Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Time to reflect

Image by Irargerich
It’s December now, which means I’ve hit the six month mark in my new job. Thought I’d have a little ponder and reflect on my time here so far.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay in this role as it entails a 65 mile round trip to one campus and an 80 mile round trip to the other campus. I find the drive draining, and although I try to use it as ‘down time’ I’m not really succeeding with that just yet. I live in hope that one day I’ll find the commute relaxing.

Looking back, I can see I’ve developed skills I didn’t make much use of in my previous role as a School Librarian. I spend a fair amount of my working week classifying new stock, although it is constantly a bottle neck in the book-processing procedure. It’s nice to get my teeth into Dewey again, I didn’t realise how much I missed it while I was at the school. There are some books for which I simply I can’t decide upon class numbers, and these tend to have extended stays on our classification shelf in the office; I know this is a weakness of mine, I shouldn’t pick and choose the books I classify, I’ll try to be more inclusive in the new year.

I’m finally starting to get to grips with Heritage, our LMS system. It no longer intimidates or scares me, and I feel brave enough to actually tackle issues with it. I’ve been steadily working my way through clearing it up and removing unwanted data, with the aim of making it a more manageable size. The server would crash at least twice a week so, following Heritage advice and working closely with college IT techies, I’ve made changes and now the server hasn’t crashed for almost a month. I don’t want to tempt fate, but touch wood (*taps head*) it seems to be going well. I’ve messed up a few times and (shock horror) corrupted live data no less than twice, but I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I feel all the stronger for it. I can see how much more I know now than when I first started, which gives me a bit of a boost.

Sept-Nov saw a pretty intense programme of user education sessions. Although I’ve done this before in the school, and also in another FE college, I was dreading it. Sometimes I’d facilitate three sessions a day and it was pretty hard going. Some sessions went better than others (I had a terrible class once when I was to deliver a session regarding e-books and advanced Google and the internet was down!), but overall I think it worked really well. I have the PTLLS teaching qualification and it was good to finally be able to drawn upon the knowledge I’ve gained from that course. Work colleagues paid me quite a few compliments which boosted my confidence and helped me perform better. Now we are coming to the end of the first full term, these sessions have been replaced by one-to-one sessions, mostly on referencing. These are helping us to get to know our library users and build relationships with them, which can only be good.

Part of the college moved to a new campus in August which meant we opened a new library. Our head of department was off the week of the move so I worked through it. I’d never done anything like it before, and I always said opening a new library was a librarian’s dream, but oh! how stressful I found it. I’d never had to deal with contractors and project managers and moving companies before, but looking back it was a great opportunity for personal growth. At the time I didn’t think the week was ever going to end, but I’m glad I did it now. I consider it my richest learning experience to date. We’ve since opened up another library at a third site; Heritage isn’t working correctly there at the moment due to licensing issues, and we are currently operating a self-service paper-based system. It all adds up to an operational nightmare, but again, this is something I’ve not experienced before so I’m learning lots.

I’ve been given lots of opportunities for development in my new job too. This is particularly noticeable for me having previously worked in a school where development opportunities were immediately discounted unless they were free. I’m working my way through a line management course in the evenings and have attended lots of library-related day sessions/training events. Plus there’s the study visit to Poland on the horizon next year. I feel really lucky to be learning in this way and am very thankful for it.

Working in a large team has taken a little to get used to, having been a lone worker with a part time assistant. Office politics is something I’ve not come across for a long time and whilst I can see an element of amusement in some of it, the majority of it I could easily do without. As, I’m sure, most people would agree. Saying that though, the team has welcomed me as a part of it and for this I am very thankful. I’ve also started to get to know some of the IT Technicians at the college now. On a personal level, I struggle when meeting new people so I’m glad to have settled in reasonably well and have the occasional giggle at work.

Overall, looking back, I can see a lot of my boundaries have been pushed. I may dread things and panic about them, but I’m glad to be in the job I have. The team is nice, people (on the whole) are helpful, the work interesting and varied and opportunities for development are present. I do miss the interaction with school pupils and being part of a wider school community. With hindsight, I can see I’d taken my old job as far as I could and, although redundancy was a traumatic experience I never want to repeat, I’m glad I now have a job which is stretching me.

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