Not all of us can be the Best: How to measure your impact?

George Best #1, originally uploaded by sahmeepee.

I’m trying to follow Sarah Glassmeyer’s advice and start working my horrible Association Football analogies and metaphors into my library writing. (Soccer to the most of you.)

First I wast thinking about spinning Stanley Matthews into one. He was a vegetarian teetotaller and class-act. Instead, I’m going to use another English football great, and in many ways the antithesis to Matthews, as my model: George Best. He was one of the most talented players ever, but his career has hampered and cut short through his excess.

The reason I’ve been thinking of Matthews and Best, other than the fact I keep reading books about history of the game, is that I’m up for my promotion review. It’s a little daunting looking back at my quite brief career and trying to quantify not only what I’ve done, but what the impact of it all. Oh and only for calendar year 2010. That’s only 1/3 of my career!

So what is the impact? See, this is where I wish I was like Best. Or maybe Nobby Stiles. Everybody know what they did and what their impact was. In the 1960s, Manchester United (as much as I hate them), won the league twice, the FA Cup once, and the European Cup. Trophies! Best was European Player of the Year in 1968. I wish I was something like that. Do we have awards like that?

So yeah, without the trophies or the accolades how can one go about showing the impact of their work for a year? Did your research save your company lots of money? Did it save somebody’s life? Did it win the Henderson account? Librarianship is a weird thing to quantify in this way. I spend a lot of time sitting on the reference desk, building a sense of community, and raising the visibility of the research tools the students should use. Are there good metrics to show the impact of this? Well, we have lots of people in the reading room. Should I poll the room and see how many people know what TRIS is?

Then you get into the really nebulous area of impact – networking. This is sort of like a popularity contest. How many people read this blog? How many people listen to LibPunk? That I can sort of quantify, but is there impact? What about knowing people? In my brief career, I’ve rubbed elbows with some people important to both the library and transportation world. Having coffee with key officials in government is an impact, just not an easy one to quantify.

So what is a kid supposed to do? Since I’m not the George Best of the library world (which will never happen), how am I to gauge my impact? Even if I’m could be the Leighton Baines of the library world, which would be pretty sweet, it could be tricky showing impact without a neat record with win, losses, and draws. Maybe I could get an international call up?