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Wild Organisms

Published onMar 29, 2024
Wild Organisms

As someone trained in literature and not libraries, the possibilities inherent in the idea that a library is a “growing organism” seem wild. Are libraries, then, like a hardy rose bush that grows up, over, and through a fence, adapting to and conquering its environment? Or are libraries more like lichen, mutually fusing different lifeforms into a uniquely resilient and savvy entity? Perhaps it means libraries are an expanding ecosystem, like a coral reef, drawing together, incorporating, and connecting the lives and worlds of those around them? Or does it mean a library is like a child, developing neural connections and growing in their capacities and self-awareness at an exponential rate?  

This issue of Alki captures the wild potential of envisioning libraries as growing organisms, with each article fostering its own budding concept of what growth looks like. Some track growth through personal and institutional development, intertwined like a string of DNA, illustrating the double-helix-like building blocks of change and evolution. Cora Thomas’ and Neil McKay’s pieces, for example, both display how personal flourishing and a library’s flourishing are intertwined. Other authors, like Caroline Evergreen and Chelsea Riddle, Elizabeth Brown, and Janet Calderon, plot their growth through adaptation; they capture responsive progressions, like ivy that has crept around a garden gnome to take in some sun. Meanwhile, others present an entangling expansion, something more akin to reaching tree roots that create networks of information-sharing. Sarah Logan reminds us that growth can be outward and that to cultivate connections is an act of resistance within a stifling environment, while Eve Datisman and Mikayla Kittilstved both show us how one’s own reading growth can be used to build meaningful connections with others. 

Whichever kind best speaks to you and your library’s growth, I hope you find in this issue some fertile ground for plotting, tracking, or recognizing your own wild potential.

Jenny Van Houdt's headshot shows her smiling at the camera in front of a grey backdrop. She is wearing glasses, a blouse with a decorative collar, and a clack blazer. Her brown hair is up with side bangs.

Jenny Van Houdt is the new editor-in-chief at Alki and works at WSU’s Health Sciences Library. She likes reading, cats, and how those two things go together.
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