Monday, June 25, 2007

Reporting on the events of last week

In my last post I believe I was anticipating two great events - a two day sales training course, and the introduction of a new member into our team. I can happily report that both happened. Woo!

A lovely woman by the name of S (need to protect identities here, you see) started with us last Monday. Of course, rather than the orientation that was given to us for our first two days when we started in April, S was dumped straight into the sales training, and probably found out a lot more about how the team works there than she would have in an orientation, because she had us for two days being rather candid about the challenges of our work. But it seems we didn't scare her off, which is good to know.

The training was pretty cool - much better than I expected. Now, I really don't have a problem with sales and marketing and using those words and concepts in relation to libraries. I think I've said it here before, but if we want to survive in a world where these things are king, "for the cultural good" is not enough of an argument any more. So I didn't go into the training thinking "this will be horrible, I'm an honourable librarian who will never sell out to these cheap tools", rather "yay! Give me more ways to convince people that we rock". Cos that's what it is about - I know that libraries rock (or at least they can - don't get me started on the current state of the profession), but other people don't, so we need to communicate that to them.

The training focused on some basic tools, which were then decorated with frills. The trainer was great, and I felt like I walked away with a good structure to use in my outreach calls with academics. I think the importance of that is underrated. When you're trying to sell a particular message, having a way to structure the meeting is vital so you don't end up babbling uselessly. So I've got a structure, I've got some tips on how to reword messages, and I've got some challenges ahead in terms of having the guts to implement some of these tricks. I'm looking forward to changing the way I do things - I'm looking forward to my meetings being quite different in, say, two months time.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fresh meat

Sorry for the break folks - after attending many parties this year in honour of other people, last weekend (long weekend, thank you queenie) was taken up with my own birthday celebrations. Which, apart from one big night, I'll admit did consist mostly of allowing myself to spend a weekend on the couch, under a quilt and two cats, reading. Good weather for it too!

Anyway, tomorrow at the new job should be interesting. See, in our team of 9, 4 were previous employees who had been at the library for some time, just new to these positions, and then there were the 5 of us that all started on that innocent day back in April. In that time we've done lots of bonding, and I'll admit that there still is a bit of a newbies divide, but it is dissipating (I think). Having said that, all 5 of us starting at the same time was fantastic - it meant we could share our struggles and we, for some reason, trusted each other. So we've been like a little newbies club.

Oh, but tomorrow. We get a new staff member tomorrow! Apparently there were always meant to be 10 of us, and I'm not sure why they didn't start 6 of us at the same time, but regardless - fresh meat tomorrow! I probably shouldn't be talking about our new teammate that way, but hopefully she'll have a sense of humour and allow me some slack. I'm really looking forward to meeting her.

I'm really curious how her experience will be different from ours. We've spent the last two months defining these jobs, often fighting our superiors on the matter. We came into something that was only half formed, and we're not there yet, but we've made a lot of progress. It has, in some ways, been rewarding being able to change the nature of your work. So I wonder how the new newbie will feel.

Will she be as confused as we were? Will she develop relationships with us that are as strong as our internal ones? Will she feel left out? Will she feel cheated that she's not had as much input into the nature of the jobs as we did? Will she be delighted by the same things we are, and, um, not so delighted by the same things we are?

So far I have loved working in this team. They're not all my new best friends, but I feel I have a decent relationship, at least, with all of them and like most of them on a personal level. At the risk of sounding really pathetic, I was so chuffed that they arranged a cake and an afternoon tea and a singalong birthday celebration for me, cos I can't remember the last time someone at work made that kind of effort for me! The point of all this is that so far I like this team, and I'm looking forward to a new personality coming in.

So, new newbie, if you're reading this - welcome!

In other news (and just quickly), the next two days at work will be taken up with what looks like a rather full-on sales training. I'm looking forward to it - Librarians generally suck at selling (it's a generalisation - don't email me) so I'm looking forward to getting good. I hope I can keep up! I'll try and find time next weekend to tell you all about it, loyal readers.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The modern world

I've just finished reading the classic book by Alvin Toffler, Future shock. I read it because it seems to be increasingly quoted, perhaps due to a refreshed belief that our culture and society are speeding up to a point where we've reached the peak and things are changing in a major way. I dunno if that's just hype, or ego (of course it would be for us that things are different), but it was an interesting read nonetheless.

