My re-commitment to this blog has inspired me to keep a running list of potential topics, articles I’ve read, and experiences I feel are worth sharing. I’ve also been thinking about blogs in general: which ones keep my interest or inspire me, and how I can incorporate some of their essence into my own blog. I like using the blog as a tool for personal reflection, but I know that isn’t always the most exciting post to read. I like sharing ideas and articles. I also like reading blog posts on a concrete topic like presentation skills or a teaching method. I’d like to have a mix of these things on my own blog. I have some plans to hopefully write posts ahead of time that are more thematic and less reflection. I think this is a natural evolution in my librarianship where I’m moving from strictly learning and processing to a stage where I feel that I can add value to conversations about topics and issues. As I branch out more into presenting, thinking about writing for publication, and getting involved with national committees I realize that I am not feeling so much like a newbie anymore. It’s a good feeling!
I’ve come across a few new blogs that are worth following for any library professional. One is “A Year to Improved Productivity for Librarians and Academic Researchers”, a free blog based course for librarians on productivity styled after the 23 Things. I did 23 Things when I was finishing grad school and starting my job hunt and found it very useful. The program is only on lesson 3 so it’s definitely not too late to catch up. I found “Session 2: May I Have Your Attention?” to be particularly interesting and relevant. Those of us who teach can use the lessons in our classes, and all of us can learn more about how to focus our own attention.
The other new blog that just started is “The Journal of Creative Library Practice”. The blog based journal was developed to showcase examples of creativity in libraries. I LOVE this concept and its focus on encouraging creativity and positive work being done in libraries. One of the first posts is a review of a book titled “Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough”. The author of the post provides a lengthy discussion of the main concepts in the book and on how these concepts can apply to libraries. I especially like the concept of failing forward, and not being scared to keep trying if something doesn’t work. I find that a lot of people I work with (faculty, colleagues and students) are scared of computers or new mediums of expression and this fear holds them back from embracing potentially useful tools.
I belong to several library related listservs and they have been an enormously helpful tool to keep track of current trends, get advice, and get inspired by new ideas. The ALA Mailing List Service site is a great place to start for those of you looking for some to join! One of my lists recently had an inquiry about sources of library information. One person suggested the book “What the Best College Teachers Do” by Ken Bain. We had it in our library so I checked it out and have been slowly reading it. I am enjoying it so far and plan to write a review on my blog when I finish.
Reading that title has gotten me in an instructional mindset lately, and I loved this short article by Annie Murphy Paul titled “Four Secrets To Lift The ‘Curse Of Expertise’”. She discusses what the curse is, and gives four concrete strategies for avoiding said curse. It’s so short that I’d rather you just check it out yourself if you’re interested, but avoiding the curse is something I’ve been actively thinking about before my instruction sessions!
My last week has been long in terms of reflection since my last post was last Monday. Since then I’ve taught three English classes, and spent a lot of time at the reference desk. We have moved our reference desk twice in the last 6 months and are now occupying a space at the end of our main circulation desk. Our first move was to a desk at the opposite entrance of our library, right outside my office. I liked having quick access to my office, but I found that I wasn’t getting very many questions (even the computer related ones like I did at the original spot). We decided to move to the circulation desk and attempt to hand off the simpler questions like how to print to circulation desk staff if they were free. I think it’s been a good move. The spot where we sit (or stand, since I’m one of those standing desk people!) faces the back of the monitor with our public OPAC. I’ve made a point to ask students who are searching for more than a minute if they need help, and every time I’ve been able to help them find what they needed.
This week has probably been my busiest at the reference desk with real reference questions, and I enjoy that part of my job much more when I’m getting those types of inquiries. I love that one minute I’m tracking down a book on personality theory and the next I’m looking for the Salem Witch Trials or the physical development of infants. I’ll finish my librarian geek out with an epiphany I had during one of the English classes this week. I was discussing the importance of source authority and compared doing a Google search to walking up to a random person on the street and asking them the same question. I’ve never used that analogy before but I think it’s quite fitting. I think I was using a medical issue as an example and discussed how that random person could be a doctor or a waiter, and that you’d need to spend a minute figuring out who that person was before you decided you could trust what they told you. I’ll definitely be using that again because I think it had a good impact on the students, as judged by their reactions.