On arm twisting and outreach work

One of the more difficult aspects of my job as an outreach librarian is the need to wrangle people together for a common cause. This need is constant, recurring, never-ending. There is very little that I do which doesn’t require asking someone else to set aside their time, resources, and/or attention to support a project that I’m working on for the library. My work consists of finding connections between and among others in relation to the library. Though this type of work could be required of any librarian from time to time, it is my daily work.

This frequently puts me at odds with my colleagues. It’s like that meme about everyone’s reaction when the social media person shows up to your office: Shit. Shit. Shit. When I come a calling’, you can be assured that something is about to be added to your plate. For some, this may be invigorating! The novelty of a new project or a new partner. For others, it may be a frustration, especially if there is a sense that one cannot say no.I try to be considerate. When possible, I do some of the groundwork in advance. I provide concrete deadlines, estimates of time needed, and suggestions for how this work could be mutually beneficial.

Ultimately, the job of the outreach librarian is to make connections and promote the library, and like any job, the part that involves people is the hardest part.

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