One of the joys of being the newsletter editor is that I am required to read the content of each month's newsletter in order to edit it. That sounds funny, but it's true. If I weren't the editor, there are articles I might just skim or even skip altogether, but as editor, I must pay close attention to each one.
One of the newer sections of the newsletter is the e-forum wrap-up, where past e-forums are summarized. While I've subscribed to the e-forums for the past few years, I'm not often able to participate. The summaries, though, are a great way to catch up on what different librarians are experiencing in the workplace. Work/life balance, e-book acquisitions, modern MARC records, and RDA training are all topics recently covered by e-forums.
From my own personal point of view, I found the work/life e-forum to be quite illuminating, perhaps simply because the topics discussed aren't issues that generally come up at conferences and other moderated sessions. Besides, it doesn't always seem appropriate to ask colleagues what benefits they may (or may not) enjoy. It was interesting to read about what areas are of most important to people as they try to achieve that all-important work/life balance.
Recently I left the library life behind, and accepted a position with a library vendor. I was a little nervous about what to expect in terms of the change in my work/life balance, in a way that was different from in the past, when I made the transition from one library to another. But reading the e-forum summary made me realize that even within the library community, work/life balance can vary greatly. This caused me to reflect on my past work experiences and think about the differences in work/life balances associated with them in a way I hadn't really considered before.
My takeaway from all this? Learning about the experiences of colleagues at other institutions can change a person's perspective. We’re often encouraged as students and employees to join associations, but joining associations doesn't help unless we participate in them. Participation can be as simple as reading the e-forum section of the ALCTS newsletter. If you're reading this now, you've taken the first step. If you have enough flexibility in your work schedule, consider taking another step and participate in an upcoming e-forum. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge some of the challenges you might face; chances are, feedback from others will provide a fresh perspective. The results can be enlightening.