2012 was an incredibly hectic year. I have been especially tired, this winter, even beyond the normal sleepiness that comes from short days—enough so that I took the three workdays between Christmas and New Years off, which I never do. (It’s so quiet! You can get so much work done!) I tried really hard not to think about work, or much of anything else, during the time off, with moderate success. As a result, I feel almost (but not quite) ready to go back to work, now.
But you know what? Looking back, I kind of feel justified in my exhaustion. Maybe 2013 will be the year I finally learn to pace myself. A career is a marathon, not a sprint.
I’m sticking to the professional, mostly, in this post. To see the less-professional happenings of 2012, feel free to check them out at Moving to Alaska, a blog that my husband and I share. My post there isn’t super personal or anything, but I don’t think my family reads this blog; I thought I’d split out the parts they’d care about, to go there.
Professional organization stuff
My biggest professional effort of 2012, at least outside of work, was my participation in ALA’s Emerging Leaders program, starting in January and ending in June. It was an honor to be included, and I met some fantastic people; I’m really glad to have had the opportunity! It was also, I now feel I can admit, completely exhausting. I worked very hard on the project my team was assigned (which was either my first or second choice; I can’t remember, now, except that I was happy to be assigned to it). I put in significantly more than 40 hours a week, many weeks, during those 5 months. And I’m still doing a little bit, maintaining the site (correcting typos, mostly, and fixing WordPress plugins) and, if it’s approved as a pre-conference, planning the Alaska Library Association’s (AkLA’s) implementation of it. But even those things will trail off to nothing by April. After that I’m hoping I can take a year away from that project, recoup, and then maybe rejoin it.
2012 was also a year when I came out of my shell, a little bit. I presented at my first ever regional conference, PNLA (the Pacific Northwest Library Association). I also helped run Library Camp at both ALA conferences, and I’m hoping to be able to help again in 2013. Also, although these were just first steps (the hardest step, though: signing up!), I put in my name and was nominated as a candidate for the 2013 ALA Council elections, and I was accepted as a participant on a panel at the 2013 ALA Midwinter conference. I’m excited and nervous about both!
It’s not 100% professional, or organized, but I also watched a pet project of mine turn a year old. Interlibrary Lush – Anchorage is still happening. The crowd has shrunk, a bit, but we’re mixing things up and moving to a weeknight, in hopes of getting more folks to come along. It’s really more dinner-with-librarians than librarian-happy-hour, now, but I really like its name, despite that. Here’s hoping it lasts another year!
And at work…
I moved a bunch of things forward, at work, in 2012, some of it alone and some with my colleagues. The whole Web Team read Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, which has made us better at communicating with each other and thinking about things from the users’ perspective. Along those lines, I am particularly proud to have finished our Plan for the Web Presence (colloquially, I call it “the Web Plan”), though it still has a couple of hoops to go through (and possibly a change or two?) before the whole organization will get behind it. It was a ton of work, though, and I’m really pleased with how it has turned out, so far. Also, our Social Media Team keeps being awesome, rolling with changes to Facebook and looking at new avenues for us to explore.
I keep focusing on the mountain of things I need to do, with the help and input of my teams, but I really need to spend more time looking at how far we’ve come and how much we’ve already done, rather than allow myself to be intimidated by the work that’s left to do. That sounds like a good approach for 2013, right?
The other big achievement of the year was the completion of my fourth year cumulative review file, which I just refer to as “my faculty file.” I spent a large part of the month of August on this file, again working far more than 40 hours a week. It was ridiculously time-consuming, and the self review was a huge challenge to write, no lie. (I owe several people beer or coffee for looking it over for me.) But I am also very proud of myself for all of the work I’ve done, as reflected in that file. And, better, my colleagues within the library have deemed my work “satisfactory,” both in teaching and service. (I know “satisfactory” doesn’t sound good, but it IS! They often say “so-and-so is progressing well toward tenure,” or some such, rather than “we find so-and-so’s work to be satisfactory.” And “satisfactory” is the required rating for tenure, when you put forward your sixth year tenure review file, making it a pretty high rating for just a fourth year file. It means I don’t have to change anything about my work in order to get tenure.) We’ll see what the campus-wide committee and the Provost think, but the library is traditionally the hardest group to get past. So I’m pretty pleased.
I started with the Bird Treatment and Learning Center, this year. I haven’t done the first presentation I need to do, before I get to work hands-on with the education bird I’m signed up for—like I said, I’ve been busy—but I’ve done some of the reading, and I’m hoping to get the presentation done before the start of the spring semester. My plan is to make slides and put the whole thing on YouTube. Because who doesn’t want to learn about owls, right?
