What I’m reading
So, last week wasn’t much of a reading week. I got about another 10% of the way through Misconceiving Merit, but that is about it.
What I am thinking about
The Qualitative Research mess. I don’t even know how to describe it. If you want to know my thoughts, see this thread and this one too — I don’t really have anything to add.
What I am preparing for
Elsevier negotiations. We spent much of last year building consensus with our faculty and administration around a set of negotiating principles. This negotiation with Elsevier (which we do in partnership with colleagues at UO and Portland State) is the first one since those principles were endorsed by the faculty senate. We have made a number of requests based on these principles during this negotiation, but this meeting on Wednesday should be complicated. We have asked that it focus entirely on this one:
OSULP will pay a fair and sustainable price to publishers for value-added services, based on transparent and cost-based pricing models.
Vet Med planning. As I said last week, the library at the College of Vet Med is administratively and financially separate from OSULP. In the last two years, this library has been entirely de-staffed and that’s obviously creating some issues for us in the central library. I am really not sure what the path forward is to resolve those issues, but this meeting will hopefully be the first step towards finding that path.
Cascades library MOA. We had a similar situation with the library at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend, but we have figured out our path. Because of some tangled up financial structures (yay Oregon!) we still have some logistics to hammer out. They’ve been hammered out between the campuses, but on Thursday I am meeting with our financial unit partners to make sure that everything is workable.
Meetings of note
Hamersly Library dean. I’m heading up to Monmouth later today to meet with the Dean of the Library at Western Oregon University. She stepped into her role just before the pandemic and we haven’t had a chance to sit down yet and talk.
Open and Sustainable Scholarly Communication. This is the group that worked on getting our negotiating principles articulated and adopted by our campus. It was never intended to be a forever group (and the faculty advisory group that was a part of that effort has already disbanded) but the need to continue advocacy in this area is still very pressing. So we’re going to meet to figure out how to keep these conversations and that advocacy moving forward.
So this was one of those weeks where I got a lot done and finished nothing. There should be a word for those, they happen often enough. Is there a word for those? I bet there is in German. Anyway, forward progress yes, dopamine hit from crossing things off the to-do list, not so much.
The Associate Dean PD is very, very close. I think it will be ready to send to a couple of readers on Monday. I wouldn’t send something like that out on a Friday afternoon anyway, so I am calling that a win. Strategic planning — I am close to a plan in my head. But I still need to translate that to something out of my head and that is not as far along as I would like. I am going to be visiting all of the library departments to talk about it, but that can’t happen until September because of vacations and already-finished agendas for August, so I have a little more processing time I can do. The good news is that I think there is going to be a solid dovetail between the strategic planning work and the external relations work and that makes me happy for a few reasons, most of them efficiency-related.
A few things came up during the week, but they weren’t as weighty as last week’s capital planning conversations and they didn’t weigh me down as much. The university pushed out information about a new flexible work arrangement policy to supervisors (to go to the whole campus next week) and I had to review that. We are largely out in front of the policy, so reviewing primarily meant making sure we hadn’t veered in a wildly different direction on any of our specifics. We haven’t. There are a number of places where we are at the upper end of flexible, but we’re not doing anything specifically precluded by the new policy.
And finally, I still haven’t settled on the next book to read.
All of the meetings I listed on my week ahead post were productive and useful and that’s usually a recipe for a good attitude going into the weekend, but this time I still ended the week feeling stuck and disheartened. A meeting that wasn’t on my calendar when I wrote that post was our annual capital planning meeting to discuss space issues and needs — not the internal to the library stuff that we manage, but the big-picture and big-ticket pieces that we rely on the university to support. And the capital planners and facilities managers and project managers are dealing with major, huge issues out of their control — inflation and supply lines — and you can just see it in their faces. It’s a lot.
I am a root causes, fix it the right way kind of person and that is always going to be a challenge as a middle manager in a big organization — stuff’s out of our control, that’s just real. But when the world is this broken, I need to be able to think on a level that is not root causes — because if I can’t that’s a recipe for anxiety and burnout and the kind of deep existential dread that we’re experiencing enough in our non-work lives — but thinking at non-root causes can also feel kind of pointless. This is a tough thing to navigate.
Anyway, that’s why I want to shout out that I finished Beyond Accommodation: Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Disabled Library Workers by Jessica Schomberg and Wendy Highby. I mean, I am always pretty proud when I manage to finish a book, but what I really want to shout out is the book itself.
A lot of times when I read things that are about building an inclusive workplace, no matter what the focus of that inclusion is, I come away with one of two things — a really good understanding of the structural issues creating the marginalization, exclusion or oppression and why I should want my workplace to be inclusive, or a handful of concrete strategies that I can take or an individual library worker can take, with no real connection back to root causes. As a big-picture, root causes, type of person I gravitate towards reading the first type of book, which means that I often end up with an unfocused desire to do more and an ongoing feeling of not enough.
This book navigated that tension really beautifully. The authors discuss and theorize and analyze root causes and structural issues (and what needs to be done about them) while also using local, organizational and individual lenses to address the same issues. It was a breath of fresh air in a frustrating week and I highly, highly recommend it.