Wednesday, February 18, 2015

[Personal] Moving on from my first library job

After over 7 years of working at NUS, I am finally moving on.

I am very grateful for the opportunities given to me here and I have changed and grown far beyond I expected. This period has been by far the most eventful period in my life, I've changed so much I wager the newbie librarian who first stepped into NUS in 2007 could hardly recognise the person I am in 2015.

A much younger me, a few weeks after joining NUS in 2007

This is also the longest I have held any job so far, and I admit I have grown extremely comfortable to the culture, people and systems here. But I've always been driven by curiosity and the need to try new things and this has led to many new initiatives and even transfers to different departments to study the systems and procedures. But leaving NUS Libraries? That would be a far bigger change. 

Another early photo of me in NUS

So when the offer came from the Singapore Management University as Manager, Library Analytics, I was at a cross roads. I have always been impressed by the energy, passion and knowledge of the librarians at the Singapore Management University and I could see myself helping to make an impact working with such great colleagues. And yet there is of course the doubt that comes with any major change. Would I fit in? Could I adjust to a very different working style?

In many ways the safer choice would be to remain at NUS where I have been doing well and will probably continue to do well in the foreseeable future. But there are times in my life where you have to take risks to grow and I decided to push out of my comfort zone and accept the offer. Let's see what else I can learn elsewhere.

My last day

So on 23th Jan 2015, I came into NUS Libraries for my last official working day (was on leave for the next 4 weeks).

It was already a emotional week, after the announcement was publicly made. It was heartwarming to hear kind words from colleagues, staff and students (some of whom came as a surprise to me) who heard and reached out to say they appreciated what I had done and it made me feel that I had at least made a difference in my time here.

On my last working day, in an odd kind of symmetry in the morning I gave a final training/briefing session to the new librarians who were just starting their careers in NUS. [Another nice bit of symmetry, found out later that one of the new librarians was a former student who thanked me for some of the work we did 4 years back]. The rest of the day was spent saying goodbye to many colleagues who dropped by to chat and a final exit interview.

How did I feel on that last day? I felt a little like JD from Scrubs (a character I identify with a lot).

"Endings are never easy; I always build them up so much in my head they cant possibly live up to my expectations, and I just end up disappointed. I'm not even sure why it matters to me so much how things end here.

I guess its because we all want to believe that what we do is very important, that people hang onto our every word, that they care what we think. The truth is: you should consider yourself lucky if you even occasionally get to make someone, anyone, feel a little better. After that its all about the people that you let into your life.

And as my mind drifted to faces I've seen here before, I was taken to memories of family, of coworkers, of lost loves, even of those who left us. And as I rounded that corner, they all came at me in a wave of shared experience.

And even though it felt warm and safe, I knew it had to end. Its never good to live in the past too long.As for the future, thanks to Dan, it didn't seem so scary anymore. It could be whatever I wanted it to be."
So to the future I go! Wish me luck.

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