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MPOW in the here and now

SSU clocktower with UFO and monsters

Sometimes we have monsters and UFOs, but for the most part it’s a great place to work

I have coined a few biblioneologisms in my day, but the one that has had the longest legs is MPOW (My Place of Work), a convenient, mildly-masking shorthand for one’s institution. For the last four years I haven’t had the bandwidth to coin neologisms, let alone write about MPOW*.

This silence could be misconstrued. I love what I do, and I love where I am. I work with a great team on a beautiful campus for a university that is undergoing a lot of good change. We are just wrapping up the first phase of a visioning project to help our large, well-lit building serve its communities well for the decades to come. We’re getting ready to join the other 22 CSU libraries on OneSearch, our first-ever unified library management system. We have brought on some great hires, thrown some great events (the last one featured four Black Panthers talking about their life work — wow!). With a new dean (me) and a changing workforce, we are developing our own personality.

It’s all good… and getting better

The Library was doing well when I arrived, so my job was to revitalize and switch it up. As noted in one of the few posts about MPOW, the libraries in my system were undergoing their own reassessment, and that has absorbed a fair amount of our attention, but we continue to move forward.

Sometimes it’s the little things. You may recall I am unreasonably proud of the automated table of contents I generated for my dissertation, and I also feel that way about MPOW’s slatwall book displays, which in ten areas beautifully market new materials in spaces once occupied by prison-industry bookcases or ugly carpet and unused phones (what were the phones for? Perhaps we will never know).

The slatwall was a small project that was a combination of expertise I brought from other libraries, good teamwork at MPOW, and knowing folks. The central problem was answered quickly by an email to a colleague in my doctoral program (hi, Cindy!) who manages public libraries where I saw the displays I thought would be a good fit. The team selected the locations, a staff member with an eye for design recommended the color, everyone loves it, and the books fly off the shelves. If there is any complaining, it is that we need more slatwall.

Installed slatwall needs to wait until we know if we are moving/removing walls as part of our building improvements. A bigger holdup is that we need to hire an Access Services Manager, and really, anything related to collections needs the insight of a collections librarian.

People… who need people…

But we had failed searches for both these positions… in the case of collections, twice. *cue mournful music* We have filled other positions with great people now doing great things, and are on track to fill more positions, but these two, replacing people who have retired, are frustrating us. The access services position is a managerial role, and the collections librarian is a tenure-track position. Both offer a lot of opportunity.

We are relaunching both searches very soon (I’ll post a brief update when that happens), and here’s my pitch. If you think you might qualify for either position, please apply. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. If you know someone who would be a good fit for either position, ask them to apply.

I recently mentored someone who was worried about applying to a position. “Will that library hold it against me if I am not qualified?” The answer is of course not!  (And if they do, well, you dodged that bullet!) I have watched far too many people self-select out of positions they were qualified for (hrrrrmmmm particularly one gender…). Qualification means expertise + capacity + potential. We expect this to be a bit of a stretch to you. If a job is really good, most days will have a “fake it til you make it” quality.

This is also not a “sink or swim” institution. If it ever was, those days are in the dim past, long before I arrived. The climate is positive. People do great things and we do our best to support them. I see our collective responsibility as an organization as to help one another succeed.

Never mind me and my preoccupation with slatwall (think of it as something to keep the dean busy and happy, like a baby with a binky). We are a great team, a great library, on a great campus, and we’re a change-friendly group with a minimum of organizational issues, and I mean it. I have worked enough places to put my hand on a Bible and swear to that. It has typical organizational challenges, and it’s a work in progress… as are we all. The area is crazily expensive, but it’s also really beautiful and so convenient for any lifestyle. You like city? We got city. You like suburb, or ocean, or mountain, or lake? We got that!

Anyway, that’s where I am with MPOW: I’m happy enough, and confident enough, to use this blog post to BEG YOU OH PLEASE HELP US FILL THESE POSITIONS. The people who join us will be glad you did.


*   Sidebar: the real hilarity of coining neologisms is that quite often someone, generally of a gender I do not identify with, will heatedly object to the term, as happened in 2004 when I coined the term biblioblogosphere. Then, as I noted in that post from 2012, others will defend it. That leads me to believe that creating new words is the linguistic version of lifting one’s hind leg on a tree.

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