It’s Time to Move Along

December 20, 2009

I have to say that my decision to start a blog back in September of 2005, when I started graduate school, was one of the most edifying parts of my educational experience. It gave me a venue to work though my school experiences as well as my thoughts on various topics relating to library science. I have definitely missed blogging. It seems to me that I was more attentive to different trends in the library world and more thoughtful about how they impacted the things I was studying and my library work.

However, I made a conscious choice when I began blogging to try to focus my comments on graduate school rather than on my work as a systems librarian. I didn’t always follow this internal mandate – after all, I my profession certainly colored my educational experiences and my opinions on various issues. The strictures that I had set became a problem for me when I got close to finishing school. I grew more and more frustrated with my experiences in a distance program and more focused on work because of things that were happening in my library (and in the greater institution). I had several issues that I wanted to write about, but I definitely started discarding the majority of my posts because they were becoming more and more removed from my educational experience. This trend only continued once I actually graduated.

The ironic thing is that I really wasn’t conscious of why I kept starting posts and then deleting them until quite recently. In August, I participated in the “Library Day in the Life” meme which caused me to seriously think about blogging and whether or not I wanted to continue. I definitely wanted to continue, but still found myself stymied. Shortly thereafter, I realized that I wasn’t able to blog under the original constraints that I had set for this blog as one about my library school experiences.

Ultimately, I decided that I needed to formally put this blog to bed. I figured it would be best for me to first decide if I wanted to start another blog or not. After much soul-searching, I decided that blogging had been extremely beneficial for me. It had allowed me to participate in larger library conversations. As an introvert who doesn’t feel very comfortable in large groups of unknown people, I don’t often participate in conferences or face-to-face gatherings. I found that this blog helped me become aware of myself and my role in the larger library world. I learned not only from my own blog musings, but from many others. Blogging was very good for me, and I do not want to return to the more insular library world in which I was living four to five years ago.

So, I have started a new blog in which I plan to focus a bit more on the issues that I face in my day-to-day life as a systems librarian. More can be found there.

(In case anyone wonders what prompted this:
I did make this decision in early November, but a very hectic work schedule and a recent two-week vacation in Sydney, Australia made my life a wee bit crazy. I admit that I was prompted to sit down this week after reading the latest edition of Walt Crawford’s January 2010 issue of Cites and Insights. And, I needed to procrastinate about Christmas shopping. This weekend’s blizzard helped some as well.  🙂 )

A Return to Blogging?

August 1, 2009

Over the past year, blogging has been a nonexistent priority in my life. The major reason for this is that school wiped me out – sapped me of almost everything that I had to give. Working as a systems librarian full-time and attending library school meant that almost every waking thought that I had was about libraries. I admit that I got to a point where I really needed to confine my library-related thoughts to my work schedule. I was afraid that I was coming to hate the word library. So once I finished my schooling and realized that I needed some space, I started looking for ways to take more time for me. Given the amount of time and effort that blogging takes, I decided to let it go. And you know, it did help.

Oddly enough, I have missed blogging – quite a bit. I can’t say that I am surprised by this fact. This was always a place where I worked through my own thoughts about library-related issues. When blogging, I found that I paid more attention to things that were happening in the library world. I thought about them more consciously – and I admit that I cared about them more. Since allowing myself to take a break, I have noticed that I pay less attention to things that are happening in the wider library sphere. I am much more narrowly focused in scope. This isn’t bad. It was probably a good thing. I think that I needed to narrow my focus in order to make it through the past year. The past two years at work have been particularly stressful, and I needed to reorient myself in order to find a better way to deal with the stress – and to give myself some time to figuring out what my place in the library world might be.

I believe that things have leveled out a bit (or I have just become used to how things now are). I’m starting to care more about what is going on in the greater library world. So will I return to blogging? I hope so. I have been thinking about it for the past six months. I dont’ think that I have quite figured out what my place in the library world definitively is, but I think that blogging can help. The Library Day in the Life meme was the perfect motivation. I do hope to continue blogging. I can’t promise anything (to those of you have asked), but I think it would do me good. We shall see!

Library Day in the Life 2009: Friday

July 31, 2009

As I was up most of Thursday night feeling a bit under the weather, I did not make it into work today.

I feel the need to comment that this week was unusually quiet. I’m thinking that a look into a day in the library of an academic systems librarian might be more exciting at another time of the year.

