After all the frolics and hot discussion on the CILIP subscriptions issue, I thought I’d turn back to something more introspective.  Or rather I did when I started writing this post 6 weeks ago.  or was it 7.  Yes a lot of books have floated by under the bridge (and that’s just in Cumbria) since then.

That said as you might have gathered from my various social networks I’ve recently moved into a new position.  Two months today actually by my reckoning; although thanks to swine flu my entrance to the post was a delayed one.  And the change?  Well it’s been a bit of a shock to the system in some ways, and an absolute delight in others.

Not me, unless I'm asleepWhile I’ve functioned as a manager in all but name for many years in many different capacities, it was only at the start of this year that I actually got the title into part of my job.  Now though this is my main role on a daily basis – and as I suspected it’s a very different kettle of fish to what I was doing previously.  I’ve carried over some aspects of my previous post, the managerial bits, while leaving behind those elements of subject support that I used to do.  But there’s also been a whole new portfolio of challenges awaiting for me; perhaps upper most among them the fact that now I’m one of THEM (be it only middle management THEM) and really no longer one of US.

I could write about how this has changed my perspectives of people I’ve known for a year or so, how my working relationships have utterly altered.  Maybe I will in time, and heavens knows this blog could do with a bit more regular content.  However, what I thought I’d write about is the change in my working life from a situation where, to be frank, I spent more days bored and looking around for something to do than doing something.  And this isn’t a situation I like finding myself in – I’m generally only happy if I’m doing something – at home or at work – that engages me on different levels.  Come to think of it I’m only really happy if I’m solving three crises at once, while trying to hold down a day job and making a pot of jam at the same time.  And so it seems a move into management is just what I needed!

Why?  Well those of you reading this with any kind of managerial responsibilities or experience will know that the shift from being responsible for your own work, to suddenly being responsible for many other people’s work is a big one.  My early days in the post felt a lot like firefighting, and I kept stressing that I wasn’t getting my job done.

My to-do list looks like this most daysThen it struck me – firefighting and helping my team is (at least in part) my job now.  There are of course things I do need to do myself, that no one but me is going to be able to do as well, and it’s taken quite some time to get to a position where I can spend time doing them.  I can certainly say that no from the moment I walk through the door in the morning, to when I slink off at night, that my talents are pretty much fully engaged.  It’s not just managing the staff and my own time, there’s the fact that I’m still learning so much of what my section does for the library.  There are moments when I think I’ll never know it all.  Maybe I won’t, but I do need to understand how, why and what the team does.  Otherwise how can I make an objective judgement when someone brings me a problem?  How can I advise my bosses on the situations and developments that pervade the environment my team works in?  I need to develop this understanding, and so it’s one more part of my day being occupied.

So bored?  Fat chance!  Every day brings a new challenge, some new insight into an activity.  I honestly don’t think I’ve been asked the same question twice in two months – be it from a reader, a team member or a colleague from another section.  I thrive on this challenge, which does give me a slight pause when I think about the future.  Will there ever come a time when I feel comfortable in the role, where everything is natural, almost runs itself?  If it does, chances are thats when ennui will set in again – but have no fear, that’s the point at which I’ll start casting my eye around for something even more difficult to do…


2 thoughts on “Boredom

  1. Thanks for this insight. As someone that is just coming to the end of the first year in my first professional post this is of interest to me. I’m certainly not bored in my job and there is still loads for me to get to grips with properly as well as trying out new stuff, but in the future, management stuff is something that I imagine I would consider. Now though, I’m nowhere near experienced enough or capable!! So, hearing how you’re adapting to it, although you’ve already been doing it in all but name, is really interesting.


    1. Hi Emma – glad to hear it! My first year as a professional librarian was two parts terror, three parts discovery and one part shock! It seems to come back to that every time I switch jobs, though thankfully the terror part has been reduced in duration over the years.

      For me though there’s kinda a countapart to this post – when the Bordom does creep in. In my first post that was after 5 years, and was replaced a year later by stress at things no longer evolving. i know some people love the same old routine year in year out, but I crave adventure, excitment, new challenges….

      Which as I’m sure Yoda would tell me makes me a poorer Jedi, but hopefully a better librarian and manager!


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