One evening, 17 years ago, I was out walking my dog, and I began processing my life. That particular evening, I started thinking about my calling and my future.
I'd just experienced a highlight in my career as a librarian. I’d managed a library staff through a building project, opening what became one of the biggest and busiest libraries in the county. It was a wild, roller coaster of a year, but now life was settling into routine.
So, as I walked my dog, I started to wonder, what’s next? I loved what I did, but I couldn’t imagine doing the same job for another 30 years until retirement. I asked, “God, what’s next?”
Answering that question has led me on a journey of discovery. I started dreaming of living and working overseas, serving in a different way than I had thus far in my career. I explored options, and I found IDEAS, an organization where I could leverage my professional skills and background to restore hope. Four years after that evening walk, I found myself living and working in Turkey.
That was 17 years ago. I’d be lying to say there haven’t been hard times and even moments when I thought I might give up. In the beginning, I tried leaving my library roots; I taught English for a time and discovered that while I’m an educator, I’m not a teacher! Being a librarian is where my skills and passions meet. For four years I served as a librarian in a school in Morocco. I loved watching how my professional colleagues and the students were impacted by my work in the library. When the situation at the school changed, I again took long walks and asked, “What’s next?” I again started dreaming and exploring, and six years ago, within IDEAS, I started Global Reach Libraries to provide training, mentoring, and expertise to librarians serving forgotten and overlooked communities globally so that their libraries can become places where imagination and curiosity lead to hope.
I have only 10 years until I can, in theory, retire. Although, at the moment, that’s not something I’m looking forward to. I love what I do and can’t imagine not doing it. But sometimes, in a country half a world away from where this journey started, I still take long walks to process life, to spend time dreaming, and to ask, “What’s next?”
What about you? What's next for you? Do you love what you do but can’t imagine continuing in the same job for another 10, 20, or 30 years? Do you wonder like I did, “What’s next?” Why not contact IDEAS and explore how you might use the skills and abilities you’ve learned through the first half of your career to help restore hope in overlooked and forgotten communities during the second half? Exploring what's next will open the door to unexpected possibilities and to an exciting journey of service and discovery.
About the Author: Libby is an IDEAS Associate and professional librarian. She currently resides in the Middle East and works with school libraries in Africa and Asia. Enjoy previous blogs by Libby: Corners Are Cultural and Why We All Need to Think Like Librarians.