We’ve posted another position at My Place of Work — one that like the last position for Head of Access Services (now filled by an excellent librarian-to-be) is designed to be transformative. Not to mention fun, absorbing, interesting, challenging, and greatly satisfying.
I’m a little — well, really, quite — unhappy with how I worded the conclusion of the job ad:
This is a position ideally suited for a librarian with a solid grounding in traditional library services who seeks more responsibility and a wide range of job knowledge.
What I meant was “the technology part is really, really important — not just what you know, but your worldview and your ability to synthesize and evolve — but you also need to be a strong, upbeat library generalist with a penchant for learning.”
And what THAT means is you need to know a little MARC and a little XML, have a great teaching presence, have some insights into the database acquisitions process and a knack for working with vendors, get along with faculty, students, and staff, be able to switch quickly among tasks and know when a good B+ is acceptable and when it needs to be an A or a C, enjoy the challenge of working in a resource-limited environment, and be familiar enough with modern circ, reserves, ILL, and acquisitions practices to do everything from pitch in at the desk as needed to provide mile-high oversight for our book selection process, which is being reoriented toward faculty selections and shelf-ready materials.
And then, as needs change and evolve, do other things As They Arise. Edit: not to mention the reference hours, which if we are at flat funding (which is better than declining funding, the experience for many libraries this year) will inevitably include at least one night and every other weekend.
Short-range, the most pressing leadership opportunities for this position are information literacy and electronic resource management. (For you non-librarians out there, ERM is its own library specialty — them what’s in charge of the databases.)
We are rethinking information literacy: how it’s delivered, to whom, and by whom, and when; its assessment models, its benchmarking — all of it. This is not just a teaching responsibility, but a planning, sales, and evangelism position. The community is open to change here, but they need leadership. Plus you have to be able to see around corners and know what’s ahead.
(Speaking of which, immersed in spreadsheets galore, I’m already beginning to feel like the little old administrator who’s completely out of it… at MPOW folks were talking about Chrome for the Mac, and there I was peeping, “Chrome came out for the Mac? What?”)
ERM is currently juggled between me and our systems person, who is also responsible for educational technology for faculty. You do not need to be steeped in ERM experience, but you need to know what ERM is and why it’s important, and have the requisite technical and organizational skills to keep the ERM ship afloat — from remote-access configuration to thinking hard and strategically about the resources we license — so that I can spend more time shaking the money tree and, if it yields fruit, gathering its harvest, while continuing and expanding events, outreach, and communications.
The list goes on. Recently the Education department agreed to a pilot for electronic theses. A peer university shared their policies and procedures. We even have a clean, empty ContentDM instance. Now it just needs to happen. The faculty are also clearly ready for a liaison program, and we need to divide responsibilities and plan that out. And so forth. Can we get to all of this? Well, I don’t know, but we can have fun trying. We are moving toward Navigator. We’re just a few, uh, tasks away. I can feel it. Just need a little more to make it happen.
As an aside, I hope you looked, and yes, we need to fix our website. I realize it’s quite possibly the world’s worst library website… ghastly, confusing, spartan, and yet too complicated, with mystifying jargon (“e-source”?). There’s a whole legacy behind that and now we’re all too busy to fix what needs fixing… This isn’t part of this position, but I do feel I should explain that we all know we need to do something about our digital welcome. We’ve done a lot with our physical welcome. I looked around today, and though we still have a lot of work to do, the library is beginning to look and feel inhabited and loved. But the website… ah well. At least you know we know!
Anyhoo… MPOW (the library, but also the broader community it supports) is a place where nobody has enough resources, but we all want one another to succeed. I’ve worked in environments that were the polar opposite, and I know where I want to be. I hope you do as well.