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Tuesday Fun

April 15, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! As it is tax day today in the United States, I thought we could definitely use some fun today. So I have a few fun things to share to take your mind off taxes. Let’s get to it!

I happen to be a fan of “Welcome to Night Vale” and so think these cross-stitch bookmarks are awesome. Makes me want to break out my needle and thread.

I love going to libraries (I know, definitely a “duh” statement from a librarian) and I love seeing different buildings and styles of architecture so I’m excited for the new book on public libraries in the United States. Gizmodo has a nice photo set of 10 distinctive libraries to whet your appetite for more.

Finally, I’m rather fond of card tricks and sleight of hand and rather jealous of the quality of life in Stockholm, so I was fascinated by this video explaining why Stockholm is the best for pretty much everything.

I hope you enjoy your day and week, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Leadership: Hard, Not Complicated

April 11, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and you are looking forward to a lovely weekend. It has been another busy week here on campus and I’m looking forward to some relaxation this weekend. Weather is supposed to be lovely and I really want to do some more hiking and birding this weekend. But first, to the topic of today, I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership recently and wanted to write about it briefly today. I think being a good leader at any level is hard, but not complicated. Let me explain.

I know there are countless books on leadership and becoming a leader and leading from the middle, etc., etc. I don’t really want to get into all of that today. I just want to talk about what I’ve found from listening and learning as I’ve been working since I was a teen. All the people I’ve considered leaders, wherever they’ve been in the formal hierarchy, have had the same qualities: empathy, true listening, great communication, clear vision, professionalism, and the ability to get things done. These are the qualities and skills that I try to embody and keep in mind as I continue to work as a professional and want to just talk about a bit today.

There is no secret to great leadership. It is hard work, but it isn’t complicated. Basically, try to be compassionate and just and you are halfway there. Why would I say that? Because everything, except specialized knowledge of your field, are attributes you should try to hone in yourself to be a better human and better person for yourself and for those whom you interact with.

The saying may be trite, but it is true that “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Empathize with people, truly be empathetic. See the world from another’s point of view, be down there in the muck and help out, figure out what people care about and show that you care about them and amazing things can be accomplished. Not complicated, but hard. Check out Brene Brown’s video on empathy if you want to show someone how important empathy is to not just work, but to life.

Empathy requires true listening. To listen truly you must actively engage with that person, ask questions, figure out what they are trying to convey to you and to really understand where they are coming from. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter to a leader if your views are radically different, truly listening requires an openness that is infectious and an experience of empathy. You have to truly listen to find the good and the bad, what motivates and what is soul-sucking for the people in your life and in your work. Listening allows leaders to figure out what they should be doing and what they can be doing. Amazing things happen when we listen to each other.

If I could say nothing else about leadership, I would say the the best leaders I’ve known are amazing communicators. I think I could leave it at that because true communication requires empathy and listening and professionalism and vision and the ability to get things done. You know how people say there are two ways of saying anything? The first way that will offend everyone and get nothing done and the second way that will get things done? It is totally true and anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be able to communicate well. And communication is more than words on a page or your voice in a meeting. Communication is about body language and how you arrange your physical space. What are you trying to convey as a leader? What do you want to accomplish? If it is anything at all, you better be able to communicate.

Leaders obviously need to have a clear vision that can inspire others and help lead everyone to a goal or set of goals. If you don’t have a vision, how can you lead? But also, the vision needs to not be written in stone, but be malleable based on changes in environment, in the larger organization, etc. Perhaps more than vision, leaders need to have courage of conviction in order to lead and inspire others.

All leaders should be professionals. I don’t care what a genius you are or if you are a rock star, nothing gives another person the right to belittle, demean, or shame another human being. Leaders should always be professionals and insist that others in the organization be professionals as well. Professionalism, to me, is a requirement for leadership. If you aren’t professional in your interactions (which doesn’t mean you don’t have a sense of humor, leaders should have a sense of humor to be effective), I don’t see how you can possibly lead. No one wants to be led by a bully.

