Showing posts from 2009

2010: Resolutions

New year resolutions. This is usually my opportunity to make a list of "rules" which it will take me all of a week (sometimes less) to break. And so, in the interest of making this a useful exercise for me, as well as something that is more meaningful to me than "lose 50 pounds," I have decided to change how I do this. I am not making rules. Instead, I have developed a set of *guidelines* to help me make decisions I will be happy with. I want to be a positive influence, a generator of good energies and comfortable in my own skin while happy with my life. (Don't we all?) One of my closest friends, Mary Chimato, says on a regular basis, "You get back what you put out there." I want to be more conscious of what I am putting out. I want to have some touchstones for when things get wonky and I become unsure. And so, I give you my resolutions for 2010:
Resolution 1: Concentrate on the happy. Work to make self more of an optimist and channel for positive ener…

When You Think of Great Service - A Dog's Tale

What do you think about when you think of great service?
In Access & Delivery Services, this is the question I try to keep at the forefront of my mind when training staff and when dealing with my patrons. Great service is the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary. It is the difference between a minor hassle and convenience. It may be the thing that makes someone's day and causes them to talk about you, blog about you, twitter about you, or send a really nice thank you note to you or your boss.
When I think of great service, I often recall the story about a woman who had intended to return her shoes to Zappos, the shoe mecca, but her mother died. A Zappos rep contacted her about the delay of her return, and not only arranged to deal with pickup of the shoes (against corporate policy), but sent flowers. The story is available here on Consumerist. It was such a strong display of simple humanity and kindness that I remember it often. That is above-and-beyond great se…

Computers in Libraries: Here We Come!

In a bout of fabulous good news, I got an email from Jane Dysart today confirming a speaking gig Mary Chimato & I pitched for the Computers in Libraries 2010 conference. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, April 14th - we'll be presenting on Track E (Learning: Expanding our Knowledge) at 10:30am. Description of Track and of our preso slot below:
Track E - Learning: Expanding our Knowledge
It's critical for library staff and library patrons to be life-long learners, gaining new understanding and new skills. This track focuses on ways of engaging staff and users in learning activities, leveraging technologies and exciting their minds. Moderated by Jill Hurst-Wahl, Hurst Associates.

E301 Staff Development: Soft Skills, Firm Results
Janie Hermann, Program Coordinator, Princeton Public Library
Colleen Harris, Associate Head, Access & Delivery Services and Mary Chimato, Head, Access & Delivery Services, North Carolina State University Libraries
What does it take t…

Random Passing Thoughts

Random thoughts with little (or no) connection to anything. because this is the internet, and I can do stuff like this.

I checked a Kindle (original version, not DX) out from the NCSU Libraries and took it with me to Louisville. As a booklover, I was skeptical, but it was actually quite nifty to not have to pack 14 paperbacks with me for my traveling and multiple flights. I can see checking out the Kindle when I do some traveling, but at home I found I still prefer an actual page-turny book. Still, it was a nice test drive. Not yet willing to blow a few hundred bucks on it, but I now understand the attraction better.
Deciding between doing what makes you happy and doing what makes you a responsible adult is difficult. Even more difficult? Debating with yourself about what makes you happy. And then trying to figure out if you're willing to take the leaps to make that happy happen... /mindboggle
We don't give managers enough credit. If I had known how mentally and emotionally exhau…

Why I Do What I Do

Because students like NCSU's Jake Goldbas write student newspaper articles like this, in the North Carolina State University student paper, The Technician.
Because when he says, "In fact, every time I have been to the library, I’ve made my life better. I don’t think I can say that about any other place I’ve been to", it means I, my staff, and my colleagues are doing it right. And it gives me the energy to come back and keep doing it.
Thanks, Jake. This is the nicest thing I've read all month *grin*.

A Heartfelt Request

A heartfelt request to all of you budding young professionals out there on the job hunt:

Please do not use clip art in your resumes.

I am not sure for what sort of position that would be appropriate. I can't think of any, offhand. Unless it is original art you've digitized and are including as proof of your skillz, but that is not what I am seeing.

Seriously. No clip art. And no fonts that look like kindergartener handwriting.

