If you want to give someone insight into the exciting work happening in today’s libraries, give them this issue of our magazine. When LJ revealed the first group of Movers & Shakers back in 2002, we knew we were onto something special. This Class of 2014 brings the total cohort to 650. That number represents a fascinating network of smarts.
As the group has grown and time has passed, we have watched many of its members continue to shake up libraries, whether by expanding on their current work or assuming bigger leadership roles. Each Mover & Shaker has, in her or his own way and unique setting, taken important action, fueling the responsive innovation libraries need to stay ahead of community demands. This is true, too, of this year’s impressive band of 50.
Reading about them together is like taking a whirlwind survey of the expansive potential and impact of library work. The Movers & Shakers come from all types of institutions and reflect the diverse dynamism in the field and the creativity that is in play every day, addressing problems big and small. This class, says project manager and former LJ editor Francine Fialkoff, features many public librarians, including those working with children and teens and two who are in the mix for their work on an incubator project in their free time. It encompasses 12 academic librarians, three from community colleges and a transplant from the world of chemistry. It has five school librarians, among them one who has just crossed over from the public library side and one who recently came from Google. It embraces people working at the state level, in LIS settings, and one who launched a political action committee. They come from across the United States, with a handful of them from other countries.
What I love about the Movers, though, is that while institution type and place matter, borders are less important than how barriers get spanned by collaboration and partnership and the reinvention of service.
“Many [of the Movers] talked about changing the way people think about libraries, no matter what community they served,” Fialkoff says. Other commonalities point to cultural and organizational trends. Savvy use of technology is now pervasive in every role, notes Fialkoff, though it is a bit more explicit for the “tech leaders.”
The cadre as a whole is centered on being responsive to users, Fialkoff adds, but also on figuring out what users want before they even know they want it, prioritizing real needs in the community. They are exploring all the different ways libraries can help improve patrons’ lives. That includes a laser-like focus on raising literacy: be it for the zero to five group via early learning initiatives or tech literacy for the community and for colleagues. “Many are focused on literacy, training,” says Fialkoff. “It’s all about educating and raising awareness.”
The profiles reflect intensity and the joy of achieving meaningful goals. Together they illustrate the interconnectivity of the field, showcasing how this group tackles problems with a collective mission in the background.
It’s true that these profiles are all too brief. They highlight key developments and singular efforts. In so doing they also point to the deeper well of ongoing work being done by these 50 individuals as well as that in motion in libraries in all settings. Together, they make an exciting case for the profession. It can be difficult to show people who are curious about libraries just how varied and interesting this profession can be. So, since I am a bit of a stealth recruiter, every year I put the Movers & Shakers in front of people I hope will become librarians. I pass them the issue or refer them to the web package at www.lj.libraryjournal.com/movers2014. Nowhere else can potential librarians get such insight into the dynamic people who could one day become their colleagues.