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Passionate about projects! Potential, pitfalls, and how to build a career in project-focused librarianship

Passionate about projects! Potential, pitfalls, and how to build a career in project-focused librarianship

Presented at the New Librarians' Symposium 6, Brisbane, on 10 February 2013.

Sam Searle

June 11, 2014

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  1. Passionate about projects! Potential, pitfalls, and how to build a

    career in project-focused librarianship Sam Searle [email protected] Twitter: @datalibsam This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License.
  2. Being able to manage projects successfully is the reality of

    our work as librarians. We are frequently implementing new services and redefining existing services for our patrons. We are constantly upgrading our library systems to provide the latest technologies [...and...] updating our library spaces to give our community members an environment they find inviting, comfortable and engaging... All of these activities involve project work and the need for library staff to have PM knowledge and skills. Wamsley, L. H. (2009). Controlling project chaos: Project management for library staff. PNLA Quarterly, 73(2), 5–27.
  3. Youngok Choi and Edie Rasmussen (2009). What Qualifications and Skills

    are Important for Digital Librarian Positions in Academic Libraries? A Job Advertisement Analysis. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 35. No. 5. pp. 457-467. In a 2009 analysis of digital library job vacancies advertised in College & Research Library News: 20% of ads mentioned project management knowledge and skills 10% asked for project management experience
  4. A 2010 brief article in American Libraries suggests that while

    project management may be becoming more important, many librarians are not well prepared to lead projects. Most attendees at the author's workshops were ‘accidental’ project managers assigned to lead library projects but without any formal project management training. Revels, I. (2010). Managing digital projects: “Accidental” project managers can benefit from following these useful tips. American Libraries, 41(4), 48–50.
  5. Potential For me the best part of working on projects

    is the variety. You often get to work with people outside of your ‘normal’ work group...with people who are experts in that area. There is the potential to work at different places on similar types of projects, or within your organisation in different work areas. I am much tighter on monitoring, review of stages & lessons learnt. Project management teaches you to chunk things and review at every stage. It helps with clarity of thought, and has taught me how to do good documentation. I've acquired a few unexpected skills that I'm very grateful for: I'm now very flexible when it comes to what I do and the areas I work in. A new project will lead you in a new direction, inviting you to take up a challenge and learn a new set of skills while applying those skills you previously acquired.
  6. Pitfalls I find that I am not at all insecure

    about the future of my career. In the past, people stayed in one job for 40 years, seeking security in one job. Those days are gone. Project-based work is very empowering because it relies purely on the individual. That person must be confident, flexible and highly skilled in many different areas. The main problem for me is burnout - am tired of having to push people constantly. Would rather just do stuff myself. Getting management to understand the need to resource a project properly. You are working with people who are contributing as part of their business-as-usual - getting them to appreciate deadlines & dependencies is very difficult.
  7. Getting prepared (2) • As part of your library education

    • Training courses • What type of project management – PRINCE2 vs PMBOK, 'waterfall' vs 'agile'? • General vs library-specific • Outside vs in-house
  8. Getting prepared (3) • On the job • Professional reading

    • Communities of practice • Mentoring • Reflection • Just do it!