The Learning Curve

by Heidi Greathouse, Head Editor, INALJ Utah

The Learning Curve

Heidi GreathouseSince my last post, I accepted a job as a Cataloging Librarian at an academic library. I’ve had to make many adjustments such as moving to a different state, making new friends, and being in a new environment. One major adjustment is of course the job I am in right now. I went into the job not having any cataloging, collection development, or instruction experience. I did not even take any cataloging or information literacy classes in library school either! I knew, however, that this job was right for me and it was going to be a great challenge, but also a new learning experience. It definitely stretched the learning curve in me. Being in the job almost a month now, I am loving it and I am gaining more confidence in myself along the way. Here is what I have learned so far in how to be successful in a new job:

1) Remember that you learn about theories in library school, but the real experience come from hands-on experience. I knew the basic theories of library organization and collection development from school. I also knew the basics about research. I did not really know how collection development, information literacy instruction, and cataloging worked until I was given the opportunity to actually do them.

2) Use the resources available to you. The school I work at has very many resources available to help me be successful in my job. For cataloging, they have copies of the AACR2 manual, the Library of Congress subject headings, and the volumes of the Library of Congress classifications. I still use them to help me catalog the different learning resources. I also use resources that are available online such as the Bibliographic and Standards for Marc records that can be found at the OCLC Support and Training website.

3) Get help from your supervisor and co-workers. When I first started my job, I needed help to learn how to catalog properly. One of my co-workers has much experience in cataloging and he taught me how to do original cataloging. I am very grateful for his willingness to teach me the ropes and he was very patient with me as well. I also found out from one of my co-workers in how she is keeping records in collection development and how others are teaching information literacy. That helped me have an idea how things are being done in the workplace.

4) Be patient with yourself. Do not expect perfection, but do your best at what you have been taught. I still ask help from my supervisor and co-workers. They have been patient with me and have been willing to help me.

I know that I am still learning in my new job. My learning curve is constantly being stretched. I am still adapting to my new schedule, new job duties, and new job and community environment. The best piece of advice I can give you though is Never Give Up! Have confidence in yourself that you can do the job. You would not have been offered the job, if your employer did not think you could do it. Do all you can to make the environment better so that you and others can benefit from it. Life is filled with changes and sometimes we need to be flexible enough to stretch our learning curve so that we can become successful in not just in our jobs, but in life!