Thursday, December 28, 2006

5 Things you didn't know about Sarah

Well, Nicole's tag has me taking a brief hiatus from my goes. I...

1. was an exchange student in Scotland during my Sophomore year of college. As a girl away from home for the first time (I lived in the dorms all through college, but said college was only about 30 minutes from my hometown) I learned more from this year than any other time in college, little of it to do with what I did in the classroom. I love the climate, the people, the everything, and I'd love to figure out a way to retire there. During my 1-month-ish backpacking through Europe during the winter break, I also...

2. Attended Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican. While I was a good methodist girl (okay, a lapsed methodist girl) at the time, one of my travel buddies was a catholic, so this was a must see. However, she hadn't known she needed to get tickets from her bishop in advance to get seats, so it was looking like we'd be watching outside on the Jumbotron until some nuns came up, overheard us, and gave us their spare tickets as a christmas present. We tried to give them a donation for their order, but they merely said "Merry Christmas" nicely but forcefully, and disappeared into the crowd. So it came to pass that we had some of the best seats in the house for my first (and most memorable) Catholic Mass. They give those nuns GOOD seats. :-)

3. Hail from the same hometown as Toby Keith--Moore, Oklahoma. Let's just say this isn't exactly a point of personal pride for me and move on to...

4. I nearly became a lawyer. After I lost my telecom marketing gig in 2002, I was working a "pay-the-bills" type of job in social services while I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when i grew up. I took the LSAT and even did fairly well on it, but I just couldn't see that I'd make enough being the type of lawyer I was interested in being to justify law school-sized loans. So I went back to the drawing board. I looked at the master's programs available at local universities, saw the MLIS program, and, well...I suspect you can guess the rest. :-)

5. I'm a HUGE Alton Brown/Good Eats Fan.(aka "Briner")I'm something of a foodie to begin with, and his knack for making complex recipes seem simple have gotten me to regularly make such dishes as Cheesecake, Risotto, Nigiri Sushi (I'm still getting the knack of Rolls), and even my own bread.

So, that's 5 more things you probably didn't know about me! Have a happy rest of 2006, and I'll be back next week with resolutions/predictions in the worlds of LIS and Time Management.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Photos of my final Indexcard Dock & Hiatus

First, head over to my Flickr photo set to take a look at my final(?) implementation of my new 3*5-based GTD system, complete with notes. Input is welcome.

Second--Barring some major news that I can't resist talking about, this is most likely my last post until the New Year. Have a happy winter solstice-related holiday of your choice, drive safely, and remember to put your loved ones first in your next actions lists. See you in 2007! :-)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A day in the life of a Distance Learning Librarian, Part 2

(divided into two posts in order not to choke your bloglines)

Good heavens, I didn't realize I was this productive in a typical day! Three cheers for David Allen! and on to my afternoon...

1:00 Back at my desk (I always leave my office for lunch, even though I usually brown-bag it, for mental health reasons), I blast through my "to-read" folder in outlook (where all of my mailing lists are automatically sent), and then take a quick skim through my LIS-related feeds in bloglines, flagging anything I want to read more closely and/or respond to when I get home that evening.

1:30 (you people write a LOT!)--next up in the deck is a new office supply order. Yes, I DID just receive some supplies that morning--I ALWAYS get requests for things 15 minutes after I put the requisition in the approval queue--it's a law of physics. :-) Band-aids for the first aid kit, some new pens, and index cards get entered into the quote form on the vendor site, which spits out my prices and shipping charge, which I then use to generate a requisition in the purchasing system.

2:00 The afternoon mail came while I was generating the supply request, and with it my purchase order for some more overdue notice forms. I check it against my notes and the screen print of the requisition to make sure everything looks right, and fax the PO to the vendor.

2:15--the next hour or so I take a few login questions via email and phone (random question to the universe: if you're having problems logging into the databases during FINALS, what does that say about your study habits?) while cranking out my holiday cards for my friends at the library, teachers I've done instruction for, and miscellaneous other folks on campus who make my life run smoother. I try to jot a note in most of them, which takes longer but (I hope) makes it a bit more personal. I get everything in the outgoing mail right before the last pickup--life's little victories :-)

3:30--i have a next action to find a good book on networking in the collection, so I fire up the opac and then run upstairs to the main stacks, returning with Diane Darling's "The Networking survival guide" (which I've since started, really like, and will post more about soon!). I check the book out to myself at the circ desk and stick it in my to-read basket.

3:45--The reserve class I took this morning reminded me that we will have to recreate our reserve records from scratch in the new ILS after the migration in march. Trying not to think of the time I spent cleaning out dead records during the last intersession and getting the reserve room in shape, I sit down with my meeting notes and training manual to bang out a draft workflow for the migration project. The best solution is probably to add things to the reserve room as needed for the last 6 weeks of the semester post-migration, and then add in what's left during the may intersession. I suspect we'll have enough on our plates getting used to the new system without trying to re-record 3,000 or so reserve items at the same time. I write up a quick process for on-the-fly reserve additions, note that we need to train the student workers to let our full-time library assistants handle those to ensure quality control, and bang out the outlines of the main migration project plan. I file the plan in my tickler to revisit during go-live, when we'll have a tech onsite to answer questions and make sure our servers don't explode the first time we boot up.

4:15--I probably spent almost 2 hours of my day on purchasing-related activities, and while that's a little on the high side, it isn't atypical either. Until hell freezes over and the library gets an administrative assistant, I'm probably going to be the purchasing person, and I really don't want to spend this much of my time fiddling with office supplies while I watch more interesting things (like a paper I'd like to write with a friend of mine who's a DL librarian in Michigan)go stale in my someday/maybe file. I write my current workflow down in excruciating detail, circle things that could be condensed or deleted, star stuff that could be offloaded to a student worker (like that 20 minutes I spent this morning unloading boxes), and then clip the notes to my reminder card in next friday's tickler slot for my biweekly email to the boss.

4:50--The home stretch! I take a few minutes to skim my to-read folder again, check that I have no inbox items that need screening, and tidy up my desk. My last next action for the day is to grab my binder for the non-profit board I'm on (meeting tonight), and I plop it directly on top of my purse before taking one last look around my desk for rogue cards, file everything where it needs to go, add one errand I brainstormed earlier in the day to my travelling card caddy, and shut down at 5 on the dot. Can't stay late today--got that meeting. (The boss likes us not to stay much after our shift anyway unless neccessary--he's pretty good about making sure we don't burn out :-) )

So...that's it! I must say, typing all that out makes me feel like less of a slacker. How does it compare to YOUR work?

