Over the past few weeks, Kate has been taking us through her career path and sharing advice on things that worked well for her – and things she wished she had done, but didn’t. In this final segment, Kate talks about moving from a project position to one with faculty status. If you missed any of the previous posts, they can be found here.
Guest author: Kate Crowe
Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver
Getting and Keeping a Faculty Status Librarian Position (Part IV)
About a year into my contract position, I was informed that the library was creating a new position to focus specifically on metadata, cataloging, and physical processing for Special Collections and Archives, and that I would be appointed into the position as Interim Archives Processing Librarian. In retrospect, this meant a couple of things that I absolutely didn’t recognize as significant at the time. First, I was being moved not just from a non-benefitted, contract (albeit one that was professional/required a masters’ degree) position into a benefitted position, I was being appointed into a (interim, non-tenure track) faculty position, which required me to focus on research (publications, presentations) and service (being active in/serving in leadership roles in the library, University, and my profession) in addition to my primary job responsibilities.
While this was all explained to me in terms of “what” was happening, no one really went into any detail as to “how” I was to be expected to fit these additional responsibilities into what was a brand new position with responsibility for spearheading several entirely new initiatives, including populating a new consortial digital repository; creating standards for archival metadata creation and physical arrangement where they had been previously sparse or non-existent; developing a sustainable, systematic infrastructure for archival technical services at the institution; hiring; training; and supervising one staff member and several graduate student employees – basically, running a small unit. Since that initial faculty position, the library has gone through a re-organization and, as of July 2012, I’ve become the Curator of Special Collections and Archives, which is the position I’ve wanted since I was 18. I’ve been very lucky, but I also worked hard for these opportunities. I’ve also screwed up a lot. You will, too. Another good piece of fatherly advice I received was, “Screw up as much as possible as early on as possible” – not, of course, meaning that you should be a literal screw-up, but that if you try and fail within a lower-status position, the stakes are much lower and you’ll learn a lot of great lessons in the process without causing nearly as much damage to you or your organization. Continue reading