FROM THE TRANSPORTATION DIVISION CHAIR
In Toronto, at our annual business meeting, I told a story about
past-chair Betty Lou Hicks. Of course, it’s a much better
story when she tells it herself. But I asked her if it would
be OK to tell, because it exemplifies my theme for the year.
She said yes.
You see, Betty Lou has always been a problem solver for her
employer, Hanson Professional Services of Springfield, Illinois.
She has, from the beginning, solved problems for them that
they didn’t even know they had.
When Hanson needed to close one of their offices in Virginia,
Betty Lou volunteered, because that’s what she does.
She sees what needs to be done, and she just does it. The person
who sent Betty Lou had no idea that closing the office meant
finalizing agreements on leased equipment, nor did he know
that the furniture, which he said to just put in storage, was
too valuable to just put away somewhere. Betty Lou had a better
idea. She rented a truck, had the furniture loaded up, and
she drove the truck back to Springfield—just in time
for Christmas Eve.
“Make Yourself Necessary” is my theme for the
year, inspired by a Ralph Waldo Emerson essay entitled “Considerations
by the Way” from Conduct of Life. Betty Lou has made
herself necessary to her organization, and this is something
we all can do—indeed, it is something we all must do.
This is an age—some would say that we have already left
the information age—when those who will thrive are those
with the vision to see where value is lacking and who will
take the initiative to fill that value gap, whether it is a
part of their job descriptions or not. In fact, sticking only
to the tasks and functions in your job description is a sure
way to create your own obsolescence, because the nature of
change today ensures that your job description is obsolete
as soon as it is written.
What is the benefit to those who make themselves necessary?
And, of course, this is an evaluation that must be made by
those to whom you have made yourself necessary; it doesn’t
count if you’re necessary only in your own mind. It means
that you’ll be the last one to go if downsizing should
ever infect your organization. It means that you never have
to prove your value or justify what you do. In Betty Lou’s
case, it means being afforded resources that would make most
librarians drool. She’s made herself necessary, and she’s
very well rewarded for it.
The theme for the 2006 annual conference in Baltimore is “Where
Tradition and Transformation Converge.” The tradition
part we have down pat. We know what we have to do to be skilled
library professionals, and, as a profession we have done it.
Now we must transform. This requires leadership. I know that
a lot of people are turned off when they hear about leadership.
Their ambitions don’t direct them to want to be in charge.
But we now understand leadership to be not about the position
that you hold, but, rather, it is about the person you have
become. And, as Dr. Covey says, it’s about finding your
voice and inspiring others to find theirs. It’s all part
of making yourself necessary.
Other items from the annual business meeting included welcoming
the new division executive board: Betty Lou Hicks, past chair,
Matthew Barrett, chair-elect, Lisa Pogue, treasurer, and Rita
Evans, filling in for Jane Watson as secretary while Jane recovers
from some health setbacks.
Another high point of the business meeting in Toronto was
being able to present the Transportation Division’s Professional
Achievement Award to Jerry Baldwin of the Minnesota Department
of Transportation. See Jerry’s note in this issue.
We’re gathering steam in the Transportation Division.
Want to know how you can help us build strength? Send me an
email message or give me a call. I’d love to hear from
you. Oh, by the way, be sure to have more fun and laugh more
while you’re making yourself necessary.
734 936 1073