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Working in the Middle

Working in the Middle

Recently I was talking with a local friend about some of the changes we both want to see in libraries and education. She currently works with a big, international NGO that is connected with the Ministry of Education. She suggested that I network with them, as they are in a position to scale up and impact the whole country. She’s right. 

I’ve also been working with several small non-profit projects. One is a school for 15 Sudanese refugees; the other is a women’s center library in a Palestinian refugee camp. These projects are doing good work, deeply impacting the lives of the few people they serve. The stories I hear from the librarians and teachers I work with at these projects are inspiring. 

Where do I fit? I think I’m called to the middle. 

I often network with people working with large NGOs or in cutting-edge libraries around the world.  I learn from their innovations; I find out about resources they are creating. I take what I learn from them to the many librarians I consult with. I help these local librarians adopt best practices and adapt innovations to their settings.

I’m working in the middle.

I could choose to work with a big NGO, but I wouldn’t have the same sorts of relationships I have now with the many librarians I work with consistently. I could choose to work with just one library, but I’d miss out on helping to build connections between librarians and watching them grow and change.

Working in the middle, I’m working towards sustainable, lasting transformation. The librarians I work with are growing in their vision for impacting the overlooked and forgotten communities in which they work. Working together, they will be able to sustain this vision and share with others.  I love it when librarians I’ve introduced begin working together and leave me out of the loop!  

I’ll be honest. Sometimes I miss the excitement of being on the cutting edge which comes from country-wide or even multi-national initiatives. Other times, I really miss the daily interactions and the in-depth relationships librarians grow with their library users. I miss the opportunities they have to see individual lives impacted by what they do. But mostly, I like being in the middle. 

It’s what draws me to work with IDEAS.

We value partnerships where we work with others to provide opportunities for transformation. We work towards sustainability. We value professionalism and bringing the best to “the least of these.”

Some of my IDEAS colleagues do partner with large NGOs; some of my colleagues work in small local projects that will never draw attention but that bring true and lasting hope to the people they work with. And others are like me, working in the middle between the two.  

Really, being in the middle is an exciting place to be!

About the Author: Libby is an IDEAS Associate and professional librarian. She currently resides in Jordan and works with libraries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Enjoy other blogs by Libby, such as Best Books of 2021!