Monday, June 6, 2011

Not in my job description

Looking over the current job descriptions for the staff I will be working with, thinking of questions such as how do you do this or do you still do this, the thought came to me, what are reasonable expectations.  In a small library (as few as one, sometimes two to five staff members,) cross-training and performing of multiple functions are part of the deal, being expected to check out a book, provide direction, troubleshoot with a patron using a resource on a computer, etc.  People have said to me make clearer distinctions so we're not tripping over one another.  I will need to work this out.

Nevertheless, the phrase "not in my job description" always comes up, to the point of cliche. However, I believe that to do meaningful work other librarians and I will have to seek out activities and opportunities that may not be described in our job descriptions.  At an institution I know of, many administrators wear many hats, admistrative, financial, and as one guy described it to me he is coordinating the college's new research initiative that features a partnership with the state and local businesses. Then I'm thinking if there are needs where one is, say a lack of computing and learning facilities, why can't the library play a role in that conversation.  Or the direction of the website.  Or an organization's institutional memory, from history to the knowledge of people walking out the door, as has been described elsewhere.  Or something along the lines of the Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory

And I think of my last place of employment and an administrator who came to work there at around the same time I did. When she started she was an assistant but gradually took on more work and revamped the entire budget system for the organization.  (She also became a notary public, seeing an opening there.)  What she did was not popular with some (" X took over P's job," one staff member groused to me,) but she is effective, took advantage of opportunities, she's still working there and I'm not.  I'm not suggesting aggressiveness, necessarily, or solely looking out for one's own interests.  However, I can see missed opportunities in my past.  What if I'd taken the initiative to set up an institutional repository?  Or some archive at an essentially ahistorical organization? Some learning, in the area of software, some collaborating and asking for help were necessary.  I didn't do it and it is part of the past and here's my opportunity to learn from it and do something different, redeem the past in a way.

It's a tricky thing.  On the one hand there is something about being clear what one does and what business one is in.  At the same time, we can adapt and evolve, as print books may be eclipsed by ebooks and other disruptive technologies appear on the scene.  Intriguing discussions of evolving library work can be read here and here

So I have to be willing to change, even gradually, thinking of Red Green: "I'm a man!  But I can change, if I have to, I guess."

No comments:

Post a Comment