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On not checking out

infoexplora —  May 10, 2013 — 3 Comments

laptopgirlFeaturePlanetSenioritis (noun)
As defined by Wikipedia: a colloquial term used in the United States and Canada to describe the decreased motivation toward studies displayed by students who are nearing the end of their high school, college and graduate school careers.

Remember those last days of school when you all you could think about where the new adventures life had in store for you? Well, it happens again in life when you have accepted a new, exciting position or are about to enter relaxing world of retirement. We’ve all seen our colleagues check out during these times and may even have been guilty of it ourselves. Most coworkers are willing to cut you a bit of slack for tuning out a bit more or being less motivated. However, your lack of productivity does hurt your team and even the community you are serving. So here are some tips for keeping yourself focused on the present even when your fantastic future is just weeks away!

  • Pass it on
    You probably know things about your job that no one else in your organization knows. Now is the time to figure out who will be taking over you job duties. If someone outside the organization will be replacing you, try to write everything down and organize all your files (digital and hard copy). If someone inside the organization will be taking over your duties, now is the time to do some training. You did a fabulous job, right? Why let all your knowledge, planning, and organization go to waste?
  • Remember that people are still counting on you
    If you’re at work, you should be doing work. Now is not the time to start new projects that will eventually be dumped on someone else’s already full plate but you need to keep up with your other responsibilities so as not to add more work to the person who is taking over your duties. Remember you are still a valuable member of the organization and that people need you. Granted, this will be easier if you have been a respected member of staff and work with a productive team.
  • Stay professional
    Even if this is a bad breakup and you cannot wait to leave your dysfunctional organization, you need to be the bigger person and remain professional. You’ve heard it a million times – don’t burn any bridges. This is especially true in the library world since it is so very small and there is always someone who knows someone who may eventually tell the story about how you acted badly during your last days at your most hated job.
Pop Up Podcast van

Joanna and Viktor showing off the Pop Up Podcast van.

California librarians early in their career have a unique opportunity to build their leadership skills. The Eureka Leadership Institute, a partnership between the California State Library and Infopeople, provides 32 librarians with anywhere between 3 and 10 years of experience, an opportunity to work on their skills by participating in a 6 day residential leadership program held in three parts over the course of one year.

The details of what happens at the Institute are shrouded in mystery. This is so that participants don’t arrive with expectations and so that they see it as a safe place where they can feel free to challenge themselves without being afraid of an official record or recording. To give you a better idea of what is involved, here is a basic outline of activities:

  • Application/Acceptance
  • Homework assignments
  • Attend first 2 Days of Institute (meet/work with fellow participants and mentors)
  • Write LSTA grant for project (must be responsive to community needs and fit California LSTA guidelines)
  • Implement grant project
  • Encore event (2 days together)
  • Anniversary Event (2 days together)

I have the pleasure of working with a Eurekan (how they referred to themselves) so I interviewed her about her experience so far. Teen Librarian Joanna Axelrod, recognized as a 2011 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, was one of the 32 applicants chosen to participate this year.

Why did she choose to participate in Eureka?
“I wanted to be part of the club”, Joanna says. Everyone she met who had participated in previous years spoke about Eureka with such passion and praise. She wanted the opportunity to expand her professional network and says that the network that results from attending Eureka is “like going to a conference times a thousand.” Eurekans tend to develop close bonds that continue for years to come. The support from colleagues who are just as interested in leadership as you are, and from mentors who take a personal interest in developing you as a leader, make it an unforgettable experience.

What has she learned so far?
Joanna has learned a lot about her own personal leadership style. As an extrovert and someone not afraid to take the reigns, she challenged herself to not be the first person to volunteer for leadership roles in group settings. Surprisingly, she found that not being the official leader or the first voice heard, did not impact her ability to contribute her leadership skills to the group. Also, getting feedback from the mentors and other participants has helped her realize her strength as a public speaker.

What is it like working with the mentors?
Every group of Eurekans gets to work with mentors who are mostly directors from California libraries. Joanna found this experience very beneficial because it gave her the opportunity to see life outside her own library. She got to learn about different leadership styles and what other libraries were doing. It truly broadened her horizons and she was happy to network with these amazing leaders. She also appreciated the honest feedback they gave during her first two days attending the Institute.

Joanna’s project for Eureka is called Pop Up Podcast, a free, after-school activity that provides a fun, creative environment for teens to engage with audio recording technology and explore their own self-expression and presentation skills. Joanna travels to two off-site locations with Digital Services Librarian, Viktor Sjöberg, to teach teens about podcasting. The project is going great and Joanna is looking forward to telling her fellow Eurekans about it at the upcoming Encore event. In the meantime, she is keeping in touch with them and getting their support as the project progresses.

I wish I’d known about Eureka before I reached the 10-year mark in my career. If you’re working in a library in California and are interested in leadership, I encourage you to consider applying for the next Eureka Leadership Institute. The library world can use more Eurekans!


I was upset this week when I heard that Google Reader is going away, but the reality is that I find most of my professional online reading (articles and blog posts) through my Twitter feed. I’m following over a thousand people and they post a lot of interesting links. However, I am always looking for other news aggregators that suggest great articles, so I was very excited when my friend sent me a link to a NY Times blog post about this new app called Prismatic.

I downloaded it right away and spent the rest of my Friday night reading great articles and sharing them on Twitter. I logged into Prismatic through my Twitter account and it got a sense of the topics that interested me and allowed me to select which ones I wanted it to add to my profile. You can also search for any other topic that interests you and add it to your preferences.

I found this great Forbes article: How To Become A Successful Young Leader At Work
I think anyone early in their library career would benefit from the tips such as: volunteer opportunities allow you to get leadership experience, books are still great sources of advice on how to improve your leadership skills, and sometimes a good way to make your mark is to come up with solutions to problem areas which have been ignored for years.

I love reading management books but I don’t always have the time, so reading Prismatic articles on management is going to be a great way for me to keep learning and getting inspiration. I encourage you to try it and see if it works for you.