01 Aug Librarian without an organisation
It’s August 1st 2016 and it’s a very exciting day. Today marks my first day of self-employment. It’s been almost 6 years since I’ve been in a traditional librarian post, but I’ve been employed by at least one library every day since August 2005 so today is a big change for me. I blogged last time I changed jobs how strange it was to not have a library. Today I have no library, no employer, no manager, no colleagues, no office (though I do have my home office which is what I’ve been using for months anyway!). I have no organisation employing me. It’s just me and my laptop.
Many people over the last few weeks have asked me what I’m going to be doing when I’m self-employed. Mostly they’ve asked me what my business name will be and what I will call myself. Well, I’m still the same person so I’ll be calling myself Jo Alcock. I’ll need to register as a freelancer of course (for tax purposes etc.) so will probably need to have a formal business name then, but for the most part I intend to just go by my name. In terms of what I’m going to be doing, well there are some things I really want to do but I also want to remain open to opportunities. I’ll be continuing to coordinate the Knowledge for Healthcare Leadership Programme (which runs until Feb 2017), and I’ll be evaluating the pilot programme for CILIP Leadership Programme. I’m planning to develop more training workshops, particularly in supporting people in their research (e.g. Statistics for Librarians is one I’m hoping to work on developing soon). I’m also hoping to be able to make time for more of my own research, ideally working in collaboration with libraries or related organisations. I’d love to do some observational research using ethnographic techniques, and I’d also love to continue supporting libraries with other research too (including focus groups, surveys, interviews, etc.). I’d like to do more coaching in future, and I have my ILM coaching qualification which I’ve been continuing to use skills from, but I’d also like to do an additional coaching accreditation which I may look into doing later this year. Once I have that I’d like to look into doing more one-to-one coaching; both in person and virtually. For the short term though, I’ll mostly be focusing on the leadership development programmes I coordinate, the training I want to develop, and my voluntary roles of Review Editor for the New Review of Academic Librarianship and 2017 Conference Planner for SLA Leadership and Management Division.
I’m also taking some time out in the next few weeks (I worked through my leave and June/July was very travel heavy for work so I could do with a break!). I have TV, films and documentaries I want to watch; I have books I want to read; I have places I want to visit; I have things I want to experience. We might even book a holiday! Now that both myself and my partner are freelance, it should hopefully give a little more flexibility in being able to fit non-work things around our working days. It of course brings some elements of uncertainty in terms of finances and levels of work for future, but I’m surprisingly OK about that at the moment as the pros outweigh the cons at present. I’m sure there will be times where I wonder if I made the right decision, but since deciding to go freelance my overwhelming emotion about it has been one of excitement and that continues.
So what have I been up to in my first day of self-employment? I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile, changed my employment status on Facebook, done some digital tidying, done some work for the leadership programmes, and looked for potential reviewers for some reviews I have for the New Review of Academic Librarianship. I’m about to get some lunch and go for a very exciting trip to town to get some wood glue. So glamorous! 😉
Taking me back to the title of the post – am I still a librarian? By training and background yes, and I still very much feel like part of the profession. Some of the types of things I’m going to be doing are likely to have some similarities to the role of a librarian, but they’ll probably have more similarities with other professions such as training and research. I’ll still be a librarian though and will continue to revalidate my chartered status each year (as well as working towards Fellowship). I won’t be just a librarian, but then no one is ever just one thing in life so librarian is just one of the many things I am and plan to continue to be 🙂