The post conference thud

APLIC finished a few weeks ago but I’m just coming out of the other side of “post conference thud”. That feeling of spending several days absorbing new ideas and trying to connect them to your work as well as save them for future reference, talking until you lose your voice, meeting new people, re-connecting with friends and colleagues, not sleeping very well due to being totally wired and awake until the wee hours of the morning and the exhaustion that goes with being “on” for a week.

THUD.

And then you return home and go back to work and spend the first week post-conference picking up all the threads, restarting conversations and projects, finding where all the socks went at home and who is enrolling in what electives for next year and finding your “non-conference life” groove again.

THUD.

A couple of weeks after APLIC I was more exhausted and mentally wrung out. The thud became complete overwhelm and I was full of doubt – did I really do a “good job” at the conference? Was I useful as a state manager? Did I connect with enough people? Did people who complimented on the podcast really mean it? Did I go to the right sessions? Yes. I spiralled. Exhaustion rolls out the welcome mat for these thoughts – every single time.

At least I recognised how being tired + negative had joined forces and that what I really needed to do was give myself a big pat on the back and a large exuberant high five. But how?

Ask Twitter of course…

And as always, the answers were generous and kind:

And this reply from Lyndelle helped me to feel less alone with these thoughts.

So what now? I listened to all this advice and felt really motivated to make the ones that appealed to me actually happen. I made a ta-da list, and an achievement board, scheduled quiet time, spoke to friends who make me feel good, spent time with family doing things we love and took some time away from screens and everything online. I’ve also read a bit more than usual and spent more time outside. These are all things I know I should do, but they end up at the bottom of the list when the THUD happens. It’s a work in progress and each time I hit that low bit, I get a bit better at taking action and recognising the signs.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? How do you cope with the post-conference thud? I’d love to hear what you do.

Hello 2018.

Edna Mode’s words are guiding me in 2018.

 

(I wrote a post for Letters to a Young Librarian you might like to read. Tell me what you think. I’ll be over here working on my superhero costume. No capes!)

 

 

 

Choose Your Own Information Adventure Part 1

My post about the “why not?” people included mentioned of why I am more information than library with a promise to write about it. Well here it is.

Reasons I didn’t become a librarian

I love libraries. My childhood involved spending a lot of time in libraries – Woden Library, Moruya Library, Akrotiri army base library in Cyprus where we spent a few months, my primary school library, various libraries at the ANU (sometimes having a parent who is a mature aged student is a good thing!).

I love reading. Reading has been the one constant in my life and I love it. (But I don’t love the smell of books, new or old so please don’t send me cute memes about stinky books or perfume that smells like old books).

These reasons are not why I chose to study the Bachelor of Information Studies.

After completing a course at TAFE in community services, I figured out I’m not stupid and can actually study and finish a course. So, why not try a degree? I promptly enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Recreational Therapy and spent an engaging semester studying Sociology 101 and Leisure Studies 101 which I thoroughly enjoyed and surprised myself by writing essays that received really good marks (which as a terrible school student was the best feeling).

Information mining

Sometime during that first semester, we were given an assignment which involved navigating our way through the library databases to locate journal articles and books. I loved that assignment. Digging deeper into the databases to find information, I found myself trying to understand how the system worked, what happened if I looked for the article from this ‘direction’, what about that one? And a lightbulb moment occurred in my head that went something like “this would be a great job and imagine showing people how to use these systems, this is a part of libraries I’d never realised existed, maybe this is a better fit for me?”.

Honestly, that is what drove me to enquire about switching courses. At the time, I was learning that changing your mind is ok and I was aware that if the library degree didn’t work out, I could go back to health science or try something else. It really didn’t seem like that big a deal, there were plenty of choices and hey! I was going to try some of them out. I can’t emphasise enough what realising that study was achievable and wouldn’t end in humiliating disaster was for me at that time.

A side note about mature aged students

Mature aged students experience study very differently to those who are fresh out of school. Often on a second, third, fourth career, some of these students undergo a deep transformation during their study. I have experienced this myself and seen fellow students and friends go through it too. Many people don’t pursue tertiary study straight out of school for so many reasons – financial, fear of failure, terrible school experiences, timing, lack of opportunity. So if they do get that opportunity, OMG do they throw themselves into it! And if it means conquering demons, finally facing deeply held fears and beliefs about themselves, well let’s do that too.

My uni friends and I often joked that we should be receiving a Bachelor of Life degree as well as a Bachelor of Information Studies – the four of us conquered so much during those four years, much more than assignments and group projects.

Back to the story . . .

So I contacted the School of Information Studies and asked to switch courses. A very nice email advised me I could, so I did.

And just like that I had chosen my own information adventure.

Let’s leave this here. Part 2 tomorrow.

I’m here for the ‘why not?’ people

 

Reality check

Since studying my undergrad and then finding work in a library I’ve been frustrated by the slowness in our profession. Slow to change, slow to adapt, which sometimes verges on a dogged unwillingness to do anything different at all. (I’m well aware that external factors like lack of support from parent organisations, layer upon layer of bureaucracy and lack of funding et. al contribute to a lack or inability to take action).

