Year Two Begins Soon

As my first year comes to an end, I would like to thank everyone for the opportunity to chronicle my experiences as an academic librarian. I look forward to my second year beginning and welcoming the students back to campus. In the meantime, here are the highlights of what I have learned so far:

  • When in doubt, ask questions – especially at the beginning.
  • Find a mentor – a librarian with more experience can provide a lot of guidance.
  • Take time to talk to the students and you’ll be surprised how much you learn.
  • Keep up with the rest of the library community: read professional publications, blogs, attend conferences, and more.
  • Make friends with faculty members who can act as mentors and support for your library programs.
  • Be open to trying new technologies and listening to new ideas.
  • Library school did not teach me everything, and learning on the job is a continuation of the learning process.

It is too quiet without them

The library has been eerily quiet now that most students have left campus for the summer. I miss being interrupted numerous times a day, students working on their laptops, and the sound of books being checked in and out. So, when do they come back? I took a step back and thought about it, and I am member of their generation and I need to stay in contact with my friends. As a last hurrah, we held our Student Appreciation Picnic last week for the students who worked for us during the school year and I, of course, took photos to document the event. To keep in touch, the students and I talked and I decided to open up my personal Facebook profile to my students. There has been great success so far. I am friends with most of the students that work for me and I added pictures of the Student Appreciation Picnic to one of my photo albums. Right now we all keep in touch virtually, but I look forward to August when they return and we can get the next year underway. To everyone who has read my posts during the course of the 06-07 school year, thank you. In the next couple of weeks, I will submit my last post with reflections on the completion of my first year as an academic librarian.

The Beginning of Summer Projects

Now that most of our students have left for the summer, it is time to start tackling summer projects. One summer project will be to redo the student staff training sessions that workers receive in the fall. Developing training modules is something that I wish would have been given more opportunity to develop in library school, along with ideas for group and team building activities. Perhaps this falls outside the realm of traditional classroom activities, but I think that coursework or reading in this area would help, not only for student staff training, but for developing the library staff as a whole. So far I have likened the project to developing one shot interactive instruction sessions which last for several hours. I have started reading on best practices and other librarian’s suggestions for training student staff. Our summer student workers have already agreed to be our test audience. With this in place by August, we will be ready to welcome our returning students with a refresher and make new student assistants comfortable in their new work environment. Your words of wisdom are welcome!

Faculty Mentors for New Librarians

When I first arrived on campus, set to begin my career as a librarian, I was grateful to find that my college arranged a faculty mentor for me. Ten months later, I feel that the relationship has helped me with small adjustments. It was especially refreshing because my mentor is from the English Department and not the library. A couple of times a month we would get together for lunch and discuss not only what was going on in the library but around campus as well. It was an opportunity to gain feedback and opinions of the library from the faculty’s perspective. I have a mentor within the library as well, which made questions within our department easy to answer. The double-mentor approach was unique and I appreciated the conversations and assistance of both mentors. It has essentially permitted me to tackle some problems from two different angles, therefore allowing me to choose the best response. For other new librarians, if you do not have a mentor inside and outside of your library, I would recommend it. Not only do you develop relationships across the faculty, but you also gain insight into people’s needs and perceptions of the library.

Trial Databases

Spring Break is behind many of us and the end of the semester is rapidly approaching. It is a time when everyone looks forwarded to warmer weather, graduation, and days out on the quad. Also, for some reason, it is also the most popular time to trial databases from publishers. Over the course of my first year, I have received offers to trial a new product or a database that we currently do not subscribe to at least once a week. In the past two weeks, however, I have had calls from representatives to trial 13 different databases. I think that trial databases are a great opportunity to try new products and show faculty and students the different types of sources available to them. To promote trials in the past, I have sent emails, posted notes to the message boards, talked to individuals and provided short demonstrations. However, I do not think that the trials are reaching their greatest potential. Any suggestions?