Thursday, June 9, 2016

All these things I've let go

At the end of June, I'll pass along the Chairperson role for an ALCTS section to someone else. And while I'll be sad to not be leading this group of amazing people, I'm here to admit that I will feel the smallest bit of relief at the end of this year's ALA Annual Conference. I have been active in this group since 2008 and I will continue to serve in a leadership capacity through 2017/2018. So while I'll still have a say in the future direction of the group, I won't be ultimately responsible for making sure everything gets done.

My Chairperson role affords me the privilege of serving on the ALCTS Board which, along with the ALCTS Executive Director, helps set the current and future course of the division. I have really enjoyed getting to see how the association runs and to have had a voice in some of the conversations about it's future. My time on the ALCTS Board has really given me clarity about what I hope will be my future involvement in the division and for that I am really and truly grateful.

Maybe it's shameless, but I'll just say it: I want to be ALCTS President some day.

I want to help shape the current activities and future direction of the ALCTS. I want to find ways to better engage with the division's stakeholders. I want to help bring a future generation of leaders into the ALCTS and give them the tools that they need to change technical services librarianship for the better. I believe in technical services work and its impact on library users and I believe in ALCTS. I want to build on the amazing work done by past, current, and future ALCTS Presidents to make the division be a tool for education, empowerment, advocacy, and innovation.

I wrote this short piece for ALCTS news talking about why the division has been such a valuable part of my professional career. It also features me wearing a clown nose, so it's worth checking out if only for that.

But here's why I'm relieved to be handing off the Chairperson role: being a leader is hard and I can feel myself teetering on the edge of burnout.

The thing that everybody tells you about being a leader but you don't understand about it until you experience it firsthand is that engaging people and solving problems is hard work. Because even when I'm not actively doing those things, I'm thinking about those things. And on top of that, there's never a time that I'm not thinking about how to tweak things to make it easier for the people in my section to do the work that is meaningful for our stakeholders.

Don't misunderstand me, I love this work. I believe it is worthwhile and even when it's difficult, it energizes me. But doing this work and doing it well leaves me little time to do the other things in my life that I love because I give it everything I've got--the proverbial 110%. And at the end of the day, I often don't have space in my brain for the other things that I also love and that I also find worthwhile.

But in some ways, I think that's how life works. We constantly are moving toward, and then away from, opportunities that challenge us and cause us to grow. And boy howdy did I grow during this past year! I'll gladly take this time to transition back to being a worker bee, under the direction of someone else, resting and recharging and devoting my energies into the other work that I love. And when the time comes for me to move back into a leadership role, I'll have the energy to devote to that again.

This year as Chair of my ALCTS section has been difficult and wonderful and challenging and messy. It has asked more from me that I thought that I had and when I dug deeper and gave more, I was richly rewarded by the graciousness of the people I worked with. The volunteer leaders in my section have done amazing work during this past year and I am so proud of what we've built. But now it's time for someone else to have a turn to shape the direction of the group. And I can't wait to see what it becomes!

Stay positive,

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