All posts filed under “Librarianship Day-to-Day

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash [person pouring coffee into a mug with the word "ugh" written on it]
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Mid-Semester Slump

It’s that time of the semester again. You’ve taught your Nth English Composition library instruction session/info lit class/freshman seminar. Everyone is sick–including you. That 3rd cup of coffee doesn’t quite pack the same punch. All of the deadlines for all of the writing projects that you were so excited about are all looming in the semi-immediate horizon. You’ve hit the Mid-Semester Slump, and it sucks.

It happens every year, and almost always hits hardest in the fall. Yet every fall I’m surprised when it happens. I can’t quite figure out why my energy is so low and I can’t quite shake what should have been a 3-day cold 2 weeks later. All hopes of a regular exercise schedule feel like a pipe dream, but I was just able to accomplish that a few weeks earlier. What is it about the midterm that makes life and work so difficult and dreary? Is it the repetition? The stress? Something else?

I’m trying to make my way out of the slump with excessive amounts of coffee and croissants, but they just aren’t quite doing the trick. I’m starting to attribute these feelings to the garbage fire that is the news in this country coupled with being a latina in it. That said, my work is still my work and my family still needs my best self. So what are your suggestions for getting through this slog? What’s worked for you in previous semesters? How do you take care of yourself and revitalize your feelings when the semester starts to the feel like a drag?

 

Fall leaves Photo by Greg Shield on Unsplash
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Rejection

A quick search for “rejection” on Unsplash.com yields a lot of images of sad, wistful white people. It wasn’t quite the vibe I was going for in this post, hence the photo of the fall leaves I wish I was seeing outside (alas, fall has not come to Houston).

Rejection is tricky. I sent out a lot of rejection emails last week. Joanna Gadsby and I are editing a book on the idea of service in libraries and its impact on the practice/theory of librarianship. We received so many wonderful proposals. SO MANY. We can’t publish them all, so we inevitably ended up with a pool of No’s. We tried to write a kind rejection email. Our decision didn’t really have a lot to do with the quality of the proposals so much as the scope, the number we received, and the kind of book we are trying to build. We know that many of the chapter proposals we said No to will likely find a published home in excellent journals or books. We just weren’t the right fit at the right time.

I know this, yet the same day that I sent out rejection emails, I received one, too. It was for a journal article I co-submitted that I was really excited about. To be honest, it kinda hurt. It was scholarship I stood behind and felt good writing. That said, I completely understand the tough decisions the editors had to make, having just made them myself. Their rejection email was so kind. And yet…YET…it still really stung.

Rejection is hard. Coping with rejection is harder. Getting that rejection email was a good reminder of that reality.  A week to process has taken away the sting, and I can write and discuss the experience without FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS. Rejection is a normal part of academia, and as long as it’s done in a considerate way, it’s probably healthy, and definitely a learning experience. I know that not all rejection is kind, and that sometimes it hits us at a time when we could really have used a win. I wish I had better advice than: sometimes rejection isn’t really about you. Sometimes it’s the greater publishing project, sometimes it’s the pool, sometimes it is about your writing or your research, but those things aren’t YOU. All of those things can change, and in a few weeks or months or years you’ll get a Yes instead of a No.

In the mean time, it’s ok to feel the feelings that rejection inspires. We all experience it and live through it. It might feel personal, but it’s really not. We just feel it–personally. I deal with rejection by

  1. Questioning all of my life choices.
  2. Buying a new dress or nail polish (depending on budget).
  3. Feeling generally ok about things and trying again.

It’s not everyone’s process, but it’s mine. How do you deal with rejection in academic librarianship?

Image of paint swirls
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Acculturation, Integration, Assimilation

I’m at the end of week three in my new job and have been thinking a lot about the process of on-boarding new employees. UH Libraries has a very comprehensive on-boarding and orientation program. With 50+ librarians that’s not surprising. I’ve had one-on-one meetings with everyone in my department, other supervisors within the library, and am looking forward to meeting people outside the library in the next few weeks (summer just makes for fewer folks on campus). There is a big stress on understanding the library’s organizational culture and strong encouragement to ask questions and offer feedback on the orientation / on-boarding process, which I appreciate.

I’ve had some interesting, open conversations with my colleagues about what it means to a) come back to work after being on sabbatical for 8 months, and b) come back to an entirely new place of work. There’s a fair amount of culture shock happening, which is to be expected when moving from a small liberal arts college to an R1 university. Thankfully I feel like I can talk about this at work.

I can also talk about what it means to be a new employee at a library without simultaneously being a new librarian. This is the first job I’ve started as an established librarian. My first subject librarian position at the UH Libraries was my first job out of library school, and I was green, green, greenie-green. When I started working at St. Mary’s I was relatively early career (about 2.5 years in). But now, as I settle into this new Instruction Coordinator role, I realize I’ve been doing this for more than a hot minute. I have a much stronger sense of who I am as a person and as a librarian. I have my own values, beliefs, hopes, and goals. I have established ideas about librarianship, teaching, and scholarship. I bring my own culture. I don’t want to be so rigid that I espouse my own values and culture as the right values and culture. I always want to be open to learning and to new experiences. I also want to recognize that I have something to bring to the table and that my own identity matters.

I’ve been the latina who anglicized my name in college because I was tired of hearing my professors and fellow students stumble over it. In my early twenties I struggled to reconcile my own latinidad with the whiter world around me and just ended up feeling alone and confused. I wish I could go back and tell 20-year-old me to stop code switching and take pride in myself and my culture (and for the love of God stop tweezing your eyebrows so much). These are lessons I’ve tried to keep with me over the years (including the brow-shaping). I bring them with me as I start this new job, and think about ways I can integrate myself into this new library. I don’t want to assimilate, and I don’t feel pressure to do so. I want to continue to question, reflect, act, and practice librarianship in an intentional way that aligns with my own values. I want to learn new ways to be in this profession from my colleagues. It’s a very different approach to starting a new job for me, but it’s one I’m committed to pursuing in the months to come.