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Michigan State University

New Librarian Roundtable Resources: NLRT Past Meetings

Resources, schedules, best practices for onboarding new librarians to MSU.

Getting To Know You Activity

One minute please! is an icebreaker designed to get everyone acquainted with each other on both personal and professional levels. I ask each librarian, and the co-facilitators, a specific question about their jobs or projects they’re working on, but they only have a minute to describe it. I want to ask them questions that will get at the heart of what they do and cut straight to the point. Then I ask each of them another question that’s more personal and/or related to activities in the Lansing area. For example, what are the best places to eat, grocery shop, get drinks, shop for pets, etc. It can be time consuming so it's important to stay on task. It also demonstrates the importance of being concise in explaining yourself or what you do, which can come in handy when meeting new faculty or working with others on or off campus.

Grants/Exhibits/Publishing

Anita Ezzo spoke to the new librarians about Criterion II activities. As the exhibits coordinator, Anita explained why we consider exhibits to be a scholarly and creative activity, and the planning and effort that go into creating great exhibits. She gave examples of past work that's been done and asked for ideas for the future.

Anita also helps with finding and completing grants as an official job responsibility. She explained her role in the process and how she can be of assistance.

Lastly, Anita is the editor of a food science journal so she talked about steps to take in order to get published. She has had MSU librarians write articles for her journal in the past, and is always willing to add more in the future.

Professional Communication with Jeff Grabill

Dr. Jeff Grabill, chair of the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures department, presented on professional communication. He gave participants an activity that involves critical thinking skills about the problem itself, and the logistics of handling such a problem. He also discussed uses of social media, and how to appropriately address supervisors and supervisees through email communication.

DiSC Assessment

After the initial meeting in September, all new librarians take the workplace profile assessment called the DiSC. The co-facilitators then go through a small training session where we talk about what our own profiles mean and how to use what we know and what we learn about other styles to then work effectively together. It's about self-awareness and other awareness. It's also important to note that this is NOT a personality test but a workplace behavior profile. We have the new librarians talk about what they've learned and how they will plan to use it in their daily work life. We also run comparison reports and pair them up with another new librarian to talk further about how they will continue to build effective relationships at work.

Self Evaluation Workshop

Writing evaluations for the first time can be a daunting task for new librarians, so as a group we discussed format, what to include, what not to include, and how to properly annotate goals and objectives. We talked about the evaluation process, the timeline, and what exactly happens once evaluations have been handed in. We also discussed the peer feedback process and how it is different from FAC. Since so much is changing right now, we want to make sure both new librarians and supervisors are on the same page.

Alumni Panel

One of the sessions is a panel discussion where alumni of the NLRT are brought back to discuss topics of relevance. Based on feedback from the group, we can tailor additional discussions for areas of concern. For example, time management is always a hot topic, so we can hold additional sessions or answer questions and give advice on how to better manage schedules.

Potential Ideas:

  1. Dossier questions: When did you start working on it? What was the format? What parts were the most challenging or time consuming? What advice do you have?
  2. Time management: What are some strategies for managing your schedule? Do you use any tools or apps? How do you know when to say “no” to projects?
  3. Professional development: What kinds of activities do you do for II and III? What else is out there other than the standard conferences and committees?
  4. Job growth: How has your job changed since you started working here? What kinds of opportunities came your way? Did you create your own path?
  5. Understanding how library and university academic governance works—i.e., election cycles, existing committees, functions, etc.
  6. Time management and flexibility - How to juggle increasing work loads and responsibilities.

Collegiality

Also early on in the year, and in conjunction with the DiSC session, AD for Human Resources, Arlene Weismantel visits the group to talk about the importance of collegiality in the workplace, especially how MSU Libraries views collegiality. It is written into Criterion 1 activities and stated in the professionalism section of the Librarian Personnel Handbook, and has become a very important issue as we continue to add new librarians to our expanding organization. Evidence of collegiality in the Handbook is below.

  1. Professionalism: Librarians are expected to exhibit their professionalism and commitment to librarianship by maintaining productive working relationships with supervisors, colleagues, and supervisees both in their own and in other Library units. (pg. 2.9)
  2. Demonstrated Effectiveness in Interactions with Others:
    • Displays an approachable manner
    • Receptive to suggestions and constructive criticism from staff members
    • Inspires as well as participates in teamwork
    • Employs oral communication proficiently, including the ability to listen and understand
    • Works to create supportive relationships with the diverse user community and staff of the MSU Libraries
    • Maintains a sense of humor and objectivity; uses good judgment and common sense; remains adaptable, flexible, and versatile in situations requiring these attributes

Crucial Accountability

Rachel Minkin and Autumn Faulkner visited the class to talk about Crucial Accountability - or simply put, how to have awkward conversations without "completely freaking out." We run through example scenarios where the new librarians have to practice this technique, which can be understandably challenging. In these scenarios, the librarians must first assume the other is a reasonable, rational, and competent human; they need to identify the problem using CPR (content, pattern, relationship); and they must first work on themselves before they can actually have the conversation. Outcomes include:

  1. Understanding how to pick your battles
  2. Learning to prepare for a conversation
  3. Having a productive conversation on sticky topics

Crucial accountability also goes hand-in-hand with collegiality and the DiSC assessment.

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