Thursday, March 31, 2016

Interview Post: Jaleh Fazelian

Jaleh Fazelian

Current job?

Head of Research, Learning, and Information at a small, Jesuit, liberal arts college in Ohio. Also, I am the current President of the Middle East Librarians Association (MELA).

How long have you been in the field?
I have been working in libraries since 2000. I became a librarian in 2004.

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?
I am very lucky to have my own office. It has three walls of windows, and one of those windows overlooks a courtyard. There’s even a tree! I have enough space in my office for my standing desk and a sitting area, which is nice for when I have meetings. My office is located on one of the major walkways in the library and butts up next to the printers in our largest computer lab. Needless to say it can be noisy and busy at times, but that is just how I like it.

I almost always have music on in my office. The volume is low enough that only I hear it, but it’s important to my workday. If you like to have music while you’re working, I recommend Spotify playlists. Some of my favorites are: Have A Great Day, Productive Morning, and Old School Hip Hop House Party (explicit lyrics).

How do you organize your days?
Everything begins and ends with Google. We use Gmail and Google Calendar at work, so my whole work life is on my calendar. I’d be lost without it. In terms of offline organization, I stay on track and organized with my to do list and my Erin Condren planner.

Beyond how I keep track, everything depends on the day. Generally the day starts with checking my email and calendar from home to see what, if anything, tended to immediately (and that sometimes means MELA business). Once I get into work, I put out the fires and then dig into whatever awaits me. I do my best detail work in the morning, so I try to organize accordingly. I use the afternoon to work on items that require more creativity.  

What do you spend most of your time doing?
If I am honest, I spend half my time in meetings. Being a supervisor means regular meetings with staff and my own director. In addition to that, I am on committees and have several regularly standing meetings. When I am not in meetings, I devote my time to follow ups from all those meetings, planning for/teaching classes, working on library assessment projects, researching and writing articles and/or book chapters, and working on library outreach. I also try to walk around the building and observe students using our space 2-3 times a day.

What is a typical day like for you?
Well, as most librarians know, there is rarely a typical day. I tend to come in between 8-9am and I try to grab lunch before 2 pm or else I get cranky. I am usually out the door by 5pm but I often respond to emails when I get home if there is a deadline or something pressing. In between 8-5, it’s a mix of meetings, working at my desk, walking around the building to check on things, and whatever else pops up.

What are you reading right now?
I am reading Dispatches from the Arab Spring: Understanding the New Middle East edited by Paul Amar and Vijay Prashad for a book review I am writing. I am working my way through the Alexander Hamilton, a biography by Ron Chernow. Like a lot of folks I have become obsessed with the Hamilton Musical so I decided to read the source material. I am also reading The Life Changing Art of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want To Do by Sarah Knight for a book club.  Recently for my fluff reading I’ve been digging into the Tessa Dare Spindle Cove series.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Well, I tend to put stock into two pieces of advice from a former director. The first is not new at all: ask forgiveness not permission. We will all make mistakes or overreach at some point but that is never a reason to not be inventive or creative. The second piece of advice is don’t be afraid to slaughter your sacred cow. Don’t rest on those “this is how we’ve always done it” laurels. Push the boundaries.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Honestly, nothing. I assumed a career in libraries would have me working on unexpected tasks.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
Defenestration. I pretty much never get to use it, but I’ve loved this word since I learned about the Defenestration of Prague in undergrad. Plus, it’s fun to say aloud.

What is your least favorite word?

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
I would love to be the female voiceover you hear in commercials, movie trailers, etc.

What profession would you never want to attempt?
I can easily say I would never want to be a police officer or farmer. I am not cut out for either of those professions.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
I would LOVE to be able to fly. That would be pretty cool, if not necessarily great for my curly hair.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am very proud of two aspects of my career. First, being elected Vice President/Program Chair and then becoming the President of MELA. It is an honor to represent my colleagues and I enjoy working with librarians from around the world. Second, I am really proud of the relationships I’ve cultivated with students at my current and former institutions. Helping students is why I got into libraries and it’s what keeps me here.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes on the job. If someone tells you otherwise, they are lying. I would say my first year working as a cataloger was a series of regular mistakes. It took me a long time to understand the language of cataloging. I finally got the hang of it all (much to the delight of my former boss) and now I actually miss cataloging Arabic and Persian books regularly. 

