Sunday, July 29, 2012

Happy Doctoral Candidate, at Your Service

After an hour and a half of nerve-wracking discussion with my comps committee last Thursday, doctoral comps went swimmingly, I was given a pass, and I am proud to announce that I'm now a doctoral candidate for the EdD in Learning and Leadership here at UTC!

There are four members of my doctoral committee, all have committed and now I just need to get them to sign the requisite Graduate School form. Dr. Ted Miller, my advisor for the past two years, has agreed to serve as my chair; Dr. David Rausch who coordinates the EdD program and specializes in leadership and organizational effectiveness theory is serving, Dr. Pamala Carter is serving as my methodologist, and Maureen Sullivan who serves as professor of practice and current ALA President is serving as my LIS subject expert. I have to get everyone's signatures on a graduate school form to make it Officially Official

And now, I'm working on drafting the dissertation prospectus and proposal, and am hoping to clear both those hurdles before Thanksgiving. A fellow student in the program who started with me in Fall 2010 is also my standing weekend studybuddy, and we've roped off Saturdays (as well as a few nights each week) to dedicate to dissertating. Our study-partner arrangement has really helped keep me on track (and has led us to some great co-authoring opportunities!), and to anyone else working on one of these degree-beasts, I highly recommend developing a strong relationship with someone on the same schedule as you.

And now for this week, we're going fully live with WMS, which means that my department will be cranking out some workflow documentation, contacting faculty about the new reserves system, and more. Exciting times!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Doctoral Candidacy Approaching!

I'm about a day behind myself on all the due dates I'm facing, but since I'm tired, and my mind is racing so badly I'm not very productive, I thought I'd blog a bit.

This Thursday I have my comprehensive assessment for my doctorate. I've been working on the EdD in Learning and Leadership at UTC since Fall 2010. I'm in my last semester of coursework this summer (my courses finish the first week in August - two weeks!) And in our last semester, we also register for a "dissertation seminar," which is not actually a seminar at all, but a preparation for comps.

Our version of comps is a bit different than some other doctoral programs that I'm familiar with. Instead of either receiving research paper prompts in our major and minor fields, or being grilled by a committee on a number of books off of a reading list. Instead, our comps (usually short for "comprehensive exams" or "comprehensive assessment") focus on the seven competency areas of the doctoral program: learning, leadership, research, measurement, communication, organizational effectiveness, and technology and innovation. We write a critical reflection for each area, the result of which is a research paper synthesizing theory and professional practice in that competency. For each competency domain, we also put together a competency plan, which details our previous, current, and future experience with each competency with related artifacts to document actual competence. In addition to those seven critical reflections and seven competency plans we write a Critical Synthesis paper, a broader research that synthesizes all seven of the competency areas within a particular professional practice and experiential learning instances. Then there's the vision paper, which serves as the cover sheet for this portfolio of scholarly and practition-y goodness - in it, we address where we were when we started the program, where we are now, how our definitions of learning and leadership have changed over time, develop our own definitions (with, of course, appropriate nods to the literature) for learning and leadership, and detail how the doctorate and our work in the competency areas informs our practice, our career trajectory, and our future goals. All steeped in appropriate theory and discipline literature.

*wipes brow*

All of this is then organized and made available to a committee made up of your adisor and two other faculty in the program (chosen at random, from what I can tell), preferably online. (Happily, one of my colleagues in my cohort, who is on the same timeline as I am, created a template Google site that the program will be adopting, so I just grabbed that and uploaded my documents to it. Easy-peasy.) I added my CV, a brief description of my dissertation plans (we're not at prospectus stage yet), and the slides for Thursday's presentation-and-defense of the whole shebang. The committee requires the completed portfolio at least 10 business days in advance of the defense so they can read through it all and prepare.

A successful defense means I advance to doctoral candidacy, can call myself ABD, and get cracking on the dissertation.

Am I freaking the hell out about it? Oh, my, yes I am. My advisor has already reviewed all of my materials, and he generously spent June and the early part of July going back and forth with me about revisions; he thinks it is a strong showing. I hope so; we'll see. If you happen to look up on Thursday and see it's around 10:30am EST, please toss some good mojo my way.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Migrating Library Systems: Pulling the Trigger on WMS

UTC's Lupton Library is moving forward with our transition to OCLC's Webscale Management Service. This is a transition we've been working on for two years as we've kicked the tires on the new service, asked for additional development and functionality out of the brand-new system, and tested it to within an inch of its (and our) life.

Our ILS administrator, web guru and all around data-mogul-of-awesomeness Andrea Schurr has moved on to bigger and better things and now works for OCLC, but (thank the gods) is doing our data migration for us. I can't express how big a boon this is, especially since this is her third (?) time doing the data load, so she's an expert at it. No one else knows our data so intimately. Having Andrea with us for this massive move is something we are all grateful for.

Andrea was also our former Head of Access Services before UTC hired me back, so having her upstairs in IT has been a huge help to me in terms of helping me figure out what our soon-to-be-former ILS (VTLS Virtua) could and couldn't do. And whatever it couldn't do, Andrea could kludge together. Moving into WMS is interesting new territory for me - I won't be the library system administrator, but I do have my hands in interesting things. Case in point: my daytime circ manager and I have been holding regular meetings to go through the wirewalk of circ policies - loan limit matrices, loan policy matrices, notification policies, and more. I watched Andrea set these up initially two years ago, her fingers flying over the keyboard. My own progress through is more plodding and methodical, with many notes taken, noting where the connections are and what gaps still need to be addressed before our policy maps are complete. And once this is done (probably tomorrow or this Tuesday), then we move on to the training blitz for everyone who works the circ desk (every single staff member in the library, and some of the librarians) which will happen concurrently with the documentation blitz that will happen once we're up and live.

Everything is changing, and it touches every single one of our current departments:
  • Access Services since the circ module and back-end discovery will be in the new system and since we set up the notifications and circ and loan and billing policies;
  • Reference and Instruction since we're moving to WorldCat Local as our new public catalog and to using WorldCat as a discovery layer;
  • Materials Processing since for e-resources we'll be using Knowledgebase and will be turning on some discovery, because it so drastically changes the ordering and receiving processes and has serious implications for staff time, and for adopting the new course reserves model;
  • IT, since they'll no longer have to deal with a client-based ILS (but a web-based one brings all new IT questions with it;
  • Special Collections as they decide how best to display local and unique collections.
Each of our departments is also dealing with the necessary workflow changes and workarounds that come from both using a new system as well as using a system that is still working on development of more advanced features. It's a great opportunity for us to review our processes and see what we can do to make them more efficient on the back end and patron-friendly on the public end.  

And, of course, all this change is being done beneath the shadow of the new library building which is moving along (opening slated for late summer 2013) and with the knowledge that we also want to do a complete revamp of the library website.

That all of this is going on and exhausting everyone is not surprising, given the team of folks we have who are into doing the most good with what resources we have. What continues to amaze me is that this is all happening while people remain in good humor, with taking time for feedback from the various areas and a focus on clear communication and documentation (thanks largely to Katie Gohn, our Digital Integration Librarian who has taken point on the WMS implementation, and Theresa Liedtka, our dean with a serious transparency philosophy). As always, you can see how we're handling the project and its myriad to-do lists on our library wiki.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Thinking, Fast and Slow

If you haven't yet read Nobel-Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, get a copy and read it. Read it three times - it's dense enough, though written to be understandable for the average non-economist. For any academic librarian, educator, or anyone else interested in decision-making, critical thinking, and flaws in logic that people employ, it's an excellent book. I haven't even finished it yet (I'm about halfway through) so you won't get the full review until later, but go buy this book - it will change your life. It will cause you to reassess your own reactions to episodes in daily life and professional practice.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Coming Attractions!

After returning from Computers in Libraries 2012 (another successful year in DC) full of energy and ideas, I slammed immediately back into end-of-semester madness, and as we finish finals this week, our library enters the madness of once again preparing for an ILS migration. If all goes well in terms of the next release and functionality testing, we'll make the permanent move OCLC's WorldShare Management System and WorldCat Local this summer. And there's that little project of the new building that is coming along and set to open next summer, which will also have an impact on our activities this summer. And I managed to close out this semester, so this summer also brings with it my last 3 classes in the EdD program before I comp and move onto dissertation.

