Saturday, January 28, 2023

A farewell to ImagineIf Library

| December 7, 2022 7:55 AM

As I wrap up my time with ImagineIF Libraries, I wanted to reach out to you in the Flathead and library communities that have helped make my time with this library something special.  I don’t know if it’s warranted, but I feel obligated to offer some explanation for my departure and share my contact information with you so that we can stay in touch.  I tried to think of everyone who might want to receive this email, but with my brain being what it is, I almost certainly forgot about some very important people – and for that I apologize in advance.  Feel free to share however you see fit.  I trust each of you.

My decision to leave the library was not an easy one.  Ultimately it boiled down to the fact that my frustration with the board was affecting my mental health, as well as my effectiveness in leading the library.  I found myself spending most of my energy feeling angry and upset and managing those feelings, rather than helping to build library services and programs – which is clearly not how public services are supposed to work.  It was also an indication that my emotional health was suffering, and had been for some time. 

To be clear, any frustration that I have ever felt in the last two years has been at the library board and the commissioners.  The library staff, to a person, is absolutely the greatest group of individuals I could dream of working with.  They are fearless.  They believe in public service to their core.  They are creative and inspired and infinitely talented individuals.  The library staff, as a whole, are the core of ImagineIF Libraries, and I encourage you to reach out to them, partner with them, and dream big.  ImagineIF, as an institution, is healthy, forward-thinking, and ready to get to work for this community.

This includes our Director, Ashley Cummins.  The last year has certainly not been an easy one for Ashley, and I’m aware that my outspokenness in that time has likely not helped.  I have come to deeply respect and admire Ashley – her passion for library services, her tenacity, her diplomacy, and her grace in the presence of hostility is an inspiration.  Her path to the Director position is certainly unorthodox (as is mine!), but that does not mean that she isn’t a damn fine librarian with a good head on her shoulders and great people surrounding her.  ImagineIF Libraries is in good hands with Ashley, and she is more than worthy of your support.

As for me, I am moving into the role of Grants and Contracts Coordinator for the Montana State Library.  It is a major shift in responsibility for me, and one that I am very much looking forward to.  The (hopefully) good news is that this role is remote, and I will be staying here in the Flathead Valley.  My children are in public school, each of us has deep social connections, and we simply love this place – leaving was never an option.  As I get my feet underneath me in my new role, I look forward to continuing my involvement with the non-profit community and deepening my relationships with the people in this area who I love so very much.  In a lot of ways that truly matter, I’m not going anywhere because I’m already home.

All of which is to say that I would love to stay in touch with each and every one of you – my personal phone and email is below.  I will be around, so if you need an extra set of hands or eyes, another mind, need a coffee date, or have an idea to share or develop, please know that I am here and will gladly help in whatever way I can.  Plus, I will probably need an excuse to get out of the house periodically.

Thank you so very much for the last 8+ years with ImagineIF.  It has truly been an honor and a pleasure to have contributed to building this amazing institution, and look forward to seeing you - as a patron - at the library.

With love and deepest sincerity,

Sean Anderson


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