Saturday, December 5, 2009

Doing Research and Publishing as a Librarian

The title above does not describe me. I have never done serious scholarly research nor have I ever had anything I've written officially "published" in print. Not even a book review. Sad, I know, especially when I compare myself to all the librarians I network with. Honestly I don't know how they get all that stuff done on a regular basis.

But then again, I have little incentive to publish. I am considered professional staff at my college. My performance program vaguely mentions "contribute to scholarly, professional and research publications within the college and externally," even though I am given absolutely zero support for actually doing any of that. My current everyday duties, projects and management responsibilities are really those of two separate full-time jobs. The idea that I have time (let alone funding or even encouragement) to do any sort of real research seems fanciful to me at the moment. Don't get me wrong, I present at (mostly regional) conferences on a regular basis (and do get financial support for that) and have a ton of ideas for research. But actually devoting time to creating the proper environment around a project so that we can properly set up and assess it is something that is rarely done here. It's not in our current "work culture" I guess you could say.

The idea of doing that on my own time is daunting as well. Outside of work and my lengthy commute, I get about 4-5 hours per weekday evening, tops, of awake time. Calculate in eating and walking the dog, socializing, and do the solo things I enjoy like working out, playing video games, reading for pleasure, etc., and I would have precious little time to do my own research. The bottom line is I'm selfish. I enjoy my down time and sacrificing some of it for something that I'm not required to do,nor can easily see a tangible benefit for (even though I know it's there) is a hard thing to build into my thinking, let alone follow through on in a sustained way.

Anytime I've brought up the idea of faculty status for the librarians (and the accompanying impetus for and support to publish), the notion has been met with blank stares or a quick change of topic by my superiors. My two librarian employees do not seem keen on the idea of having to publish either, so the faculty status idea is going nowhere anytime soon.

On the other hand, if I had real incentive to publish, I think I would relish the task. Am I sure? Nope. I'm certainly not a great deep thinker or theorist, although I've always been good at intuitively seeing bigger pictures and thinking strategically. But I'm really at my best when just plain doing, or solving immediate problems. Or trying to simplify processes or concepts or information structures into usable, everyday, graspable objects for our users. That stuff comes naturally to me; the added aspect of reflecting on and deconstructing and placing those things within larger, more rigorous research structures, does not.

So now I'm thinking that rather than undertake a lame New Rear's resolution to cut out something bad from my diet, yadda, yadda, yadda, I may instead set myself a goal of getting something published in the library literature. Any one of the many unique things I do on a regular basis working with our adult distance learners in an academic library without books is certain to have appeal somewhere if I can just get off my lazy butt and do it!

1 comment:

Miguel Galán said...

Do it , it will be great ... anyway , just blogging and spreading thoughts about your job it's really useful ... old fashioned researching (publishing for being forgotten under tons of similar articles, and NEVER be found on meta-search scholar engines) is not a trend: but surfing the web and finding voices from real world helps. At least to other students like me, for sure.

Thanks for your blog and I hope you'll enjoy your research when you make up your mind

(excuses for my poor english and bla bla bla. Regards from Barcelona)