Where am I making a difference and if I’m not, why am I doing it?

Today I was reading my friend’s blog on her Emerging Leaders experience (my blog on the experience is here), and I saw this quote:

“Where am I making a difference and if I’m not, why am I doing it?”

and thus, the theme of today’s blog was born.

So, where am I making a difference?  That’s a damn good question.  I think that I make a difference in my work with APALA.  As the only Native Hawaiian (at least that I’m aware of) in an active role in APALA, I feel like I’m widening our audience and, like I said was my mission when I started grad school, I’m making more people aware of PIs and Native Hawaiians.  The topic comes up more often than I’d like still, but, I am frequently asked “What do you mean by Native Hawaiian? Someone who was born in Hawai’i?”  And then I get to go into my long speech.

What I like to do is incorporate the topic into conversation with people who may not be aware of Native Hawaiians or the difference between people born in Hawai’i and Kanakas.  And this is pretty easily done when I talk about my professional life, my blog, or, even most of my personal life.

So there’s that.

Next?

Work.  I sit on the reference desk for approximately 22.5 hours a week.  Does that make a difference?  Some days, when everyone wants only a biography and they don’t want my suggestions on who, or everyone only needs to know where the bathroom is, it doesn’t feel like I’m making a difference – at least in the broader sense.  I know I’m making a difference for facilities to not have to clean up pee and for that individual to not have to change their pants.  But making someone’s day better?  When I do it with a smile and a caring slant in my voice, even the most monotonous requests I can feel like I’m making a difference of some kind.  Maybe that individual is having a horrible day and no one has been nice to them.  Or maybe they’ve only met bitchy librarians who shush them.  OR maybe that person is looking for a friend – which is how I have my Puppy Place friend who comes once a week to let me tease her about liking Hannah Montana and High School Musical but only because she knows that in the end I’ll give them to her even though her mom makes her put them back.

I know that once I become a full-fledged librarian and I’m doing school visits, collection development, and regular storytimes, I’ll be making a difference that way.  Any interaction you have with the public, I think makes a difference, at least on an individual level if not a larger level.  But, I like to take baby steps, and making a difference in individual’s feelings, view points, and knowledge is good enough for me.

So, that’s why I do it.  Who’s the one defining “making a difference” anyways?

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