The Importance of Community

As everyone knows, library land is small. Having a profession where we all know each other or know of each other, can be a plus (but also has its drawbacks). This allows us to form our own smaller networks and build our own community. Being an early career librarian, I have quickly realized that while I have treated librarianship as a profession where one works alone, librarianship is in fact a team sport.

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a conference-like event for my residency program. As most of you are familiar by now, I am part of the Diversity Alliance residency cohort. We have these conferences/gatherings about once a year. This year, we had a dual conference between Virginia Tech and American University.

The program included workshops, guest speakers, presentations and group dinners. Most importantly, all the residents were able to see each other again. While we occasionally see each other at conferences, these diversity alliance gatherings are an opportunity for the residents to catch up. We are able to talk about our jobs, our lives, any updates, and it’s a chance to catch up and learn about the exciting things that the residents are doing at their institutions.

I have been a librarian for only two years, but have realized the importance of having your own cohort. It does not necessarily mean that the people in this cohort are your best friends in the whole wide world. It might be a group of people who are not only your colleagues, but those who are able to be honest and frank with you. This is the group of people that you ask for advice, whether it’s library world or personal life. Above all, they are a support team. They support and mentor you–and you support and mentor them.

I would really encourage other librarians to think about the people they surround themselves with. I was basically put in a cohort as a diversity alliance resident, but after we all met, it just felt natural. We had shared experiences that brought us closer together and built a trust that you just can’t get out of thin air. I was lucky enough to be placed in a cohort, but I have also taken some time to slowly form other cohorts I want to be part of. I try not to force it, so I ask the readers, what is your advice to finding, forming, and nurturing groups like these?

3 thoughts on “The Importance of Community

  1. Hi Quetzalli,

    After 20+ years of experience, I agree with your excellent advice 🙂 I’d add that it’s important to ensure that non-librarians will be incredibly valuable to this cohort. Looking broader at your everyday working community/communities will help you access alternative perspectives to feed into your professional thinking – absolutely critical for understanding & connecting with clients, & to help you pre-empt & respond creatively to the massive changes that are part of the world in which we practice. These non-library colleagues will also become valuable library champions as you & they grow together in your understandings of what librarians & libraries can offer the world. Sandra

  2. hey Sandra,

    I completely agree! I think I am definitely going to put more of an effort into finding these people. Thanks for your reply!

  3. This is excellent, Quetzalli. There’s something really invigorating and affirming about finding your community within the profession, particularly for those of us who are POCs in academic libraries.

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