beers, a love story

"11 - beer festival" by Dave Morris
“11 – beer festival” by Dave Morris

I drink beer because I’m a librarian. Or, more accurately, I started drinking beers with my library school classmates in grad school. Mainly because bars in Lexington (Kentucky) didn’t carry wine coolers or Zima. Yeah. It was that bad.

I remember my first NASIG conference in 2002. We were staying in dorm rooms and meeting in classrooms at the College of William & Mary. Back then, NASIG had a tradition of having an evening social with snack food and buckets of iced beer (and probably wine, too, but I definitely wasn’t drinking that then). One of my sharpest memories from the conference is of fishing out a Corona Light because it was all that was left by the last night of the conference. And discovering Purple Haze with Bonnie at the Green Leafe Cafe.

The next year we were in Portland, Oregon. I was introduced to many craft beers, and my journey towards becoming a beer snob was set.

Three years in Washington state taught me to appreciate well-balanced hoppy beer, which was hard to find my first year back on the East Coast. But I soon discovered Mekong, and began my now four-year romance with Belgian beers.

Most recently, I’ve discovered that I do like sour beers, and I suspect that is part of the reason why I’m incorporating more wine into my beverage consumption. That, and maybe the semi-regular meetups with a friend (also a librarian) at Virginia wineries.

Librarians. Who knew they were such lushes?

libday7: day 1

This was an odd day for me. Several of us loaded up in a van and two cars to go visit some of the libraries at the University of Virginia. We were mainly interested in how they are using the spaces, and in the renovations that have happened over the past 15-20 years.

By the end of the day, we had toured parts of Alderman Library, Brown Science & Engineering Library, Clemons Library, and the Scholar’s Lab in Alderman. We also spent some time with University Librarian Karin Wittenborg, who is responsible for raising funds and advocating for most of the renovations. It was an eye-opening, educational experience. And an exhausting one.

McGregor Room in Alderman Library
cell phone quiet booth
replacement for formerly staffed service desk
creativity in the Scholar's Lab

librarian day in the life #5

Electronic Resources Librarian, Academic Library

iced teaArrived, turned on my computer, and while it booted up, I went and got an iced tea from the café.

Processed new email and scanned a document that I don’t need to retain in paper.

Attended weekly department meeting. We were extra chatty today and went 15-20 min longer than normal.

Worked my way through the action item email messages due today, including updating a resource description on the website and responding to a few inquiries.

Discussed with a co-worker ways we could use GoodReads for the library staff book discussion.

Discussed QR codes and their usefulness/popularity with a co-worker. Used the opportunity to yet again show off how my Android phone is as spiffy (if not spiffier) than his iPhone. I reserve this for Apple fanboys only.

Remembered again that this is DILO librarian day and began this entry.

calendarCaught up on journaling accomplishments from the past three weeks. I’ll thank myself next year when I have to write my annual review. I normally try to do this at the end of each day (I use Memiary), but I’ve been lazy about it, and then overwhelmed by the backlog.

Continued working through today’s action items while chatting with a colleague via IM about the online resource renewal decision workflow/tool that I stole from her. Well, stole the concept, anyway. Learned about something else I can steal, too.

Planned out my project schedule for the week. Then left for lunch with a friend in the dining hall..

view from the deskBack from lunch and on the Main Service Desk for two hours. Tried to track down a phone number of someone in rural Virginia. Answered an IM question from a law student about borrowing a netbook. Notified building manager that a copier is out of paper. Directed a software question to the Help Desk. Directed a product trainer to the conference room. Directed users to the bound journals. Referred a business student to the business librarian. Checked out a netbook to a user. Looked up a book for an IM user. Read some RSS feeds. Smiled at people passing by the desk.

Back to my cube and sorting through the email that has come in since before lunch. Only one new action item out of the pile. Whee!

Played around with some wiki software options for a departmental intranet. Still haven’t found the right combination of features and function.

Was about to start in on a project when I noticed that there wasn’t a Technorati tag description for librarydayinthelife, so I pulled something together and submitted it. Rewarded myself with peanut butter crackers and a Coke Zero.

