"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Feb 26, 2015

Catching up

It appears to have been nearly a year since I last posted. Goodness gracious.

I hope to have more time to post in the future because I am no longer spending 3 hours per day in the car getting to and from work. That's right... I got a new job! (New commute is in the 30-40 minute range and I am loving that, thank you very much.) In October, I started work as the Adult Services Librarian in Hopkinton, MA.

It's a positive move, though bittersweet in many ways. I learned so much in my four years at Howe Library and left behind many wonderful colleagues. But this job is going to teach me a lot of new things too, and my new co-workers are welcoming, dedicated, and hardworking. I'm also pleased to be geographically closer to some of my friends and family and back in the general area where I grew up. (I got to re-use my old Minuteman Library Network card from ca. 1991 when getting an account at my new hometown library! It was very exciting.)

Overall, this new position is a step up for me in terms of responsibility. Before, though I was planning programs fairly autonomously, I was one of a department of several librarians under a department head. Now I'm the "head" of the Adult Services department (of one), working immediately under my director and taking on some of the kinds of things that might be done by an assistant director if we had one. Since I ultimately want to be a library director, this means I'm getting some good chances to observe, learn, and do things that will give me valuable experience going forward. I've got a very supportive director who tries to include me in a lot of things, which is great!

Here are some of things, large and small, that I'm involved in:
  • Perhaps the biggest: we're about to be renovated and substantially expanded. I came in after the town approvals were dealt with but I'm getting to participate in lots of planning and logistics related to renovating the building, moving to a temporary space, etc. It's fascinating work and I'm really pleased to be able to "ride along" on a major building project before having to actually be in charge of one.
  • Substantial weeding of the nonfiction collection, preparatory to moving. I honestly really love weeding. It's so satisfying to remove the old, worn out, irrelevant materials and have a collection that looks shiny and fresh and interesting.
  • We relaunched our eNewsletter using Vertical Response (we were using Bookletters previously; I only had to do a couple of newsletters that way but I was deeply unimpressed). It seems that these were sent sporadically before; I've established a standard once-per-month schedule.
  • I've started doing displays! This is something I didn't have much time/opportunity to do at my previous job so I've been having a lot of fun with it.
  • Collection development. We have what is to me a somewhat odd system for collection development here - something for a later post, perhaps. I'm in charge of collecting everyone's suggestions, adding some of my own, and doing the actual ordering for adult books, DVDs, and music.
  • Programs - this is similar work to what I was doing previously, just in a different library. I'm still having fun with it, though it's much less of my job than it was before.
  • Managing technology, with the assistance of town IT. One of the more frustrating elements of the job when things aren't working properly (our computers were just down for nearly a week due to seeming malicious activity, so this is particularly fresh in my mind). But I get to learn things like how to re-image a computer and burnish other skills and knowledge that are underdeveloped or rusty, which is good. We've got a very friendly and helpful IT guy, which is an absolute blessing.
  • Reference work, of course! Volume is variable but usually pretty light. I do almost no readers' advisory, which I'd like to change - but it's hard because the reference desk is a bit out of the way and people usually chat with the circulation staff (who are fabulous readers' advisors) about books up front.
There's lots of other things, but that's just off the top of my head.

It's been an adjustment - Hopkinton is a much smaller library than Howe and in many ways a less formal/formalized one as well. It took me a little while to really suss out the culture. But I'm learning a lot, really enjoying what I do and the people I work with, and looking forward to the next several years - it will be a very exciting time as the library grows!