Here is what this week had in store for me:
- affordable learning committee meeting
- impromptu reference session with a grad student
- exhibit informational meeting
- cohort exhibit planning
- meeting with supervisor
- tour of book depository and University Archives
- first time taking the campus bus
- coffee with Vice Provost of libraries
- digital flagship course
- junior faculty writing group
Part of my position as a Resident Librarian (especially this early into my position) is information gathering. You will notice that I spend a lot of time weaving in and out of different meetings because I am currently assessing whats going on here at the libraries. The Affordable Learning Committee, Meeting with Exhibitions coordinator, Tours, and coffee with the Vice Provost are reflections of this information gathering. This week it felt a little overwhelming to have so many information heavy sessions. As my first full-time job, it has been hard to navigate so much information and I think part of this difficulty is that I pressure myself into thinking I have to get the hang of it all now and know everything about this place. This has been something I have been struggling with since I started my position and I am trying to practice some self-compassion to try and get out of my own head.
In-terms of specific meetings, our visit to University Archives and the Book Depository were some of the most memorable meetings from the week. In order to get to this facility, my colleague and I had to take the bus for the first time as this facility is on the other side of campus. On the right, you can see an image I took from the book depository. That hallway is 250 long, and the shelves are 30 feet high. There are at least 8 of these stacks in the Book Depository, and there are plans to add more in the future. I was so completely fascinated by the logistics of this facility. They store items based on size, not subject, and the way the various sized storage boxes are designed lead to optimum space-usage. It was absolutely incredible.
In less-than-incredible experiences, a colleague had a student that needed help with finding specific resources for research and I completely blundered through trying to help him find what he needed. After explaining the situation to my supervisor, she explained that it might not have been able to find what he needed in the first place (at least not easily) and that I did not have to feel like I needed to deliver sources right then and there in that meeting. This was especially helpful in reframing reference questions for me. As someone who has never done reference, I have always felt like I had to know where everything is off the top of my head. But now I know that it is okay to take a couple of days to think on a request, and the importance of asking the patron questions! In my social anxiety, I completely forgot to ask vital questions like name, professor, time-line etc. It was one of those situations where in the moment I felt very unqualified and silly, but after I could laugh and say “better luck next time!”
My meeting with the Exhibits Coordinator was interesting. It was mostly a meeting to see their face and know they are an important resource to know and lean on when the time comes. I love exhibits and programming, so I had a lot of fun picking their brain about the logistics of their services to the libraries. I’d almost consider a position like that!
I also learned a lot about grants and other sources of funding at the coffee meeting with the Vice Provost. These coffees are set-up as informal gatherings where we can sign up to chat with him and let him know what we are up to, any issues we want to address, etc. I thought this was super cool and signed-up just to check it out. The topics for the meeting varied by what my other colleagues wanted to discuss, and the topic turned to grant and donations. I think this meeting highlighted a whole part of the libraries system that I never thought about before.
Overall, it was a pretty busy week, but I got to explore a variety of different areas that function within the library. I also had to come to terms with my own anxiety and perfectionism when it came to this position. It is detrimental to my mental health (and my position) to be so caught up in thinking that I have to know everything and beating myself up when I don’t. The beauty of a residency is that I have more room to make mistakes, take risks and continue to grow into the librarian I want to be!