Where did I ever come up with the idea that there might just be a day at my job where I was comfortable? It is never going to happen.
Almost four years ago, we moved to the DC area. A new environment, a new commute, a new job will add stress. But, I assumed the stress would lessen as time went on. Not so!
I made mistakes. I hope I learned from them. I continue to make mistakes – new ones I hope. I was reminded of this reading a Maria Shine Stewart blog post If You’re Perfect, Don’t Read This.
“I suspect that if one is not making a few mistakes on campus or off, a learning curve may not be steep enough or one is staying within a comfort zone, avoiding risk.”
Universities and Libraries are also in NO COMFORT zones these days. Changes in library collections, services, and the increasingly accelerating rate-of-change … of data, of technology, and of information make for most uncomfortable working situations.
“It is only by ongoing practice, with all the trial and error that entails, that a wider field of vision on campus might be attained.”
I couldn’t find my comfort zone these days if it reached out and bopped me on the head!
Gene Kranz ’51-sporting his white vest – entering assembly in Sullivan Center at CCHS 11/28/2012
I had the pleasure of spending the day with Gene Kranz ’51 – Central Catholic High School graduate, NASA Flight Director and Apollo 13 Tiger Team leader. As he spoke in classrooms and to student groups and met students in the hallways, I often felt he was speaking to me.
Gene Kranz visited the CCHS Space Room that is home to his NASA Ambassador of Excellence award – a moon rock. But, as I listened to Gene Kranz speak throughout the day, his words are what I carry back home with me.
Aren’t we all so blessed to have people like Tom Clark and his company, SFC Graphics; the Hafner family; Habitec; and Tom and Lou Ann Kress and their family – all so generous in providing the “Moon Room” as inspiration to our Irish family?
Mr. Kranz is part of our Central Catholic Irish family and he inspires me every day. He inspires with his heroic adventures as part of NASA and space history. He inspires with his life’s faith and his life’s work. He often signs copies of his book Failure is Not an Option with the phrase Aim High!
I encourage the administration and staff of CCHS to Aim High! when the day to day duties seem small and contentious. Remember great days at CCHS, as when Gene Kranz visits.
In a science classroom, a student asked Gene Kranz how he felt when the Apollo program ended. He replied, “I felt like I was kicked in the gut. I had to suck it up and go on to the next thing, because life changes and that’s how progress is made.”
I encourage the hardest working, dedicated and inspiring teachers at CCHS to Aim High! Expect great things from each and every student. You inspire students every day.
I encourage all of the students at Central Catholic – today’s students and all alumni – to Aim High! Look beyond this week’s homework and next week’s test and during all of life’s days with their blessings and challenges.
Gene Kranz was asked, “Who was the most influential person in your life?” He told the story of meeting his wife, Marta. He said, while his work was important and time consuming, the team he and his wife Marta built – his family – was the most important team in his life.
This very busy Fall semester, I barely keep up reading my daily email alerts from ASEE First Bell, Inside Higher Ed, Wired Campus and Scholarly Kitchen. I become increasingly anxious every day as I scan the headlines – the death of higher ed; eBooks are the end of the book; MOOCs; keeping up with gadgets; teaching digital millennials – and then skim the articles that I think have some resonance in my daily life as a multi-branch science librarian. My brain is truly a giant cloud of tags and nebulous half-formed ideas.
Luckily, I was rescued this morning by my RSS feeds. I had concentrated time to read and am a better person for reading from the important (to me) RSS feeds:
From more than 10 years of reading Library blogs, I always check in with two school librarians that transcend their day jobs and continue to speak to information trends and educational management issues:
Doug Johnson at the Blue Skunk blog and yes, I do bring my own devices to work, it makes me more efficient as I travel between building to have my own technology – laptop and tablet – with me. (No, work did not pay for these, it took me three years to get efficient!) BYOD – to work
Joyce Valenza from the School Library Journal and NeverEnding Search blog reminded me to get back to this great online conference that I paid for and just haven’t had time to watch all the session – yet! Library 2.012 archive posted
YES! Someone has written about my nebulous ideas that have been niggling at me just beneath the surface of my consciousness:
I have been trying to write this post about reinvention for a few weeks. Every time I write it I get depressed. How many times, in one lifetime, does one person have to reinvent themselves? It can be rejuvenating, but it often is exhausting and stressful.
