I’m not afraid of change (except when I am)

As a serials librarian, change is in the nature of my work. Titles change, publishers change, URLs change — change is the norm. I stay flexible and try to move light on my metaphorical feet. Some days I float like a butterfly. Some days I fall flat on my face.

I’ve been thinking about — and simultaneously feeling excited and dreading — the big change that is coming to my work in the next year. We’re on the path to migrate from Voyager/Summon to Alma/Primo. It’s going to mean a huge shift in how I do my work, though what I do, essentially, will remain the same.

I’m looking forward to the new (and sometimes improved) tools I’ll be using to do my work, but I’m not looking forward to the process of learning how to use them. And that’s just one of the unknowns that is making me afraid of this change, even as I’m ready to run towards it.

I don’t know what I don’t know. And it’s such a huge undertaking that I’m feeling overwhelmed by that unknown. What I really want right now is for someone to hand me a list of every thing I need to do to prepare Acquisitions and Electronic Resources data for the migration, but no one can do that for me. I have to take the resources the vendor has provided, as well as any information I can gather from other libraries who have migrated from similar products, and make that list for myself.

It’s daunting. It’s scary. What if I mess up?

photo by Mike McKay

it’s gettin’ hot in herre

for all the olds like me who may not have been paying close attention to pop music in the turn of the century or watch Ellen

But I’m in my office in the library, so I’m not gonna take my clothes off. Also, this happens every year, so I’ve kind of come to expect it. Summer rolls around and our aging chiller just can’t take it and breaks. This year they seem to be taking it more seriously, but it might be too little too late for the thing. We’ll see.

Meantime, it’s busted again, and the original projection was that it would be out for the rest of the week, in part due to the holiday interrupting the repair schedule. Thankfully, that has been ramped up, and the word is that temperatures in the building should be returning to office normal by tomorrow evening. Those of us who can were already making plans to work elsewhere when the UL decided to close the building during the repairs, which was a sensible move.

However, until I chanced on a conversation with a colleague in ILL, it hadn’t occurred to me quite the level of privilege my job function provides me when it comes to doing my work outside of my assigned office space. My colleague felt her only options were to come to work in a building with internal temperatures in the upper 80s (30+ C) or take a precious vacation day she hadn’t planned to take. She didn’t have any of her day-to-day work to take home because all of it is location-based.

My other colleagues in access services were in similar binds. However, this isn’t the first time their supervisor has faced this issue before, and she quickly organized some online training module assignments for them to do remotely tomorrow while the building is closed. Smart! I will tuck that one away for when this (inevitably) happens again.

I took Facebook off my phone…

…and I’m kind of surprised and pleased by what happened.

Admittedly, it’s only been two days, and I’ve done this before (for different reasons), so I know I might eventually add it back. But for now, it’s doing what I had hoped and more.

I don’t have an endless scroll of posts and links and memes and videos to occupy my brain in the down times. I still have other social media apps, so there are plenty of things to occupy that space, but they aren’t nearly as prolific. Also, although I’m still on Twitter, I barely read it and usually only a subset of content when I do. (Come find me on Mastodon, if that’s your thing, though I’m not much more active there.)

The thing that surprised me, though, was a resurgence of the use of Pocket. I’ve started throwing links to essays and articles there for later reading as I peruse the scroll of social media elsewhere. Then, when I’m waiting in line, or have a few minutes before the next thing, or eating a meal alone, I have some handy reading material that I actually want to see.

I get “all caught up” on Instagram more quickly than I used to, and I’m trying to browse the Flickr app regularly, too, but it’s not a well designed.

When I do look at FB, it’s on a desktop browser with a plugin that filters out certain content. I mean, I know that one cousin loves right wing media and posting racist/homophobic memes, but thanks to the filter, I can remain ignorant on the details.

I find that in my time away from FB, not much had actually happened that needs my attention. I hope eventually I can settle back into the apathetic disinterest I had for it years ago.

I still have Messenger, though. Too many people I like use it instead of texting or email.

progress updates: January 2019

I didn’t make any resolutions or goals for 2019, per se, but I did have some lifestyle changes I want to make. Here’s how things went for the month of January.

Ragged Mountain Reservoir
Ragged Mountain Reservoir

In 2018, I didn’t use enough vacation leave and found myself in danger of losing days as my work anniversary month concluded. So, I crammed in some days off as my workload allowed. This is not ideal, and it is also an indication that something is off-kilter with my work/life balance. So, I decided that for 2019, I needed to plan some days off in advance so I’d actually use my vacation leave, since I rarely take actual vacations. So far, I haven’t used any of my leave time yet, but I have scheduled a long weekend in February and am taking Spring Break off in March, and have plans for May and July on the horizon. I’ll be looking ahead to other times of the year when I can take off a week or more without negatively impacting my workload.

snapshot of a Fitocracy month indicating workouts recorded

I tend to get really busy once the semester begins, because that’s when all my “extra-curricular” activities kick in. One thing that often gets de-prioritized is physical activity. So, for the month of January, I mapped out a workout schedule to fit around my regular obligations with a varied plan that would keep me from getting bored or using “recovery” as an excuse to not do anything. It’s worked, mostly, though it does require me to make some adjustments towards the end of the week if I haven’t also done a good job of getting to bed on time and sleeping enough. This process has been helpful for me to reach my goal of 219 workouts in 2019.

infographic for the YNAB principles

Midway through January, I decided to have a hard conversation with myself about my budget and long-term goals. This was in part due to a decision in early January to start seeing a therapist again, and the impact that would have on my budget. Despite making more money than I ever have or ever thought I could, I still manage to spend nearly all of it every month, living paycheck to paycheck. I had been trying to use Mint to make and stick to a budget in 2018, but that just wasn’t working. I’m giving the YNAB philosophy (and software) a try this time around, and it’s already helping me re-think how I budget and how I make spending decisions. If you decide to give it a try, too, I highly suggest reading the book and/or making use of the free webinars. On its own, the platform is okay, but it’s so much better if you understand the underlying system.

