I'm a Doctor, now what?

Well, not that kind of doctor. But I did receive notice that my PhD was conferred last week and I can now officially use the title of Doctor (at least in academic circles). It’s exciting and I’m relieved to be finished, but it does leave the question: now what?

Working on my doctoral research has consumed the last few years of my life. While some were able to go home and relax or catch up on the latest best sellers, I went home and read articles for my literature review or revised a chapter (again) based on supervisor feedback. My research has been the project that has kept my blogging to a minimum, my pop culture knowledge virtually non-existent for the last few years, and my weekends full of work. However, it has also been the reason for new friendships through the doctoral program, lots of contact with new ideas, and much intellectual growth. It’s been almost all-consuming and a process that I’m very glad I did, even now when I’m too tired to think about having a celebration. This has been my life that now, at the end of it, I have to figure out what it actually means and where I want to go (in all senses).

Since people have found out that I have gotten my degree, I’ve been asked numerous times what I am going to do next. My usual answer is “sleep” because I’m a bit tired (understatement) and need to get over the last bit of stress that accompanied trying to get all the last minute stuff finished. And since Hobbiton doesn’t seem in need of an archivist right now, I’m left to try to figure out what I actually want to do. And you know what? That’s okay.

It’s okay that I don’t know exactly what the next steps are going to be. It’s okay just to be. I love my work with the students and my colleagues here on campus. I’m super-excited about some upcoming collaborations with our amazing Theatre & Dance Department through my archives work and suddenly being “Dr. D” as some of my colleagues have dubbed me doesn’t mean I’ve completely changed. I’ve just grown some. More than anything, I need time to think and reflect about what I want to still accomplish professionally and personally before I undertake any radical changes. Why, after spending years working towards a goal, would I jump into another thing without seriously contemplating where it will take me? As J. R. R. Tolkien wrote,

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

I’d like to be in a little bit of control of where I’m swept off to next and I’ll keep you up to date on my journey, dear readers.

Now that we’re done with the update, a few other items. First, one thing I do know that I want to do is get back to blogging more regularly and start processing some of the ideas that I’ve had rattling around in my head for the last few months. So, expect to see more frequent posts here at The Waki Librarian. Also, for all my dear readers who are introverts, I can’t recommend Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking enough. I received a copy for my birthday and devoured it. Cain blends thorough research with an engaging writing style that will have you wanting to read it cover to cover in one go. It will make you feel good about being an introvert, if you are one, and understand introverts more if you aren’t one. Until you are able to get a copy of the book, check out Susan Cain’s TED Talk:

Have a wonderful day, dear readers, and I’ll be back soon with some technology and library talk. Allons-y!

Thoughts about Teaching at the End of the School Year

Happy Friday, dear readers. I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. It has been a very long week here. I’m not exactly sure why, perhaps because it is near the end of the school year. So today, I just have some thoughts to share about teaching at the end of this school year.

I love teaching. It’s just who I am. I love it, even when it is at the end of the school year and I’m exhausted. It has been a long year here, as I’m sure it has been at your institution, too. But I think what gets me through all the craziness, the budget woes, and the inevitable long committee meetings, is that I love teaching and all the other stuff is what I need to do to get to my teaching. And I hope, if you are in the position to teach, that you love it and that it is something that you truly want to do.

Last Saturday, I was at the library for five hours, not because it was my turn on the reference desk but because I had volunteered to come in and teach a class of AP history students from one of our local high schools how to do research for their papers in our databases. I was the replacement librarian for this class as my colleague who had taught the high school teacher’s class last year wasn’t available this year. It was a blast. We had just over 20 students come and we got to use the new laptops. I got to listen to interesting research questions and suggest books and journals that might help with their research. I was able to reintroduce the teacher to the wonder that is Calisphere (she was already a fan, but hadn’t used it in a while). I got to troubleshoot a host of issues and questions that come from using new resources for the first time (from the students’ perspective). It was the kind of class that makes me excited to take time out of my weekend to teach instead of puttering around the house or catching up on much-needed sleep.

