Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Jams! (8/29/2014)

It's Friday! Time to kick out the jams!

If you're in public libraries, hopefully you're starting to get a breather as Summer Reading draws to a close. If you're in academic or school libraries, the students are back. Woo!

Enjoy these jams and have a great weekend.

Stay positive,

Jason Isbell's Southeastern was my favorite album of 2013 and it's a shame that it didn't win a Grammy. This live version is pretty great, but it doesn't have the fiddle stylings of Amanda Shires, which is also a shame. Anyway, it's really great and I hope you dig it.


Driving all day today to party all weekend, need some classic jams for the road. You know how your favorite band has another band that is a cover band with the same members and their friends and everyone has fake names? Is that just me? Because I feel sorry for you if that is not the case. You can borrow mine for today. Tina and the B-Side Movement (or Tina and the B-Sides sometimes) is also sometimes Lola and the Red Hots. With Tina as Lola and sister Laura as Esther Mae. It's a family band playing a family band. I mean.

I honestly could not say enough about Tina Schlieske and all of her bands. Go on, sign up for the mailing list, you get a free sampler which is well worth the zero dollars totally free.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lazy and Dangerous

At the time, it really annoyed me how persnickety Professor J. Pablo Silva was about having clear antecedents. There was to be no "this" or "that" or "it" in your paper. As a reader, the text should be clear as to what it is referring. As a writer, you need to know what you're actually talking about. Clear referents make for a clearer argument. Now, more than ten years out of college, "you have to say what you're talking about" is one of the things I am happiest that I had driven into the depths of my psyche. You can't just talk about stuff. You have to be clear.

It's human nature to want to classify things together and establish some shorthands, but there is a danger implicit in simplifying our world. Some twitter conversations from last week come to mind.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On leadership

The most effective form of leadership is supportive. It is collaborative. It is never assigning a task role or function to another that we ourselves would not be willing to perform. For all practical purposes, leading well is as simple as remembering to remain others-centered instead of self-centered.

That quote is from this awesome blog post from the Harvard Business Review's blog entitled "Great leadership isn't about you."

When I think about the people in Librarianship that I admire, the quality they have in common is that they tirelessly advocate for others. In some cases, it's advocating on behalf of library users. In other cases, it's advocating on behalf of colleagues. But in every case, they are focused on someone other than themselves.

It's an admirable quality, really, being an others-centered leader. And not one that regularly wins recognition or awards.

For better and worse, Librarianship seems to give the microphone to the people who already have the loudest voices. Sometimes those people have great ideas and a collaborative vision for bringing those ideas to fruition. Sometimes, however, those people have self-promotion as their number one priority.

So, my challenge is two-fold:

1. Let's make sure that we, as a profession, identify and promote the best ideas. Even when those ideas don't come from the people we naturally think of as Libraryland Leaders.

2. Let's become the kind of people who put the best interests of our users ahead of our own self-promotion.

Stay positive,

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Jams! (8/22/2014)

It's Friday! Time to kick out the jams!

Programming announcement: Rachel is hosting the #critlb chat on Thursday, August 28th at 9pm Eastern about libraries/librarians and social justice with an eye toward the events going on in Ferguson, Mo. Keep an eye on Rachel's Twitter space (@RachelMFleming) for recommended reading and more information.

It is not an exaggeration, it is God's honest truth: this has been on repeat on my iPod all week long. And it has been a long week.

Erin McKeown's album, Manifestra, was one of my favorite albums of 2013. "Histories" is my favorite song from that album and I'm pleased to share it with you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We should probably cruise

As Rachel alluded to in her post on Friday, I spent the past week on a bus. The university where I work has a new faculty tour of the state. Librarians are considered faculty (though we're not on the tenure track), so I was able to attend.  I saw the diversity of economic opportunity in Georgia and how the university is trying to build relationships between its faculty and the people of the state. Over the course of five days, we visited farms and factories and everything in between.

As much as I was on the tour to learn about the state of Georgia, I was there to represent the Libraries to my new faculty cohort. And in that way, I was in a unique position from anyone else on the tour. I should be clear that this role wasn't as a result of some directive from my library's leadership. It was because the new faculty had questions and they saw me as someone who had answers. As ridiculous as it might sound, I regretted not spending more time studying my library's website and making a cheat sheet of answers that I anticipated that my colleagues might ask.

I fielded questions about course reserves, ILL, article databases, and data sets. I talked to scientists about how the Libraries could help them design data management plans to support their grant-funded research. I talked to humanists about how the Libraries was trying to balance their need for a browse-able collection with a desire for collaborative student spaces. I did my best to tailor my conversations to match the interests and pressing needs of my audience as I understood them. And I tried to speak without using jargon that might be off-putting.

