Institutional Approaches & Blogging Patterns

A few colleagues are giving me a hard time about how little I blog these days. June is fresh on my mind, though (summer goes so quickly), so  despite the evidence, I still think of myself as actively blogging.

The thing is, it’s easy to blog daily, if you can find an extra 10-20 minutes, because the quantity lowers the bar on the quality level Every Single Post needs. If one post is a dud, there are others to make up for it. If you blog rarely, every blog post counts. It might be the last one left up over the course of a few months. :) And if it’s on the front page of your site for a few months, it better be pretty darn compelling.

Maybe I need to set a goal of a weekly post or something.

Anyway. Today I attended Faculty Orientation at Virginia Tech. I’ve been here since February, but as many of you know, most faculty arrive in August, so that’s when faculty orientation is. I actually love that kind of thing. I need the big picture of a place to function effectively. I like putting names and faces together. It’s really useful to know what the faculty we work with are told when they come to the university. It was a really good morning.

In the course of it, I was struck by the similarities to my former institution. I wasn’t as  surprised by the differences, as those are often in the forefront of my mind. Both institutions have strong reputations nationally, and to some extent internationally. But both are not at the top of the list of their respective “competitors.”

And as I thought about it I realized what a nice environment that makes to work in.

Room to innovate Institutions in this range appreciate innovation. There’s a sense that the university could be more, and it will take creative thinking, new approaches, and intense focus on improvement (processes, student experience, etc) to achieve the level the university ought to attain. Innovation is celebrated, and innovators are really appreciated.

Can take risks I have often been struck by how colleagues at institutions with the most prestige in their respective categories talk about how the culture of the institution makes it hard to take risks. Things are already going so well at those places. An innovative act or a risk might mean losing prestige, and if the institution is already at a good place, it’s difficult to make the ROI case for a risk. I’ve been fortunate to be at places that have some room for risk, and to be able to see the payoff of taking (responsible) ones.

Pride in the community There’s a certain underdog spirit at institutions in this range. A sense of “we’re all in it together” and it will take everyone to get where we’re going. At a smaller institution that meant taking on roles that I had skills for that weren’t traditionally part of library work (instructional design, introducing online learning, working with instructional technology, etc). At a larger institution with a more specific responsibility set, I find myself feeling responsible for using that to move the larger institution forward.

So, it’s a fun place to find myself in again: a place that is steeped in tradition and is strong in its own right, yet is hungry to improve it’s standing and embraces innovation and risk as a community. A wonderful end to “summer.” Looking forward to Monday and the first day of classes it brings with it.

My name is Lauren Pressley. This is where I think out loud, document what I'm doing, and share the things that I like. I'm the Director for Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries and author of a few books. This blog focuses on libraries, education, information, & the internet. When not at work or blogging, I spend most of my time with John and our son, Leif.

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