January 24, 2008

Week 6: Shoveling and Gardening

You'd be amazed what you'll find when trolling the AARP discussion boards! This week I provided some key information to our overall efforts by noting a somewhat buried comment posted months ago and then politely inquiring if my boss or his boss or "we" as an organization were aware of it. As it happens, this was not on anyone's radar and I got to deliver the news personally to some of our board members. This week I have earned the title "Information Specialist."

Much of what I do feels like shoveling and gardening. I probably get as much mail as the CEO and accounting department combined. I categorize it, I pore over it, then I dissect it into web blurbs, resource alerts, quick updates in the hallway, and notes to file away in the white spaces. As librarians we need keen radars, need to cast a wide net, and need to be able to zero in quickly, accurately, diplomatically, and instinctively. I shovel newsletters from one inbox to another, to another, to the library throughout this process. I had to weed flowers a lot growing up (and hated it!), and the best parts of this work feel like weeding. There is so much information out there, and we have to pare down all the useless bits so the flowers will bloom.

Keep weeding, keep shoveling, and smile.

January 18, 2008

Week 5: Other Duties as Assigned

This week I was invited to be a member of the Tech Team here, which is a victory for special librarians everywhere. I have wanted to be on it since I heard about it, and would have invited myself after about 6 months, but I am very glad I was invited by the Team leader. I will be helping with software decisions and training, and any other tech issues that come up in our 30-person office. One of the major roles of the Tech Team is to keep our Blackberries running. We all have Blackberries, and there are no real phones here. It's a very interesting way of communicating both in and outside of the office.

There is a certain amount of meeting planning involved in my job. I don't mind this. I feel it is a natural outgrowth of being service-oriented, forming relationships with all the key players (and the lesser-known worker bees), and making sure that information flows freely. Just being in charge of the sign-in sheet is a big advantage in my quest to know who's who and keep the right people informed on the right topics. This week I attended a federal meeting as notetaker and was just as captivated by the content as I was by the dynamic among feds and non-profits coming together.

The research requests keep on coming and I am happy to help. I have also started a Strength/Weakness/Opportunity/Threat marketing analysis of the library on my white board in my office. I'm a bit sheepish about it, just in case someone who comes into my office asks what it's all about, but I know they need to be included and I have to open up my thought process to everyone else's ideas and scrutiny. After all, it's their library!

January 11, 2008

Week 4: Library Matters

This week I have had the opportunity to do many things I am learning about in library school including many annotated bibliographies, intelligent web research, processing TONS of acquisitions and tracking down an article when all you have is a vague idea of the date, author and subject (this one was my favorite)! So far it feels very much as my professors have told me: I have to be flexible, alert, polite, patient, a counselor at times, a hostess at times, and always "at your service."

I had the opportunity yesterday to participate in my first webcast for librarians in my subspecialty. It's a "roundtable" that shares ideas, tips, and materials requests through a list-serve and also holds monthly presentations online to showcase various work in this area. I intended to just be a lurker, but it's a pretty tight-knit group, so they knew I was new and asked me to introduce myself. I was warmly welcomed and several people followed up with me "offline" to introduce themselves and see if they can be of assistance to me. Based on my limited time in the profession, I would have to say that in general, librarians are kind people!

I continue to develop good relationships with new people in the office and have so far succeeded at every random task and goose chase I've been asked to undertake. The Easy Button hits just keep on coming. The physical library is also taking shape as I gradually remove materials that don't belong there and wade through the ones that do. My vision for making it a user-centered and handicap-accessible library is slowly forming and I made several new year's resolutions in this vein. Stay tuned for news of a planned needs assessment and soliciting input from the white spaces! And, of course, smile.