July 21, 2008

Ready About? Transferable Skills for the Embedded Librarian

Yesterday I sailed for the first time in my life. And I mean, I sailed. My boss, whose boat I had the pleasure of sailing on through the Chesapeake Bay, let me steer for a while. All I had to do was choose a fixed point on the horizon and pretend I was guiding the boat toward it. Easier said than done, but it worked. And with a little more practice, the feel of the delay and the muscle memory will help me steer much better. Knowing yoga proved to be an excellent transferable skill for steering a sloop (and spending a few hours with sailors transfers well to crossword puzzling). Guiding the steering wheel was very much like learning tree pose (vrikshasana): choose a fixed point; breathe in; remember your objective; breathe out.

Object, inhale. Objective, exhale.

If your job description is fluid, know what you know, and be ready to demonstrate it if asked. Most librarians have had other careers, and so they have other skills. Use them. Bruce Rosenstein uses this model for marketing specifically, but it works for librarianship in general:
  • Know what you can do.

  • Tell them you can do it.

  • Do it.

  • Tell them what you did.
Yesterday I steered my boss' boat, and although I was only able to maintain this for five minutes, he was watching, so he knows I am capable. He also knows that I have been trained on advanced layout techniques in Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, just to give one concrete example, so if the opportunity arises for me to get into more publication work here (or publish my own library newsletter!), I'll be ready, and he'll know that I'm equal to the task.

Will you be ready if your boss asks you to steer?

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