Benson Memorial Library, Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Management, Titusville, PA

“You are loved and respected. Your work is well done. Your choices are good.”

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The title of this post comes from something my friend Peggy said to me recently. I needed to hear this. Sometimes we need to hear that we’re doing something good and positive in the world. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the work that we’re doing and the work that we’ve done in the past.

With that in mind, I’ve been updating my work resume recently. In late 2016 I deconstructed my resume. What I started to see on it was way too much bragging and buzzwords that equated to nothing. I looked at resumes of others, mostly people I have worked with, and in their resumes too I saw the same amounts of bragging and buzzwords. The need to embellish a resume seemed to have taken over the world and I did not want to have any part in it. So, I “trimmed the fat” as they say. I cut out the stuff that I did not think needed to be shared. Sure, I was given an award of some sorts by a prominent library publication 4 years ago, but did that matter? I told myself that it didn’t and I cut it out. What mattered was now and the work that I could do in my day to day life. One of the most inspiring people in the world (and a person on my “if I had friends this is someone I’d like to be friends with” list) Josh Homme said this recently:

“Now is all you’ll ever get, and there’s no reason for you to wait. If you wait to do something, you’re probably making a mistake.” -Josh Homme

from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/josh-homme-on-queens-of-the-stone-ages-new-villains-lp-w490156

This idea that now is all we ever have rang deep inside of me and it informed my decisions and my actions over the past year.

In recent weeks, I’ve been going back to this idea and I’ve recognized that I need to balance it out. Balance is the key to any healthy life and if you’ve read my posts over the past few months you can probably tell that I’ve been way off balance. With that in mind and with the words of encouragement from some friends, I’ve decided to get that balance now. I started updating my resume once again, adding back in some of the things that I’ve done in the past while trying to remain mindful of how I present myself. I still want to steer clear of the bragging and buzzwords. I think I’m getting there. In the meantime, you can find my updated resume here. In order to keep doing great work in libraries, I have to be proud of the work that I’ve done in the past. I have to remember that I have had a positive impact on the the people that I have met in libraries. I have to keep moving ahead in a positive way.

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Benson Memorial Library, Community Building, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life

My Brain is Workin’ Overtime

 *this title comes from a wonderful Weezer song that the band played live around 2000 but never released commercially. I love this song!*

My head and my heart have been really full the past few weeks. September was full of our book sale, the rise and the fall and the possible rise of our Friends of the Library group, and working on hiring a new Youth Services Librarian. October was the month when we finally got that (really really really awesome) new Youth Services Librarian in place, I worked on the 2017 budget, tried to figure out how to get my staff a well deserved raise, and received my first ever request for the reconsider of a library material. On top of all of that, it’s been getting cold and soggy outside and we haven’t got Fidelia Hall fully heated and let’s just not get into the 2016 Presidential Election. Mix in past 2016 happenings such as the death of David Bowie and Prince and what you’ve got is one heck of a year. Just like all of you reading this, I am ready for a break but honestly there’s no end in sight. There’s never an end in sight.

There’s never an end in sight just about what it sums up to be a human these days. For the day to day workers, the parents, educators, and the people who are getting out there and making a difference in their communities the phrase “there’s never an end in sight” has become commonplace. Life has becoming tiring and stressful for so many people out there. Our brains are workin’ overtime. So are our bodies.While I do believe that hard work and dedication can lead to success and accomplishment, there’s a limit to which a person or a group can take….and I think there are so many people out there who are reaching that limit or are well past it. We’re not whining. We want to work and do great things for the world. But we’re tired because we’ve been pushed so hard for such a long time.

I would like a future where this was balanced out. That’s what I am personally working towards for myself and my family. I don’t know if and when we will get there, but I hope we can. And then I hope I can help bring that change to many, many other people.

Life, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2016.8

HOW WE ALL FEEL THESE DAYS

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Gosh. Everyone in the USA is very angry right now. Some have legitimate reasons (the poor are getting poorer, crippling health care and student loan debt) and some (in my opinion) don’t. But we’re all very angry and our anger is leading us to make some very poor decisions. We seem to be aiming for a magic bullet, someone with enthusiasum and ideas that will solve everything ASAP. But it’s not gonna work like that. It never works like that. It takes time and patience. It takes balance. Someone who has ideas that are too far towards one end of the spectrum is gonna polarize a whole lot of people on the other end of the spectrum. And you know what’s gonna happen? Those folks are gonna get even more angry. Anger, anger, anger. We have to achieve a balance.

GET UP

Most people probably haven’t thought about Bryan Adams since his 80’s hits or his early 90’s foray into Robin Hood power ballads. His most recent album, GET UP, has really caught my ear. It comes from the fact that it was produced by Jeff Lynne (ELO, The Travelling Wilburys), who is one of my all time favorites. Jeff just has a way with producing albums that gets me to listen to any artist that works with him. I think it has something to do with his quest to make the songs sound as authentic as possible. Well, it really worked with this album, as I have been listening to it quite a bit. I enjoy simple songwriting and production these days, and this album just nails it for me.

THE SUN WILL SHINE ON YOU

And to end, we go back to Jeff Lynne. This song makes me happy. It gives me a feeling that everything is going to be alright in the long run.

Life, Technology, Things, Three Things

11 THINGS 1ST QUARTER 2016

These are the days of my life in the first quarter of 2016

  1. I do not want to see any political posts on social media. I get it! You are passionate.
  2. If I sleep in a way that is just very slightly off, my left shoulder/neck hurts the next day. If I sit too long, my left knee hurts.
  3. See above, but I’m calling it: 35 is the age where we all fall apart.
  4. I can’t do everything. Neither can everyone else.
  5. Some people are going to be that way.
  6. I don’t give a shit who you are or what you do or where you come from: be nice to each other.
  7. iPhones/Mobile phones are the worst/best thing ever.
  8. We need to figure out a standard price for internet service in America and get everyone on the same page.
  9. I do not understand the stock market, investments, etc, and at this point I will not even try.
  10. Haley and I own a house and an old church and it is going to become Fidelia Hall and even if that doesn’t work out in the future we own this giant plot of land with two really cool buildings and gardens and a parking lot and everything is fantastic.
  11. Even though my physical form isn’t in tip top shape my mental form is better than ever and I love being able to look at everything that comes at me from a balanced point of view.
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HI THERE.
Technology

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Two of my grandsons, ages 10 and 13, seem destined to suffer some of the negative effects of video-game overuse. The 10-year-old gets up half an hour earlier on school days to play computer games, and he and his brother stay plugged into their hand-held devices on the ride to and from school. “There’s no conversation anymore,” said their grandfather, who often picks them up. When the family dines out, the boys use their devices before the meal arrives and as soon as they finish eating.

Taken from the New York Times article “Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children” by Jane E. Brody.

It seems like every six months or so an article comes out that talks about the dangers of (insert here) screen time, video games, computers, iPads, etc on kids today. I don’t know if it’s a slow news day or its just something that gets a lot of clicks and likes, but hey, they keep on coming.

I see this argument from two sides: as a parent and as a librarian. I see what technology does to kids AND adults: it kind of totally mystifies us! We want to use it, we want to have it in our hands, and we want to play with it. I think it’s important to realize that this argument doesn’t just apply to kids. Adults too get sucked into technology. I see parents (myself included sometimes!) lost inside of their smartphones. It’s an escape from the world and sometimes a nice 5-10 minute break.

I also know that too much technology can have an effect on a person. I find myself getting tired and worn out if I’ve looked at my computer or my phone too long. I see my own kids getting cranky and bored when they’ve watched way too many toy review videos on YouTube.

Technology is awesome. Technology lets us connect and learn in so many different ways. This week, I’ll be part of an interview process at my place of work to hire a new Youth Services Librarian. You know what? We’ll be doing all of our interviews over Skype. Technology helps bring the world together. Technology like video games help us take part in stories and adventures and connect with other like minded people.

What this article, the many others before it, and the many others that will come, should be focusing on instead is balance and the importance of having conversations. Talk to your kids, whether you are their parent, their teacher, or their librarian. Talk to them about how important technology can be in their lives. While you’re at it, also talk to them about the importance of balance in their lives. It doesn’t have to be all technology all the time. You need balance. You need variety. I like to tell my sons that it would be AWESOME to have ice cream all the time but in the long run I’d probably die really quickly and that would suck. They get it. Don’t have ice cream all the time. Spice it up. Have some lima beans in there too. It’s that way with technology/video games/iPads/etc: sprinkle in a walk, play a musical instrument, have a conversation, etc. Balance is awesome.

