I decided pretty early on in graduate school that I wanted to be a library director someday. I could picture myself in that role and I wanted it. That’s how I knew librarianship was the right career for me: it’s literally the only thing I’ve ever done in my life where I want to take on that level of responsibility.
I’ve been questioning this goal over the past few years, though. I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I don’t want to be a director anymore. This sounds like a major shift in my goals but it doesn’t actually feel like it. I don’t feel like my goals have changed. This career still feels right for me.
I’ve realized that library director wasn’t my goal: it was an assumption I had made about my goal. My goal, put simply, is this:
To do the most good I can for my community and my chosen profession.
I assumed library director would be the role where I could do the most good. I now believe this assumption was incorrect.
It’s my personal conviction that libraries need to diversify our leadership at all levels, from national to local. I believe my community will be better served moving into the future with more diverse leadership in government, in our social and cultural institutions, and in business.
I’m not the diversity we need. I’m not who we need as a library director right now.
I believe I’d be a very good director and I know I’d find the work rewarding. But at this moment in history, I don’t believe it’s a role I should take on. I’m pretty much the status quo and the status quo needs to change. I don’t think it would be useful for society for me to have me as a library director.
Which means it’s not the role where I can do the most good.
One of the best ways I can help is to use some of the privilege I’m accorded by default as a white, middle class, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled man in the U.S., to make space for others who are not accorded similar privilege. To use what leverage I can bring to bear to create pathways to opportunities others aren’t afforded the same way I am, to boost others into spaces of formal leadership. And I can work to protect that space.
I can do more good for my community and my profession by taking on a supporting role than I can by taking the lead.
I believe my skills and talents are best suited to administration. I believe an admin role is where I can make my best contribution to this work and to my community. But I don’t want to be a director if that’s not where I can do the most good.
I believe I can do more good if I work to support more diverse leaders.