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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.

Part of my responsibilities for SWARM International was coming up with a flier to pass out to the students. Hopefully I’ve covered all the information new international students might want to know right away. We’ll be having some follow-up sessions on more specific things like searching the library catalog and using our databases. Those will be within the next six weeks.

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Almost over

Posted on: July 27, 2008

I’ve got that vacation-is-almost-over depression setting in. A bit worse than the usual Sunday depression since I’ve had a wonderful week at home with DH and the dogs (and other house guests as well.)

The next several days are going to be very busy. I still have to finish preparing for my presentation at the end of the week. And then I’ll be home with enough time to do some laundry and pack for the trip to Denver.

I’m looking forward to the workshop at the end of the week, although I’d gladly do without making a presentation. Fortunately it’s just a 1/2 hour workshop format, so not as painful. Reference Renaissance promises to be interesting and informative. I hope to bring back some good information to share with work colleagues.

Also on the to-do list for the week is planning the training session for the university’s ambassadors (the students who provide tours to prospective tours.) I hope to finish the planning for SWARM International and start rounding up volunteers.

What else? I’ve got a program proposal to write for an upcoming conference. There is a program that I’d like to see us try with incoming freshman and I need to get the proposal/plan written for that.

I’ve also got a few follow-up things to do for the Summer Institute before I can officially declare my job done with that.

Then there is the usual job stuff, like gift books, reference collection weeding, desk hours, etc. And I’m the person in charge of the department for the next few days since our head is still on vacation. Whee.

It’s likely I won’t get much sleep tonight (which is typical for Sundays) as my mind spins through all the things I need to do this week.

I do think I was pretty successful about shutting that stuff off in general this past week. For me, that’s a huge accomplishment. It bodes well for the upcoming meditation retreat.

Yes, this is my life.

DH and I celebrated our anniversary early (since I’ll be workshopping on the actual day.) We went to see the X-Files this afternoon and then had dinner at Famous Dave’s. DH gave me a pretty pair of earrings that I’d seen in a shop window a few weeks back. So far, I’ve not got his present. Although I did have an inspiration today. Fortunately I’ll be in the neighborhood later this week where I plan to get his gift.

And KS is hot. HOT! And humid. I’m all done with summer now. kthxbai

That doesn’t sound right. I should say this is the last day I’m going the “day in a librarian life” for now. Still thinking about coming back to it in the fall when things are very different around here with instruction and whatnot.

Anyway, I worked the desk first thing this morning. But even before that, I was doing stuff to get ready to head home for the weekend. Fridays are probably my favorite day of the week, because by the evening I’m back with DH and the dogs. (You might wonder why I’m applying for the job in AK if I miss my family over a week. The answer is because this is a dream that can’t be passed up. We’ll figure it out if I actually get the job…and that’s a huge long shot.)

The rest of the day has been spent mostly at my desk. Still doing little things for the Summer Institute. A couple of last minute registrations have trickled in and one cancellation. I’ll need to do a couple of updates to the catering order next week to make sure we have enough drinks for everyone for the day. And there is a bit of supply shopping I’m going to do tomorrow. I keep feeling like I’m forgetting something major because this has went so smoothly.

There were a couple of other small things that I had to do today, but those were quickly taken care of. Mostly preliminary discussions/planning about some events for the fall. And I worked on my advance for an upcoming conference. Hopefully that will be waiting for me when I get back from vacation. It will help cover the hotel, so I don’t have so much initially out of pocket.

I’ve been doing some internal debate about attending Internet Librarian this fall. It’s a great conference, but it will more than blow the rest of my travel budget. At least Mountain Plains Library Association is in Kansas next year. But ACRL is in Seattle and that’s going to be an expensive one. It’s interesting to figure out how to stretch dollars until they scream. I think librarians have to do this with so many things – travel budgets, book budgets, electronic resource budgets.

Which reminds me that we’ll be starting some of those discussions early next month in Collection Development. Flat budgets and increasing costs do not equal happy librarians at all. But I work with good people and we’ll figure it out.

Even though I’m on vacation next week, I’ll probably do a bit of work from home. The main reason is because we do have a couple of things in the works and I don’t want to entirely lose momentum right now. And if I think of something that might work or have some brilliant flash of inspiration, I don’t want to forget it before I get back on July 28. Still I do intend to enjoy the in-laws visit and get some relaxing, knitting, and reading in.

As I’ve been working on this meme, I’m realizing how incredibly boring my work probably seems to an outside, non-library type. In the summers, it can even be that way sometimes for us reference librarians.

We have had a busier days here and there during the past few months, but generally, things are fairly quiet and slow…at least on the public side. Of course, that’s what most people see. I’ve only taught one class this summer and haven’t had any reference consultations.

Still, lots of work is being done behind the scenes on different projects.

Today did start with something very different than the usual. Wednesday usually don’t start until the afternoon since I work the evening desk shift. However, I volunteered to help out with storytimes this week since the person who does them is vacationing in Mexico with a bunch of teenage girls right now. (That doesn’t sound like much of a vacation when you think about it!) So at 10 am I was dealing with a bunch of squirrely 3-year olds. I’d forgotten how kids that age like to ask questions about everything, comment on everything, and wiggle and squiggle everywhere. Cute, but also kind of draining. *laugh*

A co-worker got us organized later in the morning to head over to the staff/faculty dining room for a Mongolian Wok lunch experience. It was fun and the food was good for a change. (Usually it’s all buttery or gravy covered stuff that I don’t particularly care for.) I learned some more about my co-workers while we relaxed and stuffed ourselves with stir-fry and fortune cookies.

After returning to the library, I headed off to my cube to work some more on the Summer Institute. The main thing today was to put together the food order. While there are still a couple of days left for people to register, I wanted to get this taken care of. I can always tweak things a bit if I need to. Being the chair of this is somewhat stress-inducing because I want the day to go well and for people to find it useful. This has really involved stepping way outside my comfort zone.

Every two weeks we have a full library staff meeting. This usually takes up about an hour of the afternoon. Today the big topic was the building. This fall/winter we are starting a rather large renovation project of the area of the building where tech services, the business office, and the dean’s office are. In the next few weeks (hopefully before fall semester starts), tech services will be moving out of their current space into our new study rooms on the first floor. There have already been some changes on the first floor involving new carpeting, paint, and compact shelving (installed last summer). Next week we will be getting new furniture for that floor. Exciting stuff! And we now have a library news blog to keep people updated with all the stuff that’s going on around here.

After the staff meeting, I headed home for a nap and break. Now I’m back working the reference desk for the evening. My big plans for the evening include some weeding, reading some book reviews, working some more on future books displays, and considering more ways to revamp our current instruction sessions for the Comp I classes.

If I have time tomorrow, I might catch some video of the building here and share that with you. Besides hearing about what I do, I’ll share where I actually do it.

Last night I saw Hancock. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but not a bad movie overall. I’d recommend waiting to rent it on DVD.

Nothing fancy today because Tuesdays in the summer look a lot like Mondays. Still working on weeding, gift books, working the reference desk, etc. No meetings today. Like I said, the usual grind…that’s not really a grind because I like my job and the work that I get to do.

I sat down last night and read The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Not a particularly inspiring title, but it was really insightful and interesting. The basic idea is that there are three things that managers can do to make people happy with their work. First, help employees find ways to measure what they do. This is really a simple concept and doesn’t involve big lofty goals. For example, for a reference librarian, it could be something as simple as counting the number of questions that we are able to answer correctly in a day. The second concept is helping employees realize why they are relevant in the workplace. Every person makes a difference to someone somehow. And it’s important for employees to know who and how. Managers can help them see this. Easy, right? The third concept is making sure employees don’t feel anonymous. It means that managers need to get to know their employees as more than just the people who do the work around the place.

I’m not a manager right now, but there were still some really good principles that I can apply to how I approach my job. I do try to find out things about the people I work most closely with. Not because I’m nosy, but because I do want people to feel that they are important.

As to measurable stuff, my to-do list is good for that. It gives me satisfaction when I’ve made it through most of the things in a day. No big lofty goals on it, just stuff that I want to make sure I work on each day. Actually that’s why I like using Remember the Milk. There are projects that I’m working on that I set up to recur daily, a few times a week, once a week…whatever I need. But maybe I’ll start keeping track of other things, like how many smiles I can coax out of people when I’m working the desk.

The relevance thing is a bit harder to do on your own because it really requires some support and feedback from other people. I’m not the type who goes digging for compliments, but if I’m not getting feedback, these days I’ll ask for it. I know that what I do is helpful to other people, patrons and co-workers both, but I do check in occasionally to make sure that I’m on the right track. And I try to make sure that I let other people know how they are relevant to me.

There are times in the past year when I’ve really wanted to give-up. I’m glad that I didn’t cut and run because I’ve learned a lot and have come out stronger. I’m invested in making things better and working through the tough stuff. I realized this last night when I picked up the book, one of many I’ve read recently about management, employees, leadership, and other things that will help improve my workplace. Somewhere I turned a corner. It feels good.

A final thought for today relates to customer service. When I got my usual Monday coffee at the shop that’s most convenient on my commute, I saw a sign announcing that they would be going out of business yesterday. Although I was disappointed because this is truly the only drive through place on the way, I wasn’t all that surprised. See, I don’t think they ever really understood some of the principles of good customer service. (I will say that there were some other things working against them as well in terms of development in the area not happening on schedule.) The woman that always seemed to be there when I drove up on Mondays had a personality as flat and bland as a pancake. She never smiled and made you feel like she was doing you a favor to serve you. Yeah. One of the main reasons I like going to Starbuck’s here in LittleUtown (beside the convenience of the drive-up window) is the fact that baristas are always smiling, chatty, and pleasant. I know they aren’t just waiting around for me to drive by and get an over-priced cup of coffee, but they certainly make me feel that way. My point is that attitude can really make a huge difference in how successful a business (or a library) is. Guess I’ll have to start making my own coffee on Monday mornings.

Hit pause

Posted on: July 10, 2008

The day in the life project is really taking off in libraryland. I’m pausing mine for the moment because it looks like most people are going to start next Monday. Makes sense. So, I’ll also begin again then.

I’ve been having weird dreams lately. Two nights ago I dreamed I was sliding down twisting ladder like tubes. Sometimes the tubes became very narrow and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through them. In the end I did.

Last night I had a dream where DH and I were somewhere and a waiter or helper type guy came over to our table and flashed us with a large amount of backside because his pants were hanging too low and loose.

I told you…weird. I’m not even going to try to get some meaning out of this.

Had a great Meebo IM session this morning. I’ve been using Jing to do short screencasts to demonstrate different things. It seems to really help people. I always find it hard to visualize stuff and really understand just through a typed explanation. This is what I’ll be talking about in a few weeks for my next presentation – using screen captures. There are over 350 people registered for this conference. Wow!

And it looks like we’re going to have a decent crowd for the Summer Institute. I’m glad because honestly I was a bit worried that not too many people would be available or interested. I’ll be finishing up all the prep next week since I’ll actually be on vacation the days before. And DH’s parents will be here visiting that week, so I plan for fun and not much work.

For a completely unrelated thought – I’m craving some corn on the cob with lots of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. Yum!

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Usually on Wednesdays, I start my day with a meeting in the afternoon. I work the evening ref desk shift, so I’m usually at work somewhere between noon and 1 pm. Our collection development meeting today was canceled though, so it was a good time to catch up on blog feeds and email (although I don’t think I’m ever really caught up on email. *laugh*)

Morning are usually a good time to sleep in. Today however, I was up early to get my transmission serviced. Just general routine maintenance. When I move into my little studio next month, Wed. morning will probably be a good time for cleaning and grocery shopping.

And tonight I’m working the ref desk. Since we’re working on weeding the reference collection, I usually spend a couple of hours doing that on Wed. evenings. Things are pretty slow in the library during the summer nights. Tonight I’m also doing some work on suggestions for some changes to our Comp I instruction sessions and a bit more planning for SWARM International.

Doesn’t my job sound highly exciting? I might have to do this again in the fall when we’re in the midst of instruction. My week looks very different then.

Anyway. Enough about that for now.

I’ve got a lovely purple colored thumb nail right now after slamming in the back door on my finger Monday morning. At least it isn’t throbbing anymore. I’m such an incredible clutz sometimes.

After all the work, our job searches have been closed and we have only hired one person. Guess some reevaluation will need to be done on where to go from here.

There was a bit of excitement around LittleUtown tonight when the emergency sirens went off. Seems some funnel clouds were sighted south of town from a little storm system blowing through. I wasn’t in the library at the time since it was my dinner break, but they herded everyone downstairs for a few minutes. We were never under an official (National Weather Service) warning though.

For now, that’s all the news there is to know.

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For some time, I’ve been advocating for more flexible scheduling at work. Personally I’d love to be able to work at home at least one day a week. Librarians are doing it and doing it well. I don’t know if I’ll be doing any full days soon, but it looks like we might have at least achieved a consensus on scheduling our days in ways that work for us.

It’s part of the overall shift in attitudes around here that has led to a willingness to try something new. The faculty are basically deciding to stand up for what we are supposed to have because we are faculty. While there are days I’d gladly give up the whole tenure track hamster wheel, it’s not what most people around here want. But if we’re going to be tenure-track faculty, then we need the time to do everything and the ability to structure our work so that we can meet goals.

What does this all mean? While we all generally work 40 hour weeks (and usually more than that), we are going to try setting our own schedules that work for us. Of course the expectation is that we are here for meetings, desk shifts, and whatever else requires our physical presence, which in my department might mean office hours and a day when I am librarian on call. Other than that, if we want to work at home for a few hours or do a split shift, it’s going to be up to us. I don’t think that we’ll see many people doing that very often, but the fact that we have the option makes a HUGE difference.

This is just one of the shifts that are starting to happen around here. My thought is that this is OUR library. If we want it to be a good place to work and learn in, it’s OUR responsibility to make it so.

Tweet tweet

Posted on: July 7, 2008

I’ve been Twittering for awhile now. Over the four day weekend, I decided I’d take a break from it. And I discovered that I really didn’t miss it much. At first my intent was to unplug entirely from the interwebs and technology. Yeah, I should have known that wouldn’t work for a long weekend. First of all, I was playing with my Flip camera, so there were video downloads to do. It kind of snowballed from there.

I’ve been playing around a bit with FriendFeed. As I learn more about FF, the more I like it. Now that I’ve figured out how to tone down some of the noise, I find the content in general to be interesting and some of the discussions there to be rather lively…and sometimes silly (which is fine with me).

There are always going to be people who say that people use these tools the “wrong” way, which I don’t really understand. I haven’t noticed that any of them come with a rules list on how to use them. So how can there really be a wrong way or a right way? Different users are going to use things different ways and for different purposes. Right?

Kind of like library patrons.

I don’t know that I’m entirely abandoning Twitter quite yet. (Although some of their issues do get tiring.) But for me, FF is a richer, more interesting experience overall. Now is there any useful application for the greater library?


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Upcoming

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