Friday, November 19, 2010

Listen. Just listen.

There is this meme that is currently circling the part of the Internet that is ruled by librarians: librarians get no respect.

People far and wide have linked to Molly Kleinman's blog post as evidence for their Dangerfield-ian cry.

It stings to read that the perception of librarians in academia is that they are risk averse.

If you're a cataloger, you feel this pain even more acutely when you read the part in Kleinman's piece where the computer science professor called author, title, and date information "useless metadata."

It feels really grim when you put these two arguments together, right?

Risk averse catalogers who are obsessed with metadata.


There has been a call-to-arms that catalogers will get street cred by being more outspoken among their colleagues about what they do. The logic seems (to me, anyway) to be that if we tell people why what we do is important, they'll value the services.

I heartily agree with the idea of getting out of our echo chambers. In fact, I advocate regularly for catalogers to get as much face time with public services staff and end users as possible. How else are you going to learn about the needs of the user?

I think that the best way for us to advocate is to join in the conversations that our front-line staffs are already having.

Maybe it's hard to see how user experience or assessment or information literacy affect you as a cataloger. But think about how much you can bring to these conversations. Who knows the catalog better than you? Who uses it more than you?

I would suggest starting by figuring out what is important to your front-line staffs right now. Maybe it's patron-driven acquisition or scholarly communication. Start by attending a meeting that you've never attended before and listen. Just listen.

Then, educate yourself on these topics so that you can speak intelligently about them with the staff you hope to connect with. You don't have to become an expert on the topic, but at least learn what the core issues are. Even if learning about instructional design won't make you a better cataloger, it will help you make in-roads with the reference librarian you've been hoping to work with.

We, as catalogers, own the perception that people have of us. And we have the tools to change it.

Be proactive. Be visible. Be awesome.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goals and road maps

I spent about 30 minutes this morning mapping out my 12 month goals for a committee that I co-chair. And, as boring as it sounds, it felt kind of rewarding. This committee needed both a vision for the future and a road map for the "now," and I'd come up with all sorts of reasons why I didn't have time to do it.

I was tired of having this item languish on my to-do list, so I tackled it this morning. And in less than an hour, I had short-term, middle-term, and long-term goals for the committee.

As an aside: I feel like I could write an entire post about how to-do lists just don't work for me. I know that my life lacks focus and vision, though, when I require one to figure out what projects have parts still moving and what's coming up for me on the horizon.

The act of developing a plan for this committee got me thinking about how I should be doing this very thing for my professional life. I have to write goals as part of my self-evaluation process, and those are very useful. They give me a road map for what projects my supervisor and I have both agreed carry importance.

They're often very specific to my unit, though, and don't always encompass the ways in which I want to stretch myself in any given time period.

I don't know about you, but I get caught somewhere in between the daily minutiae (and not getting overwhelmed by it!) and the pie-in-the sky goals for my career. Rarely do I consider where I want to be, professionally-speaking, in 12 months and then craft a plan to get me there.

When I consider who I want to be at the end of the next 12 months, three questions come to mind:
What topic do I want to learn more about? What skill to I want to possess or hone? What organizations or projects do I want to get more involved in?

I feel like the answers to these questions can help construct a road map by which I can develop professionally.

There's no time like the present, I suppose.

I will reflect on these questions today, and use my answers to construct a professional development road map that exists separately from my self-evaluation goals.

Have a plan? Use it to be awesome! Don't have a plan? Join me in making one today!

Be proactive. Be visible. Be awesome.