FY19 conferences, an update

I was very excited to finally have approval to attend the Timberline Acquisitions Institute this year, but turns out it’s the same weekend as the spring concert for my chorus. I thought about all the rehearsals and the music and the really cool things we’re doing for this concert, and I decided Timberline can wait another year.

As an alternative, I’m looking at the possibility of attending my first ELUNA conference. Since we’re planning to move to Alma, maybe, in the next year or two, it might be useful to look more deeply at what we can be doing to prepare for the transition, and what my department workflows might look like afterward.

2018 in music

a summary of my music listening in 2018

Last.fm has released their annual charts for users, I’m not surprised that Hinds​ topped my artist, album, and track charts. I was super obsessed with them last summer. Still love that album, but maybe not quite that much, although I am listening to it again while I write this post.

The report shows me listening the most on Sundays, which is kind of surprising because I do a lot of music listening at work, but not too surprising because I’m also quite often listening to new music on Sundays to prep for my radio show on Mondays if I haven’t been quite as on top of it as I would like to be, which is most of the time. 77% of the music I listened to last year was new-to-me (or at least newly scrobbled to last.fm from me, which is virtually the same thing at this point).

FY19 conferences

NASIG 2011
NASIG spelled out in foam blocks at the City Museum in St. Louis

Charleston Conference is in a couple weeks? I think? I can tell because all the vendors are including inquiries about meeting with me there in all of their correspondence, or making a point to contact me specifically about that. It’s times like this that I think I should set up an auto-responder:

“No, I won’t be attending that conference this year. However, I do have plans to attend NASIG and ____.”

This year, that blank is (hopefully!) going to be filled by the Timberline Acquisitions Institute. I keep checking the website regularly just so I don’t miss the registration notice.

twenty years

a red brick building with white stone foundation and staircase, with arches and windows
Northlawn dorm, where I lived for three years

I’m spending some time at my undergraduate institution this weekend. Since I moved back to Virginia in 2007, I’ve lived close enough to visit the town and friends there several times a year, though in recent years my calendar and aging pets has made this a more complicated process than it used to be. I have managed to make it back for each of my five-year reunions, as it happens, and the fourth one of those is tomorrow.

Twenty years. How has it been twenty years? Twenty-one years since I lived in the dorm pictured above and ate in the basement cafeteria. The women’s dorm is now co-ed, I learned with some dismay at my fifteenth reunion. I guess that’s progress of some sort.

I don’t regret my life path to this point, but it wasn’t what I expected when I graduated from college. Some vague pencil marks of the outlines match up, such as getting my graduate degree in library science and continuing to work in higher education. The specifics of where and what, and the things that now fill my everyday — I don’t know if I could have even imagined them back then.

I haven’t done the best job of keeping in touch with my college friends. Casual connections at best, passively keeping up with their lives to the extent that they share them on Facebook. I’ll reconnect with a few tomorrow, probably, and as with years past it will be pleasant but also vaguely awkward, as we try to rekindle connections over twenty years old, and none of us are entirely who we were then.

I’m feeling a mix of things as I think about the next day or so (I’m driving over this evening) ahead of me. There’s a bit of FOMO with not having made firm plans to meet up. There’s a bit of jealousy that so many of my college friends seem to have ended up in the same places and can maintain the connections on a more regular basis. There’s a bit of nostalgia for a more innocent time in my life before adult responsibilities fully kicked in. There’s the ever present desire to be included while feeling like I’m on the outside looking in — not straight enough, not Mennonite enough.

Taking a deep breath and re-centering myself, I hope that regardless of what happens this weekend, I am able to be fully me in all the ways I can be now, and that will be enough. I hope that I am able to rekindle a bit of the connections that were essential to my collegiate successes, and that this will truly feel like a homecoming.

greyscale photo of a group of students with two faculty members, all dressed in winter clothing
my traveling companions, taken before we left for a semester in Ghana in 1996

I did a thing yesterday

I spoke at the VIVA User Group meeting on some of the workflow and tools I use to gather information about our faculty’s scholarly output for an annual reception co-hosted by the Libraries and the Provost’s office. If you were there and want the slides/details of what I said, they’re now up on Slideshare with speaker’s notes. If you weren’t there and are curious, I hope you find it interesting/useful.

apathy in our fourth (fifth?) decade of the serials crisis

The 2018 periodicals price survey has been published, and it’s not going to tell you anything you didn’t know already if you have been paying any attention to the scholarly publishing industry. It is a gratifying read only in that it conveys the mix of pessimism, despair, and apathy that I feel at this point when we talk about the unsustainable pricing models for subscription resources in libraries. Or when I am using this data to support our annual budget request that I know will not be enough even if they grant it.

Sometimes I want to burn it all to the ground. Cancel everything with a price increase above CPI-W. But I can’t, because the only people it will hurt are students (faculty can and do get copies of anything they want from colleagues elsewhere). And the publishers know this. And they gleefully take more money from us.