Taking the City Bus

I’ll be honest, I’m pro-millage. What? Here in Ann Arbor, there’s a millage up for the vote on May 6 about increasing the amount of taxes we pay to support our local public transportation. I’m not writing this post, though, to talk about why I support the millage, I just want to write about why I like taking the city bus.

I’m from Arkansas. I love Arkansas. It’s my home state and I’m proud of what we Arkansans accomplish in the state and out of it. I graduated from the University of Arkansas and I’ve always lived, essentially, downtown. That means you’re within walking distance to your work, your school, your family, and your play. Because (let’s face it), public transportation in northwest Arkansas is no BART or EL or METRO or AATA or anything remotely like that.

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What is your dream job?

Since I have graduated from my master’s program, I’ve been asked “What is your dream job?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” which is, I think, very close to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question we all get as kids. I still don’t know the answer to these questions and I actually think they’re the wrong kind of question to ask people these days.

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“What amazing things have come to be because you were brave enough to ask a question”?

Last week I received an email from Alexis Caudell, director of the Mitchell Community Public Library. It was posed as a “very simple question” but it took me awhile to respond to her.

She asked:  “What amazing things have come to be because you were brave enough to ask a question”?

When I sat down to think about this question–this is what I came up with…

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Building with legos and playing at work

After the Mini Maker Faire I needed a break from organizing a major event. That break didn’t last long. When I first arrived at the Library in January, I came across MIT Media Lab’s Festival of Learning. I really liked the idea of professionals teaching and learning from one another, but not based on professional skills (powerpoint presentations, anyone?) but based on passions and outside work interests. I work at an academic library. A really big one. At one of the best public schools in the country. We help students, faculty, staff teach and learn every day in one way or another. We do a lot of professional development (internal and university-based), which is awesome. But we have around 400 folks who work in units spread across a lot of buildings and not all those people work directly with instruction, reference, or research support.

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The fifth annual Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire Happened. And it was Awesome.

I have spent a lot of hours over the past seven or eight months meeting with a great group of folks to organize and host this year’s Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire. I was asked to help organize this year’s faire by my friend Greg Austic.

While I participated in pretty much every aspect of the planning process, my focus was mostly to support marketing and promotion. So you’ll see my name almost exclusively on the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire’s blog for this year’s activities. I also got to be interviewed for a few articles by our local newspaper and I’ve included those links at the end of this post.

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Full Service Library

One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to participate in the cultural activity of our campus. I attend book discussions, poetry readings, open houses, and presentations all the time (well, maybe not all the time, but that’s probably okay).

This week, I attended the opening reception for “The Many Hats of Robert Altman“. At the reception, students shared stories about their experiences with “Bob,” otherwise known as director Robert Altman. Because of a partnership between librarian Philip Hallman and their professor, Matthew Solomon, the students got a chance to intimately research our largest archive, the Robert Altman collection, which holds photos, letters, papers, etc. etc., from the filmmaker’s career. They curated pieces from the collection based on eight themes including Altman’s aesthetic (which includes a sound piece), his relationship with his peers in the movie industry, and his use of sound and music in his work. At the reception, Solomon spoke of the transformation that took place in the students as they got a chance to do hands-on, unique research with primary source materials (that sounds very librarian-y).

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This land is our land

Lately I’ve felt a bit bombarded by world events and corporate power: bombs, tornadoes, gun control, women’s rights, farmer’s rights, and the list goes on. I have signed a lot of petitions and sent a lot of requests to others to do the same through Twitter and Facebook.

Now, I’m requesting that you consider sending an email to Cargill (C&H Farms) about their decision to start an industrial hog farm (Swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) in the watershed of the United State’s first National River, the Buffalo National River. The amount of damage this farm can do in a single month is immense and nearly permanent (at least in our short lifetimes). The amount of economic value it will provide the community is negligible.

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Shared Creations: Making Use of Creative Commons

Last summer I had a lot of conversations with the amazing, energetic Kristin Fontichiaro about education, open education, digital tools, librarianship, and the world of making and doing. Somehow I found myself writing a book with her for kids, librarians, and teachers (but mostly kids) about Creative Commons licenses and the things you can do with them. I jumped at the opportunity because here was a chance for me to get out of the bubble of academia and into the ‘real world’, to create a resource that folks might pick up off the shelves (digital or physical), read, and then do something awesome with that knowledge.

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Thank you for all you do.

I heard this phrase as one colleague passed it along to another in casual conversation a few days ago. It put a smile on my face to hear someone praise another for the work they do, the care they put into it, and their general kindness that’s all in a day’s work.

This past week was a big one for me. The library put on a series of events for Open Education Week and I helped organize, coordinate, or implement each event. I also received a Movers and Shakers award for innovation from Library Journal. Nice timing! It’s great to see my work from Open.Michigan acknowledged by the broader library community–that the beliefs I hold true are also thought to be legitimate by others.

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