On a + note

What is it about perfection? #1: 2011

Posted in on a + note by Admin on February 14, 2011

What is it about librarians and perfection? Why are we, as a profession, in a constant search for the perfect facility, the perfect tracing, or the perfect website? It seems to be an occupational fixation!

The word perfection comes from the Greek word “perfecto” (I can hear it being said by my Dad in his best Italian accent) and is attributed to Aristotle. In Delta of the Metaphysics, he delineates three types of perfection:
• Perfection is completion, i.e. something is so good, nothing could be better.
• Perfection as the best effort possible, and
• Perfection as the activity of attaining ones goal or purpose.

Aristotle believed that, in every change or search for perfection. there is something which persists through the change and something created new.

In library land, our search for perfection often focuses on what is wrong with our library, (e.g. the parking lot is too small or the board is obstreperous) and how we didn’t reach our goal. (e.g. our circulation only rose 9%, and the national average was 10%). By its very nature, the pursuit of perfection inhibits us from being positive and moving ahead. Ironically, it actually can damage the library, the board, the staff, and particularly, us. Sometimes, 98% is simply good enough. For example, an internal email can have some typos. (Of course, this is said the world’s worst speller!) However, a resume cover letter must, by its very intent, be perfect. The trick is differentiating between the two, and this is tougher than you may think for the perfection-seeking librarian.

The reality is that life doesn’t have to be perfect all of the time. In fact, imperfection can be a good thing for you and the library, because mistakes create opportunities to grow, improve, and move ahead. So, to all of those with less-than-stellar spelling skills (and I include myself on that list), it maybe actually good for you!

From the heart of snowy Ontario, Canada, have a great week. Spring is on the way!!

Kitty Pope
kpope@library.guelph.on.ca #1 February/2011

One Response to 'What is it about perfection? #1: 2011'

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  1. Sue said,

    always uplifting, Kitty! appy Valentine’s day

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