I am going to be one of the First Year Academic Librarian bloggers over at the ACRL blog. My first entry is due in two days…wait WHOA TWO DAYS?! I agreed to blog for them while I was in Vegas last Saturday and October 24 was still days away (and considering that apparently nobody sleeps in Vegas one day feels like two days when you are there). SO I better get to blogging!
A couple things about Vegas: 1. it is a lot more fun than I expected (I don’t like to gamble but the people watching is incredible) and 2. I am really bummed that I didn’t go to ALA this summer. I wonder if it will ever be in Vegas again…
A couple thoughts about blogging for ACRL: 1. maybe more people will read my blog now and 2. I am just thrilled that I will get a little bit more connected to the library world in this way but I’m nervous I won’t have anything to say…I am fighting off a cold, didn’t sleep well, slightly brain dead and totally uninspired today. My first entry is supposed to be introductory…hopefully I will see my way through the hectic day-to-day chaos to find a topic by…Friday.
A note on being able to focus: it helps a TON when I close my outlook. I get emails all day long about anything from requests for pricing from faculty to updates to ongoing work from colleagues to cries for help with ebooks from students. This can be so distracting and I’m having to train myself that it is okay to take an hour a week or so to go “offline” so that I can focus on a project or a blog entry. I just blocked off an hour of time on my outlook calendar called ACRLog. I will not be responding to emails during that hour. I should probably unplug my phone as well :)
This curious guy is a zonkey. Shaped like a donkey, acts like a donkey, lives with other donkeys in a farm field…
but…he’s got stripes!
Lately I have been feeling my stripes. I think it might be because the weather is gorgeous this time of year in Texas (meaning, it is only 90 degrees, not 110) so I just want to go do all the things outdoors. I love being a librarian, I really do, but recently I’ve been fantasizing about becoming a park ranger or disappearing to Peru and becoming a shepherd. In some ways I don’t feel like a typical librarian (if there is such a thing?). I don’t like watching television or even movies, I definitely don’t care about science fiction, I love to read but not all the time, I don’t organize my bookshelves at home, etc. I like to play outside and go to festivals and go camping; I like to get muddy and gross and to smell like a campfire.
I might also be restless because lately my task list just keeps on growing and growing and there is no big picture end in sight. When do I get to sit back and be DONE? Probably NEVER! I did get part of the proposal for ER&L written and that feels a little bit “big picture.” I am looking forward to that conference and to all the things I will learn, ideas I will share, people I will meet. But today…I just want to get right on out of this cubicle and head for someplace wild and quiet and off-grid. Even if that ‘someplace’ just ends up being my paddleboard in the middle of a small lake for half an hour.
My goal is to write a post a week. I am waaaayyy behind. So I’m going write a second post today and then I’m getting out of here to spend the weekend camping on a lake (woot)!
In the few short months since I starting working as an academic ERL I’ve also acquired a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). Learning to use it has been really fun – and really challenging, just like my job! Both at work and on my SUP I have had to develop a new balance. At work I’m balancing my time between daily responsibility (meetings, vendors, trials, etc) and scholarly responsibilities (blogging, conference proposals, etc) and community service (university committees, mentoring students, etc). On my SUP I’m balancing between waves, using stabilizer muscles that i don’t use when I go for a run or a bike ride. Both at work and on my board it reaaalllly helps to be very “present”. If I get distracted while I’m working I lose valuable time and information. If I get distracted on my SUP…well, I get wet.
I often go out to paddle right after work. It helps me decompress from a day spent in front of a computer, I get to remember that life is also full of beautiful sunsets and sailboats and graceful waterfowl. I guess my SUP is kind of a metaphor for how I want to work: with my eyes open, paying attention to the values and the beauty that got me into library school in the first place, balancing so that I’m not drowning.
One of the job requirements that is new to me here as an academic ERL is to present at professional conferences. One might think this wouldn’t be a problem. I am good at presentations! I actually like standing up in front of a room full of people and teaching something useful or sharing something interesting. I have confidence in my ability to write well and represent topics visually (i.e. through graphics or power point) in an interesting way. So why am I practically immobilized when I try to work on a proposal topic for the ER&L (Electronic Resources & Libraries) Conference coming up in February?
Living in a tiny village in the Republic of Georgia, where the only source of information is the all-day-long Sunday gossip session that Orthodox Georgians know as ‘church’, can lead one to appreciate things that educated Americans take for granted or even complain about. What we call ‘information overload’ suddenly seems entirely copacetic when faced with the alternative of living without modern textbooks, up-to-date medical research, political data, news of the world beyond the village perimeter. The fact that not having access to information is a major handicap becomes easily visible when you are in the former Soviet Union where many people remember Stalin with great fondness. If I hadn’t served as a Peace Corps volunteer I can honestly say that I would never have even considered becoming a professional librarian. I wanted to do something exciting, something that would change the world! Librarians, I mistakenly thought, spent their boring, solitary workdays surrounded by dusty books doing work that was no longer needed now that we lived in an age of Google!