Finally, I believe leaders should have the ability to get things done. You need to be effective in your position in order to continue to be a leader. Doesn’t have to be huge leaps forward, but small wins which are shared and communicated. You can get things done if you are a decent human being and hopefully as a leader, too.

So leadership, to me, isn’t complicated. It can be hard and it is a lot of work. But it is necessary work and good work and honest work. We can all be leaders. Remember as Yves Morieux said at TED work is complex, but we don’t have to make it complicated.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

April 8, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! I hope your week is going well. It is a busy week here on campus as we have multiple search committees bringing candidates to campus. Busy weeks remind me just how much we need to take a break sometimes to smell the roses, or in my case, the books. So here’s a few fun things for your day.

First, a lovely infographic on why people choose paper books over ebooks.

Also, book related is this lovely article with photos of cathedrals that now house libraries and bookstores. These are some seriously beautiful places to wander around the stacks.

Finally, because it is spring, check out Joy the Baker’s new recipe for tiny, strawberry, cream scones. They look adorable and delicious.

I hope you have a lovely rest of your week readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Life, Quiet, and Exams Week

March 21, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and that you have a relaxing weekend planned. I’m looking forward to the weekend after this last week of exams on campus. The end of a school term always seems like a good time to look back and take stock of what I’ve learned and what I want to implement in the coming terms, both in terms of teaching and life, so I have a few articles to share with you today in that vein. Let’s get to it.

One of the things that teaching always reminds me about is that, in order to be a good teacher, you have to a balance of empathy and not caring if your students like you. You need empathy to relate to your students and learn from them and help them grow. But you also really need to have a thick skin and standards that you expect them to achieve in order to be a professional and fair instructor. I have never been a “cool” person and never will be a cool person. I’m a librarian who teaches at a state college and is serious about typography and letterpress and research. I’m so not even near the cool meter and that is totally okay with me. So I don’t need to be the cool professor that everyone likes or the professor who everyone likes because my class is an “easy A.” I can be the empathetic, earnest, awkward, occasionally funny professor who really wants her students to learn and will spend extra time helping outside of class, but also has explicit, clear guidelines on what it takes to pass my class and no, the fact that the computer ate your paper that you had 8 weeks to write is not a valid excuse professor, too. So in that spirit, I share Lifehacker’s article on how to stop giving a f*ck about what people think. Be bold, live your life, be kind, and be who you are, even if it is not in anyway “cool.”

Also, while you’re reading about ways to be okay with living your life on your terms, you might want to click over and read 10 painfully obvious truths everyone forgets too soon. I love break week because work slows down and I have more space to think and plan for the next quarter, both at work and in life and the projects that I want to get done and also the spaces I want for creating outside of work. It’s never too late or too early to start being and living how you want to and remembering that while we are not our jobs, we can become our work so create the work you want to be.

Finally, if all this talk about work is stressing you out, check out the busy person’s guide to reducing stress. Stress is totally a killer to calm, quiet, and peace in all aspects to life, so stress reduction is really important. I’m all for petting a purring cat, having a cup of tea, doing some yoga, and reading a good book. Oh, and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is good, too.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

March 18, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! It is exams week here on campus so we could definitely use some fun today. As students are doing their last bit of polish on papers and studying, I’m working away at the last bit of term grading. So I think everyone could use a bit of a study break. So let’s get into the crafty fun today!

I love origami and have since I got my first origami kit as a child. Naturally, I really enjoyed this article and video showing part of the process of how an origami master makes a life size elephant. Amazing!

Also, how could I not share this week in fonts? It’s impossible really to not share these posts. Pick a beautiful font for your next design project and make the world a prettier place.

Finally, I had to share this last post as I’m a huge fan of tea. If I could knit, I’d totally use this snail tea cosy pattern. Adorable!

I hope you have a lovely rest of this week, dear readers, no matter where you are and in what part of the term you are (if your life, like mine, still revolves around a campus calendar). I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

March 4, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! It is time for some more Tuesday fun to get you through the day and week. So let’s just get to it, shall we?

