There are three main reasons I want to encourage noobrarians not to fall into the trap of trying to Do All the Things. First of all, you’re new! People are thrilled that you can sit at the reference desk unattended without drooling or falling asleep and that you know where to send people when they need to fax something. For the first few months, the very best thing you can be doing for your library is learn how to do your job really well. Don’t try to give yourself extra work. Once you’ve learned how to do what’s actually assigned to you, then you can branch out. You can be a tremendous librarian without putting so much stress on yourself. You don’t have to be a rockstar. A much better use of your energy is trying to be the kind of librarian you’d want to work with. Put your energy into that, my friends. And try to be the kind of librarian your patrons want. Maybe that means working on your business reference skills instead of getting on an ALA committee before your 30th birthday [Editor’s note: or even before your 40th]. So be it!
I love this post so very much. As a n00brarian for the second time over (I just started my academic library job in January), I have been trying very hard to remember that right now, the best investment of my time and energy is just in Figuring Out What I’m Supposed To Be Doing. It takes time to learn the job and the workplace culture, *especially* in environments like academia and government.
And remember, “just” doing your job is almost always more than enough to make you seem awesome to your patrons and your coworkers.
When put under increasing pressure, the values that have kept us afloat through these lean years become tainted with cynicism, one of the most concerning risk factors of burnout (Maslach, 2011, p. 46). Marathons and long races are meant to be sporadic occurrences, with ample rest afterwards to avoid injuries. With both exercise and work, you can motivate yourself to work much harder than usual when you know the end is in sight, but what if there is no end? Or if the end is simply beyond our means? What happens when the “vision” becomes a culture in which we are expected to work harder and faster all the time, forever?
Pausing is even more challenging when our work culture, a culture we’ve been forced into by our dire need to prove our value, focuses on results to the detriment of the process. Effective marketing for libraries is essential, but is the constant stress on results causing us to devalue the necessary downtime? What about brainstorming time? Replenishment time? These aren’t the kinds of activities we want to list in our advocacy campaigns or our annual reports, yet in the exercise and scholarly worlds, coaches and teachers know that these are the foundations of success. Cutting them back would be unthinkable.
I really appreciated this post, since I find that alternating tasks really helps me get things done effectively (especially if I can interrupt a really focus-heavy task with something relatively mindless, like checking Twitter).
This is so, so important! I’d argue that this is vital for everyone, service-based profession or no.
Librarianship has always been a service profession. People attracted to service (nursing, teaching, etc.) want to help others, which is great. On the other hand, those who are “helpers” can sometimes suffer mental, physical and/or emotional burnout. Hopefully some of the tips below will remind you treat yourself well. I know these have helped me. Because if you don’t do it, who will?
- Get optimal amounts of healthful food, sleep, exercise, and medical care*.
- Enlist support and technology.
- Your health is not just physical.
- No one is irreplaceable (at work).
Even more unhealthy is the way that relationships within the library are so often handled along a factory floor model rather than on the basis of shared governance. This is really curious, considering the work done in libraries and the values we supposedly uphold. You’d be hard put to find a library director who didn’t support vigorously the concept of intellectual freedom. But you might be a bit challenged to find a library that practices it wholeheartedly in their own organizational structure. It would seem shocking indeed in many if not most libraries to believe that all those who work there should be allowed to speak their minds and decide what work to do, based on their professional judgment – or to set their own deadlines, work from home, work odd hours, play an equal role in negotiating departmental priorities, dress however they like – or even make their own choice about when to eat lunch.
It means that I’m never truly off. I’m always able to contact or be contacted. Both the bane and boon of the technological grad student life.
That is why it is so important to shut off sometimes. Always being able to check our work email or be contacted means that we never fully relax. Try turning off more; it will not only make you more relaxed but less dependent on your phone.
