Stepping Up | Editorial

Watching libraryland organizations in action over my eight years at LJ, I’ve been struck by the wisdom in structures that ensure the president-elect and immediate past president have roles in governance as well as the current leader. Getting insight into the decision process before you take over imparts invaluable training. Staying involved in a new capacity after your term is up creates continuity—and institutional memory can help prevent beginners’ mistakes.

Taking charge means walking in big footsteps

Meredith Schwartz head shotWatching libraryland organizations in action over my eight years at LJ, I’ve been struck by the wisdom in structures that ensure the president-elect and immediate past president have roles in governance as well as the current leader. Getting insight into the decision process before you take over imparts invaluable training. Staying involved in a new capacity after your term is up creates continuity—and institutional memory can help prevent beginners’ mistakes.

That kind of transition isn’t always possible in publishing, so I’m especially lucky that many of my predecessors are still working with LJ: John Berry III, editor at large, is always ready to draw instructive parallels between today’s hot-button issues and those from his 50+ years in the field. Francine Fialkoff remains the powerhouse behind LJ’s Design Institutes and the backbone of Movers & Shakers. And Rebecca T. Miller, my mentor, is just down the hall, bringing her experience of 22 years as an editor at LJ and SLJ to bear in her new position as group publisher.

My time at LJ wearing a variety of hats, most recently as executive editor, has built strong working relationships with my colleagues, and has given me many chances to connect to and learn from leaders in the field. Nonetheless, taking the helm presents an opportunity—even an obligation—to take a step back and reexamine what we do, how, and why.

In that respect, I’m a little like an assistant director who’s been promoted to head a historic library. Despite the fact that they know the rhythms of the system, such directors often begin their tenure with a listening tour—visiting branches to observe first-hand from their new perspective; asking about the staff’s triumphs, inspirations, and concerns; convening forums to gather input from power patrons and occasional visitors alike; and going out into the community to see what matters to everyone, whether they are library users yet or not.

Like that new director, I am already a passionate believer in LJ’s essential mission—to help you “library” better, so you can help your communities achieve what they care about most.

Like that new director, I’m proud of and dedicated to our core services: LJ’s flagship print publication, our recently redesigned online presence, and our roster of targeted professional development events and convenings on evergreen and timely topics alike.

And like that new director, I’m keen to hear from our users—you—about what you love and want more of from us, what we could do even better, and what needs you have that we aren’t yet meeting, but maybe could in the future.

Often the most innovative and compelling new services are co-created between knowledgeable, passionate library staff and community members sharing their lived experiences and goals, through deep reciprocal engagement. That is what I hope LJ can continue to do, and enhance, on my watch, together with the community we serve.

We take a broad view of that community as encompassing the whole public, school, academic, and special library ecosystem in the United States and Canada—and sometimes beyond, as library issues and the concerns of our patrons increasingly reach across borders. Libraryland is sprawling, and as we continue to innovate to meet new needs, and old needs in new ways, it will only get bigger. That’s good news, but it also means we want your help to make sure we’re hearing and understanding what’s going on in every corner of it.

That’s why, as the first step in those big footsteps, I am in listening mode—at the Public Library Association Conference, American Library Association annual conference, our own events, @LibraryJournal on Twitter or @libraryjournalmagazine on Facebook, and one-on-one at mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com. Please reach out to me to share your views on what the field needs and where it’s going. I look forward to building something new with you in the years ahead.Meredith Schwartz signature

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Meredith Schwartz

mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal.

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