In any case, posts to expect in the next week or six:

- Brief recap of my experience at CiL 2012
- ILS migration thoughts
- ILL projects for the summer
- New building thoughts
- Thoughts on my worlds of librarian & graduate student colliding
- Current projects unrelated to the above

Here's to all the academic librarians of the world helping their students stay sane during peak stress time!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Library Day in the Life #libday8 Day 3

6:10am - Ugh, too early. Dog steals the pillow as I roll out of bed. I brighten slightly knowing I have a breakfast meeting where the host usually feeds us. Ugh. Morning. Grunt. Hrmp. Mrf.

7:30 - walk into the library. Greeted by my day circ super who asks knowingly, "Early meeting?" I am not known to be a kind morning person, so he is not offended by my grunted response. This is about the time I wish I could stand the taste of coffee. I check the emails, grab my notebook and the list of items the Faculty Senate president noted that she wanted to bring up at the meeting. And an umbrella - it's misting, but with my luck by the end of the meeting it will be pouring.

8:10 - I'm in the Chancellor's conference room waiting on our 8:30 meeting; the faculty Senate Exec members usually arrive a little early, so I always feel like a latecomer if I get there at 8:30. I'm scanning through a case study on flu vaccinations that I'll need to write a paper on after work. The past president of Senate who serves as ex-officio comes in, so I move to the table with him and we chat over breakfast about his teaching award that was just announced.

8:30 - Senate Exec is present, but the Chancellor will be out (his assistant is on her way after a stop at HR), and the Provost is running late. We eat breakfast (thank you Aramark!) and go over the points we want to make sure get the Provost's attention.

8:45 - 10:15 - The meat of the meeting with the Provost is spent talking about initiatives for student success and retention, with some other current projects and issues thrown in the mix. And it is indeed raining on my walk back to the library, I'm grateful I remembered the umbrella.

10:55 - Circ super ducks in to see if I can cover some desk time due to someone being yanked from the desk for another assignment; no can do, off to a meeting. Laird makes it work, as he always does, because he is made of magic, Laird the Lord of Circulation.

11:00-12:00 - Meeting about ACRL statistics. Good discussion of whether previous assignments of who has the data for what question still hold. Really interesting discussion about what they count and what they don't. Why does ACRL not count hits to the library web page originating from inside the library? (It's not like we have any other good way for you to access the resources, including our catalog. No idea why in-library researchers don't count as users for this statistic.) What is a web site hit? Should we count hits at our LibGuides and Facebook and blog pages, especially if the user uses them as a point of origin as opposed to reaching them through our main web page? ACRL asks you to remove all reserves and any in-library circulating equipment, but those now make up the bulk of our circulation; the survey appears to be completely uninterested in those numbers, which is bizarre since I know other academic libraries see similar trends to ours. Brain asplode over thinking about how long it takes these library surveys to change to reflect what we actually do. (I'm sure if you suck out the reserves, study room, and laptop circs, you'd think that my circ staff had nothing to do all day. Gah. Happy we collect these for the in-library and campus annual report so we can show how important those services are.) The meeting also puts document delivery and some other ILL issues back on my radar, such as how we direct students to items we have access to that they've requested through ILL.

12:10-12:30 - Send off a bio and a headshot (which sounds professional, but it's really a taken-by-be-with-cameraphone-shot) to the editor of The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, who has asked me to be the guest poetry editor for issue XVI, which will come out in July. Wish there was a way to make my bio more interesting, with superpowers instead of publications. Quick chat with our Stacks maintenance guru, who is reporting that the students moving tables around so they can plug in laptops, and the dangling cords, are making things difficult for him and his students when they are working in the collection on the 3rd floor. I'm not sure how much we can influence the kids to not plug in, given the battery life of our circing laptops and the need for MOAR POWER given that we live in a gadgeted future, but I agree to see what I can do on the circ side during our evening rounds to encourage them to clear the aisles.

12:30-1:00 - Look at next week's calendar to see what I need to be prepared for, and to carve out some time for . Pop into some social networks and see what's flying about - one librarian discussion is on CVs, which reminds me that I need to update mine and standardize my darn citations. I'm out on Monday, but Senate exec is meeting with Graduate Council, there are interviews for the university's new distance learning position that I want to attend, there's a "Building Our House for Diversity" workshop I've been invited to by the Office few Equity and Diversity, and as a member of Senate exec I'm invited to lunch with the presenter. A rheum doc appointment - must remember to bring my notes and questions. My monthly meeting with my dean, and a meeting about supplemental pay (which we call MocsBucks) and what it can and can't be used for - an important topic, since quite a few of the librarians teach the freshman seminar courses where you can earn it. The usual circulation and reference desk blocks. Ooh, and Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the US is coming to UTC to speak on Tuesday night, must remember that.

