Those Content Moments at Work

I hope every one of us has moments at work where they are truly content with their work, situation in life, the moment in time. Summer always reminds me of the summer reading events at public libraries where librarians and staff get into a frantic rhythm of programming and fun. This afternoon I was reminded of one of my favorite responsibilities working in the Children’s Department of the Fayetteville Public Library. So here are some of my favorite memories (sometimes a single moment, sometimes a set of activities) of work, moments when I was truly happy or proud of my professional responsibilities and their results. 

Pet Protection Clinic

A Rottweiler named Denali jumping up next to me with excitement to be played with. She jumped from a standing position to about a foot over my 5’2″ frame. 

Fayetteville Public Library

Helping refugees from Hurricane Katrina get temporary library cards, find restaurants and local services. Saying good bye to those who returned to New Orleans. 

Wiping down (and putting back together) the wooden puzzles at the toddler tables each day. 

University of Arkansas Library

Walking to work through campus on a spring morning.  

Updating MARC records for the Arkansas History collection and taking a peek into history. 

University of Cambridge Development Office

Sorting the mail, which meant collecting stamps from all the letters received from all over the world. 

Talking with visiting alumni about their experiences going to school in Cambridge and sharing my own experiences working abroad. 

University of Michigan International Institute

Working in a group with the director to review and synthesize the Institute’s five-year strategic plan and learning about his voice, tone, writing style, and vision. 

University of Michigan School of Information

Meeting with my adviser and a colleague to talk about what we had learned about the interviews I conducted with public library directors, going over the themes and figuring out how they fit together.

University of Michigan Medical School

Presenting at the Open Ed conference in 2012 about our experiences as a team at Open.Michigan. Telling our story to others who were just as excited about their work as we were.

University of Michigan Library

Watching the faces of students having fun at the first ever job fair hosted for students by the library that I helped organize. 

Listening to presentations by local faculty members about their work, passion, and experiences. 

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Why I love the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire

The sixth annual Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire is less than a week away (join us if you’re in the area!). I really enjoy being part of this community that comes together for one day to celebrate creativity, learning, passions, and being together. It’s inspiring to see the ideas other people have brought to life and to experience it myself.

A few weeks ago, I spoke at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor and I thought I’d share my slides and notes from the presentation here as well.

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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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Us and Them.

I just came back from Austin, TX, where I attended the Digital Library Federation Forum. It was my first time in Austin (breakfast tacos?!) and to this conference. It seemed to hit all the topics I’m invested in learning more about (data management, digital collections, assessment) and had a nice mix of workshops, presentations, and even its very own THATCamp.

Photo of tacos from Austin Texas

Not breakfast tacos, but they were damn tasty.

It did, however, collide with the tenth anniversary of the Open Education conference in Park City, Utah. This is a community I care deeply about and I’ve made some great friends over the last three years I attended OpenEd. While my current professional relationship to this community is ambiguous, I still try to stay in touch with my colleagues and informally work on them on stuff and things. This meant that I have been paying attention to the  and I’m trying to keep up with the keynotes.

I am an introvert (surprise!) and my position at the library has lead me to a lot of points of introspection about my role and agency in my own communities: work, professional, societal. I have lately been thinking a lot about authenticity in its myriad forms and uses. I’ve also been thinking a lot about rhetoric–in higher education and in libraries.

There were a few messages from these conferences that solidified and articulated some of my own thoughts (and, admittedly, frustrations) about What Is Going On In Libraries and Education. I will likely iterate on some of tehse opinions and thoughts in the future, but for now… here’s what’s in my head.

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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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