It’s January, and I’ll be honest.. it is not my favorite time of year. I adore Christmas and all the preparations, the music, the movies, the “hygge” (as it is now ok to say, even in a post written in English), and the general slowness that sets in when all the bustle is over. Well, I love all of that. When January arrives the days slowly increase in length, and some days of glorious January sunshine feel good and fresh, but most of the time it is cold, dark and dreary. That is why I always try to start the year with a little reflection on the year that has passed and some hope for the new – just to start the year off on a bit of positivity.
Reflections on 2021
I posted only nine blog posts here last year, and of them, four were summaries of days at the digital LOEX conference. It is not ideal to follow a digital conference with a seven or eight hour time difference, even a wonderful conference like LOEX, and in addition to that, the conference partly overlapped with a public holiday here in Norway. Still, the lectures that I heard were excellent and they gave me some new energy and some much needed inspiration, too. Of the five other posts last year, one was about using polls (and therefore directly on the main theme of this blog) and four were more about administrative and work life issues, such as reorganization and exhaustion, power issues and disconnectedness. I think that sums up 2021 pretty well for me. It was, in many ways, a hard year. The reorganization that is underway has taken a lot of energy for me, even though I have not been directly involved. This, in addition to the “efficiency reform” (hah!) that the previous government landed on us means that we have to cut millions from our budgets, meaning that some staff members will not be replaced, we have to cut on resources while all the time being expected to run faster and do more without impaired quality, has made a huge impact.
After 1,5 years of working from home, I returned to campus in August 2021. It was a shock to get back to campus. My first workday on campus was the day of the matriculation. Oh boy! New students flooded into campus, and I, who had been at home for 18 months, was floored by the noise, the bustle and the general state of chaos. Before 2020, I wouldn’t even have noticed. It took me a good two or three weeks to really get into the flow on campus again. Weird.
Once I got back into the habit, working on campus was good. I got more energy back, it was easier to ask some questions, it was easier to get new ideas and while my wonderful colleagues and I had kept in touch on a daily basis while I was home (and therefore probably got through some of the troubles in 2021 better than in many other libraries), it was good to see them in person. I felt like we all got a little more of our groove back. On the other hand, when the society opened back up completely in the end of September, I got more isolated than ever. Suddenly, everyone was desperate to have physical meetings, and as I have to live more protected than others (immunosuppressed), I couldn’t go. As “everyone else” was going, there was no interest in setting up a digital link either.
After the omikron variant of the corona virus made its way to our shores, it was back to the home office for me, and I don’t know for how long. There are upsides to working from home, just as there are upsides to working from campus. I am grateful to have options, seeing as so many have jobs that require a physical presence.
The things I am most pleased about getting done in 2021 were getting a book chapter published and finishing an online course in library pedagogy. The chapter was called “The teaching tube: reflections on a journey” and was published in the book “Library pedagogies: Personal reflections from library practitioners” by Andrew Walsh and Sam Aston. Writing the chapter was an opportunity to look back on my journey as a teaching librarian and where I want to go next. The online course in library pedagogy was a project that I was asked to lead in 2020, and I had the good fortune to work with great teaching librarians from all over the country. These are people that I admire and respect, and I had a lot of fun (even though it was a lot (!) of work) making the course. It was published in the early autumn of 2021.
So – what about this year? What is on the horizon?
There are plenty of things to do this year. I am in the programme committee for two conferences this year; the EAHIL 2022 to be held in Rotterdam (hybrid) and the VIRAK conference to be held in Trondheim in June (seeing as it is a mostly national conference, it is probable that it will remain a physical conference, but of course the state of the pandemic later in the spring will have to be taken into account). I am also involved in a pretty large project on updating our website for academic writing.
There has been a constantly increasing interest in systematic reviews, and even though I have been teaching this for years, there are always new things to learn. Therefore, I might take a few more courses online to update my own knowledge and to see how others teach these things. I am involved in a couple of projects that might lead to publishing this year, too, and I can’t wait to get this done.
I think it will be a busy year. I know I am often frustrated by the power imbalance, the lack of proper involvement in decision-making and “big picture thinking” in libraries, but I love teaching – I really do. I love spending time with students and my lovely, talented colleagues. I do hope, therefore, that despite the continuing pandemic, general insecurity about the future and other resource- and energy-depleting activities that it will be a year of learning and connection, laughter and productive meetings, strong coffee and meaningful conversations. Happy new year!