Libraries, the universe and everything

A Janus moment
January 22, 2016, 12:28
Filed under: Chartership, CPD, Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

In preparing my 2015 CPD list and statement for revalidation I’ve been looking back over my professional goals for 2015, and am pleased to note that I didn’t actually do too badly at achieving them. (I also managed to log over 120 hours of CPD activities, and I’m quite sure that isn’t actually the full total – no wonder I never seem to have any free time!)
I’m not sure I widened my horizons a great deal last year, but I certainly maintained my levels of reading and networking. My SLA network is increasingly valuable to me, and I am so grateful for the opportunities it gives me to interact with so many fantastic people. I also love the fact that (for various reasons) I am gradually becoming more useful, so rather than just benefitting from the experience and wisdom of others I can give something back in return.

My work for the NY chapter took up a LOT of time in 2015 (a major percentage of those 120 CPD hours, in fact): acting as President Elect meant that I attended masses of events and meetings, and talked and emailed with many many people. More personally, I put a lot of effort into improving my leadership skills, particularly focussing on how to run an effective meeting, as well as ensuring that I succeeded at all the various tasks I took on (whether writing promotional text, coordinating our annual meeting and awards event, or representing the chapter on various occasions – some of these activities much easier than others).

Also on the downside, our Board mentee scheme delivered mixed results in 2015 – one mentee dropped out half way through the year, and the other is currently stepping back a little to focus on other things (although I believe that they found it to be at least a somewhat beneficial experience). So, year 1 of the scheme was a resounding success; year 2 was pretty much a failure. For 2016 we put a lot of thought into the selection of our candidates, and (amongst other things) we plan to meet regularly throughout the year, with the aim of giving them a more targeted experience and responding to changing needs and circumstances as the year progresses. I really want this scheme to work, it has so much potential for developing talent within the chapter (and of course I have a personal interest, as a guinea pig of the scheme), but I think we have to figure out how to get it right this year if it’s going to continue.

The digital humanities plan has also been shelved for the time being. I very much enjoyed the introductory Data Scientist’s Toolbox course, I remain fascinated by DH, and am certainly capable of acquiring the necessary technical knowledge, but I simply don’t have time at present, and to be honest I lack a clear goal in this direction. I also had a bit of an epiphany in the “what I want to do when I grow up” department, which is run a rare books reading room, so it didn’t take much reflection to realise I ought to be focussing on developing my rare book skills instead. Consequently I asked the printed books department at the Morgan for a volunteer opportunity, and they created me a role upgrading catalogue records for their 16th century English books. Not only has this project been an absolute joy to work on, but it has also allowed me to upgrade my skillset – including gaining experience of MARC cataloging, deciphering handwritten inscriptions and other indications of provenance, and describing bindings.

Goals for 2016, then, include:

  • continuing to maintain the reading and networking, ideally expanding my New York network to include some of the other local library associations (to which end I’ve just joined ARLIS/NY);
  • improving my conflict-resolution and negotiation skills, working on public speaking (I ALWAYS need more preparation than I think I do), not getting complacent about running meetings, and generally keeping all the SLA NY balls in the air;
  • and, happily, carrying on with the things I do at the Morgan.

Looking into my crystal ball (oh, how I wish…) I can see a whole bunch of challenges ahead this year, a prospect which makes me excited and anxious in equal measures. This is certainly going to be a harder year than the last couple, I think, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing – we shall just have to wait and see how it all turns out…

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