Reflection and Mindfullness

A lot has happened in the past couple of years. I’ve received two promotions, spoken at conferences, done some new things with my hair, played some tabletop RPGs, started leading my own game.

I’ve also spent a lot of time with family. On the phone, in person, through voice memos and lengthy emails. Some visits have been about fun – celebrating my nieces, great visits with my sisters. Some other visits have been tough. My mother is very ill, and the last two years have been a very slow, very tough, inevitable decline.

Beginning last September, I committed myself to working reflection, mindfulness and, in the midst of great change, building my emotional resilience.

How?

Continue reading “Reflection and Mindfullness”

Experiments in modern note-taking

One of my first tasks upon taking my taking my current position was to keep less paper. Over the last 2 and a bit years, I have managed to rein in my papers to a drawer and a bit. But I do create a lot of temporary paper. Notes, to-do lists, documents for meetings, etc. They get recycled but I still would like to cut down on the waste.

Every so often I attempt different paper-less methods of work. The one technology I try and avoid is laptops.  Laptops are great for certain tasks, but they’re bulky, and you need space to use them. So my experiments mostly revolve around tablets and phones.

At conferences (like #CILDC) I have been using a bluetooth keyboard along with a tablet. This time, due to speed issues, I primarily used the keyboard with my phone. Which was a hilarious feeling -phone tucked away, just tying on a tiny keyboard. Writing into nothing. It works well but there are a couple of drawbacks:

  • Spelling – either auto-correct doesn’t work at all and no spelling checks occur, or
  • Jumping around – something with how the keyboard works with apps sometimes causes the input to jump around, which is incredibly frustrating.

But, that is what I have been most successful with so far.

For keeping the words in one place I tend to use:

  1. Google Docs (personal docs, and those that don’t need sharing)
  2. WordPress (blogs)
  3. Citrix (work related documents)

There are other options; an app that I have just started testing with moderate success is Google Handwriting Input.

handwrite

This app allows you with stylus or finger to write text and converts it very well into text. It was very successful in converting my scrawl, including discerning capitals from lower case.

What I did have an issue with was device speed. My tablet, which has the screen size suited to writing with a stylus, is not fast enough to convert the writing. This lag make it very difficult to take notes. It is quick to work with on my phone, but the screen size isn’t big enough for a fast scrawl.

It is promising, taking notes just like you would on paper, but without having to transcribe them later.

If anyone has any suggestions for paperless working – I’d love to hear it.

Work Life Balance

I have written about dealing with stress before, and I still feel it is one of the most difficult things about my job. The other night I had a nightmare about not being about to answer a patron’s reference question. I woke you with my heart pounding, convinced that I was unfit for reference work.

A good way to attempt to stop thinking about work all the time is hobbies, activities, and well, getting a life. Unfortunately, most of my volunteer activities are library-work related, and sometimes there doesn’t feel like there is enough time in the day to unwind.

My favourite ways to stop thinking about work are:

  • baking
  • knitting
  • reading
  • tabletop games
  • spending time with friends and family (mostly)
  • and creative writing

For many years creative writing was a great escape for me. Nothing serious, just a way to let my imagination take over for a time, and distract me from the outside world. As a teen I filled notebooks with stories, and during my post-secondary experience I continued to write, including participating in NaNoWriMo.

As an adult, I have tried to make room for this hobby that I enjoy, managing another year of NaNoWriMo, times when I was writing a bit daily, a bit weekly. But things slowed down. I try not to blame library school, but I feel like since heading out to go to school in 2012, my professional writing is all that I can manage. First with all of the essays (terrible stuff) and then since I’ve become a “Real Librarian” the amount of writing I do for work is sometimes over a thousand words a day. Now, I am not particularly talented at writing, and I don’t tend to have the patience for editing, but there is nothing quite like losing yourself in a story of your own design.

In an attempt to spend my commute to and from work thinking about non-work thoughts, I am going to try and write for at least 15 minutes a day in November. This is not the enormous commitment that NaNoWriMo is, and should be achievable for someone who is as out of the habit of wrtiing for fun as I am.

And who knows, maybe it will help with my blogging output as well.

 

Share and Share Alike

One of the things I love about libraries and library workers is the sharing culture. We collect and curate content in order to share it with our communities. We share books between libraries, share our resources with people living outside of our communities when we can, and we’re really good at sharing our expertise and opinions.

Sometimes we are not so good at sharing resources we create for the public.

Luckily, the Alberta Library and the BC Libraries Coop are here to help us share.

This is a forum for sharing handouts, class outlines, videos, powerpoints, and other resources created by library staff for training and programs.

The potential of this resource  is great! You should use it. If you don’t train you should share it with someone who does.

I’m a little biased. I’ve uploaded as many outlines and handouts as I have been able to update, and I really want to mine this resource for new programming ideas.

It isn’t hard to add content, and it is fun! The interface is clean, and searching is easy.

Add to the Toolshed! We need your expertise.

