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Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 Professional Resolutions [and a look back at how I did on my 2015 ones] and Why All of You Should Do This

Ahhh a new year and new professional goals to set. But first, a look back.

Yes I am now my own boss, but that doesn't mean I get off the hook of being reviewed, I just have to review myself. This post is my year end review and 2016 goal setting document. I make it public here so that I am held accountable to my professional integrity.

But I think this is a good idea for everyone-- not just me.  Even when I worked at a library and had goals for that job, I still wrote up my own more general professional resolutions each year. I think it is a good idea for all of us to take a step back from the literal job at our specific libraries and think about our work as professionals. Please consider writing up your own professional resolutions. Feel free to use mine as a guide or inspiration.

Here is the link to my 2015 Resolutions in their entirety. Below I have summarized them and reviewed myself.
  • I made a genre resolution to read WWI set books. Honestly, I forgot about that one. It didn't happen.
  • I made three resolutions about the blog:
    • I resolved to write shorter more appeal based reviews. This I did. I started adding a "soundbite" review component to all of my reviews and I worked very hard to focus only on appeal. I am very happy with how this has worked out.
    • I resolved to stop writing link round-up posts and start using Twitter to replace that feature on the blog. I added the Twitter widget to the right gutter of the blog so that my readers who do not use Twitter (and I heard from quite a few) could still have access to those links. This overall resolution was meant to make the blog more about me posting original material and only reposting longer pieces that I had something to say about.  Again, this worked well and I think it improved the blog overall. I have heard from many readers that they agree.
    • My third blogging resolution supported what I said above. I resolved to work harder to write more original essay type pieces for this blog. I did this and we all benefited.
  • I made two general professional resolutions:
    • I resolved to up my work with ILA again, and I did. I presented, was a sponsor of the ILA Conference, and was part of the team that presented the first ever RA librarian of the year award at the conference [ARRT sponsored].
    • And, my last resolution which was my most successful-- "I am recommitting myself to my RA for All consulting and training business... I am hitting a critical point at which I may have to decide between the consulting and the library desk work because doing both may no longer be sustainable." No explanation needed on this resolution. I took that resolution seriously and made a bold move. So far, it is working out. We will have to see what happens in 2016.
Speaking of.... my official 2016 Professional Resolutions. Things are a bit more streamlined now that I addressed some of the VERY BIG overarching issues last year. Now that I am more focused on one main job--RA for All-- my goals can be more focused too

  • Continue to take being my own boss seriously: I have only been my own boss 24/7 for six months. I have been very good about balancing work and life. For example, now that I only have this 1 job, I do not have to work weekends. I used to use nights and weekends to catch up on all of the consulting, presentations, and blog stuff. Now I can work every day of the week, so I make sure I use weekends for house and family stuff. But, it is also easy to "blow off" work all day and have lunch with friends, clean out a closet, or just stare at the wall. To that end, I am going to make a few specific resolutions to keep me honest and accountable to my integrity in a public forum
    • I will put in at least 30 hours a week on RA for All related activities.
    • I will continue to be diligent about the business end of things [not my forte], keeping up with contracts, invoices, expenses, etc...
    • I will try to not work on weekends unless a deadline, conference, or appearance is scheduled during that time
    • I will post at least 1x a day, five days a week on this blog
    • I will honor vacation time. When I am on vacation with the family, I will not post unless I have arranged for guest posts or pre-set the blog to run on its own. You will all still be here when I get back.
  • Complete the RA assessment series and move into the RA audit portion: Earlier this year I began a conversation about auditing our services to leisure readers with this post. I had a positive reaction to pursuing this idea of finding a way to prove the positive impact RA has on our communities.  However, I had an even LARGER response from managers who were still struggling to train their staff to provide even the most basic level of RA service. They couldn't audit the service yet because they were still struggling to train their staff to provide the service. As a result, I switched tactics briefly by launching my RA Service Assessment series.  You can click here for the page where I am archiving those posts. I have much of the rest of the series outlined. I resolve to finish up the RA Assessment series in the first half of the year and move on to the RA Audit in the second half.
  • Explore working with the academic library community more: This is a personal goal. I have been very interested in how academic libraries are serving leisure readers and why they should be putting more effort into this service. I submitted a program for IACRL [with a co-presenter who is an academic librarian] but it was not accepted. I am not going to give up on this topic. You may not see a lot here on the blog right away because I need to do a little more research, but I am making this a priority.
  • Seek out opportunities to "work" in libraries: One of the reasons I was finally able to give up my library desk job was because I am a trustee at my local public library. I am able to tie my ALA membership and library affiliation to them and do not have to be a consultant or business member. But, I will have to decide if I am running for reelection for my 5th term on the library board this Fall (election is in early 2017). Because I am a trustee and worked for 15 years in the same library system, I can easily step in as a volunteer sub at my library [by law, I cannot be paid]. Currently, I am doing a few hours a week for Youth Services, but in the past I have worked the adult desk and in technical services. If I do not run for reelection, I could still volunteer, but I will lose my affiliation privileges.  Before I can make a final decision on running for reelection and committing 4 more years of my life to the board, I need to look into every opportunity I have to be officially affiliated with a library. However, more important than the affiliation is making sure that I continue to find opportunities to work in physical public libraries so that I do not get out of touch with the front line issues. Being on the Board means I am kept up to date without much effort.
I hope this post inspires you to think about your professional goals. I know without making myself put in writing last year that "I am hitting a critical point at which I may have to decide between the consulting and the library desk work because doing both may no longer be sustainable," I may not have had the courage to make the big change. 

Tomorrow, I will finish with all the resolving by publicly proclaiming my reading resolutions.

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