(Academic) Year 1: Complete

Well, that’s about it; we’re on the tail end of finals at Salisbury University, commencement ceremonies start on Wednesday night, and that’s a wrap on my first academic year as a librarian. It’s gone incredibly fast, and as I’ve been working on my first annual evaluation packet, I realize how much I accomplished this year. I know that other institutions do this in January, but for us at SU Libraries, it’s from May to May. I thought it might help others in the evaluation process to see how mine is framed, as well as the experience of gathering it all. As I am many hours deep into playing Nintendo’s newest Zelda title, Tears of the Kingdom, I thought I might set up this post in video game terms. Please forgive the nerdiness to follow. 🙂 

Mainline Quests

I had two individual goals this year. They focus on the key aspects of my job as I settled into the position; they were threaded throughout my typical work week. My philosophy here is that I wanted to get to know my responsibilities before making (big) changes to how I conduct them. Of course, reasonable changes arose (especially with my student supervising duties) but overall, I was learning the controls. Completing the tutorial area, so to speak. These were the goals my chair and I came up with:  

  1. Get to know liaison area faculty and establish relationships. 
  1. Get to know the Research Help Desk policies and student workers with updates as needed. 

I do feel that I’ve sufficiently accomplished both objectives. Putting the number of instruction sessions, instructors I’ve worked with, and the students reached really puts the work into perspective. I don’t see this when I’m in the thick of my instruction season and doing one-shots left and right. Two of my Public Health professors are working with me more extensively for their classes next year, so relationship building is definitely happening! 

With the Research Help Desk, I made the schedule and supervised our undergraduate workers. Since I was once a student worker at my undergrad library, this was a nice full circle moment for me to become a supervisor and mentor. One thing I implemented for everyone that staffs chat is a “Chat Transcript of the Month” email, where I highlight certain questions and the excellent patron service.  

Side Adventures

Shorter than main quests, but longer than side quests are the side adventures. This involves our department goals and my role in those, but also some of my projects over the year. This included being on a student survey committee, which had the concrete steps of writing the survey about the library, determining our rollout strategy, and coming back together to discuss those results. Another department goal was to create a learning object repository for all instruction librarians, which is fully set up and starting to be populated with handouts and worksheets we can all share amongst ourselves.  

This goes beyond the library, too. I have been deeply involved in the Environmental Studies department this past year, as they’re one of my subject areas. I’m on a committee to plan an “ENVR Major for a Day” program for high schoolers sometime next fall, to hopefully bring more students to the environmental programs at SU. This has been a good way to both get to know the faculty in that area; there’s many who are affiliated, but not necessarily under the Environmental Studies department because it’s so interdisciplinary.  

Side Quests

These are something that took maybe a week or less, but still required my time. A perfect type of side quest could be my attendance at the ACRL 2023 conference – only 3 days, technically, but a large undertaking nonetheless. Additionally, some of the proposals I’ve sent in for conferences and one book chapter could be considered a “side quest” – not part of my job description explicitly, but something I am expected to do given my status as faculty. They’re also the totally random stuff that comes up on a day-to-day basis, like making signs for the on-call librarians at the reference desk over winter break, for example. Something like that isn’t listed in my annual evaluation of course; that would be practically impossible unless I was taking detailed notes of my day-to-day. But as I run with this video game framing, it’s kind of the “other duties as assigned” part of many job descriptions.  

My “dump document”

Around August 2022, I started throwing everything I was doing that could go in the annual evaluation in a document on my OneDrive. I went to a webinar? Thrown in there, it can go under my “professional development” section later. Helped with move-in day? Noted for service (and especially the 6am-10am part…). I also went back through my calendar to pull anything I may have forgotten. In hindsight, I’ll just start my next annual evaluation document now, filling things in as I go; it did create more work to organize that initial dump document into our eval template. I’ve also vowed to myself not to simply title something “Webinar” in my calendar.  

Final thoughts

This was the first time that I compiled an annual evaluation like this. In all my past jobs, it took the form of a check-in with my supervisor. Even though the process is a bit tedious, I found it rewarding to dig into the details of how much I actually accomplished as a first-year academic librarian. There’s a lot to celebrate there, and I invite you all to celebrate your own accomplishments from the past academic year – sound off in the comments if you have any you’d like to share, whether it’s a main quest, side adventure, or side quest. 

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