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An Old-Skool Blog Post

I get up early these days and get stuff done — banking and other elder-care tasks for my mother, leftover work from the previous day, association or service work. A lot of this is writing, but it’s not writing.

I have a half-dozen unfinished blog posts in WordPress, and even more in my mind. I map them out and they are huge topics, so then I don’t write them. But looking back at the early days of this blog — 15 years ago! — I didn’t write long posts. I still wrote long-form for other media, but my blog posts were very much in the moment.

So this is an old-skool post designed to ease me back in the writing habit. I’ll strive for twice a week, which is double the output of the original blogger, Samuel Johnson. I’ll post for 15 minutes and move on to other things.

I am an association nerd, and I spend a lot of time thinking about associations of all kinds, particularly the American Library Association, the American Homebrewers Association, the American Rose Society, the Redwood Empire Rose Society, the local library advisory boards, my church, and our neighborhood association. Serving on the ALA Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness, I’m reminded of a few indelible truths.

One is that during the change management process you need to continuously monitor the temperature of the association you’re trying to change and in the words of one management pundit, keep fiddling with the thermostat. An association didn’t get that big or bureaucratic overnight, and it’s not going to get agile overnight, either.

Another is that the same people show up in each association, and–more interesting to me–stereotypes are not at play in determining who the change agents are. I had a great reminder of that 20 years ago, when I served as the library director for one of those tiny Barbie Dream libraries in upstate New York, and I led the migration from a card catalog to a shared system in a consortium. Too many people assumed that the library staff–like so many employees in these libraries, all female, and nearly all older women married to retired spouses–would be resistant to this change. In fact, they loved this change. They were fully on board with the relearning process and they were delighted and proud that they were now part of a larger system where they could not only request books from 30 other libraries but sometimes even lend books as well from our wee collection. There were changes they and the trustees resisted, and that was a good lesson too, but the truism of older women resisting technology was dashed against the rocks of reality.

My 15 minutes are up. I am going in early today because I need to print things, not because I am an older woman who fears technology but because our home printer isn’t working and I can’t trust that I’ll have seatback room on my flight to Chicago to open my laptop and read the ALA Executive Board manual electronically, let alone annotate it or mark it up. I still remember the time I was on a flight, using my RPOD (Red Pen of Death, a fine-point red-ink Sharpie) to revise an essay, and the passenger next to me turned toward me wide-eyed and whispered, “Are you a TEACHER?” Such is the power of RPOD, an objective correlative that can immediately evoke the fear of correction from decades ago.

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