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Showing posts from 2011

2011 Year In Review: Obligatory End of the Year Post

When I tried to cast back on 2011, I found that it was a mighty blur. The primary things I remember:
Lots of planning. We have a new library building going up that is going to cause some major changes in how we run things. The UTC libraryfolk also spent much of the year batting OCLC's WMS about, testing it, developing it (well, our IT gurus), and discussing the product.
Lots of service work. I'm a Faculty Senate member as well as Senate Secretary. I'm on the Faculty Handbook Committee, which is engaging in a complete revision of our outdated handbook. I helped out with some of the SACS onsite accreditation visits. I'm on the Petitions Committee which handles students petitioning this, that and the other. I also served as a marshal at both graduations this year.
Lots of searches. I served on the spring search committee to hire a new faculty member into the University's EdD in Learning & Leadership program. I served as chair of the Library's two most recent libr…

"Being" vs. "Serving As": My Job Is Not My Self

In a discussion in one of my EdD classes (Organization Theory and Development, I think), the seminar got into a discussion about how passionate professionals sometimes over-identify with their profession to the exclusions of themselves as a whole person. Talking about this phenomenon in class brought up all the problems inherent with this - in particular, that there seems to be a high incidence of burnout in non-profit workers, public administrators, and human service personnel directly linked to this strong identification of what we do with who we are.

This hit pretty close to home; I identify strongly with being a librarian. (See the phrasing? "Being" a librarian. Puts me in mind of the difference in Spanish between the two "to be" verbs, estar and ser, where estoy usually refers to a temporary condition.) When someone asks me what I do, I do not say that I participate in the actions of librarianating (though when pressed for details I start talking about managin…

Bitchface and Customer Service

Mom: "Stop making that face."
Me: "I'm not making a face!"
Mom: "You are making a face. Stop it."
Me: "Mom, I promise I am not making a face."
Mom: "You had better get that face off before I smack it off."
Me: "I AM NOT MAKING A FACE THIS IS JUST HOW MY FACE LOOKS."

And thus the conversation that occurred on a regular basis from age 8 through...well, I was going to say 18, but it occasionally pops back up, and I'm beyond 30.

I suffer from the worst non-health-threatening affliction a public service person can have. (It's not so peachy to deal with in my regular non-work life either, but it has more repercussions in worklife.)

My name is Colleen, and I suffer from bitchface.

My face, when I am concentrating on something other than how I look to other people (like reading, or spreadsheets, or complicated conversations) falls into an unfortunate cascade of down-turned mouth and frowny-forehead that I simply refer to as bitc…

On Learning, Library Evolution, Organizational Change, and the (Occasionally Ugly) Responsibilities of Library Management

Inside Higher Ed's "Library Limbo" story, noting the backlash against layoffs at the USD library, has sparked some great conversations about professional development and management in the past few days. Positions such as inventory control official and reserves supervisor, seen as non-essential to the USD Library moving forward, were apparently done away with in favor of positions with greater technology responsibilities. People were laid off close to retirement. People were offended that one could be let go after serving a university for more than 25 years.

Required background reading, if you haven't already read them:
Gavia Libraria (The Library Loon)'s "Libraries: The Last Humane Employers"

Barbara Fister's IHE column "You are not a tinker toy: Libraries and reorganization"

Wayne Bivens-Tatum's post "Responsibility and Professional Development"

Barbara Fister's Library Journal column "What do we want? Change! When do w…

Jobseeker Tip 1: CV/Resume Objectives, And A Contest!

**This blog post is first in a series about job search advice as discussed by my happy band of fellow library hiring managers, and is not related to any particular individual applicant from actual past, current, or future searches. All objectives included below are largely fictional, and any resemblance they may bear to actual CV objectives is the fault of the CV writer**

Let's talk about the "Objective" section on your CV or resume. (Or, I'll write, you read.)

Delete it.

No, really. It's a waste of precious page real estate, and while it offers you the opportunity to shoot yourself in the foot, it doesn't offer a similar-sized boon if you get it right. If you make it library-department and library type specific:

"Objective: To obtain a technical services position in an academic library setting"

you'll look like a fool if you forget to then tailor that line when you start applying for reference jobs and public library positions. (Don't laugh; th…

Real Talk on Library Management Difficulties

At an ALA 2011 emerging trends discussion group on training and retaining middle managers, an HR official noted that if a manager is doing their job and properly training and documenting, then the HR office helps in the disciplinary process, and there is no reason a manager should have any trouble.

At an ALA 2011 pre-conference on the difficult parts of management, the refusal by some library administrations and HR offices to help managers properly handle disciplinary action with documented under-performing staff was a widely acknowledged reality among participants.

