I should?) but life doesn't need to be so risk-averse all the time.  This philosophy, I think, should also extend to the modern library service and its staff.  As a newbie, I feel there is something a little bit cautious about the whole industry, like we are still coming to terms with the morphing of the old into the new; the changing of the guard.  I also sometimes get the vibe that we are great copiers, but not so good at innovating.  Or maybe we are good at it but we talk ourselves out of our ideas before we even get started (or management do the talking for us!).  This is not the best mindset to have in an industry that by its very nature really NEEDS to have a bit of confidence in experimentation.  How are we ever to discover where we can take the industry if all we ever do is copy each other, play it safe?

Innovation is a bit of a cringe-worthy buzzword these days, but the concept truly does have merit.  Innovation needs to be encouraged across all levels and roles with the information sector, especially in younger, less experienced staff who may see things with fresh eyes, or bring a new perspective or insight into a particular cultural need.  It's the thought leaders, and those that have confidence and vision to take their thoughts beyond just the idea stage that are really going to help our industry keep pace into the future.

Would love to hear anyone's thoughts or comments about ideas you had that were either embraced and given a chance, or were thoroughly shot down!

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