July 30th, 2010
Interconnectedness. It occurred to me while listening to Joe Hutto; author of “Life in High Places”, how everything is interconnected.
In the study of human biology the beauty is in the inter-connectivity between the systems of the body; the respiration system needs the circulatory system, the structural system depends on the endocrine system, the nervous system works with the digestive system. They all function together, working on their specific purpose but dependent on one another. Small break downs in the system can be absorbed by the body, but as the breakdown begins to affect more systems, the changes are more difficult to adjust to, resulting in a diseased state.
During Joe Hutto’s discussion at the Rock Springs Library, he talked of how the changes in the composition of the atmosphere change the composition of rain, which in turn has effects in the chemical composition of the soil in the tundra, this effects what minerals the plants in the tundra have available, which in turn changes the diet of the high altitude animal populations. These changes, originally thought of as insignificant are magnified: starting as imperceptible but turning into significant dis-rupters as they move through the food chain system. Of course, we then think of the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, where the changes are not imperceptible or insignificant, but catastrophic and we all know that this event will impact, not only those who are close to the water, but all of us as the sea and the marshland, the fisherman and the fish eaters, the fish, the birds, the reptile and mammal populations find themselves struggling with living conditions into which they can not adapt. Not entirely out of the realm of the ecosystem, are the men whose lives were lost in the explosion and the families who are left to deal with the life changing consequences.
Successful families operate as a system, where the roles of moneymaker, child rearing functions, cooking, cleaning, yard work, bill paying etc. all work together. This becomes most apparent when a teenager resides in the house whose room is a disaster, who unknowingly leaves a trail of mud throughout the home, who can’t seem to get the garbage out the door or help carry the groceries in the door. These seemingly small things add stress and the family does not function as well when there is a breakdown in one or more of the necessary functions. This is another example of how we are interconnected.
The same may be said of a work group. Every person in a working situation has their purpose. Dysfunction within one member that out shadows the work, or presses against the ability of others to work successfully, causes a less than primo functioning atmosphere. We all recognize this, whether we are working in a dysfunctional system now or in the past. The only true positive change can come from within and working with others can be frustrating when there are competing values or purpose. Even at work, we are interdependent.
Communities work in much the same way. Some players are contributing; some are holding on, some are reaping benefits while others are working hard to contribute. Some communities are seen as healthy and dynamic while others may wither. Economics can cause catastrophic changes, some we can adapt to and some, if bad enough, lead to that diseased state or even death. All the players are connected, play a part and live under the conditions created. This brings me to libraries.
Libraries act as a cornerstone for communities. They provide services to communities that are not found elsewhere. They are a sign of a progressive, interested, informed, healthy and dynamic community. Having moved a few times, we have judged communities by the quality of the library. The first indication of this is the quality of the staff. They are part of the interconnectedness of a community and portray the friendliness of the area. If you think about such things; information, the library’s specialty, keeps us connected: to each other, to our community and to the world. Technology and Internet access connect us to information and to each other. Attending or participating in Summer Reading Programs, contributing suggestions or an interest keeps all of us connected to each other. Reading, although usually a solitary experience, connects us on a deep level to others and to humanity. I conducted a very small survey among our librarians that indicated they work in libraries for a greater purpose; that of access to information, of the freedom to read and the ability to connect with others. It makes life easier when we can depend on each other, it makes us richer when our efforts are combined and we have interconnectedness.