My Repository Rant
(unaffiliated with and not accepted or endorsed by Open Repositories 2014 or anyone or anything else for that matter, certainly not any employer I have ever had)
Hello. My name is Troy McClure—actually, my name is not Troy McClure. My name is Dorothea Salo. You may know me from such pigheaded rants as “Innkeeper at the Roach Motel” and “How to Scuttle a Scholarly Communication Initiative.”
I’ve been around the block a few times with repositories. As a result, I burned out on them completely, so now I’m teaching in a library school. And you know what they say about library-school instructors, right? I mean, we all know. Of course we do.
Those who can, do… but library-school instructors suck, am I right?
Well, I think that’s actually a fair cop. I can’t do repositories any more. Not “won’t,” but “can’t;” my health won’t permit it. When I burn out, you see, I don’t do it halfway. But I was no damned good at repositories anyway, so no loss.
So those who can, do… but library-school instructors suck, am I right? It’s all our fault you can’t hire, or so they say. That one is also a fair cop. It is one hundred percent my fault when you can’t find new-graduate repository managers. Why is that, then? Let me tell you about my students and me—and my students are your applicant pools, so don’t tune out, all right?
I am a mama bear about my students. I do not want them burning out the way I did. And since I’ve been around the block a few times, I am onto you. Some of you, anyway. You can read what I know about you in “How to Scuttle a Scholarly Communication Initiative.” How you’ll title a job “Coordinator” when there isn’t one damned thing to coordinate—no budget, no infrastructure, no support (developer time? direct reports? don’t make me laugh), and no local expertise except for the hiree’s. How throughout the entire library, only the hiree has any real skin in the game.
How people bounce right off the software the hiree will be forced to use. I’ve had plenty of developers blow me off about usability, and they can just cut out the devsplaining right now. It’d take a deity to run a popular, well-used repository off this dancing bearware of theirs. I have the screenshots to prove it. I’ve taught the workshops, too. I wish repository developers would realize that usability critiques are contributions to the community!
Yes, I’ve been around the block a few times. So here is my rant—wait, you thought I was ranting already? Goodness, no. I haven’t even started ranting yet. So let me start:
- Stop writing job ads for purple unicorns. And stop blaming me for not producing them. I am not even listening to that nonsense any more.
- My students are not your superheroes. Stop expecting them to save you.
- My students are not your staff’s dumping ground for work they fear or don’t want.
- My students are not your staff’s dumping ground for resentment and discontent with respect to new aspects of librarianship, either.
- It is not my students’ job to cover for your staff’s inability or unwillingness to reskill or step up.
- My students should not need to evangelize the rest of staff just to be able to run the repository properly—much less needing to evangelize their own reporting chains! That groundwork should be laid for them, long before they arrive.
The bottom line is, if you and your staff cannot properly support my students, you and your staff do not deserve my students.
Now, I’ve been around the block a few times. I know all your dodges. I can spot them in job ads. And because I am a mama bear about my students, I tell them, “You know, some jobs you shouldn’t take. Oh, look, there’s one right there!” And when you can’t hire a purple unicorn because my students know better than to apply to your no-win jobs? It is one hundred percent my fault. And I am one hundred percent at peace with that.
I’m done ranting now. Aren’t you glad? I am. I don’t like ranting. It just seems like the only way I can get through to people sometimes.
Now, I do want your repository to succeed. I want your library to succeed. I want open access to succeed! But most of all, I want my students to succeed. It’s my job to want that most; I work for them now, not you. So I am begging you, please read “How to Scuttle a Scholarly Communication Initiative” and take it to heart. It’s open access; there’s absolutely no excuse. Do the exact opposite of everything it says. Because burning out more repository managers isn’t good for anybody.