In the seven years since library school, I've managed many projects. Some successful. Some not. But something I've never done until now is manage the creation of a new space. For the past year and a half, a huge part of my job as Head of Popular Materials at the Ela Area Public Library has been to help create and open the library's makerspace. We're now at the point where this makerspace is about to open.
Let me tell you a little about Forge, our makerspace, because I truly believe this space will be unique and useful and beautiful. Forge is going to look like this.
After our grand opening on Sunday, I will be able to post an actual picture of the space!
My library, the Ela Area Public Library, is hiring a part-time Early Childhood Librarian and if you or anyone you know is interested, pass it on and/or apply! I work for a progressive institution and we're on our way to finishing a truly awesome renovation of the children’s section (see above rendering). We are a very busy library with a super engaged and supportive community. Amazing co-workers. Tons of opportunities for new ideas.
Come work with me. Seriously, my library rocks. You can view the job ad here: http://bit.ly/15djYy1
Recently at my library, we've been digging into circulating non-traditional items and one of the items I'm the most excited about is our telescope collection. Taking a page from several other initiatives, like Ann Arbor and NHAS, we are partnering with the Lake County Astronomical Society to circulate 5 Orion StarBlast 4.5" Telescopes for our community.
The thing is, telescopes are a different ball game. While my library has a tradition of circulating non-traditional devices (see what I did there?), we've never circulated something that can literally burn holes in your retina. (I know.) But one of the reasons I absolutely love my library is that we try to be really thoughtful about our choices and plan well. We know there's risk but the reward is so great. So here's a bit of our process...
First, we created a small committee - the telescope team - which consisted of several public service department representatives, our leader (our Assistant Director Erica Christianson), and a cataloger. Our cataloger is awesome and really added a lot to the team. He would bring up ideas like shelf presence and home locations for items. Representatives from our Circulation Department were also crucial for many reasons, including discussing lending policies and check out procedures. Then we had people from Popular Materials (that's me!), Adult Reference, and the Children's Department.
The committee began meeting with our partner at the astronomical society - I like to refer to him as our astrophysicist. And as we began meeting, we discussed all sorts of important aspects, such as:
The telescopes just soft-launched earlier this month and it's been absolutely amazing to watch our patrons proudly walk out of the library with a tool of science. Considering that the telescopes are already on a waiting list because of word of mouth, we are already anticipating purchasing more! You can also view the seriously fun (and hilarious) video for our telescope here: http://youtu.be/Zv9eMIb94Ug. The previously mentioned awesome cataloger is the star!
Now the telescope team has turned into an Experiential Learning committee and we're looking at what we want to circulate next...truly, the sky is the limit. I am so proud to work at the Ela Area Public Library.
I am super honored and excited about a number of things coming up in the next few weeks. The first is Library ONCON, a free virtual conference using Google Hangouts. I will be leading the conversation on community engagement and simply cannot wait to hangout with everyone who registered! A big THANK YOU to Gwyn and Barbara for planning. They're both totally inspiring and I'm so pumped they invited me to participate in this first year of ONCON.
Also over the next couple days I will be presenting at On the Front Lines at the University of Illinois in Springfield. I always enjoy this conference immensely and more importantly, learn tons from my peers. If you're going to be there, please find me and say hello! I will be presenting The Modern Book Discussion and An Indie State of Mind.
Dominican University's GSLIS program, my alma mater, asked me to be a part of their alumni success program and I couldn't be happier to participate. Library programs can very occasionally get a lot of flack for a variety of reasons, however, I had an amazing graduate school experience. You can learn more about it here: http://bit.ly/1tNv3Qa
And finally, after two years of extremely hard work, the book that I have been working on with my partner in crime, Dr. Anthony Molaro, will be released in the spring of 2015.
This book has been a work for love for many people and I simply cannot wait to get my hands on a copy! You can pre-order a copy right now: http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=11142. It has so many amazing ideas, a foreword by R. David Lankes, and of course, the blood, sweat, and tears of yours truly.
Check it out! Buy a copy! Give them as gifts! Or check out a copy from your library. :)
I recently had the pleasure of doing my final two presentations for 2013. The first was New Technologies: Creating the Ultimate Library Experience. I co-presented this mini-version of The Beast with Toby Greenwalt and Richard Kong of the Skokie Public Library. It was such a pleasure to speak to the Laconi Circulation crowd!
The second was An Indie State of Mind, a presentation on merchandising, displays, and what librarians can learn from independent booksellers. I created this new presentation for the Adult Services staff at Downers Grove Public Library and we had such a blast! About part-way through, I passed out index cards and sharpies so everyone could make their own shelftalkers. It was so much fun!!
And with those two done, I am all done with presentations for 2013. It was a very (very!) busy year - 14 presentations in all. I learned so much from every single one of them. You can check them all out, here: http://bit.ly/186I5Pb
On September 1st, I decided to take a Facebook Sabbatical. Basically, I needed a break but also, as Facebook became more and more ingrained in my day to day life, I wanted to challenge myself. One month away from Facebook. How hard could that be?
Well, the first two weeks were strange and to be frank, off-putting. I found myself in a stage of weird denial, consistently trying to check my Facebook account without even realizing it. I would open a tab in my browser, start typing Facebook, and then stare blankly at the landing page, only to realize what I had done. Or I would wake up my phone or iPad from sleep mode, and again, stare blankly - realizing I was attempting to open the Facebook app that I had deleted when I decided to take the sabbatical in the first place.
