Can we make any difference?

by Jing Liu ~ August 19th, 2007. Filed under: Libraries in China.

To get back to Mindy’s comment on July 31st, CALA is organizing another event in “Guangdong Dongguan City in December 2007, exchange ideas with Chinese colleagues; introduce the US experience of public library services; and find further cooperation opportunities for CALA. This is a part of CALA 21st Century Librarian Seminar Series.” I am glad that Mindy and other folks are willing to contribute to libraries in China, “no matter how little it seems to be”. Mindy’s words remind me what I learned from CALA colleagues in Kunming.

One of them, Caroline (Han Xiaofang) from Cleveland Public Library, impressed me the most. She has super communication skill that is crucial for a public librarian and made her a great contributor for the event. Through her smooth and well-prepared presentations, the audience made up by over a hundred Chinese librarians shared her proudness. They admire her for working so hard for the first class public library in the world. We teased her that her library should give her an award for promoting the library like that. What she did and we could learn from her as a multicultural librarian includes inviting speakers from China for the library program, setting up a listserv for new Chinese material list and promoting her collection at local universities.

What inspired me more was her thoughtfulness and willing to go one step further in Kunming, after she made the audience interacting and found out their concerns. Xiaofang worked in her hotel room all nights to tailor her next day presentation to better fit the audience. The comments and questions we received on the floor proved that she made them think to the root of public library mission in current China’s context. The young attendees shook our hands at the end one by one and expressed their appreciation. They said that we have made a diffence in the way of thinking about their library work, they wish all the heads and relevent government officials attended the sessions as well.

Caroline made the Kunming event from technology oriented to a different way of thinking on our profession. She has touched many souls including mine. I feel lucky knowing a colleague like her and hope I will work with her again for the future events. Miny, I am sure we can make a difference for we have members like you and Caroline.

1 Response to Can we make any difference?

  1.   Mindy

    Yes, definitely we can make a difference if we strive to work together. And it’s this ‘difference-making’ quality allows us to continue to exist(if not flourish) in the next 10 or 50 years(to answer the question Jing posed in the previous post). I am a firm believer that the profession of librarianship will be in continuous demand no matter how the technology evolves, but with a condition — that is, we must change the way we present ourselves to the public and to the administrators, the ways we help our patrons and many things that attached to our profession in the past and don’t work anymore.

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