Looking back, looking forward: 2017 in review

iceland glacier

2017, certainly in my part of the world has been a year of transformation and renewal. My biggest challenges have also been my biggest achievements. Previous years of beavering away has been recognised. And this year, I’ve taken leaps of faith, personally and professionally. Here’s my year in review.

Started a new job in a newly created role

I started my role of Coordinator, Evidence Based Practice at the University of Southern Queensland in January. This is a newly created role that works with teams and individuals across the library to develop tools, skills and expertise in evidence-based practice, that will enable the library to:

  • demonstrate value;
  • gain a better understanding of our clients and context;
  • promote robust decision making, and
  • improve the library’s service delivery.

I’ve also become a bit of a research/writing coach over the last few months, which I’m happy to do. I enjoy helping others engage in reflective practice, make the most of what they do and discover by telling their stories of improving LIS professional practice.

We, the library, supervisor and myself, are still at the beginning of this journey of establishing my role and its function within business as usual. I’m looking forward to further developing the role and seeing the impact of building capacity for evidence-based practice has on the library and beyond. I feel I am where I need to be at this point and from here, I enter my next career chapter.

The six month sabbatical

Okay, so starting a new job then taking extended leave wasn’t the best of timings. Nor did all my ‘ducks’ line up. But the sabbatical had been in the works for 2-3 years and the job happened to pop up. I couldn’t not give it a crack, lay my cards out and see what happened. The two coinciding in the one year was either going to be meant to be, or not. And I was ready to accept whichever outcome.

From April to the end of September, my husband and I took a traveling sabbatical, or career break, whichever term you wish to use. We traveled through South America for two and a half months, then Europe for three and a half, with a conference presentation thrown into the middle.

Prior to leaving, I anticipated the transformative power of travel but I am still in awe of my shifted mindset and the personal growth I experienced on the road. I think most of my learning came out of my time in South America. My husband and I both returned home with profound lessons, insight and shifts in the way we think about and approach our work and life outside of it. I can see this growth being realised well into next year. A sort of by-product out of the sabbatical already has been my approaching Jo Wood of ‘Librarians with Lives’ and asking whether she’d like ‘a voice from down under’ on her podcast. I probably wouldn’t have done anything like that before the sabbatical. My episode will air on 16 January 2018.

Metcalfe Award – a few ‘thank yous’

So this was an overwhelming surprise. I received the news while waiting for our luggage in Porto, Portugal, searching my phone for directions to our next accommodation. I found the Metcalfe email and burst into happy tears.

The journey to this point couldn’t have been without understanding, generosity and a bit of forgiveness. My first ‘thank you’ is to my now husband. He was snuck into my first conference presentation in 2011. And from then, understood why I did the things I did outside of work and study commitments. He’s my best mate and has been there for me through the tears and triumphs. I also thank my family and close friends for their ongoing support.

I thank my peers whom I’ve worked with over the years on various committees in enabling new library and information professionals to engage, feel inspired and encouraged to launch their careers and be a part of our professional community. Thank you to those who have inspired me, guided me and gave me a nudge every now and then, specifically Professor Helen Partridge and Dr Kate Davis. I don’t think you can experience a better first impression of the profession than from these two amazing women. Both Helen and Kate were lecturers in the LIS Masters program in my early years, where I learned how to be active contributor to the LIS profession. There have also been colleagues and supervisors who have helped shape me into the professional I am today and those who will do so into the future.

Lastly, and certainly not least, I thank those who nominated me. I still don’t know exactly who you are, but I have my suspicions. Without your recognition and the effort put into the submission, this wouldn’t have happened. Thank you.

What’s in store for 2018?

Another big year. A year of focus. And a year of wellness. I will be trying to focus on fewer projects/tasks in 2018 in the hope I can reduce the ‘scattered’ feeling. I’m not as effective when my capacity is stretched thinly across a number of different things. Instead, I need to prioritise 1) what needs to happen so I move closer to mid/long term goals, and 2) what I’ll feel awesome about achieving or doing.

I will finish my term on ALIA NGAC at the end of March, then will review my capacity which will no doubt be quickly taken up by other projects. I plan to continue blogging here, share my learning experiences, what I know and discover. There is also a big, significant writing project (outside of library world) I plan to progress next year.

More outside of library world, my husband and I have renovation plans for our house – new laundry, kitchen, rip up carpets and polish wooden floors in the bedrooms, add built-in robes, design and create a new home work space, plus other bits and pieces (like replacing hideous blinds). I’m kind of scared of how excited I am at the prospect of a new laundry. Or I’m excited about the opportunity to plan and re-design spaces throughout our home.

I wish you all a lovely break over the new year and all the best for 2018. I look forward to chatting with you then. Cheers!

Featured image was taken at Skaftafell National Park, Iceland. September 2017.

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