It's funny how life drops you little gifts every now and then. Today I received one of those. Here's the story ...
Over a year ago (July 07) I was fortunate to be invited to Australia to speak at library conference and through connections I made with L2.0 also talk at the Victoria State Library in Melbourne and the New South Wales State Library in Sydney. My trip at the time also included a visit with Christine Mackenzie, the visionary CEO for Yarra Plenty Regional Library, that's helping set the pace for exploring new technologies and library services in Australia. During our visit we established a relationship that would benefit both our respective libraries well and briefly chatted about creating a staff exchange program that would allow not only amazing opportunities for our staff, but also help foster an exchange of ideas in how to improve our customer service offerings in both our libraries.
Before I left Charlotte in December, I spent great deal of time helping the Exec. Director set all pieces in place to make this exchange idea a reality. Christine and I emailed back in forth for a few weeks getting documents ready for our respective Board's approval and finally by October everything was set in place for Charles Brown to make the announcement.
I wasn't there to be part of the selection process or even to hear first hand about who had been selected. But I cheered inside all the way from my new office at CML, when I learned that Charles had opened the opportunity up for not one, but two staff to travel to Melbourne for a month long exchange with YPRL.
Unbeknownst to me, today was the day that these two staff members were scheduled to depart and as I rounded the B terminal in CLT (Charlotte Douglas airport) in route to jacksonville this afternoon, I heard two voices call out my name. Imagine my surprise to find it was two of my former colleagues.
There at gate B2 stood Mark Englebracht and Kim Whittington. “We're on our way to Melboune.” they said... Yup, it was a show-stopper moment for me. Immediately in my mind I was brought full circle on this very personal pet project I had fostered before I left PLCMC.
Leaving PLCMC was difficult decision for me last year, but I knew that my continued growth required new challenges. I couldn't have selected a better library system to begin my new journey and every day I find my that new position, and the talented people I work with, more and more rewarding.
Today was great day, for it was really wonderful to help accidentally send Mark & Kim off on their adventure. And it was equally gratifying to personally be able to see an initiative I had fostered come to life.
This month marks only my 9th month at Columbus Metropolitan Library. As I continue to learn my way around this amazing library system, I am eager to work on more staff development opportunities like these (although, perhaps not international exchanges right away) that foster unique and rewarding opportunities for staff to grow. And in my mind that's one of the most important roles of a leader.