Got Stress?

Information can be stress inducing, don’t you think? There can be too much information, or too little information. It can come at you too fast or, sometimes, too frustratingly slow. It can be good, scholarly, peer reviewed information; or very, very biased information. And, maybe, the  most stress inducing factor of all, is the rate of change of information and how we access that information.

I am in the information business at an academic library and the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester is well underway with lots of stress. I tell my engineering first-year students that they need to be project managers of their own information. I should practice what I preach.

I look for guidance and wisdom from others about how to manage my stress and information. CUA colleague, Bruce Rosenstein, posted on 7 Self-Management Tips for the New School Year.  Well, I have already failed miserably on his first tip – maintain your health – with the “I’m back at school” bout of bronchitis. I do agree profoundly about reading and keeping your mind agile with the flow of ideas. Blogging helps me do that. I am always looking for the sense of meaning (while enjoying the ironic idiocy of human endeavors – personal and public!) I would add to Bruce’s list that I like to develop a short list of broad goals to focus on for the semester, so that during the day to day workload, I can always glimpse the bigger picture in the distance. There is that looking for meaning thing again.

I have noticed that stress is, well, everywhere. The CUA Office of Human Resources sponsored a series of “stress management” workshops this past summer. I was too busy to attend – I need to work on that! Last weekend, my pastor’s weekly letter was all about stress. He notes that you should ” … Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”  This week I am lucky to be working with first-year students who aren’t  jaded yet – and they thought it was fun to find journal articles. [Yet, they are stressed after and between classes because dorm space is tight on campus this Fall. It makes for full libraries, though, which is a good thing!]

I barely scratched the surface with all my classes – teaching them about journal access and databases (most with new interfaces and numerous Web 2.0 tools like RSS and TOC alerts.) And, you try explaining the state of scholarly press and open access movements,  to faculty and students  – there’s some stress!

Information – and the tools to access that information – continue to change at a rapid rate. My RSS aggregator of choice  – Bloglines – is closing down October 1; forcing my move to Google Reader. It  is no easy task to keep up with the information I need for my job.  I am surprised  to read that Twitter is now the news channel of choice. I don’t think that reading tweets is deep enough reading to let the ideas flow. Yet, I wonder if that will change with the news that Twitter is revamping the site to  include media links. I use Twitter for “news feed” – science, libraries, authors, schools and universities, sports – during the day. I also use Twitter to feed my users about new and exciting things (well, I think nanotechnology and books about infrastructure are fun!)  in the CUA Science Libraries. But, I still want to read longer articles from blogs and reports and in-depth analysis, which I find from my RSS feeds. Though, I am a little stressed out reading the new ACRL report Value of Academic Libraries.

This begs the question – are blogs dead? Well, read Thomas Friedman today about blogging and China and see if blogs can be the voice of a people?

From my RSS feeds this week, I like Will Richardson’s thoughtful and subversive blog – here he links to a Smithsonian article “Reading in a Whole New Way”; and Stephen  Downes  linked to a useful post about workplaces and generations and stress.

How’s your stress? What are you focusing on this semester?

Read something fun every day and I bet you will feel better.

[Source: Asking Good Questions – article and image from]


About Kimberly Hoffman

Twitter: KMH_nowinVA
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