This past semester was a whirlwind of change and sadness and joy.
In August, I accepted a new position as the Student Outreach Librarian at Paul Smith’s College nestled in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. I have to say that it has got to be the most beautiful campus on earth. I can see the lake from the window of my office and hear the loons calling when I stroll around on lunch breaks. It’s an isolated little campus, one with only 900 students, but there’s an intimacy here between the people and with nature. Something I never really found in the culture in Texas.
But this is not going to be a bash Texas post. One of the saddest things I did this year was say goodbye. I said goodbye to some amazing colleagues, friends, and a town that I called home. I said goodbye to Palo Duro Canyon. And our house. And Palace Coffee 😉
But professionally, it was time to move on. I was feeling stagnant and uninspired which was beating me down. I felt stuck, like I couldn’t do great work because of barriers and that didn’t seem fair to the students I served. I wasn’t my best me, and that was hard to accept. I realized what I need in a professional environment is an atmosphere of autonomy. I need to feel free to create and explore and try things and fail. I need to be able to get into a program and play with it, see what I can make it do, take my design somewhere beautiful. I discovered that I needed to be in charge of something. Even as I write that, it feels lame, but somehow it couldn’t be more true. I like being responsible for an aspect of the library – I can say with confidence that this is my thing. I no longer have to ask for permission.
And in this new library, all of us work together to complete stuff that isn’t our “special thing.” We ALL work circulation, we ALL do reference, we ALL teach, we ALL act as liaisons. And yet, each of us has some individual gift, and we’re free to run with it. My director holds weekly individual meetings and says, “What can I do to help? What do you need from me to make what you’re doing successful?” When you feel supported in your profession, it seems to me that all things are possible. I am starting to feel comfortable again, and I’m slowly regaining confidence in myself.
The next step of the journey is figuring out how to be a great faculty librarian– how can I take my teaching, research, writing, publishing, design-work beyond my office? I’m certain this is going to take a while to figure out, but I’m so happy to say that I know I have the support to do it. My new colleagues are amazing and are so very talented, and the students have been so kind. Here’s to many more years here at Paul Smith’s College!
Happy new year!