In January I reached 15 years post-graduation from my MLS program in New York. It was an interesting time then, I was living with friends in a house in Queens; hauling all over Manhattan working for Gymboree Play and Music; volunteering at NYPL Lincoln Center up in the music library.
Now, I’m just through my ninth year at UIC. Some days I am stunned how much has changed; other days how little. Amusingly, I think Ruth Kneale’s early profile of me (“You Don’t Look Like a Librarian”) is probably one of my constants. Then it was because the stereotype was of someone much older than me, these days it’s often because my job responsibilities have evolved tremendously, even from what I was hired to do.
But I am what a librarian looks like, because that is who I am and what I do. These days, my time is divided into a myriad slices:
- I’m a researcher who publishes and presents regularly; I’m a co-investigator on the Data Doubles grant and I have a slate of colleagues with whom I write regularly across research data topics. I have an undergraduate student finishing up a research project this spring built entirely on one of my projects. I have so many more projects I want to explore and just need a few more days per day.
- I’m the Data Management Coordinator for the Library. The definition I look to for coordinating here draws from the scaffold that Megan Sapp Nelson and I built for the ACRL Data Management Road Show (detailed and explained here). My work often has to be beyond the immediate challenges that draw many researchers’ focus and instead looking at the bigger picture, the longer term need for plans, policy, and infrastructure, and the education of the next generation.
- I’m the liaison to the College of Dentistry and the Institute for Juvenile Research. This means an oddly in-depth knowledge of current trends in dental implants as well as usage of various psychiatric therapies in the pediatric population.
- I teach full courses. Sure, there are times I still do one off instruction and I do quite a lot of consultations with a single individual/small group — but my formal instruction is mostly classes; either in Dentistry or teaching our library’s first for-credit graduate course: LIB 573: An Introduction to Research Data Management.
- I am an Associate Professor with the accompanying service load. I’m a formal mentor to several colleagues who are navigating the tenure process. I assist other colleagues with the preparation of their retention, promotion, &/or tenure documents. I chair and serve on Master’s thesis committees. I still sit on an inordinate number of committees, several now at the campus level. I do external tenure evals.
And of course some things haven’t changed. I remain a passionate advocate for Open Access publishing and for *not* constantly harping on JIF / Certain Titles as the only value of our research. I’m well aware that keeping a bowl of chocolate continues to prompt visitors who might not otherwise swing by for a chat or ask for help. I adore reading aloud a good picture book. I still see job ads that are asking for, as ever, 3-5 more years of experience that I can’t get until I get the job that they are hiring for. Libraries still provide critical resources and expertise to their communities — including people, space, collections and the organization, access, and preservation of information and knowledge.
Where I will be and how much more will have changed another fifteen years from now is almost unimaginable. Had you described where I am now to Me in 2005 it would have seemed so utterly unreal. Exciting, but unreal. And so I am curious where I will be standing in 15 years, looking back on today and thinking “ah yes, there was probably no way to have seen that major change coming.” In the interim I will make plans, work with incredibly colleagues and students, attempt to get the to-do lists and inboxes under control, and God will likely laugh.