Library Day in the Life 2009: Thursday

July 31, 2009

I arrive at work. Read my email, listen to my voice mail and go through my RSS feeds. I’m kind of excited that I don’t have any meetings schedule for today.

I spend most of the day writing reports, working on the location code update project and doing a bit of office cleaning. It is definitely a quite and rather uninteresting day. However, I do get quite a bit done.

We have a library staff coffee hour. We hold this in our cafe because the cafe space is in a cooler part of the building than the staff room. During coffee, we do find out that 3 out of the 4 a/c compressors are now working. As the day passes, it does become apparent that the climate is getting more comfortable. How exciting.

In the afternoon, I do get a couple to support calls. One of our acquisitions people is having trouble posting invoices in our library system. I do some investigating. Some of the fields in an order record are not correct and because of this the items cannot be marked as paid. Fortunately, the invoice in question has only two items on it. I delete the invoice and the person is then able to go into the item record and fix the problem.

One of the reference librarians calls with a problem logging on to a computer with the interlibrary loan account. Unfortunately, I do not have the password. Her options are to call the help desk and have the password changed or wait until the interlibrary loan librarian returns to work tomorrow.

Time to go home.

Library Day in the Life 2009: Wednesday

July 29, 2009

When I look back at today, I find that I really can’t remember it all that well. I’m not sure what that might mean. Sadly, I didn’t take good notes today.

I arrive at work. It is still hot and humid. Everything in my office is sticky. Fortunately, the sun is not out. That should make it less hot. I go through my email, RSS feeds, etc. I respond to questions and followup on items that need my attention. I remember to email my employee so that we can get her performance review stuff settled.

I contiue preparing for a 10AM meeting with college’s web developer about several databases our archivist has that need to be put on the web. I look through her files. They are all in Access databases – which makes me cringe.

I gather up 5 backup tapes for our library system and head across campus to the IT offices. I need to exchange the backup tapes with the woman who changes and initializes our tapes each day during the week. After exchanging the tapes, I head to my meeting.

The meeting is short. There are no good solutions. I need to discuss this with the web developer and her boss to figure out how IT would like to proceed. I email her boss and now have a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.

I talk to the archivist to apprise her of the results of the meeting. We may need to start looking at other solutions. I do some research on this.

I go out to get pizza for lunch. I again eat in my office because the heat in the staff room is worse than my office.

The circulation supervisor finished adding new loan rules to our library system for the new location codes we are creating. So, the project is back in my hands. I start working on next steps and working out a tentative time line.

One of our reference librarians was working on her annual report, complete with statistics. She was having trouble getting her charts labeled correctly. I spent at least 1/2 with her, but we couldn’t get the chart right. Everything we did kept messing up the chart. I think we will try again tomorrow.

I head home – and am psyched when I arrive at home to feel that my husband put the ac on. Coolness!

Library Day in the Life 2009: Tuesday

July 28, 2009

I arrive at work early. Between the lack of a/c and the number of parents dropping off children for day programs, I thought it would be a good idea to get in early. There is a crane in the library parking lot. This is a good sign that there might be some positive movement on the a/c situation.

I start work by going through my emails. There isn’t much to go through, but this is only because I check my email when I am home on my iPhone. I have to stop doing this.

I print out information about the latest release of the software that we use for digital asset management. I have to read through and familiarize myself with some of the new features for a conference call with the vendor at 10:00AM. I will be taking on the application specialist responsibilities for this system.

The vendor that I emailed yesterday about adding our new learning management system as a trusted site in our electronic course management system responded that this is done. I logged in to verify this. All looked good.

I then log into the new learning management system with a training account and start adding links to full-text articles, both proxied and un-proxied. I need to do extensive testing from on and off campus to figure out how best to explain this to faculty.

Leave my office to walk across campus for the conference call. I could have joined from my office, but decided it would be cooler in the IT office space. I take some pictures of the crane on my way across campus. The call goes well. We decide not to upgrade to the new version of the software. We will just migrate the software from a virtual machine to its own hardware and add networked attached storage. We will also make some modifications to the user account scheme. The vendor will be on campus for three days in August. I feel good about the project.

I am back in my office. There was a meeting at 10:00AM that I was supposed to attend, but had to skip just finished up. I did 3 more Adobe Photoshop online lessons.

