This Week

This Week 10/14/2019–10/19/2019

Here is what was on the agenda for this week:

  • International Student Workshop II
  • Introduction to LibAnswer and Libinsights
  • Exhibit Logistics Check-in Meeting with Supervisor
  • Meeting and Tour in the Libraries Technical Services Building
  • ALAO Conference
  • Pop-Up Exhibit for Día de los Muertos

I will only be discussing in detail the pop-up exhibit. If you are interested in hearing more about the Academic Library Association of Ohio 2019 conference, check out my overview here.

The day that we have been prepping for since early September finally arrived! We had our Día de los Muertos adjacent Pop-Up Exhibit in the Cartoon Library and Museum. The scope of the exhibit was pretty broad and consisted of items from our special collections, some of our newest acquisitions from SÕL-CON: The Brown and Black Comix Expo, and other comics and graphic novels currently in the collection. My job was to find items that fit under Immigration, Migration, and Mobility. The image below is a table featuring the many graphic novels I found in our collections related to the topic, including:

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan
  • The Four Immigrants Manga: a Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 2904-1924 by Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama
  • Migra Mouse: Political Cartoons on Immigration by Lalo Alcaraz
  • Étrange by Jérôme Ruillier
  • Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life by Alberto Ledesma 
  • The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

The Immigration, Migration and Mobility theme also led me to pull many political cartoons and original art by Bill Schorr, Eric J. Garcia, Kate Salley Palmer, and many other who had very poignant commentaries on immigration in the United States. My supervisor was in charge of pulling and transporting the special collections items which included original Jose Guadalupe Posada broadsides. Overall, the exhibit was a great success. We had over 130 people come in and take a look around. I was especially excited to see people interested in the graphic novels I pulled as well as the material acquired from SÕL-CON. I was worried that people would not want to touch any of the material we left out for them, so I would often go around and handle the material, signalling that it is okay to touch this stuff. Whats the point of even having this material if no one can see it or touch it?

I was not tasked with any of the logistics of the exhibit this time, but next year, I might be heading the charge! Aside from stopping by the exhibit to see if they could use extra help, my partner and I were given the freedom to explore the other events happening for the larger Día de los Muertos celebration. We drank hot chocolate, ate tamales and pan de muerto, checked out the altar where people left items for their loved ones, and explored the gallery exhibits in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

The planning and execution of this exhibit was helpful in a lot of ways. It taught me how to find material in our circulating and special collections, who most important people are when you need logistical support, and what the execution of a pop-up exhibit looks like from start to finish.  I have plenty of experience in programming and exhibit planning, my past experience has been on a much smaller scale. I was also able to watch how my supervisor interacted with patrons. As someone who is very shy, I was blown away with how willing my supervisor was to just start talking to people about what they were looking at. This event was also an opportunity to network with some of the faculty in the department, demonstrating to them what we have in our collections and ways in which they might incorporate these materials into their classes.

Now that this event is over we can focus on our other collaborative efforts. Stay tuned for what we do next!

This Week 10/07/2019–10/11/2019

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!

This Week 09/30/2019–10/04/2019

I realized that it has been two months since I started my position as a Diversity Resident. This realization was especially jarring because the month of September seemed to come and go without a trace. Here is what this week had in store for me:

  • meeting with supervisor
  • meeting with supervisor and colleague about an exhibition
  • informal chat with supervisor
  • pleasant chat in Spanish with staff
  • instruction session shadow
  • visit from a grad student/friend
  • tour of Music + Dance Library
  • changing landscape of Digital Scholarship Series
  • writing group
  • meeting with cohort for exhibit planning

I also spent some time working on an HTML Lynda Course and reading about social media as a tool for instruction in higher education.

Some Reflections:

This week was very productive and it felt good going through the motions. I think it was one of the first weeks where I really felt part of the organization. Not to say that my organization is in ANY WAY exclusionary because they are not. It just felt like I am starting to get comfortable with the way things work and who to talk to when.

My meetings with my supervisor are always highly productive, whether they are formal or informal. I think that this is a sign of having a good supervisor. When I think about my supervisor, I am grateful to have someone who is both very intelligent and accomplished, but also very grounded and humble (maybe even too humble but we will talk about that in another post). When I leave a meeting with her, I leave feeling capable of attacking any problem head on which is especially important for someone like me who has almost crippling impostor syndrome. We talked a lot about projects we are working on, institutional culture, game-plans for the future, etc. etc. And I think that’s the trick to being a good supervisor/mentor: your influence isn’t/shouldn’t be direct. It’s not micromanaging or showing presentations on what this job is and how it should be done. It is embodied. Your supervisor is someone who helps you hold your confidence in the face of adversity. They have your back and remind you that you are smart, capable and worthy. I even notice this kind of leadership when my supervisor and I meet with other people.

This week I also had a forty five minute conversation in Spanish with the staff member who cleans our offices. As a Latin American Librarian, Spanish language proficiency is important to my job, and if I’m being honest with myself, to my identity. Right now I am barely conversational so every time I talk to her, I am putting myself out there and being vulnerable. I will put her in the acknowledgement of anything Spanish related I do because she is such an informal but important part of my experience here.

I also had a friend stop by my office which is always a pleasant surprise. A nice little break in the middle of my day.

And finally, we had a tour of the 18th Street Library Facilities generally, and the Music and Dance Library. The tours have been pretty hit or miss but I found the Music and Dance Library to be a super interesting tour because of the work that the librarian does in his free time. This Librarian is part of a project that brings Musical Iconography from all around the world into a database. This is a pet project of his and he has dedicated a lot of time and energy into seeing this project come to life. I have found that this is not a unique story in librarianship. I often have heard  similar stories from other librarians doing really cool things! I loved hearing about the inception of the project, which were in part due to this librarians affinity for teaching himself html in the early days of the internet.  I love the tours that display the passion the staff and Librarians have for their jobs!