Pushing Through the Doubt

I went to the LIBRIS conference last week and met with fellow members of the SCLA GLBT Round Table. It was the first time meeting them in person. Through virtual meetings I would type in the chat, listen to the conversation, and do due diligence to participate. However, it still felt like a stalling moment, where you want to gain ground and move forward, but you don’t.

And I was okay with that.

I’m someone prone to commit to everything and then doubt that I can come through, flake out, or get through with a destroyed inner confidence.

Going to the conference got me out of the comfortable, no-grow zone. It’s not that I’m not skilled at connecting, socializing, or talking. It’s just I tend to be very afraid of initiating the interaction. Thankfully my group members are accepting, patient, and inclusive. Everyone is focused on a central goal which drives us to be better people to our patrons, communities, and each other.

Before the conference, I didn’t know where I was going as a librarian. I knew that I wanted to increase the quality of services to LGBTQ library patrons, teach all staff best terminology and customer service practices, and evaluate existing policies and procedures in order to improve services from the root up. I knew this, but wasn’t sure how to start.

After the conference? I am partnering with fellow RT members to present at a state library diversity exchange. I will be a part of our SCLA conference presentation and panel discussion. I’ve had a conversation with employees about what I am doing, where I am going, and have received buy in from them. Our library is starting a Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee that I have asked to be a part of.

So what changed? It can be difficult to take on change alone. The common thread between blogs, articles, podcasts, books, and webinars about change is to find support. Find people who can help you, have common ideals, or can keep you accountable.

I grew up thinking that I had to get something perfect the first time for it to matter. This mentality kept me from trying new things and meeting new people. What I’ve learned is that you have to fail to learn. I guess you could reword that to say what I failed to learn is that you have to fail to learn. Are your eyes crossed yet?

Moving forward, I’m going to keep trying with at least one clear goal, intention, or direction in mind. I won’t aim for perfect. I’ll be more honest with people about my doubts, concerns, and hesitations. Together we can build ourselves up, protect the weak spots, and move, move, move forward.

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Starting Back with Writing

For the past 6 days, I have been writing everyday. Mostly it has been around a daily writing prompt that I subscribed to through Paulette Perhach’s website Welcome to the Writer’s Life. This is also the title of her book that I finished recently along with several other titles. So my reading and writing have increased in order to serve this new drive to write. But first…

Why Writing?

Teachers told me through my academic career that I was, should be, and would become a great writer. This boost of ego though wasn’t met with a reasonable idea of what becoming a writer would entail. I’ve struggled throughout the years with my ego, the boost it gives me and the ultimate let down it leads me to.

Perhach addresses in the last chapter that the ego makes you feel amazing and then like you are your work. You start out and think you are the hottest shit around, don’t need feedback, and will have a polished piece of writing in 3 days, tops! Then you get into the muck and work until you have a first draft. Still riding the high, you sit down without a pen to take notes and read your masterpiece. But the writing isn’t golden, unless Midas touched a turd. But it is still a turd.

And then the other extreme takes over – you see the work as a mirror. You are the turd. You are not a writer, and why would you have ever thought otherwise? What is your deal?

I read Jane McGonigal’s book SuperBetter. I decided to follow Jane’s advice and take on the secret identity of Rah, the Returner. My foes? The Languishers – Alter/Ego, Seductive Laze, Sticky Sadness, and Chores Galore. Do any of these villains sound familiar?

What Now?

Write every day.

Ok, so that is the general goal. Write every day means follow the writing prompt or write in my journal. This will go on for another week. Any amount of time or word counts.

Eventually I want to get up to 1 hour of writing on 5 days in another week’s time. I want to produce one blog post to publish or save. I also want to start using that hour to reread and rewrite

I want it to be focused on the prompts and my experiences. A lot of what I have written is personal experience, memoir pieces. I want to understand and know myself before moving forward with fiction or poetry.

In three weeks time, I would like to have made contact with one writer friend and be able to send them questions or meet up.

These are my small goals for now.

Graduation Day Fall 2018

I’ve done it! I have my Masters in Library and Information Sciences from the University of South Carolina! The big question now is “so what do I do with it?”

Me at hooding ceremony

I am receiving the hood from above. I had to hunker down though so as not to lose my hat.

Should this have been a question I was asking of myself before walking the small stage to be hooded? Probably. And I have thought about it. But when one of my professors asked me “so where are you going from here?”, I replied “well, first to the Mediterranean Tea Room”. What a predictable joke. Really, it was nothing more than an automatic panic response – oh yeah! I am supposed to be a professional now.

In fact, after the hooding ceremony reception, we went to the Mediterranean Tea Room only to find it was packed with people. We ended up at Lizard’s Thicket, which was my first choice anyway. A safe, cozy, samey place that is the same at any location with the same menu and daily specials. And it hit me now, as I was typing the first paragraph, that my lunch options after my big day might be indicative of my future.

The good – I knew it would be a less busy place with ample parking and food that I like, including collards which they had as the greens of the day. Also, the chocolate cake is lovely.

The bad – I wasn’t willing to wait for something healthier for me or work to get over obstacles…like parallel parking (it just sucks to do, ok? yes, I know I should practice it). Also, I saw a challenge and left it behind for the easier path.

Am I overthinking this situation? Probably, but it’s how I think. It’s why movies rarely surprise me. I see the set ups and start listing out all the payoffs in my head. Internally, I try to use this strategy with my life.

Why am I not writing then? Using those skills to communicate those small, complex, yet simplistic oddities in life? Because it’s like parallel parking: an obstacle I could conquer if I just practiced. But why when I can coast to Lizard’s Thicket?

So at the end of the day, I am still unsure where I will land, what path I’ll walk, what fruit I’ll pluck from the trees of knowledge along the way, and what options for lunch I will choose. But for now…it doesn’t matter. A weekend of friends and family, board games, cheese & meat trays, pepper jelly and cream cheese smeared on crackers, cupcakes and cheesecake, Sunday fresh laundry, and even a mid-Sunday nap.

Monday will come though, but I’ll be well dressed, well fed, and ready to start the journey.

 

Review: The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness by Ryan J. Dowd

I’m timid when it comes to confrontation. Just the thought of having to tell a patron to correct their behaviour makes my stomach twist. However, if I want to be able to take up a leadership or management position, work at a public library in a city, or be able to maintain a relationship with potentially troublesome patrons, I’ll need to break this timidness.

One population of patrons that seems the most daunting to talk to are our homeless. I understand they enjoy the library. There is space to roam, clean bathrooms, free WiFi, books, and magazines, heat and air, running water, shelter. So I dread the day I’ll have to mention that they might be disturbing other patrons or that they are breaking a behaviour policy. Even now I cringe to think of it.

I want people to like me – it makes my job easier. I put a smile on for everyone, nod and acknowledge them as they pass, give a greeting and maybe a reminder that I am there to help.

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness : An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone by Ryan J Dowd popped up in a professional magazine and I pounced onto the catalog to get a copy. Now an excerpt graces the inside of the recent ALA American Libraries June 2018 edition and there is a hold on it which prevented me from renewing it further.

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness : An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone

by Ryan J Dowd

Chicago: ALA Editions, 2018

This book was a pleasure to read. Dowd’s years of experience as head of the Hesed House in Aurora, Illinois to present librarians with useful tools in a knowledgeable, relatable, and humorous way. There is no feeling of disconnect between the propose potential scenarios and what a librarian might expect at a library.

The writing is enjoyable and highly readable. Couple this with the highly useful content and it is easy to see how I finished it in three days (probably could have done it in two). Dowd provides several tools and examples of what to and not to do. Each tool has a name that stick with you after you leave. For example, I know the tool that scares me the most is the Anti-Procrastinator. This tool reminds me to act immediately to address a potentially bad situation early before it becomes a bigger situation. PS – I didn’t have to refer back to the book for that.

This is for all staff in a library who serve the public. Dowd believes that you have to get your head, body, and words in line to serve homeless patron effectively and respectively. He introduces the concept of empathy and punishment in a psychological, sociological, and physiological way that is easy to digest and apply to working condition.

Overall, my biggest complaint is that I have to shell out $57 to own a copy…and even then that is a relatively good price for a new ALA publication. I would say it is worth the money because of the content, but it depends on your budget. If you have a professional development collection for staff at your library, this would be a great addition. Maybe I’ll ask for it as a graduation present…

The Greatest Tool?
If I had to pick a tool that would be best for our library to use right now, it would be Amigos. This tool reminds libraries that they work best with partners. Partnering with the local shelters to understand the homeless situation in your area, to discuss any current behavior issues, to coordinate programming and services, and to potentially contract them to find a decent social worker for the library are all possibilities with this tool. I am considering reaching out to the shelter to see what my crafting group can do for them all year instead of the winter emphasis.

Digital Extras

Check out Dowd’s website : http://www.homelesslibrary.com

The ALA Editions page for the book has a linked interview with Dowd and a video of a reading from the book: https://www.alastore.ala.org/content/librarians-guide-homelessness-empathy-driven-approach-solving-problems-preventing-conflict

Take a look at the Hesed House website to see the services that they provide: https://www.hesedhouse.org/

TBR: Sunday Coffee Table Pile- May 6, 2018

TBR pile- the “to be read” pile. Anyone else have this? I feel like a symptom of working at a library is a TBR piles of some height. I think it increases when you have limited book shelf space.

I glance over at the coffee table and notice the TBR monolith on the corner growing while the currently reading pile has stagnated.

I get on kicks of interests and those sometimes stay. More often they wane.

