Today not only marks my move to my "normal," Sunday-Thursday hours at the library, but also the start of my eighth week at Penn State. In some ways, it has felt like I've been at Penn State for a lot longer than eight weeks and other times it still feels so new and fresh. I'm happy at this job, which is really all I can ask for.
I also got to break out some of my Admission training last week during the infamous Open House for the library. Essentially: almost 3,000 students walk through the doors in two days, completing a tour of sorts of the various parts of the library. Our learning outcomes point to the hope that students will be more aware of the resources the library can provide for them and where to go for help in the future. We keep that focus since around 75% of the students who participate in Open House are bright-eyed freshman, completing the tour for a class requirement or snagging some extra credit early.
So for two days, I said the same 30 second pitch over and over. In many ways, it was like riding a bike -- the pitch sort of flowed out of me and I crafted it for each group or individual that approached me. I went back to reading the faces of the students and deciding what information they might find valuable. It was liking giving an hour long tour in 30 second chunks. While yes, I was emotionally worn out by the end of two days, the energy I got from talking to so many people will only push me harder as I keep settling into this job. Events like Open House remind me of all my previous experience (like Admissions) that have shaped me to take on events like this. It seems that here at Penn State, I can begin to see the influence of places like Coe and University of Illinois that have directed me to right here, right now.
During the two days of Open House, I was surprised as I heard over and over students had not used the Knowledge Commons space before or had only used it for the computers. This was why my pitch was valuable. In a space that appears pretty tech-heavy (lots of computers, printers, and ITS support) it was important for us to assert the other non-technology assets of the space. Like the "Ask the Expert" desk, our 24 hour service during the week, writing tutors, and group study rooms. As our students are settling into a routine (usually made during those first six weeks of being at college), I think it was important to have a face with a friendly pitch giving students the choice to use our space and services.
Of course, now I have to see if those interactions will lead to something this fall. If students will come to our space because they could see themselves there when they visited during Open House. That's hard to track, but hopefully the students that come back will recognize me and trust that I can help them. Fingers crossed!
And this is why I love this job so much in only the first week eight weeks. For the first time, I feel like I have the time and space to settle and build. In my other jobs, the end was always in sight. I still worked hard, built relationships, did as well as I could in the time I had. But I left those jobs feeling and thinking about all the things I could do if I just had one more year. Now I have that time. I can't begin to explain how excited that makes me.