That class was just what I needed at the end of a long school year. I wish everyone could have that kind of teaching experience–the kind that absolutely exhausts you, but at the same time completely, utterly, and fully excites and energizes you because you know what you are doing is making a difference. It may not be a flashy or showy difference in the world, unlike the release of a new shiny tech product, but it is a lasting difference. Because teaching, in my mind, is one of the best things in the world. I’m here because I love to teach.

Why are you doing the job you are doing? I hope it is because it inspires you and keeps you motivated even when it is the end of a long, challenging year, even when your eyes start twitching, and even when you can’t believe there is possibly one more piece of paperwork in the world that you need to fill out. Plus, if you are really lucky, you’ll not only be doing work that inspires you, you’ll also get a lovely thank you card occasionally, too.

In the end of the school year theme, go watch Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Address (unfortunately WordPress won’t let me embed it here). It is lovely. My favorite bit comes near the end when Gaiman says, “So be wise because the world needs more wisdom and if you cannot be wise pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would.” That is fantastic, wise advice for all of us at whatever point in our journeys we happen to be.

Have a wonderful weekend full of wonder, relaxing, good food, and good friends. I’ll be back soon with more. Allons-y!

Back-to-School Productivity

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your day is going well. Back-to-school season makes me think of many things, but one of the things that is top on my priority list is productivity. Once fall hits, it’s just like a huge extra wave of work to do. So I’ve rounded up some recent articles on productivity for you to use and to share with others in our fight to not drown in the fall term’s workload.

First, check out the tips on how to get back into work or study mode after a long break. It can be difficult transitioning back after summer break, so arm yourself with some tricks to do it more smoothly.

I love lists. Anyone who’s read this blog knows this. So I had to link to Lifehacker’s 10 most important things we’ve learned about college list. As a teacher, I can totally second going to office hours. Teachers want to help, but we can’t if students don’t let us know they need help.

Also, I love to-do lists. They make sure I don’t forget to do important things, like buying food and writing articles. To-do lists that I finish I like even better, so I was quite taken with Lifehacker’s how to make your to-do list doable. Read it and then get to accomplishing.

Speaking of productivity, get to know the new Google Docs shortcuts and you’ll be more productive. And with all that new found time you can hop on over to Codeacademy and learn to code. Look how productive you are!

Finally, just look at this photo from Beautiful Portals and take a deep breath, you’ll feel better (and less stressed if all this talk of productivity is making you a bit frenetic).

passages8391 from Beautiful Portals

passages8391 from Beautiful Portals

Have a wonderful weekend filled with friends and fun. I’ll be back next week with more fun tips and tools. Allons-y!

Laptop and Life Tips

Happy Friday! I hope you are having a lovely Friday, dear readers. Today I want to share a roundup of some tips on laptops and some hacks for life. Then I want to get you on your way to enjoying your weekend.

Does Lifehacker ever fail to bring us great tips to share? I think not. First, check out Lifehacker’s article on what to do if your laptop battery is not lasting as long as it used to. Then refer people over to Gizmodo’s article on the best back to school laptops if they are in the market for buying a laptop for school or for their kids or just want some information on laptop choices in general.

After you are done with the tips on laptops, take a read through Lifehacker’s Top 10 real world Easter Eggs and cheat codes. You’ll probably find at least one cheat code you can use to improve your efficiency in getting things done and decrease your annoyance with certain life tasks.

Now let’s turn to some fun stuff. Hopefully the weather has been nice where you live and you feel like having people over for dinner parties. If you are like me, sometimes you forget the ins-and-outs of correctly setting a table. Again, Lifehacker comes to the rescue with how to set the table properly.

If you need help on figuring out what to make for dinner (or lunch or tea time), you could always check out the lovely recipes on Joy the Baker or Gojee, which has some of the most gorgeous food photography I’ve seen. Both sites will make you hungry. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Finally, let’s get nostalgic for a moment, take a work break and watch this lovely video about the Tenth Doctor (credit to Seduff for the amazing video):

Have a fantastic weekend filled with good fun, wonderful friends, and yummy food (plus a good book and maybe a cup of tea, too). I’ll be back next week with more tips, tricks, and news. Allons-y!

