Keystone CollegeI am so happy to announce that I’ve been named the Evening Technical and Public Services Librarian at Miller Library at Keystone College.  I will be responsible for assisting students, faculty, staff and other library patrons with research, overseeing the library’s computers, printers and other electronic equipment as well as developing the library’s presence on the web.  And I couldn’t possibly be any more excited at the possibilities.  I look forward to working with the Keystone students, faculty and staff.

I had my interview on Friday, 10 September and I have to say, it was one of the most pleasant interview experiences I’ve ever had.  Honestly, HR peeps, if you’re paying attention, this group knows how to handle an interview (and I’m not just saying that because they hired me).  Here are a few things that I enjoyed about the interview process:

  • Everyone was friendly ~ it’s a hiring committee, not a death panel, everyone smiled when I entered the room and they exuded warmth
  • They created a relaxed environment ~ going on an interview is nerve wracking enough, the hiring committee talked to me and each other before the “official” questioning began
  • They took the time to “know” me before the interview ~ on my resume, I indicated that I blog here and at Living Outside the Stacks, and the panelists asked questions about my blogs (it shows that you’re interested in me as a person and not just as a spot filler)
  • I received immediate feedback ~ I heard back from them the hiring committee the following week.  That’s important.  People’s lives are on hold when they’re waiting to find out about a job, get back to the candidate and let them know one way or the other what the committee has decided.

The Miller Library was built in 1968 and was named in honor of the former Keystone President Dr. Harry K. Miller, Jr.

Skeleton Hand and MouseI’m a night owl.  I mean I am truly one of those people who comes to life at night. So while others are sleeping, I’m either on the computer or watching reruns of my favorite shows on TV Land.  And when I do finally crawl into bed, my brain is still going at about 200 MPH. Seriously, I have some pretty wild thoughts in the wee hours of the morning:

  • How come politicians haven’t figured out that a great cup of coffee and a red velvet cupcake  really does make things better?  Seriously, it’s impossible to stay angry when eating a cupcake, try it.
  • Why do Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna have a reality show?  Yeah, he was hawt back in his LA Law days and, well, it’s hard not to look at her for  a variety of reasons but do they really warrant a 1/2 hour of TV time?
  • Who would notify my online friends if I died?  See, I think about you guys too Or maybe I’m thinking too highly of myself, who knows?

I told you my thoughts are wild, they’re also completely random but what are you gonna do?  I figured the best thing to do is solve the one problem I can and work on the demise of global hostilities and useless reality shows later.

So the first thing I wanted to know is how would some of my favorite social sites handle my passing?   Twitter’s Deceased User Policy essentially states that a family member has to notify Twitter of the account owner’s passing and they’ll either delete the account or help the family to preserve a backup of the public tweets.  Facebook provides a form for family members to submit in order to remove the deceased users account from the public stream and turn the account into a memorial page (although relatives can opt to have the account removed).   For more information about how to close a deceased family member’s accounts, read this post on Une Belle Vie.

The company policies are good but what about the personal side?  The notification, who tells my online friends what has happened?  I assume my husband would do the notifying but the question is how? My husband doesn’t know the usernames or passwords for my accounts nor does he know everyone in my online community.  In fact, I don’t even think he knows all of the sites that I use on a regular basis (and, chances are, neither do your loved ones). I also have a host of face~to~face friends that I’m sure he’s only met in passing.

As more of our relationships with people grow and develop online, I think this is an important topic for family members to discuss.  I  talked over my social media conundrum with my husband and this is the plan we developed:

  • I’ve identified key people from each of my communities with their names, email addresses and phone numbers for him to contact
  • All of my social media sites have been listed along with the usernames and passwords for him to delete or turn into a memorial as he sees fit
  • Special friends have also been identified as people who will notify others within my social circles in both my online and face~to~face worlds

All of this information is kept in a file on my computer as well as in hard  copy format in a fireproof safe.  Excessive? Probably.  But I know that if something happened to one of my online friends I’d want to know about it, just the same as if I’d want to know if something happened to a family member or a face~to~face friend.