A day in the life of a Distance Learning Librarian

Inspired by Meredith's post on a typical day in her life, I decided to share a "typical day" from last week as well, to highlight how every library is different, but that there are similar issues that all DLLs have to deal with. One note: I really wear three hats at work (this is what happens with 5 F/T librarians and 3 lib. assistants): Distance Learning, Access services, and purchasing. I also handle most front-line IT issues that the front desk staff can't sort out, and even catalog a cart or two of books on occasion when tech services is backed up. Here's my log from last tuesday, which was during our finals week but was still a pretty normal day, all told:


8:00 arrive at the office, turn on computer, eat granola bar, pull my next action cards and today's tickler cards out of my dock, dial into voice mail and grab inbound mail from my inbox in the breakroom while Outlook starts up.

8:05: My morning routine: I do this every morning to keep my desk/brain from exploding--I'm a bit of a foodie so I sort of liken this to a chef getting her mise en place together before the rush starts. It takes about 15 minutes, but it probably saves me an hour of chasing my tail later in the day.

1. Everything work related from my purse, mailbox in the breakroom, notes/books left on my desk by the night shift, voicemails, etc. goes into my inbox.

2. Everything in my physical and virtual inboxes then gets DONE RIGHT THEN (if it'll take less than 2-3 minutes) and trashed/filed as appropriate, or gets added to my card deck as a next action. The inspiring book/printout/email is then either trashed if no longer needed, or filed either on my next action shelf (if a book) or physical/outlook N-A folder. The upshot, I have empty inboxes--if only for 5 minutes. *sigh*

3. I grab some blank cards and do a quick "mindsweep", basically being quiet for a minute and checking if there are any pending tasks in my brain that I haven't captured. Any actions, key thoughts, ideas, or whatever gets jotted down (one item per card), and filed (if not a next action) or added to my next action stack for the day.

4. I check the reference schedule for the day on the shared calendar and set alarms in outlook for the shift(s) I'm on the desk. None today--Woo hoo! Then I look more closely at my own calendar and realize that's because I have a training class for our impending migration to Sirsi Unicorn--starting in 45 minutes!

5. I start my daily log, which is just a card where I jot down the actions I complete through the day--it gives me a good archive of what I accomplished in a day without having to keep a zillion index cards (I easily rip through one to two dozen in a "typical" day...). I send an email to my boss every other friday to let him know the status on all my pending projects, and this makes it easier to recreate the last two weeks of my work life.

6. Last but not least, I take a minute to lay out all my next action cards and sort them by priority-- basically "Do today (in the order i want to get to them)", "try to finish in the next week", and "do whenever". This trumps a to-do list for me because when a new action pops up, all I have to do is jot it onto a card, and shuffle it into the appropriate place on the stack.

8:20--see, I told you that only takes 15 minutes! (it actually took me about twice as long to type as it does to do) Done with my morning routine card that gets added to the log, and the card is filed back in the next action slot in my dock for tomorrow. First up is the list of inactive student accounts due to be purged from the system--I take a glance through to make sure there aren't any mis-entered community borrowers or other accounts that need to be kept, and respond back to our IT Librarian, the awesome Carolyn, that the list looks fine.

8:30--Yesterday after I left our most recent supply order came in, and I unpack the boxes and detail a student to help me move everything to the supply closet. There were a few calendars and other special orders from specific staff members, and those go in their inboxes. I note that we didn't get one of the toners we ordered, so I make a quick call to the vendor, who verifies that the last toner is on order and should be here next week. I make up a quick card to follow up if the toner hasn't arrived in 10 days, file it in the tickler section of my deck for next friday, and add another confirmed kill to the log.

8:45--I got an invoice for a nw UPS for one of the lab computers in the mail this morning, and quickly get my boss's sign-off to close the PO, make copies for the files, and send the invoice and associated paperwork to Accounts Payable. Add Accounts Payable to my christmas card list, which I have working on the side of my desk as I think of people.

8:55--Yipe! time for training! I quickly print out the login information, remind my classmates for this course, and go get us logged into webex to learn about the thrilling world of reserve room management. (did I mention that I'm in charge of reserves too?)

10:15--We were the only people taking today's class, so we covered ground fast and finished our two hour course in a little over one. That left me time to respond to a few panicked emails from distance students regarding database access, run out to the desk to help another student sort out the graph function in excel spreadsheet for her finals project, and then came back to my desk to put a few plays on reserve for the drama class.

11:00--I get another phone call from a distance student, this time with a reference question for her take-home final in business. I walk a tightrope of not giving her the answer straight out (which she's obviously fishing for), and refer her to the statistical abstract for one question and LexisNexis for another.

11:15--Next up is my twice-weekly tickler to do a post to Scattered Librarian. I had slapped a post-it on the card to remind me that I wanted to do a follow-up post on my new card-based organization system. I still liked that story idea, knocked out a quick draft in word, added a few links, and posted the finished article right before a well-earned...


Part two of A Typical Day coming soon...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

On Networking

First things first, A confession: Networking makes me uncomfortable.

There, I admitted it. I am always a little nervous the first time I walk into a room of colleagues for the first time, plastering on my fake smile and looking frantically for the 2 or 3 faces I know. But I get out there and do it anyway, even though I don't always feel confident in the process. Fortunately Librarians are pretty much a universally friendly and welcoming bunch, and I can usually insert myself into a conversation without too much fuss.

However, I suspect I could be doing a better job than I am currently in building and maintaining connections, and I know from my previous life in corporate america how important a solid business network can be. Fortunately, today I ran into this great post on businesspundit that discusses how introverts like me (and like most librarians, i suspect) can successfully build business connections.

The points I found most helpful were "At first you have to kiss a lot of frogs", and "don't network just for the sake of networking". While I seem to be somewhat more extroverted than some of my colleagues, I still consider myself an introvert in the Nyers-Briggs sense of the word (I'd much rather be curled up in my chair with a good book than schmoozing at a party, unless I'm in a really good mood). And I used to get disappointed when I didn't "magically" develop an awesome network after one event. You meet a lot of people on the road to building a network, some click with you and some don't. there's nothing wrong with this. Also, you don't need to try to meet someone just to add a tick mark on your "meet 5 new people at X event" to-do list. Focus on people you've heard of, or have read online, or who generally sound interesting, and strike up a conversation with an insightful question or some other thing that will make them interested in you. The cool thing about our field is that this stuff comes naturally to very few of us, which means you're rarely going to run into primadonnas.

After being in this field a little while, I have what might be considered the core of a good network, though it could use some growing yet. But I'm to the point where I have to focus on nurturing those links, especially with out of state contacts I may only see once or twice a year, plus a few comments in their blog. I just sent off a ton of holiday cards, and am thinking about burthday cards as well. However, I also had the good sense to jot down a few interests of many of the people whose cards I've collected over the past two years, mainly as a crib in conversation starting for my feeble mind.

But I now have the beginnings of an interesting little database of my connections' interests, which I might be able to put to good use. For instance when I see an interesting story on Jazz music or whatever, I could tag that in, and then send the link on to my contacts who expressed an interest in Jazz. I'm still sorting out how exactly I want to do this, but I think that It could be a good way to cultivate quality contacts, as opposed to just racking up a list of 500 names in outlook, most of whom wouldn't be able to recognize me if their lives depended on it. I'm still trying to sort this out, and I'd be very interested in the networking tactics others have tried. Suggestions?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Latest on the indexcard migration and a Cool Link

Well, as I mentioned last week, I've adopted a index card organization system that is something of a hybrid between the HipsterPDA and Hawk Sugano's incredibly detailed card dock database. I'm now almost two weeks into the thing, and I LOVE it. My system consists of two main parts:

1: my master dock at work, an old card catalog drawer I found in the storage room. I picked up some sturdy plastic dividers at walgreens, which I use for the following sections:
Next actions
Waiting On
Weekly recurring tasks
This month (both recurring tasks that haven't happened yet for the month--supply inventory and such--as well as one-off tasks that need to occur on or after a specific date)
Next month
Completed Log cards (instead of saving all my completed task cards as Sugano does in his implementation, I jot down completed actions on a card I keep on my desk, which i file at the end of the day)
Reference cards (I use this for meeting summaries, insights I want to capture, project plans, and other stuff. This section is still evolving somewhat.)
Archive: I plan to keep log and reference cards back at least 3-6 months, possibly longer if I have the room for them.

My project master list and someday-maybes still sit on my hard drive, which seems to work okay as I get tickled to review those in my weekly review process. My calendar has stayed in outlook, as I couldn't think of a good reason to change it. non-work appointments also go into the work calendar.

2: The second major part of my system is my little index card case which serves as my repository for @home actions and data. This deck is mostly recurring tasks related to housework/errands/etc. which I created as my own improvization off the highly cool (if somewhat touchy-feely) Flylady home organization plan, but it's also home to errands lists, one-off home tasks, and my @home log cards (which I use to track daily expenses, calories, and assorted other home stats). This deck is divided into sections for log cards (which are shifted over to the master deck every few days), reference cards, daily tasks, weekly tasks, and monthly tasks.

Tasks port between work and home much more easily, my log cards give me a quick history of my accomplishments for my biweekly update email to my boss (something I'm going to do a post on soon, possibly thursday?), and I can tell with a quick flip through my card box where I am on all my pending tasks. I was going to post some pictures here and to flickr of my implementation, but I keep forgetting the camera at home.

*gets hit with the obvious club*

*adds tickler to tonight's next actions in the travel card case*

I'll should be able to provide some visual aids next week. Please forgive my horrid handwriting. :-) But all in all, things are going smoothly, the system seems to have solve the problem of things falling in the cracks between work and home, and it's all good.

Now, that cool link: Lifehacker had a post today about a delightful GTD-themed desktop wallpaper... now I just have to tidy up all my desktop icons so I can see it! *blush*

Yes, I'm a Nerd.

Yes, I'm okay with this. :-)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I LOVE this job...

Well, I got to cut out of work a little early on Thursday to attend a holiday party put on by the local LIS and KM networking group. At first, the event consisted mostly of the standard schmoozing around the chocolate fondue fountain, and swapping war stories with the current MLIS students. Then after mingling and nibbling, we met several young men who had got doused with pepper spray earlier in the afternoon, we got to see a demo by the K-9 team, and watched the kids of one of the other attendees race McGruff the Crime Dog robots around the hallways.

You see, the holiday party was held at the local police academy, as it was hosted by one of the coolest (and most well-armed) librarians I have the privilege to know--Officer Tom Rink, Librarian for the Tulsa Police Department. Unfortunately I was a doofus and left my camera at the house that morning, but I believe some piccies of the event will be going up at the website in the next few days (which I will link to, don't worry!). In addition to good food and good friends, I learned a lot about the travails of running a VERY special collection with a minimum of resources, got a tour of police facilities that most "civilians" never get to see, learned some interesting factoids about our police department (ours is one of a relative minority that requires all officers to have a bachelor's degree, and about a third of the department has a graduate degree), and generally learned a lot about the folks who keep my city safe.

And, I ask you, would I have gotten to go to a shindig that cool if i still I worked in telecom? :-)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Now THIS is organization.

First, some context. Over the last few weeks (really since Internet Librarian), I have been fighting of a serious case of smartphone lust. I've been seeing all these ads for the Motorola Q, and it's the first pda phone that I could actually see myself carrying without looking like a overcaffeinated executive with an inferiority complex. However, I'm a cheapskate, and something tells me putting in a purchase order at work would get me laughed at...

That said, since I've stopped carrying around my franklin planner and gone to outlook tasks at work, my non-work productivity has taken a nosedive. So if i don't want to shell out 80 bucks a month for connection fees, and I also don't want to get stuck carrying around that unwieldy brick of a planner everywhere... In a nutshell, I need a simple system that can capture everything, work, home, and errands, on the fly. I've tried having a work system and a non-work system--stuff just gets garbled or lost, and it feels like I'm duplicating my efforts. Remote access to my work Outlook (or any other web-based task manager) only works up to a point--I'm not jacked up to a computer 24/7 nor do I really want to be, gadget lust aside. That leaves index cards.

I've played with this concept, mainly with the DIY planner templates for the hipster PDA--the templates were a pain to use (more because of my crappy handwriting than any inherent problems) and were quickly abandoned. Also, at the time I first played with them, I was in the middle of the last insane months of my MLIS, and didn't have much time to fiddle with new systems since my current one was sufficient to keep up with my school and work projects. But as I've been taking a fresh 40,000 foot look at my priorities and goals in the wake of recent events and the enforced sabbatical they caused, I realize that no matter how productive I get at work, that's just half the battle.

So, did I throw the index card baby out with the bathwater? well, I found out about this guy's index system via 43 folders, and I spent the next hour reading about his system in stunned amazement. A system for easily distinguishing card types that didn't depend on colored cards (or on butterfingers here not dropping my deck)? A system that helped capture random musings, quotes, etc. as well as the standard "GTD Stuff"? A flipping CARD CATALOG DRAWER for a card archive??? Okay, I'm the first to say that this guy is far more organized than I ever hope (or want) to be, but I think that he has something here... Even if you think he's nuts after the first few pages, read the whole thing through. If nothing else, it's inspiring, and I'm very close to migrating back to an analog system that will look something like this.

There are some kinks I'm going to need to sort out, essentially to do with monitoring my recurring home-based tasks like housekeeping and such. I also don't know that I need to track some of the things he does with the same level of detail. But a stripped down version of this with an elegant solution for recurrent tasks could be what the doctor ordered. I plan to put together a final plan for my system (which I'll post here, with photos if I'm feeling really OCD) in the next week or two, and implement the transition during our winter intersession. In the meantime, let me know what you think, and happy organizing! :-)

Monday, November 20, 2006

The rest of my IL2006 notes

Hi all! If you are interested in the rest of my impressions from IL2006, you can find a detailed summary at the Library Stories blog, Thanks for your patience! :-)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Apologies for my recent silence/time management musings

Hey all,

First i want to apologize for the blog being pretty much dead since IL2006. Obviously upon getting back to work I had to focus on getting caught up there, and also on various other personal projects that had fallen by the wayside (most notably my responsibilities as Secretary of the Board of Directors for a startup nonprofit I've become involved with). And just as I was getting caught up and ready to share the gazillion nifty posts I had tagged in my father-in-law's health (not good for some time) took a turn for the worst and I spent a week in OKC with my Husband effectively offline while we stayed at the hospital and then helped his mom make the arrangements. (no, we did not take my laptop because the thing is huge, and something felt really weird about trying to stay logged in from the ICU waiting room, wifi or no). This week is actually the first one I've actually worked 40 full hours since before Internet Librarian, and my next action list shows it. Basically I've been in triage mode all week, and like it or not, my blog has been near the bottom of the priority list.

In a odd way, this has been a good experience (the being behind part, not the death in the family part), because I have a tendency to overcommit myself and work myself to exhaustion in my sundry work, personal, and other commitments. I'm driven enough that I CAN pick pretty much any project that tickles my fancy and push it through to success, even if it means being stretched. But being forcibly removed from my shiny monitors and to-do lists helped me come back with a better understanding of what is truly a priority at work and personally, and I find myself re-evaluating many of my projects now that I'm back. Do I have to be a top Liblogger(whatever that means)? Do I really NEED over 150 feeds in my bloglines? Can't I train one of our sharp student workers to handle some more of my repetitive tasks, even though they might not do it "my way"? And, just because i have enough slack in my schedule that I could take on another project...should I?

Well, that's stuff to ponder, and I will talk more about the approaches I've used to dig out of the pile and figure out my important projects going further. And tomorrow if I have time, I'll discuss an interesting article about the online information literacy skills of college students--let's just say we all may be assuming a bit more savvy than they really have.

Monday, October 23, 2006

IL2006 : Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and More

Paul Miller, Technology Evangelist, Talis

(can i say before I start that Paul's voice is even cuter in person than on the podcast? took me right back to my study abroad days in Dundee--but I digress)

There were about a dozen bloggers in the room here, most of whom with much bigger readerships than I, and they were all very friendly and gracious. Thanks from the 2.0 newbie. :-) Then the presentation started, and Paul proceeded to shift my paradigms--something that has been happening about every other session so far.

The highlight reel:

Library 2.0=Fundamental shift in how libraries approach users--we must integrate INTO WHERE THE USERS ARE.
--Open the Library
--push the library everywhere
--engage with actual AND POTENTIAL users--The system's broken, not the user
--Disaggregate the ILS (this from an ILS vendor!)...and bring systems together
--Shared innovation

Attempts to harness the innovation: the "mashing up the library contest"

What makes Library 2.0 possible?
--Falling cost of storage
--" " of computing power
--growing connectivity
--"camera 2.0"
--commoditization & virtual servers

the 3 Os
--open source,
--open data,
--open APIs (I gotta learn how to do API programming--we need some gadgets for the new website )

The essence of 2.0 is an "architecture of participation", encouraging users to participate in the cataloging process (who just saw their catalogers have a panic attack if they ever heard that Idea?)

"The library is coming down from it's high horse just a bit."

Does your vendor have an open environment/architecture? are they engaging in conversations?

How to create a platform for participation:
--Open SOurce ILS
--Shared Innovation (Talis Keystone)--bolting open-source monules on top of the traditional ILS, enabling connections to the univ. portal,the institution's finance software, etc--2.0 by evolution, not revolution
--OPEN DATA (THIS ROCKED MY WORLD!!!!)--we may wind up with open source software that sends us to proprietary, locked-down data...

THE CURRENT DATA STORAGE MODEL (AKA OCLC, though he didn;t say that flat-out) IS FLAWED!!!!
--Limited data mobility (as my institution is trying to set up a resource sharing scheme with our non-OCLC public library, I know this issue intimately)
--If we don't address the data portability/freedom issues, we're just "putting lipstick on a silo"
--CONTRIBUTION CAN AND SHOULD BE FREE--we can make it mobile and accessible, while policing data integrity (we can rebuild OCLC in open source--we have the technology. we can make it better, stronger, more open...*thwacks self back into sense*)

The coming of the OPEN SYSTEMS--check out the silkworm directory at Talis, and Bigfoot data stores

What open data enables:
--greasemonkey scripts that let you automatically look up amazon or librarything items in the opac
--grouping web service--search multiple library opacs IN ONE SEARCH WINDOW, or build an api widget for that search...
--Aquabrowser for the library portal
--Cenote--mashes multiple opacs and amazon data

Liberate the data
Get the data to the user, not vice versa
Open Thinking
Shared Innovation

My thoughts--WOW. I'm still trying to sort this out in my head, but I think some of these technologies could have some profound implications for my rural-ish, 3-campus university. so what to introduce, how to do it, and how to get buy-in...Watch this space. :-)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

IL2006 Pre-Conference: Searcher's Academy

Short summary: WOW. :-)

Longer description: Greg, Mary-Ellen, Chris, and Gary seriously rocked my world with more new search engines, websites, gadgets, widgets and general internet toys than I could shake a stick at. I will be vetting some of the sites we saw later on and comment with some of my faves, so this can be more useful than just the same list of links you could get from each of their websites. (that's me, trying to provide original content!) All of them were so fervent about the opportunities (and perils) that 2.0 offers searchers, and I found out some nifty tools for searching what I had previously thought unsearchable (like speech-to text technology that lets you search inside podcasts and videos!).

Mary-ellen's presentation on searching 2.0 content was probably the most useful to me today, but Gary's left me extremely inspired about finding out more about the technology behind search engines, and about all the new toys the "big 4" are developing. Search technology seems like it's nearing a tipping point on several fronts, and it behooves us to pay attention to the trends and make sure we're part of the paradigm shift.

I also have to admit that I gained a new level of respect for (and not just because of gary's presentation--he was very neutral...). Still not sure I buy the marketing campaign that it's the "librarian's search engine", or whatever they're saying, but I am going to have to give it a whirl again. That's about it for now, and I'll probably post again tomorrow during breaks from blogger's row in the exhibit center...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

IL2006: Leavin' on a jet plane...

Bags are packed, and I'm leaving for the airport in about an hour. After a lot of waffling back and forth I decided not to take my laptop--It's not particularly light, I don't see myself bringing it to the sessions, and it's a pain to have to deal with @ airport security. That said, there will be plenty of places I can login both at the convention center and @ the hotel, so I'll be typing up my notes at least once or twice daily. I still have a few free lunches, so let me know if you want to get together! See ya in Monterey...

Monday, October 16, 2006

On Vendors

A while back, I spent a lazy friday afternoon noodling around on various training vendors’ websites at the request of my boss, looking for some web design courses for myself and a coworker to update our java and flash skills for an impending website redesign. I checked a few sites and bookmarked a link or two. By that next week another project had come up to a boil, and the web redesign that had sparked the search for cheap web-based training had been postponed anyway, so I shifted the whole thing to my someday/maybe queue and moved on.

Three weeks (and a 10-day vacation in China) later, I get a call from a perky sales rep from some company called, oh… let’s say “Train-O-Rama Enterprises.” The weird thing is, she knows my name and number, and the portions of the website I surfed. (and no, I did NOT fill out a contact me form). All I can figure is she tracked me through the library website as I was shopping from my work domain. Anyway, the point is she’s trying to hard-sell me on a product that I barely remember looking at.

I try to shrug her off for over five minutes, but she is simply not getting the hint. She’s already left 3 messages on my machine, so I know she’s not going to go away on her own. And honestly, I was too bloody jetlagged for it to occur to me to show the same level of courtesy to her that she was showing to me and simply hang up on her. I sigh resignedly, agree to have a web demo of their “brilliant” Java training curriculum, she schedules me for a time when the trainer can call me (WHY can’t I walk through this myself with a 24-hour trial login, I wonder, if they’re going through their traffic stats with a fine-toothed comb in order to make cold calls?) Over the ensuing 2 weeks between that conversation and the demo, I get one phone call and two reminder emails.

The punch line: The demo was scheduled for 1:00 today, my time. As I type this it is now 1:48. No call. No email. No trainer. And…no sale (not that there was much risk of that anyway). They’ve had their 15 minutes grace and then some. And if a vendor can’t figure out what time it is in the central time zone to make a pre-scheduled SALES CALL, should we really assume they’ll be any more competent with our invoices? So, now I’m going to just go get a mocha from the coffee bar, and then sit back and crank through some paperwork—and let the phone roll to voicemail. :-)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Too cool for words...

Wonder if I could talk my director into doing something like this... :-)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I don't even know what to say about this...

Who would LOVE to know how many responses they actually GET for this ad?

*Job Title:* Chief Librarian
*Organization:* Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions
*Location:* Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
*Description:* Are you interested in putting your library science education
and experience to work in one of today's most challenging, interesting and
rewarding environments? Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is recruiting
for a Chief Librarian to manage the Detainee Library, under the direction of
the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In managing the Detainee Library, the Chief Librarian is responsible for
providing, maintaining and developing library services and operations using
reading, recreational games and puzzles, music, or electronic media. The
Chief Librarian is responsible for selecting and maintaining a range of
reading and recreational materials to reflect the needs of the patrons in
terms of languages and appropriate/approved topics.

The Chief Librarian will supervise a staff of three (one Assistant Librarian
and two Linguist/Library Assistants). The Chief Librarian will also work
closely with other contractor and government staff.

To be successful in this job, the Chief Librarian will need to be creative,
adaptable, ambitious and resourceful. The ideal candidate will possess a
degree in library studies or a closely related field and relevant
experience. We will consider extensive experience in library operations and
management, in lieu of a degree. This job requires proficiency in English.
Applicants must be eligible for a US government secret clearance. If you're
interested in talking in more detail, please e-mail your resume to

*Application Information:*Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions offers a
highly competitive salary and benefit package. Additionally, this job
qualifies you for federal tax breaks. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions
is a certified Minority Owned Business and a Service Disabled Veteran Owned
Business. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is an equal opportunity

Also, I'm sorry I've been so quiet, I've been out of the country on vacation and then digging out from under 10 days of backed-up email. I'm planning to post something "real" in the next few days--probably on either GTD or a new business idea I have...

Thursday, August 31, 2006


I just got my roomie for "The Con" (as my DH would say), so the last budgetary worry is dealt with. Also, I'll do at least one real post tomorrow--there have been several interesting articles floating around, not least of which is Forbes' inexplicable publishing of an article that seems to bave been penned in 1954. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 28, 2006

IL2006--The Scattered ConBlogger!

Attention everyone! (or at least the 3 people bored enough to read this thing)

I'm happy to announce that I will be attending Internet Librarian 2006, and I plan to blog my experiences, which will be my first time at this conference (or any non-local library conference for that matter!). If you can't tell I'm already looking forward to meeting all of the great people who will be at this, and please drop me a line if you would like to get together for lunch/dinner or just grab a soda during a break. Also, I'm on the lookout for a roommate to share the hotel cost ($185/night * 4 nights=OUCH!). You can reach me offblog at Thanks, and I'm looking forward to meeting you there!

Monday, August 21, 2006

A little late to the party (library 2.0 idea generator)

In case you haven't seen this one yet...

Library 2.0 Idea Generator

I did about a dozen, but nothing was gonna top this one...

plagiarize RSS feeds just to confuse Michael Gorman

Ok, you can return to your real lives. Once @Work and @RL calm slightly, I promise a real post. :-)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Couldn't resist... (OCLC in the Onion)

Had to share this one, assuming it isn't in 18 gazillion places already...

Dewey Decimal System Helpless To Categorize New Jim Belushi Book

And to save the time of other OCD-ers like me who just have to follow up on an amusing parody piece in worldcat...

LC: HQ1090; Dewey: 306.70973

Back to your regularly scheduled program...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Something Wiki this way comes--Wikimania 2006

Ok. After my diatribe on the vagaries of cataloging, I'm gonna keep this one short. (yes, really. ) Wikipedia. love it or hate it, if you're a librarian, it's a part of your life or will be soon. First, I do think Wikis as a general reference tool are suspect at best, for all the reasons everyone knows already. That said, I think that in certain specific areas they can be helpful--If you cidn't get a chance to attend, go take a look at Meredith Farkas' awesome SirsiDynix webinar on Wikis in the library for an excellent synopsis on how Wikis can be used for the forces of good (information, that is).

I came a little late to the wikipedia party (I wanna say i used it for the first time in 2004), and never really got involved in the editing side. This week, as I've been perusing my blogs, I've run into quite a few articles on wikipedia and wikis in general that I thought worth sharing, and hopefully will spark a conversation about the role of wikis in the library, how we can educate our patrond about using wikis (and about online information literacy in general), and if there are ways we can create or support new efforts such as Digital Universe that try to strike a balance between accuracy and participation.

More Links:
Fact (Vanity Fair): long and highly interesting article about the history of Wikipedia

Meredith Farkas' presentations on Wikis (as well as blogs and other 2.0 technology)

The Infamous Nature article comparing Wikipedia and Britannica's accuracy rates

And last but not least, Wikimania 2006, the event that inspired the story that inspired this post.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Future (?) of Cataloging

First, if you've been under a rock the last few months, here's a fairly good layperson's summary of the current state of the LoC cataloging kerfluffle. As a fan of both 2.0 innovations like tagging/folksonomies, as well as a regular user of good old fashioned subject searching, I've got opinions on this mess as a user, as well as an erstwhile copy cataloger.

(Disclaimer: I'm a self-taught cataloger who probably couldn't create an original MARC record from scratch if my life depended on it).

As I've watched this debate rage on the OCLC-cat list, as well as in the literature, I've come to several not-quite-compatible conclusions about both the series cataloging thing and the LCSH issue.

1. Cataloging has to be simplified if it's going to survive, even if it means drastic changes to the current system.

OK, it's time to admit some basic facts. First, the library catalog is no longer the best game in town when it comes to search technology. Most OPAC's keyword search features (and let's be honest, that's what gets used), are, frankly, CRAP. There is no reason for this other than an oligopoly going unchallenged by libraries when they provide us substandard ILS software, but that's another rant for another day. Second, why in the world should it take me, a newbie to cataloging but an MLS librarian nontheless, a whole day and much wailing and gnashing of teeth to figure out how to manipulate government document MARC records into a format that won't give our ILS indigestion and will allow the labels to print right? This is one area where I agree with LOC's report. Copy catalogers waste far too much time fiddling around with original MARC records, when with some simplifications and standardizing, we could increase our ability to do batch processing, offload more of the tedious cataloging chores to non-professionals, and spend more time doing original cataloging, learning about the process, and having a serious discussion over how much of this crap we really DO need in a MARC record. (When's the last time you searched for a book by it's size, anyway?) And this leads me onward to point 2.

2. Losing the series cataloging doesn't bug me too much.
Again, I'm not exactly the queen of AACR2 here. That said, why should I care about this? I've been listening to the hand-wringing on various cataloging forums, and I'm still fuzzy on the whole "changing series cataloging will bring the downfall of western civilization" thing. Yes, they won't be creating new authority records for series. But...they'll still be creating bib records, right? That will indicate if something is a series...right? Okay, we'll lose the ability to validate against an authority record, but I just don't see that as a big deal, or that whatever benefit is gained from series authorities is greater than the effort involved in creating them in the first place. Maybe there's something I'm just not understanding here, though given how much ink and bandwidth I've seen spilled on this issue, the more credence my confusion (and the confusion of others) lends to point #1. If a LIBRARIAN doesn't get what the problem is here...we have bigger issues.

3. I would miss LCSH, but...

4. I'm not sure anyone else (including scholars) would miss it.

I like subject searching. It's simple, elegant, and highly effective if the cataloger did their job well (which amazingly they typically do. Kudos to LoC and our other main generators of metadata.). However, LCSH has certain eccentricities that can make it a challenge to non-librarian types, which all boil down to what a user may think would be a subject heading may NOT be what LoC picked. more than once I've typed a "reasonable" subject term for a field where I know we have items, come up with nothing, and had to either go to the LoC website or drag "Big Red" out of the reference section to figure out what I should have searched for. That's fine with me, that's why I get paid the big bucks. But students won't put up with that, nor will most faculty. Quite often a faculty member will want to type in a extremely specific technical term, which isn't an LCSH. And if the word doesn't happen to be in some other searchable MARC field, they're not going to find that particular work through ANY marc record search. And LCSH, by definition, is just too inflexible to keep up with every possible term in every subject area. However, this presents us with a bit of a conundrum, because...

5. LCSH (or some sort of controlled vocabulary) is still the best topic metadata option out there with current technology.

Unless Ebsco and Google assimilate the planet, scan in every print document ever created, and make them all full-text searchable (in which case we're toast anyway unless we can figure out how to compete on quality), we have to have some system of controlled vocabulary. There's no way around it. It's clumsy and inelegant, but there you have it. Until 100% full-text searching is practical on our entire collections, we're stuck. But do we have to be stuck with LCSH, or could we come up with a better method of subject-based access? Is there some way we could find a middle ground between the overly rigid LCSH we have now and an anarchic tagging free-for-all?

See, this is where I think tagging, folksonomies, and wiki technology (IN MODERATION) could come in. I also think there could be a future with RSS empowering us to automate updating of existing records in our systems, and not just with adding and replacing subject terms. In addition to all the big names in library 2.0, our friends in Knowledge Management have also been doing a lot of work in this area. While I don't think there's a killer app to replace LCSH quite yet, I think it's just a matter of time, and I think it will evolve out of the web 2.0 paradigm. Stay tuned.Now, one last thought, that doesn't really relate to the LOC proclamations so much as the debate surrounding them...

6. The elimination of series authority work and questioning of LCSH's future is not a conspiracy theory designed by haliburton and Dr. Evil to kill library cataloging.
As the child of a federal employee, I can assure you that when it comes to these sort of teacup tempests, one should never ascribe to malevolence what can be blamed on stupidity. Example 1: the shining beacon of well-designed interfaces and elegant search engine that is the GPOAccess website. I'm sorry, but we've got enough real problems as it stands with our government's current policies, and we sound like idiots when we ascribe everything wrong in this world from half-baked LOC reports to injured puppies to the malevolence of the current administration. I assure you, our leaders wouldn't know the LCSH if Laura Bush hit them over the head with it. (hmmm...) If whatever changes come do kill off the modern library (which they won't), then it was our own fault for being so inflexible that we couldn't even figure out another way to handle subject searching.