1:00-1:25 - Remember I have to find two people to list as references for an artist's residency I want to apply for. Decide to back-burner since the application isn't due until March 1, and because I can't think of a single person to ask. I have lots of libraryland contacts, very few poet-y ones. Bah and humbug. Must try to hang out and connect with more arty folks. Also put the EdD study groups on Saturdays and Sundays into my calendar for spring.

1:30-2:00 - More email. (These posts are a crazy reminder of how much of my worklife is run through an electronic inbox.) Email the English department head back - nope, can't make Friday's faculty meeting since I'll be out of town, but I can be at the one on March 9th to peddle the library services and wares (or, as I put it in my initial email to him, to give "the 2-minute mini spiel on Why You Are Awesome, Why We Are Awesome, And How We Can Help You Be Even More Awesome"). Email came in asking that some curriculum proposals be put on the docket for tomorrow's Senate meeting; I email back that these were due last Friday to be on the agenda and members will likely vote to table them since they won't have had time to review them properly. President emails back that she agrees, they move to the meeting on the 16th, so I toss them on the agenda for that future meeting. Our Special Collections librarian reports back on his hunt for named professorships requested by the Senate exec team - that was fast. Steve is also made of magic. Grab my notebook for the next meeting. Remind self to waylay Griffey with sushi at some point to show me how to use the iPad for productivity instead of just doing jigsaw puzzles.

2:00-3:00 - Meeting with my dean, the Dean of Lifelong Learning, and the Head of Reference and Instruction about distance learning. Really interesting discussion about tuition and fee structures, about trying to identify students who are wholly-online versus those who take online courses with a mix of on campus courses, in-state and out-of-state, how to identify all these nuances, implications for library services (particularly interlibrary loan and document delivery but also instruction). Leave this meeting with head full. Also - ouch, my sinus. Damn rain.

3:00-3:05 - Opened mail, which included one of my student loan statements. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Okay, back to work.

3:05-3:15 This is my last day in the office until next Tuesday, and because I prefer to read things in print so I can scribble on them (my staff jokingly refer to me as Treekiller Harris), now is the time where I make a list and PRINT ALL THE THINGS. Those things include: my flight information, a book manuscript I've been invited to edit on the relationship between poetry and medicine/health, an article I'm hammering at, the papers I need to revise for a conference in May, the book proposal for an edited know what? Who am I kidding? I'm not getting anything done on the plane ride to and from California but some trashy fiction reading and reading through that manuscript. Everything else will just have to wait, this isn't a working weekend.

3:15-3:55 - Receive email from the head of the Curriculum Committee asking for more proposals to be posted for Senate approval at the meeting tomorrow; president and I note that members will not have had time to review, which is why all materials were due the Friday before the meeting. Learn from Associate Provost that the approvals have to happen for the Fall catalog to be accurate. I post the materials to the site and send out an email via the Senate's Blackboard list notifying members of the late posting and that they should review them. Emergency averted, but selfishly happy that I won't be at tomorrow's meeting to hear the groaning about the last-minute posting. Registrar emails to say thanks for the fast work. That's right--my superpower is my superfast response time. Booyah.

4:00-4:53 - Email. Accepting new meetings for next week (darn, it had looked so easy just this morning!), things to add to Senate agenda for the meeting on the 16th, webinar invitations,

4:53pm - AUGH. The petitions for the Monday meeting of the petitions committee that I will miss just got posted. I can be a good person and come in tomorrow before the flight and get that done and my vote recorded by email, or not. Sigh. So much for running errands tomorrow morning before travel. *shakes fist at sky*

4:58 - start to pack up. lament that I did not get around to cleaning my omg-absolute-disaster of an office. Ugh. And next week's schedule says I can't tackle it until Wednesday. I do some defensive calendaring, block out some time on Wednesday morning to deal with this. Augh. Ooh, my cane. I'm going to need that for traveling. Yes, definitely clean office. You know what? The dean will grab me on her way out of the building, I can tidy a little bit now.

5:14- Here she is. Dinner at a this-looks-like-shady-business Mexican place that I haven't tried yet. The waitress is sweet but gets multiple things wrong with the order. But she checks on us regularly. There are only two or three other occupied tables in the restaurant. It's nice to be able to have a night out for dinner; this is the first week I've been healthy enough to go out after work in a long time. We have a grand old time. I feel like Old Me, the Before-I-Got-This-Stupid-Arthritis Me. This is awesome.

8:00pm - Oh, crap. I still have a paper to write, and I have to pack for California. Sigh.

Library Day in the Life #libday8 Day 2

*writing this a day later - I have no idea what I did up through 10am yesterday morning - probably some combination of email, paperwork, checking in with staff, etc.*

10:00-12:00 - Working the circulation desk. I'm reading and sending emails when there's a lull, but it's pretty steady with slinging laptops, study room keys, and reserve textbooks. I take two fines, which keeps me from getting too rusty at using the cash register.

12:00 - 1:30 - Lunch with the Head of Reference and Instruction. Among other things we talk about her daughters (who are growing so fast - one is prepping for college already!), about work. I let her know that my EdD advisor has asked for me to design research instruction modules for the EdD students at two stages - one for incoming students, and one for students who make it to the pre-dissertation seminar. I okay it with her so that I'm not stepping on toes, and let her know I'll likely as to pick her brain; we discuss her work in a similar project with the Nursing PhD students, the surprising research habits of students who come in with a master's degree, other fun instruction and research and library stuff. We chow on cheeseburgers. Life is good.

1:30-1:45 - Taming the email beast again; make a note that I need to check my LibGuide links to make sure everything is working, some Faculty Senate items, an update on the job search my ILL unit has near-completed from the dean. An editor I know at a publishing house says she would be interested in seeing the proposal for my next edited collection once the table of contents is firmed up. I rejoice on my social networks on the interwebs. The world seems to be in order, for a change.

1:45-4:00 - Collection development. I have $4200 to spend on the Political Science collection, and not once have I ever been caught dead not being able to spend someone else's money. I concentrate on public administration and public policy; the collection review I just completed where I touched every book in PoliSci gave ample evidence that most of our collection is from the 70s and needs pretty serious updating. I toss a few emails to our Head of Materials processing and Lord of the Collection about items that are expensive ($350) but that I think we need. I'm going to leave those off my list and see if he has enough money when we're all done with our spending to pick those up. I compare my purchase list against both our catalog of current holdings and the approval plan purchase list, thinking that it would be great if all this data was in one damn place so I didn't have to search for each item in three different platforms. Grr.

4:00-4:20 - Stephen, our handy Knower-of-All-Things-IT stops by my office to let me know he's getting a scanner set up on the second floor service desk so that staff can process reserves while stationed there; he reminds me we agreed to use a web-based file sharing thingamajig, and that Melanie in ILL may already have documentation we can hand over to reserves processors on how to use it. He also asks where exactly I wanted ILLiad installed; I ask for it on one of the front circ desk machines so that we can get circ folks trained on checking items in and renewing, as well as on a staff machine since we're adding some part time help to ILL for the rest of the semester. That seems to cover things for now, all our other techstuff seems to be working okay *curses self for thinking that* *knocks on faux wood desk in the hopes it will ward off bad tech luck*

4:20-5:00 - More email triage, sending responses to things I had flagged earlier. Briefly meddle with the library's surveymonkey account.

5:00-5:40 - Hellish traffic on the way home. I should have probably just stayed at work until 6:00 so I could have a clear drive home. Instead of grumbling, I blast "Copperhead Road." Drivers around me frown and roll up their windows.

5:40-6:20 - Home! Walk the Ottodog, feed the Ottodog, change into gym clothes. Walk Ottodog again, quickly check my personal email before heading out to a place I really don't want to go. Blugh.

6:30-7:30 Tortured by personal trainer, who is actually a pretty nice guy. He reports he was held up in the gym parking lot last night by two men with guns; I think maybe I should be at the shooting range instead of trying to buff up my arms. Trainerman Alec and I disagree on my priorities, so he punishes my triceps.

8:00 - Home. Walk Otto again, watch him gad about with his bone, decide it is too late for dinner. Hit the discussion boards for my two grad classes. Catch the end of something that may or may not be Glee - there's a lot of singing, and Dance Moms, at which point I decide my brain must be rotting and I should just go to bed. I'll write my public admin paper tomorrow night, I swear.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Library Day in the Life #libday8 Day 1

6:45 - Alarm goes off. Otto the basset slinks up from against my knees puts his warmback against my chest, and lays his heavy (very heavy) head on my arm at my elbow. I obey the dog. Hit snooze until

8:00am- Groan, knowing this means I will not get my desired early start on the day. Un-groan, as my joints seem willing to move today for the first time in awhile.

9:00-9:15 - Get into the office. Check in with my day circ manager to make sure everything is on the level, sign timesheets and drop them off in the Admin office. Talk shoes with Anna, laugh at the meanface my boss is giving her monitor when she thinks no one can see her, hit up the supply closet for tape.

9:15-10:00 - Email triage. Among the important ones is one from the faculty president; as secretary I need to get the discussion board up for the full faculty to do the second reading of the proposed Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree.

10:00-10:30 - After email, into Blackboard to post the degree proposal and executive summary, set up the discussion board, and set up the voting mechanism according to the timelines detailed in our Faculty Handbook. Another email comes in as I finish setting this up about the ODT degree that has, after much drama, passed Graduate Council and Senate Exec. That program will have to be similarly posted online eventually.

10:45-12:00 - Collection development work. As liaison to the Political Science department, I collect their purchase requests and also have responsibility to develop a purchase list to fill in gaps in our collection. Hooray for getting to go shopping with Library money! I make a mental note to add more colldev time to my calendar on Tuesday and Wednesday to make sure I get done by the deadline, which is Friday. (I'm out of town on Thursday and Friday, so the real deadline for me is Wednesday.)

12:00-1:00 - Realize I forgot to bring lunch to work. Check and organize email while feeling seven shades of grumpypants. Email Wilda at Library Journal back about book reviewing, email photographer/poet friend back about the shots he's taking for the cover of my newest book. Email my staff reminding them I'll be out later this week, giving them my contact information in case there's trouble.

1:00-2:00 - I have to transcribe the minutes from the last Faculty Senate meeting so members can approve them on Thursday. I should have had them up on Friday, but last week was hellishly busy. It was a long, contentious meeting - the minutes are seven pages, single-spaced. I also post the agenda for Thursday's meeting, curriculum proposals that the body has to approve, some other documents. Yay, webmastering.

2:00-4:00 - I'm on the circ desk so my day super can represent Access Services in the tech sub-group of our Internal Library Building Committee. Traffic is steady but not awful, and while I'm out there I celebrate two of my interlibrary loan requests coming in - especially since one s the first book of a series, and books 2 and 3 arrived last week. A few of the students from the freshman seminar

4:00 - 4:10 - Laird comes back from the committee meeting to let me know I need to attend the next one, since they'll be discussing the service models for our new building. I'll have to get folks together for a supers meeting so we can discuss it and brainstorm before that meeting. Things to think about include desk staffing, runners to the floors, tech help, more. It goes on my to-do list, but it's been percolating in all of our heads for awhile.

4:10-4:20 - A quick peek at the local paper websites show that the brouhaha over grading policy stemming from an article published on Saturday about UTC now requiring students to get a B to move onto higher accounting classes is raising the public's hackles; I pass it along to the Senate Executive team, this will probably be discussed at our meeting with the Provost and Chancellor on Wednesday morning. Here's to hoping the paper misunderstood the policy and that it isn't being applied retroactively instead of for new student catalog years. Sigh.

4:20-4:45 - Making the to-do list that I should have done this morning to get myself organized for the short week. List: talk to my ILL librarian about training and our new hire, send faculty President the attendance sheet for the Thursday meeting I will miss, make some notes of things I want to make sure I bring up during my lunch with the Head of Reference & Instruction tomorrow, clean up the list of items for discussion at the Senate Exec meeting with the Provost and Chancellor, find a time when all my supers are around for a meeting to discuss service models, get an invoice together for a faculty member who lost a very expensive set of DVDs, find a restaurant for dinner with my dean on Wednesday, review the ACRL stats before that meeting on Wednesday.

An easy day, in what looks like it might be an easy week for a change. I'll take it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Now Available: Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching

I am thrilled to announce that Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, a collection of essays by talented women poets that I helped co-edit with Carol Smallwood and Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, is ready for ordering from McFarland! (Amazon currently reads as out of stock, we're working on fixing that.)

With a foreword by inimitable sonneteer and novelist Molly Peacock, and contributions from state poets laureate, Pushcart Prize nominees and winners, professors, workshop leaders, editors, and publishers, my hope is that this collection will have something for everyone. There are chapters for busy moms, chapters on using meter, chapters on publishing, blogging, promotion, journaling, contests, self-publishing, and more. You can see the entire table of contents here.

I learned an incredible amount while working with Carol and Cynthia on this collection. I learned about the difficulties of soliciting work by email only (and have slightly more sympathy for editors who only accept hard copy submissions). I learned more about soliciting permissions for lyrics and poetry from other publishers than I could have ever hoped to know-and what I did learn leads me to grave concerns about whether or not poets understand how hard it is for someone to quote and cite their work without prohibitive cost. I learned about copyediting, the ultimate pain in the ass that MS Word can be when you are pasting in multiple documents and need everything formatted just so, and that few people follow citation instructions *grin*

All in all, it was enlightening. And we have a fantastic book as a final product!

This experience has given me the courage to go ahead and take a stab at an edited collection I've been considering since I was working on my critical MFA thesis back in 2009. And so, I've written up a CFP for Mythology and Modern Women Poets: Analysis, Reflection and Teaching. Here's hoping there are others who share my obsession --ah, I mean research and teaching interests-- in the topic!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Harvard U. Libraries, Reorganization, and Transparency: A Note for Leadership

The libraryverse is a-twitter with talk of the town hall meeting about Harvard University Library's massive re-org project. Chris Bourg collected all of the commentary, sifting fact from fiction from hyperbole when #hlth was fresh (a #hlth search in Twitter will garner you lots of commentary). Tom Bruno's blog post on the facts of the meeting he attended is another must-read. Go see them now before continuing with this. It's necessary background info. I'll wait.

Reorganizations can be a scary business. I was involved in a minor organization at an ARL, my last place of work. It was teeny compared to the scale of the project Harvard is taking on. But know this: the reactions, from librarians and staff, were eerily similar. Everyone wanted to know, at the very least:

(1) Exactly what positions were being eliminated
(2) What would happen to the folks in the eliminated position
(3) How the reorg would affect everyone else in terms of reporting/employment/etc
(4) When we would know all the details so we could prepare for the change

To be honest, "Don't worry about it", "We're working on it", "Soon", and "As soon as we have something concrete" are not satisfying answers. I can only imagine how much less satisfying yesterday when Harvard made it clear that there will be voluntary and involuntary staff reductions to go along with the reorg.

I am not here to rail against change. A library system Harvard's size was going to have to change its organizational structure at some point, whether to better centralize operations, consolidate responsibilities, or simply to handle budget cuts (or lack of significant budget growth in the amount they were used to). Change is necessary for organizations (and organisms) to thrive, particularly when situated within a changing environment. Change happens, change is scary, we have to do it anyway.

But let's not pretend there are no best practices with regard to organizational change. What of involving as many as possible from the ranks in the planning process? What about transparency through the whole process? You might not get the sort of buy-in you hope, since Change is Scary, and Job Loss is terrifying, but if HU librarians and staff were blindsided at this meeting with the amount of change and the speed at which it would happen, someone on the transition team or library leadership hasn't been doing their job. A reorganization of that scale is painful, but the old adage about "ripping a Bandaid off quickly" does not apply. People need time to plan, to digest, to get over being shocked so they can then listen and then understand. And if the consultants on the transition team don't know this, and did not make this very clear to administration before going ahead with yesterday's snafu, they're not worth their weight in salt, since it's the foundation of every single org theory and change class.

In terms of the town hall meetings, (as an outsider who was not in attendance) I wonder how admin thought these meetings would be useful if there were few/no answers to the very obvious questions that were posed by librarians and staff. Perhaps "town hall meeting" itself was a poor misnomer - perhaps they should have called it what it was - an update on the reorg. A town hall meeting implies a sort of give-and-take that appears to have been missing from the meetings. A note to library leaders, admin, managers: what you call things is important. It creates a set of expectations. When those expectations are not met, you leave people confused, and sometimes angry.

And while focus has been on laying off librarians, Tom points out in his post that he feels for his staff, already working understaffed and now faced with the specter of this reorg, after a meeting with lots of scary, vague announcements and few answers to any of their questions. It is one thing to be slightly anxious about the future, but it is a terrible thing to be scared of that future in your own workplace. Scared of being laid off. Scared of being one of the folks *not* laid off and faced with providing the same level and volume of service with fewer resources.

There's got to be a better way than blindsiding people. I still cannot decide what about transparency frustrates leaders so much that they will not engage in its practice.

Is it the fear that your people will see how messy a huge undertaking like a massive reorg is? Let them see that it is messy and difficult. Handing over a major overhaul as a fait accompli, making it look like decisions were easy, is insulting to those affected by those changes. Let people see how things were agonized over, revised, and changed along the way before the decisions were made. In a situation where any answer is going to make someone upset, let them know how and why you reached the decision you did. No, it won't make people happy - but nothing will. This will at least let them relate to the process and your humanity. You lose the power of the facade of Big Library Admin Boss Who Knows All And Shall Dictate, yes - but is that really who you want to be? More importantly, is that who your people need you to be?

Is it the fear that your people will disagree, and disagree loudly? Well, they're going to do that anyway. Better they do it with as much information as possible than in the dark. People are going to disagree, and disagree loudly, at the water cooler, in their cubicles and offices, on the phone, in their blog posts, at ALA MidWinter (nice timing, by the way), and on Twitter. How much of the black hole of information they have to create through gossip and speculation is completely up to leadership. I do not understand why you would not want them to have as much information as possible, both along the way, and once decisions were made. The facts of the matter are often far less terrifying than what we can make up on our own. And we *will* make things up to fill in the blanks - it's human nature. Better to just share the information than have people make up - and spread! - erroneous speculation.

I do understand the desire to break change to people in easily digestible chunks whenever possible, but (again, as an outsider) it does not sound like that is what the town hall meeting accomplished. I do wonder what the meeting was *supposed* to accomplish, given that the questions admin should have expected were not able to be answered.

In any case, I wish the librarians and staff at Harvard luck and strength to make it through what, in the best of times, is a painful and jarring process. These are not the best of times. I also hope that the transition team/admin/leadership will come forward with more information that will help their people, in a timely manner, and in such as way as to make the HU librarians and staff feel they are valued voices - or at least adult enough to be trusted with the information that impacts their livelihoods.

In the meantime, I'm going to add "hug my dean" to my to-do list for when she returns from MidWinter.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Reading in Review: 2011

Of the 98 books I remembered to log as read in 2011, the breakdown is as follows:

  • 5 horror

  • 5 paranormal romance

  • 11 nonfiction

  • 5 short story

  • 6 scifi

  • 14 fantasy

  • 1 memoir

  • 3 mystery

  • 21 paranormal/urban fantasy

  • 6 thriller

  • 5 YA fantasy

  • 5 poetry

  • 1 parody

Definitely heavy on the braincandy reading; most of the nonfiction were education and LIS books related to my coursework and research, with a few essay collections and books on writing thrown in. favorites included Kevin Wilson's short story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, discovering Cathrynne M. Valente, Peter V. Brett and Scott Sigler as new-to-me fiction writers (fantasy, fantasy and sci-fi/thriller, respectively), and Karen Marie Moning's Fever series in the paranormal/urban fantasy genre. The lowest points were Meyer's Twilight series and Janine Cross's Dragon Temple Saga series, whcih I would heartily recommend steering clear of.

For 2012 I'd like to make sure I get a lot more poetry in (I have no excuse not to, given what's on my shelves waiting to be read). There are also a number of Kindle shorts and novels that didn't make it to this list, since I'm less good about tracking what I've read electronically. 2011 I kept on a Googledoc spreadsheet; for 2012 I'm trying to keep up with my Goodreads account.

Merry reading to everyone for 2012! Whatever your reading goal is - or even whether or not you have one, try to read at least one book this year. Interesting things live between book covers.