I will admit that I have worked in libraries with fantastic administrations and great HR offices, weak administrations and weak HR offices, and various other combinations. Given that experience, I have to say that the experience of poor management practices at the upper levels of an organization can make the life of a middle manager hell, and it does us as a profession no good to pretend otherwise.

The rest of this post is…

Reflections on ALA 2011

I miss New Orleans already, as I prepare myself for a lunch that doesn't involve oysters, alligator sausage, fried things of any kind, daquiris, or my far-flung library colleagues. I am trying to suppress my disappointment. Before everything gets lost in the haze of back-to-work, I wanted to get down some lasting impressions:

1. New Orleans, I Heart You

I don't know what I was expecting of New Orleans, but it is a wonderful, walkable, fantastic little city with great character and outstanding food. I could barely believe the tales of craziness (I never did make it over to Bourbon Street), until the evening I was walking back to my hotel and passed a number of folks in Santa hats. And they were immediately followed by a guy fully duded up as Santa - big hat, faux beard, heavy coat and gloves...and no pants, hollering "HO HO HO!" as he stumbled down the sidewalk. And apparently that's just an everyday occurrence, because no one else even raised an eyebrow. In any cas…

Library Managers as Triathletes of the Mind? Meaghen's Wisdom for Librarians

Image
Meaghen Ann Harris, award-winning athlete
I'm putting the finishing touches on my slides for ALA, where I'll be presenting the LLAMA preconference "The Tough Stuff: Leadership, Change, & Performance Management for Library Managers" with the incredibly wise Jenica Rogers. This past weekend I was trying to find a theme to run through my portion of the talk on managing change. In a fit of pique and laziness, I polled Facebook, and my sister Meaghen noted that triathlons were a pretty good metaphor. She noted that triathletes have to swim to T1 (transition #1), tear off their wet suits, put on bike shoes and helmet, and cycle to T2 (transition #2), where they "drop off bike, tear off helmet, throw on some kicks and run...to the FINISH. Manage the change, Colleen. Manage the change."My little sister is wise. (And a kickass athlete to boot, regularly taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd in her age group, while I cheer her on from under my covers and half a country away.) B…

The Dissertation Problem and ProQuest's "Legitimacy" Lie

I located a great dissertation that I'll have to cite in my literature review for my own dissertation-in-the-making. While finding it thrilled me, it also completely crapped on my parade. The dissertation is not interlibrary-loanable, since the degree-granting institution has the only paper copy. And to get a pdf copy of the work from ProQuest? Will cost me $37.00.
I am now looking at this in light of comments my advisor, who is teaching one of my doctoral classes this summer, made. He said to a group of us who were talking about the dissertation in a discussion board that the dissertation is essentially a dead end research exercise - nobody reads them when you're through with writing the damned thing, it just provides a platform for your future research agenda.
Well, HARRUMPH, doc.
*I* read them. The useful-to-me ones, anyway. That is, if I can get access to them. The problem - as it always is - is access. How on earth is a dissertation supposed to be cited by others when access…

Come Work at the Library We Love!

Want to come work with a fantastic team of librarian that includes @griffey, @vacairns, @librarianwilk, @caitlinshanley? Well, you're in luck!
At our own University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Lupton Library, we're hiring in an Electronic Resources & Serials Librarian and a Digital Integration Librarian. We've got the postings and a comparison of the requirements and qualifications for each position available here. Have a talented buddy you want to work with? Apply as a team! We'll look forward to seeing you in the pool -- remember, we start reviewing applications July 5th!

"You Shouldn't Call Here", Or, How To Lose A Customer

Just had another experience that reminded me of the importance of putting ourselves in our patron's shoes and making life as easy as possible, even if your university or library policies are a bit convoluted.
I called a medical specialist's office to see why I still did not have an appointment, five weeks after my doctor faxed my records and called to make the appointment. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Hi! I'm just calling to follow up and see what I can do to expedite getting an appointment. I know you likely don't have anything open for months, I just want to get on your calendar. My doctor's office faxed my information and called five weeks ago, but I haven't heard anything back."
Receptionist: "Your doc office has to call and set it up."
Me: "They did. You said you were swamped and would get back to them. Your office hasn't."
Receptionist: "No, we always make the appointment when they call."
Me: "…

Anniversaries Galore: 10, 5, and 1 year

In the past month, I’ve had a birthday, a ten-year anniversary of my college graduation, a one-year anniversary of being in my latest position, and next month will be the five-year anniversary of getting my MLS.