I do more work on performance management forms for FY2010. At the same time, I continue working on my annual report. I feel as if it is taking me forever to finish these things. I will admit that I find it much easier to be distracted by things like cleaning my office, etc. when I have to work on these end-of-the year items.

Lunch time! Since my office feels cooler than the staff room (due to my open balcony door and my fan), I decide to eat at my desk. I do some of the lessons from the Photoshop CS4 online class. I feel like I’m starting to get a better grasp on layers and selections.

I talk to one of the reference librarians about web pages. The reference staff is just starting to edit our reference web pages in our college’s new content management system. We are trying to discuss changes to page formats and layouts that might make things less complicated for them. I need to discuss this further with the head reference librarian.

I start to prepare for a meeting that I have with the college’s web developer tomorrow about putting several Access databases on the web. The college archivist has several databases that she needs to put up on the web to allow people to search the archives finding aids. I have a great deal of information to gather.

I continue some work on the project to change our library system location codes and material types. There has been discussion about material types on the library system user group listserv. I go through these emails.

I answer a couple of phone calls from the IT system administrators. One is a followup question about the digital asset management upgrade. The second is about security audits on college servers. We discuss the library servers.

I call it a day. The sun is one the backside of the building, and my office is HOT!! I think I plan to put the a/c on at home.

I check the behavior of the links to library full-text articles in the new learning management system. This is going to be complicated. I need to find out more information about using the LMS as a proxy server or adding the IP’s of the LMS to all of our vendors. I’m starting to worry about how much of this I will be able to do prior to the start of the fall 2009 semester. I decide to worry about it later. I also read my work email and discover an email from the library director about the a/c. Things did not go well today. The a/c is not expected to work before the end of the week at the earliest. Can I wear a tank top and shorts tomorrow???

Library Day in the Life 2009: Monday

July 27, 2009

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the Library Day in the Life posts last July. It is a fascinating glimpse at the day to day tasks that various people perform in a variety of libraries. With that, I couldn’t resist participating again this year.

So, here is a look into a somewhat average Monday in my life as a systems librarian at an academic library at a small liberal arts college.

I arrive at work. As soon as I walk down the corridor on the 2nd floor, I can tell that the air conditioner on the south side of the building (where my office is located) is still not operational. The building is muggy, muggy, muggy. There is a door to a balcony in my office. I open it and turn on my fan. I can tell it is going to be a fun day.

I sit down to go through my email and voice mails. I was out on Friday so I expect that I will have a higher than normal volume of stuff to go through. I am relieved that all 5 voice mails are automated messages from non-work related sales people. However, I have several things that I need to follow up on. I respond to those people via email who are waiting for responses. I check in with the person who reports to me on an outstanding issue regarding a book-binding application that no longer runs because of an upgrade to IE8. She was able to get IE7 reinstalled and all is solved.

I talk to the IT trainer to get a username and password for one of the online training sites to which we have a subscription. I need to learn how to use the more advanced functionality of Adobe CS4 – especially Photoshop. I get the information and successfully log in. I find the right online class and complete the first lesson.

I take a survey from our ILS vendor on a recent software upgrade. While the upgrade went well, I did have to contact the vendor several times in order to complete the process. I feel that I need to take time to vocalize my frustrations with the process in the survey.

July marks the beginning of our new fiscal year. During July, we must complete performance reviews and set objectives for the coming year. While I have already met with the woman who works for me, I start work on finishing up her performance management review for fiscal year 2009. I find this to be one of the most difficult parts of my job, and it takes me quite a bit of time to get the forms completed. I do finish this document and email the final copy to my employee. However, I do get interrupted and don’t actually finish it until later in the day.

I also start to fill out the forms for my employee’s goals and objectives for FY2010. I finish two of the three goals fairly quickly. I probably will need to wait until my boss (library director) finishes my goals and objectives in order to keep everything in line with departmental goals and objectives.

I am managing a project in our library to restructure our integrated library system’s location codes and materials types. The hope is that this will add more intuitive limiting capabilities in our online catalog. After a conversation with our circulation supervisor, I add several different location codes, add them to my master spreadsheet and email the spreadsheet to the circulation supervisor.

There is another possible project in ther works to incorporate a collection from another campus department. I also start the structure for adding these new branch and location codes into our library system.

I write up some information about my proposed goals and objectives for fiscal year 2010 for my boss. I figure this will help me set objectives for my employee.

