5 things I’ve learned that enriched my experience

I read an interesting article on “Libraries have a People Problem” written by Jill Hurst-Wahl. I do agree with her opinions and her suggestions on job swapping/rotation as well as doing the same thingy for long periods. I felt the need to move out of my comfort zone – to learn more about myself and others, to expand my horizon, to broaden my thinking and to share and acquire knowledge in my work area and to seek new challenges.

Throughout my 20 years in the library field, I have had the opportunity to work within my country Singapore and then move to the Graduate Research Library located in the Middle East. After working there (Middle East) for nine years, I decided to come home again.

What I’ve learnt?

  • Do different things in the library at various places: I’ve started as a Reference Librarian, moved to Access and Digital Services, expanded my portfolio to include Electronic Resources Management, Web Discovery Layer and User Experience Studies. I’m now an Assistant Director at a local university. I was fortunate to be given opportunities to learn and grow in different roles. It has helped me to gain new insights in the library field. They say, the more you learn, the more you realized that there are a lot more than you didn’t know. Well, that’s true. As I move along, I noted how many things have changed, and libraries cannot remain stagnant. Change is imminent and is always happening. If we don’t do anything about it, we will be left behind.
  • Learn to lead (even though you may not have the official title given to you). Take initiatives to resolve work issues rather than let them exacerbate. Speak up for yourself and others. Speak the truth. Help others.
  • Get out of your comfort zone: Learn new things; Be adventurous and take risks.
  • Be ready to accept criticism: keep an open mind to feedback and constructive criticism. Block out the negative ones. If you cannot accept the fact that we have shortcomings, then we would not be able to grow. We are imperfect creatures. One of the best things to do is to accept our weaknesses; deal with it and improve on our strengths.
  • Stay abreast of new trends. Use the ready resources to read up on current patterns in the field. Network with fellow professionals. Share your knowledge.

These are the five main ones amongst others. I am sure you will have yours. Do share them.

My first 100 days and more

Here I am, back home, starting on my new position as the Assistant Director in the Advisory and Consultancy team of NTU Library. It is very different from my previous job. More challenging, constant learning and I would say more project management stuff. I am enjoying my new stint and looking forward to the challenges thrust on me.

The team
I work with a dynamic team comprising of young and several senior library staff — a good mixture of experienced and go-getters. Each one of them has a diverse background; some have been at this place for years while others are starting on their career. Here’s a brief write-up of the team and what we do: https://blogs.ntu.edu.sg/ntulibrary/2018/10/29/introduction-of-advisory-and-consultation/

What I do
One of my key responsibilities now is the provision of leadership in the area of advisory, consultation, and professional information services to students and staff in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences specifically. However, this is not limited to just that as I am also involved in supporting the learning, teaching and research needs of the to the entire university community.

Some of my work now focuses on the delivery of specialized services for our academic community: faculty members, undergrad and postgrad students, and researchers. These activities include one-on-one consultations, customized workshops as well as orientations for our new staff. I forge close relationships with faculty members especially the new ones. During the orientation sessions for the faculty members and researchers, our team disseminates information on the library’s services that support research such as data management planning, publishing scholarly materials and communicating research work(s); to name a few.

Apart from that, I also respond to the inquiries that come in via email, in-person, social media as well as the phone. Email is the most common conduit in receiving questions which may vary from simple to complex ones.

Ensuring that our academic community has access to the various resources is also an essential part of my work. Close collaboration with other library teams, vendors and publishers are necessary; more so as most of our resources are in electronic and digital format. Constant communication and meetings are a must as everyone needs to be on the same page.

Managing users’ expectations is crucial. Some requests can be urgent while others are not. Users don’t like to be kept in the dark. Thus, you need to make them understand that their needs are not forgotten. Keep them in the loop of things. Out of all this, you can have a sense of what are the primary needs and what are the pain points faced by the academic community.

Lessons Learn so far

  • Listen more, talk less; Keep a look-out for new trends
  • An open mind
  • Patience and Persevere

Moving forward

  • Intend to get my hands dirty with User Experience / Usability Studies stuff.
  • Explore new niche areas in the field of library services.

Stay tuned.