Should I have been surprised? How was I to know? And to be honest part of the reason I began exploring work outside libraries, even though I was so new to the profession, was because of this lack of action. (Plus a realisation that that I’m more information than library . . .a post about this is seriously overdue).

Anyway, I was surprised and frustrated and annoyed to find that my new profession seems so stuck. Particularly because I could see innovation, change, rebelliousness happening, just nowhere near me!

Twitter was and is my lifeline. If I wasn’t directly disrupting and changing things in my own workplace, I could talk about it online. And learn from and admire these Twitter folk. Stealth mentoring anyone? And it’s these people who give me hope for the future of the profession. Because part of me believes that our profession can be less “this is how we’ve always done it” and more “just say yes, you’ll figure it out afterwards“.

What has been confirmed for me over the last seven years is that change happens slowly. But it can happen and you need to be immersed in the profession if you want to be part of change, both in your workplace and as a member of our diverse profession.

Don’t just dip your toe in, dive in!

Co-convening NLS8 has meant spending a lot of time with smart, radical, big thinkers . . . dreamers who have taught me to SLOW DOWN, be patient and that the best kind of change comes from within. It’s also confirmed for me that there are plenty of people who are happy with the way things are. That will never be me, I’ll always be asking how about this? and that? why do we do it like this?’ because that’s me and I love finding patterns, making connections and figuring out other ways of doing things.

I got involved with NLS8 because having attended NLS6 and 7, I knew what an important event it was and still is for GLAMR students and new grads and wanted to be part of the next one. Plus I had ideas about how to make it a better learning experience, and wouldn’t you know, so did the people who joined me on the organising committee. After the symposium is over (and we all have a good long lie down, it’s been a long eighteen months!) I want to rejoin the ALIA Students and New Graduates group. Because as a regional person I don’t think there are anywhere near enough PD opportunities outside of the major cities. So I’m going to change that by working with a great group of people and asking for support from ALIA state managers and the Twittersphere. If there’s one thing that NLS8 has taught me, it’s to ask for help. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They say no. Oh well, ask someone else!

Repeat after me, change is good

Back to change. I think our profession can be better, we can dare to do better. Change goes beyond just turning up to an occasional event. And let’s be real, there’s only a small proportion of people in this industry who do get involved (as with any community). And that’s the group I am a part of, because it’s where the change happens. And the people who do get involved, they are my kind of people, my tribe. The more time I spend with them, the clearer my professional path becomes. And the clearer the path to the kind of profession I studied hard to join becomes. I don’t hope for the future of libraries and information professionals. I drive and push and argue, sometimes badly, but mostly quietly and by taking part, staying connected and surrounding myself with why not? people.

This isn’t for everyone. And some of us choose to use this passion for being involved in other areas of life, that’s cool. Whatever works for you! For me, driving and supporting change in our profession is what I’m going to put my energy into, it’s where (after many years of trying to find my tribe) I know that my skills and knowledge can be best used. Feels good to know that, and I can thank the people I’ve met and teamed up with for helping me figure it out.

This is a GLAM Blog Club post. Follow @ausglamblogs and #glamblogclub on Twitter to read more posts by other GLAM people.

What I wish they taught in GLAM school

This post is about subjects I’d like to have learnt more about when studying at GLAM school and “topics” that I’ve spent time on since graduating. Thanks to #GLAMBlogClub and newCardigan for the topic and impetus to write at least once a month.

LMS 101  – The hands-on, get down and dirty, this is what a library management system looks like, here’s how to use one subject. If you’ve never worked in a library, you’ve never seen this kind of software, but you’ll use it everyday.

Change is Already Here – Many subjects theorised and analysed GLAM being in a state of change and needing to adapt. How do we work in this ever changing profession? Change management skills in how to deal with this both as an employee and be an agent of change – yes please.

New Grad? New Rules – See that testamur? Great! Ignore it. And get ready to learn everything all over again in the context of where you work and the role you have. Lots of the library subjects I completed had a public library slant. My first role was in a special (medical) library: totally different collection, patrons, structure from anything we studied. That sounds a little naive I know, maybe 4 years focused on studying, left me a little blinkered. Just remember that there is no one GLAM fits all scenario.

Hustle Like You Mean It – Once you’ve graduated and secured that first unicorn tear drenched rare library role, you might (some may say, should) make a plan to move on (in a couple of years). Whether it be in the same library, gallery, museum, archive or elsewhere, you’re going to need to hustle. Network or learn how to, find a mentor, be visible where GLAM folk hang out – online, conferences, workshops, PD events, make GLAM friends. Talk to people, ask questions, become comfortable with talking about what you’re great at. Find how to get better at the stuff you’re not great at.

The Path Isn’t Straight – careers rarely are these days, be ok with that. Be open to non-traditional GLAM roles, our skills are incredibly useful in many areas. Plus you get to be a library advocate with people who might need libraries the most. Be flexible and prepared to move sideways, diagonally or geographically, you will be a better information professional with a great range of experience.

Post Grad You – the only person who can make your GLAM career happen is you. Go get it.