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New Year’s Revolutions

December 31, 2012 Comments off

No, it’s not a typo or a victim of autocorrect. That’s a V instead of an S.

revolutionI’ve never been one for creating New Year’s resolutions. I do, however, like the idea behind the concept. At the heart of the whole exercise is a desire to change something for the better (usually about ourselves). And the resolve to embrace change is not for the sake of change itself, but rather for the sake of improvement. We can envision a better us and desire to be in that place. The problem with a resolution (particularly of the New Year’s type) is that it is an act of the mind that often stays in the mind. A revolution, on the other hand, moves one beyond thought to action. I suppose we could begin a protracted philosophical debate at this point, but I see enough merit here to run with it.

And so, here are my (first ever) New Year’s Revolutions:

1. Laugh every day. (Overdose acceptable.)

2. Actually do something that I keep telling myself I ought to do. (Insert visual of me kicking myself.)

3. Complain ONLY if I am willing to identify and offer possible solutions. (Take that, John, and take it to heart.)

4. Don’t just say that every day is a new day. Believe it, and act accordingly. (Enough said.)

5. In my actions consider not only my interests, but also the interests of others. (Our planet is not the center of the universe, and neither am I.)

And another thing, John. Why reserve the initiation of such actions only for the beginning of a new calendar year? Any day is as good as January 1. Start your revolution now.

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The Myth of Finding Time

February 23, 2011 Comments off

Ever heard yourself saying something like:

“I need to find time to…”
“I wish I could find time to…”
“That’s a great idea! We need to find time to explore that.”

If you’re like me, the answer is “yes.” The problem is, it rarely seems to get any further than that. Why? Different reasons, I suppose, but here’s what I’m learning:

The truth? You will never find time.

Our lives are so overly busy–our schedules so full–that it is astonishing we even have time to breathe. With our multi-tasking and technological ubiquity, we are perhaps more productive and agile but also…well, busy.

Finding time is a myth. Here is what I am realizing. Instead of trying to find time to do things, I need to make time.

I suppose we sometimes use “find time” and “make time” interchangeably, but there is a significant difference between the two. “Making” time is active. If I make time for something, the implication is that it is important enough for me to actively set aside time for it. “Finding” time, on the other hand, can turn into a passive approach. (If an opportunity presents itself, great. If not? Oh well. Nice try.)

Try making time and see what happens.

By the way, I wrote this post with my phone and WordPress app while sitting in line to pick up my girls from school. That was not whimsical; it was intentional. I knew I would have a modest wait, so I planned to use that time to get this post out of my head–where it has been for a while with me saying, “I need to find time to write this”–and into words. I made the time.

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

Call me and we’ll meet: Library Day in the Life, Days 3 and 4 (and counting)

January 28, 2011 Comments off

The second half of this week has been all about one thing really. Meetings. And more meetings. Some people love them. others detest them. But one thing is certain: They are inevitable.

The calls and emails began in earnest on Tuesday and spilled into Wednesday. “Mark your calendars.” “Would you be available to meet on…?” “We need to schedule a meeting.”

So Wednesday became the day of reckoning scheduling and rescheduling. All these meetings needed to be coordinated like an elaborate dance, and everything was converging on the backside of this week. It was amazing how much time I spent on this on Wednesday.

And then came Thursday and the beginning of the meet-a-thon. As a result, I spent much of the day in meetings (and the same will be true for Friday).

That pretty much sums up my Library Day in the Life activity for the rest of the week.

How do you feel about meetings? Do you run to them with enthusiasm or do run away screaming, “My name is Neo!” Whether you like them or not, meetings are a part of life. And there’s a smorgasbord of types:

  • The long-planned, well-crafted agenda type
  • The hastily-called
  • The marathon
  • The speed meeting
  • The “all hands on deck” variety
  • The one-on-one
  • And everything in between, including my personal favorite

If it sounds like I am not a fan of meetings, that’s not really the case. Meetings are not bad in and of themselves. They can be productive and even enjoyable. Indeed, one of Wednesday’s meetings was time with the library staff that I have been looking forward to for a while. Our opinion of and reaction to meetings has a lot to do with our perceptions and attitude. When I enter a meeting with a negative preconception, I usually leave that meeting feeling the exact same way and pining the loss of time. Not good. On the other hand, when I go into a meeting expecting to accomplish something valuable with others, there is a much better chance that I will walk away with an upward attitude about the whole experience. “Upward attitude” doesn’t always mean that I will have enjoyed the experience, but it does mean that I will have valued the experience. I genuinely dislike going to the dentist, but I do it without complaining because I understand the value of doing so. Upward attitude.

