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With a Republican debate happening yet again and "Super Tuesday" coming up, there are political things to ponder in Library Land. Ohio is a state that takes part in Super Tuesday voting and a variety of property tax levies can appear on the ballot. At Erie Looking Productions, The Air Staff gets to pass upon a renewal request by the Ashtabula County Children Services Board to preserve funding. The issue runs for five years if approved.
Library funding issues have popped up from time to time. On the last two issues that have come up locally, I have voted against them. As I look ahead to voting on Super Tuesday, I can explain why.
When it comes to backing candidates or issues, I do not look for those engaging in "managed decline". In that instance, you're not winning. You're just stretching a miserable failure out for an unconscionable period. I do try to avoid those who plan to be steady hands on the tiller who do not want to make waves. Life is dynamic and is not something static that merely requires care and attention of the best technocrat available.
As cultural institutions, libraries need visions. Libraries need dreams. Without visions or dreams, especially ones that can be articulated clearly, libraries are not living cultural institutions but instead mausoleums. Mausoleums can easily be forgotten and left to decay. Institutions with life in them do not go down that path.
What frontier do you want to conquer at your library? Where do you want the cultural institution you operate to be in one year? What about in four years?
Grand strategic visions are not what is needed right now. Discrete milestones over a short enough period help stakeholders grasp what your dreams and vision entail. It is far harder to sell a vague intangible like "change" compared to something concrete like "creating a new science fiction collection of five hundred to one thousand items prior to broadening the romance collection to include more durable copies of works by Christine Feehan".
Out of the Republican field of potential nominees, Newt Gingrich perhaps offers one of the broadest visions and comprehensive dreams. He speaks of conquering space and shifting away from the current effective outsourcing to the Russian Federation of getting Americans to space. There's plenty to not like about his policy ideas. Unlike contenders on either side of the political divide, he does express a concrete vision of a dreamed about future. Whether or not you agree with him, dreaming of a Moon Base is more concrete than the vague intangibles offered by the rest of the pack.
I have no clue how I will vote on Super Tuesday. Plenty can change between now and then. A big concern is to find candidates with dreams of tomorrow that they can articulate and that have tangible end points.
Do you have such a dream at your library? Even more importantly, have you told anybody what it is?
Envisioning Dreams by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.