Lots of ideas swirling around my head at the moment, so I'd better begin at the beginning.
Tonight, I found a toad in the garage. I grabbed it to take it outside, and on the way to the yard I stumbled across a red-back salamander. My brain supplied the binomial nomenclature, the product of a few too many hours spent drilling Latin into my head for my classes at Franklin Pierce, and I had a brief moment of longing to be back in undergrad.
It's a cliche that the four years of college are "the best years" of life. Ignoring the incredibly depressing idea that the six or seven decades after age 22 can't approach the same heights of "glory," not to mention the fact that many college experiences are filled with stress, depression, insecurity, and confusion.
What really gets to me is the idea that we can never recapture the attitudes and experiences of undergrad. Certainly, my experience was formative--college was the first time I really had a chance to be on my own, with all the decisions about how I wanted my life to look. I was able to try many things, fail at some, succeed at others, and with still others decide halfway through that I didn't like the look of things and change course.
In library school, I was exposed to the maker movement. While I'd come across mentions of it before, only in the last two years have I been surrounded by people with a constant aim to tinker with the world. It's been refreshing, and inspiring, but it was still "school" again. Does the "best years" cliche somehow require an educational environment? Now that I've graduated, is it all downhill from here?
No. Making/hacking/tinkering is all about curiosity, and the same attitude I developed while crawling in the woods looking for salamanders in undergrad will continue to keep me learning, keep me hunting for more. Others might find a path to the same realization from a particularly inspiring professor, a chance DIY project, or the understanding that by simple, direct action the world came be improved in a thousand tiny ways. Wondering what those ways might be can only give fuel to the fire.
Libraries are a natural place to serve that curiosity, to feed the flame until it becomes an inferno. Certainly, the recent surge in library makerspaces shows one side of that train of thought. Libraries in general have a responsibility to provide access to the information a community needs, and the information a community holds, even intangibly. More than that, I believe that librarians have a duty to inspire. Now, it requires a deft touch--"teachable moments" will be detected and ignored--but we can succeed. We must! Librarians are a corps of people dedicated to lifelong learning, and our very presence can assist (if not cause) great things. We tend to hack our communities, connecting the people who need to be connected, and paying attention so as not to miss anything.
In conclusion, I choose to believe my "best years" are still to come--and that there will be lots of them. I'm still curious, and through librarianship I hope to find plenty of others who want to follow their own curiosity. Wanna join me?