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Library Day in the Life, Day 2: Professional Development

January 26, 2011 Comments off

The continuing saga of Library Day in the Life, Round 6…

Activities ran the gamut yesterday (Tuesday). From report writing, to planning for library instruction sessions, to dealing with the scanner (don’t ask), to budget work, to checking the building for leaks (it rained all day yesterday, and when that happens there are places that we need to watch…sigh), to evaluating gift books, to helping a student find that particular book in the collection–it was a typical exercise in a key skill of the trade: flexibility.

With that said, I did notice one theme was most pervasive and continued on and off throughout the day…

Professional development.

I didn’t plan it, but much of what I had my feet in yesterday was in some form or another related to growth or improvement in the profession. Activities serving as a sharpening stone or kiln, if you will. Shaping. Strengthening. Some examples included:

  • Professional reading (I always encourage students nearing graduation to identify professional publications in their area of study/soon-to-be-profession and READ. I took my own advice.)
  • Signing up for an upcoming webcast on Google ebooks (The topic of ebooks should be on every librarians radar.)
  • Following and engaging in Twitter conversations about things of relevance to my job and library services (I even learned about the Google ebooks webcast in my twitter stream.)
  • Planning for a special library staff forum (later this week) where we will talk about our library and try to get to the heart of who we are and how we go about doing things. (I plan to write more about this after we meet. It has the potential to be revolutionary for us.)

A closing word to library school students and others considering the profession:

Yes, the day may be filled with book-finding, leak-checking, and scanner-wrestling, but there is always a place for professional development. Don’t just be content with the bag of tools and tricks that you carry away from library school. Use them, yes, but build on them. Drag yourself over the sharpening stone. Get into the kiln. Continue to develop yourself professionally. Don’t find time for it. Make time for it. (That’s another post.)

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Library Day in the Life 6: January 24 (or, Just another manic Monday)

January 25, 2011 Comments off


It’s that time again. Round 6 of Library Day in the Life is underway. This week librarians from all walks of life, working in different types of libraries with various job responsibilities, will be sharing just what it’s like to be in their shoes during a typical work week. There are several reasons I have chosen to participate (this marks my 2nd year).

Day 1…yesterday…was Monday…and manic. It was…well, see for yourself:

5:30 a.m. — 6:30 a.m.

Wake up.
Drink coffee.*
Quiet time. (This is important. Our days are so full of images, sounds, actions, demands, etc. that time for silent reflection is hard to come by. Well, here it is before the house awakes.)

Take out the dog. (The cat is self-reliant, of course.)
Feed the dog…and the cat (self-reliant? yes, but pampered? even more so.).
Wake the rest of the house, get ready, and head to work.

* I will mention this only once, but you may rightfully assume that it will occur throughout the day.

6:30 a.m. — 7:00 a.m.

Drive time. (Yet another useful time to turn off the radio and prepare mentally for the day. And, boy, did I need it.)

7:00 a.m. — 8:00 a.m.

Arrived at work.
First on the scene, so collected newspapers from delivery box, turned on lights, fired up computers, yadda yadda.
Checked email and sent some follow-up replies from the previous evening.
Morning scan of the social sphere (Twitter, Facebook, Google reader).

8:00 a.m. — 10:00 a.m.

Prepared and sent a library update report to the academic dean. This was requested last week in preparation for an upcoming February meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees. I used it to focus (yet again) on continued support for our statewide academic library consortium. With state funding the way it is these days, some things can never be said enough.

Communicated with a sales rep and a music department faculty member to iron out some decisions and details concerning a database trial for the spring semester. Negotiator. Liaison. Mediator. Roles worth being prepared to do in the business.

10:00 a.m. — 12:00 noon

Monthly meeting of campus VPs and directors with the president. This is something new the president has started in an effort to improve communication among the leadership. Lengthy, but informative. Open, cross-connected channels are good.

