Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe

On top of everything else I have to do as a one-person library, I was recently emailed my blank “2009-2010 Professional Development Plan”.  It’s basically a job review for the last year, plus places where I need to list what I want to do this coming academic year.  I’m sure every college bureaucracy everywhere requires these, but I’m a bit put off by it.  I knew it was coming because my long-gone boss warned me to keep track of everything I did.  So at least I wasn’t racking my brain trying to remember what events I attended, and what wonderful contributions I’ve made to our institution.

Anyway, here are some of the questions for your perusal:

1.    Goals for higher educational level/certification/licensing/endorsements/courses (Pertaining to requirements and endorsement of current position)  What if you already have your terminal degree?
2.    Other relevant activities (including supervisory responsibilities, organization and facilitation responsibilities, and job complexity) I’ve actually come up with a strategy for this one… see below.
3.    Then of course they ask about workshops and conferences, what college committees you’ve served on, special projects, and so on.  At least these are easy – if you keep a calendar, anyway!

So how do you answer those annoying types of broad, over-generalized questions designed for ten dozen different job descriptions?  I could be brief under each section, and give bullet points like: “encouraged library use, taught instruction sessions, answered reference questions.”  That’s my tendency, to eschew obfuscation.  But I gather the typical response is slightly more verbose: for instance: “Though the creative use of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café in book display units, I not only encouraged reading skills but introduced new literary styles and venues.”

Of course I want to make sure I cover everything I do – in this day and age of budget cuts I’d hate for someone up the chain of command to think “Do we REALLY need someone full time at the new branch?”  My hate-to-talk-about-myself tendency lends itself to this unfortunately well, so I try to make sure I cover everything.  (Heck, do I put the fact that I’m an “official” First Year Blogger on the prestigous ACRLog??)

The last question (#2, above) is so broad I sat in stunned disbelief.  Finally I came up with a game plan. I’m currently a librarian in a paraprofessional body, so I decided to break out my list into three categories.  Librarian responsibilities.  Library Specialist responsibilities (my current classification).  Administrative responsibilities.  Hopefully, in one fell swoop, this will advertise my 1) hugely broad areas of responsibility, and 2) my wonderful creativity for thinking outside the (blanks and forms) box.  What do you think?  Am I crazy, or promotable??  (And does anyone else stress about these yearly events as much as I do?)

5 thoughts on “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe”

  1. For Question 1, can you put any professional development workshops or training or things like that? E.g. “Would like to attend Workshop X at ALA” or “Would like to attend a training session to use Software Y.”

  2. I like to treat these kinds of documents as a sort of personal narrative / memoir (particularly since I’m pretty sure I’m likely to be the only person who reads them). Organizations like to keep track of how people are doing annually, but unless they are used for something – e.g. documenting a pattern of good or bad behavior – they’re fairly pro forma. The good thing is that it’s framed as “professional development” (though it would always be nice if it came with a side of financial support) and it isn’t being filled out by someone who barely knows you and the work you do, which is not unusual.

    This is an opportunity to tell your story, and you’ve got a great story to tell. Just don’t sweat it too much – heck, enjoy the enforcement moment of self-reflection if you can.

  3. Having a terminal degree doesn’t preclude continuing to develop professionally. There are many workshops, seminars, conferences–some even online–that you could attend to keep yourself current with what’s happening in the profession. As a former library director, I liked to see that people were continuing to learn and expand their skills.

  4. Yes, Cait C and Allyson, I should have added that I am always on the lookout for (affordable) professional development opportunities. ::grin:: If I had more money I’d keep Lyrasis in business forever because they offer so many fantastic online courses!

    Hmm, I like that idea, Barbara – an enforced moment of self-reflection indeed! Thanks!

  5. Sell yourself shamelessly! This is the time to toot your own horn, even if that goes against your nature.

    Blogging for ACRL is a significant contribution to the profession as a whole, and it shows that you are an exceptional first-year librarian–so be sure to add it to your list of accomplishments.

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