Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Don't forget to breathe now

This morning I read an article about digital badges. While I suspect there could be a blog post or three about digital badges, that's not what I want to write about. What was most interesting to me about the article were the courses that the librarians taught which led to the creation and distribution of the badges.

The authors of the article developed multi-session courses in data management and geographic information systems that included a capstone project. These courses offered a comprehensive overview of the topics as well as opportunities to build skills in a hands-on way. 

In the #mashcat lightening talk that I gave, I talked about how rarely we think of ourselves as someone with something to teach someone else. We can all identify one skill we'd like to build or one topic we'd like to learn more about. And while it's easy to think of ourselves as students, I think we rarely stop to think of ourselves as teachers.

Lately I've been turning over in my mind some thoughts related to teaching public-facing librarians about things related to cataloging and the courses in the aforementioned article really grabbed my attention as a model. Rachel and I talk a lot about how the Unified Library Scene is about building community and I really want to engage public-facing librarians in the work of subject analysis and classification. I feel like multi-session classes where you could spend time talking and practicing would be really useful in teaching public-facing librarians both about the limits of subject analysis and the best ways to move past those limits. And the idea of a capstone project where a public-facing librarian could dig into a particular classification number of set of subject headings makes my heart sing.

I have been turning these ideas over in my mind, but I am slow to act on them. When I'm honest with myself about why, I think it's probably for the same reason that I can think of a million ideas for an article but I haven't published anything. I think it's because I don't see myself as a teacher. There are people who know far more about cataloging than me. And in the area of subject analysis and classification, there are people who have already spoken more confidently and with more authority on these issues than I ever could. In short, I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of some amazing giants.

When I think about the legacy I want to create in librarianship, I really do believe in the Unified Library Scene. This blog? It's not just an angle based on a clever play on a song title. This is real, and I care about it deeply. I want to build a space for relationships--between library technologists and metadata creators and between back-room and front-line folks. I want to make a space where the next generation of library leaders feel supported to stand their ground and speak their truth. I want to leave librarianship in a better spot than I found it.

So maybe it's time for me to stop letting impostor syndrome win. Maybe it's time for me to thinking of myself as a teacher. Maybe it's time for me to do more and talk less.

Stay positive,

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