We can learn a great deal from marine ecology to apply to the current environment of health sciences librarianship, but three concepts hold particular importance. First, complex interdependencies are the norm in the natural world and in publishing. Human nature too often causes us to cling to a narrow perspective or to oversimplify the dynamics of our work environment, but overlooking the intricacies of complex systems holds personal and professional danger. Ecosystems evolve over time, yet when multiple changes occur simultaneously, their interaction often makes it impossible to predict exactly what cumulative results will emerge. We cannot afford to take a narrow or simplistic view.
Second, balance is key, especially when people become involved. Wide open access to marine resources results in overfishing and other abuse, in the same way that Americans destroyed the wild bison herds of North America. At the other extreme, overly controlled ownership denies the rights of others or may make it economically impossible for other people to use resources.
Finally, humankind has a tremendous impact on the coral reef, much of it negative and some of it entirely unintended. Passiveness on our part will ensure undesirable or catastrophic consequences. Many current MLA members are ideological children of the 1960s, a period of incredible energy and social activity. We need to tap that latent activist drive, to join organizations, to vote, to contribute, and to take action consistent with our values for the survival of our world.