So. What do you think? Do I have a point here?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

On Job hunting in Academic Librarianship

I know, i know, I said I was going to keep the linkbacking to a minimum--but I keep running into such interesting stuff lately! The article below from the chronicle is a great synopsis of the angst of the Academic Library Job search. I was fortunate in that my first (and only) job offer came about 10 days after my interview, and my soon-to-be director actually apologized about the delay! granted, that was for a paraprofessional slot at a small university, but From what I've heard since then, I was darned lucky. (especially since I heard about my promotion about 24 hours after I interviewed for that! ) Anyway, it sounds like my experience is not exactly typical. So, What have your library job searches been like?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Staff attacked by Patron at Norman Public Library, Norman OK

I grew up just up the road from there, and checked out many a book there... Norman's a college town, AND is the former home of a mental hospital that closed sometime in the mid-80s (I think), so they have more mentally ill folks there than you might expect. Hopefully NPL will be getting more security soon. But in any case, lemme just say A: how much I respect public Librarians, and B: I don't think I could do what they do...


Friday, July 21, 2006

GTD: @home collection device...

Ok. I'm in a fairly good place with my Outlook-based implementation of my Getting Things Done system at work--it's been running smoothly for about 2 months with only minor tweaks here and there. We'll see how she goes with the start of a new semester and all the new projects tht will entail, but right now I have a clean desk and an empty brain. (no snickering!!!) That said, I get home, and it's all random lists and clutter and piles of things here and there. I've tried to use one or more of the moleskine-style systems for an @not work collection/next action device, but it seems like it gathers dust in the bottom of my purse as often as not. My husband probably has to remind me half a dozen times to buy cat food, sweet, patient guy that he is!

I go through spates of "good behavior" every few months, and I love the calm vibe that comes from all my next actions being collected and addressed. (The clean coffee table is lovely too!) But when non-work life gets the least bit home systems are the first things to go out the window. I've pondered trying to merge my work and home collection devices and NA lists, but I'm not coming up with much short of getting a PDA. And I'm hesitant about spending a couple of hundred bucks on an energy gobbling toy that may be moldering away in a junk drawer 6 months later. I've got some ideas on this, but I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shamelessly glomming onto meredith's awesome post

First, read this great post from one of my favorite LIS bloggers about the neccessary skills for 21st century librarians. I thought I'd post a slight revision of my initial response over here, given how many people have put replies on that thread, and I also wanted to add a few more thoughts I've had after hearing the conversation and mulling over her thoughts last night.

LIS as a whole is not doing a good job of articulating the added value the human touch brings to the “information economy”, and more importantly why the world at large needs MLS librarians as a free (aside from taxes) civic resource.

While I was also unimpressed by the level of IT skills taught in most of my classes, That didn’t bug me as much. I’m a Librarian for pete’s sake–if I need to upgrade my skills, I can find a tutorial, sign up for a class, or *gasp* read a book.

I think the more serious threat to our profession is the poor job we’ve been doing in the last decade or so about getting our message out. And I suspect this lack of performance is due to this unacknowledged, free-floating anxiety about our future that seems to have infected much of the profession. Well, to solve the problem, we have to A: admit we’re scared instead of indulging in bravado and denial in the manner of a certain immediate past ALA president, B: figure out what we’re scared of, and C: take steps to solve the problem.

So, why are we scared? Is it perhaps because deep down librarians aren’t quite sure themselves what value they add? or are shy about self-promotion? or because they think if they curl up in a ball and hide in the stacks nobody will notice that their foot traffic and hard copy circulation is drying up? The paradigm is shifting, but it does NOT have to shift away from us. We can become the common surfer’s conduit to the invisible web, and to pay information resources. We can shift away from merely providing access to adding value to the information we provide. We can take up the desperate need to educate users in ways to navigate this ocean of information and disinformation we’re all drowning in.

Libraries and librarians are changing. this is the way of the world. because of a combination of cultural stereotypes surrounding our profession, the personality of the typical librarian, the library’s role as preserver of tradition, history, and culture, and the obvious value of the services we provide, we’ve been insulated from many of the evolutions and revolutions that disturb most professions every few years. But guess what? that’s over. It’s time to play with the big boys. We’ve been given an important job, the duty to ensure the continuing existence of our clumsy, anachronistic, slightly silly and desperately important profession in an information economy where things are thrown into flux every five minutes. It’s a tall order. And if you don’t have the courage, creativity, and flexibility that it will take to fulfill our duty…then get out of our way.

After thinking about these issues overnight, I'm not quite as dismissive about the need for better IT training in MLIS programs. Aside from some database searching tactics, I didn't learn much about technology in my program that I didn't know already. Most of my IT knowledge I either arrived with from my tech stint, or I picked up OTJ. For all intents I'm a self-taught cataloger, and frankly would barely know what MARC was had I not gone out and studied on my own. And as far as learning web design or how an ILS system "thinks"? not a word, except in a very top-level knowledge management elective that didn't teach much more than what was needed to put together an RFP (an important skill, but not quite what's needed here.) What i was trying to say in my initial post, and what I still think, is that we don't need to turn the MLS into a software development or database administration program. That said, why can't we make sure that every MLIS graduate understands how the basics of how a typical ILS works, how to design a solid website with HTML, CSS, and (maybe?) java, and how to manipulate metadata, whether or not they ever plan to be in technical services.

I also think I exaggerated, or at least overgeneralized, the stagnation in circulation and foot traffic. What is true at a medium-ish academic library here in the heartland can't really be extrapolated to a public library in a big city. public libraries are seeing an increase in traffic and circulation, though I would be interested to know whether or not circ is growing as fast as foot traffic.

However, with those caveats, i stand by my initial post. We can have all the tech savvy in the world, but if we are not adding value by what we do and how we do it, and (at least) as importantly, putting forth a compelling message about the value we add to the communities we serve, it's time to fold our tents and go home, because we don't deserve to win the battle for eyeballs against wikigoogazon, et al.

This is not a profession for naysayers, pessimists,luddites, bureaucrats, or wallflowers. We as 21st century librarians have been handed a big job. If you don't have the tools you need, don't just petition the schools to start teaching them, go get off your butt and take a class yourself. (or if you already have the skill, offer your services to your alma mater as an adjunct!) If you're nervous about speaking, join toastmasters. If you don't write well, do what is neccessary to improve. Go to the local community picnics or meetings and peet people, even if you're not manning the library's booth. These are all basic steps ambitious future leaders take in the non-library world. If we are to get the respect we deserve, self-improvement and service are the ways we get there.

