Speaking for us?

I just got done reading “Spotlight on EDI in Community Colleges” addressing how community colleges are approaching equity, diversity, and inclusion. Unfortunately, rather than find a community college librarian to write the post, it was written by a university librarian. There are many qualified community college librarians who could speak to how we are addressed these important issues within our libraries and on our campuses. These are topics that come up often in discussions about how to meet the varied needs of our students; needs that go beyond the classroom.

Community college students are diverse. This is a fact. What diversity looks like at one college may be different at another college. But we all can agree that our students come from different backgrounds, races, ages, economic classes, abilities, etc. And we have to acknowledge all of that mix and find ways to serve everyone where they are and where they want to be.

If any librarians in higher education can ill afford to maintain neutrality, it is community college librarians. We must stand on the side of our students and support them. We need to be vigilant and examine our own policies, procedures, and practices for ways in which we exclude people whether it’s overt or not. We should continue to educate ourselves about how to better provide service and who are students are so we can respond with empathy and compassion.

I hope the discussion on EDI continues among community college librarians. I hope those in other areas of higher ed listen to what we have to say, because we have valuable insights to share. Our students are worth listening to as well.

Planning ahead

planningIt’s getting to that time of year – budget writing. I’ve been thinking about the next fiscal year for awhile. Honestly, I probably start thinking about the next year around the time we work on our amended budgets in January. At that point, I’m already starting to get an idea of how things might look in terms of increases for our databases, future needs for equipment, and possible travel for conferences and workshops for staff in the next fiscal year.

Now I’m in full planning mode. Like any manager could tell you, it’s complicated. There are many pieces in a library budget. I’m looking at different lines for our databases, print materials (which have two different budgets – books and periodicals), salaries for our student employees and part-time librarians, supplies budget, professional development line, etc. As the college has implemented a new strategic plan, we are doing some planning in the library for how our work will align with goals and objectives. I’ll be looking at how to more closely align our budget with some of our plans for the next year. As we are becoming more involved in various ways in different events throughout the college, our budget needs to reflect this.

Something I’ve been exploring more in depth over the past few years is how to use data to make budget decisions. An invaluable resource going forward will be Financial Management in Academic Libraries: Data-Driven Planning and Budgeting by Robert E. Dugan and Peter Hernon.

I don’t believe in doing more with less. It simply isn’t possible. We can’t provide materials or resources if we don’t have the money to support those things. In general, I’ve been very fortunate to be at a college that does provide what I need in those regards.





What this librarian wants you to know

Before you think I’ve lost my sense of humor, I haven’t. However, I don’t think you have to make jokes at the expense of others, particularly if those people are the ones we, as librarians, want to help. The snark was strong in a recent column and I felt like a rebuttal with some compassion and kindness was in order.

As National Library Week ends, there are a few things I’d like my library users to know.

I will always try to greet you with a smile. Smiles are a lot like yawns. It’s hard not to smile back when you see someone else smile.

Forgot your library card? We may be able to work with you so you can check out the materials you need. 

We understand life gets in the way sometimes. We can renew your items over the phone or show you how to renew yourself online.  If you get a fine and paying might be a problem, talk to us. 

Feel free to bring a snack or drink with you. We also have vending machines. There are garbage cans and recycling bins located conveniently around the building where you can dispose of your trash.

Phone calls are fine. All we ask is you are considerate of others. Keep them short, speak quietly, and keep your ringer at a low level. We do ask that you don’t take calls in our silent zone or in the computer lab.

That physical card catalog you remember from years ago is gone. We’re happy to show you how to use the online catalog. There are some great features, like book reviews and suggestions for related titles, that we’d be willing to show you.

Please do come and see me when you have a question. I may not realize a snap, whistle, hand wave or other signal is meant for me. 

We enjoy seeing children in the library. We know it can be boring for them. We do have coloring books and crayons and a great collection of children’s literature.

Damaged books happen. We won’t yell at you. But we are going to ask you to pay for a replacement.  

We will always try to treat you with respect. Please do the same. We want to hear what you have to say, but talking is better than yelling.

We announce our closing time ten minutes before the service desks shut down. We are very appreciative when people take those announcements to heart and pack up. 

There are carts at the end of the shelves where you can put books and other materials when you are done using them. Don’t worry about putting things back on the shelves. We keep track of what is being used and you’re helping us out by using those carts.

We will not judge you based on your clothes, what questions you ask, how clean your fingernails are, etc. We want to help you with your information needs no matter what they may be.

We don’t require gifts. Most of us won’t eat the cake. If you are able and you want to support the library, we’ll let you know how you can donate money to our Friends organization. Better yet, become a Friend.

Most library users are good people. I don’t think it serves us well to point out the failings of the few. I hope my list is a good counterbalance to those librarians who would rather focus, rather humorously or otherwise, on the few bad apples.


If we build it…

IMG_20190213_134730563_HDRI read a post this week about how academic libraries don’t have Libraries of Things. That doesn’t seem true. Lots of academic libraries check out non-print things, like laptops, cameras, calculators, and even skeletons. Of course, compared to what you see on offer at public libraries, that’s not all that exciting, even if it is based on what students might really need while in the library or on campus.

But, there are academic libraries who are developing more comprehensive Libraries of Things. We’re one of them.

First a disclaimer. I can’t take the credit for this project. Our Acquisitions & Cataloging Librarian came to me last fall about writing a mini-grant for funding to finally get one going at our library. We did with my name as lead with hope we’d score more money (I can explain the ins and outs of our President’s mini-grant program if you’re interested.) But she did the bulk of the work on the grant language. I did some proofreading and tweaking. We got the grant. Since then we’ve worked together some on the project. I wrote the mid-year grant update. Overall, though, I’m giving her credit for the project. She developed the initial list of items, did the background research, has provided me with examples of policies and procedures to use when developing our own, and has contacted various other campus entities for feedback and input.

Okay. What I can tell you about our Library of Things. It’s still in development. We have already received things like a ukulele, guitar, piano keyboard, bongos, record player with the ability to convert vinyl to CD/MP3, air quality meter, graphing calculators, sewing machine, Ellison Die Cut machine and assorted dies, SAD lights, a karaoke machine and a variety of board games.  We thought about things that would be useful for our students and things they might not have access to normally.

We’re finishing up our basic policy. There will also be a user agreement that each person will sign when they check out an item. A copy will be kept on file at the library and the patron will get a copy to keep.

Storage is an issue. We’re still figuring this one out. Our Circulation staff have been involved in those discussions.

We plan to have a petting zoo/open house event when we’re ready to go live. This will be a chance to demo some of the things that require some instruction and show off the collection.

I’m excited about this new collection. It’s been a process getting it set up. If you’re interested in learning more about how we’re managing this at an academic library, I hope we’ll be presenting a poster session this fall. In the meantime, I’ll get you in contact with the librarian here. She’d be happy to chat.

Leading, following, and being a turtle

Last week I attended our state library conference. It was a good conference, by which I mean I learned a lot, was inspired at times, made a few good connections, picked up some new ideas to try, and connected with old and new colleagues. It was an enjoyable three days and I can’t think of a moment where I felt disconnected. Perhaps it had something to do with being on the planning committee. But I think it was more than that. This was one of those conferences that had a good energy. People were generally engaged, in positive moods, and seemed to be having fun.

The general theme was “Check Out & Renew.”

Brenda Viola spoke during the opening session and explained the concept of the “turtle” in caring for ourselves and others relating to situational leadership. We’ve all heard the story of the tortoise and the hare. She gave us a new spin on it. The hare carries the turtle until they come to a river. The tortoise carries the hare on its back as it swims across the river. The hare carries the tortoise again until they cross the finish line. Together, they both win.

But, the “turtle” is also an acronym for how we can be better leaders. Part of good teamwork is allowing the person with the right skills take the lead. That might not always be the “boss.” Depends on the situation. How many “leaders” are willing to step back and allow someone else to step forward? I know some that are very good at this. I know some that aren’t.

Brenda also talked about unity, rest, transparency, encouragement, and heart as being important parts of caring for yourself as a leader. Don’t forget. Anyone can be a leader. It’s not just those sitting in the boss’s chair.


Book Review – Art Starts With a Line

cover143302-medium.pngArt Starts with a Line: A creative and interactive guide to the art of line drawing by Erin McManness

This is a charming and whimsical drawing book. I had a wonderful time reading through it and trying out many of the different techniques.

That said, if you are looking for something for an aspiring artist, this might not be your cup of tea. I think it will depend on what your end goal is. I like to doodle and enjoy drawing books that offer very basic instructions and suggestions in a non-intimidating way. This book is very approachable, yet there is discussion of things like shading and perspective and different supplies you may want to consider.

I liked the content because it included borders and lettering, along with landscapes and plants and other more typical things you might find in a basic learn-to-draw book. This would be a great resources for someone who enjoys bullet journaling or scrapbooking and wants to be more creative.

For me, it was ideal. More than enough instruction and ideas to keep me going for some time. I’ll be purchasing a print copy that will likely see lots of use.

(Reviewed copy provided by NetGalley.)

#ArtStartsWithAline #NetGalley

Book Review -Anne Arrives

cover142275-mediumAnne Arrives by Kallie George

I adored the Lucy Maude Montgomery novels growing up and was excited to see an adaptation available on NetGalley.

This title did not disappoint Kallie George doesn’t stray far from the original book. You still get a good sense of Anne (with an E) and her delightful personality, complete with the highs and lows…or the “depths of despair” as Anne would describe them. This book is the very beginning of the beginning of Anne’s story of her arrival at Green Gables.

The artwork only adds to the charm of this short book. I like to think new readers finding the same delight as I did in the original books in this new version. Sometimes artwork can take away from your own mind’s imagining of what characters and places look like. But that was not the case here, in my opinion.

I look forward to more of Anne’s story.

(This title is due to be published on Sept. 25, 2018. I’m reviewing an edition provided through NetGalley.)

#AnneArrives #NetGalley


Today is my 19th anniversary. Fortunately, I did find true love and have lived relatively happily after all.

Out of curiosity, I did some research on the state of marriage in the United States these days. Turns out, according to Pew Research, over 1/2 of Americans still get married, with college graduates being even more likely to put a ring on it. These stats are staying fairly stable.

For some reason, divorce rates among older Americans have increased. But those 50 and older are more likely to co-habitat with a partner.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can break things down even more along age, race, educational, class, etc. lines. Still, regardless of these factors, education level still seems to play a role in how likely someone is to get married. I’m fascinated. The divorce rates also seem to be lower.

Now for the fuzzy part of this post.

A few things I’ve learned in my almost two decades as a married person:

  • Treat the word “love” as a verb. Show your partner your love each day. Live it.
  • Recommit yourself to your marriage every day and especially on the hardest days.
  • Have your own interests and do your own thing sometimes.
  • Admit when you make a mistake. Apologize and mean it.
  • Be kind.
  • If you don’t like something, change yourself. Don’t try to change your partner. It doesn’t work.
  • You don’t have to be perfect.

I’ll be hanging out by myself because my husband has one of those jobs that keeps him away during the week. But he is always in my heart and usually just a text message away. We’ll celebrate in a week or so when we’re both in the same state at the same time. I was an Army wife for many years and learned that celebrations are special because of what you’re celebrating, not because of the day you celebrate them.

Book Review – The Perfect Nanny

38330854._UY2333_SS2333_The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

This was a twisted story of obsessive, twisted emotion parading as love.

You go through the story knowing the tragedy that is to come. I kept hoping it was a fever dream or some sort of hallucination. But the more I learned about the characters, I was left wondering why there wasn’t a higher body count.

Louise seemed like such a perfect nanny. She cooked, cleaned, played games…a French Mary Poppins. Except this isn’t a Disney story and Louise didn’t bring a family back together before floating into the clouds with a magic umbrella. She only seems to have an identity when she is being a nanny. Her own life has never seemed to satisfy her.

The characters never felt completely filled out. I was left wanting to know more. Particularly with Louise, there seemed to be so many unanswered questions. And there felt like there more to be said about her daughter.

But it was a hard book to put down. I wanted to keep reading to see if any of the characters would exhibit some better qualities. In the end, they were all so completely human in their imperfection and inability to stop the tragic path they were doomed to follow.


Are you a helper?

We saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” today. I’m not a film critic, but in my opinion, this documentary was well done.

As I watched, a few key points came through. Fred Rogers was deeply influenced by his Christian faith and he was a life-long Republican. He lived those values. He felt all people had value. He knew how to really listen.

I’m disturbed by those who would like to lecture others about how we should follow Mr. Roger’s example when those same people say hateful things about groups of people they disagree with. (Hypocrites!) Or tell us to look for the helpers. (Why not actually BE a helper?)  Or talk about how terrible Christians are and silly people are for following any faith.

But, you know what? Most of that garbage plays out on social networks. People feel free to be as mean, hateful, and ugly as they want online because they don’t have to face the consequences of their words. I’m having a hard time in finding much value in social networks anymore…except in a very focused, narrow way.

It’s too easy to be drawn into the muck with all the negativity. I’d rather find other places to engage – in real life, in well-moderated discussion groups, and other places where thoughtfulness, kindness, free-thinking, common sense, and tolerance of different opinions are considered. (And yes, I do understand there are certain opinions that have no value and those aren’t the ones I’m talking about. People are misleading when they use that argument. It’s an excuse for being jerks to everyone who doesn’t agree with them or won’t go along with what they want.)

I’ll still be writing short book reviews and other random stuff here.

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