Passion and creativity in librarianship and beyond

It’s been a busy couple of weeks full of passion and creativity, and I’ve been starting to feel more optimistic about librarianship and life, so I thought I’d quickly sneak in another GLAM blog club given the topic this month is passion.

I can’t write about passion and creativity without mentioning my immediate family. My dad is a visual artist and retired social worker and my mum is a very recently retired teacher. They were both extremely passionate about and dedicated to their careers and communities and quite well known for being creative at work and beyond work. I think they have both struggled quite a bit within bureaucracies/systems throughout their careers. They may have retired from their day jobs, but I don’t think they will ever stop helping people and teaching… and in fact, I think they’re starting to find a renewed passion for this outside of the system. I’ve loved seeing the new lease on life my mum has found this year after a combination of selling the family home to move into a smaller apartment and retiring from her job. Her creative pursuits tend to involve food and/or music.

My older brother is a musician and super intelligence, but was extremely disengaged in the formal education system and has struggled a lot in his life. He’s quite recently found a new passion in carpentery – which is a way he can be quite creative and also earn money to support other creative endeavours. My younger brother is also a passionate musician by night and a very passionate gardener by day. He has found himself singing his way around Georgia (in Europe –  not the US) and Italy in recent times. I may have struggled with reading until I discovered the Harry Potter books at about 11 and I still have to work really hard at reading and learning, but I think my passion for stories, knowledge and learning has always been quite strong. Perhaps not surprisingly giventhis passion, I think my creative outlet is writing (including but not limited to puns)… like our parents, we are all passionate about helping people and speaking up against discrimination and hate and do so in different, generally creative ways… and, again like our parents, also all quite well known for wearing bright colours or otherwise creative outfits, so I guess compassion and fashion is also an outlet for our creativity.

I’ve been starting to feel a little stifled by bureaucracies in recent times and it has made me realise that most of my creative energy had been going into a bit of a void at work and discover the need to find a new outlet for it…or to revisit my old passion for writing! I think my waning passion and creativity may have partly been because I haven’t really had a proper holiday since before I started studying in mid-2013 and I’d been starting to burn out (I’ve had time off… but I’ve tended to sneak in self-funded conferences to at least part of that time). I reached a point in my pre-library life job where I started writing monologues for the photocopier where which is how I knew I needed a holiday, a break from bureaucracy, and probably also a new direction in my career/life… I will soon be heading off on a holiday to Ireland with my creative and passionate O’Hanlon kin…. and I’ve found my creative energy and passion have started to come back beyond work and at work… before I started writing monologues for photocopiers again! I’ve also been feeling inspired by my creative colleagues in the library (we have a lot of musicians) and by English, creative arts and other humanities lecturers and students (and their reading lists).

In the past few weeks I have: been interviewed by a journalism student who remembered my passion and ideas for copyright reform from a class and was looking for a way to tell a story that would get more people interested in copyright law; been described as bringing a new level of chic to the library; invited to be in a video about librarian fashion (sadly the timing may not work out, but watch this space); brought Reid Moore out again to take National Similutaneous Storytime to a queer time and place (We’re also pretty sure it was 11am somewhere inthe world); started brainstorming ideas and sketching for a comic/zine; attended a meeting for arts librarians; and started and been part of quite a lot of interesting conversations about preserving, curating and celebrating queer histories with quite a diverse range of people… I guess all of these creative things are GLAMorous in some way, but they’re not all completely tied to my current role or workplace. I wonder if I will find a creative outlet that is less connected to GLAM or if I will become a writer in retirement.

This Lit Hub discussion on Librarians who moonlight as artists that went around earlier in the month definitely resonated.



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