Zebras are unique. I recently learned that a zebra’s stripes are like human fingerprints, no two sets of zebra stripes are the same (apparently it’s the same for a giraffe’s spotted coat). And yet, unless you looked closely, you’d probably say that all zebras in a herd looked the same. Taken away from their herd, a single zebra stands out as being pretty darn unique.
So what has this got to do with libraries?
Well, it’s got me thinking that we are often lumped together into one amorphous term, “libraries” or “librarians”. Similar to a zebra herd, we probably all do look the same to the outsider when herded together. And yet, it is our uniqueness that sets us apart from each other.
We might all have information & content & services, some of which might be the same or similar, however, it is the way in which we function, the customers we serve, our location(s), the services we offer,which are all unique to our specific library. We might have similar #why, #how, #where, #when we collect, and yet it is our actual existence & delivery that is unique, if you will, “zebrine”.
Absolutely, let’s stand together as a herd – share our collective knowledge, celebrate our successes, reflect on our “didn’t-quite-work” events, and tell our stories. We can share best practice, develop collaborative approaches and present a united, cohesive professional voice.
However, let us serve our communities in own our unique ways. Being closely aligned as libraries and librarians is important, but being unique will ensure better connections with our customers. Being zebrine offers us opportunities for meaningful conversations with our customers to develop the means to facilitate learning in our communities (RD Lankes’ mission statement resonates again & again for me).
So put on your zebra stripes & head out into the wild of your community. Share your adventures. Tell your stories. Celebrate your uniqueness.