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.

 

Trust

Trust.

When I read the topic for this month’s #glamblogclub, my heart sank a little and I thought “trust? What’s that got to do with GLAM???”

So I left it alone for a while (*cough* most of the month) and today, well, inspiration came before action for once. (hey! I just found myself another blog post topic!)

The inspiration was this quote:

Image of dragon boat with paddlers accompanied by text "A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other".

Which got me thinking about teams and how they function well when we are working towards a similar goal. Dragon boat racing has taught me a lot about the need for synchronicity and trust – not just with our paddles, but with our goals as a crew. Being involved in NLS8 and working with a team spread across three states and one territory of Australia is, funnily enough, a similar experience (just with less grunting and more water).

So, back to the quote. I then started thinking about my personal learning network (PLN) and professional connections and how if I think of them as a team, two things happen:

  1. My network feels more collegiate, more connected and there’s a feeling “we’re in this together”.
  2. Trust becomes vital. In myself and the people in my network, or tribe if you prefer. (Gang is also good, especially if you love The Goonies).

Let’s flesh this out a bit.

Working with the amazing NLS8 team and expanding my own PLN over the last seven or so years has given me the opportunity to observe how people function and meet their own personal and professional needs within a bigger network of information professionals. Introvert, extrovert, ambivert, specialist, generalist, nerd, geek, student, new grad, seasoned professional, it’s a fascinating mix of people. And I want to connect with them all, but…

Building meaningful connections with other professionals is fraught with “dangers”. You might not be comfortable putting ourselves out there, maybe you don’t want to do it online. Maybe we have imposter syndrome and worry that someone will figure that out and expose us. Perhaps you just don’t know where to start. Me? I was a healthy anxious mixture of all of these.

(Why the hell wouldn’t you want to make connections in the GLAMR world. Let’s be real for a minute… GLAMR is full of people who are generous with their time, knowledge and cakes, that’s the perfect network/tribe/gang!)

So, you might be thinking any or all of those reasons. Or you might be ready and willing to dive in. I know I was and what got me over the line was trust.

First I had to trust myself in the decisions I was making about who to connect with, and finding people to look up to, the “I’d like to be in that position one day” type of people. That’s all part of building a career and having a strategy (seriously, make a plan people and aim big, or small, or medium, whatever you want…JUST MAKE A PLAN!)

Then, it was time to develop trust in that network of people. Being comfortable with putting yourself out there (IRL and online) and admitting you don’t understand, need clarification, or just someone to talk through where you are stuck – study, work, whatever, involves TRUST. And it takes time.

Personally I think that if we treat our network/tribe/gang like a team, and we learn to trust those people and trust ourselves, trust that we have can add value and have something to say, regardless of where we are in our careers, we can do so much.

For me, when I’m working with people who value the same things as me (integrity, honesty, fairness, cake), I’m more inclined to be open about my own barriers and struggles, and also happier to say “hey I did a cool thing, take a look”. Trust!

Look, I’m not saying to lay your life bare in front of your colleagues. Just to make space for a little trust, to wave the pom poms for your team and let them wave and cartwheel for you. And there’s always time for a celebratory cake.

 

 

 

 

Timing is everything

Let’s keep this first post short and sweet. I’m a serial starter of blogs with absolutely zero follow through. Mainly because my interests are very broad and it has been difficult to fine tune them. And also because like many people, putting ideas and thoughts out there can be a tad scary.

However, I’m 2 years into a new profession and am ready to talk and document what I’m learning, what is hard and challenging, what is great – basically it’s time to share my opinions and see what happens. (Probably nothing!)

So! I’ll be joining along (late of course) with the GLAM Blog Club which is a great way to tune into the voices of GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives & museums).

Onwards!

Sally