10 Favourite Media of 2013

There are a lot of lists about best books floating around, but as a technology librarian (and near-millennial) – I’m not limiting my stories to one format. Here are my top ten stories of this year.flower!

1. Boardwalk Empire

My new obsession. I want to read all of the books about prohibition and the suffrage movement. HBO is known for high production values, incredible casts, and great writing, and Boardwalk Empire doesn’t disappoint. If you love history, anti-heroes, and excellent costuming, try this show!

2. Welcome to Night Vale

If you like podcasts, good story-telling, and quasi-horror stories, you likely already know about Welcome to Night Vale, the fictional community radio show with a surreal twist. There are more than 40 30 minute episodes, all available for free (but you can support them if you enjoy the podcast!)

3. SyFy’s Television Line-up

Warehouse 13, Haven, and Eureka

These shows are all great for fans of fantasy and science fiction. All too often over the past few years, science fiction and fantasy shows have been dark and depressing. But not these shows, fun even when serious, they are great fun. Borrow them from the library!

4. Hockey, A People’s History

I actually read this in over the holidays last year, but it is a fantastic book. Huge in size (a bit of a coffee table tome), there are so many little archival details and wonderful anecdotes that you will end up reading every page, and learning about hockey’s place in our culture.

5. Secret Lives of Sports Fans

Another sport book made my list! I have a fondness of sociology, psychology, and cultural studies, and this book uses these lenses and more to explore the sports fan. Each chapter looks at a different aspect of the sports fan, and all are engaging.

6.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

A co-worker put this book into my hands and told me to read it. While this tactic doesn’t always work for me, but this time, I took the chance. Once I started readying I couldn’t stop. This is a coming of age tale of a college freshman who escapes into her rewarding fannish life to avoid the real-life difficulties of growing apart from family.

7. Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

Intelligent Dragons during the Napolenonic War. This is the 8th book in the series which has spanned continents and explored the topics of equality, loyalty, and culture.

8. Matt Nathanson’s single “This Modern Love”

While this song was released last summer, this summer the music video for this upbeat song kept me smiling.

9. Elysium

I didn’t go to the movie theatre often this year, but I did get to see Elysium on the big screen. I am always looking for good science fiction, and Elysium is excellent science fiction. A vivid dystopic about reaching for the stars (or the”good live”), the fine details of this movie caught my attention. The world-building for this movie is fantastic. Watch it.

10.  Sleepy Hollow

Best new show on television. That is if you like well-rounded female characters who are self-assured, . Also, supernatural beasties, dudes that have been asleep for 200 years, and terrible, terrible mythology. Watch it for the great representation and Nicole Beharie.

Care & Feeding of a DAL, Part 1: Living Space

the living quarters of the DAL

One of the best parts of becoming (from the grand height of 6 months in) is that I have my very own workstation.

The picture above (which I took on a Saturday when no one else was around)  is my very awesome space.

Key points that have lead to success:

  • Proximity to key co-workers
  • Mobile workstation
  • Ability to stay organized
  • Storage for projects

To the left (the window) is the office of the Web Coordinator, which is great because we spend a lot of time talking through the window. To the right (out of the picture) is the desk where the Public Service Assistants of the Community Computing Centre spend their off desk time. Another awesome thing, as we have a lot of programming overlap. Also not pictured, my supervisor’s office is right behind my desk, and down the hall from her is the Systems Librarian and the Communications Coordinator.

So I am surrounded by great co-workers (which isn’t hard since all my co-workers are great), but am very close to all the people I need to work with on a regular basis.

On my desk I have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse connected to a laptop. The laptop is key, it is fully integrated to our library’s network and is fully functional when I am connected to our network, and when I am mobile I am also able to connected remotely to all of the services that I need.

I have two bulletin boards where my love of lists is able to be put on display. I also use the board to keep track of projects, strategic initiatives and what programs are coming up. All my print paperwork and documents are in the set of drawers you can see.

Just to the left of the drawers are my boxes of hardware. Currently this includes a bunch of Kindles that are being re-purposed, cables for putting our petting zoos on display, and other sundry bits of hardware for projects in progress. Look to hear more about them later.

Overall this is a great place to be set up to get my work done!

A New Job, A New Blog

Before I even left for library school I started blogging (link). I spoke about my classes, my extracurricular activities, where I went, who I visited with. My blog was my connection to friends and family back home, and I think others in the industry found some of my posts interesting as well. But that blog ended when my library school experience ended. While I meant to start blogging afterwards, there was a bit of a lag between finishing library school and becoming employed as a librarian. I was very lucky to return to my old position during that period, but it was a busy time, returning to work, recovering from library school, reconnecting with everyone, etc. Lots of excuses.

But now, I am ready to start blogging again!

My goals are to blog about once a week, chronicling my experiences as a digital access librarian, a library technology enthusiast, and someone interested in public service.  Over the next few weeks I have posts lined up about apps, mobile devices, writing reports, and training. I hope to be able to offer some tidbits of information for library staff that come across similar projects and topics as my own.