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Overinvesting and “being busy”

Over the past couple months, I’ve tried to limit the amount of work I bring home. I’ve stopped staying up late every evening after the kids go to bed. I’ve stopped getting up insanely early to get a head start on email. Amazingly, I am still managing to get stuff done.

Like the author of a recent New York Times opinion piece, I could also be accused of lying to myself about how busy I am. I tend to only remember the busiest parts of the academic year–mid-semester and Finals–and forget about all the slow moments in between. I remember the days when I left the office with 20 unopened emails but forget the ones when I remained at inbox zero all afternoon.

A year ago, I would have answered “yes” to everyone of the questions in this Dear Kerry Ann article. The number of affirmative responses is down to four now.

I am growing.

Writing for the programming librarian

I’ve started writing for the ALA’s Programming Librarian website. My first two posts are up.

Collaborating with Galleries: A Blessed Match

“One of my first planning meetings as the new outreach and communications librarian for the William H. Hannon Library was with the director and curator of the Laband Art Gallery, an on-campus exhibition space in the College of Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University. Over the past few years, the Hannon Library and the Laband Gallery have developed a synergistic relationship built on shared vision and trust, a relationship that has increased the impact we could achieve as single institutions.” Read more.

When Library Student Workers Take Over Instagram

“Since I began managing Instagram accounts for academic libraries three years ago, I’ve discovered there are two types of posts that attract the most engagement from students: idyllic photos of the library and pictures of other students. We are privileged in that our building’s unique architecture and proximity to a near-ocean bluff provides endless opportunities for the former. So, to leverage the successful nature of the latter, this year the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University invited our student employees to “take over” the library’s Instagram account for a day and use the platform to tell our followers about their work and what they find useful about the library.” Read more.

I love libraries. I plan to live in one someday.

I recently started following Tressie McMillan Cottom, Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University, on Twitter and then quickly added her to my “do not miss!” list. Her recent interview with WordPress has some great quotes about writing, teaching, and libraries. 

On blogging:

“[A]s my mother always told me, “If the lease isn’t in your name, you’re homeless.” You have to have a place of your own to take the kind of risks necessary for intellectual development.”

On libraries:

“Oh! I just love libraries. Love them. I plan to live in one someday.”

On learning:

“We can come to know alone, but to learn we have to be social. If I cannot translate my research into praxis and my praxis into research then I don’t really know what I’m talking about.”

Read more on her blog.

We’re eating ourselves alive

“Our current version of the internet lives and breathes off a currency of human attention. With the success and failure of many internet companies predicated on how much of a person’s time they can capture.” Jesse Weaver, Instagram and the cult of the attention web.

After stepping away from Facebook and Twitter for a month and subsisting on a diet of chronologically, self-customized feeds instead of algorithmily-defined ones, I realized how empty much of that content is. Also, I miss Google Reader.

March 30-day challenge: Twitter and Facebook

During the past 30 days, I decided to take a break from Twitter and Facebook. Here’s what I discovered:

Facebook

I didn’t miss it much and, to my surprise, there wasn’t much in terms of news and announcements that I wasn’t able to get from other sources. There is one professional group that provides me access to information that I can’t get anywhere else (without as little effort) and it’s necessary for me to be on Facebook for my job, but I could easily let my profile go dark, quietly exit that space, and only use the FB messenger app to stay in contact with friends.

Twitter

This was much more difficult to ignore. For real-time events, conversations, and news, there really isn’t an alternative for me. While I was certainly able to get by without it, I missed checking in during breaking news and, most of all, connecting with the community there. One obvious benefit: it’s been much easier for me to single-task. So I’m torn on whether I want to return to my previous levels of engagement.

A bold move by MIT Libraries

Ellen Finnie has shared some exciting news coming out of MIT libraries: their collections budget is now under their scholarly communications program. This will potentially give collections librarians the flexibility to significantly shift the way they strategize and negotiate purchasing decisions. The “vote with your money” approach is perhaps one of the best options we have when it comes to changing the scholarly publishing landscape in favor of a more open, affordable, and “healthier” system.

It also opens up opportunities for having tough but nonetheless important conversations with faculty who insist they need journal x for their research but who may not realize the full implications of publisher x’s licensing terms. It’s high time, in my opinion, the we (librarians and academic) take back the responsibility for stewarding scholarly information to create a system that better reflects our values and aims.