Next post: something Wiki this way comes: web 2.0 in the library

Friday, June 02, 2006

GTD Weekly review & The Pollyanna effect

When I do my weekly review at work, right after I skim my someday/maybe list, and before I do a few minutes of mindsweeping, I always read a random chapter of “Ready for Everything” for a bit of insight/uplift. For those who don’t own this one, each chapter is a page or two summarizing one of the key concepts in the GTD system, or just a general personal growth or life management platitude. This week the flying fickle finger of fate landed on chapter 45: “Surprises, expected, are no Surprise”. This line really grabbed me:

“Maintaining a consistent intention of uplifting thoughts toward positive outcomes is not for the faint of heart. You must be willing to confront the whole gamut of historical and future potential realities, accept them for what they are (and are not), and keep moving toward what you want, That truly defuses the demons.” (Allen 2003,134-5)

Now, a confession. My name is Sarah, and I am an optimist. (“Hi, Sarah”.) Some might say, even…a Pollyanna. I think that’s supposed to be an insult, or at least a gentle barb. I mean, I’m a gen-x geek librarian who’s a proud registered democrat! I’m supposed to be all crusty and bitter and ironic! And once upon a time, in high school and my first year of college, I was all crusty and bitter and ironic. Don’t believe me? Ask the poor folks who had to live with me before I went to college! I was older at 19 that I am now at 29. I was a panicker and a worrier and a pessimist. Now I’m typically laid back enough to make Bobby McFerrin irritated. What changed me?

I wasted most of my teenage years being angry and bitter and depressed over childhood events that I felt had destroyed my innocence. I’ll spare you the lifetime original movie stuff, but let’s just say I had a rougher road than many, but also a lighter road than many. One day I was bemoaning my fate, of how miserable my life was and that it never would improve, and IT HIT ME.

By obsessing so much about being a lonely, panicky, depressed underachiever, I was actually becoming that which I most dreaded.

So, I took a shaky breath. OK. What if the worst happens? And for the first time I stopped wallowing in my situation and LOOKED at my life objectively. What if I remained lonely and panic-ridden and fat? Instead of running from the abyss, I LOOKED into it. I looked as long and hard and as dispassionately as I could at my innermost fears. And in that moment I saw that there were things in that Abyss that, if they came to pass, I could handle. That gave me confidence that if other things happened, I could and would deal with them when the time came.

And then the final epiphany—by wasting my life WORRYING about some potential distaster, rather than
A: preparing for it as best as possible followed by
B: Living the most meaningful and fulfilling life possible in the meantime,
I wasn’t solving anything.

In addition, I was choosing to have a crappy, lonely life in the process. After that epiphany I spent most of my 20s taking baby-steps to deal with each of those fears or flaws, with as many setbacks as successes along the way. But the overall trend has been upward toward increased health, empowerment, and success. The day you truly realize that your thoughts create your reality is the day you start becoming an optimist. The power of positive thinking ain’t just a platitude.

Becoming a Pollyanna has been one of the hardest things I’ve done. It’s easy to trust when the world has never betrayed you. The real test of character comes when the hard times hit. So now I’m gonna ask for a show of hands. How many of you have READ Pollyanna—or seen the movie? That girl did not have it easy. We’re talking about an orphaned daughter of missionaries who spent her early years in poverty in the wilds of who-knows-where before being shipped off to an aunt she’d never seen before, who frankly didn’t give a rats’s ass about her for the first hour and a half of the film. And yet, she drove the whole town 15 kinds of crazy with that glad game and even turned the fire and brimstone minister into a victorian-era hippie. But she hadn’t really been tested. The REAL test came when she fell out of that tree and broke her back. What does she do? Well, she goes into a depression. The same as any sentient human. However, with a combo of the town’s operation cheer-up and the own girl’s determination to get her life back (a puppy and a smile from the former town curmudgeon wouldn’t turn ANYONE’s mood around unless they wanted it to be turned around), little Hayley Mills was all smiles before the credits rolled, even though she still had no idea if she’d ever walk again.

So, while I promise not to play the “glad game” with my friends in anything other than a sarcastic tone of voice, I am an optimist. And I am damned proud of it. It’s easy to let life make you hard and bitter. The real challenge is to fight through that crap, and to keep going for the goals in life you want to attain (to tie this back in with GTD). Optimism is to keep doing your next action, keep looking for the next steps to get to your goals, to roll with the punches and stay focused on the end goal even when things are crashing around your ears. That’s a skill that has served me better in my personal and professional life than any system or theory I’ve ever tried.

So, how has optimism helped you in your path to a life well-lived? Or am I just being a Pollyanna here? :-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Greetings and my vision for this blog

Hi! I'm Sarah, and welcome to The Scattered Librarian! I'm Access Services & Distance Learning Librarian at a small academic library in Oklahoma. I have created this blog to discuss two different but intertwined aspects of my professional life.

First, I plan to share my thoughts on the state of Librarianship today, with special attention to Distance Learning Librarianship, Library management, the future(?)of cataloging, The good, bad, and ugly of current ILS systems (isn't "ILS Systems" a redundancy?), career development, management issues, and the miscellaneous professional musings of a youngish "next-gen" Librarian who is still fairly new to the field.

Second, I plan to use this space to chronicle my experiences implementing the Getting Things Done (aka GTD)at home and at work. I probably don't look "scattered" to most casual visitors to my life, but this is out of force of will rather than any innate tendency to organization, as my mother can testify after seeing my room for 18 years. :-) I have to have a detailed, rigorous system to keep the physical and mental clutter away, and I care enough about attaining my goals in life to take up the struggle. I hope to share tips, struggles, and triumphs in my ongoing project of "unscattering", in the hopes they might be helpful to other GTDers as they implement their systems.

I know most people in the blogosphere have more feeds in their bloglines than they now how to handle, many of them consisting of little more than postbacks to other blogs. Unless I have thoughts about a post that are too detailed for that blog's replies section, and/or I find something in a relatively new or obscure blog, I promise this blog will offer you more than linkbacks. Soon I will be adding links to my favorite librarianship and productivity websites in the sidebar. I'll also be posting again soon with both a summary of my professional life to date and a outline of my current GTD implementation. My plan is to post weekly, alternating between my two topics, but I may well post more or less frequently as my schedule and current events dictate. Thanks for reading, I hope you like what you see, and I'm off to create next actions for my next updates! :-)

Thanks and Welcome,