Once upon a time when I was a baby librarian, my first boss made noises about how I could publish things to get tenure, or I could do local and regional committee work instead. The implication in her encouragement of the regional path was that serious publishing was out of the range of a technical services librarian at an institution of our size, and thus I thought that getting published in The Literature was the pinnacle of awesomeness.
Yesterday as my husband and I sorted the mail, I was more interested in a package from one of my bridesmaids (wedding gifts are just as fun 18 months after the day as they were the day after the day) than I was the 2 complimentary issues of portal: Libraries and the Academy with my latest article in them. Sure, they were great to get, and I got a little thrill, but after flipping to the page where my opinion piece began and flashing my name at Drew, I tossed them on the coffee table and dove into the box from Sarah. As he was saying “Congratulations!” about the article, I was cooing over samurai tea cups! Monogrammed napkins! Mint julep cups! I’m proud of myself, sure, but… engraved silver ice bucket!
I’m also working with the fantastic Amanda Etches-Johnson, Jason Griffey, Chad Boeninger, and Meredith Farkas on the Academic Library 2.0 preconference at Computers in Libraries. While small, it’s still a national conference, presenting with people I respect a great deal, about fascinating and cool stuff. That version of me who didn’t know how to look beyond running regional training sessions on using Innovative’s serials module and chairing the local cataloging standards committee… she’d be stunned by where I stand now, and the things I’m doing. She’d think it was outstanding.
It feels normal. I don’t know exactly what to make of it, when I stop to ponder. In one sense, it’s just who I am and who I’ve grown into as I’ve moved through my professional life — I can present with ease, I think I have something useful to say, and my professional writing skills continue to improve. My confidence in my abilities, knowledge, and perspective has increased, and thus I’ve learned to value my opinions and want to offer them to others to consider and dissect as a contribution to the field. On the other hand, I’ve also become utterly jaded in the knowledge that we’re all just winging it — those people I hold up as ‘experts’, ‘rock stars’, and ‘leaders’? I know now that they’re all making it up as they go along, too, just drawing on their own self confidence in their learning, knowing, and doing to share with others as they’re able.
So here I am. Contributing to the field, writing for publication, jumping through hoops and fighting the good fight. It feels less important than it did with my star-spangled newbie eyes (oh, look, new sushi dishes!), but it’s still pretty satisfying.
Listening to: Miranda Lambert – Me and Charlie Talking