12:00 noon — 2:00 p.m.

More work with a fellow faculty member. This time, planning library instruction sessions for two literature classes this spring semester–World Lit II and a 400-level course on Twain.

Activated IP address recognition access for three new reference e-book resources and added links in the library website database list for a soft launch. (Drafting a promotional news post will have to come later in the day. Need to move on now.)

Switched hats from ‘local librarian’ to ‘board member’ of our statewide academic library consortium. Reviewed a draft letter the board is planning to distribute to all the library directors. Feedback and discussion via email with other board members. (Skype would have been helpful. Maybe next time.)

2:00 p.m. — 2:15 p.m.

Something resembling a quick lunch.

2:15 p.m. — 3:30 p.m.

Final prep work for a library orientation session scheduled with a group of new distance ed students. They are from the New York area; they are on campus this week for some intensive courses to begin their enrollment in a graduate program; they are Korean. Part of my prep work was some final cramming to learn how to say “hello” and “I am John” in Korean. A southern boy attempting to speak Korean can be…uh…painfully comical. This is going to be good!

3:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Time for the library orientation session with the Korean grad students. I began with “ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo” (“hello”) and made a connection with them that drove the rest of the session. Meeting people where they are: Priceless.

I am going to enjoy working with these students this week. So full of life and eager to learn. (Sorry for the quality of the picture. The camera on my phone could never get stabilized because we were all so pumped!)

4:00 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.

Worked on some book orders for the library.
Created the promotional news post for the 3 new reference e-book resources mentioned earlier.
Got out from behind the desk and helped a few library users needing assistance. (If you don’t already do it, I highly recommend walking away from the desk and into the places where the users are scattered throughout the building. Many librarians have figured this out, and it works.)

6:30 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.

Headed home for the day. Again, the drive time is cherished time. I call the drive home the “decompression” phase.

Very late evening:

Worked on an ongoing project compiling results from a library survey.

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It was just another manic Monday. But a productive one, for sure.

By the way, remember to check (often) the Library Day in the Life wiki to see what other librarians are doing. You can also follow LDITH activity on Twitter (hashtag #libday6), Flickr, and Facebook.

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Library Day in the Life project and why I’m in

January 21, 2011 7 comments

Next week (Jan 24-30) marks the 6th round of the Library Day in the Life project–an ingenious creation by Bobbi Newman. For those unfamiliar with the project, it is a way to share and learn what a typical work week is like for those who work in libraries. I participated in round 5 last year, and I plan to be back for more. Here are the main reasons why:

  1. It is a great resource for those considering the profession. If you were interested in a particular career, wouldn’t you like the idea of being able to read the activities and thoughts of people already in the trenches of that type of job? I would. If that’s you and your career interest is libraries, Library Day in the Life is for you. Go to the Library Day in the Life wiki, and check back often.
  2. It can help those questioning their place in the profession. Are you already a librarian? Have you ever had doubts or low points in your career/job? If you’re like me, you’ve been on the roller coaster and the answer is ‘yes.’ Here’s a thought: The contributions coming out of this project could be of value to those already in the profession and currently wondering if they made the best choice by becoming a librarian. Sometimes it helps to see the bigger picture in order to find your place. For example, you could learn from other librarians what it is like to work in other areas of the profession or in other types of libraries. You just may discover something that you connect with. At the very least, it can be a source of encouragement or motivation.
  3. It forces me to reflect on what I am doing as a librarian. By reporting on my daily activities, I can’t help but see a snapshot of my day-to-day efforts in a typical work week. It’s an opportunity for professional self-assessment. Granted, it only records one week of activity out of the year, but it is real activity nonetheless. Are there things that I can improve? (Time management? Goal adjustments? Priorities?) Can I validate my contributions to the profession? (I really accomplished all that today? I must have been on my game! Now that particular task was something I can feel good about and keep doing.)
  4. It can be an outreach tool. Let’s look away from the inside of the profession for a while. Library Day in the Life is an excellent “tool” for conversations with people outside the library who are wondering just what it is that librarians do or why we need libraries. Librarian and blogger Daenel makes this point very well in a recent video post. Collectively sharing stories about what we do in libraries has the potential to show others (to quote Daenel) “the lives that we touch and the impact that we have on communities.” Good stuff.

