Monday, April 26, 2010

Balancing work and self – or why a young librarian needs to learn to say “no”.

I’m one of those people that tends to work themselves into a corner – the kind that volunteer for a whole bunch of activities, and who really wants to help out…until I pause for a moment and realize that “oh dear, I have volunteered for far too many things.”

Well, that is exactly where I am right now. A quick list off the top of my head (meaning I’m sure I’m forgetting SOMETHING) leaves me with the current responsibilities: library faculty assembly secretary, library representative to the student life committee, co-chair of the newsletter committee of the SEES section of ACRL, volunteer topic editor (foreign travel, travel warnings, and nutrition) for, SAILS committee member…and I think that’s it? Of course, that’s on top of my normal job, which involves coordinating our government documents collection, purchasing for three academic departments, teaching classes, and providing specialized reference. Oh, and redesigning the website. And putting together a tenure portfolio. And writing something that will hopefully be publishable. Since I need that for tenure.

Is it any wonder that I’m a little overwhelmed? Or that I’m having a lot of trouble balancing work and home? On top of all that I’m at a disadvantage for two reasons: (1) I’m the kind of person who will work myself to death. It’s just what I do. And (2) I moved halfway across the country to a city where I knew no one to start this job. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret moving here (well, maybe when I have a bagel craving I do - but mostly I’m ok). But when you move to start a career, don’t bring anyone along for the ride, it can be tough to make friends and find activities to balance work. The interesting twist of being a tenure track librarian is that I have all the stress of tenure, with none of the preparation associated with getting a PhD.

I guess the whole point of this entry is to say “Wow. I’m really, really stressed.” And the week is just beginning – on Thursday I drive to Detroit for a state conference, and on Saturday morning/all day I have to participate in graduation. There is a good chance that by Saturday night I will have keeled over from exhaustion. I do love my job, but I really need to work on this whole balance thing. And the friends thing. And possibly even the boyfriend thing, although I don’t have much hope for that one.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More EdFutures things


Today I sat in on my first session for the Education Futures open class I’m taking and WOW this is going to be a lot of fun. I’m actually doing another webinar session through one of my professional organizations that uses the same platform, and I’m amazed at how much better this is. People are just so much more engaged already (we’ll see if this continues).

While I am certainly hoping to learn more about the whole idea of futurism and planning for several scenarios – I’m even more interested to see what the other participants think of the issues we discuss. As a recent graduate, newly hired faculty member, and librarian I’m fairly isolated in terms of viewpoints. Add to that the fact that I work at a (totally great!) university in a fairly homogenous area, and it’s just nice to see what everyone else thinks.

Oh, and completely selfish reason for hoping I get a lot out of this class? I’m in the process of planning for the future of my collection (which I’m fairly protective of). I am hoping that this will give me a better idea of how to plan for the several very different futures that I’m currently looking at. Because if I make the wrong decision, there are serious implications for the institution’s library services and materials for decades to come.


Hey random people who may or may not still read my blog! I’m going to be posting about an open course I’m participating with called Education Futures. It is looking at how/why/whether we should be looking towards the future and planning for them.

To explain why I’m interested in this course, I think that it is necessary to describe myself. I’m an academic librarian (tenure track and all – which, let me tell you, is NOT designed for someone who works 40 hours a week), and I’m planning on a LONG career in academia. Why is long capitalized? Well, I’m in my early/mid-20s, so hopefully I will continue to be working in an academic environment when some of these future situations actually come to be.

Studying, preparing for, and imagining the future is so important in higher education, which is what I have experience with. We get students when they are young enough to be the canaries of society (meaning we see the changes in environment through them first), but old enough to confident that they know exactly what they want and that whatever we are offering them isn’t what they need. In many ways we are constantly reacting to changing students and constantly trying to catch up to them. I’m hoping that this course, and hearing everyone else’s opinions, will give me a chance to feel a little more prepared so that even if I’m 2 steps behind the newest crop of freshmen, I will have previously prepared a list of potential scenarios and ways to react to them so I won’t just be blindly careening from one potential solution to the next.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

So...hi everybody!

Long time no write, etc. I'm not going to apologize for not blogging (because that's silly, and anyway no one reads this), but I will give a bit of the reason why. I started my new job ('s been that long), got a cat, and have been working at making friends. Job is still going great, although I'm pretty stressed about some things that I might get into later. Cat is doing fine now, although we've been through a lot (we're coming up on $1,000 worth of vet bills), and I love him to pieces. Gary is currently sleeping next to me on the couch, snoring louder than most of my ex-boyfriends.

The friends thing is probably the least successful part of my life. I was warned when I moved here that it wasn't so easy to make friends in Grand Rapids, but I figured it'd happen eventually. Let's just say that it hasn't been so good. I've met LOTS of people, but only a couple people I'd want as friends (I differentiate friend from acquaintance). Mostly that's ok, but it gets old sometimes. The realities of moving far away from family and friends for a job. And probably also the realities of being so much younger than my co-workers.

I just thought I should give a quick update before I get into the professional/work related blogging, which will come soon. Maybe even tomorrow!