I’m now a couple weeks into my new permanent position at Holy Names University and I’ve finally started to process everything that’s going on around me. We’re a small university and the summer is very quiet on campus, so while the library hums along with just a handful of users each day we prepare for what will be a very busy fall.
The library itself was built in 1958 and looks it from head to toe. While that does mean a few things are a bit worn, I think it has exceptional charm — not to mention a spacious main floor reading room, hand-painted lettering on the doors, and a certain Mad Men-esque mod styling. I like it here. It’s comfortable. I even have an office, which may not seem that special, but I’ve lived my life in cubicles.
We made tremendous strides today in achieving faculty buy-in on our proposals for what is an essentially new Information Literacy program, one that will have me working front and center in front of students. I’ve been gathering loads of ideas for how to promote research skills — events like the CARL conference and the CCLI workshop were both eye-openers — and now I’m trying to devise a lesson plan that incorporates all those good ideas I’ve heard (without over-complicating the stew).
I feel very fortunate not only to have found a job in what remains a tricky market, but to be working in such a positive community environment with an extremely savvy and dedicated group of professionals. Our staff is small enough that our “staff meetings” can fit in the library director’s office, but each individual has interesting, strong ideas for improving library service. And the beauty of being such a small library is that a lot of ideas can be implemented right away.
Did I mention our million dollar view? That’s our library — and Oakland, the Bay, and the San Francisco Peninsula stretched out beyond us.
Meanwhile, away from the professional front, I’m about to be subsumed by 48 hours of my favorite band. I’m going to a Wolf Parade concert at the legendary Catalyst in Santa Cruz tonight and another tomorrow night at Oakland’s majestic Fox Theater. Then next week I’ll be in Brooklyn to see my sister, celebrate my nieceling’s second birthday, and see Arcade Fire at Madison Square Garden.
Life? It’s busy, but fun.
Today I officially signed the offer letter to become the Librarian for Outreach, Digitization and Electronic Resources at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. This marks both a personal and professional milestone; while I have been working part-time since the beginning of the year in temporary positions first at the California Academy of Sciences and then the University of San Francisco, this is my first permanent, full-time role since leaving The Nature Conservancy three years ago to go to graduate school. Moreover, this is my first professional level position requiring the MLIS degree I completed in December.
In simpler language, I’m a librarian now. And not only am I librarian, but this position specifically, and the institution for which I’ll be working, match exactly what I want to be doing and where I want to be. Holy Names is a small but historic institution that has been a part of the fabric of Oakland for well over a century. Founded on the shores of Lake Merritt, first as a convent for girls and eventually developing into a teacher’s college for women, the school moved into the Oakland Hills in the fifties and started to expand its programs into a broad variety of disciplines. It became coed in the 1970s and went from being Holy Names College to Holy Names University in 2004 (with the addition of graduate-level programs).
What do I love about HNU?
- It’s small. Enrollment just tops 1,000, meaning that I’ll get to know students and faculty personally, and work with them in-depth.
- The staff at Cushing Library are energetic and creative. While it is a small team, they are ready to adopt cutting edge ideas, such as trialing OCLC’s Navigator.
- Instead of getting lost in a big department at a large school, I’ll be on the front lines and get to do a little bit of everything: instruction, reference, digitization, and managing online resources.
The details of this position — which my new boss, library director Karen Schneider wrote about on her blog, Free Range Librarian, encapsulates much of my philosophical approach to the profession that I wrote about in my e-Portfolio. I believe strongly that information is information (and a book is a book be it paper or pixels). It is our job as librarians to provide the easiest and most convenient access to that information, be it digital, print, online or off. In this position, I’ll be responsible for the library’s digital assets and ensuring easy, navigable access to information to our patrons.
I also believe in educating our students and faculty about critically judging source materials and improving their searching skills both through the library’s resources and through the internet at large; I will be in charge of building a program to teach exactly that to our University community.
My duties will be substantial and the challenges significant. I can’t wait.
I start July 14.