by Eileen Schnur, Librarian at Naval Postgraduate School and SPAWAR Pacific
A first rate line up of engaging speakers brought out applause, laughter, enlightenment and generated plenty of enthusiasm for a full house of eager Military Library Workshop (MLW) attendees in Norfolk in mid December.
There was no doubt that this meticulously planned event went off without a hitch. It looked much like a typical conference to the indiscriminate observer. In short, there were shoulder bags filled with cool vendor swag, light chatter around refreshment areas and tightly scheduled events that allowed for thoughtful question & answer periods after just about every workshop. Very well done.
However, it wasn’t until SLA President, Cindy Romaine, met with our group when I took a second look at the real reason we all took time from work and family to come together in Norfolk. “What is future ready?” She asked. I thought, ‘what are we, as informational professionals, doing to prepare ourselves for the impending joys, struggles and challenges that the information influx will be sure to bring us in the coming years?’ I wondered what great responses to this question where being quietly generated by colleagues around me.
As I looked around at what were now familiar faces seated around the many tables within the banquet room, it dawned on me that there is a deeper purpose to this workshop. I’d compare it to a time-tested recipe. In my (albeit rookie) opinion, I’m convinced the recipe is a dash of professional development, a pinch of service obligation and, well, a pound of… camaraderie.
Truthfully, the greatest take-away from MLW 2011 is buried in the background, that intangible place where the casual observer wouldn’t find it. It’s in the meet and greets, where we find camaraderie. It’s in the lounge, or bar, or awkward standing tabletops where conversations often lead to camaraderie. By listening to both new ideas and old experiences during face to face discussions around round tables, we create that camaraderie. And, quite frankly, camaraderie will make us future ready. Without being too ethereal, I’ll say this: If military library division provides this opportunity year after year, we’ll be armed with the confidence, tools and friendships to implement those pilot projects and wildly innovative ideas. We will be slicing through tough future ready tasks with a butter knife.
Eileen Schnur received her Master of Library Science from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. She currently works in a dual command capacity as a librarian for the Dept of Navy. Eileen splits her hours between the Naval Postgraduate School’s Dudley Knox Library, where she serves as a virtual Reference and Instruction Librarian and SPAWAR San Diego’s Technical Library, where she is the Outreach Librarian.