vulnerability

This is a close-up phtograph of a slug in a field of poppies. The slug is reaching from one poppy stalk to a flower on another stalk. Theorange poppy the slug reached toward is the brightest object in the photo.
Slug. Some rights reserved by Joi (Flickr).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve gotten stuck. One post into my re-imagining myself as metta-librarian: an academic librarian exploring the transpersonal, I find myself unable to press publishon my latest post. The truth is I’m scared. I’m scared people will say oh my god, what right does she have to talk about that stuff, she doesn’t own that, she doesn’t have her act together, she hasn’t been mindful once and really sometimes she is a bit of a bitch!

At least that’s what I tell myself.

So, I gingerly poked my fear with a stick, I turned it upside down to see what was underneath. And of course it was a nasty case of vulnerability! Here I am wanting to explore and share all this beautiful stuff that makes my world a better place but exposing myself to the judgement and opinions of others is so frightening.

So I found and watched this excellent Brene Brown TED talk on vulnerability. I thought, I can see being vulnerable is necessary for me to make meaningful connections with others, but I’m 49 already, I don’t want to do a year of therapy to deal with this stuff… How can I establish a feeling of safety now?

There is no deep and meaningful answer. I used humour:  I reminded myself that I have been blogging more than 15 years and my average post gets 8 views and 4 likes. Only one person I know in real life regularly reads this blog and she is my daughter. And the excellent folk who regularly like and comment on my posts have tolerated a variety of ramblings from me without complaint. *Feeling much better now, I continued: Furthermore, if and when I do get an audience of librarian-types, or transpersonal types, I will have posted heaps, got my act totally together and just generally be awesome!   That made me laugh too. Ho ho ho!

Even though I still feel a little scared, I hereby give myself permission to press ‘publish.’

*I am not being sarcastic. Introverts reaching out are always a little relieved by an underwhelming response. (According to the results of my self-case study 🙂 )

photo credit

SlugSome rights reserved by Joi

This awesome photo of a slug being vulnerable and courageous was shared by Joi Ito on Flickr. Thanks Joi!

who is the client?

One of my daughters just found out that one of her favourite managers is also a university student.

From what we can piece together, our man’s week life looks like this:

  • 10pm-6am work
  • 6am-8am travel home and get his two children ready for kindy (his wife will likely have been up with one or both at some time in the night)
  • 8am-3pm drop children to kindy and do some study/sleep/attend lectures
  • 3pm-5pm pick up children, prepare dinner, quick hello to wife when she returns home from her full time job
  • 5pm-10pm study/sleep depending on what happened during the day and what uni work is due

Why is this important for me to think about?

This man’s story struck me for a few reasons. First, I re-recognised how very bloody tough it is for some of our clients. These folk are often working flat out across multiple domains: work, family and study (and probably others as well). If we can keep this in mind, this knowledge can inform our services and how we provide them. So, for me, this man is one of the students I am talking to when I create an online learning object. I imagine he needs to be able to access that material at any time, and perhaps on a mobile device (during a meal break at work?) The materials I provide also need to be brief, clear and to the point. They need to be clearly labelled so that he can select what he needs in the moment. So my thinking and design need to be focussed on these aspects.

Second, and related to how tough it is for some of our clients, I realise in the story how important education is for our clients, that education is perhaps the only way for folk to create opportunities, and to find work that is personally and financially rewarding (the employer has a reputation for being very demanding of employees and providing the minimum in return: there is little juice in that fruit over the long term). For me, I can use this as motivation to really push myself to provide excellent service, to remove barriers and create scaffolds wherever possible.

The third thing that strikes me about this person’s story is that we really need to kill once and for all the idea that students need to fit in with our institutional schedules and routines. I know that the university sector has been developing online and blended learning and other strategies, but I want us to keep asking How can we do even better for our living, breathing, real life students? Maybe we can ask them what they need and respond to that? Can we find ways to be more flexible and responsive and still meet our industry and regulatory expectations? What might my role be in this process?

Finally, this story tells me I need to keep growing myself as a librarian and educator. I need to continue to explore the information and digital literacy needs that my clients will need to master as university students and as members of the professions. I need to be up to date with pedagogy, including face-to-face and online teaching methods and philosophies. I need to continue to be curious about and connected to our clients and their needs and aspirations.

How will I accomplish this? I need to find a way that meets my needs too.