Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Know That I Don't Know


As I've already mentioned, I'm about to start a new job, and I'm thrilled about it. This really is a dream job for me, for this stage of my career. The institution is exactly the kind of place where I want to be: a small, liberal arts college with a long tradition of serving populations - first generation college students and minority students - with whom I like to work. It's even in the Mid-Atlantic, a part of the country that I've long adored, ever since I got my undergraduate degree at a college about three hours from here. And being the director of the library is exactly what I want to be.

At the risk of sounding sappy, I've been working towards this for my entire career. I didn't see it early on, and if you'd asked me back then I would have told you I never wanted to be a director, but the variety of work experiences and further education/training I've sought have prepared me for this moment. It astonished me when I first realized it, but thing is I do usually know what I'm talking about when it comes to small academic libraries.

Most importantly, though, I have come to realize that as much as I do know, there is still so much that I don't. For instance, I need to learn about the culture and specifics of my new institution. I need to figure out how to adopt my approach - pop culture based, high touch, and relentlessly cheerful/cheerfully relentless - to my new environment. I'm action oriented, and definitely raring to go, but I need to hold that instinct in check long enough to get the lay of the land.

The thing is, I know I'm going to make some mistakes. It's a bit cliché, but if you're not making mistakes then you're not taking risks, and taking risks is how you grow. However, since I don't want to be sitting in the corner with a figurative dunce cap on my head, since I intend to succeed at this new endeavor, I need to make sure that they are smart mistakes and worthwhile risks. The only way I can hope to do that is to admit that I know that I don't know everything.

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