Why I Bike

ImageRiding your bike is fun, slightly dangerous sometimes, and good for the environment. In about a month, I’m going to take my first trip abroad to Amsterdam. From there, I’ll be participating in Cycling for Libraries where we’ll be riding bikes from Amsterdam to Brussels, stopping at libraries along the way. I am beyond stoked. We’ll also be stopping in Brugge for a day!

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Ha! I couldn’t resist.

Cycling, seeing libraries, talking about libraries, and hanging out with 99 other library people sounds like a great vacation to me. In order to prepare, I’ve been riding my bike to work. I find it’s a lot easier to incorporate physical activity into my everyday life because I am lazy and wouldn’t do it otherwise.

As I commute to work on my bike, I’ve been reflecting on what I really enjoy about it. First, I value the quiet time that I get on the way to work. It’s just me and the road (and a bunch of cars), I get to think my thoughts and just be outside for awhile. The fresh air is nice before sitting in a freezing cold library all day. Is it the golden rule of all libraries to be freezing? Seems that way. Second, I get to work a lot faster on bike than on bus. Hard to beat that. Third, it’s just good for me physically and mentally. I feel a lot better by the end of the day. I’m sure the endorphins help.

It took me a while to acclimate to cycling in Chicago. I grew up in a mid-sized town in CA, where people really like cycling a lot. There are lots of bike lanes and not so many buses and cars. Chicago is a big city, I never saw myself as an urban cyclist, still don’t really. I rode my bike downtown once and was terrified of being run over by a double-decker tour bus. However, I just had to practice being on the road and remember that the same road rules apply here as they did in that mid-sized town. I’m doing okay! Now to practice riding with a large group…

I hope to have more updates as I venture on my trip. If anyone has tips on touring, riding in large groups, or places to check out in Amsterdam, I’m all ears.

Eating Gluten Free in Indy

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It’s the Hoosier state! What’s a Hoosier? No one knows.

I went to grad school and lived in Indianapolis for a couple of years. I’m actually excited to be going back next week for ACRL 2013. I’ve made many friends in the area, and of course I am looking forward to seeing many of my librarian colleagues from around the country. There’s no shortage of guides of things to do or see in Indy. For a quick peek check out Meagan’s guide to Circle City Eats, Willie and Rhonda’s guide to shops, and John’s guide to walking and bike trails.

I’m going to put myself in the shoes of a conference attendee who probably won’t have access to a car, needs to find places to eat near the conference center, and wants gluten free options. Just so you know, there are a lot of chain restaurants in downtown Indy. For more unique and local fare, you’d probably have to leave the downtown area. However, if you’re starving and without a car, you can’t be picky. You just eat where you can that’s close enough and has options for your needs. I feel you, and I’m here to help. I also highly recommend following the Indy Food Truck Twitter, especially their list of all the food trucks in Indy. You can see who’s going to be downtown and where. It’s a great resource. On to the list:

Restaurants

India Garden – Meagan mentions this place in her guide. I just called them to ask about their gluten free options and they said that they did have them, then promptly hung up on me. Lots of vegetarian options too! It’s a buffet, the service is okay, and I’m totally going to eat there at least once. In general, I just avoid naan and deep fried stuff there. They do list ingredients on the dishes which is helpful.

Yat’s – If you are up for a little walk, this place has quick, good food. The gluten free options are the white chili chicken, and some bean and sausage dish. You can always ask, and make sure to tell them to leave the bread off your plate.

Scotty’s Brewpub – It’s a local chain, with burgers, beers, and a gluten free menu. Pretty good, I would recommend this place to anyone who is thirsty and wants something filling to eat. They’re really accommodating with the gf stuff.

Ram Brewery – They also have a gluten-free menu. The HackLibSchool meet-up is here on Friday April 12 from 7pm-? The food is okay, but it’s a big place that can hold large groups. Good for group dinners and meet ups.

PF Changs – Chinese-ish food that has gluten free options.

Chick-fil-a (in the Circle Center Mall) – Okay, I know, controversial; but they have gluten free choices. Generally speaking, the mall food court has a lot of fast food options. Not saying I recommend that everyone eat at the mall, or at a corporation that supports hate groups, but it is an option. Do what you will, I’m not judging.

Weber Grill – I’ve never eaten here, but here’s a gluten free menu.

