Time is a blur

Since the pandemic began, I’ve turned back to the old comforts of pen and paper. Rather than posting here, I’ve carried a notebook where I write random thoughts, reading notes, travel dreams, and whatever else I want to remember beyond that moment. With time a blur over the past two years, my journaling has helped ground me, helped me remember, and served as a record of my life in a pandemic.

Putting pen to paper has also helped me reclaim an old love — reading. Like many, I’ve struggled to have the concentration necessary to read with any frequency. Taking notes on my reading helps my focus and make progress on my giant TBR (To Be Read) pile. In 2022, I’m trying to re-form the habit of daily reading, whether an article, a chapter, or just a few pages. Setting the bar low has helped me stick to it and gives a quick hit of feeling successful each day.

We all have our coping mechanisms and ways to bring small joys to each day. For me, a return to reading, writing, and travel (whether actual or via my travel magazines) are the best ways to brighten my days. What works for you?


Reflections on Mentoring

I shared these reflections on mentoring with a leadership program cohort on my campus and decided to share them here as well.

Being part of the IUPUI Mentoring Academy, from my role as an IUPUI University Library representative to the program to my time as Director of Faculty Mentoring, has given me the opportunity for both personal and professional reflection and growth. It has led me to unexpected realizations about my own attitudes toward mentoring and helped inform my leadership philosophy.

Before becoming involved with the Mentoring Academy, I never realized that I had had mentors in my life – from my high school choir teacher who helped me become a college student to my Butler history professor who awakened a love of history in me that I didn’t know existed to former supervisors at University Library who have been instrumental to bringing me where I am today.

This realization led to the decision that it was time for me to give back by consciously, if not always formally, mentoring others. In mentoring, I’ve found connections to the cores of my career – service and resource sharing. I’ve just become one of the many resources I share in the service of others.

My role as Director of Faculty Mentoring allowed me to meet many other people at IUPUI engaged in mentoring, which has been a wonderful opportunity to build new relationships. It also afforded me the chance to attend the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute Conference where I had a bit of an epiphany. I attended a pre-conference titled “The Coaching & Mentoring Way in Mentoring and Leadership” led by Robert Garvey. My epiphany was the realization that I should be applying what I’ve learned about mentoring in my everyday leadership. The skills and tools I use as a mentor can also help me be a better leader and assist with the development of the people I supervise in a positive way. That happened just a month and a half ago, and I’m still working on being more conscious of integrating mentoring practices into my everyday interactions – working, in fact, to make mentoring a way of life.

These may seem obvious connections but without taking moments to pause and reflect, these connections can go unnoticed. The reason I shared this reflection with the leadership cohort was to illustrate the importance of reflection. I’m a firm believer that a key part of getting the most out of a mentoring relationship or more generally achieving what you set out to achieve is reflection, deliberate and thoughtful reflection.

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.