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Archive for September 2008

The Lincoln Display has been up for a few weeks, but I finally got a picture of it. I still need to add some books. On the other side of the pillar where this one is located will be a display about the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Next week is Banned Books Week. I just got this display up last night while I was working. Evenings are really a good time to do this sort of thing.

I haven’t been all that inspired to write much lately. Things are fine. Busy, but that’s a good thing. But busy doesn’t always equal interesting.

I did get a call about a potential job. Mostly they just wanted to let me know they were interested and to check to see if I was still interested. I am. They are looking for someone to help them establish more of a web presence using 2.0 tools. It’s an intriguing possibility to do something that I was hoping to do where I currently am. Fingers crossed that I’ll at least get to go and interview. It was a good feeling to know that people still find me interesting and want to talk to me.

Never heard anything about the AK job. It was a long shot anyway. AK is the dream. The more practical side of me is considering places like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa. I’d really like to get back to a place with snow all winter and cooler summers.

Again, for now, I’m happy with the actual work I’m doing. It’s rewarding and interesting. I’m dealing with the other stuff. It’s a valuable learning experience.

The tools I gained at the meditation retreat are giving me new insight into some problems I’ve been dealing with for awhile now. Yes, work-related problems. So much of my life is spent at work that I can’t really ignore it.

What would I really like? For things to change enough that I’m not struggling on a daily basis. This is happening on a personal level. I don’t find myself as affected by some of the issues as much as I was a month ago. This is a good thing. I’ve realized that I control my own reactions and actions. (I think I’ve rationally know this for a long time, but it was reinforced and now I am also starting to focus on how my body responds when I’m faced with stress.) Being able to respond – or not respond – appropriately is going to be key in how long I’ll stay. At this point, I’m not in a big hurry to leave although I’m still keeping the options open.

What isn’t going to happen…at least not quickly? External changes. I do not have control over other people. This fact isn’t as frustrating as it was. It’s just what it is. There are simply things that are wrong with how people are treated and how things are done. While I can make sure I don’t copy the negative stuff or add to it, it is there. I will continue to try to offer positive and helpful assistance (and not be miffed when it’s rejected.) That’s really all I can do.

The law that was stressed over and over at the retreat was that nothing is permanent. Nothing. Everything is always changing. I realize that this situation is not permanent. What that means exactly, I don’t know at the moment. Life has taught me that when you change often happens in ways you don’t expect.

Another thing I’m working on getting through my thick skull is that I can only work in the present moment. I can plan for the future, but there is no use stressing about it. And the past is gone with no way to change it. This moment is what we have. Right now.

Another perspective is that there are far worse things happening in the world. By comparison, mine are extremely petty. I’ve got food to eat, clothes to wear, a comfortable place to sleep, work to occupy me, people who love me, and so much more. I hope to start volunteering more so that I can keep life in it’s proper perspective.

Yes, things are constantly changing.


It was a perfect Saturday afternoon for a football game. LittleU won the game. Yay!

One thing I’ve noticed this week is that I do feel more centered, more grounded. It was definitely a week that could have felt chaotic and out of control since I came back to a full week of instruction and desk shifts. There have been few moments when I haven’t been multitasking. While I like being busy, this can often lead to exhaustion and feeling unsettled. Unwittingly, I set my alarm incorrectly last night and didn’t have enough time to meditate this morning. And I can tell that I’m not as calm today because of it. This helps reinforce my commitment to the 2 hours a day minimum. Already, I’m thinking about how I can add another hour into my days.

Another thing that came out of my time at the retreat is a desire to start really improving my overall physical health. This means exercise. We have access to personal trainers here at LittleU and I’m looking into working with one. Hopefully this will make me more motivated. Often, being accountable to someone other than myself is a good motivator. I also plan to start doing Yoga. This will actually help me improve my ability to meditate.

On the work front, instruction is now in full swing. Between teaching, I’ve also had time to start doing some book/materials ordering. One area that I really want to grow this year is our selection of DVD’s. To begin I’m using the AFI’s Top 100 list. I had written a grant request for this purpose, but haven’t heard anything yet. I’m also working on plans for the KS One Book. We’ll be doing some discussion groups and other events. And I’m partnered with a very talented colleague in this project, so it’s pretty exciting. Might even turn into a conference presentation at some point if things go well. Besides all that, I’ve also got two presentations to prepare for that are coming up in October and early November. So the fall will be productive and full.

Still, there is always time for knitting and football. I’m slowly working my way to finishing the second pair. I have about an inch of cuff left before I start turning the heel. As to football, we are playing one of our rivals this weekend, so I’ll be staying in LittleUtown Friday night so I can go to the game on Saturday. Next weekend DH and I are heading of to HugeUtown for a book festival. I’ll be working at it for a couple of hours in the morning. Then it’s off to lunch at the local brew pub and shopping at the Yarn Barn. Fun!

