Summer in the Library

As an academic librarian your work life revolves around your institution’s academic calendar. This means that breaks between semesters are perfect for working on long term projects and professional development. Starting a new academic library job at the beginning of summer semester is great because it lets you ease in slowly to the new environment. There are less students on campus, less classes being held, and therefore there’s more time to work on things. I have tried to make the most of my time, and I’m anxious for Fall semester to start in a week and a half. My main goal this summer has been to learn about my institution and my library. I gave my second orientation for new students yesterday and felt much more confident about what I presented than I did the first time.

I’ve done a lot of prep work for my outreach efforts that will kick into high gear in the Fall. I’ve created a handout and Prezi for orientations and general library sessions. I’m almost done writing a newsletter to send out to students in the first or second week of classes. I created an email/handout to introduce myself to the faculty members on my campus. I was given a set of promotional flash drives to hand out to faculty and I’ve loaded them with content and have them ready to distribute. I’ve met four of the faculty members and have already scheduled two library intro sessions and a research instruction session. I’ve been working with one of my other regional librarians to take on teaching two sections of an online nursing research course, and to revise the library portion of the course for the Spring. I created an evaluation for faculty to complete after I teach a class for them. I’m happy to have gotten so much done and to have also had time for professional development that I didn’t have time for in my last job.

In my previous job I used to make a priority list of what I needed to do and the steps I needed to take to complete a task/project. It worked fine but I’d find myself having to print a new version weekly or monthly depending on how many notes I made on the sheet. Shortly after starting here I found a website called Workflowy that lets you make text based lists. It has a clean interface, good keyboard controls, uses hashtags for organization and lets you share lists with groups. I’ve been using it for my priority list and have found it very helpful. I like that you can hide things you’ve completed but then view them again if needed.

I’m also exploring the use of mind maps to help me plan for future tasks and projects. I watched a recorded webinar about them from the Florida Library Webinars series this week. The webinar was a bit repetitive but the speaker did walk participants through two mind mapping exercises that were helpful in grasping the concept and value of mind mapping as a tool. I wish I had a whiteboard in my office to make maps because fitting them on a sheet of paper is limiting, but I don’t have that luxury. I have downloaded a couple free programs to test out. I think my first map will be used to help me plan for the research instruction session I’ll be teaching in September. The class is Research Methods in Psychology and the instructor shared her syllabus with me last week. They have some really great projects and I’m really excited to work with an upper level Psychology class. I’ll be visiting their class in August for a short info session which will free up time in class to do hands on work. I’m sure I’ll be posting more about the class when it gets closer.

The other big project I’m working on (struggling with) is writing my first article. It’s not necessarily required for me to get promoted to the next rank since I have a solid presentation and service background, but it is something I’d like to do and that will help build a foundation for my career. As I mentioned in my last post, there’s a lot of pressure on young librarians to be rockstars and build this immediate presence, I have to remind myself that what I’ve accomplished in my first 23 months as a librarian is valuable and worthy of celebration. I am still searching for a topic. I thought about writing about how to make the most of your first library job but the words don’t seem to be flowing like I thought they might. I have some good case studies from my last job but I feel weird using that as a topic since I’m no longer there. I have some ideas kicking around in my brain for future research but I’m waiting to see where my first “real” semester here takes me before I commit to anything. Advice on getting published and identifying topics is greatly appreciated!

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