Tuesday was a rough day for me. It was the first time since taking this job that I wondered if I had made the right decision. I mean, I’ve joked about that before, but I had a full on panic about it. Being the library director is hard.
Focus on the positive: Yes, I get paid well. And yes, I have the support of my boss (so important). But the only perk I could see in being the library director on Tuesday was that I got a free copy of the newspaper in the lobby (and so does my entire campus, so not such a big deal). Some days, the opportunities energize me. Other days, all I can see are challenges.
Ever feel like that?
On a positive day, my jam-packed calendar feels like this:
MEET ALL THE PEOPLE
HAVE GREAT CONVERSATIONS
WHEE! ALL THE POSSIBILITIES
On a challenging day, my calendar feels like this:
Meeting About Plans that May or May not Happen Soon (Welcome to Everything Moves Slowly University)
People In Office Begging for Things (Which Require Resources, most likely Financial)
Meeting to Hear About How We Have No Money
Meeting to Talk About More Plans
Walk Around the Library to See What Annoys Me and Must be Changed TODAY
Shoot off E-mail to Micromanage the Procrastinators (I HATE THIS)
Students Drop in to Beg for Something, Usually 24/7 Library Hours
(Steal 15 minutes with office door shut to shove food in my face)
Meeting to Get Updates To Try and Figure out What Exactly Some of the Staff Do All Day
Walk Around the LIbrary to See What Annoys Me and Will Need Money to Change
For yesterday, add in:
Staff Member Pours Out Heart About Family Issues
Staff Member Bursts into Tears in the Office
So in the middle of thinking about the things that I desperately want to change, things on campus that may happen, and ohmygod how desperately I need some new librarian blood, I just sort of lost it.
I was not desperate to get out of my last job. I loved the librarians who worked for me and I loved my boss and the Director. So, sitting at my desk eating a cheese stick on Tuesday, I almost cried.
Sigh. There is no crying in librarianship.
When I was in grad school studying History (US, 20th century, or what one of the medieval historians called “Current Events”)….I remember sitting with the other TAs and thinking “OH MY GOD, I AM A FRAUD.” I remember even the professor we worked for telling us she felt the same way. So, my experience tells me that self doubt is part of the process some days.
I have a vision. I *think* I know most of what it will take, but what I realized is, I have no one on my side in the library to talk to. Seriously, being the library director is hard. It is lonely, even. There’s no one on campus that can quite understand your dilemmas. I manage staff, administrators, and faculty. I have a large facility and a decent budget. And I’m trying to bring a place into the year 2000, even. Plus, I can’t whine to my boss. In fact, I just refuse to. The Provost is a busy person. He doesn’t need to hear about the little things. (I try and operate the way I would like those I supervise to operate). I’ve gotten good at touching base with the guy that controls all of the money on campus and human resources. But, I have to appear to be on my toes and have my shit together or they will wonder what it is that *I* do all day.
Did I make the right decision? Yes. By Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling a lot better. It’s good to have friends that remind you that you know other new library directors and you are at least as knowledgable as them. (And she pointed out that I am better. That always feels good.)
When I was back in lowly middle management, I had a team I could vent to. I had visionary librarians who would talk with me and troubleshoot and bounce ideas off of each other. I could go to my boss with our department’s little plans and think with her about how they would affect the overall library. And when I thought an idea of the Director’s was dumb, I could say it because overall the place was her responsibility. But now? That’s me. Yikes.
I have a fantastically creative library staff. They are grossly underpaid and it makes me sad (see future blog post). But it’s not quite enough to make the big changes that integrate us more into the curriculum, leverage what we bring to the table is terms of student learning, or help us rethink our collection processes or design better physical spaces for students in the library.
I need librarians. *Sigh* And there is a hiring freeze.
Next week, I have a meeting with my boss where I make my case for a new position and for all of the things we will need to make this a library that exudes Excellence. If I can keep focusing on the future, I can stay positive.
If it turns out like I hope, the future will be even brighter and I will have some shiny, happy librarianing going on all over the place. In the meantime, I will keep looking forward forward forward. No looking back. No second guessing.
So, my message to you people who read this is, even your boss doubts his or herself. It is okay. Just remember that they hired you for a reason. They thought you were good enough. And darn it, we all are.