Knowledge Office

As I approach my birthday in August, I can’t help but think of all the changes and major life events that have happened along the way in the last twelve months:  my ex-husband nearly died of a massive heart attack last October; I left The Unquiet Library and my home in Georgia to take a new job at Cleveland Public Library in January; I survived my first real winter on Lake Erie and first foray into city living as a resident of downtown Cleveland; and I embraced a significant amount of valuable but at times, challenging, cognitive dissonance as I began to learn about the world of public libraries.  At some point, I would like to write more about the value of this cognitive dissonance from these experiences, but I will muse more on that at a later time in which I’ll reflect a little more deeply on the learning experiences of making the strange familiar and the familiar strange.

GO MOM!This summer has continued the trend of unexpected and significant changes:  on a positive note, I will be returning home this weekend to Georgia for good to take a position as a media specialist with the staff of the award winning media center at the innovative and fantastic Norcross High School   in Gwinnett County, a wonderful opportunity that makes my heart happy with excitement.  At the same time, though, my heart is also heavy as my mother has been diagnosed  this month with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer; the diagnosis was completely unexpected, and we’re all just now beginning to move beyond processing the initial shock and adjusting to the new reality of living with a diagnosis of cancer.  I am incredibly close to my mom, who is my best friend—I am thankful that I not only have the chance to continue co-learning with students and teachers in the world of K12 public schools, but I also can be in Georgia to support her and my family as we help mom in her battle against cancer.

My heart also hurts today because it is my last day working at Cleveland Public Library with two of the most phenomenal colleagues I could ever hope to know:  Tim Diamond and Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz of the Knowledge Office.   Our collaboration has been one of the richest learning experiences of my life, and I have no doubt we will continue to think, learn, and grow together even though we may be 700 miles apart.   I cannot find the words to capture the nuances of our professional and collective experiences, but it has been akin to harmonizing with people whose voices who complement yours while creating a larger sound that transcends you as an individual while making your voice even better.  They have become cherished friends who have been my sage guides in a whole new world and have given me new perspectives that have deepened my understanding about our profession.  I am indebted to both of them for their generosity, honesty, wisdom, grace, and support–they are both such ambassadors for this profession, and I am a better person for knowing them.  I would also be remiss if I did not express my respect and admiration of our archivist Anne Marie Wieland who has imbued my life with her rather awesome knowledge and brightened many a dreary winter day with beautiful fresh flowers.  Her research and work on the past work of children’s librarians at CPL has given me inspiration and insight about the work we do as contemporary librarians.

last dance

I am also thankful to each individual in Cleveland Public Library who has in some way made me feel welcome, asked thoughtful questions, and provided encouragement along the way these last seven months.  In addition, I am lucky that there have been additional gracious and gentle souls throughout the city of Cleveland and in northern Ohio who have extended a hospitality that I will not forget.  Of course, family and friends—both near and far—have been an anchor whenever I have felt homesick, struggled with adapting to a different climate, or struggled to be patient as I tried to connect dots and think deeply in my new learning environment.   While it was not always easy, I can honestly say that the time here has been a rich and important period of learning in my life both personally and professionally;  I feel incredibly lucky to have had these opportunities and to have walked this path (even when it required a heavy coat and snow boots!).

I hope the seeds I have planted about participatory learning, inquiry, critical literacy, and strategies for cultivating and supporting communities of learning within CPL and the larger communities throughout Cleveland will spur my colleagues to keep the conversation going.  I believe that a culture of questioning and thoughtful dialogue about ideas are crucial to the future of the library and the city of Cleveland.  I encourage each colleague to ask the questions that are sometimes difficult to contemplate but essential to help us identify our challenges and then innovate with meaningful possibilities and action.  I firmly believe that CPL is brimming with people who have the creativity, capacity, and the will to do this kind of work that is so essential for providing additional and diverse points of participation for the people of Cleveland and to ground our work in the needs of our communities.

I now look homeward to my native Georgia with a heartfelt commitment to supporting my family and to contributing as a co-learner in meaningful ways to my new learning community at Norcross High School.  Like Emily Dickinson, I will continue to strive to dwell in the possibilities and will do so with hope, faith, love, and humility knowing that indeed there is a time and purpose in all things.

