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By the Numbers?

http://www.markpneyer.com/wp/2009/08/13/a-mathematical-model-of-happiness/

By the numbers, I don’t think so!

I’ve compiled annual reports and statistics; this week  I am figuring budget cuts and real-life budget woes with a spouse laid-off…is this the measure of my work and my life? I don’t think so.

My annual report at work didn’t really tell the story. The statistics (compiled, configured and calculated every which way!) seem, well, delusional.  I usually find beauty in numbers, formulas and graphs; but, faith in numbers, and much else, eludes me this summer.

I was directed to an article detailing a study on  academic Libraries and their ROI (return on investment.) From the story, ”ROI is one tool for measuring and demonstrating the value of the library,” I’m not sure many people know what ROI is and just how would we measure it?  I know that I did not mention ROI in my annual report. But again, the whole report detailed who we serve and how we serve them…with instruction, resources and reference.

What is the return on investment of a day, of a job, of a life? Can numbers even begin to tell the story? I don’t think so.

How do you measure job satisfaction? How do you measure friendship? How do you measure love?  I celebrated a birthday last month and am now obsessed by these bad middle years. I live in the DC area and have been devastated by the heat and the commuting…so many days over 90 degrees, the hottest month in history, the longest and maybe worst summer of my life!

Yet, in this hard summer there have been visits from good friends and family;  I’ve heard beautiful music outdoors; I picnic-ed with nieces and nephews; I spent time with my sons; I was soundly beaten at Boggle by my darling daughter-in-law. I spend lots of time watching the man I love struggle –  I admire his fortitude and good humor. I have lost my fortitude…if you see  it, please return it!

What is the measure? Drops, buckets, or oceans of anxiety? Comments, columns or rants from every media direction on any subject you choose? Giggles, chuckles or guffaws at the plans we make and find thwarted at every turn? All of the above… and more.

This summer doesn’t tell the story of my life. I will continue to just do good work, hold his hand and look for moments of grace. As for measuring…being here, being there, being in the moment is my only measure.

(I can hear you rolling your eyes at me and my too many ellipses, my son!)

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ALA DC 2010

Nomenclature for non-Librarians reading this blog:

    ALA is the acronym for American Library Association
    ACRL – Association of College and Research Libraries, division of ALA
    LITA – Library and Information Technology
    YALSA – Young Adult Library Services Association
    AASL – American Association of School Librarians

2010 ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC – WOW…that was a big – hot – conference [25,444 attendess and temperatures seldom below 95 degrees for the 6 day conference.]  Here is where you will get all the  “good stuff” links wise. I guess you had to be there to actually get the good stuff if the multiple bulging bags of books and the lines in the mail/shipping  center were any indication of getting good stuff. The exhibition area was huge, unwieldly and like another planet without basic provisions like food and water and coffee!  I navigated with due caution (and probably missed out on lots of good stuff – fondly known in Librarian parlance as “swag”. ) I never learned how to do swag in Library school. By Monday afternoon, after attending an author “tea” I did figure out that if I stood in the hall after the talks the publisher reps just handed me books – then I got them signed and I will give them away to deserving homes – after I read them!

It looked to me – a “newbie” first time attender – like the conference was many things to many people. Will Manley saw it this way – book people and machine people.

It was an organizational meeting grounds. I spoke with other Librarians who attended and were on ALA committees and they used much of the times attending ALA meetings. I did sit in on the YALSA  Best Fiction for Young Adults meeting and realized… ah ha, that’s how they pick the best books lists.

The conference was a showcase for best practices in libraries – but I have to say I was somewhat dismayed by most of the Librarians presentation styles. Bad powerpoints abounded. I tried to stick with my division of ALA – ACRL; but, discovered the LITA presentations had much more thought,  content and presentation panache. [More on the best, most thoughtful session of ALA DC 2010 Top Tech Trends soon.] Some intrepid Librarians know that presenting the  message is important and they practice with hilarity at Battledecks!

Be inspired at your conference, seemed to be another theme for me at the ALA Conference. I caught some (but unfortunately, not all) of the big name speakers. Toni Morrison spoke Saturday evening and was quietly eloquent. I did get to hear Mr. Eppo van Nispen tot Sevenaer (Director of DOK Delft – The Most Modern Library in the World) and so appreciated his F^5 approach to design and services. [Stay tuned and I will link my presentation describing this – here, soon] See him  at  TedxRotterdam 2010 here.

I was reminded everywhere during the conference…  Libraries are all about FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY! Librarians are teachers -all the time- and information literacy is a challenge and a calling. But, I always knew that Libraries are all about READING!

And though I attended sessions on Mobile Reference, eBooks, Marketing your Library services, and Tech Trends, as well as, talking and networking with our vendors like a good academic librarian should – I loved the time I got to spend with the authors and editors who were so eloquent and passionate about their books and reading.

Don’t forget Libraries are all about READING!

“There is nothing more beautiful than a beautiful story.”  (Eppo’s father!) ALA DC 2010 was the story of Libraries in all their organizations, contradictions, beauty and necessity.

Netbook blogging

I have a new techno-toy, a netbook. Now, I will type on the train. Will it make my writing any better? Will it make my commute any better? I’ll let you be the judge of the first and I’ll keep you posted on the second. I hope it will add to my blogging prowess ?!

I had a recent comment on one of my blog posts that I should include more video links in my blog, because there is too much to read. I started this whole blogging adventure four years ago – to improve my writing. So, if I find a good video, which enhances the message of the blog, I will put it in. But, for the most part, this is a blog of prose and if I’m inspired and very, very lucky…poetry.

I also hope to read books on my netbook – ebooks and audio books I download from my favorite public library. (The truth is I have never met a public library I haven’t liked.) The Fairfax County Public Library uses the Overdrive software to deliver ebooks, so I will begin with that. I also hope to be printing a lot less – so I can now read journal articles on the train on the netbook, articles about how to help students and faculty with mobile literacies. Ah, biblio-irony!

In this increasingly mobile- technology-enhanced  world, I am now a mobile writer and reader. But, I keep thinking how do we afford all this mobility?  And what are mobile thoughts? And what are my mobile aspirations?

Mobile posts to come…

Reading…the gift

Reading is a gift to me. It can save me (and often does) from despair. My life is in major upheaval at the moment – packing a house, moving trucks and job searching…need I say more? But this weekend I had a great reading experience, so I feel a little better about things in general.

Bod shrugged. “So?” he said. “It’s only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead.”

“Yes.” Silas hesitated. “They are….”

Bod (Nobody Owens) and Silas talk of life and death in Neil Gaiman’s Newberry Award winning book The Graveyard Book. Seemingly a retelling of the Jungle Book story – though, set in a graveyard. How does Gaiman think of these things? Genius.

“…And they are for the most part, done with the world. You are not. You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

I am gently reminded..life is full of potential.