Back East

A sign on the side of a highway reading "Welcome to Pennsylvania. Pursue your happiness."

Today marks two months in my new job. I’ll publish something about my search process in the near future, but for now let me just say that while this move was a long time coming, I am thrilled to be where I am.

Where I am is the suburbs north of Philadelphia, working at Penn State Abington. It’s a teaching-focused campus of 3,100 undergraduates, though as part of Penn State’s “one university, geographically dispersed” model, our community also benefits from the resources that come with being a gigantic research university. It really is a “best of both worlds” situation, where I get to be at a small, undergraduate-serving institution with a diverse student body, but the University Libraries’ budget far exceeds anything I’ve encountered in my career. I’ve worked at other institutions that were relatively similar in terms of size and/or demographics, but it often felt like we didn’t have the resources necessary to do the work we wanted to do. That’s not the case here, and I look forward to seeing what I can accomplish in this role.

The role itself is Head Librarian for Penn State Abington. I was appointed at the rank of Associate Librarian with tenure, and for the first time in eight years research is once again an expectation of my job. As I wrote for LibParlor last year, I was wondering “Am I Still a Researcher?” I’ve done a bit of soul-searching since asking that question last summer, and at this point my answer is: “Yes, I think so.” I’ve largely been out of the game since 2019, but I’ve found that I still have some things that I want to learn, and some things that I want to share. Having a tenured appointment also provides me with the privilege to pursue my interests on my own terms, and I’m excited to see where my work leads me.

As I settle into my new job, I’m trying to put up some guardrails to protect myself and locate the ever-elusive work-life balance I’ve heard so much about. I’m working on a vibrant campus alongside a team of smart, engaging faculty and staff, and I can’t wait to get to know more students and help support their success. At the same time, the past few years have been an awful lot, and I’m hoping to establish and maintain some routines that take better care of myself and the people around me. Most days I’m still convinced that librarianship is work worth doing, but I can’t let my frustrations with the profession or my institution invade my life the way that I did in past roles. Life is too damn short.

So here I am, in a new place, thinking about the future. As I’ve learned a couple of times now, moving across the country can be incredibly disorienting, and my experience of the last few months was no exception. Still, I’ve been blessed that I ended up getting a job in an area where I have a lot of connections and personal history. My dad grew up in the next county over, and there have been Seebers living in Philadelphia for well over a century. This is the place I visited during summers as a kid, where I road-tripped in college, and where I’ve vacationed as an adult. And while none of the moments that brought me here have been inevitable, part of me always thought I might end up here.

It’s also nice to be back east. Being in this part of the world means watching hours-long rainstorms from my front porch, which, after twelve years in the aridity of Colorado, has been incredibly comforting. 

Feels like home.

Programming note: This is the first of a three-post series. The second post is about my job search, and the third one is about leaving my last position.