Welcoming myself back

It’s been over two years since my last post here. I doubt that anyone really noticed, but I’ve been thinking constantly about how to find the time and motivation to start writing again. It’s not for lack of things to write about, that’s for sure.

Two years ago, I was beginning work on the next phase of a website redesign project for our library, developing a content strategy that would align all the of the units across the library and emphasize how everything we do supports student learning. My mentor and one of our most active librarians decided to retire, which was heartbreaking for me. Things seemed a little bit up-in-the-air in the library as we felt our way into new roles and positions under the leadership of a new Dean. I had been asked to take on the position of interim systems librarian by our previous Director, but was feeling very unclear about what that meant and what I should do in that role.

I won’t lie: the last two years have been challenging. Over that time period two more librarians retired and three departed for other positions. Sonoma State also welcomed a new president and executive cabinet in the summer of 2016, and there have been a lot of changes on campus. It’s not unusual to see turnover when leadership changes, but I felt like I was losing some of my closest friends (we’re a very tight-knit little team here). Not to mention the work overload that resulted for the remaining six of us. The 2016-17 academic year was like a particularly grueling marathon, but I’m remarkably proud of all the things that we accomplished.

Over the last year my primary responsibility shifted (yet again), and I’ve been the project manager for our migration to a new integrated library system, Ex Libris’s Alma. Our entire library consortium (all 23 campuses in the California State University system) is migrating to this shared platform, so it’s been a massive undertaking. We are launching in less than two weeks, and I’m so excited to see all of our hard work come to fruition. And a little anxious, because change is hard, and managing change is hard, and all I can do is hope that I did enough to prepare people and make it a smooth and relatively painless transition for everyone.

Once we’re live, I think my role is shifting again (I think it’s changed a little bit every single year I’ve been here). We haven’t determined exactly what it will be yet. I’ll be moving back into more of a metadata-centered role, which I’m excited about. But I’m not enthused about giving up my web services role, either, because I had to abandon several projects mid-stream in order to take on project management of our migration. I’d like the opportunity to wrap them up before moving on. But we’ll see.

The 2017-18 year promises to be a little less painful as we’ll be bringing a few new librarians on board. I’m thinking a lot about how I can support the new librarians and build a strong team as the faculty chair. My new role, whatever it might be, also involves being the work lead for a bigger staff team (we’re not allowed to call it managing), so I’ve been doing some reading and learning to develop stronger management skills.

One thing I can say about the last two years is that, in the midst of the chaos and anxiety and frustration, I have gone through some significant learning experiences and sharpened my own sense of myself as a librarian, about the role of librarians in higher education, about the role of higher education itself, and about leadership. I have a lot of thoughts and ideas about all of these things, and I’m re-committing to spending more time writing about them. So I hope it won’t be another two years before I make an appearance here again.

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