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Today is Open Access Day. I will attempt to answer the questions posed at that this blog, A Blog Around the Clock:

* Why does Open Access matter to you?
* How did you first become aware of it?
* Why should scientific and medical research be an open-access resource for the world?
* What do you do to support Open Access, and what can others do?

As someone who works in academia, Open Access is becoming more important. As a librarian in academia, it’s becoming a hot topic. As publishers continue to increase subscription costs while library budgets flatten or shrink, it’s becoming more important to find other options for scholarly research. Open Access is allowing students and faculty easier access to an increasing array of information. As a librarian, I am encouraged when I see more researchers and universities supporting the concepts behind Open Access.

I first become aware of Open Access over a year ago when I started at LittleU. Although I’d already benefited from it in my own research, I didn’t realize precisely what I had stumbled on. Over the past year (and a few months) I’ve been researching Open Access to understand what it is and how I can help spread the message.

Although I can understand researchers and scientists reasons for wanting to control their findings, I applaud the ones who are embracing Open Access. By freely sharing information around the world, we may speed up scientific and medical discoveries. This can only benefit the world.

Although I’m a very small voice in the wilderness, I am attempting to support Open Access by information the students I work with of the availability of information that they likely wouldn’t be able to get to without this movement. As I continue to build relationships with faculty and researchers, I can continue to spread the message and encourage that they consider making their research available through Open Access methods. For those who are also small voices, if enough of us make a noise, we will become a big sound. I will continue to learn more and follow the developments.

Happy Open Access Day!

I was tagged to write about how I developed my love of libraries. So here goes.

I wrote in my earlier post today about my love of books. My love of libraries came about later when I entered elementary school. I grew up in a more rural area that was outside city limits so I didn’t have free access to a public library until I was much older. Now the township has its own library a short bike ride from my parent’s house. I’m glad for the children growing up there now.

I don’t have many early memories of going to the library in my school, but I do remember it as a great place. It wasn’t a large room, but that didn’t matter. Some of my favorite times were spent in the library. As I got older, our librarian allowed me to stay after school to learn how to type and use the Apple computers. Just imagine the joy I felt being surrounded by books, in the quiet, on my own. This is one of my favorite memories from grade school.

Our high school library wasn’t all that large and it was far from my house (it was a 40 minute bus ride to high school for me), so I started using our community college library when I needed to do research. This is where I discovered the pleasure of microfilm. Not so much because I enjoy getting dizzy watching the pages flash by, but because I could look up all sorts of things and read old news. My family had been in the area for some time, so it was interesting to look at wedding announcements and other tidbits from the past. At the library! Who knew?!

The community college library was where I first experienced shelf after shelf of books. That you could touch and read. Filled with all sorts of information and facts and stories. Of course, I’d been reading for a long time, but I don’t think until that point I really understood how much was out there to experience.

Our local city library was in an old stone building with lions guarding the entrance. I loved this building (the library has since moved to modern quarters in an office building). It was the epitome of what a library should be. Wooden floors, tall ceilings, the smell of dust and paper. I never spent much time there, but the few times were a treat.

Since becoming an adult and living on my own, one of the first places I find in any new town is the local public library. Even though I work in a university library, I still turn to the public library for my pleasure reading. And it’s always a good place to hang out. My favorite room in BigUtown’s library is the periodicals room. Comfy chairs and magazines. It’s great! LittleUtown’s public library is much smaller, but still as wonderful. I like libraries better than bookstores because I don’t have to feel guilty about browsing for hours and not taking anything home with me (although that rarely happens.)

To me, libraries are magical places. No matter where I travel, I always feel at home when I walk into that city’s library. What’s not to love about a place like that?

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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!

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.

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I have finished knitting the heel flap on Sock 2 of Pair #1. (Sorry no pictures yet!) I will be turning the heel – maybe tonight. After getting the gusset done, it’s pretty much smooth sailing/knitting to the toe. Depending on how busy/tired I am this weekend, I will probably have a complete pair of socks by Sunday night.

Time to wind the next skein of sock yarn. It also might be time to stop by the LYS for some thicker yarn for warm winter socks.

Can you believe it’s mid-August? Looking forward to sweater and wool sock weather.

