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Letting Go of the Culture of Perfect

Mistakes

I'm home from ALA and trying to decompress. One thread of conversation at this conference was the notion that letting go of the "everything must be perfect" mindset might lead to more innovation and improvement in libraries. I think all the sessions I attended or presented included a mention of play and experience. Karen Coombs at our RUSA preconference said: "Question everything! And don't worry about making mistakes.." in relation to planning, creating and implementing technology in libraries -- and finding the time to do those things. Are we so caught up -- like that unnamed librarian someone told me about who has to check the outsourced cataloging of materials before they can go to the shelf -- that we miss chances to play, experiment and think differently?

Last week, I posted a Flickr picture from iblee: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iblee/589862690/

There was an errant apostrophe in the poster, which was noted here as a comment on TTW: "This is wonderful, but, as a colleague pointed out, there is a completely unnecessary apostrophe in "It's (sic) deadline can't be stopped." We're astounded that such an error was made on a poster by a University library."

Since then, Lee has done some thinking and posting about making mistakes:

http://bibliodox.blogspot.com/2007/06/so-i-made-mistake-on-poster-for-my.html

http://bibliodox.blogspot.com/2007/06/part-2-so-i-made-mistake-on-poster-for.html

http://bibliodox.blogspot.com/2007/06/when-someone-makes-great-comment-on.html

I appreciate his thinking and the candor of his thought process. Follow the links in his posts. Ponder the "Culture of Perfect." And, for sure, add Lee's blog to your aggregator.

Comments

Just this morning I was thinking am I being too personal, too unprofessional online, too unpolished, too "young," too unlibrarian-like, too loose with my words. Then jennimi.com responded to one of my posts about the issues we face. That was quite timely and fitting. Then I find out other people are thinking about perfection, risk-taking, innovation, failure/success/failure -really what's the difference? Can't every success be improved upon?

Being a young professional who wants to contribute something to the field & help make it grow and change and move in new directions you can often have doubts about whether or not you are indeed contributing anything of value. Time can often be the only measure. That is, until the social web reaches out pulls you in.

I'm an idea person who organizes my thoughts around seeing results. When you can connect with other people who want results too, who embrace bold ideas, this creates even more energy for change.

Quite refreshing. Thanks again Michael.

I think part of the letting-go is to offer feedback in ways that do not suggest the world is coming to an end. As a member of the Apostrophe Police, I too cringe when errors are made. But rather than invoking university libraries (excuse me, I don't like this kind of error in public libraries), the comment could have been, "Great poster! Fix that typo and it will be even better."

I'm the one who commented here in "Tame the Web" about the errant apostrophe. The comment began with "This is wonderful, but..." and of course readers forgot the initial praise phrase. I wasn't and don't strive for perfection in blog posts. Rather, I showed the poster to a colleague who noticed the grammar error, which I then pointed out in "Tame the Web." We had erroneously assumed that the poster had been printed and displayed in a university library (not that type of library would matter). I apologize if the comment was misguided, misdirected, or misinterpreted. I love the poster and think it should be printed and displayed (minus the wayward apostrophe).

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