I started a mutual admiration society with Kevin Seeber on or about July 2014, when we were both at Library Instruction West in Portland, Oregon. At that time, I was a tenure-track librarian at Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington and he was a librarian at Colorado State University – Pueblo. He came to my lightning talk about inquiry-based learning, which included the following slides about microfilm (illustrating the most common question I received from my students):
Even though I made fun of microfilm, he still had nice things to say about me on his blog.
Fast forward two years. It’s April 2016 and I’m a tenured librarian at Pierce and Kevin is Foundational Experiences Librarian at the University of Colorado Denver. He invites me to apply for a newly-created opening: Pedagogy & Assessment Librarian. I apply and, in a turn of events that surprises only me, I’m offered the position. My husband and I have a quickie wedding on the beach in Tacoma, throw our stuff in a car, and drive east to Denver.
For the past thirteen months, I have had the daily thrill of working with Kevin. He is, in my opinion, one of the most passionate and thoughtful information literacy librarians alive. I love every second of every conversation I have with him, especially when we disagree. Over the past year, we have debated topics ranging from neoliberalism in higher education to assessment procedures and active learning strategies. We have regular conversations about mentorship, lesson planning, approaches to internal professional development, and the praxis of critical librarianship. We both care deeply about students, and we both see ourselves as teachers. We love a good Negroni. We agree that Pilot G2 pens are the best. Working with him has made me a better librarian in a hundred ways.
But it’s time for me to go. And if I’m honest, it’s been time for me to go for a while. Denver is not a good fit for me or my family. I’m a Pacific Northwest native and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. While it’s been a blast to work with Kevin, I haven’t been happy in my job. I had no idea how much I would miss teaching community college students.
Thanks to my talented software engineer spouse, we have a reason to move back to Washington. He starts his new job in Seattle on August 21.
Friday, August 11 is my last day in Denver.
For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I don’t take back the microfilm joke, the Max Fischer tweets, or the decision to take a new job in an unfamiliar city. I may not fully understand yet all the lessons I’m supposed to learn from this experience, but I am grateful.
I don’t know what’s next. I don’t have a job lined up in Seattle. This is the first time in my adult life that I’ll be unemployed. I worked non-stop all through college and graduate school and I have held a full-time job in some form since I was 21 years old. I realize this makes me incredibly lucky. But it will also make the next few months pretty challenging.
I’m interested in working on my writing, learning how to play professional poker, and teaching community college classes like Reading and College Success. Of course, I’d love to be a community college librarian again, but I recognize that those opportunities are rare, so I may need to wait it out for a while. My librarian life won’t stop, though. I have a couple of research projects in the works and I’m reading dozens of books for the Stonewall Book Award Committee. I plan to attend local conferences like the UW Critical Librarianship in Practice Unconference and ACRL OR/WA Joint Conference. I know I’ll see a lot of familiar faces when I’m back in Denver in February for ALA Midwinter, and I’ll be back in Colorado in July for Library Instruction West 2018.
I got my first (and only) tarot deck when I was 12 years old. I purchased the classic Rider Waite deck at the Goddess Gallery on Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland, Oregon. In the seventh grade, I would practice reading the cards on the school bus, which yielded accusations of Satanism from my classmates. I have always thought the Strength card was one of the most beautiful cards in the deck. Salem Tarot suggests it can be interpreted that the lion and the woman are the same: You may imagine the two figures on the card as the two sides of yourself: the woman is your superego, and the lion is your id.
You are the Goddess and the beast, the tamed and the tamer, the rage and the joy. It’s a helpful image, a reminder that something can be more than one thing at once. That I can be heartbroken to leave and excited to go home. That I can know and not know. That it’s okay, and it will be.