I’ve quite enjoyed Unshelved comics since I was in library school, but I have to admit to last week’s Wednesday’s strip being particularly great. Just tear yourself away from your phone for a few minutes!

Also, I love this post about the best restaurants according to Yelp reviewers. A fun list and I love that a small place in Hawaii came out as number one. One of my favorites in Kauai didn’t make the list, but I still think you absolutely must try Puka Dog if on the South Shore. Also, I can totally vouch for the Cheese Board Pizza being fantastic. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!

I hope you have a great week, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

A Day in the Life of an Academic Librarian

February 28, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well. It has been another busy week here on campus, but I’m excited because we are finally getting some rain and I also get to read my students’ rough drafts today so hopefully that will be fun. Today I just thought I’d write a bit about life as an academic librarian as it may be useful for LIS graduates considering academic librarianship. So here we go!

In July of this year I will have been working as an academic librarian for six years. I can hardly believe that it has been that long already and am excited for the next six years. Along the way I have learned a thing or two about being an academic librarian and as I love sharing information I thought I’d share a bit in the form of “a day in the life” that seems popular in library land. While there is no typical day in the life of an academic librarian, I’m going to share a few different types of days that I have working as an academic librarian.

But first, a bit of context. I work on a campus where librarians are faculty members and we have instructional, research/professional development, university service, and community service requirements for retention, tenure, and promotion. Many academic librarian environments are like this and many are not. So all of talk about what I do during the day is within the context of spending most of my time, thus far, as an untenured library faculty member, and spending the last year as a tenured library faculty member. Just fair warning.

So I think, if I were to divide up the main categories or types of days I have as a librarian, there would be three main types of days. First: days when I have a lot of teaching and reference duties. Second: days when I have a lot of meetings. Third: days when I have time for research and writing, along with other project work.

The first two categories, teaching/reference and meetings, take up most of my days as a library faculty member or rather meetings take up a lot of time if I’m not careful about it. I love teaching and public service, so I don’t mind days when I have a lot of classes and reference or research appointments. These days usually fly by and I might teach a course-integrated instruction session, have some hours on the reference desk or be teaching a credit-level course for information literacy. Of course, prep time for instruction takes up some more of my time as a librarian, but happily in the summer there is always time to completely revamp my classes to make them more effective for the coming year.

Days where I have six to eight hours of meetings can be killer. Meetings are important for dissemination of information and for checking in, but back-to-back meetings are something I do not like and always try to avoid. Also, for those contemplating academic librarianship, meetings mean that work gets piled up, especially emails, especially at the end of the term, which still have to be dealt with after meetings are over. My suggestion: become an email guru and figure out a system to get through your inbox quickly and efficiently so you aren’t drowning in emails. I personally like logging out of my email and only checking it a few times a day so I can get through a bunch of email at once.

Also, with meetings, don’t be afraid to delegate work, you are a team or committee after all. Also, if at all possible, never go to a meeting without an agenda and never end a meeting without some action items. Make your meetings efficient, too.

One of my favorite types of days are days when I’m not scheduled in any meetings and can take the morning to work on my research and writing. I love research and I love sharing my research. Having a large block of time makes it much easier to write, for me, and make good progress on manuscripts. That being said, I’ve gotten much better (as I should after six years) of fitting in quick bursts of writing and research whenever I can, but having a block of time is the best. Also, days without meetings allow time for other projects, whether that be in the archives, figuring out analytics, completing collection development projects, or writing assessment reports.

Also, remember, although days as an academic librarian can be really, really busy (especially during the main academic terms), it is really important to take time to relax, breath, and step away in order to come back to things with clear eyes. Plus, being a calm colleague will make you a valuable colleague. Also, some of the most important activities you can do, especially as a new academic librarian, is to talk with your colleagues, hear what they are working on, and figure out how you can collaborate. One of the great joys is being able to collaborate with colleagues on projects and research.

I hope that gives you a helpful overview of a few days in the life of an academic librarian. It really is a great job.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, dear readers. I’ll be back next week with more news, notes, and thoughts. Allons-y!


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