have fun out there

softball
“softball” by tinatruelove

Exercise should be fun. That’s not to say it should be easy — if it’s easy, you’re not really doing anything. No, what I’m saying is that it should be fun. It should be something you look forward to doing, and not just look forward to having done.

I’ve participated in some fitness programs run by the gym at my workplace. These have been short-term programs meant to get the participants started on a path towards better fitness/lifestyles. I have found them very useful as a structured and goal-oriented accountability crutch, where the slightly competitive and also supportive nature of the program makes it harder for me to skip the workouts when I’m tired or busy.

However, after my fifth or sixth time through (I honestly don’t remember how many years I’ve done it now), I found myself in the odd situation of knowing almost as much as the trainer about what I should be doing, and in some instances, assisting my fellow participants on technique when the trainer was busy with someone else. I realized then that I didn’t need this crutch anymore.

Well, at least not when it comes to strength training. I’m all about the strength training. These days, I’m at the gym 4-5 times a week, primarily during the work week, lifting weights for 30-50 min and walking the track to finish off my daily step goal. I love it. Even when I’m the only woman over 22 in the weight room (often the only woman, period), and these college bros don’t quite know what to do with the fat, middle-aged woman who seems to know how the fly machine works.

I feel stronger when I’m at the gym. On days when it’s so tempting to get in the car and drive home after work, just a few reps will get the adrenaline going and all of a sudden that tired goes away for a little while. I feel like I could keep doing reps forever, until I hit the wall and it’s time to stretch.

Strength training is fun. There’s variety. I can focus on a specific muscle group on one day, or do a little with all of them. There are many different exercises to target specific muscle groups, and pieces of equipment to do them, so when I get bored with one, I can change it up for a while.

What’s not fun for me is cardio. Cardio is that necessary thing (or so they say) for burning fat. When I’m lifting weights, I’m putting effort behind it, so the heart rate goes up a bit, but not like it would for an aerobic exercise. I know I should incorporate cardio into my routine, but my options at the gym are so boring. Stationary bike, treadmill, and many variations on elliptical machines. The stair climber is right out. I could swim, but the hours and availability of the pool aren’t ideal for me, and it’s an extra hassle I haven’t felt motivated to tackle yet. Anyway, cardio: yawn.

That being said, I do like to do some athletic activities that involve an element of cardio in them. I play softball once a week about six months out of the year, weather permitting. I hike and bike when it’s not super hot or super cold out. Those are fun activities that I look forward to doing.

I figured out today that the one aspect of strength training I don’t enjoy — targeted core exercises — is one that I can kind of do with fun activities instead. One of the areas I focus on with core exercises are my lateral muscles, primarily because they help me have a stronger swing of the softball bat. You know what’s a fun exercise for lateral muscles? Swinging a softball bat.

This afternoon, I did several rounds (20 balls each) at the batting cage swinging right-handed and left-handed. This made me work both sides fairly equally. It also made me focus more on the ball and not just using muscle memory in my swing when I was batting left-handed (not my dominant side). I immediately noticed I was making better contact with the ball when I switched back to right-handed batting. Bonus! I did exercise that was fun and I got more out of it than I planned.

If exercise is chore for you, I my recommendation is to get out and try a bunch of things until you find the one that is fun. Then, just keep doing it.

new platforms! eek!

snapchatWhat does it say about library systems and tools that the initial response to trying a new thing is a general groan about having to teach a new platform? Our students are used to hopping on a new social media platform with minimal to no “instruction” every 6-8 months. Our systems and tools should be that intuitive. We shouldn’t need to “teach” them. They should be discovered and used without our active intervention.

ER&L 2016 notes

I finally posted my notes for the ER&L 2016 conference. I’ll get to the NASIG 2016 conference notes soon, I promise.

One of my goals in the next year is to make better use of this platform for sharing my thoughts. Social media in general, and Twitter in specific, have become places where I post the hot takes in 140 characters or less. Sometimes, I should really take a breath and flesh out the thought into something more substantial.

ER&L 2016: Access Denied!

outlier
“outliers” by Robert S. Donovan

Speakers: Julie Linden, Angela Sidman, and Sarah Tudesco, Yale University

Vendors often use the data from COUNTER turn away reports as marketing tools to convince a library to purchase new content.

How are users being turned away from the content? How are they finding it in the first place? Google/Google Scholar, PUBMED, and publisher platforms that don’t allow for limiting to your content only are generally the sources.

Look for patterns in the turnaway data. Does it match the patterns in your use data and the academic year? Corroborate with examples from access issue reports. This can lead to a purchase decision. Or not.

Look for outliers in the turnaway data. What could have caused this? Platform changes, site outages (particularly for content you do license but appears on the turnaway report), reported security breaches, etc. You can ask for more granular data from the vendor such as turnaways by day or week, as well as IP address. You can ask the vendor for contextual information such as platform changes/issues, and more pointedly, do they think the turnaways are coming from real users.

Combine the data from the turnaway reports with ILL requests. Do they match up? This might mean that those titles are really in demand. However, bear in mind that many users will just give up and look for something else that’s just as good but available right now.

Analysis checklist:
IF you see a steady pattern:

  • Check holdings for access to the content
  • Consider the access model (MU/SU)

IF you see outliers:

  • Consider outside events

ASK the vendor for more information

  • Can you provide more granular data?
  • Can you provide contextual information?
  • Do you think this represents real users?

Audience Q&A:

Journal turnaways can include archival years for current subscriptions that aren’t included.

One very aggressive vendor used the library’s purchase request form to flood them with requests from users that don’t exist.

How are the outliers documented? Hard to do. Vendors certainly hang on to them, even when they acknowledge they know this isn’t legit.