What about you, have you ever thought about the notification process if something happened to you?  Would your loved ones know which accounts to close?  Do they have access to passwords and usernames?

This is reposted from my blog Living Outside the Stacks

Those of you who still follow me on Twitter and Friendfeed thank you have, by now, read that I’m going to be teaching again.  Can I tell you how excited I am to be back in the classroom?  I truly enjoy teaching and interacting with students, I think I learn just as much in the process as they do.

For me, learning is a collaborative experience between the students and the instructor. If I stand in front of the students droning on and on about whatever, they learn absolutely nothing but when the students are engaged and challenged, oh my gosh, you can see the wheels turning. Seriously, nothing is better than hearing a student say “You made history come alive for me.” Yes!

I attended last night’s meeting with the intention of teaching only one class but when I arrived, I was offered a second class.  Yes, it’s short notice and, yes, that means a few long nights for me but I thrive under pressure. I can’t wait for classes to begin. I’ll be teaching on Wednesday nights from 6 to 10 (for 5 weeks) and on Sundays from 8 to Noon (for 7 and 1/2 weeks).

Of course, the librarian in me won’t be pushed into the corner.  I will give my students an intro to library services and show them how to navigate the library website because, you know, gotta pimp the library services.  Anyway, they’re going to have a research paper to write and the last thing I want is to hear one of my students say “But I didn’t know that I couldn’t use Wikipedia as my only source.”  For the record, I do not have a problem with Wikipedia, I’d just like for them to use more scholarly sources.

Oh, just realized I didn’t say what I’d be teaching, it’s American National Government! Don’t groan. The class will be oh~so~interesting. The course will be mostly discussion based with a few writing assignments and, of course, a final. The topics will be broken up into four sections:

  • Constitutional Principles
  • Rights and Liberties
  • The Political Process
  • Policy~Making Institutions

And with each section I plan to show an episode of either The Twilight Zone or All in the Family to facilitate the discussions. Bet you’re interested now, huh?

So wish me luck while I get back to cranking out this syllabus!

Fox Chicago News recently asked “Are Libraries Necessary, or a Waste of Tax Money?”  Really?  The article by Anna Davlantes goes on to talk about how libraries “eat up millions of your hard earned tax dollars” and as proof of the irrelevancy of libraries, an undercover camera crew recorded library visitors for an hour.  During that hour, they recorded 300 visitors with most of them using the free internet.  Hmmm…

This is your proof that libraries are irrelevant?  Three hundred visitors with “most” of them using the free internet?  Did you ask them why they were using internet access at the library instead of in their homes?  Could it be that they can’t afford internet access?  In case you haven’t noticed, the economy has tanked and internet access is a luxury that some people truly cannot afford.  Did you ask the computer users what types of sites they were accessing?  How many of them were applying for jobs?  Many jobs now require that you apply online.  Were some of them looking for continuing education opportunities?  And so what if they were just spending an hour or so surfing the web?  Escapism helps people cope, no matter what form that escapism may take.

Libraries are more than book repositories, they are gateways to information and entertainment.  Just ask any librarian what he or she does all day and you’ll find that more often than not we’re not just pointing out the latest best sellers.  We’re helping people put together resumes, we’re showing them how to care for loved ones, we’re introducing children to books and creating lifelong learners through story time and we’re demonstrating the latest in technology.  And, yes, we’re helping people find books.

Rather than trying to point out how libraries “eat up tax dollars,” how about taking the time to get to know your local librarian and see how their services help those in need?

Senator Joe Lieberman has proposed a bill that would give the president the power to kill the Internet in cases of national emergency.  Also known as the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PCNAA), the bill would require that private companies such as broadband providers, search engines and software companies immediately comply with any emergency requirements put in place by Homeland Security.  If they don’t comply, the companies would face enormous fines.

