Column Editor: Glenda Alvin (Associate Professor, Assistant Director for Collection Management and Administration, Head, Acquisitions and Serials, Brown-Daniel Library, Tennessee State University, 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd., Nashville, TN 37209; Phone: 615-963-5230; Fax: 615-963-1368)
This year two of my colleagues that formerly attended the Charleston Conference with me in the Lightsey Center back in the 1990s retired, while three more had retired earlier. Of the group of us that use to sit together and hang out, only Joyce Durant, Dean of the Library at Francis Marion University, and Linda Rousseau, Assistant Director at Charleston Southern, are still unretired. Two librarians at my current institution retired this month as well, with one going home to baby sit her granddaughter and the other moving to Oregon and starting a new life with her son.
When peers retire, you miss having someone to bounce ideas off and compare procedures, strategies or management issues. You also miss having someone who is in your same position around to commiserate with. While they are delving in to their home renovations and traveling, you are in the same grind of managing staff, learning new technologies, going to meetings, etc. You can still keep in touch via email, but you know that you will never run into them at another library conference or cross paths with them in in Exhibit Hall at ALA.
When the older librarians leave the scene, new librarians come with different ideas and ways of doing their work. They have to be trained to be library liaisons and how to manage their allocations. If they are not coming from a similar institutions, webinars and other training opportunities need to be provided. This can sometimes be repetitious, because replacements are hired at different intervals during the year. I just picked up Rittenhouse as vendor last year and arranged training for both liaisons. One liaison retired without letting anybody know her intentions until the very end of the school year. After she left, I had to arrange for another training for her replacement. I meet with each new library faculty hire one on one to orientate them to their responsibilities. I did two this year and have one coming at the beginning of 2018.
When dealing with new library faculty, its best to show some respect for the experiences that they bring to the job, and show flexibility. They approach their jobs with new perspectives and I think it’s important that they be allowed to try out their ideas and see how they work. Our previous Government Documents Librarian refused to discard anything. When we hired her replacement, her first order of business was to do a massive weeding project — documents left the area in bins. When she asked my opinion, I was fine with whatever she wanted to accomplish. With younger librarians, especially those new to the profession, I try to take on a mentoring role.
Early in my career, I resolved not to be one of those folks who believe in preserving the status quo and keeping things the way they have always been. As I watched older colleagues who refused to adjust to change and always hearken back to the familiar, I decided that when I became senior, I would remain open to new methods and always try to adapt. For the most part, I have kept that promise to myself, although I must confess that I recently told the Library Dean that I did not want to go through another ILS migration. I would rather leave that adventure to my successor!
As I start toward the twilight of my own career in a couple of years, I keep my unknown successor in mind and wonder what kind of legacy will that librarian inherit from me. For one thing, I intend to leave a collection that is weeded and updated, as well as accurately inventoried. For another, I want to clean out my office and not leave a colossal amount of paperwork that needs to be shredded or old manuals that should have been discarded long ago. Another item on my agenda is to leave an updated Procedures Manual with the responsibilities of each staff member. Most of all, I want to leave a legacy that the collection and the library itself is more effective and viable because of my service.