The Meaning of Life (As it Applies to a First-Year Academic Librarian)
The title of this post isnâ€™t exactly true: I’m not sure I’ll ever really know the meaning of life. But more importantly: I can now officially call myself a second-year librarian. Today is the anniversary of my start date in the world of academic librarianship. Coincidentally, Iâ€™m also teaching my first instruction session of the semester today. I didnâ€™t plan it that way, but it seems appropriate, does it not? As Iâ€™ve been preparing for this first class and the start of the new semester, Iâ€™ve been thinking back to the amazing and overwhelming amount of information Iâ€™ve compiled in my head (and file cabinets) over the past year. To take a cue from last yearâ€™s guest poster, Lauren Jensen, Iâ€™d like to provide a brief summary of the most important things Iâ€™ve learned, in hopes that it will inspire the new batch of first-year academic librarians:
â€¢ Never be afraid to reach out to colleagues. Iâ€™ve sent â€œcoldâ€ emails to several librarians in the past year, asking about an instructional tool theyâ€™ve created, or an article theyâ€™ve written. Every response has been welcoming and helpful!
â€¢ Donâ€™t underestimate your students. Itâ€™s possible, when starting out, that I pegged many students as having an â€œI could care lessâ€ attitude. Iâ€™ve learned that itâ€™s not that they donâ€™t want to learn, they just need to be engaged and challenged. I’m still learning how to accomplish that!
â€¢ Try [fill in the blank] at least once! Youâ€™ll never know if an idea will work if you donâ€™t give it a shot. This could relate to a new way of assessing information literacy skills or a new service for faculty. At the very least, youâ€™ll learn that youâ€™re very good at revising.
â€¢ Just because you’re interested in publishing, doesnâ€™t mean you have to start out with an article or a book. Try blogging, writing for your alumni newsletter, or contributing book or product reviews for a journal. These are all things Iâ€™ve accomplished in the last year, and now an article doesnâ€™t seem quite so daunting.
â€¢ Take advantage of free online professional development! While Iâ€™m lucky that my institution will reimburse me for professional development relating to my job, I know thatâ€™s not something I can go crazy with. Thanks to the folks at SirsiDynix Institute, WebJunction, the TLT Group, and even ACRL, Iâ€™ve been able to attend dozens of free web seminars. These opportunities have definitely increased my awareness and made me a better librarian.
Well, that about does it for my final post. Itâ€™s been wonderful having the opportunity to share my thoughts and run my ideas by the ACRLog readers during my first year. Your insights and encouragement have been much appreciated, and I am happy to say that Iâ€™ve learned a thing or two from your comments. I need to thank Steven Bell, and the other regular ACRLog contributors, for occasionally adjusting their posting routine to give us new librarians a chance to contribute. On that note, Iâ€™d also like to congratulate my fellow new colleagues on successfully completing their first years! Itâ€™s been great knowing there are others out there just like me, and that although things have been both challenging and rewarding during our first years in the field, we can feel confident knowing that there is an amazing network of supportive colleagues only a phone call or email away. Have a great year everyone!
Posted: August 13, 2008 by Melissa Mallon
in Just Thinking.