2018: A Banner Year (aka make a plan, do the plan)

2018: A Banner Year (aka make a plan, do the plan)

2018 has been a banner year for me professionally.

A Plan Made

Four years ago, I created a 5-year plan to help me achieve two goals, promotion to Librarian and appointment as Associate Dean for Collections at IUPUI University Library. This plan and the unforeseen retirement of my predecessor resulted in me reaching both of those goals this July — a full year (or more) ahead of schedule. I’m now two months in and feel the need to share some reflections.

I can’t recommend developing your own plan enough. Not only does it help move you toward your goals, but it also helps you say no to the many requests that don’t align with those goals. And there is the added bonus of feeling a rewarding sense of purpose and forward movement as you methodically check things off the plan.

Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a list of things, perhaps in each area against which you are evaluated. For me, that’s performance, professional development, and service, so my plan takes the form of a bulleted list divided into those categories under each year. I also include a “prep” section for each category to keep track of things that require advance application/submission.

On the other hand, some people have a hard time developing a plan from a blank piece of paper. If you are one of those people, you may find this guide to creating an individual development plan that I adapted for the IUPUI Mentoring Academy a useful place to start.

A Plan Fulfilled

Now that I’m a Librarian with a capital L (which means there are no more promotions in rank to strive for), there is comfort in the knowledge that I can focus in on what really interests me without feeling obligated to say yes to things that don’t. The only problem is I’m interested in too many things. As one thing comes off my plate, there are two more really exciting things vying for space and attention. Part of this comes with my new, larger role as Associate Dean for Collections and the broader responsibilities that come with it. And part of it comes with my increasing awareness of where my interests intersect. There is an interdependence between resource sharing, shared collections, open access, and scholarly communications writ large that is impossible for me to ignore. This makes it difficult to draw artificial boundaries around my interests that dictate where I should and should not be engaged. So rather than resting on my Librarian laurels, I find myself even more engaged in communities and projects that I think will make a difference to my library, to all libraries, to all people.

What are some of those projects, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

I continue trying to integrate my experiences as IUPUI’s Director of Faculty Mentoring into my library work. I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people who are truly committed to the development of everyone in our IUPUI community. These experiences and the knowledge I’ve gained about mentoring inform how I interact with my colleagues and how I approach disagreements and discussions among them. I want to help launch a library group to sustain and enhance the mentoring and professional development work that has been started.

I agreed to co-chair the Academic Libraries of Indiana’s brand new Shared Collections Committee. This is an outgrowth of all the work I did with the ALI-PALNI Shared Print Project and my continued interest in building a shared collection from which we all can benefit. Shared collections are a natural extension of my dedication to resource sharing that began 12 years ago. My role in shared collections within Indiana will require representing us, alongside Kirsten Leonard, regionally and nationally to ensure we have a seat at the table. In fact, one such opportunity arose as I was writing this post!

I convinced two of my Center for Digital Scholarship colleagues to help me put together an event about the interdependence of collections and scholarly communication in the hopes of breaking down some silos. That has since morphed into the creation of a study group to produce a report on this topic that will inform the eventual event. This falls solidly in the category of “I don’t have the time, but I’m really interested in / excited about this.”

I’m partnering with the Open Access Button to help them create the next generation of their tools for libraries and acting as an advisor to their work. I am ridiculously excited about this. It aligns so perfectly with my years of research (and some might say proselytizing) on open access and interlibrary loan. Plus, I get to work with amazing, enthusiastic, and visionary people.

This is all in addition to my “regular” work of developing long overdue collections policies and reenvisioning what collections mean at IUPUI University Library with the help of a dedicated group of professionals not so cleverly called the Collections Working Group. Overall, I’m sometimes overwhelmed but grateful to be in this new role. I’m thrilled to be part of projects with the potential to have a broader impact. I’m amazed at how well my 5-year plan worked. I’m eager to share all that I’ve learned and continue to learn with all of you. Thank you for listening and acting (at least in my head) as an accountability partner. Time to go create a new plan.

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Research Evolution

Research Evolution

In the spirit of my last post, I’d like to share an exercise I did in preparation for a recent mentoring meeting. The topic of the meeting was how to generate topics or identify areas of interest and whether I thought a librarian’s publications should have a thematic direction or consistency.

That is a conversation demanding preparation or at least a little self-reflection. I started by printing out the publications portion of my CV and categorizing them. There is a little variation, but two distinct categories did emerge: (1) open access and interlibrary loan and (2) international interlibrary loan. Then I tried to think back, back, back to the days when I was just starting as a professional librarian. How did the beginning shape where I am now?

When I became a librarian, the thought of doing research with a capital R wasn’t appealing and was, in fact, a little intimidating. With the help of my then boss, I started out doing presentations of practical advice for interlibrary loan (ILL) practitioners instead. That evolved into an interest in web-based ILL finding aids and teaching others the tools I found to locate difficult requests. Then I got involved in the ALA RUSA STARS International Interlibrary Loan Committee, which accounts for one of my publication categories, but also expanded my previous finding aid work to include international publications.

All of this interest in finding aids logically evolved into an interest in open access. What could be better than helping people locate where a thing is? Well, helping people locate the actual thing, of course. Eventually, I started integrating my library’s request data into my open access and interlibrary loan presentations, which in turn led to a body of writing on the topic that might even be consider Research.

Through this thought exercise, I learned about myself and was able to help a mentee. The prospect of generating topics that will interest both you and your potential audience can be intimidating, but the ideas will come. Take time to reflect on your daily work and find the things that matter to you. Start presenting. Have conversations. Let your interests evolve. Start writing. You never know when you may even see a thematic direction emerge that you never would have anticipated.

Mentoring is Resource Sharing

Two years ago, the Dean asked a colleague and me to represent to the library as members of the IUPUI Mentoring Academy. I agreed because, as Dean Lewis pointed out, I had recently gone through the tenure process, making it likely that a number of my fellow librarians would come to me for guidance. I thought the Mentoring Academy would give me skills to better mentor and guide those that sought my advice.

Little did my colleague and I know, we were about to be tasked with developing a mentoring program for the library faculty. To be completely honest, I was not thrilled at this prospect. I didn’t think mentoring was “my thing.” But, like the dutiful librarian I am, I worked with my colleague to develop a program proposal and then to revise that proposal when we didn’t secure campus funding in the first round.

When I found out our program proposal was funded in September 2015, another colleague and I were in need of a capstone project for a campus leadership program we were beginning. Implementing the mentoring program seemed like the perfect fit. It felt like something I was obligated to do anyway, and it could now fill this secondary obligation as well.

Thus began the planning of events to get the mentoring program off the ground and to provide development opportunities for our librarians. Slowly, my attitude began to change. As I moved through the leadership program and the mentoring program planning, I began to recognize all the mentoring relationships I already have. They are largely informal, but I’ve been helped along the way by numerous mentors. I also began to recognize that I am already a mentor to several friends and colleagues, again informally. Then I began mentoring librarians within my library, and the attitude adjustment was complete.

This journey brought on an epiphany. Mentoring is exactly “my thing.” Mentoring is resource sharing. It all seems so obvious now. My entire librarian life has been devoted to resource sharing, and now I’ve found another method. By offering to mentor and providing development opportunities for my fellow librarians, I’m sharing some of my most personal and precious resources — my time, my experience, and my empathy. Resource sharing doesn’t stop with the books we buy or the articles we deliver or even with our ILL expertise. To make a successful community, resource sharing must extend to our very selves.