Looking where you step

On a January weekend when the day was too unexpectedly beautiful not to get a bit of sand in our shoes, my little family set off to find somewhere we had never been in our quarantine state of New Jersey. The path we took was largely unplanned and our destination unset. After recent days spent watching military planes do whatever necessary loop-de-loops they do on the Flight Aware app, it was fitting that we ended up at Gateway National Recreation Area, where ghosts of our country’s military history abide. If our GPS path was charted, it would not have been a direct or straight course, going from sea level to the highest point on the coast. It was a tonic to explore and consider looking down and watching where one is putting their feet on a new flat path. And the thought led me to consider the corollary necessity of looking up and not looking down on a sharply winding incline path.

Personally and professionally, our lives take unexpected and sometimes rocky courses. We bump along with family, friends, colleagues and others along the way. Consider this, from Kristen Arnett. “Every job in a library depends on someone else’s to function.”

This post is written as a simple thank you to the smart, conscientious and thoughtful staff who work at the library to keep our collection databases up to date and findable, especially for our physical and e-content collections. If these folks aren’t always visible, they are present behind the scenes, responsible for selection, collection development, acquisitions, cataloging and the discovery tools and systems work we do at the library.

Patient with updating tools, learning data standards, and thoughtful about innovation in their field, these people shine at applying the human touch to vendor metadata bits and bytes. They update the details for each title and item in our catalog, so you can, for example, filter for the correct languages in your searches for e-magazines, discover related ideas in a collection neighborhood or search items or books in a series, find critics’ and award selections and choose books by reading levels and audience. Thank you also to the people who do the work to keep the selections on our shelves, and online in our e-content sites and apps, catalog and databases up to date and appealing.

“Libraries are buzzing hives filled with extremely busy, frazzled, overworked people.” This corollary observation from Arnett, who has some library tales which ring true, is verifiable in more normal times when we are able to gather. Who isn’t feeling alternately overworked, underworked, stressed and sleepless in these pandemic times? So perhaps Arnett has a partial truth even after 2020.

As we continue in 2021, it will surely seem that paths can be both challenging and forward-leading. Here’s to looking up as well as looking down.

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