The future predictions were fun - apparently we should all be living under the sea by now, and why did that idea go away anyway? - but there was one big, nasty weakness in the book. It seemed that Mr Toffler didn't ever consider the impact of women's liberation. Throughout the book he refers to women only as wives and mothers. The impact of women in the workplace never occurs to him. Nor does the concept of an increasingly large number of women in affluent societies choosing to remain single and / or childless. At one point he talks about how women are more proactive in making connections when entering a new neighbourhood, or when welcoming someone new to the neighbourhood, but that's the only thing they have to offer. And that kind of pissed me off.

But apart from that I enjoyed finding out how many of our current concepts stem from this book. The concept of information overload, which we are all WELL familiar with, came from here. And I often found myself wondering what Mr Toffler would think of web 2.0, with it's online social structures combining with intense individuality. I think he would have been impressed.

Ooo, I had a fun "this internet thing is cool" moment the other night. One of my favourite websites for some years has been Television Without Pity. A friend pointed me to it during the Buffy heydey, and I gleefully read the recaps for each episode, and heartily agreed when they came up with the name Shiny McWhiney for Dawn. There was a strange moment in the last series of Veronica Mars when in the background of an episode a poster advertised an event by a group who's initials were prominently displayed as TWOP, and I did wonder whether there was some referencing loop happening there (and eventually found out that yes, it was done on purpose), but when a character on My Name is Earl actually mentioned the website's forums the other night, ooo I was a happy camper! It was like my little thing got famous, even though it wasn't mine at all. But it did demonstrate the loop between television and internet that has developed of late, and I think it's fun.

So, on that note, I'm off to TWoP to read the latest Survivor recap and hope I don't accidentally find out who won, damn internet and it's spoilers!

p.s. I just discovered that Blogger's spellcheck doesn't allow "internet" (it wants to capitalise the I) but does offer as an alternative "Internets". Really? The Internets? I'm having a Ted Stevens moment (do read the second part of that post, it's a classic)

Working at UNSW

It's a strange time to be working at UNSW. Last week, after spending the morning being oriented to UNSW and being told all about how UNSW Asia is a symbol of the University's commitment to the development of the Asia Pacific area, we all received an email from Grand Poo Bah Hilmer telling us that the whole thing's been called off. The following morning I sat down to my muesli facing a story on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald that basically outlined the litany of woes faced by the University in the last 12 months - from the closure of its overseas campus to a building giving people cancer and a faculty unable to hire casual teaching staff. And I got kinda depressed - it wasn't the best day to be proudly striding into my new workplace home.

But then it hit me - does that mean I'm settling in? I got depressed because I identified with the University. There's always a time lag between when you start a new job and when you feel like you're a part of that company, and it seems I've gotten over that point. Cool.

And then there are the great bits of working there. The access to information - by golly, I can even get full text access to American Cheerleader! I got into a minor row with a friend who also works in the public service the other night about, well, working in the public service. I was recounting some guidance my boss had given me about how she wants us to be flexible and use discretion and take initiative. My friend has yet to believe that there is any such person in the public service, and perhaps her experienced cynicism will prove my naiveté wrong, but for the moment I'm chosing to be the wide-eyed, hope-filled sucker.

Oh, and I'm not sure if I mentioned, but a few weeks ago I bought me a new toy - my very own, very first laptop. My partner's work gave him one about 9 months ago and I kind of commandered it, and was converted. This desktop thing is for chumps! Why am I writing about this? Cos my grand new job lets me salary sacrifice my new toy and now I'm getting paid an extra $50 per week just from the reduction in tax! I have no idea how it works, I don't want to know, but I love it.

While I'm on the topic, when I got the new laptop I made the leap to Windows Vista, and the new Office suite. All my friends had nothing but bad things to say about Vista, which was interesting as none of them had actually used it or even knew anyone that had used it. And you know what? I like it. I like the little see-through windows. I like Mahjong Titans. I LOVE the automatic search window that comes up when you hit the Windows button. I like the contextual toolbar in Office programs. And most of all I love the feeling that for once I'm not the one left behind.