Focus? Me?

So my library recently went through a restructuring, and on the Undergraduate Services Team where I work we’re gaining two former science-engineering librarians, and losing one of our outreach librarians as well as our graphic designer. I am one of two new permanent librarians on the team, just hired a month ago. To help facilitate the transition, we had two days of teambuilding where we broke down all the work our team does and organized it into categories – outreach, instruction, training, reference & information commons, and the website. We were each placed in one or more of these categories based on our experience; I was put in outreach, reference & information commons, and training. Surprisingly I wasn’t put in instruction even though my job description is very heavy on instruction (I actually was put in there then removed because we had too many people there as it was & I was in too many groups). Then we went off in our groups to discuss that work and come up with a plan for how it’s going to get done.

So now I find myself being pulled in all different directions. Officially, just because you’re in the planning group for a certain category of work doesn’t mean you’ll actually be doing that work. But it’s hard to avoid it. And outreach is huge. There are 3 of us in this group and it looks like the 3 of us will be doing a lot with outreach. (Not to mention the fact that we’re changing seating arrangements in the office based on our work and I’m in the “outreach” group). Which I don’t mind because I really enjoy it, and actually even asked in my interview about if I would get to participate in outreach and was told “probably not.” Ironic, since this appears to be turning into my primary function. And while I’m not in the instruction group, I am teaching two sections of the Skillful Researcher this fall and have heard rumors my name is being proposed for a number of instructional types of work that needs to get done. I’m definitely big on the educational technology and have worked a lot with this in the past 8 months which I’d like to continue to do; I also love being in a classroom. And I am also interested in taking on a new role of looking closely at learning spaces and ways we can improve them. Not to mention reference & information commons & training.

Pretty soon our team leader will be sending out what all the groups have come up with for their categories of work, and team members get to share which ones they are interested in. The ultimate decision for who is doing what is being coordinated by the team leader. I realize I need to focus my energies, especially as a new librarian. And I want to avoid getting overwhelmed and losing quality in my work. At first I thought outreach was what I would most enjoy. Then I got into instruction and really liked it, and applied for this position believing instruction is what I was going to do. Reference and training is a place where I have a lot of experience and the background to do pretty well, and I can see how these can be improved which is really exciting to me. So now it’s time to do some soul searching and figure out how I want to focus, and I need to do it fast… yikes!


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