Talk:Learning from failure

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Hi, Mr. Crawford. I'm not sure that my experiences are quite what you're looking for (as a first-year YA Services Librarian, I don't have enough puissance to tank a library-wide initiative). However, within the scope of my responsibilities, I've taken some cruises on the good ship FailBoat.

Perhaps the largest failure is that ten months into my time here, I still have not managed to establish a Teen Advisory Group (TAG). I've asked teens what they want, tried different days and times, provided snacks, broadened our advertising strategies, and offered a virtual TAG for patrons who struggle to physically make it to meetings, but the group experienced a steep drop-off in interest and attendance at the end of the summer. I've found other ways to get the teens' feedback, but I'd love to hear how other librarians have turned similar TAG failures into successes.

Another failure involves a grant I recently received for YA collection development. Only two such grants are awarded nationwide each year, so I felt surprised to have netted one. My library's director requested that I email her a copy of the winning application, but when I sought to attach the application file to that email, I found that it was gone. No amount of searching, digging through sent emails and documents folders, or recovery software succeeded in bringing it back. All I can figure is that I deleted the file from my email's sent folder thinking that I had a copy on my hard drive, and deleted it from my hard drive thinking that I had a copy of it in my sent folder. I had to ask the group that awarded the grant if they could send me a copy of my application--how embarrassing, I thought, and how like me to turn a success into a FailCruise *facepalm*. But you can bet that my critical files now live in several locations.

Anyroad, I'm not sure if those failures are on the scale that you're looking for, but I'm hoping that they're better than the silence that preceded them. I've got loads of other failures, too, if these don't strike your failure-fancy ;) I hope that we can help our fellow librarians to overcome their fear of discussing their failures. As Paul Simon sings, "Breakdowns come, and breakdowns go, so what are you going to do about it? That's what I'd like to know." Let's be more candid about our breakdowns, and examine what we can do about them.