This stage lasted for about two weeks. As time went by, the absent-minded attempts to check my account went away. And what came was....well...bliss.
I felt focused. I started writing letters to my friends and family. I called my mom and dad to talk instead of just writing on their Facebook walls. I read more; did more yoga. I know this sounds ridiculous but it is 100% true. I actually gained back time.
My biggest worry was that because of leaving Facebook, I would feel disconnected. But between Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, I still felt as connected as ever. If anything, I felt less anxiety about having to check something or worrying about how to answer an awkward or negative interaction. I felt peaceful....until my sabbatical was nearing its end.
With about a week to go, I started getting anxious. I had dreams...DREAMS about checking my Facebook account. And I realized immediately that I needed more time away. So on October 1st, I logged in and deactivated my account completely. The nice thing about Facebook is that the company makes it VERY easy to deactiviate your account. They keep all your content, all your friends, all your pictures and likes. They save your account and tell you that when you're ready to come back, everything will be there waiting for you - as if you never left. In fact, it's difficult to permanently delete your Facebook account. Instead of clicking a button, you have to contact them directly.
After deactivating, I had about a week or two of feeling guilty. Yes, guilty. Was I being selfish by not being on Facebook? And even now, I occasionally feel like I might be missing something. But I'm starting to realize that this feeling of guilt is silly. I'm really happy not being on Facebook.
Yes, my website has lower stats. And yes, sometimes I learn about a news item or meme later than other people. But I have come to a sort of peace about that. And looking back, I'm wondering how I ever became so dependent on a social network for gratification, entertainment, and happiness.
My friend, Julie, asked me about why I think people need Facebook Sabbaticals but not Twitter or Tumblr or Pinterest. And I'm not sure I have the exact answer to that, even after a month and a half away from the network. But here's my best shot - there is a sort of highschool-ish social pressure that exists on Facebook but not elsewhere. I think, in some ways, it brings out the same anxious, awkward, and even bullying tendencies that we had in our teenage years. Maybe it's because we become "friends" again with old friends or maybe it's because Facebook is a relatively small group of people all smashed into a relatively small location when you consider the vastness of the entire Internet.
All I know is this - right now, I am truly enjoying my time away from Facebook. Things feel...slower. I am enjoying every second of that.
If you are interested in taking a Facebook break too, I HIGHLY suggest reading Baratunde Thursten's article on unplugging. He was my initial inspiration and he provides a road map for the action: http://bit.ly/1d72jqO
Will I go back? Maybe. I actually haven't decided yet. But for now, I'm working at a new job. Presenting like a mad woman. And trying to enjoy life as it comes.
GUYS!! I am super excited to announce the Adult Reading Round Table's first reader's advisory unconference. Full disclosure: I am planning the program, along with Debra Wischmeyer of Downers Grove Public Library. I will also be the MC. So yeah...you will see a lot of me if you attend. So you should TOTALLY come!
Jason Smith of The Book Table will be our keynote speaker and the rest of the afternoon will be dedicate to brainstorm and discussing YOUR topics of interest! Seriously, it will be super fun. You should totally register. You can do so, here: https://arrtunconference.eventbrite.com/
I hope to see you there!
I am super excited because my article about Books on Tap is the feature piece of the September/October issue of Marketing Library Services, an Information Today, Inc. publication. It was so much fun to write about a program that I love so much. You can read the article on their website, here: http://bit.ly/14nLcuU and enjoy!
I am incredibly excited to announce that I have accepted the Head of Popular Materials position at the Ela Area Public Library District. I spent two wonderful years at the Northbrook Public Library working as a Reader Services Librarian. It is incredibly fun and satisfying work but I look forward to the exciting challenges management will bring.
So that's basically what I wrote on Facebook. And it is true. But let's get real: it's a tough decision and one that I think a lot of people grapple with - do you really want to be a manager? The things is: I do. I really really do. I have had my eye set on management ever since I made the move from academia to public libraries. I enjoy the type of challenges management brings. I love working directly with librarians and library workers. I like figuring out solutions to organizational dilemmas. Even back when I was doing the Young Librarian Series, I had an eye on mentorship and possibly becoming a mentor for other librarians. Heck, I even enjoy reading strategic plans! (And seriously Ela has a great one. It was one of the things that really attracted me to the position. You can read it, here: http://bit.ly/17oflQV)
Change can be tough...especially when it's happening to you. But throughout this whole process, I kept thinking about that Steve Prefontaine quote...you know the one.
Sometimes in libraries, I think we get comfortable and think, "Why move to management? I'm perfectly okay with what I do right now,". And that may work for some people - not all people are cut out for management. And certainly, what makes a person a good librarian does not necessarily make them a good manager (but that's a separate post). Yet, we do our field a disservice at times when people get too comfortable.
You know if you would be a good manager. Think about it. You know. And if you think you would be, maybe you need to starting moving up and give your job up for some other new or recent graduate who is trying to enter the field.
I am so excited for the person who replaces me at Northbrook. It is such a wonderful job for a newer librarian, at a great library in a supportive community. But, personally, I'm ready for the next step. My challenge to you, dear reader, is to think to yourself: are you ready for that next step too? Are your holding yourself back?
I decided to give up the good and go for the great. I know. It's kind of cheesy. But I like to push myself. I always have. I'm ready.
Things have been delightfully busy lately! Check out some of the stuff I have been working on: