1. Get to know your departmental and campus culture. Learning where you’ve just touched down is essential to settling and succeeding in a new environment. Each office, department, library, and/or college campus will have a culture all its own and its up to you to chart those waters. You probably have already done your research as well as met some of your colleagues and supervisor by the time you’ve interviewed for and accepted a position, but it is never certain what a place will be like until you’ve spent some time there. One thing I recommend is take the time to learn about your department and campus. Invest time in reading the strategic plan to identify current goals, research publications of new colleagues to discover some different aspects of their interests and, potentially the focus of the library as well. Publishing histories can tell you a great deal about a place. For example, Are there a lot of co-authored papers? This may indicate a climate where collaboration is key. See a number of publications on learning outcomes? This might be an instruction focused department. Taking a look at different indicators can help you more easily and successfully integrate into your new community.
2. Make new friends (inside and outside your department). When you start a new job, meeting new people is inevitable and making new “friends” is essential in any type of work environment. New workplace relationships can usher you into the institutional social system, provide valuable insider information about colleagues and the politics of key situations, and provide a channel for collaboration. Although some would like to see it that way, the library is not an island. It is a fundamental part of the fabric of the campus community, and as a result, it is essential to extend your network outside the confines of your department. Cross departmental collaborations can provide opportunities to increase your profile (always important in a re-appointment based system) and opportunities to be involved in unique projects, in addition to offering unique perspectives to challenges.
3. Speak up! They hired you for a reason. Being a new person dropped into a new environment may be be a little intimidating. However, no matter how daunting it may seem, if you have a suggestion or an idea speak up. Being a librarian is more than reference, instruction, collection development or cataloging. We live in a time of great change in library settings and there are all sorts of tasks and initiatives which contribute to the the function and success of an academic library. The more voices there are addressing an issue the better. New eyes often lead to a fresh perspective and that can be essential to fostering a healthy and innovative library. Its important to remember that you were selected for this job over all the other applicants because they were interested in your experiences, education, intellect and perspective, make sure you use them.
4. Be prepared to say no- judiciously. A common issue with new employees is workload management. As the new person, you’ll probably be asked to do a lot of things and being new you might feel obligated to say yes. Working groups, committees, class assignments, not to mention your core responsibilities of reference instruction/cataloging, and research are all going to be part of your new work life. It will be very tempting to say yes to everything, especially in the early days when your schedule is clear and you are stretching for things to do, when you are the new person and you want to get along, and you are filled with the natural high that comes from being in a new job. I cannot stress enough: it is very important to get involved and become a part of the workplace community, but remember to be judicious in accepting new assignments. A lot of the assignments will be ongoing and build on to one another and can be long lasting commitments. Don’t let yourself become so overwhelmed with tasks, that the core responsibilities that guided you into librarianship begin to suffer or that you become frustrated with your new position. I can’t say it enough-burnout sucks! Be judicious as you take on tasks and make sure you keep an open line of communication with your supervisor as you settle in and learn what is the right balance for you and your department.
5. Enjoy yourself! Last but certainly not least, enjoy yourself. Coming into a new job will be challenging at times, but a challenging job isn’t a boring job! You’ve worked hard to get yourself a position doing the interesting, rigorous and rewarding work of librarianship. Its a great journey so make sure you take the time to enjoy it.