In writing about Librarian in Black Sarah Houghton-Jan and her decision to volunteer personal information about herself in the hope that it would make a positive difference for others, I was struck by the spirit of volunteerism which seems almost genetically imbedded into the trainer-teacher-learners I know.
There’s a willingness among them take risks; reveal personal details which contribute something meaningful to other learners; and ungrudgingly volunteer time and effort to support an incredibly large and significant number of projects, endeavors, and causes which make their—our—onsite and online communities better places than they otherwise would be.
Reading Sarah’s revelations about the health challenges she and others with Ehlers-Danlos-Syndrome face and knowing that she will do whatever she can to help others, I immediately thought of another friend-colleague-associate who is an equally committed trainer-teacher-learner with an incredible penchant for volunteerism: Lori Reed, the Employee Learning & Development Coordinator for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, a blogger whose work is highly admired and frequently read, and a volunteer who is active in the American Library Association’s training group (CLENE—soon to become LEARNING) and the American Society for Training & Development.
And, like Sarah, she faces challenges—in Lori’s case, a diagnosis of “a form of muscular dystrophy called charcot-marie-tooth disease,” which she disclosed in a blog posting in October 2008.
Neither Sarah nor Lori have spent much time talking about their conditions; each chose to make those revelations in one-time postings to help others learn something important. And then they have moved on. Because they are far too busy volunteering and being paid to make significant contributions to libraries and those who use them. To training-teaching-learning. And many other causes to which they give themselves heart and mind and soul.
Lori, for example, currently serves as Co-VP of Membership on the board of directors for the ASTD Charlotte Chapter. She also frequently volunteers to speak at more conferences than most of us will attend in a lifetime; is a frequent presenter on webcasts and webinars; writes for publication; and maintains her Library Trainer blog and LibraryLearning Google group which provide our community of learners with additional virtual meeting places to exchange ideas and become better at what we do.
If you’re at all interested or active in training, teaching, and learning—particularly in libraries—you’re going to find Lori and Sarah at the center of the world where workplace learning and performance professionals meet. And, in the spirit of volunteerism which each so clearly and effectively displays, Lori and Sarah won’t be there as self-aggrandizing rock stars, but as passionate movers and shakers, as Library Journal acknowledged this year. Through words and deeds, they help keep the rest of us alive. Awake. And inspired.
Next: The Spirit of Volunteerism—The One Who Got Away