Book Reviews

Give and Take

Give and Take by Adam Grant was a hot pick on my campus last year, and I finally got on the bandwagon this semester. Building relationships is crucial to public services work in libraries, and this book had great insights into how librarians can better develop their networks. The crux is that Givers (defined as other-focused individuals who are generous with sharing time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections) are more successful than Matchers (I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine) or Takers (exactly what it sounds like). This in itself has value for librarianship. It’s easy to find opportunities to give more in our work. Send a helpful article, introduce two faculty with similar research in different fields. We’re well positioned to share our knowledge, skills and connections.

But the most telling part was about burnout, particularly in terms of what Grant calls the “Impact Vacuum” — when Givers without a cause burnout from not seeing the value in their work.

“Givers don’t burn out when they devote too much time and energy to giving. They burn out when they’re working with people in need but are unable to help effectively.”

Sound familiar?

Academic libraries have emphasized showing value to those outside the building, but how do we define success to ourselves? How do we know what we’re doing is working? How do we know our work matters? Showing this internally may be even more important to long-term library success than reporting outward.

Have you read Give and Take?

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