the things we can’t discuss

Being an administrator can be deeply alienating. You’re responsible for people, for money, for a community, for services, for the success of all of those… and you’re the only one. You’re still a part of your professional cohort, but you’re not, really. I’m a librarian, but I’m not, really. I’m a part of the team, but I’m not, really. I have a group of colleagues, but I don’t, really.

Part of that originates in the truth that there are so many things I can’t talk about. Even more things that I can’t write about. For example, in the last ten days I’ve been doing the following oblique vague things:

  • worked with [redacted] on a letter about [redacted] requesting [redacted], and bit my nails in nervousness over directly contacting someone who is [redacted]
  • considered and worked through my emotional reactions to having the [redacted] project reassigned to [redacted] after [redacted], and managed and responded to the reactions of the team over [redacted]
  • met with the [redacted] department and was blindsided by the [redacted] discussed in the meeting, then worked with [redacted, redacted, and redacted] to respond to and counter what we learned
  • edited a white paper by [redacted] about [redacted] and bit my nails in nervousness over how my radical changes would be received by someone who is [redacted]
  • wrote a letter in support of [redacted] for [redacted] and then was inspired to think about succession planning in light of our budget and staffing situation

Those were all time-consuming and important and emotionally laden and real and meaningful. I also can’t tell you any more about any of them. I’d love to. Each has an essay buried in it, about my experiences as a library leader, as an administrator, as a member of a campus community, as someone struggling with harsh fiscal realities that compete with her ideals… but there’s so much I can’t say. So much I can’t discuss in public, outside my office, away from my desk, with anyone who isn’t privy to the original situation. Those communication restrictions aren’t because of anything other than my own sense of confidentiality, professional propriety, and appropriate relationship management. As Cone of Silence is just the right thing to do. And so I can’t talk about them, and I can’t write about them, and how on earth could anyone understand my experience or my mental state or the nuance of my work, when I can’t tell you a damn thing about any of them?

It makes it hard. It makes it lonely.

I’m not sure what my point is, really, or how to close this. I’m not whining. I don’t mind this life, or this job, or these tasks. I chose them, I strive to be good at them, and I am glad of what I do. I value my work and my job and my life. The need for confidentiality and circumspection is just a part of the gig, and I respect and value that. I’m just having a moment in which I have so much to say, and my ability to say it is so muffled I’m not at all sure where to go next.


small communities

This morning when I dropped my daughter off at daycare, Ms. Amanda said, “I don’t think I’ve seen you in jeans, before.” I smiled, and said I only had meetings with library staff and two faculty who already know me well, so I didn’t have to dress for anyone but me today. (Then Gwyneth spit up all over my leg. Baby puke cleans off denim better than wool trousers, anyway.) Not five minutes later, as I sat playing with my girl before going to my office, another parent dropped off his son in the Infant Room. That parent is also […] keep reading…

we sink to new depths

I woke up this morning to an anonymous commenter sarcastically attacking me for writing that Stephen Abram should apologize for the “Jane, you ignorant slut!” debacle, and accusing me of failing to apologize for my own talk at Charleston. I’m not going to re-engage with that beyond saying that I did  apologize as publicly as I could for hurting domestic violence survivors, and here is the link. But it started me thinking. Thinking, as I prepped for my day at work today, a day which includes the first meeting of this year’s campus Diversity in Action Coalition, in which we […] keep reading…

bigger is only sometimes better

So, I went to ALA, again. My first ALA was Midwinter, in Boston, which I attended because it was drive-able (and I got to stay at the Four Seasons at conference registration rates). I presented at New Orleans, and went to Anaheim to present and attend various trainings and workshops, then went to Chicago because that’s home, and I went this year to participate in some panel discussions and also to accept the 2014 HARRASSOWITZ Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award. At each of those, I attended sessions, as well, and had a chance to hear speakers I wouldn’t otherwise have […] keep reading…

A small object lesson about the scholarly communication ecosystem

Yesterday I started following links and ended up at the supplementary material for the article “Evaluating Big Deal Journal Bundles“, which reminded me that I want to read it in full. And while PNAS has OA content, the thing I want is not yet available. So I wrestled with our discovery layer for a while, realized it was never going to find an “early access” article indexed there, and submitted an ILL request by filling out the Illiad form manually. Today, I got one of our standard ILL replies from our Collection Building staff. As I started reading, and saw […] keep reading…

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