Letting go to embrace what comes next

Today I had my farewell morning tea at my workplace. I officially finish up at Queensland State Archives (QSA) on Friday. As my hands shook, tears flowed (how embarrassing!), I’m sad to be leaving some amazing, knowledgeable and professional people whom I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning from for the past three years…..but I don’t think it’ll be the last I see of them!

Is this a reaction to recent events?

No. My decision to not renew my contract isn’t a reaction to my Mum’s passing last November. Actually, I advised my manager of my decision one or two days before. Though I never got to tell Mum.

Why didn’t I renew? (…am I crazy?!)

My plan going forward is simple – love what I do. Some months ago I stopped loving what I did every day. In fact, I grew frustrated, down right miserable and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I had gained all I could from both of my roles within the Government Recordkeeping unit, initially as a Research Officer, then a Policy Officer. Believe me, I looked in all the nooks and crannies to find the smallest scraps of learning and refill my inspiration tank. I sought professional assistance and the guidance of mentors to find a lesson here, a lesson there. While I’m passionate about what archives aim to achieve, and I hoped to be a part of it, it’s not to be at this time.

As an early career information professional, my learning and growing is very important to me. Though I possess nearly five years in the profession, I seek opportunities to learn everything I can. If my work is unable to feed my appetite for continued learning (outside professional involvement didn’t completely fill this void, unfortunately) or my manager is unwilling to help me drive and progress forward, value me, utilise what I have to offer, walk the talk….turning up day after day does, and did not, sustain me.

I’m also a passionate life-long learner and I aim to inspire others to step out and do the same, because you would otherwise never know the wonders of the possibilities and what might become of the learning.

I could no longer lie to myself my current role was for me. I’m not a policy person. I’m a librarian (or archivist in denial).

It’s time to let go of what isn’t working, to make room for what comes next, the positive and the new. I’m a little scared, but very excited.

So, what does come next?

At this stage, I’m not sure. I’m open to opportunities. I’m loving writing; hours fly by on weekends when I’m tinkering with my websites. I’m a born-organiser of information. I’m interested in online engagement, information use, cultural heritage and the arts, information and knowledge management. I also have a lot of responsibility on my plate at the moment with Mum stuff. The best thing I can do right now is channel my energies to what drives me. I have a few job applications floating about. I may even return to QSA in another role. I’m really looking forward to learning heaps and catching up with those in my PLN and info pros I’m yet to meet at ALIA Information Online in a couple of weeks (sooo excited!).

What have I achieved at QSA?

Plenty.

  • I worked with my manager to develop a database of public authorities under the jurisdiction of the Public Records Act 2002. Why is this useful? To understand who is undertaking government functions and is responsible for managing records. Machinery-of-government (MOG) changes happen all the time and we need to keep on top of where the records are, who’s creating them, so we can help ensure records are created and managed for as long as they are required and those with permanent value to the state are safe guarded as much as they can be. This project also helped to deliver top notch records management advice that is relevant and helpful to our clients.
  • I forged a path for the organisation to learn about, introduce and embrace innovation. I facilitated discussions about innovation with people from across the organisation to come up with a strategy for us. This paved the way and helped to prepare the organisation to take on a significant¬†project (led by a colleague) that has produced results and gained recognition across the government department.
  • I practised my research skills gained in my Masters studies to gather the information needed to produce project outputs that met client needs – this project was the Recordkeeping Policy Framework review. I managed to have approved, an approach that was very different for the organisation. I went out to consultation without a polished draft (gasp!). I went out to gather client needs and views first. I initiated a conversation. I undertook a client-led approach to developing project outputs.
  • I delivered project outputs shaped by our clients, for our clients. Outputs that achieve objectives, move understanding of records management forward and helped to redefine the way QSA delivers recordkeeping advice in the future. The new Framework diagram in particular, has received positive feedback from other archival peers and organisations.
  • I have developed an appreciation for archives and built on my knowledge gained from my Masters studies to participate in robust conversation with my colleagues (and learned to not take opposing views personally).
  • I’ve gained experience in liaising with different stakeholders and speaking internally and externally.
  • I’ve grown into ‘big girl shoes’ – the confidence to own what I say, believe in what I know and to not feel intimidated by people with years of experience on me and just do what needs to be done, professionally.
  • I’ve rocked the boat from time to time, challenged the norm, the status quo and been a bit of a thinker and shaker. I make no apologies for this, by the way. And I still think ‘Lego’ (retention and disposal) schedules are a goer. Aka macro, high level appraisal of records and issuing disposal authorities for functions and activities to the government instead of individual agencies.

What am I looking forward to?

Possibilities. My next step. Loving what I do. Grow more.

I’m very fortunate to be in this position. I appreciate my first QSA manager who hired me in the first place, saw my potential and allowed me to grow into my ‘big girl shoes’.

I hope I’ve made a meaningful contribution to the organisation. And I hope I will liaise with, or even work with or for QSA in the future when the stars might align again.

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