Month: January 2016

Collaborating for a holistic approach

In “Attending To the Whole Student: Higher Ed’s 2016 Trend,” Steven Bell writes:

“As collaborators, academic librarians already work with residential life, student services, career centers, and other academic and social support staff to contribute to any effort to meet students where and when the need for help arises. […] Academic librarians are proving themselves more perceptive than other learning and support units at getting in tune with students who demand their institutions pay attention to social justice, equality, and diversity issues. Alone, academic librarians won’t meet all student needs, but they certainly demonstrate the ability to connect with students in ways that contribute to a whole health approach.”

Part of my job is to think about (and execute) ways to engage students with the library in ways that reach beyond the reference desk, the classroom, and the stacks. To that end, much of my week is spent meeting with potential collaborators. This constant back and forth between the library and other campus offices has begun to change my perspective on how the library can contribute to the education of “the whole student.” I feel more in tune with the mission of the university. If this is the direction that academic libraries sail in 2016, you can bet I’ll be on board.

Hey John, where’s your bow tie?

Early in my career, my colleagues would frequently refer to me as “the guy who wears the bow tie.” It infuriated me. “Seriously,” I would say to myself, “is that the only thing you can say about me? What about all this great librarian work I’m doing?” This of course led me to question my own abilities: “Damn, maybe my work isn’t that great after all?” There was a long spell of a few years when I refused to wear a bow tie except when a tie was required, which in Southern California is a rare event. I even tried to give it up altogether in my last position, but by that point the badge was so integrated into my professional identity that not wearing a bow tie always elicited awkward comments and questions.

This is why Dani B. Cook’s latest post at the Rule Number One blog speaks to me:

“Baking is just one example, but what other parts of ourselves do we have to deny in order to be taken seriously in the workplace? Is it worth it? What does it mean to elide parts of yourself so that you aren’t just described as “the girl who bakes”? At what point does my work speak for itself and I don’t have to worry about this anymore?”

I don’t want to suggest that my experience as a cis-gendered male equates with the gendering that often occurs to women in the library work space. However, I can relate to the frustration of loving something and feeling that that love needs to be suppressed for the purpose of advancing my career. Thankfully, I am in a place now where I feel both my professional capabilities and my personal passions can merge seamlessly into a unified identify. Bring on the bow ties!


What you don’t get living in the suburbs

From BLDGblog, Ghost Streets of Los Angeles:

“That is, someone’s living room is actually shaped the way it is not because of something peculiar to architectural history, but because of a ghost street, or the wall of perhaps your very own bedroom takes its angle from a right of way that, for whatever reason, long ago disappeared.”

I’ll never be able to look at Google Maps the same way again.


Moving into 2016

Moving into my new office

Moving into my new office

In 2015, I pledged to simplify and to do better. Despite a series of increasingly troubling health issues that consistently limited my professional output, I’m happy to say that I am in a better place now than where I was this time last year. Moreover, I am looking forward to 2016 as possibly being one of the most productive years of my career as a librarian so far.

Professional goals

My professional goals for this year are quite simple:

  • finish my IRDL research project (finally)
  • apply for one grant
  • submit one proposal to a conference
  • create one new sustainable program at MPOW
  • strategically develop better relationships

The last one of these is the most nebulous, but essentially I want to spend more time reflecting upon my professional relationships/networks and how they can be mutually beneficial to all the parties involved.

Personal goals

My personal goals are also simple and focus on ways to increase my creative output both at work and at home as well as contribute to self-fulfillment:

read my own tomes

My partner and I are currently using the Konmari method to organize our home and despite our deep love of books we recognize the need to slim down our collection. In doing so, I’ve realized just how many books I own but have never read. Inspired by a LibraryThing group of similar name, I’ll be focusing on reading books that have sat long neglected on my shelves.

give to things I like

Each month, I plan to give a donation of money or time to something that I love. It could be a non-profit, podcast creator, software program designer, or a local group. It is a simple step toward being more appreciative of the things that enrich my life (and hopefully the lives of others).

track my health

I’m not pledging to exercise more or eat more vegetables, but I will commit to tracking my food, sleep, and exercise habits using my recently purchased Fitbit. Tracking this information in and of itself will improve my health and after a few months of data collection I’ll be in a better position to make concrete health goals.

commit to one 30-day challenge each month

Rather than set a year-long goal that in all likelihood would fail, I will commit to doing one 30-day challenge each month. The focus for each challenge will be improving either my health, creativity, or kindness.

review my mantra daily

I’ve been constantly tweaking a “mantras.txt” file over the past year and slowly making it a weekly, if not daily, habit. I’m ready to make this my daily mantra:

Be grateful. Be present. Smile. Breath. Listen. Make eye contact. I acknowledge that there will always be more things to do, more projects to start, more progress that could be made. I acknowledge that I cannot do everything, but I can choose what I focus on in a given space of time. There is rarely a “best” choice, and the fear-of-missing-out is a distraction.

That is the plan for 2016. As always, writing more is a perennial goal and which for better or worse will happen in this space. Happy New Year!

Dear creators of Super Why!: It isn’t the “power to read” that allows them to change the story. It’s the power of the public domain. =)