dipping my toes into the library administration pool

For the past, oh, five years, I’ve been dead-set against being a manager. When I took this job at the University of Richmond, one of the things that really appealed to me was the reduction in management responsibilities, particularly in light of what I had to do in my last job.

And yet, my coworkers kept putting me in leadership positions, and most of the time I didn’t mind the work as much as I may have let on. As long as I have some clear direction in what needs to be done, I’m pretty good about making sure it happens.

So, when the opportunity arose to be the interim director of my division of the library, I seized it as a chance to get my feet wet with management in a more friendly environment. I like my division, I reasoned, and they seem to get along pretty well. This won’t be too bad.

My friends, it’s one thing to serve on library-wide committees, but managing personnel is an entirely different set of challenges. Throw in the stress of a massive renovation that required temporary relocation of most of the staff for the summer, and you’ve got quite a bit to keep a handle on.

So far I’m two and half months in, and everyone is still alive. I’ll be doing my best to keep it that way, but if I’ve learned anything from this experience it’s that I’m not quite ready to be In Charge. So, I’ll be continuing to figure out how to be a Leader in my library without being the Boss.

ER&L 2012 reflections

Texas treeTwo and a half days is just not enough time spent with my tribe. I could have gone all week. I’m not ready to go back to the real world.

This was my third Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, and I’ve been lucky to get to know a few more ER librarians every year. This year was particularly notable, as I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking with peers that I highly respect and look to as inspirations for my own work (Jamene Brooks-Kieffer and Marie Kennedy, just to name two). I did my best to keep it cool and not go fangirl all over them.

Most of the sessions I attended were solid, informative, and often inspiring in their own right. I’m still working through the project list generated last year, and now I have more to add or enhance what’s already there.

I plan to look into:

  • JTac software for acquisitions workflow
  • CORAL for ER workflow, but maybe not for ERMS, if that’s possible
  • MISO software for ingesting SUSHI (since my ERMS is only just starting to look at developing SUSHI ingestion)
  • Documenting ER workflows and procedures — I have been intimidated by this, since I’ll be starting from scratch and don’t know where to begin. I realized this week that I could use TERMS as a jumping off point.
  • Include a feedback form for each trial we do, rather than just relying on free-form email messages
  • Seeing about modifying the workflow for eDDA titles so that liaisons can move them to firm orders before the records are loaded in the catalog
  • Also, investigating options for pDDA for slip orders
  • Joining a relevant NISO working group, if anything comes up (Marie suggested we do this, and I’ve been interested for a while)
  • Being a leader in my library without being higher up in management or at least not beyond where I’m comfortable

There were a few sessions that left me wanting. For one, I keep trying to glean some insight into better ways of managing ER workflows, but our staff is so small and the people who tend to present on the topic come from libraries so large that it’s hard to see where the connections or benefits may be. I am still thinking about how to set up something that would trigger notifications of next steps, even if most of them would end up coming to me. My paper checklist form is okay, but it only works if I remember to do it and to check up on it.

Another session I attended was supposed to be all about a tech services department reorganization with an eye towards eresource trends. However, it seems that the presenter expected more results by now than what he was able to talk about, so most of the session beyond the introduction was about what should be happening rather than what has been happening. I think that it’s difficult to know six months in advance if your new project will be at a place worth sharing, but maybe conferences need to shift more of those kinds of topics to short sessions like the lightening talks, rather than risk the session being a dud because there aren’t enough relevant outcomes to share.

ER&L 2013 will be in Austin again next year, and shortly following the SXSWi conference. They hope to have some connections between the two, so if you’ve been on the fence about attending, that may be the year to take the plunge.