I’m taking a break from discussing virtual instruction in special libraries to write about new year reflections. Recently, I heard someone comment on how they do not make New Year’s resolutions, but do take time to reflect on their previous year. This reflection can spark new ideas and help realign priorities.
The purpose is to let what they discover in their reflection drive what needs to be done. I wrote about reflective practice back in February of 2020, so I will not revisit that topic here. However, I want to encourage you to spend time reflecting on what worked in 2020 with virtual instruction and in virtual librarianship more broadly. I suspect this will also lead you to reflect on what did not work.
When the pandemic ends, it may be tempting to go back to how things operated before 2020. However, I think there are valuable things we learned this year that can be kept because they work well or lead to a better work/life balance.
As you reflect on 2020, ask yourself:
- What things do I clearly remember about work in 2020? Why do those things stand out?
- What went well? Why did it go well?
- What did I like?
- What did my staff like?
- What do these reflections mean for moving forward?
- What do I want to keep doing from my work experience in 2020? What do I not want to keep from my work experience in 2020?
If you lead a team, an additional activity that you may find beneficial is to reflect with your staff. Ask them these questions and ask them what questions they want to add.
After reflecting, you can move forward to develop a plan for how to keep the things that worked and how to improve the things that did not.
Personally, I found 2020 to be more of a juggling act with work than I preferred. Even prior to the pandemic I worked a few days from home and a few days in the office, so working from home was not entirely new to me. However, in 2020, I became much better at staying connected with colleagues on the days I worked from home. This is something I would like to continue. In the past, I would focus on my own work on days I was at home, and while this was good for my own productivity it meant I had to spend more time in meetings on the days I was in the office. Now that I have found new ways to stay connected virtually, I can use my time in the office and at home for both meetings and projects.
Lastly, I suggest picking a question or two to continue reflecting on throughout the year. Notice what is working and what is not working. Pausing and reflecting is a way to stay focused and prioritize what matters.
Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri. Please read her other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all sizes and budgets.
Librarians, archivists and museum professionals can learn and improve our organizations by seeing good practices LAM colleagues are developing.
Special librarians delivering training should know what doesn’t work, as well as what does. The myth of learning styles is an example.
Slack offers a common communication platform with colleagues for quick questions, common challenges, and projects; practical tips for using it.
Interview with librarian and consultant Miriam Kahn with her perspective on trends in special librarianship and the future of the profession.