Thursday, February 12, 2015

Message in a bottle

Rachel asked me to take over blogging duties today and I asked what I should write about. The writing prompt I received was to write about being along in a job and the importance of being able to geek out once in while. This might not be what Rachel would've given you on the subject, but this is my take on the topic.

In my first job out of library school, I was the only person in my Department who cataloged serials and electronic resources. There were other catalogers in the Department, of course, but I was on an island. It was really hard because I was both new at being a librarian and new at being a serials cataloger. And while there were support systems in place to address the part about me being a new librarian, I was pretty much on my own to figure out the new serials cataloger part.

The first professional conference I attended was a small, serials-specific conference. The programming was top notch and I learned a lot. But more importantly, it's where I met the person who would become my mentor. That conference was transformative because it taught me that I wasn't alone. I might've been on an island at my own institution, but there were other people on nearby islands who were willing to lend their time and their talents to help me figure out how to be a good serials cataloger.

I have really benefited from spending time in-person with my colleagues at conferences. Those lunches, happy hours, and hallway conversations have inspired me in good times and kept me afloat when times were more challenging. And with the development of Twitter, I've developed an online community of like-minded librarians with whom I can connect in real time. In fact, that's how Rachel and I met and started the blog.

I'm now almost ten years into my career. And while I'm not struggling so much with being a new librarian, I'm struggling with being a new manager. And I know I'm not alone on that journey as well. I have a support system to rely on and like-minded people with whom I can exchange ideas and get advice.

So if you feel like you're on an island, look around and put some messages in bottles. You're probably not as alone as you feel.

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