I now know why people say, “Where did the semester go?”

Are you serious? Is it over already? When did November sneak by? What about all the projects I wanted to finish before break?

As a student watching my librarian friends go through their days, I always thought “I’m too busy” was an exaggeration. A flimsy excuse, if you will, for not taking on some particular project. Maybe even a sign of weakness…?

My view on that one sure has changed. Somewhere in the past several months I got caught up in the library whirlwind and many of the things I had imagined I would have done by now are still sitting in their various locations — on my desk, in my files, in my email — unfinished. I am still in the state of new librarian enthusiasm that leads me to say “yes” to practically everything, but as I look back over the semester I am beginning to think that I may need to experiment with the alternative.

I am young, I am ambitious, I am enthusiastic, and boy am I tired! My new year’s resolution is to bone up on my time management skills. I hereby acknowledge that I cannot do everything I want to do in the time I am given. I will continue to take on the projects for which I am most enthusiastic, but every so often I will have to seriously consider whether I have time to do the others. I accept that I will need to say “no” sometimes.

And perhaps I may even need to try out the line, “Sorry, I’m just too busy.”

The great international debate

My library has been working on updating our tenure and promotion policies. Yes, I can hear the collective groans from everyone out there, and it has indeed been a slow and painstaking process. But wait — lest I start out on a negative note I want to hasten to add that it is also a process in which I feel privileged to be participating.

As we’ve been combing through our potential new policy, I found myself tripped up by what I would formerly have considered the most standard of requirements: the ALA-accredited MLS degree.

Now here’s my thought process as we picked apart the document that my coworkers have worked so admirably hard on: an ALA MLS, sure, that’s the standard every librarian should have. Hm. Of course, ALA is an American organization, so what happens if the individual in question isn’t American? Do we want to immediately exclude librarians from other nations from ever getting a permanent job here? (Can you see the lightbulb going off?)

Personally, I thrive on diversity, the meeting of different opinions, backgrounds, perspectives. Don’t you? Part of what I love about our field is the fact that we do value those differences and gain such richness overall. So I decided to do my research and find out what the deal is on international librarian credentials that might fly in the US. My best find was an article in New Library World (v.108 no.1/2) entitled “International credentialing, certification, and recognition in the United States” but the article is an explanation of the problem, not an answer.

It did, however, lead me to ALA’s policy (54.2) on the issue:

The master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (or from a master’s level program in library and information studies accredited or recognized by the appropriate national body of another country) is the appropriate professional degree for librarians.

But this must be some sort of evasive maneuver. How on earth does one determine what the “appropriate national body of another country” is? Does someone out there maintain a list? I suddenly realized how complex all of this really is.

I don’t have any answers either, I’m afraid, but this issue concerns me greatly. The geography of our nation has always lent itself to a certain amount of isolationism when it comes to the world at large. If our field is based on an isolationist approach to the way we credential librarians, then I worry for our future in a world that shrinks by the day. Here’s a crusade desperately in need of a crusader. I know I, for one, will be thinking about the alternatives.

The Wonderful Lightness of Being [a Librarian]

The first installment from Kim Leeder, in her first year as Reference and Instruction Librarian at Boise State University.

Ridiculously enthusiastic. That’s how I’ve been describing myself to anyone who has asked me how I’m doing in my new job. Ridiculously happy, ridiculously relieved, ridiculously lucky. The extremity of the emotion is directly related to what I believed was the unlikelihood that I would land a job, much less THE job I was seeking as reference librarian in a university library.

You see, not only did I have the usual challenges of tight job market and limited experience upon my graduation from library school in May of ’06, but I faced the added complication of an academic spouse who was offered his perfect job in a small city with very limited career options. Yikes. If you know anything about academic couples, you know those odds. They’re nothing you’d put money on in Vegas.

But somehow it happened! The job opened, I applied, and a hundred years later they called me for a phone and then campus interview. In July I began the Adventure of the First-Year Librarian, which so far has been all I could wish for and more. The variety of things I get to do is both intimidating and exhilarating: reference, instruction, collection development, outreach, and special projects galore. My first few weeks on the new job, as summer session wound down, were quiet, but a tornado of activity began in mid-August that surprised me even though I expected it.

I am fully certain that this is going to be the toughest job I’ve ever held, and you may hear me whining about the stress sometime in late November (my sincere apologies in advance). If that happens, I promise to take a step back and remember the feeling I have right now: the feeling of holding a winning lottery ticket I’m just about to cash in.

I have so much more to say but I’ll have to save it for future posts. I look forward to sharing my first-year adventure with you here, thanks to the kind organizers of ACRLog. I hope that my stories will enlighten or at least entertain, and that you’ll spend more time laughing with me than at me. More to come soon!