The end of my first year of library school has been a welcome reminder to reflect: to remember that, not so long ago, MARC and FRBR were meaningless acronyms, I had never answered a reference question, and I didn’t even know what half of my course titles meant. I’ve been sorting through notes from classes, panel discussions, and workshops in an attempt to mentally index the year and to check in with myself. In doing so, I have remembered some of the moments in which I felt especially excited about what I was doing and learning—e.g. hand-coding my first website, planning instruction sessions, and talking to librarians about the work they love. Honestly, I had forgotten about quite a few of my favorite moments; losing track of inspiration is quite easy amidst the anxiety and self-doubt that can strike throughout the busyness and unknowns of graduate school. In the face of these worries and doubts, reminding ourselves of what continues to draw us forward on our chosen paths can be incredibly powerful.
Today my library school (and life) ‘hack’ is to keep track of the things that inspire and excite you—things that can then serve as motivation, as a guide when picking classes and developing projects, and even as content for resumes, cover letters, and interviews. I think we learn and work best when we’re excited about what we’re doing. Keeping a finger on the pulse of what poet William Butler Yeats describes as the “rag and bone shop of the heart”—the often disorderly yet foundational deep structure of ourselves—encourages that excitement.
I challenge you to join me in recording the things that inspire and excite you throughout the summer. I plan to record one thing every day, using Evernote (my favorite note-taking app), but this kind of project could work in a variety of ways. I could imagine going old school and keeping a physical journal of ideas, or building a list of great library and information moments in some form of word processor. Those inclined to share could tweet, blog, or even pin. And all of those record-keeping options could occur at regular or totally irregular intervals. The point is to reflect and to track professionally relevant excitement and learning so that you can have something to look back on when you need re-inspiration and reorientation. No need to be too strict about what counts as “professionally relevant”; the things we find inspiring in our personal lives can and should certainly inform professional and academic pursuits.
I hope you’ll consider joining me in pursuit of further self-awareness and information excitement! Feel free to add your own suggestions for keeping track of inspiring ideas and experiences in the comments.