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Apr 20

A professional detour?

I have been a librarian for 24 years and have had quite a few roles in that time, all in public libraries.  I started as  a Readers Advisor, then went on to Branch Manager in a new library, Acting Deputy Branch Manager in a large public library, back to my Branch Library, Acting Branch Manager in a different large library and Information Services Librarian in a newly formed Library Service (although it wasn’t Information Services when it was created – it got there after a year or two.).

Then nearly 11 years ago my daughter was born and my career took a side-step.  I went from full-time to exactly half-time and stepped down out of management.

I have never regretted that decision. It kept me in touch with my profession, gave me an opportunity to develop professionally in ways that working full-time may not have, gave me time with my family and helped keep me sane. (I’m not the stay at home type).

Not that the time was quiet, as I also enjoyed an 18 month period in there, job-sharing the Information Services role with a colleague I admire and respect.

In those ten years my part-time job also changed, from reference librarian through to virtual services – from being branch focused to having a broader regional role and taking on much responsibility for our library’s online presence.

After Aurora last year, I decided that it was time for my career to ramp up a bit again.  It has in the professional development realm, as I have presented at conferences and seminars and had some journal articles published etc.

Bicycle/pedestrian detour

Image by Jason McHuff on Flickr

Now the work side is going to catch up. After a 10 year absence, I am going to be Acting Branch Manager in a large public library again. Its only for four months, but with training in the lead up time and covering the Branch Manager who is moving up into a more senior Acting role for the same period, it will be longer.

Its got a lot of positives going for it and multiple challenges.

On the positives, I have a lot of branch management experience that  I will bring to the role, both formal (but from over 10 years ago) and informal, as I have worked at the branch as OIC on night and weekend shifts for many years. It will, more importantly, give me the opportunity to refresh and strengthen those much underutilised skills and I am sure that I will find out fast how much things have changed in that time.

There will be the challenge of my family adjusting to me work full-time, let alone the challenge of me adjusting to working full-time after 10 years away. Fortunately one concern has already been eliminated, we recently had our home cleaning outsourced (loved that part of the change process!)

I am hoping that the preparations I have worked through with the kids will help them adjust to the change, but we will see how it goes.

One of the big challenges that will come with those role will be what is also happening during that time. We are moving to RFID. The tagging and launch process will mostly occur whilst I am in training/transition, but I think just as big a challenge will be the adjustment to potentially different demands from our users as they adjust to the new technology.

It is going to be an interesting time and I am both excited and anxious. I want to do this well, not just for myself, but for the library staff and the Branch Manager who will be coming back to her job.

And the detour part?  I never thought I’d go back to being a Branch Manager.  But after being away from a staff/resources management role for so long, I fully acknowledge that it is a great opportunity to update and exercise those long dormant skills, but also an opportunity to share my wealth of knowledge and experience with my staff, from a new direction. I also expect that I will learn a lot and that is something else to look forward to. (I’m the not sitting still type)  I look forward to being able to share, update and learn and am very grateful for the opportunity being given to me.

Fortunately, I will still be able to keep my hand in the virtual side of our library, in supporting my current Manager who will take a larger slice of that responsibility. I am certain that I would miss it if I couldn’t keep my hand in.

So the detour is taking me where I had never expected to be going not so long ago, but I am looking forward to the journey and all the places it will take me. So you may see some new perspectives here, as my work focus broadens out. I hope you stick around to share the detour with me.

2 comments

  1. Janine K

    Michelle, I am sure you will handle this in your normal, efficient and rapid way, look forward to following your progress along the way!!

  2. Michelle McLean

    Thanks for the support, which I have discovered I have a lot of. I look forward to the challenges as well as being able to help my staff conquer their own mountains, etc.

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