I continue alternating between several of these projects until lunch.

It is lunch time. I go into the staff room to reheat my lunch. There is a broken faucet that is leaking continuously in one of the staff bathrooms. Also, the staff room is more uncomfortable than my office. So, I decide to eat at my desk. I check gmail, my RSS feeds, etc while I eat. Once I finish, I go back to work early.

I start to formulate my thoughts and concerns about the proposed project to add a departmental collection to our library system. Overall, I a in favor, but think there are several issues that need to be resolved. I told my boss that I will be unable to make a library department head meeting tomorrow morning because of a conference call. He tells me that he will call a meeting later in the week to discuss this project and its ramifications. I ask him about a timeline for inclusion, to which the answer is “as soon as we work out our issues.” I guess it really isn’t a proposed project anymore.

All of my work on performance management plans has given me a framework for the annual report that I need to write for the systems department. So, I start work on this report which is due by August 15th. I vow (like I do every year) to keep better track of what I am doing throughout the year, so that I won’t have trouble remembering what I actually did this past year.

For the rest of the afternoon, I go back and forth some more between all of the currently projects on which I a currently working.

Now that the sun is shining on the backside of the library, my office is getting even warmer. I turn the fan up to its highest setting and then clean my desk of loose paperwork.

I have a 4:00PM appointment across campus with an IT director to discuss a conference call that we will both be on tomorrow morning at 10:00AM. The conference call is with the vendor of our digital asset management product.  We are migrating the software off of a virtual machine environment and putting it on its own hardware in August. The call tomorrow is in preparation for that migration.

I get back to my office and get ready to leave for the day. I remember to put my handwritten list of my activities for this post in my bag. I had shut my balcony door when I left for my 4:00PM meeting, so my office is about 90 degrees. I am already sweating. I read a series of emails from the director about the air conditioning. The first email reports that the problem is well on its way to being solved. It should be cooler by the end of tomorrow. But the second email reports a new problem. The motor on one of the units that was just fixed is broken. Both compressors will be replaced tomorrow. However, now the HVAC people need to find a new motor. The director does not expect tomorrow to be much cooler.

The Liblog Landscape: 2007-2008 – Walt Crawford

December 30, 2008

Boy, how time flies. I’ve had Walt Crawford’s Liblog Landscapesince the day before Thanksgiving – which, coincidentally, is actually when I read the book. I took notes intending to write a blog post. Then, I guess, that life happened, andhere I am over a month later going through my notes to put together a post. It would have been much easier to just do it then. Oh well!

My first reaction to the book was “Wow, there is tons of data here.” Having done a statistical research paper last spring, I was impressed with all of the work that must of gone into analyzing the 607  liblogs that Walt Crawford included in the study. The data is a bit overwhelming, as the author noted. I admit to skimming over some of the more statistical portions of the book, preferring to spendtime reading the analytical sections withmore depth.

Because there is so much data, there is a great deal of explanation of the research, the algorithms used and the research methodology. This information is important in order to understand how the research was done – and what data really means. There is no way that I would have understood the quartiles or the methodology without supporting documentation. So, I understand the importance of the information even if it threatened to give me a headache.

Walt Crawford has explained why there is little in the way of personal commentary and evaluation in The Liblog Landscape. His reasoning makes sense, and the book would have been way too long if such commentary were included. I admit that I was bit disappointed that the commentary was missing. Crawford’s commentary is one of the reasons that I enjoy reading his work. To answer Walt’s question, I would love to see “Walt’s Big Book of Liblogs.”

To me, the most valuable parts of the book were the chapters on “Patterns of Change”, “Subgroups”, “Liblogs and the Larger Blogosphere,” and “Liblog Profiles”. I found these four chapters to the be the heart of the book. I hadn’t expected to read about liblogs in relation to the blogosphere in general, but I think that might be the part that I enjoyed most. I can’t say that I read the “Liblog Profiles” from start to finish. It is definitely more a reference section.

Anyway, I found this book to be a valuable read – and would think this would be the case for anyone interested in the liblog universe. And, now I know how many posts I wrote during the 2007 timeframe as compared to the 2008 one; along with how many words per post I wrote; and how many comments I received. Believe me, there is no way that I was going to count, but I was interested in knowing.

