Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries


One year later

It’s become evident to me that it’s time to start blogging again! The first year at my new job is behind me, and in that year my social media presence has gotten away from talking about library things. Which is unfortunate, since I still do and think library things all the time.

So, yay! I’m back!  

As I mentioned, it’s been a year since I started at UNR. Exactly, to the day! It’s been great. I mean, the folks I work with actually support each other! They don’t always like each other, no place is such a heaven as that. But they are kind and supportive and generous in their understandings of each other (this has been my hardest adjustment. My readings of people’s motivations was badly & dangerously skewed.).  It’s s something I am still adjusting to, honestly. I hope I never take it for granted.

We are a land grant, with a medical school. We’re the state flagship (yes. we are. Us. UNR.) And we are a very leanly staffed Carnegie Intensive Research 1. 18K undergrads, hugely productive research faculty, the full slate of graduate programs. 22 librarians, including the admin suite and all our adjunct/contract library faculty. And we do amazing and cutting edge stuff. We think outside the box on the topic of “library”. Most of the time. We are the future of the academic library — in both the most positive and kinda frightening ways. I love being here. Not every day is nirvana, there are always ups and downs and aggravations and wishing I got my way when I didn’t. But it is such a very good place. 

In terms of daily work, I’m an instruction librarian. I liaise to Political Science, Communications Studies, and our Gender, Race and Identity program  I am also liaising to our student senate (and creating a student library committee). And I’m doing a really neat project with Burning Man; we are the place to come to study Burning Man, and have a complete research collection on the festival. close to a dozen faculty on campus do research around Burning Man, as well as a large cohort of graduate and undergraduate students. But it’s all rather secret. Not anymore! 

I love being a liaison . I missed it terribly while at Illinois, and am thrilled to be back in to it. Teaching is one of my favorite things, a close match with faculty outreach. And I get to do a good amount of both. We have plenty of the freshman comp classes here (which I do not love. I have whole soapbox on that I might be inspired to polish up and pull out at some point…), but I have the pleasure of having a lot of faculty who have not seen a lot of use for library instruction in the past. I say “pleasure” because it’s a downright thrill to see that change. Anyone who knows me knows this is a challenge I am more than eager to rise to, and I have made significant impact. 

The Thing That Will Eat My Life has turned out to be data. I hate data. I don’t understand data. I’m a religious studies scholar, and a librarian! I do words, not numbers. But, my faculty do data. So I’m learning a lot about it. Mostly, I’ve learned that we don’t have much support for it, and that such a situation is shockingly common. I spend far too much of my waking time thinking about where a library like mine, and a librarian like me, fits into supporting the data cycle. I’ve got workflows I’m struggling with, work projects underway, and the next research project will probably be related to how libraries handle data sets. 

There’s more happening — work related to applying the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries project here; changing up our popular reading space & collection; end of year budget issues; research projects about the future of libraries, about liaison relationships and faculty outreach; my ACRL Leadership discussion group and IFRT stuff; me grappling with leadership, management, making change and jousting at various windmills.

A happy, busy worklife.

So, what will I probably be writing about? the importance of faculty outreach (and the joys therein); why I hate the freshman comp class as the recipient of such a disproportionate amount of librarian time and energy; information literacy and research instruction successes and failures  zotero; the changing nature of our own perceptions of libraries; technology in education; Burning Man; librarians and digital workflows/digital workflows as research literacy. And anything that crosses my mind as I read teh interwebs and get to thinking about the world around me.

I’m happy to be writing again. I just hope it’s a pleasure to read!