Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Last week I was away from Dublin, attending the WebJunction staff retreat and participating in a webcast for InfoPeople in California. One of the things we talked about at the retreat was gaining perspective, understanding where other people are coming from and how they operate based on personality, background, and working styles. (Yes, we were in Myers-Briggs Land.) It was very informative, and I think it gave all of us on the team a deeper understanding of our colleagues.

When I returned to OCLC on Sunday, many trees had been cut down from the front entrance of our building, due to a disease that had infected the honey maples that filled the berms around our parking lot. As I approached the building, I saw things I never had before. Sunlight glinted off the walls differently. I recognized stark angles in the architecture that I'd never seen. There was no shade where there had been just the previous week.

Today, I returned to OCLC from a meeting in downtown Columbus to see that a whole new group of trees had been planted where the old ones had been removed. They were much smaller, of course, and they were still sort of cramped from being transported here from the nursery.

It was a concrete reminder of what we had discussed at the retreat. The old trees were both a comfort and an obstacle. They housed birds and they leaked an awful resin on our cars. They provided shade, but they kept us from seeing the whole of the building before us. We all had our own feelings for good or for ill about the trees. And suddenly, they were gone.

The new trees are small, but we'll all get a chance to watch them mature (if the fates allow). We have no guarantee that they (or we, for that matter) will be here in two, three or ten years. They won't give us shade today, but the birds can come back and start a new life in their branches. It's up to us how we will look at these new trees, to decide what they are and what they will mean to us. It's all in our perspective.

This week, I'll get perspective on two cities that couldn't be more different if they tried. On Thursday, I'm speaking to the North Carolina Public Library Director's Association meeting in Asheville, North Carolina; on Friday, I'm at the Nevada Library Association conference in Las Vegas. That transition should provide me some additional perspective!


K.G. Schneider said...

Good post. In thinkin' about this post, and another post about generational issues... it reminds me that the small trees will one day be big trees that drop resin on cars and block the view.

George said...

Why do I suddenly feel like singing

To every thing
Turn, turn, turn,
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn...