I used it for our inaugural library game night in October 2014, and I have also used it for our campus’ Fall Festival, and our library game night this past spring 2015. I just keep it in a manila folder, so it doesn’t get tangled.
A few words on the tutorial. Our color printer at work is extremely old and not very powerful, so what I did was print it out in black and white on regular computer paper, and then I ran the letters I needed through the copy machine onto kraft cardstock I got at the local Wal-Mart, which is the closest store to campus. I had twine at home. The only other supplies you need are scissors or a paper cutter and a single hole punch.
It came out super cute. What do you think? I am going to make a “welcome” banner for the library window facing out to the hallway (we’re a room in the Student Services building, so the hall is hot real estate) for the first week back to school.
I usually just browse American Libraries magazine. A lot of what’s in there isn’t always relevant for me, but sometimes there are things of note. In the January/February issue, Meredith Farkas wrote a piece called “Reuse, Recycle, Share.” She writes, “We spend a lot of energy trying to create things from scratch when, frequently, another library may have already done something very similar.” As the only full-time faculty librarian on duty at my campus during the daytime, I definitely don’t have the time to come up with fantastic new ideas or create refined tools, so I am always looking for things like instructional videos or handouts college libraries have made and licensed through Creative Commons. (It took me a long time to realize that borrowing ideas didn’t mean I wasn’t creative; see Brain Pickings’ post, “Austin Kleon on 10 Things Every Creative Person Should Remember But We Often Forget.”) One of my favorite librarian groups that is generous with their ideas and templates is ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach interest group.
Earlier this summer, outreach librarian Stacy Taylor posted a great display she did with emojis. It is the perfect addition to my new display idea, Major Idea. Last semester, I weeded four shelves worth of reference items that were outdated, so it created a little, slightly awkward opening for display space. I needed it to more purposeful, so I came up with an idea that will highlight a topic/subject that relates to a major/degree the college offers (how about Renaissance art featuring this image, some books, print outs of some e-book covers, a database recommendation, and maybe some info on art history majors nearby…?) I will have to test it out, but I had planned to kick off with psychology, so how perfect would emoji books be as a fun addition? The old, naive me would have re-created this idea from scratch, but the starting-on-my-third year me asked if she had some kind of ready-made document, and Stacy kindly sent me her titles and emojis via Google Docs, and I downloaded that puppy. I am so grateful for the time Stacy’s document will be saving me!
My thought is that we will be switching out the Major Idea area every two weeks, but I will be asking for help from the student workers, staff, and the two part-time evening librarians to take a turn, so that we all get to be creative, contribute, and learn more about our resources while researching ideas, books, and databases. I also wrote some preliminary guidelines, which include promoting an e-book or two and subject databases, as well as an explanation about the purpose, and that asking for help is perfectly okay. I realize not everyone is as comfortable with displays as I am, but I definitely need more help to get things rolling now. I will be kicking off as an example, which is sort of not the best since I want people to feel free in their creativity, but I am the only one who will be around before school starts to get that part of the Library ready.
As I write, I’m looking at my monthly display calendar, and it’s a little overwhelming, but with help from fellow library staff and librarian friends sharing fantastic ideas, we can make it happen together.
Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us.
Sometimes, Shoulds are small, seemingly innocuous, and easily accommodated. “You should listen to that song,” for example. At other times, Shoulds are highly influential systems of thought that pressure and, at their most destructive, coerce us to live our lives differently.
Must is when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own — and this allows us to cultivate our full potential as individuals.
I have a friend who, when I say the words, “I should…,” will say “By whose authority?” I kind of hate it, but it is a good way to remind me of the difference and to be conscious of my choices.
-From Maya Angelou: “Speak to people you don’t know. Say good morning, good morning. You have no idea what you may have done for someone. She may have just hung up the phone from having a nurse say, ‘Miss Jones, the doctor wants you to come back in, he’s not satisfied with these X-rays.’ You don’t know.”
I think about this when I am in contact with customer service people. I think about this when I am helping students at the library, too. We don’t know all of their stories, but to quote our retired library media technician, “Each one has a story.”
If you’re looking for something specific you can do in this regard, a newer friend of mine who teaches third grade says one positive thing to five people a day.
-From Shonda Rimes: “Focus on something outside yourself.”
My service to the community has definitely suffered during the last year or two. While I don’t talk about it much, my faith is important to me, but I have been passive about it the last year or two, so I think there’s a correlation there. It might just honestly be my struggle to adapt to the commuter life.
-From Anna Quindlen: “Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad. Get a life in which you are generous.”
