During an especially busy Fall—especially in my professional life—I got sick and took some days off work. During this time, along with not feeling great, I felt the crush of my busy Fall. I took time to reflect on what was all going on at work and where I could re-prioritize.
I was talking with a colleague, and she suggested focusing or reflecting on some good part of my day, big or small, which gives reprieve from focusing on work. It could be watching the sunrise, an especially good meal, or taking time to read an intriguing book, to give some examples.
There are other good parts, though, good parts at work: the casual conversation with library staff, the feeling after a reference consultation that you’ve helped a student, an especially rewarding library instructional session.
There’s a big milestone for me—professionally—coming up next Spring as I complete my probationary period of two years and (hopefully) am offered a continuing position at my institution. But in a lot of ways, I feel this Fall has been a milestone, a precursor to what’s to come in my career.
Along with appreciating the small (or big) positive things in life, I found it helpful to reflect on progress I’ve made. I want to take the time to note a couple things I’ve learned, or been reminded of, over the past few months.
- Make Small Steps Toward Comfortability
As a liaison librarian who is relatively new to their subject areas, I’ve been hustling to get to know faculty and students in my departments. It takes time and this is something I’ve been having to acknowledge. Was Rome built in a day? I don’t think so and neither is my liaison outreach (but possibly just as impressive as the city of Rome).
You make slow progress; some increased in-class instruction, more student questions, faculty coming to you for help. It takes time to build connections and to learn your subject areas but pays off in a multitude of ways.
- Learn New Skills
As academic librarians, I feel a lot of us love to continually learn new things. We’re in a profession that makes it easy to do this; there’s so many webinars to attend, certificates to get, and conferences to go to. There’s many niche areas of academic librarianship and services that we offer (or could offer) that make it easy to learn something new. This semester I’ve been learning the basics of LaTeX and referencing with BibTeX, which is great to offer to help students, along with exploring different scholarly generative AI tools. Learning new skills not only benefits your students and faculty but feels rewarding to challenge yourself.
- You Don’t Have to Do It All
I really like being busy as an academic librarian and filling up my days with my liaison duties, service, and research. I find a lot of our job rewarding in different ways and being involved in different individual and collaborative work is great. But I’m learning to commit to what I can reasonably do; having enough time and capacity to take something on. No sense burning out early in your career (no sense burning out in any stage of your career!).
- Encourage Your Friends at Work (and Vice-Versa)
There’s something great about the power of friends at work. I feel fortunate to work with some great people, people to talk to about challenges, successes, or the latest episode you watched last night. I’ve written about this in the past and I still think it’s true; developing and sustaining friends is rewarding in so many ways. Not only does working with people you’re friendly with lead to better, more enjoyable work, but it’s fun.
I think even though we’re all really busy and try to put forward the best work we can, taking time to reflect on all you’ve done and learned helps get through the tougher, more challenging times. I know it’s helped me.