On Wednesday night, I went to an event at the National Portrait Gallery for Returned Australian Volunteers, with a keynote presentation from Dr David Chong, which was in itself quite inspiring.
However, one thing that struck me was a point made by a staffer at AVI in her introduction to Dr Chong. In reference to the time and energy that volunteers spending taking their skills and experience to other places, she acknowledge the work in reaching out to those communities that we are working to develop, but at the same time what is arguably just as important is taking those experiences and lessons learnt in the field, and reaching back into the professional industries that we come from, which seemed like an odd turn of phrase.
A similar message came through in Dr Chong's presentation - that "We need each other to change." Not only are we trying to effect change in the individuals and communities we reach out to, but it is only through these interactions, and coming to understand the experiences of others, that we can change ourselves and the places that we work in.
In terms of working in libraries, we focus a great deal of energy outwardly to provide services that support others. It's moments like these that remind me that I also need to take away lessons from these interactions, in order to apply them inwardly - to reach back into the organisations that I work in. Tapping into these experiences, we can best develop and innovate our services to make us more empathetic and relevant to the communities that we serve.