Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Post 2012: Some reflection as the year is almost here, or just getting some stuff out in case the Mayans were right

I just realized I am running a bit behind in my holiday blogging this year. Usually, I would have posted my traditional holiday posts by now. What can I say? It has been a busy year, and there were some changes.

The big change for my family and I was the new job and move to said job. I started my new job as Coordinator of Information Literacy for the Hutchins Library of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. This is a bit different for me. My previous workplaces were public, state institutions. I was a state employee. Berea College is a private liberal arts college. It is also a religious school; they are non-sectarian. Some of you who know I am a bit of a heathen are probably wondering what would make me come to a religious school, liberal or not. Well, to be honest, their mission is one I can get behind. In addition, the job is the kind of work I have wanted to do for a long time: to lead an instruction and information literacy program, so when I saw the opening, I applied. While I am geographically flexible, usually what takes me to a place is the job, then the place. For others in the job market, place is probably higher on the list. For me, it is more of where can I go and make some difference, where can I go and use my skills to best serve the students and community I will be working in. Those are the kind of questions I ask when I go out into the librarian job market. Sure, I look at other factors (I am not that naive or idealistic), but mainly I look at the job. As for Berea College being a religious school, it turns out they take inclusiveness and diversity here very seriously, and those are things I take seriously as well. So far then it has been a good match. I am happy here. The family is happy here. I can say that my employers and colleagues are happy I am here.

Berea College is a small school. We have about 1500 hundred students here, so it is much smaller than other places I have worked in. But for me, and I say that I am most fortunate, it is starting to feel like home, both in terms of the campus and in terms of the community. It is not a big city, but if I want "big city" stuff, a drive up I-75 to Lexington fixes that (it is only about 40 minutes away give or take), and other areas are not too far. The people here are very nice, in an honest and sincere way I had not experienced in a while. I am trying not to sound like I am bragging, but I think I may have found my best destiny here. I have made it through my first semester, and I can say that, while ready for the holiday break, I do look forward to the spring semester. We have a few good ideas and projects to work on. On another note, I am feeling like blogging again, including blogging a bit about librarianship again. That may well be a good sign that things are looking up. So, stay tuned here and at The Gypsy Librarian for more. 

The move here was not easy; in fact, it had some very stressful moments. It was not easy to move out of Tyler, Texas. In fact, Texas has given us all sorts of headaches when it came to transferring some paperwork for things like our vehicle registration in KY, and hell, The Better Half had to make a few phone calls back and forth to explain to those hicks that we no longer lived in Smith County, TX, and therefore could not make it to jury duty (true story. And I call them hicks because The Better Half had to deal with quite an asshole, to be blunt, over the phone who just was too attached to his or her script to actually figure things out and use common sense. I think we finally have it sorted out, and they won't be sending the Texas Rangers to bring her back). However, those moments were made easier by people here at Berea who helped me through various steps along the way from the housing (it turns out the campus offers some transitional housing for incoming faculty, and I got lucky to get one) to students from the library who came and helped us move stuff into the house. I cannot thank them and other people who helped along the way enough, so I am writing about it here as another way to thank them for their kindness and generosity.

So, what the heck have I been doing?

  • For one, we are reviewing how we assess our information literacy program. As of this writing, we are working on a new pre- and post- instruction session assessment to use with our General Studies students. We are experimenting with LibAnalytics for the implementation.
  • We are looking at our teaching practices. I am trying to move us to a more reflective practice for our teaching. We are working on and using more active learning techniques. We are lucky to have two Immersion-trained librarians here (one of my team members and me). 
  • We are starting a library blog. It is "live" now, but we are not really launching in full til the spring semester. Feel free to take a small peek here if interested. We hope it will make a good tool to go along with our Facebook page and other social media. One thing that is good here is we tend to feel free to experiment, but we also know not to jump into every bandwagon. We do think it over whether a tool will serve us or not. 
  • We teach. We teach a lot. Our big client here is the General Studies program, but we also provide some instruction for other classes. Down the road (as in soon), we plan on doing some curriculum mapping to see where else we can "deploy" our services to better serve our faculty and students. 
  • We are exploring outreach ideas. We have a small calendar for displays now, and I have some ideas for possible library programs to implement. 
  • Also, looking into solidifying our liaison work with faculty. 
  • I lead a small team of instructional services librarians. It is an interesting experience as one of them is an older (both in age and experience) librarian and the other is a newer, eager, but very knowledgeable in instruction librarian. I think they give me the best of both worlds. I am learning to become a mentor to the younger librarian while I strive to learn all I can from my older fellow. And yes, I am their manager, but I strive for a form of service leadership where I lead more by example. 
  • And I try to participate in campus life as much as possible, both for outreach (to represent the library) and just for personal satisfaction. 
That is just a little bit. I am hoping to also find time to write a bit more professionally, something that is encouraged here. I am faculty, but as library faculty, I am not tenure-line, or do I have to publish or perish. I do have full privileges like the rest of the faculty, including vote in the faculty senate, being able to be drafted for committee work, so on. It's not bad. It's different since I was always a staff member. Now, I am officially an Assistant Professor of Library Science (it does sound cool, huh?). However, if I want to publish and write, it is encouraged. Maybe this will be the year I publish something other than a mere blog that four people read. Don't hold your breath though. I am not one for resolutions, but this is something I want to try. Also, get my bearings on other professional development, something also encouraged here. We'll see.

All in all, the latter half of 2012 was pretty good overall. Well, as long as I did not watch too many news (more on that on other posts of the holiday series), and for that, I am grateful.

Coming up next, the fun posts, so stay tuned. And before I go for now, I want to wish my family, colleagues, friends near and far a safe and happy holiday season in whatever form they celebrate it (or choose not to celebrate). If you drink, please do so in moderation, and whatever you do, do not get into a motor vehicle intoxicated. There are enough tragedies already, please don't add one more.

Happy Holidays!

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