Reflections on Being a Committee Chair

Happy Wednesday and Happy June, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely start to your month. We actually have sunshine today, so I’m happy. Today I just want to share with you some of my reflections on my time spent as a committee chair and then send you off with a tech article that should be shared with everyone you know.

Yesterday was the last Academic Senate meeting of the academic year which was the end of my duties as the Chair of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Research. As we are wrapping up our Spring Quarter, I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned that will hopefully help you in your committee work, even if you are never foolish enough to become a committee chair.

First, as many of you probably already know from first-hand experience, committees take a lot of time. It’s not the meeting time, but the preparation time that seems to eat up large portions of days. And if you are Chair, you will spend even more time preparing for meetings. But what can really make or break committee work, in my opinion, are the people on the committee. As Chair, it was my job to facilitate meetings and make sure everything ran smoothly and efficiently because everyone is super-busy and no one likes to have their time wasted. Which brings me to this great post by Lifehacker, use compassion to combat difficult coworkers.

I was extremely lucky to have an amazing bunch of faculty members on the committee this year, but I’ve also been on committees with warring egos and clashing personalities. In either situation, dealing with people with compassion and consciously relaxing so as to not start from a place of defensiveness has really helped me facilitate positive interactions, even with very difficult personalities, in my opinion. I really do believe, and this has been borne out by this year’s amazing amount of work that we accomplished on the committee, that coming into a room with a positive energy will make other people more positive and willing to work together. Being Chair was a ton of work, but it was also incredibly satisfying to have productive meetings and get people motivated to work together.

This article on how the Internet changes everything–except four things that was linked to by Stephen’s Lighthouse also reminded me of working on a committee this year, especially points 1 and 2.

Customer experience and humanizing technology are just as important for committee work as they are for businesses and libraries. Being approachable, available, and actually caring will always make for a good customer experience and a good interaction with a committee chair. Also, even though I love shiny technologies, it’s the people that actually matter. For example, the Academic Senate uses a fully functional, but incredibly clunky content management software program to distribute information and store documents. I, of course, had to send in documents to share with the senate that way, but I also made it easier on my committee members by emailing documents and sharing Google Docs.

So for incoming chairs next year, good luck. It will be a wild ride, full of work, annoyances, victories, and lots of laughs. Remember to keep your sense of humor, don’t pontificate, and for goodness sake end your meetings on time, if not early. Do those things and you’ll be fondly remembered as a great committee chair. Bringing cookies occasionally doesn’t hurt either.

Okay, so now on to the article that you should share with everyone, top 10 simple privacy tricks. Once again, Lifehacker has come through with an article of simple to implement tips that will have an immediate, positive effect on protecting your privacy.

To end with something fun, check out Joy the Baker’s recipe for whole wheat garlic knots and enjoy some garlicky goodness for dinner this week.

Take care, read a lot, and I’ll be back on Friday with some more thoughts on libraries, archives, and technology. Allons-y!

Communities

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely day and, if you are in the United States, have a lovely Memorial Day weekend planned. I plan on accomplishing a lot of relaxing during the weekend in order to have energy for the last bit of the spring quarter. I just want to talk a bit about communities today and how important archives and libraries are (or could be) in fostering communities.

Public libraries seem to get the lion’s share of press when it comes to libraries fostering spaces, resources, services, and events that increase community involvement and interaction. However, academic libraries and archives can also be extremely important places for fostering community spirit among library and archives users. But it seems that we are not as pro-active on the whole about demonstrating our value to the community as public libraries. I know that my library could do a lot better at reaching out to students and getting them involved with changes in the library. One of my projects this summer will be working on cheap (read: free) ways of doing outreach and getting students involved. Our library is “the heart of the campus” mainly because it is open when nothing else is on campus, but I don’t think that students really feel “ownership” of the library and that’s a problem for engagement.