I also got started on one more project, which I haven’t blogged about yet; I feel like I’m introducing new information in a conclusion, somehow, but let’s roll with it anyway. A friend of mine started a group called “IndieInfoTech,” with the goal of getting IT professionals together to learn from one another. It’s a bit more formal than ILL, for instance, because there are presentations, which are recorded and put on YouTube. We also have a Meetup, a Facebook page, space in GitHub, and several other communication venues. I’m going to help with organizing the group’s social media presence, in addition to hopefully presenting on UX and related topics. I have to say, it’s a little intimidating for me, so far. Most people in the group have much more technical jobs than my current job, so they’re much more up to date on a lot of the topics. But that’s the point, right? To learn!
These are both repeats from 2011, but I participated in Tour de Cure again, as well as organizing the Anchorage Chapter of AkLA’s participation in the Anchorage Citywide Cleanup. I’m doing Tour de Cure in 2013, and I’d be really grateful if you’d be willing to donate. Not sure about the Citywide Cleanup, but probably.
It’s not tech, exactly, but it’s “newfangled,” so let’s put it here. I tried to participate in a MOOC, through Coursera. It didn’t work out. I had too many other things going on.
More techy: I got an iPad (the same year my husband finally got a smartphone). It hasn’t been precisely life-changing, but I’ve enjoyed having it. I play a mean DrawSomething, now, at least. And I got the one that can connect to 3G, so when I go to conference I’m no longer hemmed in by the available wifi. I got a keyboard cover for it for Christmas, and I bought myself a cute stylus and the iPad-to-VGA adapter, so I’m pretty much unstoppable. Or I will be once I pick up some battery backup, or even better (but spendy), a purse with integrated battery (in violet, obviously).
In other gadget news, I’m about to join the dark side. I mean, not right away, but the decision has been made, meaning that implementation is only a matter of time. I’ve borrowed my workplace’s Kindle, and I like it a lot. I have Amazon Prime, so I get one free book a month, without having to wait for it to become available in Overdrive (how sad). And, at least in principle, I like that I can use Whispersync between my Audible books and Kindle books, assuming I buy both. (At least the Kindle book is a lower price, once you buy the Audible one.) I’ve only ever wanted that once, but I wanted it badly, so that’s a feature I actually might use. And, honestly, I just really like how the new Paperwhite looks and feels—pretty much exactly like my Sony Reader Pocket Edition. It’s a nice device. I still love my Sony Reader, but the better marketplace (in terms of both usability and selection) and cheaper books are high marks in Amazon’s favor. And syncing my Sony library with my device has always been buggy, where it isn’t with Amazon. … I do feel bad for supporting a company that hasn’t been all that kind to libraries, but they make a good product.
And in social media news, I started using both Fitocracy (level 10, baby!) and Pinterest this year. I’m not super addicted to Pinterest, the way some folks are, but I think it’s fun. I initially tried to use it as a kind of visual cookbook (among other things), but I hated that I couldn’t pin sites without pictures. So I ended up turning to Evernote for recipes, which has worked much better. (Evernote on the iPad, in a cookbook stand. That’s how I cook.) I also use it for owners manuals, receipts, all the paper my doctor gives me, etc. It’s become an important part of my life, fairly quickly, probably thanks to the ScanSnap printer I bought to go with it. I like that.
Resolution for 2013
Maybe “resolution” is a strong word. But, at least on the professional front, I have one big goal (and a million small goals): I want to figure out what my next career move needs to be, and I want to start working toward that. It’s entirely possible that I’ll decide “I want my department head’s job when he leaves.” In which case, I should have lots of time to work up to it (the lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, as they say)—but not a lot of opportunity to get actual supervisory experience, which may end up being a requirement for the postion. I know it isn’t a given that I’d get it—I suspect that if he left tomorrow, I wouldn’t even have a shot at it—hence the working part of this equation.
But I might not decide that way. I might decide that I want to move into public libraries, which I’ve always felt was my actual home. I had the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon at a small branch library, last week, and it felt really right, as did my first library job, also in a small branch library. But I need to think that through. I have it really good in my current job, in a lot of ways I would not, in public libraries: I get work time to contribute to the library field; I get to work on my technical skills; my job is secure. If I decide that I’m going to make the jump back to public libraries, I want to do it in a smart way. Obviously.
I don’t know. It would be a whole blog post of its own, if I wanted to really explore this and discuss the options, as I see them. The important part, for the purposes of this post, is that I want to figure out where I need to go next, so that I can start working toward it. That’s my professional resolution.