My Year in Review

The end of the year at the library means evaluations, and as part of that process, I'm asked to fill out a self review form. Even though I kind of dread it and put it off to the last minute, I appreciate the prompt to reflect on the past year, my accomplishments and any areas that I think I could improve in during the new year. The year provided me with several opportunities to branch out in my skills as a librarian, and I'm happy to say that I've come to realize the importance of actually taking those opportunities instead of letting them pass me by like I may have done in the past. I've come to adopt two philosophies in my work in order to be successful: "Always try to stay at least ten steps ahead of everyone else" and "In whatever you do, give at least 125%."

In January, I was a new MLS graduate working half time as a reference assistant and half time as a serials clerk. I spent nearly four hours a day in a closet-like office checking in and processing new magazines and the rest of the day on the desk, answering reference questions, keeping track of statistics, teaching computer classes and working on displays. Just as I began my search for professional positions elsewhere, my supervisor informed me that the Technical Services department would be taking over my serials responsibilities. She was thrilled that I'd be able to stay and concentrate on other things. Since I had finished my MLS, adminsitration agreed to give me the professional title, Reference Librarian, and I think that was what gave me the confidence and motivation to start taking the initiative.

When one of my colleagues accepted a job as the marketing director in March, she handed over the responsibility of her brainchild, the library's Book Club in a Bag service, to me. With in-kind donations from the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library, we collect ten copies of popular book club titles and patrons can check them out for 8 weeks at a time. Many have commented on how great this service is, and have even donated books to expand our collection. Since taking over the service, I've added about 10 titles to the collection, put together the "Book Club Hub" to promote it, and have managed over 80 check outs. My colleague's department change also meant someone needed to take over managing some of the promotional materials, like read-a-like book marks, fiction 101 trifolds and other handouts.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, one of my favorite responsibilities is making displays. Some of of my favorite displays were Wild Wild Westerns, True Crime, Books Under Fire for Banned Books Week, Native American Heritage, A Few of Our Favorite Things, and my most recent Kids' Books Adults Love. With the help of the IT department and the marketing director, I also put together the new eReader Kiosk with trifold handouts describing different eReaders and information on the upcoming lendable eBook service from the State Library of Kansas. The library received a grant to purchase four iPads, four Sony Readers, four Kindles and 4 Nooks, one of each of which we now display on the kiosk so patrons can get hands on experience with them before purchasing one. The kiosk has really instigated a lot of questions about eReaders and eBooks, and I love getting the chance to explain technology to patrons. Along the same lines, I've gotten to teach several computer classes throughout the year like an Intro to the Internet, Getting Started with Facebook, and our famous Technology Petting Zoos.

Through late summer and into the fall, I helped plan our "Transformations" themed staff in-service day with the staff development committee. In years past, the day would start with a "state of the library" address from the director, but our director resigned just before the in-service. I suggested in lieu of that address, we break the staff up into small groups for a guided discussion and then bring them back together to share their responses. The rest of the day was filled with presentations and training sessions; lunch catered by a local restaurant, Wheatfields; and the highlight, the keynote speaker, the famous librarian, Nancy Pearl. We ended with a fun library themed scavenger hunt, sending staff around the building to take pictures with certain things and to retreive different objects. Even though I felt much of the in-service came together at the last minute, we had a postive over all response.

Having had so much fun planning staff day, I volunteered to help plan the holiday breakfast and the outcome of that event felt like the perfect ending to a great year. If I didn't get a job in a library, I think the next best option would have been event planning. However, I really feel fortunate that I am working in a library, 'cause I couldn't imagine working anywhere else. I'm really looking forward to what the new year will bring, especially with the upcoming expansion and renovation project tentatively set to begin in the summer.

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