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What I learned in 2016

Edward Shaddow in library, professional development, GLAM Blog Club, Learning, 2016

This post is for the GLAM Blog Club set up by newCardigan. If you aren't in Melbourne check out CardiCast for some great GLAM talks.

My professional ethics are something I will stand up for

2016 started off pretty rough for me professionally, over my December/January break some internal censorship of the library I was managing went down. I returned after the decision to remove items from the collection had been made, a decision I deeply opposed both in principle and application. Censorship is something I have many opinions about and this did not sit well with me. Even worse, was the lack of support by my peers and employers. I was happy to learn that I was vocal about this issue and made sure my opposition to this was heard, even in an environment where this opinion was not popular. Sadly this had no effect on the outcome and leads on to the next learning moment...

Life's too short to be stuck somewhere you're unhappy

I recognise that I'm in an extremely privileged position to even consider leaving a job I was unhappy with, but knowing that I needed to leave was a huge learning experience. At what point do you reconcile with yourself that coming home miserable and defeated every night isn't how you want to live your life? Just as learning when to say 'no', learning when to leave a job is equally hard, but once you do make that decision your life can improve significantly.

I enjoy doing tech things

On to the more positive learning experiences of the year. It wasn't until I was back in a tech role that I realised what I missed. When I was managing a library I desperately wished for someone like me (hello ego) on my team. Since I have come back to digital services I'm enjoying 3D printing again, organising cosplay events, looking at infosec stuff, teaching staff how to use programs, and even learning a new LMS!

What I really enjoy though is when several interests combine and there's the possibility of an amazing project. Like when the local museum curator asks 'what do you know about 3D scanning?' and suddenly you're attempting to digitise historical artefacts; or when the local history librarian gives you a spreadsheet of over 700 local soldier's names and details from WWI and asks 'how should we present this information to the world?' That stuff, finding tech solutions for projects or even just finding non-tech solutions for over complicated things really energises me.

We need more passionate people in libraries

Leading on from my previous point, the thing I really felt at my old job was a destinct lack of passion. This isn't necessarily a passion for technology, but a general passion for libraries and the profession. I am happy to say that this lack was more than likely isolated to one particular workplace. That said, over this last year I've discovered some very passionate people working in libraries, like Megan Rosenbloom who's passion is death, and Alison Macrina who founded the Library Freedom Project. These are just two examples of passionate library people, but both have inspired me professionally and personally to find something I'm passionate about and go for it!

I can organise a professional event (successfully)

I've written about this previously but it was a big thing for me to convene a symposium. This was a huge effort and it turned out rather well. If you're attending NLS8 I'll be running a small version of this model so you can experience the difference and feed back on improvements.

Be the change you want to see

I've always tried to follow the 'lead by example' rule. Something that has come through from 2016 is that if I want to see change I need to start by being that change. In conjunction with this is the fact that change is hard and can take time so don't get discouraged if it's taking a while.

It's really difficult to get (public) libraries interested in Open Source Software

This one is interesting. It seems to be the season of changing LMSs in WA (everyone is doing it!), and every time I've suggested an open source solution it has fallen of deaf ears. This is both sad and disappointing for a profession that is ripe for open source, hopefully this will change in the future. It will be interesting to see if the NLA will look at an open source solution for inter-library loans when it's current proprietary software goes end of life (hint, hint, nudge, nudge!).

Home ownership is so much better than renting

A personal learning and one I was happy and excited to find out. While it's true I'll have to cut back on my smash avo on toast, I am enjoying home ownership and the fun that comes with it.

I'm sure I learned much more than that during the year but those are the main lessons that stand out. I already have several projects that will cause me to learn a lot for 2017, but that's where the fun is, isn't it! What did you learn in 2016?

A writer with weird ideas and a polytheism fixation. My alter ego lives in the library, soaking up tech and designing pretty things.

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