It’s not all about the big issues, professional indignation, and grand debates, this gig of mine.
I’m pretty sure that stuff’s not even in the job description.
Here are some snapshots of what IS in my job description.
Last night we had a great discussion as part of our Bregman series in support of the humanities, funded by an endowment from Benjamin and Irene Bregman. I still haven’t read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but someday our library copy will come back to the building (it’s constantly on loan) long enough for me to check it out, and I will. Dr. Jack McGuire – politics professor and member of our Institutional Review Board – discussed the politics and cultural complexities of the era, the science, and the ethics surrounding both in the Henrietta Lacks story, and Dr. Laura Rhodes – a member of our biology faculty currently teaching a course on the science of cancer – discussed the science and the ethics of HeLa cells and their complex and remarkable history. She brought a tumor in a jar. Biologists with props, man, don’t underestimate them.
We’ve also had another survey board up for the past week. Thumbs up, or thumbs down? Again, we got feedback that resonated with staff concerns — yes, the wireless IS shitty, we’re working with the IT staff to figure out why it suddenly went all wrong, and it’s a big mystery to all of us — which is really very reassuring. When the users start identifying problems I wasn’t aware of, then I’ll worry. For now, I still feel like I have my fingers on the pulse of the user experience, and that’s satisfying.
April is poetry month. Unless you expand “poetry” to include “lyrics”, I pretty much avoid poetry. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it, so we’re using our new movable displays to highlight haiku. Haiku are simple, clean, and can be written quickly, if not always well. And the students are certainly writing. The board appears to be growing feathers as they pin up more and more haiku slips.
We’ve responded to patron requests for “more good/fun/fiction/readable books” by supporting a Take A Book Give A Book shelf in our entryway. The books on it are disappearing fast… let’s see if anyone brings any back. We wonder. 🙂
We also got 40 new chairs. It was a quirk — they were ordered for the student union, someone made a color error, and so we bought them for cost while the vendor re-ordered the burgundy ones for the union. New furniture in a 45 year old building? Brilliant idea. So far, people like ’em.
And those are all the photogenic bits. Reference services, research consultations, circulation, course-integrated instruction, interlibrary loan and acquisitions, our website redesign, discarding and cataloging, participation in the Middle States self-study process, management of academic interns, the search for a new College Archivist, and the one-stop-shop of our music library all continue apace. We’re a busy group, with more goals than resources, always trying to do one more thing.
As for me, what am I up to? Here’s my GET TO WORK board for the month. I am, apparently, writing from now until graduation.
So. Yes. I care deeply about the future of librarianship. But like Karen Schneider, I care just as much about the future of the library entrusted to me as Director, and doing right by the users we serve. I think we’re doing good work. May you all feel as content in your successes and challenges as I do. (But may your to-do list be shorter.)