I have to say, one of the great things about my current job is that I cannot access my work email from anywhere except work. I’m also less likely to check Twitter and my real-name Gmail account when I’m not at work (since I primarily use those for library-related purposes) and I’ve found it quite helpful to have that time of being disengaged and doing other things I want/need to do so I can better devote my attention to work when I’m at work.
The inconsistency of genius is a consistent theme of creativity: Even those blessed with ridiculous talent still produce works of startling mediocrity. (The Beatles are the exception that proves the rule, although their subsequent solo careers prove that even Lennon and McCartney were fallible artists.) The larger point is that mere imagination is not enough, for even those with prodigious gifts must still be able to sort their best from their worst, sifting through the clutter to find what’s actually worthwhile.
I learned so many lessons about the Web on jury duty last week. Here are just a few.
Write Like What You Say Will Be Read To A Jury
I’m not speaking abstractly here. If you document your life dramas online, and if those dramas end up in court, the lawyers will dig it all up. Work emails are one thing, but people in this case admitted private Facebook messages as character evidence.
The plaintiff deleted one message that would have been a key part of the testimony, and the very omission was damning. After so many of these people’s emails and wall posts had been read to us in the courtroom, we knew what that message said.
The layoffs of eight library staff members — some with decades of experience and only a couple of years away from retirement — have faculty members at the University of San Diego up in arms. Critics call the administration’s actions an affront to the Roman Catholic teachings of the university.
Administrators said a reorganization of the university’s Copley Library was necessary in an increasingly technological world, and eliminating some positions made way for the creation of new positions that ensure the library will stay on top of current, digital trends. Those who lost their jobs devoted many years to the university; four are over the age of 58 and two have worked at the library for more than 25 years. But their jobs include positions such as inventory control official, night supervisor and reserves manager — positions that the library doesn’t see as essential in a digital age. At the very least, faculty critics say, the library workers should have been retrained for new positions.
» via Inside Higher Ed
Love this for any work space.
Meet the members of what might be called Generation Limbo: highly educated 20-somethings, whose careers are stuck in neutral, coping with dead-end jobs and listless prospects.
And so they wait: for the economy to turn, for good jobs to materialize, for their lucky break. Some do so bitterly, frustrated that their well-mapped careers have gone astray. Others do so anxiously, wondering how they are going to pay their rent, their school loans, their living expenses — sometimes resorting to once-unthinkable government handouts.
“We did everything we were supposed to,” said Stephanie Morales, 23, who graduated from Dartmouth College in 2009 with hopes of working in the arts. Instead she ended up waiting tables at a Chart House restaurant in Weehawken, N.J., earning $2.17 an hour plus tips, to pay off her student loans. “What was the point of working so hard for 22 years if there was nothing out there?” said Ms. Morales, who is now a paralegal and plans on attending law school.
» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)
Bosses may have it all wrong when they assume that funny cat videos and FAIL slideshows are a drain on the workplace. Some new research finds that a moderate amount of mindless web surfing actually makes workers more productive at their jobs.
And the more mindless the surfing, the better.
“Employees who browse the web more end up being more engaged at work, so why fight that if it’s in moderation?” says Don J.Q. Chen, a researcher at the National University of Singapore and a co-author of the new report, presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management.
» via The Huffington Post
We all have our own standards of excellence. Some people’s bars are set higher than others. We also have different priorities and what motivates me to put in 100% won’t necessarily be the same for you. Whatever your own standard of excellence is in your work – whatever you passionately believe in doing – that’s what you should be true to. Be yourself. Don’t stop volunteering for things just because some of your colleagues’ standards of excellence are lower than yours or their priorities are different. Your measuring stick for your own achievement should be based on what you want to achieve, not how much or little other people are doing.
Companies have long used criminal background checks, credit reports and even searches on Google and LinkedIn to probe the previous lives of prospective employees. Now, some companies are requiring job candidates to also pass a social media background check.
A year-old start-up, Social Intelligence, scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years.
Then it assembles a dossier with examples of professional honors and charitable work, along with negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.