In the latest issue of C&RL News there was a great article by Gfeller, Dutterfield-Nagy, and Grignon, Imagine: A student-centered library, which described the Fogler Library’s outreach and marketing campaign that heavily involved students. The graphics they produced were awesome, prominently featured students, and would be easy to replicate at other university libraries given a bit of time and a little bit of money for printing posters. Just think of the fun of having students involved with the photography and designing of the posters, as well as creating tie-in events using mobile technologies, QR codes, and other student-led, student-driven activities. There is so much room for engagement and increasing the interaction with users in academic libraries. We can foster community, but we need the time and support to do it.

While archives might seem like a world away from public libraries and academic libraries in terms of fostering community, I would argue that they can also be at the heart of communities. I study community archives and will hopefully be sharing some of my research in the near-ish future with a wider audience because I’ve not finished up all my work yet. But in the meantime, I can say that community archives are hugely important for community history, memory, and public programming. And, most community archives operate on a shoestring budget, so they have many ideas to offer libraries on how to get things done when money actually is a huge object.

Anyway, just some food for thought. How does your library or archives engage with your community members? How do you make sure that people feel connected and involved with your library or archives? I’d love to hear suggestions in the comments as I work with our community members over the coming months.

I wanted to share this photograph of a post-it note I found affixed to one of the water fountains on campus because it made me smile. Unexpected messages of kindness and positivity are always welcome.

Surrounded by True Friends Post-it

Also, for a short work break, check out anatomy of a mashup: Definitive Daft Punk for one of the coolest visualizations I’ve seen in a long while. Plus, the music sounds awesome.

Have a wonderful day, a fabulous weekend, read a lot, and I’ll be back next week with more thoughts on libraries, archives, and technology. Allons-y!

Librarians, students, and the Future

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely day. I can hardly believe we are to the middle of another week and I’m off on another research trip to the archives. So today, I just want to talk a bit about some of the stuff buzzing around the bibliosphere right now and leave you with some tasty recipes for your tea breaks.

So if you have been hanging around the blogosphere at all this week, you’ve probably already read Seth Godin’s, Future of the Library article. And hopefully you’ve also read the very well-written and balanced response by Agnostic, Maybe. I just have a few comments to make about Godin’s article that will hopefully not duplicate everything that’s already been written and why I think it is just as important for academic librarians to pay attention to what Godin wrote as it is for public librarians.

Yes, of course, Godin got some stuff about librarians and libraries wrong (in my opinion). Libraries are still needed, freely accessible resources are definitely needed, and the digital divide is still a real problem. But on the whole, Godin got it correct and some of his misconceptions about libraries can be chalked up to the failure of librarians and the library profession in general in marketing our services and resources.

Now some librarians do an excellent job in outreach and marketing efforts, but on the whole, we obviously don’t do enough. If we did, Godin (along with the majority of people) would realize that libraries subscribe to many online resources and databases that have the ability to blow Wikipedia out of the water and are able to make researching more efficient and effective. It’s not that we don’t have the resources, it’s that we don’t make people aware of them. I see this in my own library and in classes I teach where the instructor will tell me after that s/he had no idea we offered so much or could help in so many ways.

This ties into my last post about caring. We have to demonstrate that we care about our users and market our services, resources, and general awesomeness as librarians in ways that our users, be they a public library user or an undergrad in an academic library, find relevant. We are the awesome teachers, info curators, guides, and sages that Godin says we are and can be, but we need others to “get it.”

So instead of saying how Godin got it wrong, let’s use his post as a call to (more) action. He got some parts wrong, but so do most writers and people. His main message, that we need to use our talents to connect people with information to create value is right on the mark. I think that having people honestly write what they think about the future of the library and librarians is fantastic, especially by people outside of the profession. This makes us take a hard look at what we’re doing right and what we can improve on if we read such articles with an open mind and with an open heart looking towards improving ourselves and services instead of being defensive when obviously our message as librarians is not as clear, or as powerful, as some of us believe it to be. We need to become, in Godin’s words, a purple cow–something remarkable. I’m working everyday to make my work and interactions with people remarkable, are you?

