February 23, 2010

How Many Baskets Are Your Eggs In?

Posted in Inspiration, Professional Success at 2:37 pm by melissaautumn

Kerry Ann Rockquemore at Inside Higher Ed has a great article this week on professional success. “Hedge Your Bets,” part of her series “Winning Tenure without Losing Your Soul,” reminds us that the biggest mistake junior faculty can make is to spend all of their time working for their current employers. Although Rockquemore is writing for academics, her sage advice can apply to all of us, whether we work in academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries or any other kind of library.

Rockquemore argues that we need to make connections with colleagues at other institutions and maintain our professional visibility in order to avoid putting all our metaphorical eggs in one basket (she talks specifically about scholarly productivity, but let’s broaden her argument to encompass librarian-appropriate activities like attending conferences and serving in professional organizations). Both networking and professional activity give us connections to the wider world of our profession, fostering a more realistic perspective on our current employer and strengthening our qualifications should we need or want to go on the job market. In addition, I’d argue that they can bring balance and professional satisfaction to our lives, something we should all be striving for.

Now, lest you think I’m the profession’s top writer/networker/conference-goer, let me be very clear – I’m not. I have good intentions to write, but don’t follow through (witness this blog), I’m shy and resist networking, and I rarely attend big conferences for family reasons. But, here’s the important part – I’m trying to be better and you can to.

What I tell myself:

  1. Don’t beat yourself up for what you haven’t done. You can’t change the past, but you can choose to move forward in a new way.
  2. Take small, reasonable steps. I’m trying to be a more consistent blogger. Instead of wishing I could attend ALA, I make an effort to attend local, one day conferences that  fit my schedule and are affordable. I recently started writing with a friend who has more experience in this area and is a great mentor.
  3. Be brave! Are you shy? Do you dread “networking”? I understand; I really do. But, go to a conference or a local meeting anyway. Remind yourself that librarians are nice people – if you try to talk to them, in all likelihood, they will talk back. Alternately, remind yourself that having to talk to strangers will help you maintain empathy for patrons, who we expect to enter the potentially unfamiliar environment of our libraries and ask a complete stranger for help.

I hope you will join me in my quest for professional balance and invite you to share any tips you have for the rest of us.

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February 3, 2010

Volunteer for ALA Committees

Posted in Professional Success at 11:44 pm by melissaautumn

Do you want to get involved in ALA? A good way to start is by volunteering to serve on a committee – and the time to volunteer is now!

Most committee appointments are made in the spring and start after ALA Annual (the summer meeting in late June). To volunteer, you’ll need to find the online volunteer forms for the divisions you belong to (ACRL, RUSA, etc.), login, and complete the forms. If you go to the division site and search for “volunteer,” the form should pop right up.

ALA is becoming more supportive of virtual service, so even if you cannot travel to two ALA conferences a year, you can volunteer. Just be sure to check the option for “virtual service” when you complete your form.

Divisions set their own deadlines for volunteer forms. I can only see the forms for divisions I belong to, however ACRL’s are due February 15 and RUSA’s are due March 1, so it seems likely forms for other divisions are due in the next weeks as well.