So next week, I will join many other librarians taking part in Library Day in the Life. You can participate too–whether as a contributor or an inquisitive reader. Follow all the Library Day in the Life activity on:

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15 Years and Counting

August 30, 2010 1 comment

Today marks a significant double milestone for me. On August 30, 1995 (15 years ago to the day) I began my professional career as a librarian. On that same day I also took my first steps on the Erskine campus as an employed library staff member and faculty member. What an incredible experience it has been.

Source: flickr

I vividly remember the excitement, enthusiasm, anxiety, and cluelessness that I felt as a greenhorn to the profession and the job. Over the years I have leaned on the training that I received from so many great instructors in library school and have learned even more through trial and error, flying by the seat of my pants.

I look back over the past decade and a half, and I see a lot of personal and professional growth. I look ahead and see room for even more. Today I would highlight 5 general concepts about librarianship that I have absorbed over the course of the last 15 years. They are (in no particular order):

  1. Change is inevitable. Tradition is informative. Adaptation is invaluable.
  2. Connecting with the library user is just as important as assisting the library user.
  3. It’s not about the tools/toys; it’s about what can be done with them.
  4. Seeing things from the vantage point of the user can be constructive and inspirational.
  5. Libraries and the library profession are much more than the average public perception.

Rather than provide commentary on these points, I have decided to simply list them and allow you, the reader, to reflect. Feel free to comment. I’ll be glad to respond.

And now for some fun…

Being the history and technology buff that I am, I thought I would compile a few historical facts to help put into perspective how far things have come since 1995.

In 1995…

 

Internet Explorer debuted (the now famous “blue e” logo was still a year away)

Early IE logo

Netscape (anybody remember that web browser?) was only a year old (free only for academic and non-profit organizations; for all others, it would set you back $49)

Microsoft Bob

Microsoft’s Windows95 operating system was released as was the short-lived Microsoft Bob

Web search engine AltaVista launched

The World Wide Web was only 5 years young (and the commercialization of the Web — the “dot-com bubble” — was just beginning to happen)

Facebook, Flickr, Google, iTunes, MySpace, Wikipedia, and YouTube did not exist

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, were meeting for the first time at Stanford University

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, was 9 years old (and the launch of Facebook was still 9 years away)

The first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, appeared

DVDs, Java, and USB technology hit the scene for the first time

“Social Networking” meant attending a party

If you typed with your thumbs, you were kind of…weird

Text messaging (SMS) was a fledgling activity (on average, only 0.4 messages per customer per month in 1995)

The Bulletin Board System, or BBS, was at the peak of its popularity (Our library had one.) What’s a BBS, you say? Watch this.

Nobody was asking, “Do you provide Wi-Fi access?”

Pagers were more popular than cell phones

Motorola pager

Amazon.com website launched (company founded in 1994)

eBay debuted (known then as AuctionWeb — The name “eBay” didn’t arrive until 1997)

Craig Newmark began craiglist

Apple introduced its first color laser printer, the Color Laser Printer 12/600PS (Cost? $7,000)

Toshiba Satellite ProT2155CDS Laptop (1st Toshiba with an internal CD-ROM drive) hits the market (Cost? $2,499) Check out this vintage print ad from 1995 (Source: Vintage Paper Ads):

CNN joined the internet, debuting CNN.com

The History Channel debuted

Sony PlayStation was released in the US (Cost? $299)

Popular movies hitting the big screen: Die Hard with a Vengeance, Toy Story, Apollo 13, Batman Forever, and Braveheart

TV show Friends was only one season old

Jerry Garcia died and the Grateful Dead disbanded

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland, OH

Top song on the Billboard charts on August 30, 1995: “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson

O.J. Simpson trial took place with O.J. found not guilty in murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman

O.J. Simpson 1994 mug shot

Shannon Faulkner became the 1st female admitted to The Citadel

Cost of first-class postage stamp: $0.32

Average gas price: $1.15/gallon

[Except where noted, all images in the 1995 timeline come from Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons.]

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Yes, a lot has changed since 1995. Here’s to the next 15 years of librarianship and watching taking part in the change that will continue to reveal itself.

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Categories: Libraries, Personal Tags: ,