Zoom, zoom! – Hope Decker, Conference Scholarship Winner

The call of all those who work in small and rural libraries…zoom, zoom! When Mazda launched its Zoom Zoom commercial  several years ago, I felt it was my theme song. Busy but happy: a joyous celebration of zipping around from one thing to the next.

The moment I got back from this year’s ARSL conference in Raleigh I was greeted with a long list of tasks that needed to be done immediately. I had to: plan and make a float for the Fall Foliage Parade, prepare the gift basket raffle and book sale for Fall Foliage Festival, move books and furniture for the carpet cleaners after the Festival, get documents notarized for lawyer (we are suing our insurance company for failure to cover a building collapse) and prepare to move into the section of the building that collapsed (after over a year, the final repairs were completed the week I got back!). For the most part it’s all good stuff (not the battling our insurance company part), I zoom from one thing to the next and somehow everything gets done.

Over the last seven years our little Library has grown in square footage, hours of operation, circulation, funding, programs, and people at an astounding rate. It is all I can do to keep up. I feel like I am doing the doggie paddle in this vast sea of Library success, I’m happy, it’s exciting, but I don’t get the big picture. I don’t really even understand my job anymore (bigger library, bigger everything…my job as director has indeed changed). Zooming from one task to the next, with little reflection, leaves me feeling like I never get anything done in the midst of doing a lot!

At the ARSL conference I had an “Ah-ha moment” during Andrea Berstler’s workshop, The Entrepreneurial Librarian. Our Library has changed, and it needs a new strategic plan. I need to set S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time specific). The “Zoom, Zoom!” method of doing Library business may not always be the most effective way to serve my community. It may eventually even lead to burn out. I could get lost in doing lots and lots of things instead of having specific goals and doing the things that help us reach those goals. I’ll still be “busy but happy”; I’ll just be “busy but happy” with a plan!

Hope Decker
Cohocton Public Library

2 Responses to “Zoom, zoom! – Hope Decker, Conference Scholarship Winner”

  1. Hope Decker says:

    I would be very interested in your thoughts on the hectic and demanding nature of our jobs and whether you have specific goals that guide you in your work

  2. Dora Mitchell says:

    Hi Hope, boy do I know what you mean about the “Zoom Zoom” method! Library work does really lean towards the “I’ve been rushing around like a mad person all day, yet nothing got done” end of the spectrum. I love being busy, but it definitely can get exhausting after a while. I’ve also seen research findings that the feeling of never being able to finish a task is a huge cause of job stress.

    I’m very glad you shared the idea of SMART goals. I’m going to try that out–right now I have no strategy for setting goals and I’m starting to feel the burn-out looming!