Tag Archives: personal

“Big money, no Whammy! STOP!”

4 Mar

A follow-up to “You are human”, alternatively titled “Coping with Stress.”  You’ll get why I picked the other one later.

We all have days at work when we just can’t do anything else work-related.  Our heads are about to explode, someone left a…personal mess in the stacks, or you’ve just dealt with the gamut of patrons who are all convinced you DO have the answer they want, even if the question is “What is William Shakespeare’s telephone number?” and don’t like the answer “he doesn’t have one.”  At times like those, there’s a choice to be made: run screaming into the night, or find some way to laugh.

I’m a firm believer that if you can laugh at something, your day instantly gets better.  It lightens your mind and reminds you that not everything has to be serious, or handled with care.  YouTube is a valuable tool for finding something to laugh at.  Maybe your thing is corgis being cute?  Or kittens playing the piano?  Or some other entirely non-threatening to your state of mind fluff?  Go, take 3 minutes, and watch it.  Breathe deeply while you do and laugh out loud.  I promise you’ll come back feeling rejuvenated if you honestly give it a chance to work.

As for me?  If you know where the title-quote came from, you know what I do.  I watch people losing “Press Your Luck” on YouTube; they’re all so serious, and then they get whammied and the little dancing monster shows up and does “Thriller”.  How can you not laugh at that?  Even the people who just lost laugh at it, and that’s saying something.

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You are human

20 Feb

Alternately, “Coping with Stress”.

Everyone has bad days.  I certainly have, and they all revolve around disappointment in myself, one way or another.  Being short with a patron because of a headache, or trying to help and having it refused, or not being able to find the answer you know exists in the timeframe you wanted, having to tell the patron you’ll “get back to them”.  All things that can make you feel like you didn’t try hard enough, or that you somehow failed in your job’s responsibilities.

This mindset has the potential to ruin your day, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.  If nothing else, I’ve found one thing is helpful in overcoming the feeling of having a setback or of failure: remind yourself that you are human.  We librarians, like many other professionals, hold ourselves to a high standard of behavior and performance.  So high that we can’t meet them 100% of the time, over decades of working on the job, and in some sort of effort to keep it from ever happening again, we speak harshly to ourselves sometimes as we’re frustrated with our “deficiencies” or “mistakes”.

There will always be someone you can’t help, an answer you don’t know, days when you go to work because you love it even when you’re sick.  It’s human thing.  That’s ok.  We’re allowed to be humans first, then librarians and archivists.  If you remind yourself of that on a bad day, you’re halfway to getting back on track to a good one and all it took was one affirmation.  You are human.

Transparency: the self, online

7 Feb

There’s always debate around one issue when it comes to virtual interaction: how much personal information should we share?  How much is wise, and how much do we have to disclose in order to participate in the activities we want?

I think that when we choose to place our thoughts and opinions in the public arena, digital or otherwise, we run a gambit between protecting our identities so we don’t suffer repercussions professionally (anyone else miss tenure?) and divulging enough of ourselves to connect with our audiences.  There’s a practical side to this, but also a philosophical one.  A lot of the time there’s discussion that pretends it’s the philosophical side, but is really practical; things like right to privacy, data mining, and protecting minors can seem philosophical but at the heart, they deal with real situations and real people.

The practical side has benefits on both sides of the question: managing multiple identities, versus never having to remember who you’re being in X capacity.  Obviously, if you know what you have to say is inflammatory, a pseudonym is the best route: Annoyed Librarian, over at Library Journal is a fantastic example.  The philosophical side we mostly don’t think about unless it’s in terms too abstract or directly related to you.

But for myself, I tend to lean more toward disclosure, with a healthy dose of caution, since even though we should be able to express our opinions as ourselves and not be judged by our employers, that is not always the case.  I think it’s pretty difficult to be 100% on either side until you reach a certain level of notoriety (good or bad – Neil Gaiman and Snooki would be examples of good and bad, respectively), when you can be your complete self and know that reprisal won’t be forthcoming.  Mostly, I think that the more you share of yourself, the more engaged your audience becomes, and that’s a consideration we should all make when we enter the digital world.

A reading list for the new year

1 Jan

A personal post!  What can I say, it’s the holidays.  I’ve got some books I’m excited for in 2012, so I thought I’d put a few on the list.  They’re not all new publications, but they’re books I plan to read in the next year.

  1. Changes, by Mercedes Lackey
  2. Under the Vale, and other tales of Valdemar, by Mercedes Lackey
  3. Dare to repair, replace and renovate, by Julie Sussman
  4. You Just Don’t Understand, by Deborah Tannen
  5. The Japanese Tea Garden, by Marc Peter Keane
  6. Beauty and the Werewolf, by Mercedes Lackey
  7. Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked, by Catherine Orenstein
  8. Sex with the King, by Eleanor Herman
  9. City of Golden Shadow, by Tad Williams
  10. The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss (and The Name of the Wind, too!)

There’s a lot more, but I’m not in the mood (or state of wakefulness) to cruise Amazon for links.

What are your reading plans for the next year?

