Am I my brother’s keeper?

Eva —  March 18, 2013 — 1 Comment

The Scene: A meeting of library workers from all over, a mix of institutions and types and job titles.The group was large enough and diverse enough that most of us didn’t know each other.

A few people at my table, all from one particular library, spent their networking time sharing their frustrations about, and disagreements with, their new-ish library director’s initiatives. Their comments were generally directed at each other, but loud enough that everyone at the table could hear them, and they occasionally looked around at us, as if to see if we would join their discussion. Mostly we looked at our phone screens or off into the distance, but I was torn like an old sweater–do I let them vent, or do I insert my library director-self into their venting and try to guide them to some form of minor acceptance/resolution?

These were not my staff; this was not my library they were talking about. Ultimately, it came down to what I would want someone to do if these were my employees, and my hope is that someone would encourage them to talk to me rather than to a table full of strangers (who were surreptitiously staring at their chests, making note of their library). Someone at the table did say this to them, and they seemed to snap out of it and realize that this may not have been the best choice for venting. I was both grateful that someone said something and guilty that my overthinking led me to paralysis.

Now, all this time later, I still wonder if my job as a “library leader” goes beyond leading my own library. Is it forever my responsibility to lead all library workers everywhere, to stamp out negativity and stand up for my library director sisterhood?



Eva Davis is the Director of the Canton Public Library in Canton, Michigan--not Canton, Ohio, or Canton, Massachusetts, or Canton, Mississippi. (It is an easy mistake to make.) Eva honed her supervisory and management skills working in customer service, research, and publishing before heading to graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Information. She became a librarian in 1998. She was an intern and then the teen services librarian at the Plymouth (MI) District Library before moving to the Ann Arbor (MI) District Library, where she was Head of the Youth Department at the Downtown library, Head of Youth Services for the system, Head of Branch Services, and finally Associate Director for Public Services. Eva has held her dream job as the Director of the award-winning Canton Public Library since 2008. She received the Michigan Library Association's Frances H. Pletz Award for Excellence in Teen Services in 2003, and is a graduate of both Leadership Ann Arbor and Leadership Canton, where she learned that she is moderately Affiliative according to MAFF, her color is "Green" on the Four Color Personality Test, and her Myers-Briggs Type is INTJ (although she has worked diligently and consistently on improving her Sensing, so she now leans ISTJ). Follow @CantonLibrary and @EvaDavisCPL on Twitter. (Photo credit: Susan Kennedy)

One response to Am I my brother’s keeper?


    Torn like an old sweater! Love it! But seriously, I think it depends on your energy level. Sometimes I insert myself into a conversation, sometimes I don’t. It’s good you can name that you were overthinking, but perhaps also you were having an introvert moment. What needed to happen, happened. This is a neat blog.

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