I found a way

Turning badgesSitting on the grass at Llanbadarn campus I reflect on my last year not only academically but also professionally. Just few things happened: I moved from Surrey to West yorkshire, I got a new job, adopted a cat and I am now buying my first house. Gladly I managed to find time to complete the first year assignments.

Last September I was working in a cozy academic library environment. I had few responsabilities and my academic journey was at the very begininning (again). In my mind I was framing a career in the information retrieval sector, let’s say about cataloguing and acquisition.

One year later, I still hope to work in an art sector but I am actually working in the health library sector as Services Librarian. I am now in charge of a small team and I regularly serve clinicians helping them retrieving evidences. Terms like evidence-based approach, critical appraisal, literature search and quantitative research are now part of my everyday vocabulary.

How did I end up working in a health library? I have been simply offered and accepted a job. My first three months have been really taxing, not only because I had to recalibrate my focus on the health sector but at the same time I had to consider the fact that there was a team relying on my decisions. I had to assimilate quite quickly new procedures, familiarise with new medical databases and specific information needs. On the top of that I had to adapt to a new LSM, I moved in fact from SirsiDinyx to Heritage.

Do I regret it? Absolotely no. In just few months I drastically expanded my knowledge and I can now compare two similar but different environments: the academic library and the healthcare one.

New unlocked experiences/skills: managing a team (!!!), teaching to 1:1 or to groups, depth knowledge of health databases, liason with consultants, budgeting (!!!), managing subscriptions, cataloguing using the Wessex scheme, planning social media content, editing current awareness bulletins and sorting my mail box.

I feel being on a very steep learning curve and I’ve never expected working in a hospital. What’s next?

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Management: Theory VS Reality


Congratulations to me on being promoted to manager! I am now (and for the first time) responsible for a team of three library assistants. By accepting this responsability I agreed three simply objectives:

  • to become a professional manager
  • to get people of diverse backgrounds and skills to fulfill their individual and team library objectives
  • to create a spirit of teamwork within the health library

In theory they seem so easy to achieve, but I realised how arduous and how much energy I have to spend in order to achieve them.

During the last months I thought a long about the reason why everyday I felt so exhausted and tired at the end of my working day. The simple answer is that before this job I used to manage only one person: myself. In this limited managerial function, only my passions and efforts determined my success. Although I have been good at what I was doing, I now realise that those skills that were once rewarded are not what I get paid for now.

I now get paid:

  • to create a library team in which all feel motivated to be the best they can be
  • to encourage my team to cooperate and achieve library’s objectives
  • to ensure that my team abides by ideals and standards

I think the main ingredient for being a good manager is creating a healthy manager-employee relationships where employees feel that the library belongs to them as well as to me and my manager. That feeling will motivate people to work better and increase the productivity.

My team is composed by people of diverse abilities, personalities (!!!) and backgrounds however I am working diligently to develop and grow full potential of my team. The actual reality is not easy but with perseverance and good examples I will improve the team. I’ve just chosen my battle.

Confessions of a distance learner

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The last time I updated this blog (two months ago) my life was slightly different from what it is now.

In April, before moving to Leeds, I set few deadlines:

  • a month to find a job –> I started working a week after my move
  • a month to settle down in my new job –> keep going
  • few weeks to start preparing my next exam: Studies in Management.

Here we are, two months later I have just started studying and I discovered my deadline is in August. So close!

Obviously it is only my fault if I am so tight with the essays deadline. In my defence I can say that moving to another city and settling down in to a new job it’s quite taxing, above all when you have to commute 3hrs a day, learn new procedures and managing a team. So, instead of opening my books and start writing I prefered the confort of my sofa hihi.

There’s still hope for me because I’ve just  overcame the first essay panic phases:
Acknowledge & Accept

  • I acknowledge the present reality.
  • Here I accept the fact that I’m afraid to fail at this moment.

Talk

  • Talk to myself about what is happening, and what you need to do – Here is this post.

Actions

  • No more excuse…just study!
  • I have now made a target of 8 weeks, and 2 hours a day to study and prepare my submissions.

In spite of my less-than-perfect student behavior and time-management I have now tackled my essay and I started writing.
Wish me luck!

Homo semper aliud, fortuna aliud cogitat

When I resigned from my previous job I said to myself: “It’s fine, now take it easy, take your time to find a new job, spend time with friends, study, relax and bla bla”. Let’s say that I gave to myself a month to find a new job and take time to settle in the new city I moved in just a couple of days ago.

Instead by the end of this month I am starting a new temporary job as Assistant Librarian in a brand new sector for me: health care libraries. How exciting! I went for my interview literally yesterday. It was absolutely fine: nice questions and a test in which I had to perform a medical literature search using ProQuest. My background is primarly about Humanities and Arts and it’s going to be interesting the fact that I have to master specific knowledge in order to support healthcare professionals. Let’s face a new learning curve.

“Homo semper aliud, fortuna aliud cogitat” (Publilius Syrus) means “A man always plans one thing, and Fortune plans something else”…so true.16549085713_f4653e6596_z

The unpredictable nature of job interviews

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During the last months I have been invited to three job interviews up North (the fourth is coming soon) and “after careful consideration they regret to inform me that on these occasions they have decided not to progress my application any further”.

Oh well…it’s life!

I have to admit that I have enjoyed taking part to those recrutment processes mainly for two reasons. First I had the opportunity to visit universities, explore libraries and meet professional people. The other one is that I am now “familiar” with the process and the kind of questions asked.

So, why am I still looking for a job If I feel confident of my ability and skills? Well, simply because I have under control only the 40% of the job interview selection. Let me explain my theory:

I have under control just my personal job interview performance, that I evaluated around the 40%. I can be brilliant, have a connection with the panel, be relaxed and enthusiastic however it’s not enough.

On the other hand there’s another 40% derived from the “others’ performances”. I don’t know who I am going to be compared to, maybe there’s someone with a lot of experience, maybe internal, maybe with great answers. Who knows?

Up to this point the situation is quite balanced: 40% VS 40%, and here it comes the mysterious and unpredictable 20% that determines the final score. I call it luck, vibes, sync. It is obviously true that, as any other candidates, I am marked agains neutral criteria however if two candidates are closed with their marks the final result is determined by “others factors”. Maybe the manager is looking for someone quite and that fits into a particular team. In this section I would include also scenarios when shortlisted candidates drop the offer down or they do not come to the interview.

All of this just to say that I am optimistic and on zen. Wish me luck for the next interview. May the 20% be with me!

Red Nose Day 2015

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Who said libraries are boring? Comic Relief Cake sale on took place in the library today. All of the cakes were made by our staff. We raised the magnificent sum of £350. What a fun!

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I am so lucky to have such amazing colleagues who put their hearts, creativity skills, and commitments into events like this. It was such a collaborative occasion and we celebrate our team effort. In particular a colleague, who was not on duty today, still come and give us support.

My three marketing event tips:

  1. Networking with key staff member across the university. I have been talking about this event for a week to colleagues and students = create hype.
  2. Promote it across the departments. Yesterday I literally visited all the university departments inviting staff to come to the library and leaving leaflets around their offices. Going in person is 10x more effective that sending an email, because you show your face and you are going to invite people personally = it’s like a wedding!
  3. When it’s all over… don’t stop! Continue to add value to the community you’ve built. Thank all the people involved for attending because this will help when you come to repeat the event. You’ve got a captive audience, there waiting for you…so what’s next?