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Hanging out with my husband and our two cats. Scanning Craigslist for mid-century furniture. Reading. Watching something on Netflix. Waiting patiently for the next season of the Great British Baking Show to come to America.  Rooting for Indiana Basketball (Go Hoosiers!).

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Erin Leach, April Hathcock, Rachel Fleming

Jaleh tweets at @jaleh_f.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Vendors and Genders

I had a very negative interaction with an author/vendor today. This person (I'm guessing male from the name on the email account) called me cowardly and "pathetic excuse for a human being" because I asked to not be emailed again. 

I did some research and found that I wasn't the first person to be treated to the series of emails, decided I didn't have the time or the desire for a fight, marked the email as spam, and moved on with my day. But I'm still angry. Above and beyond the ridiculousness of this exchange - buddy, if you're trying to get someone to look at your links and/or buy your books, don't you think it would be more appropriate to be *nice* instead of insulting someone? - there's another layer of anger. I'm pretty sure this person was banking on my backing down or at least not fighting back. That's what made me stay angry, even hours and hours later.

So I started thinking about the gendered aspects of this exchange, about his insults and about my reactions. A man is frugal; a woman is parsimonious. A man is direct and has depth; a woman is incapable of consilience. A man is a straight shooter and a leader; a woman is bossy. Men can get angry; women are supposed to be nice no matter what. In the end, I decided to laugh at it and to use it for some good: writing a post about it to add to the #libleadgender conversation.

How about you? Have you ever had an interaction with an author or a vendor that you *knew* was gendered in some way?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

You Do You: On Escaping the Fear of Missing Out, by Virginia Alexander Cononie

The topic of FoMO or DOING ALL THE THINGS has been covered on this blog not just once, but twice by the talented Ginger Williams. Even so, it will continually be relevant because people like me persistently over-commit, experience the Fear Of Missing Out, and generally work themselves into the ground. 

Feeling burned out? Do you feel as if you are under a mountain of papers, projects, thoughts, or meetings? How can we juggle it all without getting out the door to work with two different socks on? Here are three areas where people tend to over-commit and three ways to recalibrate and refocus your energies.

Have you tried this new app, gadget, website, organization software, life changing trick, tip, certificate? The stress of keeping up with the techtrends can be overwhelming. Since technology progresses so quickly, it is incredibly easy to feel like “the next best thing” is happening every single day. This is especially true with social media (the topic of my last post on LtaYL) and marketing. In the past, I have consistently added social media platforms to my personal and professional life because “everyone else is doing it.” Here is how I’ve slowed down the process:

1. Evaluate your tools and your presence.
Are you feeling a bit widespread online? Are your apps and computer programs overlapping? Check out all the different types of technology apps you are using and decide which are working for you and not against you. At one point, I had about 5 different photo editing apps on my phone. It is fine to try things out, but move on if you find that it isn’t as good as you thought.

2. Be more aware of how you use your time.
Sometimes, I feel as if I never put down my phone. My whole life is on this little device. Maybe I should just get it over with and tape it to my hand? Nope. Instead, I try to make a conscious effort around friends, family and loved ones, to put down the device and live life in the moment not through the screen. This is an obvious piece of advice, but sticking to it is the real struggle.

3. Resist peer pressure.
I was pretty excited about Ello when it first came out, and getting an invite to that social media platform was like pulling teeth. When I finally got the in, I realized I couldn’t figure out how to make the platform work for me. My friends were there, but I couldn’t find them, and I had no idea what “noise” was or is. [Editor’s Note: I had a bad experience with Ello as well and wrote about it.] I decided that I had to delete the app. I am feeling closer and closer to deleting Pinterest for the same reason. Recognizing what has to go will help you feel less overwhelmed when it comes to your online life.

