Looking back, looking forward

Photo by SAIRA on Unsplash

It’s time for another collaborative post from your ACRLoggers! It’s been a grueling semester, and as we count down the days till winter break, let’s celebrate any and all triumphs from this year in spite of ~everything~, whether that’s a big achievement or something small you were finally able to check off your list. I posed these questions to my fellow bloggers, and I invite you to share your answers in the comments:

1. What is one “win” from this semester, big or small?

Emily Hampton Haynes
When I consider that question, my first thought is “Definitely the plaques.” For at least 20 years, the wall opposite the circulation/reference desk featured a display of U.S. history documents blown up and mounted onto wood panels. (Think of the wood paneling in a 1970s living room, and then slap the first page of the Declaration of Independence on it.) Taking down the outdated, unattractive display took all of 5 minutes, and the library lobby immediately looked bigger. We’re working with our Facilities team to make our entryway more inviting, and even though it’s not where we want it to be yet, taking down those plaques was a breath of relief for everyone in the library.

Hailley Fargo
Settling into a new institution! I started this job a few weeks before the fall semester, so I feel like much of my time has been learning and understanding a new library and institution. As we wrap up the semester, I feel like I know folks better and have a better understanding of the library and how I fit. And that’s a really great feeling!

Alex Harrington
Our DEIA Media Club has been pretty successful and we have topics picked out for the next year. I am one of two representatives for the library on the Diversity Council, and we are asked to create diversity initiatives within our departments. We chose a media club (like a journal club, but we use videos and images and all kinds of publications) and hold it once every other month. We select resources and create discussion questions, and everyone in the library is welcome to join the discussion. We’ve had some good discussions, and developed some good ideas for how to apply our newfound knowledge and perspectives.

Jen Jarson
I’m proud of the maintenance work we’ve done this year. While grappling with the various challenging conditions that we all find ourselves negotiating (primarily pandemic- and staffing-related for us at my library), we’ve continued to successfully provide our core services and space to our campus community. It may not sound very shiny or innovative, but it’s worth recognizing. Kudos to everyone on my team — and yours, too. Kudos to us all. Still, I’d be remiss to not also celebrate the good progress my colleagues and I have made on undergraduate research which has long been a priority area that just never quite got enough attention (on my end, at least). Our new committee brings together representatives from the library faculty, teaching faculty, staff, and student stakeholder groups. With just a semester under our belts, our multi-pronged, collaborative approach to organizing and enhancing undergraduate research is already looking quite promising. 

Maura Smale
We’ve had many challenges at my place of work this semester, as I’m sure everyone has, though we’ve had our wins as well. One that I’m very proud of is that we hired and onboarded a new librarian, a process that started over the summer and continues into the Fall semester. I’m grateful that we were able to make the case for our new colleague to be among the first faculty hires at the college once last year’s university-wide hiring freeze was lifted, and that this critical position is now filled. I’m also grateful to my colleagues for tackling this first ever fully virtual search so thoughtfully with me, and to my newest colleague for jumping into what is admittedly a bit of a backlog of tasks with such energy. 

2. What is something you’re looking forward to in the new year?

Emily Hampton Haynes
A personal New Years resolution of mine is: incorporate more trivia in my life. I’ve started a passive program at the library called Brain Break, where if students complete a little quiz, puzzle, or riddle, they can turn it in at the reference desk for a small prize (stickers, fun-sized candy, etc.). In 2022, I’m looking forward to putting something like “Create chocolate bar quiz” on my work to-do list!

Hailley Fargo
Again, with being new, I’m excited to start another semester, having much more under my belt. I’m really excited to see where the department can go and the work we’ll get to do together in 2022!

Alex Harrington
I have developed a new way to track my activity that should (fingers crossed!) make all my data, assessment, and tenure dossier creation related tasks so much easier in the future. I’m very much looking forward to seeing whether it works!

Jen Jarson
I’d like to say that I’m looking forward to this new podcasting idea I’m working on with a colleague or the co-curricular experiences to support undergraduate researchers that we’re planning or the new OER award that we’re implementing to recognize teaching faculty. But, honestly, I’m mostly looking forward to what I hope will be a fresh outlook after a bit of time off. I’m feeling worn out by this semester and year. I can see how much I’m struggling to focus and navigate larger-scale projects and ideas. Even with that awareness, I’ve caught myself thinking about how I could use a few days of break to restart that article that’s been in limbo all semester or to get a head start on that big project I’m thinking about or, you know, organize everything that’s a mess. But sprinkling some work into what isn’t really that long of a break anyway will likely reap neither real rest nor real productivity; I’ve gotten caught in that trap before. So instead of giving in to the temptation of trying to get ahead, I’m trying to commit to really leaving work behind over the break.

Maura Smale
Jen’s response above resonates so much with me. I often take a nonconsecutive handful of days off in January both to rest as well as to catch up on research and scholarship. But this year I’m really feeling the need for a break from all of the kinds of library work I do, not just the day to day director work. I’m planning for a full staycation week in January, work-free. We’ll be adding more in-person hours and services in our Library in the Spring, concurrent with our college’s increase in face-to-face courses next semester, so I’m also looking forward to that week of rest before coming back to finalize preparations for welcoming more students to our spaces.

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