It’s been almost a year since I started—more than a year since I got to Alaska. That’s kind of crazy, right? I’ve already turned in my activity report for the year, listing my various accomplishments, and pretty soon my department head will write an evaluation for me, leading to a “retention” meeting with the dean—a formality, in some ways, done whether one is in danger of non-retention or not. I’m not. But it will be a nice reality check, for me, to make sure that everyone else thinks I’m doing what I should be, in the way I should be doing it.
“Non-retention.” These people (faculty) could be consultants.
Anyway, it’s been a heck of a year. There’s a lot to be said for starting a job AFTER the craziness of the fall semester beginning, but wow is it hard to get used to a new environment, with challenges you might not fully have appreciated (I like my job and am happy, but that doesn’t mean I understood it as well as I could have, before starting) and people who have been holding back their to-do lists for your department suddenly coming out of the woodwork with tons of requests, when it’s getting darker every day, and you are exhausted. And missing familiar things and people, to boot.
I got through it just fine. People were incredibly friendly, patient, and understanding. Not that it shortened their to-do lists, but it made them seem more manageable. :)
Large portions of the first few months were spent in training-type activities. I moved a section of our site over into our CMS, to get to know how that worked—funnily enough, we deprecated that section seven months later. I edited our reference tracking software pretty early on, which helped prepare me (as much as I could be prepared) for replacing it with a new install at the end of the summer—easy enough, except that there were a number of hacks involved, to make it fit the reference librarians’ needs, and it was some pretty messy code. I sat through a number of WebEx sessions and conference calls, to get up to speed on various vendor issues. I sat quietly in meetings for … a while. Not the recommended entire first month, but … at least a couple of days. :) Looking back, I don’t know if my department head had planned it all out or if he kind of winged (wung?) it, but, intentional or not, he put together a pretty good training regimen.
And, over the year, I think I have integrated into the library fairly well. I still feel my newness in some ways, but I think that’s part Alaska and part… you know, low turnover. (Seriously, it only took maybe six months to feel like an old hand at my consulting job! So my expectations are wonky.) But I have learned to work really well with my Web Team—it seems like there’s trust built up, there, and while we definitely all have our own very [very!] different visions of how the web presence should be, we work together and communicate well. I have planned out and created a seemingly sustainable social media presence, with the help, insight, ideas, and hard work of a great team of volunteers (non-zero overlap with the Web Team, actually :)). I have made a large number of relatively subtle changes to the front page of the website, with the input and buy-in of the Web Team, the Reference team, and, really, the whole library. I got WorldCat Local Quick Start working. More or less. (Our catalog has issues, causing problems for WorldCat. Long story.) I installed that new reference stats tracking software (which I hope will also one day be deprecated). I fixed a bunch of eresources that were busted, usually by diagnosing which of the 3-4 pieces was broken and then bugging the appropriate vendor. I got involved in new student orientation and helped make it, I think, rather successful. (I want to talk about this in my next post. There were successes and, as we called them in consulting, “opportunities for improvement.”) I was–and am still being—trained to work at the reference desk. I work there, but I don’t feel all that much like an expert, yet; the questions here are a lot more diverse than at the engineering library, or even, in some ways, than at the public library.
And today, I got to help out with my first library instruction session—presumably, I will be running my own, before long, but they let me watch/support a few before making me jump in. ;)
And, through doing all of this (and all the stuff I forgot to list), I have generated an even larger to-do list for myself: get to know the faculty in my liaison departments, get a YouTube channel going, rebuild the News section of our website and revitalize the blog that goes with it, work on choosing a discovery layer for our website (I don’t have to lead that committee, happily!), plan and implement user testing of our current website, design a new website based on that feedback and various research (and the discovery layer, hopefully!), test and deploy the new website, keep working with Reference to make the research help portion of our website as awesome as it can be, and so on. … I get exhausted just thinking about it. But also pretty excited, because there are some cool things coming down the pike!