Whenever conference time comes around, there seems to be a general electric pulse vibrating from the librarian community. The vibes are strong. Rules, Regulations, Planning, Busses, Registration, Plane Rides, Yikes! It can send your head spinning. My first national conference as a professional librarian was in Chicago, and I was so overwhelmed.

1. Find your people.
As best you can, find others that hit on the same plane of existence as yours. These friends will serve as guides as you work your way around the exhibit hall or try to figure out where your next session is. Buddy up with people you know and can trust.

2. Don’t try to do it all.
Some people make these conferences into mini work-cations, while still trying to get in the maximum amount of conferencing done at the same time. Plot out your course, but remember, you don’t have to do it all. One of my librarian friends told me at my first conference, “just try to learn three new things.” I really liked this approach. If you have to make a report about your time when you get back from the conference, this “three new things” marker is an excellent way to meet that requirement.

3. You do you.
Self-care at a conference is primary. Meeting new people can be intense. Take a step back. If you feel like you need a few moments, a few hours, or an afternoon to yourself, recognize it and take the opportunity. I try to get outside of the conference and see the city for a second. Take a seat, drink some water, and be silent. Re-energize! You’ll need it because meeting new people and making connections can be exciting and but also draining at the same time.

I’ll be the first to admit that I had a really hard time saying “no” to projects, opportunities, tasks, you name it when I was a new librarian. I just thought, “well, I’ll try for these three things, and if I have the chance to participate in one, then it will be great.” But it seems to turn out that you get to participate in more than just one, and your to-do list starts climbing skyward. What are some steps to take to lessen your load?

1. Squeeze in time management and learn to say “no.”
Trust me. I know it’s hard but sometimes we have to say “no.” Don’t overburden yourself. Yes, help your coworkers and friends, but don’t take on so much that you are unable to tackle your own tasks. I promise they will understand. Refusing won’t dim your bright-eyed can-do attitude. Instead it will help you hone your abilities and allow you to help where you can help best. Along these same lines, don’t feel guilty if you need to take some time to yourself. If this means, closing your office door to focus in on a certain task, don’t apologize.

2. Make a List.
This is part of any type of advice I give to those just starting out in this field. My memory is not the best, so I pretty much live and die by my list. A list helps you see your accomplishments, tasks, and goals. The list never ends, but the tasks on it fade one by one. Many people use just tiny note pads, or go all out for stickers, and colorful weekly logs. Find what works best for you and start planning. Through planning, you will become more prepared, less overwhelmed, and (hopefully) less overcommitted.

3. Talk to a friend.
This is a big one. Reach out to a friend, family member, or even your cat. Keeping your stress bottled in will only lead to stress and conflict. Find a good friend who will listen and give you true advice.

Over-commitment and FoMO is bound to happen to you, and me, again. Even after we feel that we have defeated it, it will come back. When we get there, we should take a step back and reexamine our goals or even take a break. Try guided meditation, yoga stretches at your desk, or even a youtube search for your favorite baby animal, and then maybe have a good talk with your supervisor about establishing (or reestablishing) priorities. I know it works for me.

Virginia Alexander Cononie is a Public Services Librarian who Coordinates Library Marketing and Outreach at an academic library in Spartanburg, SC. She also draws things. This is her second post for LtaYL. The first was “You, Me, and Social Media.” You can find her at her blog or pretty much any other social media @sketchlibrarian.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wherefore Art Thou Surveying?


I try to start any endeavor at work by asking myself why I'm doing it. Sometimes, the answer is easy to find. Paying the ProQuest bill means continued access to a resource my community uses a lot. Building a circulating board game collection supports members of my community beyond the classroom (or even inside, depending on the professor). So you can be sure that when I decided to create a survey, I had very specific goals in mind. But probably not the ones you think.

Surveys seem easy to create and conduct, but they're not. Even if you can avoid leading questions, remember to align your Likert scale carefully, and design the survey in such a way to elicit a solid response rate, there's still so much you miss. You'll want to know why people answer certain questions the way they did, but also how important things are in context. Maybe someone thinks the library is super helpful, but they haven't been there since their freshmen year or since they got tenure or since they got a new job. 