Lastly, I want to note that using Lulu to buy this book was a very easy and quick experience. I ordered the book on November 22nd. In the descriptive information, I read that it could take 3-5 days to actually print and ship the book. I choose to have the book shipped USPS Priority Mail, which might take 2-3 business days. I generally dislike parcel post (which was the least expensive option) and was in no way interested in the faster options. If I remember correctly, the most expensive shipping option brought the total for the book (the book itself was $22.50) to just under $100.00. So, I was rather impressed when I received an email late in the day on November24th indicating that the book had been shipped. It arrived that Wednesday. So, I was impressed with Lulu’s service.

It’s Feeling Like Christmas

December 20, 2008

The Day After the Snow Storm

Originally uploaded by ScruffyNerf.

Well, the big storm that has been crossing the country finally made its way to Massachusetts yesterday afternoon. We definitely have about a foot of snow – and it is still snowing. I think we were very lucky though. The storm hit us on a Friday afternoon – and everyone knew it was coming. In fact, a couple of people commented that it felt like the end of the world was coming. Many people didn’t come to work; and many businesses had simply closed for the day.

The college where I work closed at noon, even though it didn’t start snowing until about 2PM. I am definitely glad that I was home before it started. It was wonderful to be home, warmly ensconced in my comfortable clothes, curled up on my couch with a book. There hasn’t been any real need to go out – and I’m getting a good handle on trying to get my house clean before I have family over next weekend. One caveat, my husband’s work Christmas party is tonight, at least an hour away (in good driving conditions). I’m not too keen on having to get dressed up and venture out, but we do what we must.

The best part about snow before the holidays is that it definitely helps to put me in the Christmas spirit. All of the holiday decorations look amazing in the snow. The down side, however, is that I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping or errands. Time is growing short, and I won’t be able to do those things that I had planned to do this weekend. I guess I will just have to stop worrying about it – and enjoy the day!

The Cost of Brilliance

November 11, 2008

As a minor blogger, I do not get many email solicitations for product consideration. I like it this way. When it does happen, I read them and then quickly delete them. They often amuse me, and I guess that is worth something. But yesterday I received an email about the Chapeau Blog Awards that just confuses me. From their home page (can be found by searching for Chapeau Blog Awards):

Blog Brilliance!

To this, we tip our Chapeaus!

Blog Brilliance is, in fact, what Chapeau Blog Awards is exclusively devoted to honoring.

Brilliant Blogs must deliver upon audience expectations. From design and navigation, to business or consumer topics, the most effective blogs cater to how readers absorb and process information.

At the same time really great blogs are true to themselves and their own unique personalities. Some blogs challenge readers. Some invite opinion and other blogs simply share a story or follow a trend.

But which blogs are the best?  And who should decide which blogs are the best?

Chapeau Blog Awards intends to answer this question. And we won’t assemble an antiquated academy of high profile “Noggers” (Non-Bloggers—You first read it here!) to determine which blog is best.

We will do what bloggers do; ask the public sphere of blog readers. You. Us. Blog readers who truly know what a quality blog is.

It all sounds rather innocuous. We live in a society that loves to rank things, so I do find the overall concept all that odd. The bizarre part is that the solicitation is aimed at getting bloggers to nominate themselves for consideration. There are several categories into which one can enter a blog. The first group of categories are for blog audience. You decide what subject best fits your audience. Then you can enter your blog in up to five award areas such as best industry blog, best design and navigation, etc. Ultimately, the Chapeau Blog Awards will choose one blog to be the “Most Brilliant Blog”. The kicker is that there is an entry fee to nominate one’s blog: $195 if you enter before November 14th, $250 if you enter between the 15th of November and the 15th of December, or $275 between December 15th and January 30th. January 30 is the cut of to enter. The official nominees will be announced on February 15th. Blog readers get to vote and the results will be announced on May 5, 2009.

Seriously???? How can a group purport to be choosing the Most Brilliant Blog when it requires payment (and a significant one at that) for consideration? Has anyone actually given money to this organization? There is just so much wrong with this. The good news? I am willing to declare this blog The Most Brilliant Blog Ever for free – and I would be willing to declare your blog The Most Brilliant Blog Right Behind Mine for considerably less that $195. Let me know. I accept PayPal.

I do like the word “Noggers”.  I’ve never heard that before, but I think I will incorporate that into my daily vocabulary. Anyway, thanks for the blog fodder.