I know it’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve almost written a few posts on the vitriol I’ve been seeing from librarians on social media over the past couple of months, but in the end, I decided it was better not to. All I’ll say is that I expect a lot more tolerance, charitable reading, and critical thinking from librarians. I know most librarians are exemplars of all those things, but it seems like Twitter and Facebook bring out the rush-to-judgment-and-grab-a-pitchfork mentality in many normally level-headed people.
Besides, I’d much rather write about happy things. Like my job. It’s great! I spent the first month and a half feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders; like I could breathe again. It’s not like my job here is all lollipops and rainbows. I do a lot of teaching and I spend a lot of time at the reference desk. I’m a liaison and do collection development for my departments. In between, I’m involved in projects like implementing LibGuides (again!) and making a cool evaluating sources video with a colleague. It’s a very meat-and-potatoes public services librarian job. But I like meat and potatoes. And I feel like I’ve won the lottery being here.
Part of it is the commitment to supporting student success that I see from everyone who works at PCC. Everyone knows why they are here. Their priorities are in the right place. That’s not to say that there aren’t wacky things here (like every other academic institution on earth), but the overarching goal of every unit seems to be to help students be successful. It’s nice to work somewhere where the values of the institution are so consistent with my own.
Part of it is the students. They are a pleasure to work with and I feel very fulfilled by my interactions with them at the reference desk and in the classroom. PCC is very diverse, but I’m seeing a lot more students who clearly have been marginalized or underestimated or beaten up by life. And I see how strong and bright so many of these students are and how successful they will be if they just allow themselves to believe it. So much of what I see in terms of student weaknesses is a lack of experience and a lack of self-efficacy, not at all a lack of ability. I’m still getting a handle on how to tailor my teaching to community college students — I didn’t think it would be that different and I was wrong — but I’m enjoying the learning curve. It’s kind of refreshing to feel like a beginner again.
A big part of it is my colleagues. They are just an amazingly nice, engaged, committed, positive, and thoughtful bunch of professionals. I’m sure we’ve all worked with at least one other person in the past who sees their job as a stepping stone to something better. And it’s clear that their commitment is not to the institution but to their own ambitions and whatever will further those. I do not have the sense that any of my colleagues are trying to climb a ladder. They are driven more by their commitment to students and faculty than by a desire to get ahead or get promoted. And because of that, being collegial and team-oriented is a no-brainer. Tearing someone else down will provide no benefit in an environment like this.
Now that I’m past the wide-eyed “am I really here?” stage, it’s starting to just feel like “my job.” And that’s a good thing. I look forward to building the sorts of relationships with students and faculty that I had at my last two library jobs. It takes time to be able to do really meaningful stuff at any institution (I used to say progress in improving library instruction can be measured in geologic time) and, at this point in my career, I don’t feel that same impatience to do the big exciting innovative thing right this minute. But I am very much looking forward to a time when I know all the acronyms and what my departments are up to and how I can best support them.
And I’m just happy to be able to write about my work again. Jenica wrote about how isolating it is to be a director sometimes because there are so many things she wants to blog about but can’t. I’d say the same can be said about being unhappy in your job. Writing about the details on social media is just about the most impolitic thing you can do (and I can say this because I made this mistake early in my career and fortunately had a wonderful director who supported me through that teachable moment). At a time when work was making me feel despondent, I didn’t feel I could reach out much to the network of wonderful friends I’ve made over the past decade on social media. So it’s nice to feel like I can be myself again and write freely. Talk about a weight lifted.
Photo credit: Weight lifter
How I know I made the right choice 5 years ago when I took the job at my current library: I still show up some days amazed they let me do the kind of things I get to do.
my job has changed a lot in that time, but I still love coming to work at this library every day. May you be the same five years from now.
I totally understand what you’re talking about! Going from a job and colleagues who are not…collegial…to one in which people work as a team and are supportive is a life saver!
Meredith, welcome to community college librarianship! I’m looking forward to hearing your take on information literacy instruction as it relates to our students. Congratulations on your new work situation as well.