And just where have you been, young lady?
I’ve just returned from another one of my mini-staycations. Notice how nobody died, and nothing caught fire. My email is a right backlog, though – I’ve spent most of this morning cleaning it up.
Don’t you worry about becoming irrelevant in today’s fast-paced world of digital excitement?
Even we technomages have our limits. I think it’s very important to spend periods of time away from workmail, workblogs, worktwitter, workfacebook, and, well, work, period. I’m actually much more concerned at the moment as to whether or not I can use the word “technomage” without J. Michael Straczynski slapping a lawsuit on me. A quick search of the Trademark Electronic Search Service (TESS) at the USPTO site indicates I’m safe, but I think he should probably call me, just so we can have a good professional discussion and clear that up.
Fair enough. Now that you’re back at work, can you tell us why there was no August Wilson Leadership Academy post for Feburary?
Er, yes. That. I chose to spend my time differently last month.
But it was such a good idea!
And you promised!
I know! I hang my head in shame.
So, when will we see the next installment?
When I read something that inspires me. It’s not looking hopeful. I’ve been reading a lot of leadership material, and, well…
It’s kind of depressing.
Reasons vary. Some books are heavy on the inspiration, light on the practical implementation. Others are crammed with bullet points, suggestions and tips to the point where it’s overwhelming. And don’t even get me started on “management parables.”
Well, why don’t you talk about that, then?
No can do. Much like Booklist, Alchemy only gives positive reviews.
Where’s the fun in that?
Hey, nobody tries to write a bad book. Even Stephanie Meyer had good, albeit sparkly, intentions.
You know where those lead, right?
So, how have you been choosing to spend your time?
Workwise, it’s still all about the databases: making sure they’re working properly, troubleshooting them when they’re not, promoting/marketing them, gathering statistics, trying to see if all the vendors can deliver said statistics in the new format certain parties want, running trials, giving meetings, taking notes, and trying to stay on top of / manage the ongoing POWER library situation.
Hey, you asked!
It’s not very exciting, I know. So much library work takes place behind the scenes, and is difficult to talk about in an exciting way. This is why I usually philosophize rather than talk about what I’m doing. I’ll gladly change my position on this if I suddenly get an outpouring of comments begging to hear more about the intricacies of einetwork database statistics collection.
Er, pass. Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
When I’m not managing the electronic resources, I’m still doing everything else I usually do: buying books, fussing over Eleventh Stack and CLPicks, staffing virtual reference and — once in a blue moon — working at the physical reference desk.
What’s your favorite workday responsibility?
Of all the tasks on my to-do list, coordinating Eleventh Stack is still my favorite. Serving as team leader/editor is fun and educational, and I’m both surprised and pleased that our library’s blog has passed its second birthday without a drop in quality or quantity. Credit for that goes to my amazing team, of course.
So, you’re not at the reference desk much these days. How do you feel about that?
Truthfully, I would like more time at the physical reference desk. However, there will be plenty of time for that when my countywide committee responsibilities end in 2011. I think it’s really important to try as many things as you can; even if you find out that certain kinds of library work are not to your liking or skill set, you can still learn from them. And I’m certainly not sorry for the opportunity to get to know my peers out in the county — it’s led to a number of opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and I have a better picture of the Pittsburgh’s public library landscape than I did previously.
That’s a lot of p-sounds in a sentence.
That’s technically not a question.
Sorry. Read any good books lately?
I thought you’d never ask. Under the umbrella of professional reading, I’m currently swooning over The Late Age of Print, which nimbly vaults over the “print vs. digital” dilemma by examining the print book as a consumer product / cultural artifact. On the religion/spirituality tip, I’ve got Without Buddha I Could Not Be A Christian (vocabulary and diction geared toward the divinity school set) and Bring Me the Rhinoceros (more layman-friendly). Fictionwise, I’m in slack-jawed awe of American Salvage, a collection of tight, well-constructed stories about uncomfortable subjects, and Every Last Drop, the fourth installment of the Joe Pitt Chronicles, a series designed expressly for folks who appreciate the hard-boiled qualities of Chandler and Hammett, New York stories, and — are you sensing a theme, here? — non-sparkly vampires.
I’ve also got Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook checked out, but I’m a little nervous about opening it.
Why? It sounds great!
It does! Problem is, I have a feeling it will blow any other excuses I have for not writing into smithereens.
And that’s bad because….?
Because facing up to the truth about yourself, your gifts and abilities, and the way you can best serve the profession, and then getting over your fears and excuses, is one of the scariest things you can do throughout your career. And it’s not like you do it once and you’re done with the process: if you’re growing as a professional, you are constantly surveying the landscape, looking at where you are now, as well as where you would like to be.
Where would you like to be?
That’s the kicker: I thought I knew. Now everything ‘s up for grabs again. This is very scary, but also delightful.
In what way?
Well, when you stop growing and learning, you might as well hang it up. And I’m afraid you lot are stuck with me for quite some time.
All righty then. Anything else to report?
I’ve just finished and turned in another book review. Book reviewing knocks me out, and I’d love to do more of it, so I’m currently scouting out more opportunities there.
I’ve also just been selected for the third cohort of the CLP Leadership Institute, a training program for Carnegie Library staff under the auspices of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant we received. I’m hoping this means I’ll be exposed to a better quality of leadership literature; it definitely means a lot more meetings and seminars in my future, though, which brings us back to the problem of making more time to write for Alchemy.
So, what are you going to do about that?
I have a few ideas. I seem to work better with structure and guidelines, so I’m looking for a writing template that will be both on-topic and regular. Heaven help us all, I also have an idea for a completely separate library blog, and am quietly making my pitch to parties I suspect might be interested in collaborating on it. If that takes off, it will debut near the end of April, and will serve to complement the kinds of things I like to discuss, but can’t always make time for. It will also, I hope, fill an as-yet-unfilled niche in library world.
And that is…?
You’ll just have to rest in the mystery a little while longer.
Fair enough. How are you going to spend the rest of your day?
I have one hour in which to take things that are currently on my desk and do whatever it takes to get them off of my desk and finished. I will then spend the last two hours of my day on AskHere PA.
Do you like working virtual reference?
I absolutely love it. Disdained by some, virtual reference is actually a key service these days, primarily because the quality and type of the questions received simply cries out for informed professionals who are skillful at ready-reference, information literacy, bibliographic instruction, and good writing/communication skills. A healthy dose of compassion certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Can you send us off with a video?
Ask and get. Here’s a clip from a British band called The Heavy, whose performance on David Letterman was simply splendid. If you enjoy old-school soul, but appreciate contemporary twists, you’d do well to watch this clip, and then run — not walk — to pick up The House That Dirt Built.
Woah! Dancing skeletons! That’s, er, not very professional.
Probably not in the conventional sense. Remember, though: Alchemy’s all about balance and fun along with all those high standards. See also “not forgetting you’re a human being with human needs” and “regular rock out breaks.”
Well, that was…very Alchemy.
Thanks! Tune in next time for a little less fun, but a lot more professional philosophy, probably early next week.