It’s Christmas time in the library!

13 Dec

Or really close to it, at least.  I love this time of year because it’s Christmas and Christmas rocks my world, and it’s the longest break we have in a calendar year.  The students will be gone for nearly a month, so it’s when we can get a lot of things done without feeling hectic and switch-tasking like crazy.  It makes us a more effective library team when we can take care of “housekeeping” activities without fielding questions, circulating materials and processing patrons.

And it’s a nice, quiet atmosphere that’s kept from feeling deserted by the students that come in over the break.  We’re still open to the public for limited hours, and a few do take advantage of that.  But mostly, it’s quiet and cozy, and I like it that way.

I love the local library programming for Christmas, too: making puppets, wreaths or ornaments in a crafting workshop, story time in the children’s room (and teens sneaking in), parents bringing in their little ones trying to find the best story for the trip home to see the rest of the family.  It’s a community time of year, when libraries of all walks can shine.

In the spirit of the holiday, I am taking a brief break from regular posting.  You might see something quick and less relevant than usual, but I too want to enjoy the time of year with my family.  Regular posting will resume the first of the year.

What does Christmas mean for your library?

“Who are you?”

26 Sep

Image taken from http://itthing.com

That is a question that carries a lot of weight, digitally speaking.  A lot of us Gen Yers remember our parents telling us to never, ever, give out our personal information over the Internet, and personal information meant any information at all.  We were groomed in a culture of fear, where we internalized the message of danger equating with online transparency in identity.

This is bad.  Our parents and guardians had their reasons for warning us away from divulging our identities: fear of predators, pedophiles and thieves, and fear of what we might say or do that would stay with us forever.  Honestly, they were pretty smart about that last one – I can’t think of many 12 year olds (actually, I think of none at all) who I trust to keep their reputations clean…and all bets are off once they hit high school.

But for us, as professionals and adults?  Being so nervy, jealously guarding our information down to the last byte, doesn’t help us.  I think it hurts us when we’re so opaque to the Web and its denizens.  Did you know there are services and articles online about becoming “digitally dead”?  Just in case you want to make sure all your information dies with you.  Or before you do.  I did some poking around, and aside from widgets and tools, I’m sure there’s a service that does all those steps in the second link rolled into one price.

We need to be ourselves online, use a consistent name (if not our real, legal name), and allow some information to leak out.  I work in a career college library.  I live in North Carolina.  I’m married.  Things like that could, potentially harm me, but the possibility of reaching people on a more authentic level is worth the risk.  When you’re using the Internet professionally, it behooves you to have it all credited back to you.  To me, that means a LinkedIn profile, professional Facebook, Twitter, etc., all linked together so that your audience can hear you how they prefer.

The only drawback is that you have to think about the content you generate, considering that you wouldn’t want someone knowing your personal life if all they’re interested in is your expertise in libraries.  That’s no different from dressing appropriately, to my mind; you’re representing an aspect of yourself, but it’s still you.  That’s the most important thing.

Why I’ll never buy a Kindle

5 Sep

I admit it: I’m slacking this week because I’m working on a series of posts for LISNPN, so you get something that’s been in my head for a while but is not high-minded at all.

I have a prejudice.  I honestly don’t like ebooks.  I’ve tried them, I like the idea of getting public domain works for free, but I’m just not that into them.  I don’t necessarily hate them, so please don’t think that.  It’s that I can’t find any reason to spend over $100, so I can spend more money rebuying books I’ve already purchased, or barring that option, dealing with the division between print and non-print books.

Maybe this is a cardinal librarian sin, this prejudice against non-print books, but if so, it’s one I only have in my personal life.  In libraries, they serve a very valuable purpose and I’ll be happy to disagree with HarperCollins regarding their ebook licensing policies anytime you want to talk about it.  Personally, though, I like the feel of a paper book.

I’ve always known that if I were a millionaire, billionaire, or Melinda Gates, I would collect rare books and incunabula.  It’s amazing and awe-inspiring to realize the level of craftsmanship that went into books when they were young.  We have books from 1550 we can still read, but a paperback from 40 years ago is falling apart.  Books are art, even the cheap ones, and I love them for their weaknesses as well as their strengths and information.  Ebooks (leaving aside DRM…) remove a lot of the weakness from a print book, leaving something less charming in its place.

What would it take for me to get on board with ebooks for my personal use?  Barring the possibility of all print books no longer being printed, probably a free Kindle/eReader/Nook.  If I could somehow lower the investment cost to something I’d spend on a paperback I’m not sure I’ll like, then I’d give it a shot.  But I’d need to  live with it, since playing with it in a store won’t be enough exposure to overcome my initial negativity.  I can find complaints galore playing with Nooks in the store, and the sales people aren’t very convincing spokespeople when dealing with prejudiced persons like myself.

Maybe I need to go on a few more dates with a Kindle/eReader/Nook…maybe our first date was one of those really bad, leaves-you-with-an-awful-impression encounters because I showed up in a cocktail dress and the ebook came in pajamas.  I just can’t bring myself to call them back and go out again.