My chiropractor is proud of his kids. Today there was one of his son’s oil paintings propped on the check-in table. A few weeks ago he showed me the (gorgeous!) shawl another son knit from yarn that Doc had spun. There was an entire half hour’s conversation in the waiting room about his eldest’s wedding, and the tux said eldest found on the cheap and had tailored for the event. There’s always a family portrait somewhere in the office, and if you’re lucky there are baked goods next to the pen jar.
Well, that’s lovely, right? Small town medical care, big families, pride and joy? But what’s it got to do with libraries?
What doesn’t it have to do with libraries? At MPOW, we’re totally up to par on the baked goods — we have a filing cabinet in the mail room that’s a sweet-tooth’s dream and a dieter’s nightmare. But what we’re not up to par on, if you use Doc’s office as a standard, is celebrating our accomplishments internally. Aside from the colleagues who read my reappointment portfolio every two years, does anyone (other than my boss, who I keep updated on my activiteis) know what I’ve written, published, or presented? When I (presumably) am granted continuing appointment next summer, will I ever again report to those colleagues about my activities in a meaningful way? I’m not asking the questions of myself because I want everyone to know about me me me me, but because I think we’re missing an opportunity to celebrate ourselves. The question that comes next is “Do I know what anyone else is doing or has done?”
The answer is, of course, “sort of”. We all talk to each other, casually, formally, off-the-cuff, and in groups. I am aware of some of the things that my coworkers are up to in their less-structured time. I know about committees and working groups and who they’re partnering with on certain things, but what I don’t know is how that fits into their professional lives. How it fits into our work lives as a group. What we should be congratulating each other on having accomplished.
I don’t know what the right way is to keep us all aware of the work we each do, and I don’t know that I think anything formal is the right thing — I don’t want to feel like my endeavors are just fodder for a bad Employee Of The Month photo montage. But I wish that we had a way to feel proud of each other, to put the family portrait out on the counter next to the oil painting and say “Hey, look what we did!”