The phrase I said more than anything else on the tour was: Feel free to contact me after the tour and I'll connect you with someone who can help you.

Regardless of where in the library we work, we all need to be prepared to have these conversations with our user groups. I think that informal conversations are at least as useful in getting academic faculty to buy-in to the mission of the academic library as the official speech given as new faculty orientation. These conversations allow you to sell your library resources in the context of what matters to the people who use them. Your students need help understanding how to search for the literature in your field? We can help you with that! You're the first person in 50 years at the University in a particular research niche? The library can help you obtain the resources you need to succeed!

So, what would you say about your library if you were trapped on a bus for a week with your users? How would you tell them about the services and collections you offer? Drop me a line in the comments!

Stay positive,

Thoughts from the crew:
I, too, was recently oriented to a new faculty. I wasn't very excited about it.  I've been through it a few times (different jobs, transferred schools in undergrad, etc.)  And I've been working at my new job since February. I almost skipped it. I had things to do, and to be perfectly honest, I was bored.

Until I started talking to the other new faculty about the library. Suddenly I was all about what courses are they teaching, did you know about all of the technology we have, let me tell you about the curriculum library, let me tell you how great your liaison is. Turns out, I'm pretty excited about the library and what we're doing.  Sometimes I forget.  New faculty orientation was a great reminder.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Jams! (8/15/2014)


I'm on vacation and Erin is on a bus in the wilderness (more on that later), but we have thoughts, and jams.  Erin and I both have strong connections to St. Louis, so that's where our thoughts have been all week.  I've been in St. Louis, and got to enjoy a baseball game (my birthday tradition) as well as some social justice movements. (more on this later, as well)

#NMOS14 in St. Louis
Erin says her jam is, of course, Nelly, Air Force Ones.

And my jam for today is Matisyahu's Live Like A Warrior:


What are you listening to today?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday jams!

It's Friday! Let's kick out the jams!

Here are the songs that Erin and Rachel are digging on this week. What song are you digging on this week? Hit us up in the comments.

Sylvan Esso is an electro-pop band from North Carolina and they are awesome. Their whole album is fantastic, but I'm really digging their song "Hey Mami." Check out the duo playing the song live in the Moog Sound Lab.

As an aside, the Moog Sound Lab has a bunch of really great live performances by bands you might enjoy. Check it out!

It's Friday, it's rainy in the mountains. I'm settin' em up and knockin' em down.  High levels of productivity call for some productivity jams. I'm rocking out to my high school record collection. In my youth, I did a lot of math to this record, and it still does the job of helping me focus while still being (or because it is?) totally awesome.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thoughts on Thinking

Every time I rolled with Kevin in jiu jitsu, he tried to give me a chance, but I ended up getting choked out anyway. My jiu jitsu buddy's first words to me were, "you're a thinker, I can tell," after choking me out. It's true, am a thinker.  I like to know things, I like to know how things fit together, I like to know how to do things well.

Our Hero, back right, survives jiu jitsu

Academia is full of thinkers, but I've been pondering how I'm different than most of my colleagues. Sure I'm a thinker, but I'm a doer too. For me, the purpose of thought is to guide action. Data are there to inform the best course of action. I want to get right to getting it done. I don't like meetings without agendas, I don't like discussions straying into many divergent tangents, I don't see the point of all that talking if it has no immediate result.  So I find myself often in meetings thinking "Yeah, but what are we gonna DO?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A positive jam

"We gotta start it off with a positive jam"--The Hold Steady

In July, I wrote a blog post for Jessica Olin's Letters to a Young Librarian. In it, I suggested that public services and technical services folks work together to build a better library. And, in a play on a line from a song by The Hold Steady, I called for the building of a Unified Library Scene.

For me, the Unified Library Scene is about technical services and public services people working together and moving past stereotypes. But maybe it looks different for you. There's a lot of places where we create silos or turn the otherness of our colleagues into something to be feared or disdained rather than celebrated.

I am grateful that Jessica gave me the platform to write something that resonated with people and sparked in me an interest to keep the conversation going. I hope you'll be willing to join me on this adventure. I hope you'll tell me what the Unified Library Scene means to you and what you're doing to build it. You'll be hearing from my partner-in-crime, Rachel Fleming, soon. And I hope you'll join us in the comments and in writing guest posts.

My hope is that we leave Librarianship a better, more inclusive place than we found it. So let's start it with a positive jam.

Stay positive,