And yet, I still run surveys semi-regularly. I don't expect to learn a lot from the surveys themselves; instead, it's about starting a conversation. I sent a survey out to the faculty of my school towards the end of last semester asking about research assignments and library resource use and outside resources. I do care that kinds of assignments and resources are being used, but I knew that - even with a desirable prize possible (a $10 gift card to Wawa) - the return rate wouldn't be that great. Survey fatigue and high teaching loads were conspiring against us. But it did exactly what I'd hoped: it gave me a new way to start discussions with faculty.

I sat down, one-on-one, with each of the respondents. Since there were fewer than a dozen of them, it was relatively easy for me to find the time. Even if there had been more, I would have figured it out because those conversations were invaluable to me. I've been, slowly & steadily, building relationships with the faculty at my institution - both adjunct and full-time faculty. It's true that the group who completed the survey was mostly made up of the same people who always respond to library requests, but there were a few with whom I'd only had passing conversations. Even better, although I predicted 90% of what the faculty said to me when we talked, in each conversation I learned one new thing that hadn't been part of my thinking previously.

Best of all, though, we got these faculty members thinking about the library as a resource for their teaching - not just for the students. We got them thinking about ways to improve the library. We got them thinking about the services and resources we provide. And we got them thinking about how the library can support the whole community. 

So, to bring this back to where I started: wherefore art I surveying? It's not assessment; it's marketing.

How about you? Have you ever used surveys for marketing? How so?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Looking For Suggestions


I've got five different posts in various stages of rough or not-so-rough draft, but I don't feel comfortable publishing any of them yet. So, instead of a new post, I'm going to send out this request for feedback and ideas. So, do you...

  1. Have an idea for a topic that you don't feel comfortable covering yourself?
  2. Want me to revisit something I've talked about in the past?
  3. Have some other kind of question/idea for which you'd like to see my response?
I'm here and I'm listening.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Interview Post: Andrea Snyder

The View From My Desk

Andrea Snyder

Current job?

Outreach Services Specialist, Nassau Library System (Long Island)

How long have you been in the field?

12 years (How did that happen??). While I was in graduate school, I worked as a trainee for the Buffalo & Erie County Library System in the local history department. When I graduated, I moved to Baltimore, Maryland to work at the Central Library of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. I held several different position at the Pratt, including managing the Nonprofit Resource Center, managing the Job & Career Information Center, and Assistant Manager of the Business, Science and Technology Department. After 10 years in Baltimore, I moved back to New York to work for the Nassau Library System.

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

I have an office all of my own, and I savor every minute of it as I’ve never had one before. My desk seems to have exploded at the moment, but I do my best to bring it back under control before I leave each day. I’ve also got various tchotchkes on my shelves and prints on my walls that inspire me, and remind me of past adventures. My favorite part of my office is my big white, dry erase board. I use it to keep track of my projects and as a ‘parking lot’ for ideas that I might not be able to run with just yet.

How do you organize your days?
I live by my Google Calendar both professionally and personally. I also have a paper calendar on my desk where I keep track of my daily and weekly goals and to-do lists. At the end of each day, I like to review what I accomplished and make my to-do list for the next day. It makes my mornings so much smoother.  

What do you spend most of your time doing?
It feels like I spend most of time with email, but I know that’s not really true! I spend a lot of time researching, planning, and working on projects that will help our 54 member libraries become stronger and provide even better services to their communities.

What is a typical day like for you?
Typical, what’s that? My days are never the same and that’s one the things I love about my job. I might be planning or facilitating a training for member library staff, meeting with a community group, digging into a question that a member library staff person has stumped me on, or conducting a program at our County Correctional Facility.

What are you reading right now?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
“If you get told no, wait 6 months and ask again.” This advice was later amended to also include: “when making the ask be sure to present a solid plan including how it will benefit the organization.”

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
If you had told me when I was a brand new librarian that I would be facilitating workshops for other librarians and absolutely loving it, I would have told you that you were lying. I never, ever expected to find so much joy in having the opportunity to help empower library staff in their jobs.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Professional violinist. The fact that I don’t like to practice a lot makes this one a challenge!