Okay, that’s my two cents.

I just wanted to share one link from Lifehacker today on how clean up your digital life and manage information overload. Great article as always. Share it with your library users. They’ll thank you.

And finally, for some tasty fun, check out Joy the Baker’s post on love and sugar recipes. These are fabulous and, if all else fails in your marketing campaign for the awesomeness of librarians, bake ’em cookies. Everyone is a fan of cookies.

Have a great rest of your day, help someone out, read something lovely, and I’ll be back on Friday with some tech stuff to share with your friends (family, library users, students, etc.). Allons-y!

Study Break Time

Happy Wednesday! So if you work in the land of academia and you’re on the semester system, you’ve probably just endured (or are about to endure) the end of the semester craziness. If you’re on the quarter system (like my institution), you’re still in the middle of the term and students are instead going a bit crazy over studying for midterms and the like. Either way, I thought we could all use a quick study break today. So share these links with those students (colleagues, friends, and family members) who you think could benefit from them.

First, check out Lifehacker’s wonderful article on the top 10 fixes for annoying web problems. We can always count on Lifehacker to share some useful advice.

Also from Lifehacker is this very useful article with tips on ending sleep problems. I don’t know about you, but I definitely know a few students (and librarians and archivists) who could use some more sleep. In addition to the tips in the article, I’ll share my friend’s advice that you should also try yoga (it works, really).

Finally, you should really check out this article on a guy who has an augmented reality tattoo. Then check out the video of the tattoo below. It’s both crazy and cool.

Have a wonderful rest of your day and I’ll be back on Friday with some reflections on the preservation workshop I was at earlier this week along with some thoughts on other issues facing libraries and archives. Allons-y!

On diversity and archives

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I hope your week is going well. It has been a crazy busy week at my library. I seem to be running from one meeting to another constantly. But I wanted to take the time to just ramble a bit about something that struck me last week while I was doing research at the Bancroft and put in a couple of cents on the entire “is academia still relevant/” debate. And I’d like your thoughts on these matter too.

First a bit of background. I was doing research at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley last week. The Bancroft, for those that are unfamiliar, is one of the premier archives in California and houses both the University Archives and Special Collections and is just really pretty awesome (and one of the busiest archives around). It was a wonderful three day research trip that I was able to fit into a week that blessedly had no meetings on three consecutive days. I was a bit anxious going to research at the Bancroft because their website isn’t the friendliest ever, but everyone was extremely helpful and nice, the remodeled building is lovely, and the reading room has great tables, comfy chairs, and is only slightly too cold for comfort. Plus I found some amazing information in the collections for my research project and was able to even meet up with a friend for lunch. In all a very worthwhile trip.

However, on my second day at the archives, something just struck and unsettled me for the rest of the trip. I live in the East Bay and therefore naturally took BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from my town to Berkeley. BART is one of the things I love about the Bay Area. I am a big fan of public transit and not having to find (and pay) for parking in the sprawling cities of the Bay Area. After living in Boston, public transit is to me a more natural way of traveling than driving. And BART is one of those public areas, much like the “spectacular realities” talked about by Vanessa R. Schwartz, that bring people together in a common space. There is a great cross-section of people riding the BART and it feels like the Bay Area, which is one of the most diverse places in the country. This diversity is one of the main reasons that I came back to Northern California and was ecstatic about getting a job at East Bay.

This was then juxtaposed with sitting in the reading room at the Bancroft where most of the people researching were Caucasian. If you just plunked someone down in the room without letting them know where they were, the person wouldn’t be able to tell they were in the Bay Area. The reading room, in other words, in no way represented the population of the Bay Area. This difference strikes me from time to time in various settings, usually in academia, and I still haven’t exactly figured out what, if anything, to do about it. I didn’t have time to fully process this uneasiness during my research trip as I was speed reading through boxes of manuscript materials, but I thought I’d share it now to see if others have had similar experiences and their thoughts on them.

