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A Message from the RML Director, Spring 2012

Kate CarpenterIs it my imagination, or is March actually the busiest month of the year?  What other month offers budget requests, mid-term exams, spring break, theater and ballet subscription renewals, preparation of income taxes, and even “March Madness” in addition to all other routine tasks and strategic priorities that we work at?

It is tempting, with all these to-dos on an ever-growing list, to just go with the flow and take care of tasks as they pass by.  Unfortunately, that approach, while practical, expeditious, and less stressful, also reduces the return on investment of our leadership role, administrative decisions, and work productivity.

Instead of working on the surface level of moment-by-moment news, daily listerv postings, weekly meeting agendas, monthly report-outs, or annual data gathering, we must put our strategic priorities first. Those other duties provide us with useful content, yield foundational decisions, and assure that our units are responsible organizational citizens, all good outcomes to achieve. But they don’t always help us to collaborate, integrate, and innovate, each of which is essential to the future viability of our organizations.

When organizations collaborate, they leverage scarce resources toward a shared goal that no single organization could achieve. Collaborators layer idea on top of idea, reaching a new level of knowledge that would not have been possible without the energy of sharing diverse perspectives and specialized knowledge. Although collaboration is just as susceptible to bureaucratization as solo ventures, it also creates an urgency to focus precious time together to working directly on the goals and objectives of the project to assure that collaborations are productive.

Integrating shared goals and the initiatives that they generate into the strategic priorities of our organizations encourages their sustainability, and ultimately, their productivity. Organizations’ self-direction, often criticized as “silos”, severely limit our effectiveness in today’s networked world, but before instant communication and access to information were possible, self-direction was an adaptive approach to getting things done. Our shared initiatives are now integral, even key, to the ongoing progress of our organizations and our essential contributions as libraries and librarians to the future scenarios that we envision.

The integral role that we will hold in the future of biomedical and health care services, education, and research cannot be achieved without innovation.  Working on collaborations and integrating those initiatives into the strategic direction of our organizations is a kind of practice of innovativeness.  Our tools are powerful and we can use them to achieve our goals, but only if we understand their potential.  Is it too obvious to state that we should reflect, we have to talk, and we must act?

We aren’t too busy to create a collaborative, integrated, and innovative future for our organizations and ourselves.

~Kate Carpenter

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