Why You Must Travel

by Mychal Ludwig, Head Editor, INALJ New Mexico

Why You Must Travel

MychalLudwigFull disclosure: I’m writing this from atop a hillside overlooking Laboucherre Bay on the most North Western point of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.


Currently on vacation in what I like to call Baja Alaska, technically volunteering for an archaeologist friend on his site, I couldn’t think of a more relevant topic than to discuss how travel can really improve a person, and is an almost necessary activity for the LIS professional in particular.


The LIS professional identifies information needs, works with and for people of diverse backgrounds, and is in a field that is ever-changing to say the least. And while taking courses on prudent topics, and experience or volunteer service clearly represent the most typical means of achieving the skills needed to have a successful LIS career, I believe that travel represents a very real icing on the cake.


Through travel, the LIS professional visits regions, countries, and continents where people of different languages, religions, and customs pursue information in many similar, but often starkly different ways. This exposure solidifies the classroom theory (and you’re not always going to have the world in your library).


In recent years, I’ve been to the English speaking countries of Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and our neighbor to the North, Canada. The differences in culture and information pursuit make me realize the necessity for flexibility whether you’re in reference or cataloging, but it’s the commonalities that impart a large amount of empathy toward every patron or colleague I work with.


The benefit of traveling out or state or country is very similar to the benefit of going to ALA as opposed to just your state or local conference. With the expansion in ideas and perspectives, whether or not they’re from other humans or just from experiencing nature, I find you’re almost always better off because of it, both personally and professionally.


Now back to trying to get a photo of this sea otter…

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