Part of that drive was never ever taking time off and I neglected my friends, family, hobbies, myself. I could never just slow down and enjoy life. I’m still learning this lesson but I’m getting there. I’ve had to reevaluate my values also. My value doesn’t reside only in work and achievement. I look at my husband napping on our couch spooning our cat and that fills me with bliss. I watch crappy tv with my parents and know that time is valuable. I play board games with friends and destroy them (with love and tenderness). We taunt each other and ridicule each other’s mothers, and it’s brilliant. When I make hard choices to protect my health, I see value. It’s cliché, but I learned a good, difficult lesson the last two years that was invaluable: focusing just on a career is a zero-sum game. I am already surrounded by what fulfills me.
I definitely started to view things like family, friends, and exercise as “things to focus on when I am not busy,” which meant I wasn’t investing in these important things. I am going out a little more, spending time with friends and family. I am not great at it, but I am trying to change my habits.
I really like Quindlen’s idea about writing a letter to people. Earlier this summer, I sent a card via snail mail to a friend of mine who has been having a rough time. It cheered her up. While there was a time in my life that I really enjoyed making cards, I now have a ready-supply of blank note cards handy, mostly for thank you cards, but I think I will go on a monthly card-writing campaign now. I can commit to 12 cards.
How do you live generously? Is it something you struggle with?
I’m off to celebrate my sister who is another year older today. We’re not really doing anything special, but regular life is special. ❤
During finals this year, I had coloring pages available. I only printed a few out the first day (some design I could download for free online), and the next day, one of the student assistants said I needed to print out way more because “people really like them.”
I have noticed an upswing in talk about the relaxing powers of coloring lately. Even NPR and Quartz have chimed in, and I think I remember seeing something on Huffington Post. It’s rare that I go to the local Barnes and Noble (I am a library user, after all), but I went a couple of days ago and was so surprised by all of the coloring books on display.
Long live coloring! I will still be offering coloring pages during finals, but I think in addition to my once a term game day/night, we need to have a craft and coloring party, too. I will definitely be talking to our student workers about it in August.
While I can’t remember where I downloaded the mandala image I used during this past academic year, there is a Facebook page, Coloring Pages for Adults, that offers free, downloadable pages to color. With back to school sales around the corner, now is also a good time to buy colored pencils and sharpeners. We have electric sharpeners in the library, but for a bigger event, we’d be in the Student Lounge, so we’d need little sharpeners. Right now, I can tell you for a fact that Target has a 12-pack of Crayola colored pencils for 97 cents.
I know there are some academic libraries with the big bucks and staff for massages, pet therapy, and coffee and cookies, etc., but even the smallest of libraries like mine can do something to help students de-stress during exam season. Puzzles and games are a great idea if you have the space. Our game night, for example, doesn’t happen in the Library because we are only two thousand square feet. Another option for small libraries might be to provide a crossword puzzle or word search. Origami supplies are not that expensive and don’t require a lot of room. We had Origami Yoda for Star Wars Day in May. I just put up paper and instructions by the checkout desk. I also do Starbursts “for a burst of energy” and mini Crunch Bars for “crunch time” near the doors. I do purchase those on my own because I only have a couple of hundred dollars I can use for the library from the college, and candy adds up so quickly.
Be creative, and, as I’ve learned, don’t get down because you can’t bring puppies or kitties to campus.
While I was planning the idea of blogging to help me through work while on a road trip though the southwest at the end of May/beginning of June, I came across a New York Times article called “The Small, Happy Life.” It’s had me thinking for over a month now. What really hits home is the following:
Terence J. Tollaksen wrote that his purpose became clearer once he began to recognize the “decision trap”: “This trap is an amazingly consistent phenomena whereby ‘big’ decisions turn out to have much less impact on a life as a whole than the myriad of small seemingly insignificant ones.”
Tollaksen continues, “I have always admired those goal-oriented, stubborn, successful, determined individuals; they make things happen, and the world would be lost without them.” But, he explains, he has always had a “small font purpose.”
I have spent a lot of time worrying about my purpose. Professionally, becoming a librarian was the right fit for me. I am pretty certain of that. But I often get this pit inside when I go to professional conferences because I’m a librarian at a small community college library “branch.” I have been a little scared about falling into the background at such a tiny place. Community college is the in-between, not quite public library, not quite research library. I don’t feel up to par with my university-level colleagues who are required to do research and publish and have the off-desk time to be in the know of everything related to altmetrics, open access, and critical librarianship. I do keep up as much as I can, but I actually am not in a place where I can engage with all that.
Our college tagline focuses on student success, and I remind myself everyday that my purpose is to help students succeed in their studies by helping them with their research. That is my job. But I care a lot about turning things around and forward. My defining trait is passion. I often wonder if my dreams are too small, whether I need a bigger pond. This more often happens after I run into people doing big things, but then I remind myself about integrity. That’s pretty important to me.
I live and work in different counties, and I find it difficult to stay connected to the community where I live and the community where I work, *Los Banos. As the community college librarian in LB, I do feel guilty, but my husband and I bought a great house in a great neighborhood four months before I was offered a full-time position in our hometown. I do what I can in LB outside of work, mostly with the public library.
This spring, the woman who volunteered for Spanish story time had many health issues and decided to take a break. All the story time programs are volunteer-run, which is very different from the early literacy skills-based training I received during my first regular part-time library job as a bilingual Spanish/English library assistant in the children’s department of the Stanislaus County Library. In May, I got together with the supervisory library assistant at the local branch of the Merced County Library and some Friends of the Los Banos Library members to talk about starting a bilingual Spanish/English program on Saturdays. I volunteered to do two bilingual programs this summer.
I did the first program in mid-June, and it had been two years since I had last done a story time program. It wasn’t full-blown with music and dances, but I did incorporate sitting and standing fingerplays. It was a magical experience. The supervisor said it also looked like I was really enjoying it, and I really was all smiles. Since Merced County Library’s summer reading program is music-inspired this year, I focused on music, song, and dance. The supervisor started the program with a reading of Farmer Joe and the Music Show. I picked up with Salsa, Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure, and De Colores. I chose these because they support diversity, specifically showing people of color; introduce kids to new music styles they might not have heard before (jazz and salsa); and Salsa and De Colores are both bilingual, so I could decide which language to read in, etc.
In my planning I completely forgot to choose a clip of salsa music, but thanks to smartphones, it was pretty easy to pull up music on YouTube. I also showed a clip of salsa dancing courtesy of one of those dancing shows because, you know, if it’s on TV, it’s got to have some kind of standard. After I read De Colores in Spanish, I also looked up José-Luis Orozco singing “De Colores,” and we all sang as I re-read (sang) the book along to the video of Orozco. Now the big secret about me is that I do enjoy singing, but I clamp down when it comes to singing in public. But story time is just different. I remember being really unsure when I was asked to apply for the bilingual story time position at one of my former employers, but doing story time really helped me break out of my shyness a little more.
For fingerplays, we did Pulgarcito (Where is Thumbkin?), the Bee Hive, and Ábranlas, Ciérrenlas (Open, Shut Them). I think the parents were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t just all reading and sitting. I also mentioned that singing helps kids hear different sounds, and that this will help them when it’s time for them to learn how to read. (Phonological awareness–I’m legit, people.)
I also brought in a book of children’s poetry I have used before, but I ended up not using it. If you’re a bilingual children’s librarian or library assistant, parent, or teacher, you might want to check out Alma Flor Ada’s Todo es Canción. You’ll be sure to find something no matter what theme, and the poems are all short and sweet.
While I was there, I also saw the library sub for the college library, Willie, who is one of my favorite people. She has so much kindness and also keeps it real. She also takes classes at the college. I took her to lunch at Wendy’s, and all the people working were our college students. That’s what it’s like to work in a smaller town.
After dropping Willie off back at the public library, I went downtown to Sweet as Cake Bakery to buy cupcakes for a cousin who just had a baby a few weeks earlier and checked out a home interior store, The Country Duck. The store had donated to the public library’s Small Works of Art Sale fundraiser in October (I won that gift basket, and I never win stuff), and they also had a booth out at LB’s Tomato Festival that my husband and I went to earlier that same month.
I left LB in such a good mood, I’m not even kidding. Volunteering gives me my children’s library services fix and a chance to strengthen my relationship to the town.
If you commute to work, how do you connect to your commuter community?
*It’s really Los Baños, but because the town doesn’t have the tilde listed on its government documentation, we aren’t allowed to write it as it’s pronounced per the college board. It’s a pretty dicey issue in the community, and while I’m not in agreement, I did change all of the college library information and documentation to reflect the anglicized version. And, yeah, I guess we shouldn’t be “changing” the name if its officially “something else.” With racial and ethnic tension all over the news in our country, this banning of the tilde just doesn’t sit well with me.
I kind of lied about not knowing what I enjoy in librarianship, but it’s kind of hard to explain because, honestly, it’s not specific to LIS. My sister, who is majoring in child development, said what I like is “creating environments,” which is early childhood educator speak for setting up learning spaces.
Last summer, I took a class on user experience, one that I didn’t get a chance to take in graduate school, after I completed half of the Hyperlinked Library MOOC in Fall 2013. I started a brand new job, and it was too hard to complete all the modules, but they left a deep impression on me.
I hands down really believe in “thinking like a startup.” I have tried a lot of different things in the library at my campus without concern for whether they actually will work (these things don’t cost money). And trust me, I have failed a lot, but it’s through failure that you realize what will or won’t work. You just have to try, work through your ideas with others who might not really get what you’re trying to do, and have the tenacity to keep trying.
I remember one of the student assistants asking me what the goal was when I started our first campus game night in Fall 2014. “We’re just going to hangout, and get to know people.” I didn’t think lots of people would come, but, hey, we have no campus life besides one student club. What have we got to lose? As it turns out, the students I approached to plan a game night were thrilled. The first time we put one on, we had faculty and the dean attend and play games! The dean played Cards Against Humanity with students, and she had fun. Although we didn’t get any faculty the second time, people asked how it went the next day. We only have about 15 students each time, but for a campus with no campus life and one that’s located off a highway, it’s great.
Another thing I started that I worried might not work were interactive posters outside the library doors across from the open computer lab. Every two weeks, I make a banner out of butcher paper, ask a question, and then I supply Post-It notes and washable markers for students to write responses. It’s so low-tech, but, much to my delight, students participate. I did learn that the plainer the Post-Its the better, though; cool colors get stolen. I did have some people who liked to report the inappropriate responses and gather them up with a note at my desk or have a word with me, but that’s the part where you just smile and say thank you. (Inside, you get a little crazy and imagine yourself ripping the pieces into teeny tiny little pieces and flinging them like confetti…)
I also got a little bit of backlash against providing Starbursts and Crunch Bars during finals week because there were a few candy wrappers on the ground, but it was one of those moments where I just had to say it was just for the week, and it was pretty easy to just throw them away. (I can only handle so much, guys.)
For me, being able to be creative in my work is really important. I didn’t really realize how important this was, but when I look back on school assignments and projects I liked the most, it involved making something, mostly visuals or something related to art (this was before STEM and STEaM times). I also realize that why I really loved one of my first library jobs as a bilingual story time teller was the thematic planning. During Halloween one year, I put together a black and white story time that included a shadow puppet show and a chalk and construction paper craft. I only worked 14 hours a week in that position, and I prepped my little heart out for that program.
Even though I sometimes wonder about the value of the extra details I place on interactivity and participation when things don’t go right, I have to remind myself that some people do notice. Needless to say, I was thrilled when the history/political science professor approached me about setting up a Constitution Day quiz in the Library. It’s a 15-question Scantron that students put into a large glass jar at the check-out desk; those who score the highest are placed into a drawing for a Starbucks gift card. You can also bet that I put together a Constitution Day book display.
As someone who was naturally good at the school thing and who is an academic librarian, I do get nervous that my dream doesn’t necessarily include publishing scholarly literature (part of it is that I don’t have a specific research area of interest). I just don’t really see myself doing that kind of scholarly life, and I think I have been struggling with how the reconcile that in the midst of all this great work former classmates are doing in their lives.
While my spring semester was a little rough, the highlight of my fall semester was the dean indicating that my greatest asset is creativity during my second-year review. I suppose I am doing something right.
Part of my summer goal is to reduce my digital clutter. I’m an expert saver of links, and I always intend to follow up, but you know how that goes. Right now I’m going through my Evernote account. Apparently, I have a notebook specifically called Life. I came across a Lifehacker article I had saved called “If You Want to Follow Your Dreams, You’ll have to Choose a Focus.” In the past, I have been very good at staying focused–sometimes too good–but for the last year or two, I have been restless because I have been lacking focus.
I do have to say that I think people can go too far with the advice in the article–you don’t want to alienate others in your life while you work on your dream; it’s a lonely way to live. I do, however, agree with the advice about saying no to extra things. I have been saying no to extra things, including a flooded inbox, to give me time to research and think about my next step.
It’s remarkable how much time people spend chasing things that they don’t really care about. Then, when they don’t achieve them, they beat themselves up and feel like a failure for not achieving something that wasn’t important to them all along.
I went to my first American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in 2010, just a mere semester and a couple of weeks into library school. I was doing a fellowship in DC at the time, and the conference happened to take place there that summer. It was incredibly overwhelming because it’s a giant conference, and I didn’t know anyone or much of anything back then. After that, I didn’t go for a few years. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t go until I was working somewhere full-time. At one point, I was working four library positions, so it was hard to take time off as a part-time employee. I was also really concerned with saving money because my husband was working so hard while I was in school and hunting for a full-time job; it made me feel bad not to be contributing as much as he was putting in.
Fast track, so I went to the conference in Las Vegas last year. I meant to start this blog after I got back to talk about all the things I went to and saw, but now I’ve come back from the conference in San Francisco.
This year, I took my sister with me. Kory, my husband, was going to go with me, but it ended up not working out with his job. My sister and I played Eloise at The Plaza for a few days since I booked at the Westin St. Francis. It’s so fancy it took a minute to figure out the elevator. In between my conference sessions, meetings, and meet-ups, we had a fabulous time shopping, eating Thai, crashing in on the Philippine Independence Day outdoor concert featuring Jessica Sanchez, and catching bits of the SF Pride Parade.
What I love about the craziness of ALA is that it’s mashup of everything library–you can be talking to a public library director, teacher librarian, vendor, dean of library services, reference librarians, librarians who don’t work in libraries. It’s everyone from the rock stars to the in-the-trenches librarians. This happened to me last year. I didn’t realize who I was talking to was a more well-known person until half an hour had passed because Twitter pics are not the same. I almost died. lol
The meeting I most anticipated this year was the Association of College and Research Libraries Library Marketing and Outreach interest group (ACRL LMO IG). Last year, I found myself at a really small meeting for a new interest group. This group has really given me something to focus on in the midst of all the things I can’t necessarily do at work. The IG is just a place to share ideas and inspire others. The idea is that states will have their own meet-ups. I signed up to be Central CA’s rep for ACRL LMO IG last year, and I recruited a librarian at the local UC to help me begin tapping into the Sacramento-Fresno area, but for one reason or another, we didn’t get started. As luck would have it, I happened upon a librarian from a private university about 30 minutes north of me who was on sabbatical when I had contacted her about getting together to form a regional group. I’m excited to see if we can wake up our sleepy area. Those So Cal and Nor Cal librarians are a little more social than the Central CA bunch.
Here’s what else I went to:
Lucha Corpi, Javier Huerta, and Viola Canales: Mexican-American Poetry Panel reminded me of my childhood–making trips to the discount supermarket, visiting Don Juan Foods where my mom worked as a cashier in between cannery seasons at Del Monte, and eating raspas and playing Lotería with my cousins. My upbringing in a tight-knit Mexican-American family in an even tighter-knit Protestant domination has had such a significant impact on my life, I can’t even explain but in poetry. And I haven’t written poetry in many years, partly because I’m not very good at it.
Framing and Enhancing Visual Literacy: Using the New ACRL Framework to Develop Effective Art Instruction was a really great panel that featured librarians at different institutions who incorporate visual literacy into their instruction based on the new framework and Standards for Information Literacy. There were some great lessons and ideas for how to do this, but the one that sticks out to me most was a lesson on how an image of a snake charmer became the image associated with Mami Watta, an African water goddess.
Current Topics Discussion (ACRL IS), which focused on how to establish and strength our partnerships with faculty members, which was led by Amy Wainwright, a fantastic librarian I have gotten to know a little bit through ACRL LMO IG. We discussed problems we have, as well as possible solutions for improving our relations with faculty members. Because I’m at such a small campus, I kind of have an edge when it comes to this, but there is always room to improve, and I know that my slight shyness does get in the way.
Multimodal Literacy and Comics, which focused on how comics can help people see different viewpoints, particularly those from the position of a person of color. These provide another narrative that students might not encounter in school which focuses on the traditional canon. I’m a person who wasn’t exposed to comics until I was 20, and by exposure I mean not exactly reading them but getting to know someone who reads them. I also grew up not having books with characters with my family dynamic in a bilingual/bi-racial household. Let me say, when Marisol MacDonald Doesn’t Match arrived at the public library I was working in at the time, I cried made me cried in the children’s department workroom.
PR Xchange is basically displays and examples of libraries’ marketing materials that you can take home. If you know me, you know that I absolutely love this stuff. That’s a nice display sign,” is something I say on a regular basis. Not that my own designs are gorgeous; my job is way too Jill of all trades to be perfection in one area.
I had a great time. I learned a lot. This sort of makes up for having to miss the ACRL conference in March. Next year, the ALA Annual Conference is in Orlando. ACRL won’t happen again until 2017, but CARL, the CA chapter of ACRL has a conference in 2016. I signed up to help out with the planning recently, so I will go to that. I think I might go to Internet Librarian in October. I’ve always wanted to go, and a colleague mentioned to another colleague that it’s one I would probably really enjoy.