Family, Libraries

Shifting

Shifting. I have been shifting for many years. Here. There. Everywhere. Physically and mentally. I have worked hard to unite the head, the heart, and the hand. Am I there? Nope. Will I ever be? I doubt it. But all that one can do is keep trying. We all have ups and we all have downs. Balance is an amazing thing. Balance is a very difficult thing to achieve. However, I believe that if you have the goal to of achieving balance at the forefront of what you do then that is the right path to be on.

My music habits shift. Sometimes it’s just a mood that I am seeking out. Other times the world around me influences what I want to hear. The Grateful Dead fills the room for me these days. This year they are celebrating their 50th anniversary. This is a joyous occasion. I have not paid much attention to the band before. I blame this on living in Western PA and going to college at the apex of the jam band resurgence. I didn’t want to be in that scene. But I knew the music was good. I did not know that I could have balance though! Oh! How great it is to grow up!

I love how the notes that the Grateful Dead play swirl together in harmony. I love how a group of individuals come together to form a solid unit. I love seeing their history and how the band has shifted so many times over the course of their 50 year career.

I learn a lot from the history of many popular music acts. I see that they have ups and downs. I see that they shift. It’s not always pretty along the way, but what remains matters most: the music. I think about this in terms of how I approach my family life and my library life. What are those things and how can I remember to focus on them when I am in a moment where things are not “pretty”. I believe that I will leave behind happiness and togetherness. I am OK with that.

Things will shift. I may not feel this way in July 2016. This is part of the journey. I will keep up with these shifts. Everything is awesome.

Libraries, Things

FOUR THINGS

PROCEDURES
One of the best things to have when you’re managing public library work are sets of procedures for your employees to refer to when needed. Not only are they helpful for your staff, but as a manager who is writing them you get an interesting glimpse into workflow. You learn how to think step by step and try to simplify things.

Here’s a screen capture of a procedure regarding security cameras. Sure, writing procedures won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had as a librarian but I will say this: they’ll help you manage your time, your staff, and aid in creating a positive atmosphere at your library location.

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2014 was the year where I noticed my personal life/work life balance was way off. I worked pretty hard over the past year or so but I hadn’t noticed it. When I started having dreams about work that’s when I noticed that I should take a step back and balance everything out in my life. It has a been a great journey. When I’m away from work and libraries in general, I don’t think about them that much. I’ve always had a worry in the back of my mind that if I stopped thinking about libraries even for a moment that I’d become stale, old, and outdated. I was very wrong about this. Stepping back and taking your mind off of your work allows you to be even better than before. It gives you more patience. It allows you to stop and think before reacting. You grow to make better decisions. These decisions allow you to give your community the best that you have to offer. Everyone wins when balance is achieved.

IDEAS
One of my colleagues Michael Whittaker once said the following to me: “You and I are idea people. We have about ten ideas every minute. Once you learn to let some of those ideas go and focus on the really good ones you become a lot happier.”

It is so much fun to sit in a room and brainstorm a ton of ideas. There’s probably some study out there that talks about how some kind of very awesome brain thing happens when you sit in a room and brainstorm. I’m  not going to link to that study here because I’m being lazy and I don’t want to look it up. But you know what’s even better than sitting in a room and brainstorming? Having ideas, weeding out the ones that won’t work, and sitting back and letting things happen naturally. Now I’m not suggesting we stop brainstorming. It is good! But we’ve all fallen into the “what we brainstormed didn’t happen and now we’re stuck in a rut” trap. Brainstorming allows us to be free and dream big. But sometimes when we brainstorm we come up with things that just don’t translate well into the real world. When we get hung up on those things not working, we can get bummed out.  That’s not fun either.

I really like my work here on The 2nd Floor.I have had so many ideas about how to make this place work and how to make it both fun and enriching for the community. Some things have worked and some things haven’t worked. As I step into a bigger management role, I’ve had to put some of those ideas aside and hand over the keys to my colleagues to be the idea makers. Some of their ideas have worked and some of their ideas haven’t worked. It’s all good. We’re all trying our best.

DISCO
I really like disco music. Specifically I love Italo Disco. Websites like Mixcloud and Soundcloud are amazing places to find disco and dance music. Check it out! Here’s a mix of JAMZ that I’ve collected on Soundcloud. Smile! Dance! Enjoy life!