As the spring and summer terms begin, we enter conference season. Recently I’ve been thinking about the ways that academic librarians share their work with one another. In terms of traditional, formal sharing, this happens at conferences, webinars, or other sorts of lectures, and of course, through publications. But there’s so many more opportunities to talk about your research or other work you’re doing. I find sharing your work, knowledge, and experiences with your colleagues increases workplace culture and community, and lets you get to know your colleagues more closely.
I remember attending the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference last year and attending one of my coworker’s sessions. I loved hearing her share about the great work and research she’d been doing, but I couldn’t help but think, it took attending a library conference from a different province to hear about it. I never knew my coworkers were working on such interesting research projects! It just had not come up in our conversations.
At the University of Manitoba Libraries (UML), there is an annual Librarians’ Research Symposium, where our librarians can share brief presentations about their research. While the Research Symposium hasn’t been held since the pandemic, our library also hosts a series of brown bag lunch presentations called “UML Presents,” where presenters can talk about their research, fellowships, or anything else they would like to share. We also have a monthly newsletter that highlights librarian publications and other accolades. These spaces give a chance for anyone who wants to share about their work and let their coworkers in on the great work they’re doing.
I’ve noticed other associations host these small, informal events as well. A local library association that I’m a part of, the Manitoba Association of Health Information Providers, hosted their own research symposium last year. It was a chance for members to present lightning talks about the research they’re working on – or thinking about starting up. It was a low-stakes way to let others in on your work that might never be seen by those you work alongside.
I’ve always loved sharing my work with others and hearing about the work my colleagues do. And it’s not just sharing research, it’s all parts of our job: teaching, collections management, liaison duties, and on and on. It leads to new perspectives and ways of completing your work. I know that I have reconsidered how I’ve done something because I’ve heard of a different (and oftentimes quicker!) way of doing it. It can also lead to collaboration, whether that’s on a research project, co-teaching, or something else entirely. One of the best ways to get a coworker involved in a project is to know their interests. Outside of the people who read your article or scholarly work, sharing your work in formal or informal ways connects you in a way you might never otherwise have the chance.
If you know what your coworkers are instructing on, or researching, or involved in, it lends itself to letting others know about things that might interest them, like calls for proposals, conferences, interesting journal or news articles, or communities of practice. Not to mention, you can celebrate the work of your coworkers and be proud of the work that we’re all doing.
I’m always looking for places to share my work. I don’t know about you, but I have a puny number of Twitter followers—which is pretty much the only social media I use to post about my work as an academic librarian—so if I get the chance, I’ll think long and hard about volunteering to speak. What are the ways you share your work with your colleagues? Conferences? Communities of practice? Over coffee or a walk? Feel free to share below.
I encourage you to find ways to share your work with others. It can start a conversation, and you might never know what you’ll learn or where it will lead.