This makes me laugh…every time! If my very prosaic Dad had believed in witchcraft – which he never ever would – his familiar would have been a duck. When he left so suddenly, I was a high school Librarian in Toledo, Ohio. So, Dad, what would you say about my reinvented life here working in Washington DC at the Catholic University of America and living amongst Engineers once again?
Our lives were upended in 2008 by a lost job – as were so many! During the next 6 months, we reinvented our life – new jobs, new location, new house, new modes of travel and new challenges. I haven’t recovered yet, can you tell?
When I took the test – for myself and then again for my husband – our scores were well over 300
OVER 300 POINTS: This score indicates a major life crisis and is highly predictive (80%) of serious physical illness within the next 2 years
Adapted from Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, (1967). Vol. 11, pp. 213-218
Yet, during that stressful time in 2008, we had the opportunity to work on a national campaign. We walked neighborhoods in Ohio and felt like it was important to make a stand and make a difference. On election night 2008, fellow campaign workers came by our house after 11PM, just to enjoy a sense of new possibilities with us. That was an unexpected moment possibility for a better future. My husband began his new job in the DC environs the same week President Obama did. I followed by March 2009.
The past three years have been a struggle – I’m sure President Obama feels the same. You try something to make things better, and then you re-evaluate. Then you try again. Along the way you have big and small successes – and lots of times that are not successful. You lose people, you lose faith, and sometimes you lose perspective. But, you persevere, because that’s what you learned from your Dad and Mom.
You try to recognize the great gifts of grace and unexpected pleasure when they happen. I do feel that grace when the bells of the Basilica ring and echo with my Dad’s laughter. I feel that grace when I am surprised to hear the haunting melody and words of Somewhere from West Side Story – at a concert at the Kennedy Center celebrating JFK’s 50th Inaugural Anniversary or on a hot summer night concert encore by Idina Menzel at Wolf Trap.
I feel that grace whenever we travel to see beloved faces of friends and family – and even better – when they visit us. I feel that grace every time I see the faces of my children.
What’s the difference between reinvention and change?
I believe in working hard and always trying to make things better. But, when do you just give up?
You don’t. You find new ways to go forward even if faith is weak.
At this point in my meanderings I can hear my sister-in-law Mary Lou yelling at me ….BRUCE… dreams will not be thwarted…faith will be rewarded…
Well, Big Wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
Oh, meet me in a land of hope and dreams
Well, this train carries saints and sinners
This train carries losers and winners
This train carries whores and gamblers
This train carries lost souls
I said, this train, dreams will not be thwarted
This train, faith will be rewarded
This train, hear the steel wheels singing
This train, bells of freedom ringing
Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen, LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS is the tenth track on his 2012 album, Wrecking Ball.
LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS was written in 1998 or early 1999,
and debuted live with the E Street Band on 18 Mar 1999 in Asbury Park, NJ.
Sometimes, Bruce – though very good! – is not enough. I need a new focus.
There is a quote attributed to the futurist Alvin Toffler that captures this new reality: In the future “illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.” Any form of standing still is deadly. Friedman
Friedman’s final phrase – investments in our people […] are more important than ever – speaks to me.
Maybe I will never get my ducks in a row. But, I will remember that any form of standing still is deadly, I will invest in people, I will teach. I will recognize and value the unexpected pleasure and laugh whenever possible.
There’s a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us
There’s a time for us
Some day a time for us
With time to spare
Time to learn
Time to care
We’ll find a new way of living
We’ll find a way of forgiving
There’s a place for us
A time and place for us
Hold my hand
And we’re halfway there
Hold my hand
And I’ll take you there
A friend dies unexpectedly, and so this road trip is undertaken; harder than expected in many ways, but doable – necessary, messy and complicated – like life. I love my husband and my sons and through them I am deeply in love with some Boy Scout Troops. Life is complicated.
I have seen up close the lives changed by caring BSA leaders. Boys grown to men demonstrating personal growth and responsibility; and life-long friendships this organization fosters. Living with three men in my household, I also appreciate those life-long friendships.