21 thoughts on “Turn, Turn, Turn (to Everything There Is a Season)

  1. As always, I have learned, reflected, and benefited, both personally and professionally, from your blog post. I am excited personally that you are rejoining the ranks of school librarians – your thoughtfulness and passion have supported and inspired school librarians across the country. Even more importantly, you will continue to connect us all across the whole field of librarianship. I know that your contributions to Cleveland have made a lasting difference for many; library staff and patrons must be devastated by your leaving. My heart is with you and your family as you support your mother’s path to beat her cancer. Barb Stripling

  2. A time and season for everything indeed. So excited about this next step in your professional journey and everything you have learned and wrestled with over the past eight months. Safe journeys home again!

  3. Buffy,
    My heart aches for you as you witness your mother’s illness. On the other hand, on behalf of the school library world, welcome back! We all appreciate your contributions to the profession and look forward to hearing more from you.

  4. Buffy,
    I am so happy you will be back working with students in a school setting. They and your new colleagues will be the richer for it. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family as you wage this war against the cancer.

  5. You are a true trooper, Buffy, and an inspiration to all of us who are too timed or sanguine to take the kind of leaps you have taken in the past year. Thanks for setting the bar high for all of us to tr to reach.

  6. I am so sorry about your mother’s illness. I am glad that you will be able to be with her in GA again. And selfishly, I am glad that you are back in school librarianship. You have influenced my work in many positive ways. Best wishes to you and your mother.

  7. What a lovely, thoughtful post, Buffy. You continue to inspire us all. My best to you and especially your mother, who has been in my thoughts. My father also suffered from pancreatic cancer. Congratulations to you on this next phase of your ongoing journey – it must be nice to be going home.

  8. Dear Buffy,
    Congratulations on the great new job! I know there are happy reasons to go back to Georgia and that your heart is held there and I also know there are hard times ahead as you stand by your Mom in this terrible illness and treatment. I wish you all the very best in the coming years! Norcross High is so lucky to have you!

  9. Buffy, I wish you all the best with this new chapter in your life. Now that you will be back in GA, I hope to be able to meet you in real life! It is so exciting to see your adventures and accomplishments in the library world. I wish all the best for your mother. I lost my mother-in-law to pancreatic cancer–so know that I am sending good healing vibes, and I am thinking good thoughts for your mother in her battle with this disease.

  10. Buffy, I have taken a similar path. I left school library media for a public library position that I loved , and while there I obtained my MLIS. But somehow the fit just wasn’t right. When I returned to public schools I came back even stronger. I am looking forward to learning from you in the school library media realm once more.

    By the way, I have missed your updates about running in 90% humidity.

  11. Buffy welcome back to the school library world. I am sure you will bring many new insights from the public library world to you new high school. They are so lucky to have you. Hope that by being nearby it will give your mom added comfort as she goes through her treatments. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your family.

  12. Prayers for you and for your mother and for the rest of your family. I’m sorry to hear that you will be leaving Ohio, but I’m glad to have met you. Glad you can be home with your mom and your babies.

  13. This is my first time writing to you. So far, I have really enjoyed your blog. I am a library science student, and I can’t wait to join the library community! I am so sorry to hear about your mother. My mother is also suffering from a severe illness, congestive heart failure. We just learned half her heart is dead and there is no surgery that can correct this. On the upside, congratulations on your new endeavor and being able to move back home! I hope everything works out with your new and awesome job!

  14. Buffy, my thoughts and prayers are with you as you progress through the transitions in your life and your mother’s illness. I am thrilled that you are returning to school librarianship as you have been an inspiration to me in your pursuits of the maker movement. Because of you and Joyce Valenza and all of the fun at the AASL Conference in Minneapolis, I wrote a grant last year to develop a makerspace in my high school library. I didn’t get the grant, but I repurposed some equipment and a former copy machine room to make some lemonade out of lemons.:) It’s not where I want it to be yet, but it’s a start. Thanks for your inspiration – best regards!

  15. Buffy-
    I made a very similar journey with my Mom seven years ago. It was very hard, but some of the memories I have of that time occupy very special places in my mind. I’m glad you will be back in Georgia to support her and the rest of your family. Blessings to you and yours.

  16. Buffy-
    I am sorry to hear about your mom’s battle with cancer. What a relief for her that you will be close by again. As school library support staff, I am thrilled to see you coming back to my world. School libraries face so many challenges these days, the more we can share ideas and support each other, the better we can serve our students. Good luck during your time of transition.

  17. So sorry about your mother. Best wishes in your new position. I am glad you were able to find a position close to her. I am sorry you won’t be at the VAASL conference in Nov but totally understand. Looking forward to your blog posts from your new position!

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