Finally got into my current project, which involves pulling together information about our database subscriptions so that we can easily review upcoming renewals well in advance of the deadlines. Tweaked the Access tables, queries, and reports, and then set to adding more data. Worked on this until it was time to go home.

memory, reunions, and being yourself

This weekend, I’m back in Harrisonburg, Virginia, for Homecoming weekend at my alma mater, Eastern Mennonite University. In fact, I am writing this courtesy of the as-yet-not login-required computers in the university library.

Except for the addition of a few more computers, and a small DVD collection where the reference books used to live, the library looks much like it did when I was a student here ten years ago. I think the chairs might be new. They’re more comfortable than I remember.

EMU Campus Center

Not that I remember many details of my college years. That’s the problem I’ve been noticing as I wander around, wondering if the person walking past me was a classmate or if they just look like someone I know. Even the people I’ve met who remember me are fuzzy in my mind. How did I know them then? Did we have a class together? Did we have mutual friends?

I’ve kept in touch with many of my college friends, but we were a small class, so I was acquaintances with most of the rest of them, or at the very least, I knew their name and what they looked like. And, I interacted with students in the other classes which came before and after me. All of this makes it difficult for me to remember just how I knew the people I am reconnecting with now.

In addition to all that, I’ve changed since college. Physically, I’ve put on a great deal of weight, I wear glasses, and my hair is much shorter. Socially, I’m more adept and personable (I think), and I’m less rigid in insisting that my views/philosophies are the only right ones.

I may not remember my old classmates in great detail, but I can’t assume they have as fuzzy memories of me. How do I convey who I am now when the ghost of who I was then still lingers?

Why do I feel that is important? It’s not as though we are a part of each other’s lives anymore and I need their acceptance in order to survive socially. I have gone on for 10 years without them, thankyouverymuch, and I can go on another 10 just the same. However, there is a part of me that craves acceptance, and no matter how much I grow stronger in myself, I still want everyone to like me.

*sigh*

I hope I’ll have gotten over this by our 20 year reunion, but for now, I should head over to the soccer game and see who’s there. Maybe if I show some school spirit it’ll make me seem more like one of them.

consuming music

I need to let myself really listen to the music I consume, rather than (to further the metaphor) mindlessly move my hand from bowl to mouth.

Last night, I went to see Missy Higgins at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. It’s probably the smallest venue she’ll be playing at in this area, given the sold out show and the number of folks trying to get tickets that day. We ended up with seats that had a good view of the whole stage. It was a blast!

About a month ago, I had given my friend, Holly, a copy of both The Sound of White and On a Clear Night, which apparently have not left her CD player since. For Holly, it was a strange experience to be at a concert for a (relatively) unknown artist and know every single song. For me, it was a wake-up call that I have been consuming too much music and not spending enough time on any one album to get to know it as well as I used to.

Even though I’ve been a fan of Higgins for about two years, I knew maybe a third to a half of the songs she played — the rest were vaguely familiar, but not old friends like they should have been by now. What kind of a fan am I? One with too much music and not enough time to listen to it all. A blessing, but also a curse.

When I was younger, I would listen to a single album on cassette tape for hours and hours. The best piece of electronic equipment in our house (in my opinion) was the stereo that had the cassette player that could reverse directions to play the other side without having to flip the cassette around. Now that I can afford to buy or cheaply trade for new music, my focus has shifted from completely absorbing an album because I wasn’t likely to get another for at least six months to amassing as many new albums as I can as quickly as I can.

I need to slow down. I need to let myself really listen to the music I consume, rather than (to further the metaphor) mindlessly move my hand from bowl to mouth. Pay attention to the lyrics, to the layers of sound, to the complexities of the composition. One brief run through the tracks while I am doing something else isn’t going to cut it.

movin’ across the country… again

Anyone need a new-to-you car?

As I indicated a while ago, I have a new job. Starting December 10th, I’ll be the Electronic Resources Librarian at the University of Richmond. They already have me in the staff directory, so it must be true. My time at Central Washington University has allowed me to grow and explore both professionally and personally, and it has given me the knowledge and experience I needed in order to make the decision about where I would like for my career to go.

One major thing has been the realization that I do not have any interest in participating in the tenure process, at least as it stands at Central. I am a practitioner first, and a scholar only in the most liberal sense of the word. I do have a desire to share my knowledge with anyone who is interested – I have had a blog for five years, and it’s not always just a bunch of naval-gazing posts about nothing – but the method of dissemination and the content of that knowledge is not what this university expects from its teacher/scholars, and I suspect that may be true elsewhere, as well.

I want to be a librarian. I want to come into my job every day knowing that the work I do will directly benefit my users. I do not want to spend time outside of my 40 hours worrying about whether or not I will have enough publications in journals no one actually reads (seriously – when was the last time you read a peer-reviewed library publication for anything other than a literature search for your own article or book chapter?) just so I can keep my job.

I can be “just” a librarian at the University of Richmond, and I’m really looking forward to that. I’m also excited about moving back to Virginia. When I left to go to grad school, I thought I’d be back soon. When that didn’t pan out, I gave up that dream. Now I’m going back, albeit not to Harrisonburg, but Richmond is close enough. Plus, I am closer to my family and friends, and it won’t cost me a $400 plane ticket to see them whenever I want to.

The moving process has begun, but I’m starting to freak out a little because I haven’t nailed down an apartment yet, nor have the movers responded to my queries. I do, however, have real moving boxes this time, and once I get some packing tape, I’ll be good to go with the daunting task of sorting through my stuff to determine what comes with me and what stays in Washington.

Anyone need a new-to-you car?

more music!

reviews of Elisa Peimer and Trio Mediaeval

In between all the moving tasks — Have I mentioned yet that I’m moving to Virginia? No? Well, I am. In December. More on that later. — I’ve found time to write a couple more music reviews. I currently have a DVD review and a book review that are nearly ready to go, followed by a product review, but I’m not sure if I’ll finish all of them before I leave for the Blog World Expo on Wednesday.

Elisa PeimerPull of the Moon [full review]

The album as a whole has a 1980s ballad rock feel to it. The production is definitely modern and rich enough in depth to stand up to the headphone test. It’s the arrangements that seem to be fixed in time with straight-forward percussion and lead electric guitar flourishes, and the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song structure.

Trio MediaevalFolk Songs [full review]

Until I listened to this album, I had not actively sought out Norwegian music, folk or otherwise. However, periodically a musical phrase would jump out as vaguely familiar. Often I found myself thinking of the collection of Anonymous 4 albums on my CD shelves.

In case you were wondering, I’m totally addicted to the Trio Mediaeval CD. I’ve had to force myself to listen to other things.

#5

Puss ‘n Cahoots: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown

Meh. I’ve been a fan of the Mrs. Murphy series from book one, and this is the first to disappoint me. The author spent more time describing the setting and the technical elements of saddlebred horse shows than on character development or suspense. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because most of the rest of the books take place in one area (Crozet, Virginia) and with some of the same characters throughout.

Brown usually has only a handful of newcomers to introduce and maybe one or two new locations. However, this time all of the action takes place in Kentucky, and the only constant characters are Harry, Fair, Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker. Everyone else is new, and frankly by the end of the story I could care less about what happens to them.

I guess this is one problem with long-running book series — there is an expectation that each book will be as good as or better than the last one, but sometimes the author can’t deliver on that promise.

An Interview with Susan Werner

“I believe that we can be a diverse society of extraordinary creativity and innovation and vitality and freedom, and those things are the best things that we can be.”

Susan Werner, PatriotMy introduction to the music of Susan Werner was in the fall of 1999 when a friend who produced a local acoustic music radio show lent me copies of Time Between Trains and Last of the Good Straight Girls. I was instantly enchanted with the sincerity and wit that Werner brings to her music. Her last album was a thematic collection of songs that sound like they are from the 20s and 30s, but are all orginal and new. Recently, Werner made available for download a song she describes as an alternative national anthem. “This is a song that takes the National Anthem and turns it on his head,” says Werner. “It’s Francis Scott Key meets Arlo Guthrie.” I had the pleasure of speaking with Werner about the song a few weeks ago.

Continue reading “An Interview with Susan Werner”

library orientation

The University of Virginia has an amusing student-created film for library orientation on their website. I visited the Alderman Library and the undergraduate library five or six years ago when I lived in Virginia, and it was neat to see them again. I remember that at the time, the coffee and snack bar in the entrance lobby was quite controversial and innovative. Now it has become so common to see them in major libraries that it is more unusual to find a university library without a coffee bar. [thanks tangognat]