The bill also allows for the creation of a new department within Homeland Security called the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC).  This agency would control any private company that relies on the Internet, the telephone system or any other component of the U.S. “information infrastructure.”  They would also be required to engage in “information sharing” with the NCCC.

Lieberman defends the bill by essentially stating that there may be a time when there is a national security threat that requires the government have the ability to order companies ISPs to shut down portions of the Internet or search engines to restrict access to and from certain countries.

The biggest opponent to the Internet “kill switch” is TechAmerica, which sees this move as having the potential to silence free speech under the guise of national security.

While I understand the thinking behind the bill, I worry that there is the potential for abuse.  If access to the Internet is restricted or cut off, then the American public is at the mercy of the U.S. government for all of its information.  As much as I love this country, I enjoy being able to access different sites for information.  That is part of what makes this country great.

I have to go back to the only frame of reference that I have ~ September 11th.  What if on that day the government had shut down the Internet or restricted phone calls?  I would have been at a loss and I know many of you would have been too.  Not only was I relying on television coverage for my news but I was also checking various websites for information.  I also used the web to check on some of my online friends.  Had there been an Internet kill switch I would have been loss.

So tell me, are you comfortable with giving up some of your freedoms in the name of national security?  How much is too much to sacrifice?

For nearly a year I’ve been blogging almost exclusively as a “mom blogger” and during this time I’ve learned a lot about social media, branding and networking that can benefit archives and libraries.  Archives and libraries, like many mom bloggers, tend to view themselves as “just moms” who blog for free products, a few links and the promise of traffic.  However, more and more mom bloggers are beginning to see the value in what they do and how their words can either help or hurt a company.  If you pay attention to social media, you’ll see how many companies are starting to court mom bloggers and hire them as brand ambassadors, consultants and social media professionals. Anyway, back to the topic at hand ~ did you notice the keywords here?  They are:  value, hurt and help.

Archives and libraries need to take cues from mom bloggers and put themselves “out there.”  So how do mom bloggers do it?  They:

1.  Know their worth – Some mom bloggers have started to profit from their services.  They know that their voices carry weight and companies are starting to recognize their power.  And like mom bloggers, archives and libraries need to recognize the power of their voice.  We offer free services and in this economy, people love free.

2.  Market their services – use Twitter and Facebook, create a blog, etc and keep it current.  Mom bloggers post on average three times a week (some post once a day, some several times a day)  Too many times I see blogs, Twitter accounts, etc started by libraries and archives but not maintained.  Use these FREE services to promote your services.

3.  Engage the community – If you look at some of the mom blogs, they actively engage their readers.  They ask them questions and they respond in the comments (often times following up with email).  Some moms have even created communities around their blogs so they can get to know their readers.  Similarly archives and libraries need to talk to the people in their communities and find out what they want from the library and then supply it.

4.  Brand themselves – I recently had a travel mug made with my image and the name of my blog on it and I use it everywhere (I’m a BIG coffee drinker).  People are always asking me about my mug and my blog.  If you promote your services and engage your community, people will come.  Every library and archives has a mission statement, use that mission statement to create a tagline and then promote, promote, promote.  Put your tagline on t~shirts and offer them as prizes for kids in summer reading programs.  Or sell travel mugs or flash drives with your logo on them.  People will be proud to carry your products if you are serving them well.

5.  Have fun – One thing mom bloggers seem to do a lot of is laugh.  Even when their kids are ripping off dirty diapers or eating dog food, they’re laughing about it.  When patrons walk into your library or archives make sure your staff looks friendly, there’s nothing more intimidating than having to ask for help from someone with a frown on their face.

When I signed up for Twitter 2 years ago, I wasn’t really certain what I wanted to get out of it.  I just knew that as a librarian, part of my responsibility was to keep up on current tech trends (yes, we do more than help you find books) so that I could assist patrons when needed.  Therefore, my first forays into Twitter were pretty tentative.  I tweeted just enough to make my presence known but I didn’t think I really had anything all that clever to say (especially not in 140 characters or less).  Over time, however, I built up a reputation and created some incredibly strong ties with different information professionals then my life changed…

I became a stay-at-home-mom and part-time History Instructor.  This change led to a shift in my perception of myself and how I self-identified.  However, it never occurred to me that my life change would impact how others viewed me until I read Naomi Trower’s post about Twitter Lists.  So I started paying attention to how people listed me and it got me to thinking, is this how I see myself and is this how I want others to see me?

I’m listed 93 times with a majority of the lists having to do with being a “mommy blogger”.  Hmmmm….  Not a bad thing, just an interesting twist.  Does this mean that the time that I took to cultivate my reputation as a librarian/archivist is gone?  I don’t think so.  I hope not.  My hope is that my mom blogging friends and my information professional friends will see my domestic and my research skills and recognize the value in both.

When I created my lists, I started by thinking about how the people I interact with influence me.  I thought about where I’m most likely to encounter that person and went on from there.  Hence, snazzy list names like “Hiding in the stacks” (my library and information professional friends) or “At the cafe” (people I’d like to share a coffee with) or “In the gym” (people who inspire me to get healthy)….

What about you?  What do your friends’ Twitter Lists say about you?  How did you go about creating your lists?  Is there a way that you want to be listed?  Have you even thought about the way people list you?

The Girls from Ames:  A Story of  Women & a Forty~Year Friendship is an intimate look at the friendships of eleven women over a forty~year period.  Interspersed with studies that highlight the importance of the development and maintenance of close relationships in the health and well~being of women, The Girls from Ames is part sociology study, part biography and part cultural reference book.  The women came of age just at the tail end of the Baby Boom, so they are the immediate benefactors of the women’s rights movement and other social changes that marked the 60s, 70s and 80s. It was fun to read about the different hairstyles and clothes the women wore and the music they listened to as their stories unfolded, these cultural references provided a musical and visual backdrop against which their stories could be shared by women from different walks of life.

During a weekend reunion, the women shared the details of their relationships (some good, some bad) with author, Jeffrey Zaslow.  They also invited him to look at scrapbooks, read emails, interview friends, quasi~enemies and family to find out what has kept the girls so closely knit when other relationships have unraveled.  At points, it seemed that the ladies’ relationships were ebbing but the women proved that they did not need constant contact to remain close, especially when email came about and they were able to simply hit “Reply All.”

The women have supported each other through elementary school, high school and beyond.  They’ve offered shoulders to cry on when they’ve been given devastating news and they’ve given tough love when it was warranted.  But more than anything else, they’ve been  there for each other.  Even when they didn’t agree with the choices that the other was making, they let their feeling be known and then they offered support…  That the women were able to love each other unconditionally, even when the other’s choices conflicted with their religious or moral beliefs was one of the things that stood out most to me ~ unconditional, unfailing, all~encompassing love.

In many ways, you can tell the author is a journalist; each vignette is punctuated by studies that point out the importance of life~long friendships to women and their health.  At first, I found the analysis to be intrusive and more than a bit annoying, however, by the end of the book, I was impressed with how much these women supported the data presented.  The overriding conclusion of all of the data presented in the book and supported by the women’s lives indicates that women who have strong friendships live happier and healthier lives ~ and when diagnosed with an illness, their chances of survival are increased significantly.

Part of the charm of this story is that each woman offers something to the reader with which they can identify, but more than that is the emotional tug~of~war of the story.  At points, I found myself laughing and other times I found myself crying.  In the end, I found myself a whole lot jealous.  These women have the type of friendship that goes beyond the casual acquaintances that many of us share.  They are soul sisters in every sense of the word.  I believe the greatest lesson to be learned from this book is to treasure the people around you and never take anyone for granted.

Disclosure:  I received this book free from Penguin Group in exchange for a review.  I am not required to write a positive review, just an honest one.

