Thursday, 14 June 2012

My First Anniversary

Image taken by nubobo
Last week was the one year anniversary of my starting work in my current job and the time seems right for a mini-reflection. Initially, I didn’t plan to stay very long in my current job - the commute is long and the petrol bill high - but I find myself liking the library, the college and the people.

Whilst I loved my previous job, it was no longer challenging. I wonder how long it will be before I start to see this role in the same way? At the moment I can’t ever imagine feeling that, even after a year I still feel as though I am learning how to do things. I can genuinely say that almost every day is a learning curve for me in one way or another and whilst that can be tiring, it’s also stimulating and enjoyable. Trying to narrow it down is quite tricky, but here are the main activities which I think have helped me develop the most over the past few months:*

  • Working as part of a large team. In my previous job (school librarian) there were only two of us in the department, whereas here there are 11 of us in the library. It was a big transition to make but I enjoy working within a large team far more than within a small team, it is friendlier and there is an abundance of people to bounce ideas around with. I deputise for the College Librarian in his absence and this is where I am gaining new skills. Performing back-to-work interviews, creating personal development plans with/for other staff, trying to resolve disagreements – all of this is new to me. Sometimes (I must admit), it does make me feel like hiding under a table until it all just goes away, but by and large I think I’m doing well in developing my supervisory and people management skills.

  • Going through Ofsted. The college librarian was absent for part of it so I took the lead for the department. I had only worked here for 8 months and having to compile a portfolio of activity since the last Ofsted inspection was quite the challenge! There were moments of panic and instances of running around like a headless chicken, but I am really proud of the part I played. I asked the assistants for help with sourcing various pieces of information and the positive responses I got warmed the cockles of my heart! The whole department pulled together to help gather the evidence for the portfolio and I felt proud to be a part of it.

  • Moving college sites. Just three months after starting work here, the arts campus moved to a new site. The college librarian was on annual leave at the time so I managed the move. I’d always thought the opportunity to create a new library was something I’d love to tackle, but having now worked through it I can see how I underestimated it. I felt stressed the whole two weeks of the move but looking back I think ‘if I can do that, I can do anything’. Everything worked out well in the end and it helped boost my project management skills.

  • Compiling an insurance estimate. This was quite the eye-opener. In the absence of the college librarian, I was called upon to complete an estimate of library resources for the college insurance policy. The insurance company massively underestimated the average cost of a book and this, in turn, devalued our overall book stock. Needless to say, we now have quite the healthy valuation for books and ILT equipment!

  • Attending a study visit. This was an amazing experience from start to finish. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to explore libraries in another country, and also experience being a participant in a group of people from different cultures.

  • Integrating two software packages. Linking Heritage and MyPC was a large task not without its initial complications, but everything is now running smoothly. (Touch wood.) It has had a very positive impact on the library and helped strengthen inter-department relations between the library staff and IT Technicians.

  • Familiarising myself with Heritage. Somebody once described me as the college’s ‘Heritage expert’. If only they knew how many tears I’d shed over it! For the first six months of my job I felt totally overwhelmed by the LMS and the fact that it was my job to manage it. I had never used Heritage before and it intimidated and scared me. The college has a semi-dedicated Heritage technician who I’ve developed a good working relationship with and this gave me the confidence to explore the software, knowing that whatever mistakes I made he’d be able to salvage it from the backup (and not make me feel like a dunce in the process). I look at things I do on Heritage now that I remember actively avoiding last year and being able to see that development in myself gives me a warm fuzzy glow inside.

  • User education. I found this to be quite challenging. There are three of us in the library who provide a programme of user education sessions and I underestimated how intense it would be. It was completely different to providing user education in a secondary school library, and we facilitated so many sessions that at times I felt like a broken record. I tried hard to make my sessions interactive and enjoyable and for the most part I think I succeeded. The previous year I completed the PTLLS teaching training course and it felt good actively putting the knowledge I’d gained into practice. This year, however, I hope we do not formulate such an intense programme of events. I was still getting use to the commute and teaching up to 4 sessions a day left me feeling utterly drained.
I try to put a positive spin on things, but looking back I can immediately think of two instances when the only positive I can attribute is ‘nobody died’. I had to teach a session on advanced Google searching, but the college internet was down. There was nothing I could do to rectify it and that lesson is impossible to teach without internet access, so in effect a bunch of 16 year olds had a free lesson instead. Another bad time (which I laugh about now) was when I accidentally deleted every DVD from Heritage. I immediately burst into tears without any warning to the IT Techie sitting next to me trying to restore them from the backup.

I’ve been thinking about what the next 12 months will hold for me. I’d really like the library to go through CoLRiC peer assessment, and in January I’ll be starting the revalidation ball rolling. Or rather, I might do, if somebody pushes me…

*I’m aware I’ve not yet fully blogged about some of the points I mention in this post. I’m juggling lots of plates at the moment and blogging is the one which dropped and smashed but I hope to have soon caught up with my backlog of posts.

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