Just me, Librarianship

Big news (and a long to-do list).

After months of waiting, interviews, and more waiting, I’m ecstatic to share that this October I’ll be starting a new job as the Assistant Head Librarian of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA. I’ll be joining the inspiring team at the center’s Wolbach Library and I could not be happier.

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I don’t think I can adequately express how excited I am about this new opportunity. I grew up wanting to be an astronaut, and for a while now I’ve been feeling like my work in medical libraries, while valuable, didn’t fully suite me; I was restless and knew that I needed to find a library that better fit my professional goals and values. I believe I’ve found that in the CfA. The projects the Wolbach Library is currently undertaking, along with their focus on community building (check out how amazing Seamless Astronomy is!) demonstrate just some of the qualities that have drawn me to the library’s staff and the astronomical researchers that they partner with.

I think I could just rave about how forward-thinking and wonderful everyone who I’ve spoken to at the center is for this whole post, but I doubt that would really be helpful to anyone reading this (I do try to make these posts at least marginally not-a-waste-of-time to readers) so instead I’m going to walk through what my next steps are and how I’m hoping to face some of the challenges.


My most obvious challenge is that this is intimidating… despite the excitement. I have managed to secure myself a few weeks off between my most recent job and this new one (thank Bob) but not only am I preparing to move to a new state and start a new job with a new degree of responsibility and complexity, I’m also just really starting to get into the coursework for my second MS in earnest. I also have to go through the tedium of orchestrating the move, taking care of changing over my benefits, and my husband needs a new job. Then there’s all the social and emotional strain that’s accompanying this switch– I am really going to miss by friends and have truly come to love Brooklyn and living on the beach… so there’s some bitter-sweetness to be dealt with. But one step at a time right?


So here’s my to-do list:

  • Meet with brilliant people who can help me be the best astrophysics librarian I can be
    • I think this is crucial. I’m in relatively new territory as an astrophysics hobbyist and need to better understand the needs and perspectives of the astronomical research community. There are some wonderful librarians and astrophysicists out there who I know I could learn a lot from
      • Before I leave I’m hoping to speak with and/or grab coffee/lunch with:
  • Get myself on a schedule
    • Basically I’m going to go crazy if I don’t structure my time wisely.
      • I’m taking two intensive programming courses (Python and R) through CUNY now and will need to dedicate at minimum 10 hours/week/class +- 2 hours/class because I’m new so I’m going with ~24 hours/week (I reallllly hope that’s enough).
        • Weekends: must fit in ~10-15 hours of work
        • Week days: 2-3 days/week up to 5 hours of work/day
          • I figure once I have an office (I’m getting a new office and it has a freaking window!) I can just stay late a few nights/week and work on homework/assignments as needed- likely something like Mon, Wed, Thurs, so I get some breaks in between the late nights.
            • If this is too rough I’ll shift more time to the weekend or drop down to just one class/semester but I would ideally like to finish within 2 years.
  • Get a desk
    • Right now I don’t have one and it’s stupid. I do all my work sitting on my couch with the computer in my lap or on my bed or on the floor and this is just not fun.
      • Maybe Owen will build me a desk :)
  • Clean everything (subsequently pack everything)
    • I have moved from one location to another about every year for almost 9 years— you would think it would get easier but it doesn’t.
      • When we got married we got more stuff and now that Owen has been doing so much more woodwork we have that much more to move. And the cats… so that’s going to be fun…
  • Figure out all the paperwork
    • I need to figure out how to move my retirement benefits (TDA) from Cornell to Harvard and all the medical/dental/vision benefits and such.
    • Also need to re-apply for my income-contingent student loan repayments and send in my docs for student loan forgiveness noting Cornell as a past employer
      • Hopefully only like 8+ more years of payments (at nearly 7% interest). Gag.
  • Go see my friends/plan to meet new people
    • I’m going to miss everyone so much. I know the Boston area isn’t that far, it’s just going to be sad for a little while.
      • Make plans to see my NYC people — lunch, bowling, drinks, whatever(!)
    • Maybe join a Boston-area book club?
      • I’m in one now and love it.
        • Side note: I’ve had horrible luck with books from “Book of the Month“– I got a free 6 month membership and have really disliked all of the books so far. Just plain disappointing.
      • How on earth will I make time to read now that my commute isn’t going to take an hour or more??– I bought a new bike and it should take me about 15 minutes to get to work now (we already found a new apartment in Somerville)
  • Keep active (or I’ll get stressed)
    • I’m already committed to swimming my first ocean 10K at the end of September so I’ve got to keep swimming– This is easy living on the beach, just need to make time for it
    • But I’ve also got to get myself into a more solid routine with everything else
      • I already wake up around 6/6:30 to workout but I need to work in more yoga
        • Start pairing longer yoga series (30-45 mins) with morning weights/tabata (30 mins) 3-4x /week. Swim the other days.
  • Be supportive through the job hunt
    • My husband has enthusiastically supported me as I’ve worked toward this new job so I really need to return the favor. He had just gotten a promotion when we found out I got my new position so I really hope he finds something he likes quickly…
  • Try to relax
    • hahahhahaa. Yes. I really really do need to spend some time watching Twin Peaks re-runs and playing with my cats :)

So, I’m sure I forgot some things, and this is really intimidating, but I couldn’t be more excited to dive into the mayhem. Adventure awaits.