I thought Comic Sans was the worst. You've proven me wrong. For real, people. The mind, it boggles. And my eyes, they burn.

Maximum Absorption, Slight Discomfort, Success Imminent

No, not a tampon commercial. I'm just talking about the past few weeks in Access & Delivery at the North Carolina State University Libraries. Over the summer, we closed our Media & Microform Center (MMC) due to budget cuts, which required reallocating staff into different positions and absorbing the service into the daily routines of the rest of Circulation. Moving the collections, documenting (and in some cases, rewriting) policies and procedures, and training the old/new staff member for their new roles in ADS has been time consuming, but ultimately rewarding. The time spent preparing for and dealing with the changes has paid off, and the service has been absorbed with minimal (but notable - and fixable) hitches.
Access & Delivery is also the new locale for all of the NCSU Libraries' technology lending, which used to reside in our Learning Commons. We were lucky enough to also get the previous staff member who helped manage the service to move into ADS. Unlike the…

Three Years Out of the MLS

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly life moves. While talking (well, commenting within a Friendfeed thread) with a fellow librarypal, I noted that as of this month I am three years out of the MLS. My trajectory to date:

Colleen's Timeline
August 2004: Became third shift Circulation supervisor at the University of Kentucky's William T. Young Library.
January 2005: Entered UK's School of Library & Information Science.
August 2006: Received the MS in Library & Information Science from the University of Kentucky.
August/September 2006: Became second shift Reference supervisor (still parapro).
August 2007: Became reference and instruction librarian on the tenure track at Assistant Professor rank at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
January 2009: Became Associate Head of Access & Delivery Services at the North Carolina State University Libraries.

Looking at this surprises me for a number of reasons. First, I enjoy being a creature of habit. While I don't mi…

Who has a Library of Congress Authority Record?

Who has two thumbs and a Library of Congress Authority Record?
I Have a Library of Congress Authority Record! *points at self with thumbs* (You knew that was coming, right?)
Available for viewing here, but I'm just going to post the darn thing, as it is a personal triumph. One of those goals I said I wanted to hit by 30. (As I'm only 2 months into 30, I'll fudge it and consider this achieved.)

LC Control Number: no2009123584
HEADING: Harris, Colleen S.
000 00387nz a2200145n 450
001 7981489
005 20090812005457.0
008 090810n| acannaabn |n aaa c
010 __ |a no2009123584
035 __ |a (OCoLC)oca08199861
035 __ |a (DLC)7981500
035 __ |a (DLC)no2009123584
040 __ |a ViU |b eng |c ViU
100 1_ |a Harris, Colleen S.
670 __ |a God in my throat, c2009: |b t.p. (Colleen S. Harris)

Big thanks to Anne, the Cataloging Goddess at NCSU who has not only kept me updated along the way, but delivered me printouts of my MARC record, of my book's display in NCSU's catalog, in WorldCat, and today em…

God in my Throat Hits the NCSU Library Shelves!

I am tickled to death to report that God in my Throat: The Lilith Poems, my very first book, has been fully processed and is available at the NCSU Libraries! If you really want to, you can view my NCSU Libraries record here, or my WorldCat record here. (Okay, I realize no one but myself will likely get a kick out of that *grin*).
I do plan to get my MARC record printed on parchment and framed (beware: dork on display!) sometime in the near future.
If you've managed to escape my many posts of how to get your hands on a copy, you can snag your very own by ordering here. A number of my very favorite library peeps have sent me pictures of themselves holding a copy - expect those to start being peppered through posts. Want to be featured? Just toss me an email with your pic (if you don't know it, send me a comment). No real fame or reward involved, just the good vibes that come with making me happy *grin*.

Tackling Some Library Management Fallacies

Let's debunk some common misperceptions about library management. These are relatively simple ones that I think I'm qualified to tackle given my recent 8 months as a midlevel manager and my years as a librarian and a parapro before this position. Here's hoping some lessons I've learned will help out some other folks.

Fallacy 1. You will be able to run all of the committees that impact your work.

It's just not feasible. There's so much overlap in library work, there's no way you'll be able to prepare for all contingencies, nor are you qualified to do so. In my own instance, my department works quite closely with Metadata & Cataloging, Collection Management, Acquisitions, Research & Information Services...okay, let's not kid ourselves. Access works quite closely with everyone since we're usually the spot the patron hits first. But *all* library departments impact the patron. And no, I'm not interested in staging a coup so I can run the …

Centre College for the Win!

Forbes just ranked my alma mater #14 among all institutions. Pardon me while I cheer for that tiny little Kentucky college that helped make me the person I am today. *grin*
I'm proud to be a Centre College alum - the individual attention I received there, the ridiculously small classes (I think my largest class during my undergrad career was freshman humanities, which had a whopping 21 students in it), and the dedicated faculty and staff make it a real gem. It may not make sense to put out for that sort of price for an undergraduate education, but Centre would be my first recommendation for any student who goes for their bachelor's with the intent to move on to any significant graduate work. I enjoyed myself, but the academics were extremely rigorous. (To the point where a number of the graduate programs I've completed since have been slightly anticlimactic.)
I can also say that after having worked at a number of colleges and universities since graduation, that personal atte…

Help the Louisville Public Library

As reported in the Courier-Journal, Louisville was hit hard by rain on Tuesday morning, devastating the main public library.
I happen to have a particular affection for the LPL as a Kentuckian at heart (I lived there for a number of years, getting my MLS from UK and currently completing my MFA at Spalding University, which is right across the street from LPL), and as a pal of Greg Schwartz. (Check out that Schwartz link for his pics of the damage, which are devastating.)

Steve Lawson has put out a call to help the Louisville Public Library. Donations of any amount are welcome to help offset the damage that was done to the collection.

Steve's 24-hour update put the collection at a whopping $1295 - not a bad one-day take in the pursuit of the $5000 goal. After so many of you helped me to save Otto's eyes with your generosity and donations towards his surgery, I thought it couldn't hurt to pass this along. Every little bit helps, and a thousand people giving $5 each creates a wh…

Preliminary Thoughts from a Search Committee Member

Having spent the last few months on my very first academic librarian search committee at NCSU, I've found it has been an invaluable experience seeing the application and decision-making process from the inside. Some of my previous ideas were confirmed. Some things I hadn't thought about overmuch came up. All in all, it has been a great experience (and one that's not over yet!).

Some things I'd like to share with those on the job hunt, or considering it, from my perspective as a committee member. Of course, my opinions are mine alone, and don't represent those of my employer, my friends, colleagues, coworkers, staff, management, or anyone else on the planet. I hope someone finds these items helpful:

1.We do not believe you have attention to detail when you have spelling and grammatical errors.

Nope. This one's too easy, and there is ZERO excuse for it, especially when you can share your app letters with friends via Google Docs and ask for editing advice. It may be …

Forget the FailWhale - Twitter Helps Companies Jump the Shark

*Sigh*. Iris Jastram always has the very best blog posts. Well thought out, organized. (In complete opposition to my random grab bag of items.) Her latest is something everyone involved in social media - as consumer or voyeur - should take a look at. Her Best Bad Marketing Ever post is something to behold.
Social media is not like Hollywood, where infamy is just as good as fame, so long as it gets you facetime on camera. If you are a business intending to provide a service - especially in the case of the company mentioned here (I will not be linking to them nor mentioning their name - you can hit Iris's post above or go to the source and read where it all started in Nikki Detmar's Starry Ethics Fail), the only thing you have to build on initially is trust. Social media is a tool to build that trust and create rapport with those folks who might spread your message and advertise your service.
Because I'm known for stating what should be commonsense, and I do hate to disappoint…

An AssHead's Thoughts on Library Management

I've been thinking quite a bit about the "attitude problem" toward management that Jenica Rogers-Urbanek addressed in her July 2 post. (Ahem. Side note. If you are a librarian and/or in library management, you should add her to your feed.) Anyway, having joined the troop of those in "management" just six months ago, Jenica's post prompted some self-examination.
I'll readily admit that while I appreciate those in library management, I never actually expected to *be* one. I had planned to putter blissfully through a reference and instruction professorship into tenure. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and still miss that work. Being the AssHead of Access & Delivery at an ARL is very, very different. The parts of librarianship I prided myself on being very good at (teaching and reference) don't apply as much to the work I do now, which is mostly fielding organizational change, facilitating/adjusting/quality-controlling the work of my staff, planning service…

The Restorative Powers of CFPs

Things have been downright crazy. May was annual evaluation time at work. Evals weren't actually due until the beginning of June, but I was out of town for my MFA residency from May 21 through May 31. (Another thing to get used to at this level of management: managing the bajillion emails that accrue when you're out of town and otherwise occupied!). My book has gone to print in the capable hands of Robert Ward at Bellowing Ark, and I couldn't be happier. (Those of you who pre-ordered weeks ago should find your copies arriving shortly.)
The past few weeks I've been struck with an odd malaise where I am utterly weary, and it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed and be as energetic as I need to be at work. I blame a confluence of factors, like the heat and humidity of summer (you'd think I haven't been living in the South for the past 10 years the way I react to this every year), utter lack of sunlight in my life *despite* it being summer, the post-residenc…

God in my Throat is Available!

Exciting news! (Not really library-related, but it involves an ISBN. Close enough for government work.) God in my Throat, my first book of poems, is available from Bellowing Ark Press.
The short story is that it's a collection of persona poems from the perspective of Lilith, purported in some legends to be Adam's wife before Eve came along. I've slapped together a quickie website in my sloppy html with some basic info about the book, its artwork, and locales where I'll be reading.
A giant thank you to my library peeps (and to invisible internet people in geeral) for the generous and enthusiastic reception my announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and Friendfeed have received. My first ISBN is 978-0-944920-68-8. The book is available through the publisher's website, as a small press, the book will not be available on Amazon. (Support your small presses, folks! Well, as best we can, anyway, given the budget crises we're all facing.)
Anyway, I'm happy to share the o…

Reflection on the Darien Statements

There’s been a great deal of talk about the recently posted Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians. Kathryn Greenhill, Cindi Trainor, and John Blyberg got together and waxed a little poetic about the fundamentals of libraries and librarianship. I’m not talking earth, fire, water fundamentals…more like atoms and electrons. The absolute fundamentals. The primordial ooze and Platonic Form of Library, if you will.

I’ve done a good deal of mulling the Statements over. I’ve been wondering about this lately, about how I connect to the larger idea of Library in general and to Academic Library specifically. It was much easier when I was a reference and instruction librarian – I could easily draw the lines that connected me to student and faculty learning, improved scholarship, publication for faculty and graduation for students. I could connect myself and my work easily to the Idea of Library as Bastion of Information Record of Humanity. I was in the very mix of library use and educat…

Statements Provocative and Otherwise: The Taiga 4

My plan was to discuss both the Taiga 4 and Darien statements, and then to offer my own statements on libraries, but that turned into a monster of a post, so I’m breaking it up. Today, my take on Taiga, that harbor of AUL and ADs, the invite-only crowd that purports to decree the future of libraries five years hence, and puts its statements out in, you guessed it (or clicked on it), pdf format. How very futuristic.

The Taiga 4 Provocative Statements are just that. Provocative statements. Note that they didn’t say *what* they were looking to provoke. I mean, hell, Jerry Springer is provocative, but that doesn’t mean I think about it in the shower, or during my workday. A few items:

Item 2: “… collection development as we now know it will cease to exist as selection of patron materials will be entirely patron-initiated.” I find this fascinating, especially fiven that these are ginormous ole ARL folks. Really? You’d entrust building your academic collection to the handful of faculty who ar…

A Short Note on Fonts

I know, you're looking for a much more management-oriented post than this one, but you'll have to wait til I get some breathing room. This is a quick note/hint/nudge/whatever to let you know that yes indeedy, font is important.
You hopefully already know that wingdings is not what you use when you send out a cover letter, resume, or other important document. (Unless you use it *really* cleverly, but it's safer not to try.) More librarians should know that while the Comic Sans font is fine when you send out your family holiday newsletter, most professionals consider it inappropriate for resumes, cover letters, reports to directors or other bigwigs, and anything else that is work-related and not intended to be a joke. Really. I cannot count the number of discussions I've had with other librarians who are bemusedly horrified when any document that purports to take itself seriously arrives on their desk in Comic Sans.
I could go into how the textual representation of yoursel…

On Priorities: Tipping my Hat to Greg Schwartz & the UV Hiatus

A guy I'm proud to call a friend has made a difficult decision. Greg Schwartz has announced That Uncontrolled Vocabulary will be on indefinite hiatus as he re-prioritizes things in his life to maximize his happiness.
I've had the good fortune to participate in UV as a caller, and a blog post has shown up on the agenda, and it is a wonderful show where enthusiastic and engaged libraryfolk gather late on Wednesday nights (or listen to the cast later), and it's been a raucous good time, and has made me think about some issues from new perspectives, or reminded me of issues coming up that are outside my sphere of expertise in the library world. I will miss the show, but happily have the contact info for many of the participants so I can bug them *grin*
While I'm sad to see the show go (and hope someone has the chutzpah to try to pick it up), I admire Greg greatly for prioritizing life items and ordering them accordingly. Lesser - or perhaps weaker - professionals don't d…

The Partly-Mine Neal-Schuman Book is Out!

Fun news! The book in which my chapter appears is available for order. Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators is out from Neal-Schuman. My piece is Chapter 1: "The Haves and the Have-Nots: Class, Race, Gender, Access to Computers and Academic Success." Thank you very much to Theresa Liedtka, Dean of the Library at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the committee who offered me the days of research leave I needed to write the chapter. This is my very first ISBN (Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic and Robert Lackie are the editors on the jacket, but I'm claiming the ISBN as mine too *grin*), and I am thrilled!

More Degrees...

More from me soon (I have a couple of posts percolating but not the time to flesh them out yet). I did want to pop in and announce that I was just offered admission to NCSu's Graduate School in the MS in Technical Communication. In my application, I expressed my interest in specializing in Organizational Information Systems, since that seems most closely related to the actual work I do now that I'm back in Access - communication back and forth through the organization between IT about the catalog, technical services about processing workflows that hit us in Circ, and communicating with staff about not just our own workflows but about technical aspects of other things going on in the library that impact service. I'll be starting the program in Fall 2009 if I accept, which means it'll overlap my MFA by a few months, since I graduate with that in November.
I'm still waiting to hear back from the EdD in Higher Education Administration (also at NCSU) - if I don't get…

There is No Crying in Librarianship - Or Any Other Career

Today's issue: tears in the workplace. On this, folks either wholeheartedly agree with me, or think I'm an awful ogre. My stance is this: There is no crying in baseball. Or librarianship. Or in any other career you want to be taken seriously at. Don't do it at work. Really.
(Note: I am not talking about the rare bout of tears that occurs when exhaustion overtakes you because you've been dealing with long illness, when you receive news of a death, that sort of thing. We're human. I understand that. What I'm looking to address here is the issue of tears that occur during professional conversations at work that are not related to: your surprise hysterectomy, your cancer diagnosis, your wife leaving you for the mailman that morning, etc.)
It's quite popular to get up in arms over this issue, stating that a "no crying at the workplace" attitude is inhuman, doesn't take into account the fact that people are human beings, and may have issues outside of…

25 Things You Never Cared to Know About Warmaiden (aka The Guardienne)

There's been a random meme going around called "25 Things," where folks list 25 random things about themselves. I first saw it on notes in Facebook, lately it's hit Friendfeed. I figure I'll just post mine here and then from now on I can just link to it in other venues. I'm a cheater like that *grin*
1. Someone else has the domains and, and I was the Guardienne long before I became Warmaiden. We'll just have to deal with that. Occasionally, I also go by the name Colleen. It confuses my online peeps. But today I go by Warmaiden almost exclusively online, unless someone has already sniped my name. Grr.
2. My dream job isn't to be a librarian. It's not even to be a poet, which some of you know I do in my free time. Nope. It's to be an NFL head coach. Of the Oakland Raiders, so I can restore them to their glory days of battle, when they led the league in penalty yardage, but won anyway.Because they were that good…