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My Capacity: What Can I Do and What Can I Do Well?

I like to take on a lot of projects. I love seeing projects come to fruition, and I want to provide the best possible services for my campus community. I think the work we do as librarians is important work.  As I’ve taken on more responsibilities in my current job though I’ve learned I can’t do everything.  I have had to reevaluate the number of things I can accomplish and projects I can support.

Photo by  Darren Tunnicliff.  Published under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.
Photo by
Darren Tunnicliff. Published under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Libraries come in all different shapes and sizes. I happen to work at a small library. We are a small staff—3 professional librarians including the director, 2 full-time staff, 1 part-time staff member, and around 10 student workers. I think we do amazing things at my place of employment, but I know we can’t do everything. I would love to be able to do some of the projects I see staff at larger universities working on, but I am learning that I have to be strategic about my projects. Time is a limited resource and I need to use my time wisely to support the campus in the best way possible.

This has been especially true for tech projects. The maintenance, updating, and support needed for technology can be a challenge. Now don’t get me wrong, I love tech and my library does great things with technology, but I have also had to be more strategic as I recognize my capacity does have limits. So with new projects I’ve been asking myself:

  • How does this align with our strategic plan? (I’ve always asked this with new projects, but it is always good to remember)
  • What are top campus community needs?
  • What is the estimated time commitment for a specific project?
  • Can I support this long term?

Some projects are so important that you are going to work on the project no matter what your answers are to these questions. There are also some projects that are not even worth the little bit of capacity they would require.  Figuring out where to focus time and what will be the most beneficial for your community is challenging, but worth it.

How do you decide priorities and time commitments?