I think many of us in the profession have become more sensitized to this issue of lack of diversity in the profession because of the push that’s been occuring in both the library and archives fields to increase diversity in the profession. And that makes me uneasy too, not because I don’t think we should increase diversity–I do, but because I’m leery of recruiting anyone into a profession where there are simply not enough jobs for those already in the profession or professional schools yet alone enough positions to absorb the increase in professionals if any recruiting efforts are successful.

But coming back to the archives example, and to stay away from too much rambling, I really wonder about how archives can appeal more broadly to a diverse community and how we can get more diverse voices in the process of writing history (as historians can often be found lurking in the archives) and have these histories be seen as “academic” or “serious” works and not maligned as “public history.” (And I won’t even get into how annoying I find that public history is not seen as “serious” history in some circles because we would be here until next Wednesday).

So I have no solutions to this issue of the disconnect between some areas of academia and the communities in which the academies are located. It is just something that I wanted to write about because it does concern me as a person and as an academic, especially as there seem to be more attacks, for lack of a better word, on the importance and relevance of universities and colleges. I’m also concerned in my role as an archivist, and specifically as an archivist studying the histories of community archives, about the lack of coordination and communication among community and institutional archives. I want to see the archives, libraries, and academia in general reflect the diverse, contradictory, and multiplicity of voices of the communities in which they are embedded. I worry about creating a larger gap between those in the “ivory tower” and those outside, but am hopeful that we can keep this from happening and even close the gap. And I’m hopeful that the research I’m currently working on can eventually help. That’s all I really have to say.

Any thoughts you have on this issue or related issues, I’d love to hear about in comments. I’ll be back on Friday with tech news and fun. Have a wonderful rest of your day. Allons-y!

Teaching LIS Students to Teach

“Unconference” style session (all materials will be available online–I’ll post link when we get it)
by Melissa Wong, Mega Oakleaf, and Jim Elmborg

“To Textbook or Not, That is the Question: Selecting Course Materials”
Jim Elmborg

Elmborg hasn’t seen a textbook that is great for his course–likes flexibility of using articles and book chapters. Librarians need to be teachers. The topic of instruction is very large and hard to wrap one’s head around. Trying to establish a mindset, ways of thinking about self and what the library is: a literacy activity, learning organizations. All library users are learners. Need to think about where course fits in the curriculum. Tries to sequence an extended argument in his course. Need to think about learning as a contextual activity.

“They Told Me I Should Learn to Teach: Addressing Student Anxiety”
Melissa Wong

Looking at student anxiety around learning to teach. Students know they should take the course, but are anxious about it. Reasons: students don’t see themselves as teachers, afraid of being bad teachers, students afraid that they don’t have “teacher traits,” but the main idea is that they don’t identify with being a teacher. So, how do we help students see themselves as teachers? Develop a personal style of teaching? Have confidence in their own efficacy?

“I Don’t Know if They Got It: Teaching Assessment and Evaluation”
Megan Oakleaf

Using questions by Understanding by Design: what do you want students to learn? What does learning look like? What activities will show learning? (make the assessment as part of your teaching activities= merge teaching activities with assessment) Satisfaction does not equal learning. Other facts can impact satisfaction: instruction enthusiasm, student expectations, and tendency to over-report satisfaction. Look at reflective learning/teaching (ILIAC, EBLIP, etc.). Talk about tools for assessing learning: teaching strategies that engage students, rubrics, classroom assessment techniques, tests, and self-report. Talk about problem of product versus process assessment. Look at good artifacts of student learning assessment. Then look at assessing teaching (CAT, videotape, and peer feedback). Uses for assessment data: improve instruction, improve the assessment, and/or throw a party.

Discussion
The lightening talks followed by group discussion. Looking at tensions between theory and practice in library school classes. Talking about how to operationalize everything that we are talking about–different in every context. Need to work to have relevance in each context. Internships for students in teaching are very important. Lots of different ways to inspire and teach instruction.