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Snake charmer

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
Mind reader

What are you most proud of in your career?
It’s not so much one moment but lots of little moments. I love that my career provides me with opportunities to empower people through so many different avenues: supporting someone as they master using a mouse; handing an inmate in prison their very own book to keep; helping a library staff member work through a challenging situation and seeing them come to the solution on their own; facilitating a training for library staff and hearing lots of excited ideas being exchanged.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
Only one? A big one for me is not asking for help when I find myself overwhelmed. Lesson learned (and one that I need to periodically remind myself of). It’s ok to talk to your supervisor and explain what’s going on. Asking for help does not equal failure. Your supervisor is there to support you & can only really provide that support when you bring them into the loop.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Making music either with my handbell choir or on my violin, lesson planning for my ESL tutoring sessions (some day I’ll not wait until the last minute), but most likely plopped on my couch doing some form of brainless activity to recharge my introvert soul.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Lindsay Sarin

Andrea is on Twitter as @alsnyder02.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Here and Now: Buddhism, Mindfulness, and Burnout


I wrote a post for Maria Accardi's great blog, "Librarian Burnout," that was published last week. 
"Last year, I wrote a post on my blog about the routines I’ve built to avoid burning out professionally. Shortly afterward, Maria approached me about writing a guest post. In her invitation, she said something that struck me as particularly apt..."
Head on over to Accardi's blog to read the rest. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Just for Fun: My "Essential" Reading


I recently read a list of David Bowie's favorite books, and while looking over the list I realized that the books I consider my "favorites" or my "essentials" are just as diverse as his. I thought it might be fun to share some of them with you. Emphasis on "some" here, as I try to keep my blog posts from getting too long and to put all of my favorites would take forever... so I have limited myself to ten books.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
This book is comfort reading for me. If I've had a horrid day/week and just don't feel like turning on the television or eating a big pile of mashed potatoes, Herriot's semi-autobiographical work about a country vet is a perfect pick-me-up. I've read it so many times now that I can skip the bits that will make me cry if I don't feel like crying that day. (That's not much of a spoiler. Books about vets are always crying books in one way or another.)

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
This is my favorite book, bar none. I read a passage from this book at my father's funeral. It's about love and growth and friendship. This is another one that I know pretty much by heart. Yes, it's about seagulls. Yes, it's allegorical. I first read it when I was 11 or 12 years old, and it's stuck with me ever since.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
I wouldn't have believed you if you'd told me that a book about behavioral economics would really and truly change how I think about people, but it has. Everyone, especially librarians, should have a grounding in the basic theories of this field. Understanding how people make decisions helps me interact more effectively with people in my life - both at work and in my personal life. Kahneman's book also helps me understand my own decision making processes.

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron
This is the first book about Buddhism that I ever read, and it resonated so strongly with me that I investigated further and eventually decided to build my life around these principles. Any time someone asks me for a good place to start with reading about Buddhism, this is where I send them.

Fool by Christopher Moore
There's only one contemporary fiction author who has never let me down, and that's Christopher Moore. I don't even have to know the plot of a Christopher Moore book before buying it because I know I'll love it. He typically writes paranormal & monster fiction that makes fun of the genre while remaining true to its tropes, but my favorite of his works is Fool. In a nutshell, this book is King Lear from the fool's perspective, but it's so much better than that description would lead you to believe. Be warned: Fool is raunchy verging on pornographic, but it's also one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
I wish someone had handed me this book in my teens or my twenties because it changed so much of how I see gender. The story is about a human who crosses the galaxy on a mission of diplomacy and what happens when he reaches the other planet, but the gender dynamics on the other planet are unlike anything you'd expect. I think there should be at least one work of fantastic feminist science fiction on everyone's list of favorite books.

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
The quick synopsis of this comic book series is: forces of nature are shown as endless creatures who reflect the best and worst of humanity. I know that's a convoluted sentence, but really - that's what it's about. I read comic books as a kid, sure, but I never really loved them until a student at my first library job recommended this series for the library. There are other comic book and graphic novel series I've come to love since then, and plenty of stand-alones, but nothing comes close to this one.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker
This is another book that changed me permanently. Being able to tell the difference between day-to-day anxiety and actual fear is something everyone should learn, but vulnerable populations need this.

