29 January 2017

GLAM Blog Club #1: What I learned in 2016

The lovely New Cardigan community for gallery / library / archive / museum (GLAM) professionals has launched #glamblogclub, a monthly topic to encourage Australian GLAM folk to write something regularly. As a repeat #blogjune offender, I'm always grateful for an external impetus. This month's topic - 'What I learned in 2016' - provides a great chance to reflect on the year that was. The two overarching themes for my year, which seem almost at odds with each other but actually slotted together nicely, were technology and nature.

2016 was the year that I began to more fully embrace my role as an IT professional as well as a librarian. I've written previously about some of my confidence issues starting out a couple of years ago in a new job managing a library technology team. Last year I consciously decided to spend a lot of time during the year building my skills and networks on the IT side. I joined Women in Technology and became certified as an IT service manager. I still made time to read some library publications, but I found this content was often less relevant to me than reports from tech strategy groups like Gartner (on topics like cloud computing and learning analytics) and newsletter-style content from outlets like The Mandarin (good for a critical appraisal of public sector digital transformation strategies). 

On the job I arranged for colleagues in our IT security and architecture team to document the library's as-is technical architecture to help us with future planning: partipating in this activity and partnering with enteprise architects was such an interesting experience that I decided to propose a session for this year's THETA conference about it. I continued to represent the Information Management portfolio on the board that reviews and approves technical developments of all kinds, and in the process learned a lot more about how areas outside the library - such as HR, finance, facilities, student administration and academic parts of the university - make use of IT.

While I still identify professionally through-and-through as a librarian, it's been good for me to fully accept the hybrid nature of my role. I don't have to give up my librarian passport to go to live in the land of IT; being a dual citizen is not only possible but  desirable as technology now underpins almost every service that my library offers.

In life outside of work, I settled into a new suburb after buying a house in late 2015 with my partner. Our new suburb is far more diverse and friendly; one of our next door neighbours is a sprightly 95-year-old lady whose late husband built many of the houses in our street. I am slowly learning more about birdscaping as I try to improve a small garden previously tended by owners with a scorched-earth policy. We don't have many birds visiting our garden yet but there are certainly plenty around just waiting to be tempted by a garden with more fruit, seeds and insects and a water supply.


My quality of life has improved dramatically as I can now walk to and from work through a lovely native forest that surrounds the campus that I'm based at. One benefit of this has been losing weight and getting fitter. But that benefit pales next to the enjoyment of watching small changes that take place as the seasons come and go in a place that you have become familiar with. 

I've seen incredible things, like the morning that was so foggy all the thousands of spiderwebs that were usually invisible emerged like magic (above) or grass trees with their spikes in full bloom with thousands of tiny star-shaped flowers attached (below). 

I don't know if this is what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), mindfulness, or just a writerly attentiveness to the small details of plants and animals, but my daily walks in Toohey Forest leave me both calmer and more energised (and it's not just me - science says it's good for all us!) I'm looking forward to more of this in 2017.