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Keeping up the drive: motivation if you’re the only one

August 2, 2011

Ok, with a show of hands, how many out there are solo librarians?  Yep, that’s what I thought.  Most career college librarians are running a solo gig.   Our library does have a small staff (another professional and three student workers) but for a while I was doing a solo gig.  But, even those of us that are lucky enough to have a small staff are still not large enough to begin thinking about things like departments.  If you are in an environment like many other for-profit college libraries you might be one of maybe two or three people who really understands what’s happening in that little space known as the library.  For my readers that might work in a larger library let me give you some perspective; that crazy feeling you get when you are trying to talk to education administrators or deans, or perhaps your audience is community stakeholders and county commissioners.  Well, imagine that and then try to think about what it would be like to not have ANYONE to talk to “on the job” that gets what you’re saying.  Simply put; where do you vent or talk through your frustrations?  I’m the first to encourage positive communications and I’m not suggesting that gossip in the library is a good thing but that doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes a person must surround themselves with others of like situation in order to dialog a challenge so that viable solutions can be found.  🙂 

So what do you do when you find yourself in that situation and you have no one to whom you can share your woes and ultimately help recharge your batteries?  Who do you send the latest Dewey  strip too??  Well because I find myself in this situation right now I thought perhaps I would share how I recharge and keep myself motivated.

1. Listen to some good music.  Depending on my situation this might mean something inspirational or something fun.  I will admit to needing to bop around to the tunes of the latest teeny pop artist on occasion.  Sometimes I need something old school (for me anyway) and I’ll find some Michael Jackson.  I’ve even been known to close my eyes and dance in circles to something nostalgic like Ella Fitzgerald or maybe jump around to Black Eyed Peas.  Whatever, music can get my blood moving and sometimes it can take a blah day and help me turn it into an exciting one.

2. Read something for pleasure.  This might seem like a no brainer as I’m a librarian but I actually get precious little time to read simply for the need to escape.  In the rush to keep up with what’s going on in my college, my field and my family I don’t always have a chance to browse the public library shelf for my next novel.  The rule for me; I don’t want to cry or read anything to contemporary.  If I can draw to many parallels into my own life then I’m not escaping.  That usually means something historical or something fantasy.  I am pumped about the new Dresden novel out.  I took on Harry Potter and you know, there is something to be said about the dime store romance novel too.  To each their own but find something that reminds you of the pleasures of a library and spend the weekend getting re-acquainted with your favorite author.

3. Remember your patron. Refreshing myself on the mission of our library and really thinking about it helps me find some energy.  I don’t just read it, I find a patron sitting in the library and list the ways that mission might affect him/her.  ‘Nough said.

4. Give yourself down time. If you missed my post a few weeks ago The tortoise beat the hare, it talked about some strategies I have for slowing down during the day.  Go read it and integrate something similar into your daily life.  You will find you don’t need to do something extra for motivation nearly as often.

5. Find someone to talk to that “gets it”.  Y’all, I can’t overstate how important it is for you to find someone in the field that gets what you are saying at the end of the day.  I’m sure the people working with you are great and I’m going to assume that everyone loves their job and is working with a great group of people.  I sure am.  But no matter how wonderful and understanding those individuals are they are still not able to get there 100%.  Librarians are a unique breed of people and we think in unique ways.  Find yourself some librarians to chat with on a regular basis about even meaningless things.  That kind of camaraderie will help you stay, first relevent in the field and second remind you why you love the profession.  Join a discussion group, the LFPEI is a great one, get active in your state library association, go to a public library and start a chat group with the librarians there, heck – email me!  It may sometimes feel like you are totally isolated and  understands but that is NOT TRUE!  There are others; remember, for-profit colleges are growing in the U.S. and if students are getting financial aid they probably have someone running a library/resource center.  It might be different from yours but there are still people there.  Seek them out, start a conversation, ask some questions.

So here are my questions.  What do you do to stay motivated and involved in the field of librarianship?  Are you running a library without an MLS and feel even more closed off?  Are you a solo or do you have a small staff?  Share your experiences so we can learn from each other. Each experience offers up its own challenges and I would love to hear about yours.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2012 2:51 pm

    Reblogged this on careercollegelibrary.

  2. Lee permalink
    February 3, 2012 4:05 pm

    what’s a dime store? do they have sodas? wifi?

    • February 6, 2012 2:24 pm

      Hi Lee, my reference to dime store here is really describing something cheap. In my little hometown we had a small “main street” store that sold all kinds of things. Think the corner drugstore from the early 1900’s. Little toys, penny candy, that kind of thing. I doubt they have wifi and their soda would have probably sold in glass bottles or from a fountain behind a counter. Sadly, there are few of them left. Thanks for your questions!

  3. Alice Graves permalink
    February 6, 2012 1:53 pm

    Being a solo can be lonely–no one else here seems to want to make jokes about Dewey’s fear of extra letters or discuss the battle brewing between publishers and libraries. There’s no one to discuss copyright with. And I’m the only one here in striped socks. I belong to a fabulous group of local librarians that meets every other month and I use that for my “librarian fix.” In the meantime, I consider myself the campus nerd.

    • February 6, 2012 2:03 pm

      Oh Alice I so TOTALLY hear you! One of the reasons I decided to blog was so I could create a community where people would “get” me. Thank you for joining in, keep talking to those locals and if I get to see those striped socks I would feel very privileged indeed!

  4. Lee permalink
    February 6, 2012 5:00 pm

    Jennifer, I thought you were going to riff on “dimestore novels”… Actually, wouldn’t “bodice-ripper” be a more accurate description? Fabio (q.v.) got pretty rich from those covers…
    and on a related subject, have you added any graphic novels to your general reading collection?

    • February 6, 2012 8:31 pm

      HAHA!! love that, “bodice-ripper” great! In answer to your question Lee we do have some graphic novels in our collection currently and looking to add a few more. Students (and faculty) enjoy them. Thanks for the comments!

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