The year in my library: Clare McKenzie

 

Clare MckenzieToday’s post comes from the ILN Director of Communications, Clare McKenzie

There’s a shared joke between readers of LIS literature that it can seem like every article begins with the caveat that librarianship is a rapidly changing field, or that librarians have to manage a constantly changing professional environment. Like many clichés, this is grounded in truth of course but I do think we are at the point where we can just accept this as a given and not labour the point quite so much.

Having said that, the last year in my library felt like nothing less than week after week of change and uncertainty.

Some background first. A new Vice Chancellor started at the University at the beginning of 2015 and for those who don’t work in academic libraries, this is very much akin to getting a new CEO. New CEOs typically come to the job with their own ideas, vision and plan and our new VC was no different. For much of this year we have been waiting and watching (and occasionally participating) as the new 10 year strategic plan has been developed for the entire organisation, comprising many thousands of academic and professional/technical staff.

Academic libraries, like most libraries, must constantly demonstrate alignment with the needs of the parent organisation and of necessity share the values and strategic direction of that ‘higher power’. That’s harder when you’re not sure what that will look like next year. And it’s hard to live with that uncertainty, particularly when you know the changes will probably have implications for services and programs, but exactly how or what hasn’t yet unfolded.

I’ve learned a lot this year about living with change. It’s been uncomfortable at times but we’re nearly through it and as more information is emerging from the University strategic planning process, are starting to plan what next year and the five years after that might look like*. I also think that change is (mostly) good and healthy. I want to leave you with this quote from Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Are you indispensable? because it summarises nicely how this year has felt for me, in my library.

“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.”

 

*Editors note: since the time of writing, Clare has changed employers so will still be watching with interest, but from the outside now.

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