by David Cappoli, Southern California Chapter, Academic, Business & Finance, Information Technology, Leadership & Management Divisions
Even if I have just awoken from a long sleep; consumed a rich, dark chocolate bar followed by a Mountain Dew; and, had the din of my daughter’s anime videos assaulting my ears, when one of my cats melts on my lap in a curl of fur and legs, I am in a near perfect zone of comfort. Nothing can keep the warmth, soft fur, and purring, from combining to be a harmless but powerful narcotic lulling me into a contented state. At home and professionally, we all have our different comfort zones. And we generally wish to stay right where we are when we are feeling, well, nice and comfortable.
But professionally, while we all have comfort zones in which we prefer to work, we need to take on challenges that push at those boundaries of easy contentment. I am not advocating that we work in environments in which we are ill at ease. I am, though, promoting that we take chances when we might otherwise shy away from them because they represent the untried and unknown. To be ready for the future, we need to drop that wariness and embrace a confidence that makes us willing to investigate options, broaden our skills, and constantly learn new approaches to solving problems. When asked to take on something new, yes, we can fret, but then we need to get beyond any dismay and start moving forward.
As librarians and information professionals, we have a strong service orientation that does not always bleed into a personal assurance when confronted with the untested. The inclination may be to say, “No, I’ve too much to handle at this time.” Or, “That’s not my responsibility.” Whereas, we show our worth by responding, “I don’t know much about that, but let me do some exploring, and I’ll get back to you.” With this answer we’ve stated that we are not well-versed in the topic put to us, but we are more than willing to take up the challenge.
While we can search the literature and browse web sites in search of answers, we have our professional networks that can offer insight as to the best way to advance. And we have SLA’s 23 Things, vast libraries at our disposal, webinars, continuing education opportunities, etc., all of which can make us better.
Moving out of our comfort zones not only enhances our own abilities, but our value as well. And it is the only way to thrive in an ever-changing present and future.
David Cappoli is the digital resources librarian at the UCLA department of Information Studies. He is former president of the SLA Southern California chapter (2008) and was the chapter’s treasurer from 2004 – 2006. David was a member of the 2009 Centennial Commission of SLA, and a member of the 2009 Conference Planning Committee. Prior to coming to UCLA, he was a librarian at the LA Times, and was research database coordinator with Glasgow Polytechnic in Scotland.