Tuesday, June 14, 2005

No need for martyrdom

If you live in North America, chances are that it was unseasonably HOT and HUMID last week. And I had my 3rd mother (some people would call her my mother-in-law) visiting, in from New Orleans. Boy, was she in for a treat.

She thought she was escaping the hot, humid, Cresent City. But no, she came right to the Ohio sauna. And immediately upon arriving, she says to me,

Mom: "Alice, WHY do you not have Air Conditioning yet?"
Alice: "Because we are waiting for the furnace to wear out, so we can replace it and add a super-efficient HVAC and central A/C at the same time."

Smart thinking, right? I'm a big fan of Richard Tretheway. Long-term vision--being willing to do the right thing, even though it's harder. It will be worth it in the end, right?

Wrong.
The rest of the conversation:

Mom: "Okay. But it's hot NOW. Let's get an estimate and see if there is something we can install that is not too terribly expensive. You (and I) will be a whole lot more comfortable as we wait to fulfill your long-term strategy."

And as I sit here in the glorious, newly air-conditioned, comfortable, bug-free 1929 beauty of a house, I now totally appreciate the joy of a short-term fix. And realize that it, too, can be just as smart a decision to make--without the need for extreme martyrdom.

How does this relate to libraries? Well,
*How many libraries are waiting to do the cataloging on a special collection--because they didn't have an expert in *that* realia type?
*How many librarians are reluctant to try a new technology--RSS, eAudiobooks, wikis, etc--because s/he hadn't read the entire book on the subject yet? (But it's on the list...)
*How many libraries put off doing remote patron authentication, because they're not supported to do secure-referring URL, and it's the *best* RPA system?

In all of these cases, a short-term fix would give a lot of joy to end-users--and it buys you time until the time is right for your long-term strategy to kick in.

Let me check the thermostat: ah, 74 degrees farenheit. Joie de vivre.

2 comments:

Roy Tennant said...

Hear! Hear! I spend a lot of time telling librarians that "good enough is just that". Sometimes I think we get bogged down in the 100% solution when the 80% will do just nicely, thank you very much. Or even the 20%. Something is usally better than nothing at all, even if it isn't perfect, which can never really be attained anyway.

Alice said...

Yep. I am the worst case of "let's do what's Right with a capital R." And a lot of the time, what's quick and easy can also be right.