So here is my TBR list for today:

Fiction 

Adjustment Day – Chuck Palahniuk

Non-Fiction

Main Theme: Library Professional Development

The Dysfunctional Library : Challenges and Solutions to Workplace Relationships – Jo Henry, Joe Eshleman, & Richard Moniz

Cultivating Engaged Staff : Better Management for Better Libraries – Margaret Zelman Law

The New Librarianship Field Guild – R. David Lankes

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: an Empathy-driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone – Ryan J. Dowd

True Crime Book Club Title

Ghettoside : A True Story of Murder in America – Jill Leovy

Miscellaneous

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics – Dan Harris

–Going to a meditation program series at the local library. Saw this and though why not.

Soulful Simplicity : How Living with Less can lead to so much more – Courtney Carver

–I’m one of those people who lost over 100 lbs of crap with KonMari method. ‘Nuff said.

The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice – Seth Allcorn & Howard F. Stein

–I read this one before but am pairing it with the dysfunctional library book to see the comparison.

Random DVD – Waxwork/Waxwork II

–One of our branches have taken excess DVD donations and made a browsing DVD collection of titles that could not be purchased with current collection development policies. Hence this lovely bad movie gem (the first one – the second is…ok).

-End List-

I understand the irony of mentioning KonMari and yet have a stack of books. I recognize it and accept it and relish in the fact I can shove them all in a book return and be done. They are all library books. I haven’t bought a new book I haven’t read in a long time. I did purchase a treasury of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series with the original illustrations, but I’ve read it over and over as a kid.

Do you have a TBR list? Longer or short than mine? Have themes within or are you more of a sporadic reader? With that, it’s on into the last of the weekend.

Now about that NetGalley list…

Super Quick Shot: Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s

Anyone else feel that when they revisit an old site, it seems you were active around the same time last year? Does it seem like your mood has its own seasons and schedules? I feel like this is true for myself. Look at the activity feed for my site, the last time this page had a heartbeat it was a weak one.

Remember “a new year, a new you”? The phrase that swept the headlines and campaign titles in every inch of banner space or seasonal signage at stores? Anyone feeling the newness yet? It seems that long term changes don’t just happen – they build up. Step by step.

So here is a quick heart beat review

Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s by Eric Tyson, MBA – 2018

Part of the For Dummies series, I have found this book to be a no nonsense explanation of how to get a temperature read on your current financial situation. Having not had my finger on my wallet’s pulse the last few hectic years of a master’s program and job changes, being told I could get a credit history and score free was refreshing.

The book covers a range of topics including budgeting, taxes, retirement, investing, money & relationships, and insurance. Tyson provides free solutions when available and advice on when and how to find professional help.

This is a great book for anyone headed off to college and swimming in a sea of credit card advertisements. It is helpful for me, someone who is still paying down my undergrad debt and managing to get a masters with a part time job.

I acquired my copy from the library, but this book comes in at around $19.99. Take a gander at the table of contents to see if you need the whole thing or only pieces. Eric Tyson has other publications on personal finances and investing as well.


Phew! A quick one, but there it is.

Super Quick Shot: Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint & why I should take notes

It’s been a long time since my last post, mostly due to life barreling forward and me spinning on the insides.

I started out a come back to the site by reading several professional library books. I didn’t have a focus on a particular subject, but generally focused on politics, reference services, and suggested professional competencies. Out of all that I read, there is one book that rose above the rest.

I have found that the library professional books I have come across become same-y sounding, follow similar formats, or, especially thin volumes, skim the surface of an issue/topic. Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint by Paul T Jaeger, Ursula Gorham, John Carlo Bertot , and Lindsay C. Sarin was able to take a balanced approach to the perception of public libraries in politics, mixing historical context and founded foresight. Especially in today political climate, it has an eerie feel of prophecy to it (like many dystopian novels, including The Handmaid’s Tale and Prophecy of the Sower).

What wonderful things do I remember from it?

*attempts to access long term, iron clad, photographic memory from late February*

[ERROR]

Well, that’s embarrassing. It’s also a lesson in what to do if you intend on providing a review or insight on something.

What do I remember? It wasn’t a brief description of things I’m learning in my reference graduate course. It isn’t a collection of case studies. It is a text that could be used in a graduate course about libraries within the political landscape. It is a book that places libraries in a realistic present political context.

There have been times during my online graduate courses where it seems people aren’t panicking as much as I am about the future. At times, I know it is easy to set the default to comfortable soap box for discussion posts, but it isn’t the time to be comfortable anymore.

It is definitely the time to remember what you read and be able to bring it up when needed….*cough, cough*

So Question: What do you do if you are preparing a review? Do you take notes?

Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint

written by Paul T Jaeger, Ursula Gorham, John Carlo Bertot , and Lindsay C. Sarin

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014

Publishers Page

Google Books copy