folder of library handouts and an introductory letter

“Hailing frequencies still open, sir.”

“The Corbomite Maneuver”, Star Trek (1966)

Before the pandemic, I was passionate about outreach to university staff at MPOW. Our weekly all-campus email used to include a photo of the attendees at the bi-weekly HR orientations (which of course used to only be held in person). The photo’s caption included the names of the newly onboarded employees. Using our online directory, I would pull the departmental and mailing information of the new folks and prepare a library welcome packet for each (seen above). It included: a custom letter outlining the various library services that might appeal to staff members, a copy of our latest annual report, a list of upcoming events, and various swag* items.

I would diligently send these packets through intercampus mail, being sure to track when and to whom I sent these off. Within 1-2 weeks, I would follow up via email to see if they had received the package (oftentimes, folks would contact me directly to express their appreciation) and offer to set up a tour of the library. But I didn’t stop there. I also set a reminder to follow up with each new employee one year later to see how things were going and if they had any new questions about using the library.

I was incredibly proud of this workflow and the connections it created, not just between myself and staff from other units, but also between those units and the library. COVID upended that entire project. HR stopped posting the photos to our internal all-campus newsletter (because who wants to see yet another Zoom screen shot). And even though new staff orientation have returned to in-person, the information about new employees is no longer published to the campus community. 

Of course, I don’t put all my staff outreach eggs in that basket. My team and I host “VIP Staff Library Tours” twice a year, first during the Thanksgiving week and again during our campus staff appreciation week in the summer. We regularly invite staff to our events, and collaborate on various events with other units, such as our finals stress relief events, annual storytelling program, and one-offs like the Human Library and Long Night Against Procrastination. University staff continue to be an important connection point between the library and students.

Yet I miss the one-on-one outreach to new employees. I am still passionate about outreach to university staff, but I’ve yet to regain the momentum we lost post-2020.

*My student employees tell me that “swag” is no longer a cool word.

What I’m reading

The Platform Wars by Joshua Citarella

“Once these ideological views are coded in, users will not be able to exit to their preferred political values because they remain materially reliant on other lock-in features of the stack: like cash and health care data that are non-transferable.”

My students are using AI to cheat. Here’s why it’s a teachable moment by Siva Vaidhyanathan

“It’s a library without librarians, consisting of content disembodied and decontextualized, severed from the meaningful work of authors, submitted to gullible readers. These systems are, in Alvarado’s words, ‘good at form; bad at content’.”

Those aren’t “Tweets”, Those Are Your Thoughts by CJ the X

“People who habitually use Twitter will often make comments about Twitter as if it’s synonymous with lived experience.“Everyone is saying *this* about *that*.” Everyone? Like who? Someone you know? This line of questioning consistently produces the admission that ‘Everyone’ meant ‘The thread I scrolled through while on the toilet.'”

News from the garden

I’m worried about my peaches this year. To start, the tree didn’t produce as many fruiting stems as usual, and of those it did, they didn’t produce as many buds. Then as you can see from the image above, I got leaf curl (despite my diligent application of dormant spray in winter). I’ll still get a small crop, but I may not be canning as much as I did last year.

Links to the past

  • 2 years ago: Garden seeds and room. I am well into midlife, and I’m still not sure that I’ve found “a task life-long given from within”, but I am lucky to have most of these others in my life.
  • 7 years ago: The opportunity to breathe. There are a few stories that irrevocably changed my outlook on work and rest. This one I still think about frequently.
  • 10 years ago: On Lincolnshire Posy. There is no lie.

Overheard online

Tristopher: What exactly is the academic dream?

Elsevier: Spending your entire youth creating knowledge, then paying a billion dollar corporation to take it from you in exchange for career capital that you can then use to buy meaningless promotions from other exploited individuals.

Tristopher: That’s the dream?

Elsevier: I didn’t say it was a good dream.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *