Thursday, November 15, 2018

Interview Post: Michele Santamaría


Biographical

Name?
Michele Santamaría

Current job?
Learning Design Librarian at Millersville University

How long have you been in the field?
Ten years, which is a bit surprising to me as I type it.   

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?
There is a decal of cherry tree branch on the back wall, a long workbench along the longer wall instead of desk precisely so as to not look like I am barricading myself in the office.  Above the workbench, there are cabinets and a smaller nook area with decorations like a small marble owl, tea cups, and a gold dachshund tape dispenser. There is also a small table to greet students as they come in, and stacks of papers which make sense to me. Overall the space is kind of messy and also hopefully conveys (as some have assured me) a creative, “lived in” space.

How do you organize your days?
Based upon priorities; I keep a modified version of a bullet journal that is meant to record the flow of the day while keeping me on track. However, if someone walks into my office and really needs *my* help, I will drop what I’m doing. It’s basically the same way I teach. I always have a lesson plan but I improvise based upon necessity, excitement, opportunity; the class exists for the exact people in the room and I am at the library to be of service in the moment.
 
What do you spend most of your time doing?
Lately, I’m working a lot on an author event I’ve got coming up related to the Common Read at our campus. I’m co-chair of the Common Read committee, something I am hoping will continue to open up new dialogues about general education on our campus which is an important part of my job as Learning Design Librarian. As I type this, I’m realizing that I also spend a lot of time thinking about the interconnections between the different things that I do and trying to bring those to the forefront. Otherwise, I am more overtly thinking about how to pull off an information literacy program at our campus, or how to pull off some unlikely idea in my own teaching practice.

What is a typical day like for you?
Honestly, there are no typical days. If there is a typical feature of a day, I do rather enjoy that there are a bunch of librarians on my floor and that I can typically walk up to their office to talk to them about the “unlikely” teaching idea or something else.

What are you reading right now?
Love, Again by Doris Lessing and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, an astonishingly mind-blowing cookbook by Samin Nosrat. This cookbook is more of a primer than a cookbook relying on recipes; if someone is interested in cooking, they should really get it as it’s an incredibly informative and beautiful book with accompanying watercolors, charts. If you’ve ever done any theater, Love, Again focuses a lot on what it is like to be actively involved with people who do theater.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?

Learn to say “no” to a bunch of things to facilitate saying “yes” to what really matters. I realize that Shonda Rhimes wrote about this exact same advice. However, I heard about it before that from a theater professor who had a great drawing on her office wall with the word “No” written all over it. I have since then made my own drawing and added a “yes” in the middle to emphasize that “no-facilitates-the-yes-that-matters” philosophy. Apropos of that, I’ve not been doing as well at that lately.
   
What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Last semester, I very nearly used the Heimlich maneuver on a student a few days after taking daylong CPR training. I was in position with my arms around him and then he was finally able to start talking. I didn’t hesitate at all, but I wouldn’t have predicted it.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
Delicious, with each syllable drawn out, as I like to say it with my two-year old when we try out a food that he ends up liking.

What is your least favorite word?
Synergy. I like the idea of it, but I dislike how it looks and sounds, especially when used in a neoliberal university sort of way. It’s the kind of word I picture in a boring logo. As someone who writes poems, I picture, taste, hold words. This one does nothing for me

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Full-time writer or entrepreneur or both (cheating here).

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Accountant 

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
The ability to touch someone and have them believe in their best self.

What are you most proud of in your career?
Acting as a research mentor in a special program to help someone not to fail out of college. It worked.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I corrected a colleague when he used the wrong singular noun of something.  It didn’t help other people understand him any better, so it was petty; it’s not a version of my best self (see my answer to the question about superpowers).

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Thinking about, researching, or writing for my current poetry manuscript, “Color Advisory Board.”

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Veronica Arellano Douglas, Jo Gadsby, Sofia Leung, Eamon Tewell (who was also nominated by Derrick Jefferson)
 
Michele tweets at @infolitmaven.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Self Care For New Administrators (And Everyone Else, Too)

Am I writing about self care again? Yes, I am. It's important and bears regular repeating. I copresented last week at the NY Library Association about how a new library administrator can get up to speed, and in between talking about building partnerships and sharing the mistakes I'd made in hopes that the audience would learn from them, I talked about self care. I brought up self care (and promised I would bring it up repeatedly) when talking to a mentee recently. I tell the people who work for me that they need to go home if they're here after the normal end of the college's business day. Self care is important. I could probably write about self care every single week and it still wouldn't be enough.

The thing about self care that you need to remember, above all else, is that if you don't take care of yourself, you will burn yourself out. You will.

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Besides, in the oh so important words of Audre Lorde: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." With everything that's happening in our world it's especially important to take care of yourself. So, here's some things that I know are important for me. Your mileage may, of course, vary. But if you have something else you think I should include in this list, please respond on Twitter or wherever you found this posted, or even in the comments below.
  1. Find a good therapist. If you live in the Rochester, NY area, I can recommend someone (and against a couple of others). Your health insurance should be able to help, but if you don't have insurance, please still try. The National Alliance on Mental Illness will help you find someone who is less expensive or even pro bono.
  2. Get out of the office and out of the building for lunch at least once a week. I know that the amount of work you have built up is probably enough to frighten even the most efficient efficiency expert. I know it because I can say the same thing. Administrators always have something they could be doing. I don't care. Get out and away from your library, your campus, etc.
  3. Work no more than 45-50 hours per week. My contract obligates me to 35 hours, and I usually put in between 40 and 45. I adjust accordingly for when I'm at conferences or have personal appointments during the work day. See my comment about your to do list above. I know, really really, that you could probably work 80 hours a week and still not get everything done. You'll probably never be completely okay with it, but you'll at least get more comfortable with leaving things undone.
  4. Make friends at work if possible. The shape this will take is going to be different depending on what kind of library. For me, I've reached out to and become friends with deans, associate deans, professors, people who work in HR, an instructional designer, tutoring coordinators, and so on. (Please note that there are no librarians on that list. I know some people are friends with their employees, but I don't think it works.) This will give you a place to go when you're about to lose your cool for whatever reason. This will also give you a place to get historical context if you were hired from the outside.
  5. Make friends with other people who do the same job. Twice a year I go to a multiple day meeting and hang out with other SUNY library administrators. About once each quarter I go to lunch with the director of the public library in the town where my college is located. I get ideas from these people, but also I get validation.
  6. Get sleep. This doesn't always work out for me, but I try to be in bed by 10p because I know my body will wake me by 6a. You may think you can run on minimal sleep, but you're fooling yourself. That's especially true if you are - like me - solidly middle aged. You cannot burn the candle at both ends indefinitely, because eventually you won't have any candle left.
  7. Have something in your life that isn't about libraries and that's just for you. Go hiking. Play video games. I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. Try crafting. Remember that you are more than your job.
You really are more than a library administrator, even with as much of your life as it might seem to take up. You're a gardener or a parent or a partner or a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Okay, you probably aren't that last one, but you get my meaning. Don't let go of the non-library parts of yourself. We need your voice in administration, so I need you to embrace self care.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

On Becoming a Leader as an Introvert, by Melissa Freiley

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“Wouldn’t you think most librarians would be introverts?” asked one of my relatives when I mentioned that I was going to write a blog post about introversion and leadership in libraries. This is a prevailing stereotype. While research on the percentage of introverts and extroverts in libraries is slim, I did find a chapter by Mary Jane Scherdin in Discovering Librarians  that explains that 63% of the 1,600 sampled librarians in an Association of College and Research Libraries study tested as introverts. Sure, that number is from 1994, but in comparison, of the 44 library workers who answered my (completely unscientific) poll on Twitter in mid-March, 61% identified themselves as introverts.
While most online dictionaries describe an introvert as a “shy person,” I find this definition on Urban Dictionary more accurate—“A person who is energized by spending time alone.” I identify as an introvert. I love being alone, and that is when I feel the most productive. I also have social anxiety, which means I feel incredibly nervous in social situations.
So if we library workers are primarily a bunch of introverts, how do we get involved in leadership? Is it even worth it? I’m going to share a little of my experience on how and why I’m getting started as a leader within my university and my state library association.
First, I had to WANT to get involved. When I was first approached about being an officer in our university’s Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA) in 2015, I wasn’t ready, so I ignored the plea. I was happy just attending a few events here and there.Besides, I was right in the middle of library school, with my graduation date just a glimmer in the far distance.
What changed? A couple of things. One, I participated in the Data Rescue Denton event, which refueled my passion for information science and made me realize how much of a connection I feel with people in this field. I wanted to do more. Two, with graduation swiftly approaching, I recognized that my resume lacked any leadership or service entries. So I began to think about ways I could get involved that would not be too uncomfortable.
Second, I had to take the initiative, and others had to respond. As I mentioned above, I have social anxiety, so this petrified me. But I’ve found that it’s not as difficult when performed behind a computer screen. For example, as Susan Cain states in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, “social media has made new forms of leadership possible for scores of people who don’t fit the Harvard Business School mold” (p. 62).
Having a few years’ experience with social media, I decided to volunteer for LISSA’s Director of Marketing and Social Media position in spring of 2017. The outgoing officers helped me for the first few months as I began to run the social media accounts. Since then, I have also marketed and helped lead our meetings and helped arrange for guest speakers at our meetings. I have thrived in this chiefly behind-the-scenes management role.
In fall of 2017, I also emailed the officers of the Texas Library Association Cataloging and Metadata Round Table and asked about how to get more involved. I decided to start out with my state organization rather than ALA because it seemed less intimidating and less formal. Plus, I would be more likely to attend state conferences. Thankfully, the officers were extremely responsive and afforded me many opportunities to dip my toes into leadership, from appointing me Webmaster and the Nominating Person, to allowing me to create social media accounts and market programs.
The more I’ve emailed, marketed, and appeared at meetings, the easier it’s gotten. I still have much to learn, of course, especially when it comes to oral communication and leading meetings, but that will (hopefully) come with practice and watching others perform in their leadership roles.
Third, passion helps drive me. I’ll admit I am a passionate person to begin with. Focusing on my passion for libraries—and specifically cataloging and metadata—helps me to not feel as anxious. This passion has been bolstered the most by participation in library communities on Twitter and Facebook. The people I follow and the groups I participate in inspire me to stay involved and grow my experience.
Finally, being an introvert or having social anxiety doesn’t mean I can’t become a leader. I may be starting out small, and I may prefer to start out (and possibly continue) leading “behind the scenes,” but my initiative and my enthusiasm are proving valuable to the organizations I’m serving. As an introvert just getting started in leadership, I am here to say it may not be as scary as it looks. One may even have fun and meet some wonderful people in the process.

Melissa Freiley began her library career in 2007 as a library cataloging technician. She has been an MSIS student at the University of North Texas for a very long time but is set to graduate in December 2018. Find her on Twitter @variouspagings.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Midterm Elections

No libr* stuff here today. With respect to my readers who are outside the United States, this election is way too important to pay attention to anything else at the moment. So...

U.S. people, go vote! If you don't remember where your polling place is, Vote.gov can help. If you haven’t already looked to see what will be on it, BallotReady.com can show you what will be on your ballot – candidates and referenda. VoteSmart.org will help you research the candidates.


I went before work. See my pretty sticker?

 
Please go vote. I'm begging you!


Don't make me send that angry catto after you!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Just For Fun: Romance Is For Everyone


I'm talking about romance novels, to be specific. I've been hinting at this on Twitter, but I'm ready to come out completely. My name is Jessica Olin, and I like reading romance novels. I read them as a kid, but put them aside because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. This summer I realized how foolish that was, so I'm reading romance novels again.

Further, I refuse to be ashamed. Sure, there are some poorly written books in this genre. Sure, there are some problematic tropes. That's true of every genre - even literary fiction. But there is also so much to love about romance:
  • Guaranteed happy endings. This is so much a part of the genre that there's even a well-known abbreviation for this. HEA, or Happily Ever After. Lord knows with the current state of the government (and not just the one in my country - I see you, Brazil and UK), I need some happy in my life.
  • Emotional intelligence. The characters in these novels - whether they're contemporary or period, hetero or queer, normal or paranormal - all display emotional intelligence. Sometimes it takes them a while to get to that point of realizing they're in love with this other person (which is one of the tropes I kind of love). Sometimes it takes them a while to realize why they're experiencing other emotions as well. But they always get there.
  • Love. I think The Beatles were wrong. I think we need more than love. I also think love is part of good friendships. But I love that romance novels are love stories. I don't need more bored-middle-aged-male-sex-romps-with-underage-girls-self-insert novels. Not that I'm a prude. I feel cheated if there aren't a couple of steamy sex scenes, but I want to see more love in the world.

My main requirement, beyond the above, is that there be something other about the novel. Contemporary is fine, if it's paranormal or sci-fi-ish. "Normal" settings are great, but they have to be historical. One of my favorite romance novels I've read since I started reading them again was paranormal, historical, and queer (oh my!). I've read and enjoyed novels with cisgay men, cisgay women, and cisstraight people. I've not yet read any with transgender characters or nonbinary characters, but I have a few on my to read list. I've also not yet read much with non-caucasian characters, but have some of those on my to read list as well.

Here are a few I've read and loved:

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

A young  woman who thinks she's firmly "on the shelf" gets pissed off and decides to start breaking the rules. The first rule she decided to break is kiss a notorious rake. Hilarity, both sexy and non-sexy, ensues. The characters were fun and their reactions felt genuine. The manwhore/womanvirgin trope was fully in play here, which is not one I appreciate, but other than that it was a great read.

More info on this book at GoodReads.


The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

A woman escaping a bad marriage pretends to be a governess and gets hired by a Scottish laird to get his children in line. He's battle hardened and also had a bad first marriage. She's scarred from severe mistreatment by her husband, who put her into an asylum. Trigger Warnings for spousal abuse and attempted rape (not a fan of rape/attempted rape as a plot point - that's another trope I dislike). But I loved that she wasn't a virgin and that was okay. Another great read - so great I've gone on to read the rest of this series.

More info on this book at GoodReads. 

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

A philologist who got his PhD at Miskatonic University (!!) learns that a man for whom he had a long-held but secret affection is killed. Enter an ex-Pinkerton detective who is investigating that death. Sparks fly between the two as they try to defeat a plot to bring an unspeakable horror into our world. The tension and fear of recrimination and prosecution that were attendant upon any same sex relationships in this era are handled well. Loved everything about this book and immediately bought my own copy after finishing it.

More info on this book at GoodReads.


I've read more in the last 5 months or so, and if you're interested you can check out my short, almost always spoiler-free reviews over on my GoodReads profile. I know this genre is labeled as "for women", but I've never understood that. Some of the novels have so much sex they verge on pornographic. Besides, doesn't everyone secretly love a happy ending? At least on occasion?

How about you? Do you have any favorites? I'm figuring you like romance novels or are at least interested in them if you made it to the end of this post. Please leave recommendations in the comments or @ me on Twitter. I'm always looking for new authors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Librarian or librarian: Which Do You Want to Be?

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One of the things that occurred to me while I was on medical leave, and that was part of what gave rise to a post I published earlier this month - "168 Hours" - was that I wasn't going as stir crazy as I'd thought I would. I've made a point the last 5 years or so of trying to have some semblance of work/life balance, but I've almost always been a bit of a failure at it. I always figured I was addicted to work. I'm a Librarian, after all. (Imagine trumpets sounding in the background as you read that.) 

Sure, I've gotten better about leaving work at work, but I'm not great. I don't work through lunch quite as often as I used to, and a lot of times when I do it's because I had to come in late that day or I have to leave early and don't want to make up the time another way. And yeah - I bring work home most weekends - but no more than an hour or two worth, and that's a lot less than I used to bring. But the forced stillness of recovering from surgery - both metaphorical and physical - made me look at my habits. The quiescence combined with having to have talk with a friend about things that fall under the category of "if I don't make it out of the operating room, here are my wishes" made me look even harder. On top of those things, I also saw somewhere on Twitter or maybe Tumblr: "If I won't worry about it on my death bed, why am I worrying about it now?" 

All off this combined to make me realize how much of my day to day is wrapped up in being a Librarian. I'm capitalizing it on purpose. It's more than my job; it's a huge chunk of who I am. It's a culture to which I belong. This designation is something I learned from disability studies. There's a difference between deaf, which is a physical reality of not being able to hear, and Deaf, which is community and culture. Similarly, I see that there's a difference between being a librarian, which is a job that requires such and such training and education, and had this and that as part of the job description, and Librarian, which is whole hog never stop 24/7 libraries LIBRARIES LiBrArIeS!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't want to look back at this part of my life and regret how much of my focus I put on my career and how little I put on the rest of my life, my friends, my family, my health. Yes, libraries are important - they are my most favorite of all my problematic faves - but so is getting sleep and laughing with friends and fighting creeping (galloping?) fascism. I'm not sure how this will play out, but I know one decision I've already made because of this new emphasis I want to have in my life - I'm not going to ACRL in Cleveland. I'm probably going to go to ALA in DC, but that's more because of the people I know I'll see there who I haven't seen in a while because I've been focusing on academic librarianship instead of on my friends who have the same career. As this librarian instead of Librarian thing continues to evolve, I'm going to try to share. No fears, though, this blog won't go anywhere. Letters to a Young Librarian has always been my way of thinking out loud, which is especially important to me. I love Twitter, but sometimes microblogging isn't enough.

This work/life balance, this idea of figuring out who we are...? This is a struggle we all have and will continue to have. And you, if your part of the intended audience of this blog, the young librarians out there, please take a moment to figure out how to be intentional with your time. It's a bit of a cliche, but time is the most valuable resource you have. It's the only thing you can't replace.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Interview Post: Donna Lanclos



Biographical

Name?
Donna Michelle Lanclos

Current job?
My Leave of Absence for this past academic year while my family was living in England is over, and I’m now officially Freelance and Trying to Figure Things Out. I have been lucky this past year, keeping busy with a couple of research projects, some speaking gigs, and co-facilitating workshops. My official job title at UNC Charlotte was Associate Professor for Anthropological Research in the J. Murrey Atkins Library. Now, I’m just Donna Lanclos, PhD. We’ll see where that gets me.

How long have you been in the field?
I fell into working in libraries in 2009. I’ve been an anthropologist since I started my undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara in 1988--I was an archaeologist then, but I have never identified as anything else, intellectually or professionally.   

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?
I work out of offices, for the most part, even when I have one. I used to joke that my office was where my work would go to die, but it’s not a very funny joke, because that is kind of what happened--my generative, thinking work hardly ever happens while sitting at my desk staring at a screen. So, my range of workspaces includes (courtesy of my touchscreen laptop and the internet): a sofa, a dining room table, a desk in a given bedroom (overlooking the Thames last year which was not awful). Sitting at desks in office chairs is awful for my back, so I try to mix it up a fair amount. When I need to do sustained writing, I try to find a cafe outside of my home, where I can be surrounded by enough lively noise that I don’t get distracted away from the thing I’m trying to focus on.

How do you organize your days?
I am ruled by my calendar, and by the things that other people have asked me to do. So, I start with any meetings or calls I have that day, then consider the deadlines for writing or other productive work I have ahead of me, and then schedule my day accordingly. Sometimes if I have a lot of meetings or calls, that’s all I get done that day.
 
What do you spend most of your time doing?
I have a varied schedule, sometimes I am spending time reading (on paper and the internet); sometimes I am spending time interviewing people; sometimes I am writing up those interviews; sometimes I am writing drafts of articles, chapters, or talks. Sometimes the work I do looks like having a series of Skype conversations with colleagues with whom I’m planning an event, a workshop, or some other piece of work.

What is a typical day like for you?
I don’t think I have those.

What are you reading right now?
At the time of our original interview, I had two books going right now, one titled Black London: The Imperial Metropolis and Decolonization in the 20th Century, by Marc Matera, which was reading as an antidote to the largely white history and culture tour books that were scattered throughout the flat we were living in last year; and a book called Science(ish): The Peculiar Science Behind the Movies, which my seventeen year old checked out of our local library, and I highly recommend it. I just finished The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire (which I LOVED) and have just started a short story collection called Starlings by Jo Walton. I’ve got some non fiction that I need to read, but I just wanted a break.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
The best professional advice I ever got was from my mom, just before I accepted the library anthropology job in 2009. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it. She told me, “Say yes, try it, see what happens. I know you can do it. You just have to figure that out, too.”
 
What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
I never expected to be doing the work I’m doing now around developing people’s practices in academia. The workshops piece is completely unexpected. I love it. It’s a kind of teaching, I think, but it’s far from the kind of thing I thought I’d produce as an academic. I always thought the results of the work I do would be articles, book chapters, more traditional stuff. The amount of time I spend (and, funnily enough, work I get done) on Twitter is pretty unexpected, too.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
In English, “vivacious.“ In Spanish, it’s “zanahoria”, which is just the best way to say “carrot” ever. And I love the French word for frog, “grenouille,” ‘cause it’s fun to say.

What is your least favorite word?
“Fester.”

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Home interior design. I love being opinionated about fabrics, paint colors, and furniture and other fittings.

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Anything in the hospitality industry, because I’m afraid it would make me hate people.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
I wish I could fly. In my dreams, I can.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the network I have built, with the people I have found through the work I do.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I am sure I’ve made a lot. I think the one I struggle with the most is never finding the right balance between communicating internally about the work I’m doing and also communicating externally so that I can get to continue to do the work. I spend a lot of time talking to students and faculty about academic work, what it looks like, what their motivations are for the ways they do and don’t engage with places, resources, and people. I want to get better at making time to talk to colleagues within my organization. I think maybe it’s that there’s never enough time. Or, maybe I’m not good at being part of an organization.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Reading. Traveling with my family. Walking and exploring--there was a lot to see in London, and we didn’t get to see it all before we had to come back to North Carolina, but we sure tried! Eating and drinking fun things, and trying to see as many of my friends as I can.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Lareese Hall and Bryony Ramsden


Donna tweets at @DonnaLanclos.