In moving news, I’m almost moved into my studio. Actually slept there on the air mattress last night. After that I’m really looking forward to having a regular bed! I’ve been unpacking things as I bring them over and am fairly settled already. One great thing about a small space is you have to be very selective about what you have. There is a large outdoor light outside my sleeping area window and I’m considering getting blackout curtains for that window. It’s nice having my own space here. I am sitting with my decision not to get cable, so I’ll either not watch tv during the week or I’ll watch movies.

Our Walmart now has a Redbox in it and I’ve rediscovered the joy of renting $1 movies. While I still like Netflix for those hard to find things, I like being able to drive over to Walmart and grab a movie quick. Seems like a decent selection of fairly recent stuff. And you can reserve online. (Okay, I’m starting to sound like a Redbox commercial.)

We did 14 tours for international students today at the library. I was responsible for organizing all of this and I’m very pleased with how smoothly it flowed. I’ve already shown you the brochure I designed. In addition to that, they also received 50% off coupons for the library’s coffee shop. I was glad we got to participate and hope that this will continue. There are some other follow-up things that I’m planning, but I’m sure that it will be less students than we saw today.

Tomorrow, I’m off to pick up a gift book collection for the library. Between all the teaching and everything else this fall, I’ll have another gift collection to process. It’s going to be a busy fall around here.

Reference Renaissance turned out to be a great conference. I have to applaud the planning committee for doing such a great job. The keynote speaker was spectacular and very insightful. He gave all of us there some things to really ponder in terms of the future of reference librarianship…or the possible lack of a future. One of the worst things that we librarians often do is react to changes around us and we can’t continue to have that mindset because we’re often far behind. If we want to survive, it’s time to stop breathing the dust in last place and start being innovative and proactive. There are people out there who are forward thinking and rather than letting fear, laziness, or whatever get in our way, we need to really start listening and being willing to change faster than our usual snail’s pace. This is one of my observations.

One of the presenters talked about the fact that we really don’t need a print reference section anymore in academia. While I see her point and generally agree, I also know that in most libraries, this isn’t going to happen. However, part of her point was that we really need to be carefully evaluating resources in terms of who will use them…and if they will actually get used. If we’ve got stuff sitting on shelves collecting dust and no one has used them in 10 years, why are we keeping it? Or why do we keep investing in newer editions of stuff nobody uses. This is timely for me because we are working on weeding our entire reference collection at my library. I’ll be going back over some things and canceling some standing orders for items that are not being used and weeding other things for the same reason. We are already trying to head for more digital resources, and this was something she recommended because statistics are showing that students are more willing to use these. I don’t know that we are necessarily seeing that, but I think with the right kind of marketing, we can definitely make that happen. Another thing that really got me thinking.

Another thing that I plan to propose for our library is a more formal training program for our paraprofessionals and student assistants. One speaker advocated for only having librarians answer “reference questions”, but I think that if you train people correctly (and this can include librarians as well), you can improve overall service and customer satisfaction. Our student assistants are really not trained on how to do a reference interview and on our resources. They also need more instruction on when to pass questions along to the librarians. There are a few ways that we can create something more formal. One more component of this is assessment. We need to have some mechanisms in place to determine if what we are doing is really effective. This isn’t my area of expertise (at least not at the moment, but I’ll be doing some research), but there is someone in our library who is working on assessment who would probably be willing to work on this. (In fact, there might already be something in the works.)

I also got to meet lots of people and share ideas. The informal conversations in hallways and over meals can be some of the best times to learn about new things that are just coming out. I usually try to sit with different people so that I can meet new people. Even if other librarians from my library had attended the conference, chances are I wouldn’t have hung out with them much because I can always talk with them when we return and I just might miss out on some tidbit that a new contact has to share.

And I had a great roommate who really gave me some insight on the supervisory side of libraries. While she seems like a great supervisor and someone that would be wonderful to work for, her comments and observations were helpful as I continue to navigate my way as an underling and relatively new librarian. I hope that I’ll get to see her at ACRL in the spring.

Like many librarians, when I’m in a new town/city, I like to visit the local library and Denver Public Library was recommended as a must see. Here are some pictures I took on Sunday.

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February 2020
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Upcoming

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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