Thing 23: What next?

What next indeed? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself since starting this blog back in May. In my first post, I wrote about the closure of the library I had worked in for over 20 years and my decision to take early retirement rather than move to a job that wasn’t really “me”. I thought that cpd23 would be one way of keeping in touch with the library world, learning new skills and connecting with new people. I’m not saying it hasn’t been those things – but I’ve found it harder to complete than I expected, mainly because I was offered another job out of the blue. I spent 3 months at the Scottish Agricultural College (now SRUC) as temporary Site Librarian in Edinburgh – the job didn’t exhaust me, but the commuting (from Glasgow) did, so there was a period of two months when this blog was almost entirely neglected. Now, my contract is over and I’m finishing – quite late but, hooray, within the deadline to claim my certificate!

I reflected in Thing 19 on what I had got out of the programme. For me, a lot of the parts which would be forward-looking for a younger professional (mentoring, selling yourself at interview etc) have been retrospective, and this has actually been a very useful process for looking back over my career and evaluating, for my own satisfaction, what I have achieved. Thing 23 is also very forward-looking and asks us to identify skills gaps and make a Personal Development Plan to fill them. At the moment, I’m not very sure where I am looking forward to so I think this is beyond me! I have a few small projects in the pipeline but need time to think about where to go next – should I look for a part-time job? Or for voluntary work (of the non-job substitution sort)? I do know that I want to continue writing this blog as a means of reflecting on my library and book related activities. I’ve changed the “About” section and the tagline, which now reads “Adventures of a retired librarian”. So I’m committed to having some! Thing 23 also asks for a 6 word story on our experience of cpd23: mine has to be “Not put out to grass yet”. Will that do?

Thing 19: Integrating the Things into life

Thing 19 is a chance to look back at previous Things and assess what has been learned and put into practice. Reading through my previous posts, it struck me that they really tell the story of my life over the last 6 months. When I started in May, I was a month away from early retirement and thought that cpd23 would be an ideal way to keep in touch with the library world, meet new people, even if only virtually, and learn new skills. I saw the future as: finish work, go on holiday, come back and think what to do next – with plenty of time for pursuing cpd23. It hasn’t quite worked out that way. I took on a temporary library job which involves at least three hours commuting each day and have been so exhausted I have fallen way behind with this programme.

So have I gained anything at all? Well, I haven’t needed a way to stay in touch with the library world as I’m still in it, and my original aim of “meeting” people through following new blogs has more or less fallen by the wayside. I do still dip into the RSS feed of cpd23 contributions, but that was more useful when I was around the same stage as everyone else. Now, if I comment on any blogs it tends to be those of people I knew beforehand anyway. I have learned about some new tools, Evernote probably being the one I’ve used most, and I picked up a really good suggestion for an RSS app for iPad (Mr Reader) from another participant. However, if I haven’t made the most of cpd23 it it’s no-one’s fault but my own – it’s not you, as they say, it’s me!

Where next? Well, my contract ends next week which will give me some free time again and a chance to finish the programme by the end of the month and qualify for a certificate. I also hope to go back and examine in more detail some of the Things I’ve skated over through tiredness and lack of time. This blog has actually been very useful as a reflection tool and although, as confessed in Thing 1, I’m rather over-provided with blogs (four), I intend to keep it going as a record of the library and book related activities I hope to maintain when I retire for the second time. So the verdict is: could do better, but don’t give up hope yet!

Thing 5: Reflective practice

As a chartered librarian of over 30 years standing, with most of those years spent in management positions, reflective practice is second nature to me. It’s also something that I’ve successfully encouraged in others, whether my staff, library school placement students or chartership candidates. I guess the impending closure of my library (two days to go now) and my departure from my job gives me a huge amount to reflect upon – what I’ve learned in the past decades and which skills will be most useful to me in the challenges ahead. That’s not something I feel particularly comfortable doing in public, so instead I’ll leave you with this beautiful reflection of Denali in Alaska – a picture taken by my husband on holiday a few years ago.

Denali, Alaska
Denali, Alaska