Over the past few weeks, I have been taking the opportunity of a quiet campus to clean up a little bit, follow up on things left hanging and things put off. It has been productive and a good opportunity for self-reflection on just how I’m doing here after over two years on the job.
I noticed that I have started to settle in, to find my own rhythm and path here, and rather than simply trying to figure things out each day, I finally have what feels like a grasp on the scope of the collection and what needs to be done. So we have begun to implement systems and workflows, and even started to have staff meetings! And in this process, I am finding ways that I have failed to see what needed to be done, and so now have to backpedal. Or, I saw what needed to be done and half-heartedly tried to make it happen but didn’t follow through with enough perseverance. All of this is fine–it’s learning. No one has died from my mistakes, nor has anyone suffered really, but it’s certainly time to go forward with more of a plan.
So now, with a workflow in place, there is less guess work about what needs to be done with a particular collection. No more saving up the photocopying until there is nothing better to do because there will always be something better to do. Now, when we process a collection, it will also get a catalog record because everyone knows what is being funneled through the processing pipeline. Part of the trepidation that accompanied putting processes in place was, perhaps, a bit of uncertainty about my own expertise and knowledge. What if I created a plan that didn’t make sense and then we’d have to do it all over again? As I’ve grown into this role a bit, I see that what is key is making definitive decisions even if they are wrong, and building professional networks so that when I have questions about the best way to do something, I have people to ask out in the broader field. Each place works differently, of course, and our little collection has plenty of quirks, but the more examples you have to compare, the better. In this third year of my work here, my plan is to move outward, to build more networks and alliances.
Along with networking, another part of my plan this year is to gain more leadership skills. I have always bristled at these two words–maybe because of my working-class background and the corporate ring that “leadership skills” holds for me–but, after two+ years of managing this collection, I’ve got to acknowledge that leadership skills are something I actually need to have. I never set out to be anyone’s boss but my own, but here I am, and while I do the best I can, I know there are places (perhaps many!) that I have made mistakes. So, when the Maine State Library District Consultants sent out an email about a webinar on how to “Be a Great Boss,” I signed up. It starts next week, and I have started reading the first chapter on Attitude. This one (so far) feels pretty easy to me, but I know that there are going to be places where this course pushes my comfort zone. Luckily, according to the author of the book we’re reading,* “…no mistake is final.”
Hakala-Ausperk, Catherine. Be a Great Boss: One Year to Success. Chicago: American Library Association, 2011.