In the ten years since graduating college, I’ve held 10 jobs, which included:

Manager of Dunkin’ Donuts
Research Assistant at Emory University
Staff at Coldstone Creamery
Manager of a corporate technology sales team at CompUSA<
Overnight supervisor of the University of Kentucky’s Access Services
Second shift Reference and Instruction staff at the University of Kentucky
Graduate Admissions Officer at SUNY StonyBrook’s Graduate School
Reference & Instruction Librarian at UTC
Assistant Head of Access & Delivery Services at the NCSU Libraries
Head of Access Services at UTC

Those last five positions were post-MLS. In the five years since I earned my MLS, I’ve worked in Kentucky, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, and am now back in Tennessee. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to t…

Valuing Librarian Work: McMaster is Not The Only Model

By all accounts, Jeff Trzeciak at McMaster University appears to have jumped on the Taiga Train and is ringing in the end of the age of librarians in libraries. Jenica has a fantastic post detailing the myriad ways Trzeciak is undermining librarianship.

Mita goes even further on her New Jack Librarian Blog, discussing the implications of librarians being faculty-but-not-really, outsourcing information science work to vendors who now control and the library being a cost center maintained only by the good will of our communities. These are slightly longer term implications (though not, as Mita points out, for all three Mt. Hood full time faculty librarians, who were given pink slips).

A common thread here seems to be that administrators feel undergraduates will garner research skills on their own, somehow, without the benefit of librarians, despite the literature which demonstrates that such skills are not taught by the teaching faculty, who assume that librarians will take care of that,…

Library Administration: Necessary Evil or Necessary Advocate?

Poking my nosy nose into a mild kerfluffle between Jenica26 and @campbell_b, I landed smack in the middle of the greater debate on the evils of Administration. I jokingly (sort of) suggested that administration might be more appreciated if there were a wide walk-out, and library staff were left to live without the work administrators do.

Note: I don't take issue with folks who complain about bad administrators. I've known excellent ones, and I try to be a good mid-level manager myself, but I have been at the mercy of awful administrations, and there's little else that can make your professional life a living hell. I don't deny the existence of bad administrators.

What I do take issue with is the idea that library administration do nothing to add value to the library or to librarians' work-lives. Per Bryan's tweet to Jenica & me, "Walkout week? How about a few months? Staff will flail, adjust, move on. Try it. Maybe an innovation we need"

I don'…

Today's Nerd Moment Brought To You By: The Dual-Wielding Librarian

My invisible internet buddy Derrickmentioned on Friendfeed today that he loves being able to log into a library's database from home and have all that information at his fingertips.

It's true - such power for those who know it's there!

And to me, the best thing, the most fabbalous, the High Mount Holy of Nerd-dom (which I have visited once or twice, and is beautiful) - is when you leave one library to work at a new one, and your old place hasnt turned off your database access permissions yet, and you have *two* sets of library databases your inquiring little fingers can flip through.

It's like dual-wielding. The Horde falls before my vastly superior information access! Bliss for the inquiring mind! ACCESS SUPERPOWERS!!

Ahem. *straightens hair* As you were.

Library Leadership: Trait Development, the Gender Continuum, and Our Responsibility to Grow Self-Aware Leaders

I just completed a leadership analysis paper for one of the classes I am taking on Learning & Leadership for my EdD in same. The primary class text is Leaders and the Leadership Process: Readings, Self-assessments and Applications (Pierce & Newstrom, 2008), and it provides a great exploration of the different theories relating to, and dimensions of, leadership. the text combines syntheses of the literature with representative scholarly articles addressing various facets of leadership - I highly recommend it.
There are some interesting discussions going on over at the LSW Friendfeed thread about library leadership and over at Andy's blog post addressing library measures of competence.I've got another post brewing about my own self-assessments and what I think they mean, and what I need to improve on my own tendencies, but for this post, I'm thinking about the feminine-masculine leadership trait continuum. Masculine traits include being aggressive, autocratic, task-or…

Colleen's Library Day in the Life: January 21, 2011

A librarian day in the life as Head of Access Services at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Lupton Library.

7:20am - 7:40am
Arrive at library in time to gather some materials and do some quick email checking before I open the library on the reference desk.

7:45am - 9:00am
Reference desk shift. It's the Friday of the first week of classes for the semester, so it's slow. Three hole punches, staples, "how do I format my Word doc" and some Excel formulas questions. I get some more time to reply to emails from faculty. I also find that though our textlinker will tell you certain journals live in open access databases, there's no way to get to those databases that I can find - not in our A-Z list, or subject guides. I send an email to see if the only way for our users to get to the Directory of Open Access Journals and others is to serendipitously search for an article or journal title, or if I am having an early morning brainfreeze. One of the interlibrary …