Things have been busy since I got back yesterday. We had a candidate interview that took up most of my day. This morning I had an instruction class. And then there was all the email to weed through and other things to catch up on. I think I’ve got the week in hand finally and can now relax a bit.

Let me tell you more about the retreat. It really was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life so far. It was intense and challenging and painful at times. But I don’t regret going and would do it over again. And will go back sometime next summer to serve and learn more.

We actually learned three different meditation techniques. The main one is called Vipissana (pronounced vi-pash-ana). The first technique we covered in the first three days of the retreat and the intent was to help us sharpen our minds for the actual work done during the Vipissana meditation. The third technique we learned on the last full day and it is to share love and peace with others. It kind of helps provide a balm after the work done during Vipissana meditation.

The pain was mostly physical. Meditating 11 hours a day can be hard on the legs and back. However, some of that pain turned out to be psychosomatic. On the fifth or sixth day, I had a particularly hard hour of meditation with such fierce pain in my hips that I was sure I was going to become physically ill. Somehow I managed to sit still (or at least as still as possible with my body shaking from the pain) and after that hour I never had hip pain again. Something was being worked through during the time and once it was gone, I felt better.

The general premise behind the Vipissana meditation is to focus on the sensations in the body. All the mental junk that we carry around gets manifested in various sensations and by observing them without reacting in any way, they lose their power and eventually are released from our bodies and minds. Quite logical when you think about it. And I like logical. I wasn’t looking for a kumbaya experience and this definitely was not one.

The silence part (we didn’t talk for the first nine days of the course) wasn’t all that hard. Although DH wouldn’t believe it, during a regular day, I don’t talk all that much. When I first learned that we would only be getting fruit and tea at the dinner hour, I was a bit concerned that I would be starving by the next morning, but this wasn’t the case. The vegetarian diet was really good and I’ve decided to stick with it. (Don’t worry family-types. I don’t expect special meals and will just eat what I can when we visit.) The one thing that never really got easier was getting up at 4:00 am. My circadian rhythms just aren’t the morning-person type.

Someone commented yesterday that I seemed different. I know I feel different somehow. It’s hard to explain how exactly, but I’m not the same person I was two weeks ago. Of course, maintaining this (and growing more) takes commitment. The minimum meditation recommended meditation time per day is 2 hours, 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening. For me, this is doable. I’ll also be looking into a group that meets in the Kansas City area since we are encouraged to continue group meditation at least once a week if possible.

There were some humorous things that happened during the ten days and as I remember them, you may get a bit more of a look at what life was like.

Now I’m back to teaching, meetings, weeding, book selecting, and all the other fun stuff that goes with my job.

I’m back from the meditation retreat. I’ll write more about it later this week after I catch up with all the emails, search committee stuff, instruction, and other things that have been languishing while I meditated for the past (almost) two weeks.

I will say that this was one of the hardest and best experiences of my life.

LittleU as an undergraduate degree intended to prepare students for the future MLS program (which LittleU also has). Many of the student workers in the library are in that program with the goal of eventually becoming librarians. Watching them learn and grow (and doing comparison to outstanding librarians that I know) has led to some observations about who will do best in their chosen future profession. Here are my thoughts on what makes a good librarian (or future librarian).

Good interpersonal communication skills – There’s a mouthful. But this is vital since we do work with people on a regular basis. You have to be able to deal with even the crankiest customer and co-worker in an effective way.

Efficient – This may not seem like a big deal, but one thing I’ve realized often in working with college students and faculty is that they are often in a hurry (or at least they think they are *laugh&) and I need to be quick in helping them with whatever it is they need. So, we need to know the quickest, yet best, ways to find information/materials/etc.

Interested and engaged – This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve encountered librarians who couldn’t seem to care less about what they are doing. This shows through and isn’t inspiring to our library visitors. Personally, I get excited by the different types of problems patrons present me with. My job sometimes is like a fun treasure hunt and this is perhaps why people get referred to me. Of course, we’ll have days when we aren’t thrilled about being at work, but if that’s the norm and not the exception, it’s time to find something else to do. And let me add that this extends to being interested in innovations in librarianship. Those who are willing to learn and change are holding their libraries and the profession back.

Knowledgeable – Again, another no-brainer. However, sometimes this extends beyond our four walls and the resources within. Library users often expect us to know “everything”. While this isn’t possible, it is possible for us to find what they need…most of the time. If you’re starting a new job in a new town, take some time to get to know a bit about the area and local resources as well. I know I’ve answered questions about things like local movie theaters, public transportation, and coffee shops. While I’m not a tour guide, I’m still in customer service and if this is what someone needs and I do my best to help, chances are greater that the person will return when they have a “real” research question.

Compassion – This may sound strange, but it’s actually a very helpful thing to practice. Part of this is being willing to bend the rules a bit when someone is really in a jam. I’m not advocating letting ourselves being taken advantage of, but using some common sense when approaching problems.

