Saturday, July 20, 2013

Introversion and libraries

You don't go long in library world without the word introvert coming up in conversation. I don't know of any statistics on what percentage of librarians are introverts, but I imagine it would be more than those of the general population. But the good thing is that introversion isn't seen as a negative among librarians, perhaps because it's the norm. We embrace our introversion and are not ashamed of it. And that's because being introverted is not a bad thing at all, a fact which I've been reminded of in reading 'Introvert Power' by Laurie Helgoe.

She reminds us that at least half of Americans are introverts. Wow, really? Yep, she's done her homework. But we are still living in an extrovert's world where it is weird not to want to go to parties or be out on a Friday and Saturday night. The focus of Helgoe's book is first of all re-defining introversion in positive terms and then showing how introversion can be a strength rather than a weakness.

Did you know that introverts...

Get energy from quiet reflection and expend energy in social interaction

Are excited by ideas rather than people

Often have very rich imaginations

Don't like being put on the spot

May act extroverted, but tire quickly in social situations

I was thinking about the Future of Libraries talk where we were asked 'What is a Library?' and someone said it's a sanctuary. I have to agree. Public libraries have always been a place where time slows down. They are a place to be solitary if you choose, to let your imagination free in a book, and to get away from noise. I'd say the 50% of the population who are introverts really appreciate these qualities of a library. Whatever libraries become, I hope they will always be a sanctuary.

"Quiet people have the loudest minds" (Stephen Hawking)