Being a Diversity Resident Librarian: A One-Year Update

It’s been a little over a year since I began my diversity resident experience. More interesting is the fact that I have spent half of my time working from home because of the pandemic. Sometimes I wonder how different my experience as a resident would have been had the pandemic not happened.

  • Would I have nailed my lightning talk at SALALM?
  • Would I have learned some cool stuff at HILT about text encoding?
  • Would I have been closer to publishing something?

When I ask myself these questions, I guess what I am really asking is if I would have been further ahead by now. But what does further ahead mean and why does it matter?

Success in the tenure-track academic sphere is measured by how much you are willing to (over)exert yourself to produce things: papers, presentations, service, etc. There is the expectation that you work more than your 40 hours with the justification that its okay because your hours are flexible as faculty. When you combine these expectations with the fact that I am on borrowed time, I feel this immense pressure to succeed in order to ensure that my CV will need to be competitive for the (hopefully) post-COVID job market.

So what does this have to do with my one-year anniversary as a resident?

I’ve been reflecting on this definition of success and am at the point where I am questioning if that definition is what I want. Do I want my career to be so focused on measures of success that are outside of my control and dictated to me by my organization and the larger higher education culture (which happens to overlap with White Supremacy Culture)? Hell no. But if I want to be an academic librarian, am I resigned to conform to the system? I don’t know yet.

So in this first year, I’m still negotiating how much of myself I want to give to the profession. Do I want everything I do to be defined by my job? Or do I want to carve space for myself to explore things that bring me joy outside of my work. These are the questions that will guide me into my second year. What is the balance that works for me?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am so glad to be celebrating my first year as an academic librarian. The amount of growth I have seen in myself both personally and professionally has been remarkable. I even had the opportunity to be the Latin American Studies Librarian for five months! And at the same time, I have witnessed (first-hand and second-hand) how unwelcoming at the individual and institutional levels how our profession can be to those who identify as BIPOC. These experiences live side-by-side every single day and I am not sure I would have these perspectives if I wasn’t a resident. For that, I am weirdly thankful.

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