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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.

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  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
    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.

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  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

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  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
    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.

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  5. Some local accidental project managers...
    Credits (clockwise from T-L):http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=11780970
    https://twitter.com/1n9r1d, http://www.flickr.com/photos/30520768@N06/4500933429/sizes/n/in/photostream/

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  6. 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
    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
    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

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  7. 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
    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.

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  8. Getting prepared (1)

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  9. 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

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  10. Getting prepared (3)

    On the job

    Professional reading

    Communities of practice



    Just do it!

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  11. Ingrid Mason Twitter

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