I’m coming dangerously close to celebrating my first year of unemployment and can I tell you how much it sucks?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for my adjunct position at the University, but I really miss working full~time.  I miss being in a library.  I miss helping people.  I miss having a reason to wake up in the morning, put on a fabulous pair of shoes and leave my house.

You see, I kind of straddle this weird line ~ I’m not really a stay~at~home~mom (SAHM) because I don’t have any little people that I’m caring for during the day.  I have a house full of tweens and teens who really only need me to drive them from Point A to Point B and give them money when they need it.  So I can’t exactly go to any “Mommy and Me” groups to make friends.  That would be creepy.  And all the people who have children my age are working during the day.  So I spend a majority of my time online, reading books and watching television.  This is not how I imagined my life would be.

Although I keep track of my library friends, I’ve found that as time has passed that I have little in common with them.  While they’re talking ILSes, big bad vendors and other hot topics in Library Land, the only thing I can contribute is “Today on Oprah….”  So I’ve removed myself from the conversation and in the process, I’ve lost an important part of myself.

For five years, I was a SAHM to four children under the age of five while attending college.  My plate was full so I didn’t really have time to focus on what I was missing (friends, conversation, a life, etc)….  But when I started working, I realized how much I had lost.  Again I’m not complaining, I truly value the time that I spent with my kids and I know that we are much better for the time that I spent with them, but I also gave up a lot to be a SAHM.  While working in the library, I was able to create an identity separate from my husband and my children (It was so nice to be known as Dani and not as “Tony’s wife” or “So~and~so’s mom”).  Then I started interacting with other information professionals online and I started to feel like my voice was being heard.  I felt like I was contributing to something deep and meaningful.  Omg, it felt good.

Now that I’m coming up on a year of unemployment, I find myself questioning my place.  I read with interest Meredith’s post about finding the work/family/fun balance and I wish that I had taken a more practical approach to my life.  I wish that I had found that balance that Meredith seems to have found but I didn’t and I wonder sometimes if it’s too late in the game for me.

Unfortunately, my family situation dictates that relocating for a job simply isn’t an option and positions in libraries around here are relatively scarce.  So I’ve begun to expand my employment horizons and look into other career fields.  For me, this is a scary proposition because I truly enjoyed working in a library.  I gained a great deal of satisfaction from helping people locate information. For me, helping students with research was like going on a treasure hunt and I can honestly say there wasn’t a day that passed where I didn’t learn something new.

So now I sit here wondering What next?

Sorry, Sally, but I had to co-opt your statement because, well, they like me, they really like me…

At the end of each semester, I always wonder if I’ve made a difference.  Or, more specifically, if any of my students have learned anything in my class.  I mean beyond what was needed for them to pass the test.  And, ocassionally, I get the answer that I so desperately need.  I’m going to let you in on a little secreteven after all this time, I still question myself and need reassurance

This semester was “different.”  I taught without textbooks.  I’ve found that my students don’t read the assignments anyway, but they will participate when I use a combination of teaching methods.  I relied on powerpoints, lectures, discussion, music and videos to facilitate learning.  My students reacted so positively.  Well, at first, they were a bit apprehensive.  A lot apprehensive.  Ok, they were downright nervous.  But as we got into the semester and they got into the groove, everything started to fall into place.   

During the last night of classes a few of my students (I only had seven this semester), came up to me and told me that they really enjoyed my class.  Because it’s an evening course and most of my students are nurses, I know that history is not a priority for them so I try to make the class relevant.  I was told that I succeeded in keeping them awake, motivated and interested?  What more could an instructor ask for?  Well, I’ll tell you…

One of my adult students brought her son to class the entire seven week semester.  He’s in high school and he never talked during class but after class he would hang around while I was cleaning up and talk to me about whatever we had discussed that night and he’d share resources that he’d found from the previous week’s class ~ he really worked.  Anyway, today his mom told me that he wanted me to know that he enjoyed coming to my class and that he plans to attend Misericordia University when he graduates high school in three years.  He also said that he hopes that I’m still teaching history when he’s a freshmen.  You know what?  I hope I am too…