Strength – This isn’t about physical strength, although that is helpful sometimes when you’re lugging around boxes of books or tearing down shelves. What I’m talking about is that individual strength of character to stand up for what you know is right. Most of us at some point in our careers are going to face a situation where we have to stretch a bit and put ourselves out there. It could be because of a challenged book or a problem patron.

What other things do you think make a good librarian? Please feel free to comment. This is pretty general list and based on one person’s observations.


Sock hop

Posted on: September 5, 2008

(Written on Sept. 1)

This is the first sock in my second pair. I continued the ribbing from the cuff down onto the foot portion. Looks nice so far. I’m really enjoying knitting socks because it’s almost instant gratification. They don’t take long to knit at all. At least the easy patterns like these. I’m sure if I get into lacier or fancier patterns, it will involve more time. Now that I’m getting the general idea down, I’ll soon be ready to try something a bit more complicated.

(Written on September 1)

As I watch all the campaign coverage, I find myself confused and unable to make a choice. Neither of the main two parties has presented me with a candidate that I feel good about voting for. I have different reasons on either side. But rather than go into that, I’d like to talk about what I’d really like to see in a presidential candidate.

1. Integrity – From there so much else flows. If you are a person who acts at all times (or at least when it really counts) with integrity then you are probably someone that I will respect.

2. Honesty – Sometimes there are truths that we don’t want to hear, but a strong leader will tell us anyway. Also, I want to be able to trust the leader of my country again. It’s disheartening to wonder where the real truth is in all the words we hear.

3. Responsibility – This is something that I’d like to see both on the personal level and on a national level. Our leader needs to take responsibility for his/her actions and face up to the consequences when a bad decision is made.

4. Pride – I’m not talking about cockiness (because Americans often have too much of that), but a pride in a country where people still care about each other. This is still a great nation for reasons that aren’t talked about enough and when we’re at our best we really do shine.

5. Wisdom – Our leaders have generally been an intelligent bunch, but we need a leader with true wisdom as well. We don’t live in an age when rash decisions can be made and I’d like to see a leader who puts thought behind the action.

6. Respect – This includes respect for the world we live in and the people who live in it. It’s much easier to relate to a person who respects you as a human being despite differences. At the most fundamental level we are all the same; we are born, we breathe, and someday we will all die.

These may all seem trite, but I’ve yet to see someone who embodies all of these fairly basic values. I’m tired of having to compromise for the one who has a couple of them. Someday, I hope that we will have the chance to choose the person who will bring these ideals to our capital and to our country.

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September 2008


Mar. 10 - Photography Class

Mar. 11 - Quad Cities SnB

Mar. 12 - Lincoln Reenactor performance at BHE

Mar. 13 - Annual budget due

Mar. 14 - SnB trip to Galena

Mar. 16-21 - Spring Break

Mar. 16-18 - On the Front Lines library conference in Springfield

Mar. 19-22 - In Kansas

Mar. 23 - Orientation in Quad Cities

Mar. 24 - Photography Class

Mar. 26 - Spring Break for Academic Librarians workshop in Peoria

Mar. 27 - Supervisor Development in Quad Cities

Apr. 2 - Using Social Technologies in Library Instruction workshop

Apr. 6 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 6 - My birthday

Apr. 7 - Photography Class

Apr. 9-12 - In Kansas

Apr. 10 - College Closed

Apr. 12 - Easter

Apr. 13-19 - National Library Week

Apr. 13 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 14 - Photography Class

Apr. 16 - Evening Instruction Session

Apr. 17 - Information Literacy Summit

Apr. 18 - A Day of Books and Quilts at Toulon Public Library

Apr. 20 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 21 - Photography Class

Apr. 22 - Renegade Reference meeting in Bloomington

Apr. 23 - Illinois Library Day

Apr. 24 - Quarterly Supervisors Meeting

Apr. 27 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 28 - Photography Class

Apr. 29 - Supervisor Training in Quad Cities

May 5 - Photography Class

May 12 - National Library Legislative Day

May 25 - Memorial Day - College Closed

June 4 - RSA Users' Group meeting in Peoria

June 6 - SIL's birthday June 6 - Brother and SIL Anniversary

June 8 - Nancy Pearl at Bradley University

June 13 - WWKIP train trip to St. Louis

July 3 - Holiday - College Closed

July 4 - Independence Day

July 10 - Mom's Birthday

July 10-15 - ALA Annual Conference in Chicago

July 17-19 - Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair in Crystal Lake, IL

July 31 - 10th Anniversary

Sept. 7 - Labor Day, College closed

Oct. 6-9 - Illinois Library Association Annual Conference in Peoria

Nov. 23 - Brother's birthday

Nov. 26 - Thanksgiving Day, College closed

Nov. 27 - College Closed

Dec. 7 - MIL's birthday

Dec. 18 - DH's birthday

Dec. 25 - Christmas Day

Dec. 26 - Dad's birthday

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