Fat! So? Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size! by Marilyn Wann
I don't remember where I first stumbled onto this book, but it was a revelation. I am fat, and learning to let go of the shame attached to that fact (over which I have little to no control) was a hard lesson but an important one. Also, Marilyn Wann's book was my introduction to the ideas of fat activism and size acceptance, which is important to who I am.

The Golden Treasury of Poetry Selected and with commentary by Louis Untermeyer 
I've owned my copy of this book for so long that I literally cannot remember a time when it wasn't sitting on my bookshelf. This book was my first introduction to Shakespeare, Poe, Longfellow, Eliot, and many others. This book, more than any other, shaped my tastes in poetry and even more generally in reading. Heck, Elizabeth Bishop is probably my favorite poet of all time, and I first encountered her work in this book's pages.

So, how about you? What are your favorite books that you think inform who you are?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Turn and Face the Strain)

Back when I started this blog, I spent a lot of time complaining about how so many LIS programs have curricula that looks at least 5 to 10 years behind what I do every day. But more and more, I know it's not just the LIS graduate programs. Even in this supposed age of technological wonders and instant communication, we're lucky if 10-15% of libraries are on the same page - let alone our graduate programs and our national organizations.

Let me give you an example from when I was just starting to get interested in librarianship in a broader way. In 2010, I attended my first national conference: the American Library Association annual conference was in DC that year. I learned right away what so many people know: that the best learning opportunities come in the unstructured times at conferences. One moment from that conference still stands out in my memory. I overheard some people talking about "how nice that ALA is finally taking graphic novels seriously." This happened as I was walking away from the Dark Horse booth where I'd had a nice, in person conversation with a rep with whom I had connected via email in the past. By that time I had been overseeing graphic novel collections in libraries for 5+ years and had built collections at two different libraries. Overhearing that conversation blew my mind. Something I'd been doing for a most of my career at that point was "finally" getting attention from a national organization.

I'm not faulting ALA, nor really tooting my own horn. I was lucky enough to work at an institution that encouraged new ideas and also lucky enough to have the kind of relationship with students where they'd be honest with me about what they wanted. It was a shock, though, to realize how different things were between my library and the national conference.

I had similar feelings as I read and commented on the various iterations of the Framework for Information Literacy. Above and beyond the jargon and buzzwords and threshold concepts, I was excited to see that at it's heart, the framework resembles how I approach information literacy more closely than anything I've seen from a national organization. The idea of framing these skills as practical, as more central to student learning than any specific outcomes, feels right. The document is not perfect, but it's a lot better than what came before.

All of this came to mind, yes the graphic novel story as well as my thoughts about the framework, when I saw this tweet:

Ms. Hinchliffe's tweet made me think about buzzwords and slow steady change and so much more. Not too long ago, when I started in this field, we were in the midst of a jargon change. I took a Bibliographic Instruction class at my MLIS program. The library where I worked for 5 years had even labelled their classroom with the words "Bibliographic Instruction." Students there referred to that room the way long time staff did... "the BI room." But the rubric I helped write to measure Writing Across the Curriculum focused on "information literacy." Library instruction has also been called "user education" and "library orientation." Heck, that last one is the origin of one of the best conferences we've got! Library Orientation EXchange, or LOEX, has been going on for over 40 years.

We can be slow to change, but also we can be quick to throw and/or forget our history.

The main thing I'm thinking about, though, is that I'm starting to understand why more experiences library professionals say things like, "we've always done it that way." I know it's easy to hear that phrase and think the speaker is stuck. But at this stage of my career, I can hear nuances in that much reviled statement. I can hear when someone means "but I really want to change it" versus when they mean "and I'm scared to try something new." More importantly, though, I've noticed an undercurrent of "I'm not afraid of change so much as I'm scared of uninformed progress for the sake of progress."

Things change. It's a fact so true that it sounds a bit cliched. But change without awareness of history can be worse than no change at all. Knowing where we came from can be a road map of sorts. After all, you want to void those million dead-end streets, don't you?