The BSA troop we traveled to support this weekend – after the untimely death of our friend, an assistant scoutmaster who died at Scout Camp – is one such troop. Scout leaders are not perfect. It is in their humanness – quirks, humor, love of camping – that they model the Scout oath for their young men they mentor.
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
“I will do my best.” On his last day of life, our friend looked across camp at another troop and saw a young man not having a good scout camp experience. So, he invited the young man to come fishing with his own troop. Our friend taught the young man how to fish, and congratulated him on his catch. Our friend heard taps and scout vespers on the last night of his life.
Softly falls the light of day,
As our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask,
“Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared,
Everything to Be Prepared?”
We heard taps played Saturday afternoon for our friend, as the American flag was folded by a joint USN and BSA Honor Guard. He did his best. In the experiences of his life he thought his daily tasks included service to his country, service to his BSA troop, service to children and young men.
Life is complicated. Good men who model doing their best for others – helping other people at all times – we support this.
I’d rather be dancing with my whiteboards than writing my annual report! Good song lyrics, don’t you think? While our students are away we are re-purposing yet another library space (my 3rd such project in 3 years on the job.) This summer we are transferring serials to storage and adding more flexible study space in our Physic s Library while improving online access and resources. We are trying to find the right balance for our campus community between the physical library and the digital library. Because it is Physics – whiteboards (magnetic and movable and useful as space dividers) are a must for all those endless equations. They make me smile.
It seems as if I am not the only one that struggles during this end-of-semester season with performance evaluations and report writing. Veronica Wells, from the ACRLog post Reflections on Reflecting suggests we ask the following questions – not just once a year, but more often :
What went well?
What did not go well?
What is something that I should think about for next time?
I like thinking about our campus libraries as small embassies that are remote from the main campus library but ambassadorships of resources and services for all of the campus community. In library parlance it is called embedded librarianship. In this time of financial turmoil, and being good stewards, we will be discussing the feasibility of campus branch libraries. Wherever and however we serve our campus community we can be rich hubs of information and service as noted in Academic Librarians as Campus HubsbyJoshua Kim.
After all my multitude of statistics duly reported – circulation statistics, reference statistics, instruction statistics – I know that the numbers do not tell the whole story. How do we measure our users own heroic journeys, or our service to them on their quests? As a librarian who serves in multiple buildings on a campus, I really should measure my year in steps between libraries. But instead I tend to take the measure of myself in people I meet on those walks across campus.
How do we measure “the treasure kindness” as Maria Shine Stewart writes about in her essay Every Nook and Cranny of all who serve our campus community? Is that in anyone’s annual report?
Thank you! , Michael Edson – Director, Web and New Media Strategy with the Smithsonian Institution – for reminding me of something I read long ago and need to remember everyday. Our library users are heroes on their own epic journeys and we need to help them – like, can I be Samewise Gamgee to your Frodo Baggins? – help them!
I had the pleasure of hearing Michael Edson preach – Come, Let Us Go boldly Into the Present, My Brothers & Sisters – at CiL2012. In fact, he “saved” the conference for me. I can learn what I need, but I need to feel that what I learn and teach matters…call it big picture, call it inspiration, I know it when I experience it. And, sadly, not every keynote is worthy. But. Michael Edson lit a spark that still glows in me and for that I salute him.
As we celebrate April icons like baseball, poetry, and libraries, remember the everyday heroes we serve – let’s help them on their information quests!
Computers in Libraries 2012 – Day 1 was a fun one. I met new people and talked and exchanged cards with many. I checked in at the exhibits, especially with all my science vendors, and I asked everyone of them to consider new funding models – pricey subscriptions are not sustainable in this library culture.
Q: What books have you recently read? How do they stand out?
A: 1. Paul Fournel, La Liseuse, a charming dissection of the state of publishing in Paris, organized like a sestina. 2. Roy Harris, Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein (third attempt: this time it made sense to me, and I got right to the end). 3. Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, umpteenth time (because I am teaching it this coming semester), a book that “stands out” in every imaginable way—for its size, its complexity, its emotional intensity, its fantastic range of vocabulary, its images, its vast stretches of boredom, its quantity of sheer piffle, its moments of drama, its goodheartedness, its naïveté, and its constant reminders of almost every book that has been written since.