If you read this blog for the funny patron stories alone, you probably want to skip this post.
I had my performance review for the end of my 'introductory period' of working at Small Town Library today. I've worked there for 3 months, and they must know what they are doing, because it's just in the last couple of weeks that I have started to feel caught up with the longer-serving employees and started looking around to see what projects I might be able to take on. I've done some searching for advice on how I should be spending my time, as my job description and instructions from above aren't really enough to go on--I can meet their requirements and still have substantial time left over.
Because my library is small, it doesn't offer me access to a lot of professional databases or similar resources, so Google has featured remarkably prominently in my search for information. Unfortunately, with the library job market as it is, searches for things like "first professional position librarian" turn up all sorts of advice about how to get such a thing, but not what to do when you've gotten it. The most relevant thing I found was this article from the Metropolitan New York Library Council, but it was full of advice that was almost painfully obvious: Listen more than you talk. Get to know people. Don't push for change until you understand the existing processes. That's all great, but what I want is advice that is way more specific and relevant to my everyday work:
I order fiction books. How do I make sure that I'm continuing to order series that my predecessor used to order?
What's a good way to keep track of how the books I've selected for the collection are doing? How do I know if I'm ordering the right things?
How often should I review my collection for weed candidates? I know that the answer is "often," but I'm finding that once every two weeks is too often.
I'm supposed to be getting involved in programming, but we schedule programs so far out that anything I propose won't happen until September at the earliest. What can I do between now and then?
Since it would drive my boss crazy if I were constantly asking her to assign me new projects, what should I do with my free time? What are ways I can get more on top of my work and improve the library without stepping on my coworkers' toes or requiring approval by multiple people?
What kinds of investment in 'professional development' are worthwhile? Should I be watching a webinar a week, or trying to get conference presentations together in a bid to get sent to an in-person conference?
How can I work to get to know the community in which my library is located?
Anyone who has advice on any of these questions, or advice on what to do next in your new job (librarian or not) once you have settled in, is more than welcome to share.
I will post later about what I've done so far, in case a future new librarian finds herself in my predicament and does the same optimistic Google search.