Magazine article American Libraries

Willie Winner Works Wonders. (Will's World)

Magazine article American Libraries

Willie Winner Works Wonders. (Will's World)

Article excerpt

Last July I solicited nominations for this year's Willie Award, an honor that I created to recognize the people who, for the most part, go unrecognized in our profession, the people who are not even considered part of our profession. They may not be "professional librarians" in the strict sense of the term, but can you imagine our libraries existing without them? I'm talking about janitors, pages, circulation clerks, secretaries, and paraprofessionals.

They are the ones who do the important jobs of serving the public, yet receive little in the way of publicity or pay. We tend to ignore them and take them for granted.

This year's award honors a "good, humor person." Last summer I sensed a mood of stressful intensity in our libraries. Constant debates about our future in a high-tech world can put a library person on edge. We all like to think that the work we do is meaningful to a democratic society, and will always be valued by our patrons and taxpaying constituents. However, we are on the cusp of a historic revolution in the warehousing and retailing of information. Every thousand years or so, our species develops a better way to package written data. Clay tablets and papyrus scrolls led to vellum manuscripts, which led to printed books, which led to the computer.

Aren't we fortunate to be witnesses to a revolution? There's an irony here. Revolutions may be exciting but they also shake up our sense of stability and security, and that's what leads to stress. We know libraries are changing dramatically from year to year. It would be nice to know where all this change will lead and whether the profession that we have prepared ourselves for will be around when it is time to retire.

In times of stress, the "good humor person" is more valuable than ever. This is the person who reminds us not to take ourselves, or our issues, too seriously; the person who is a constant source of positive, optimistic, and productive energy. The opportunities of the day are much more important to them than the worries of a career. This is a person who cares more about how others are feeling than themselves.

"Good humor people". do not fill the staff lounge with complaints about pay, benefits, and working conditions. …

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