Reflection: A Year in review – Clare McKenzie

CaptureMy ILN ‘year in review’ coincides nicely with the end of my first year working at the University of Wollongong Library. The beginning of December is my anniversary of coming here to work and it’s a good time to look back over 2016, both personally and professionally.

Personally it’s been both rewarding and challenging. My family has moved house and we now call Wollongong home – having stepped off the rental treadmill after many years in pricey Sydney it’s also nice to be home owners (or mortgage slaves?) again. My commute has dropped from an hour’s drive nearly 100km on a freeway each way, to about 15 minutes. The down side is that it’s not that easy anymore to catch up with friends in Sydney – having a quick drink after work now requires a whole new level of planning.

The rewards and challenges have been mirrored in my professional life. When I told my former University Librarian that I was moving to UOW, his comments centred around encouraging me to ensure I make the most of the opportunities and rewards that come with working in a smaller academic setting than I had been used to. This advice was gold indeed and I’ve tried to keep it in mind in all aspects of the way I’ve approached the new job.

Settling into this workplace was quick and easy – I’m surrounded by great colleagues who are focused on achieving our goals and my immediate team have been more welcoming and supportive than I could have every hoped for. Settling into the role has been a bit more challenging. I found the step up from team leader to manager a bit difficult conceptually and it has only been in the last few months that I’ve started to feel confident about what my ‘place’ is from that perspective. However, the things I’ve learned and done this year!

  • I’ve had to learn to like special collections as I have the University Archives in my portfolio. My background has been in a large academic institution where the University Archives belonged to the records management office, not the library so my exposure to special collections has been limited. Fortunately, we do a lot of digitisation here at MPOW so I’m able to work with the team on a plan to unlock as much of our archival content as possible, making it more useful to a wider audience.
  • As part of this, I’ve re-discovered the digital humanities and really started to learn about and engage with the language and tools of this community.
  • I’ve learned how to write grant applications – since starting here I’ve successfully applied for a small grant to help with the preservation of one of our Archival items and I’ve been a partner with colleagues from Archives, Faculty and community groups on a (slightly larger) grant from the University to conduct a community engagement project with our digital archives images.
  • I’ve channeled every past colleague, team leader, manager and mentor I can think of to guide and shape processes and new ways of doing things for my team here.
  • I’ve developed skills in career coaching through engaging as a coach in our Internal Coaching Network program – this allows Library staff to talk through career and professional goal setting and action in a structured way outside of their traditional team member/supervisor relationship.
  • I’ve participated in multiple selection panels across all areas in the Library and really enjoyed the opportunity to help shape the staff capability for the library work of the future.
  • There’s also been countless opportunities for professional development, networking, stakeholder engagement and participation in policy writing, business case creation and strategic planning.

I also squeezed in a holiday in Singapore which gave me the opportunity to catch up with Haniff, the ILN Country Ambassador and his wife. I can’t explain how wonderful it is to have the opportunity to meet our amazing volunteers in real life.

Oh, and of course the Movers and Shakers Award was pretty amazing as well!

It’s been a good year.

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  1. very nice and inspirational talking,after reading your article i have an idea that why dont’ you ILN Ambassadors provide a short internship to the librarians from around the world it would be a great chance to learn new things by getting this internship.

    hope you will think over it.
    sana hamid

  2. Clare, Just as this program has demonstrated so clearly what a small world it is, your message about Wollongong struck a familiar chord! I met the former director of your library, John Shipp, in the mid-1980’s when I was working at the University of Maryland College Park and he stopped by to give a talk on librarianship in Australia. I still recall his displaying an Australocentric map that relegated the U.S. and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere to the periphery. Later he joined us for drinks, and we stayed in touch. Years later (ca. 1995), he became our first out-of-town visitor after we had moved to Massachusetts. All the best in your new job and should you travel this way, stop in and bring us up to date on life down under. Cheers, Jim Kelly W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst

  3. Pingback: GLAM Blog Club – What I learned in 2016 | What's next?

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