I recently celebrated a significant milestone in my professional life — the successful completion of my first year as Systems Librarian at the Pollak Library at California State University Fullerton. May 4th marked the official anniversary, but I’ve been too ridiculously busy to blog about it until now (Note to self: You haven’t blogged in 3 months!).
Why do I consider this first anniversary a big milestone? Because it marks a number of professional “firsts” for me: my first year at the Pollak Library, my first year as an academic librarian, and my first year as a Systems Librarian.
How do I know it was a successful first year? Well, that’s simple…sort of. My position is an annual contract position, so I get to suffer through compiling a massive faculty portfolio each year, then have it submitted for review to three different parties to determine if a contract will be extended to me for another year. I’m told that my contract is indeed being renewed for the 2010-2011 year.
I’ve spent this past month looking back on this first year, and thought it might be useful to share some key points. I’ll try to elaborate on some of these points in future blog posts.
My Biggest First Year Challenges
- Getting familiar with the massive list of tech applications and services managed by our library, our campus, and our state university (CSU) system.
- Embarking on formal Project Management training, then immediately being looked to as the library’s Project Management “expert”, and starting a high profile website redesign as my first officially managed project.
- Trying to juggle far more than 40+ hours of weekly job responsibilities within a mandatory reduced work schedule during furlough weeks that started in August.
- Adjusting to the academic and campus cultures:
- Differences in how faculty and staff are perceived, treated, and managed — and how they are perceived to be treated and managed.
- Being part of a faculty union (or any union, for that matter).
- Surviving the grueling stressful faculty review process — a process that really doesn’t quite fit the role of librarians.
- Understanding the role of campus I.T. versus academic technology staff for each college, and how much these operate independently of each other.
- The levels of bureaucracy exceed anything I experienced at previous jobs — including working for a municipal government in a city library.
What I Had Not Expected
- I, along with all of my colleagues, got hit with a 10% 1-year salary cut last July in the form of furloughs.
- I do much less actual programming (“coding”) than I anticipated; there just seems to be a bigger need for other skill sets of mine, and fortunately, we have two very talented programmers in Library Systems.
- I do far more more technical and usability consulting than I expected; this actually takes up the majority of my time, whether it’s for the library or with other campus entities and faculty. My most valuable role — in my eyes — has evolved into what I call a “tech interpreter”, translating technical expectations and explanations between various parties.
What I Enjoy Most About My Job
- I love working in a capacity that allows me to contribute towards higher education. Although I don’t teach in a traditional classroom curriculum setting, I do get to teach and present on tech topics. But more importantly, the technologies that I research, evaluate, recommend, implement, and manage on behalf of the library and university will all hopefully improve the educational experience of our students.
- I greatly appreciate the collegial nature and sense of camaraderie in the library and throughout the campus. I am fortunate to work in an environment that really does promote and value teamwork, and with colleagues who do share a common goal — improving the educational experience of our students.
- I am surrounded by smart, energetic, and talented coworkers who continue to teach me something new every single day, and who champion and value continued professional development.
- I still can’t believe that I actually get paid to keep abreast of, and play around with, cool new emerging technologies! Granted, I have to justify these technologies as providing value to the library and campus communities, and take organizational priorities into consideration, but it’s still a pretty darn cool gig!