Transitions is an occasional series where community members reflect on the things they have learned while moving from one institution to another or one role to another.
By Laura Miller, Florida State University
As I am writing this post, I am about three weeks away from my one-year anniversary as a full-time library faculty member at Florida State University. I transitioned into my current role as Visiting Open Publishing Librarian from a Graduate Assistantship in May 2020. Like many other early-twenty-somethings, I found myself starting my first full-time job remotely due to the pandemic. I am fortunate that my new role was housed in the same department as my assistantship, and that I even report to the same supervisor. Being able to see familiar faces on Zoom and Teams has made the transition from part-time to full-time much easier. Despite having the comforts of familiar colleagues at an institution I’ve called home since 2014, the jump from part-time to full-time and student worker to faculty has not been without its challenges.
As a GA, I worked on a number of open access publishing and scholarly communications projects. Being able to see projects through which I had contributed to or laid the groundwork for in previous years was one of the most gratifying aspects of my transition to Open Publishing Librarian. I’m able to troubleshoot technical issues for journals that were just developing when I was a GA, and I have published revised editions of a textbook I assisted with two years ago. With the added hours in my work week, I am able to pay greater attention to accessibility and refine publishing workflows that were ad hoc before my publishing-dedicated position was created. This more strategic and directed approach to library publishing culminated in the formation of Florida State Open Publishing (FSOP) last Fall which brought my office’s publishing, hosting, and consulting services under one cohesive initiative.
Many of my job duties were familiar from my experience as a GA, but there was (and remains) a learning curve to faculty librarianship. In my first few months on the job, I realized there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work in libraries that isn’t visible when you’re only in the library part-time. I had to figure out all the things library school leaves out about academic librarianship like faculty governance (and library faculty governance which are different things! Who knew? Not me!) and evaluation procedures. My library has a mentor program for new faculty, and my mentor has been a huge knowledge source in helping me navigate faculty-land.
Beyond learning the inner workings of faculty responsibilities, I also had to develop our library publishing program from something ad hoc to something more structured and strategic, even when I wasn’t sure what that might look like at my institution. The LPC community was a major help in finding policy language, MOU drafts, and service models to shape FSOP. As we have built out policies, standardized workflows, and added publications to our portfolio this past year, sustainability is always in the back of my mind. The Open Publishing Librarian is a two-year, term-limited visiting position, and with COVID-19 related holdbacks and generally flat budgets, a permanent line for this position seems less and less likely. With every new consultation and publication, I’m left to wonder who will help produce this journal or this book’s second edition when I’m gone? How can we distribute 40 hours of labor a week to my colleagues who already have full plates? This uncertainty about the future of FSOP was not something I anticipated when I first started, but I continue to be mindful about the sustainability of this program in light of future staffing changes.
When I first started as Open Publishing Librarian, I was worried that all of the time I spent learning as a student worker would be replaced by doing as full-time staff, but I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time on professional development attending webinars and virtual conferences. I think the best professional development has been time – time to listen and research, time to collaborate with colleagues, and time to try new things. My first year has been an exciting one, and I look forward to gaining skills and knowledge that will only come with more years in the profession.