Duo’s Food Truck – Vegan and gluten free options! The cafeteria is not so close to the convention center (it’s a short drive away), but they have a food truck that does come downtown. Follow their twitter feed to see where they’ll be.

ImageCaveman Food Truck – For you paleo and gluten free folks, I present this meat truck. From their site, “Caveman Truck  is one of the first paleo / primal food truck concepts in the nation.” Ron Swanson approved (probably). Follow them on twitter too!

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How about a drink with egg whites?

You guys don’t need help with where to drink, but I’m also going to give a shout out to The Libertine. Good, strong drinks. The cure for what ails you. Plus, all the bartenders look like the cast of Newsies, minus Christian Bale. Not bad right?

Visiting Indiana is not about being hungry. I hope this helps those who are gluten free, or just want to know what’s available to them. If anyone is going to be at ACRL next Tuesday (4/9) and is going to be at the convention center, I’ll be at the info desk, ready to provide tips on places to go. Stop by and say hi!

Voting on ALA’s Dues Increase Proposal: Yes or No?

There’s been plenty of buzz around libraryland about the ALA elections in the past couple of months. Yesterday, I finally got my ballot and have given much thought as to who I wanted to vote for, for ALA President (Go Courtney!) and also ALA Councillors At Large (another debate on the number of At-Large Councillors rages somewhere on Facebook). When I opened up the ballot to vote, the first proposal made me pause. It says:

“MEMBERS’ ATTENTION IS ALSO CALLED TO THE QUESTION OF A DUES ADJUSTMENT. YOUR VOTE IS REQUESTED BELOW:

Should ALA establish a five-year personal dues adjustment mechanism not to exceed the percentage change in the national average Consumer Price Index (CPI) beginning in September 2013 running through September 2017?”

After doing some close reading, I believe this is a vote on the process of how the ALA  executive board reviews membership dues. If the amount were to be above the CPI average, then Council would vote on it, as well as membership. Increase in dues is inevitable, so right now we are voting on the process of how it’s done (correct me if I read this wrong).

I tweeted my question to get input from the public and got a huge variety of responses about this potential “personal dues adjustment”. Typically, the knee-jerk reaction to anything that talks about a dues increase is to vote no, but I wanted to hear from others on how they felt. I’ll try my best to sum up the different points that people made.

How would that money be used?

Someone had commented that as much as ALA has tried to do for the profession, it was the staff that bore the brunt of the burden. The ALA staff are pretty great, and the people I’ve worked with directly from ALA have been so supportive of the work that we do as librarians. I really value that and an increase might allow them to do more. To help justify this, the proposal states “This dues adjustment mechanism will allow ALA to augment valuable work on its many ALA 2015 strategic initiatives including library advocacy, federal legislation, intellectual freedom, diversity, digital content, community engagement, online continuing education, and member engagement..”

Can the average librarian afford that?

My initial concern of tying due increases to CPI, is that the CPI may not accurately reflect increases in a librarian’s salary. I had a lively discussion with fellow librarians about the benefits and disadvantages of this. One benefit is that the increases would be fairly low amounts, maybe a few dollars a year over the next five years, instead of a large jump all at once. The dues are also tied to CPI, vs. an arbitrary number which makes the amount in increase tied to a realistic standard of living.

But I also heard anecdotes about how rare it was for a librarian to get a raise, or even find an entry-level job; which makes it harder for people to vote yes on something like this. Eric Phetteplace found some statistics from the Current Population Survey which he put in a google doc. Why the sudden 13% increase in salary from 2011-2012? No one could really tell. Is that accurate? The data says one thing, but people are saying they haven’t gotten raises in a long time. The cost of ALA currently is already a strain on some people, so an increase of any kind causes more financial stress.

Increasing dues would turn away new and current members

ALA needs membership to function. We make up many of the committees through ALA, we pay for conferences, workshops, classes, and membership. If there weren’t people, ALA wouldn’t exist. An increase could turn new members and current members away. Many questioned if they get enough in return for what they pay.

Why even be a member of ALA?

Several people mentioned to me that they have dropped membership completely because they felt that they didn’t get enough in return. Some are working outside of the field, and so they don’t see how being a member would help them. Others are questioning their own involvement in the organization. How much is participating in committee work really going to benefit their home institution or even ALA? Can someone benefit from the networking aspects of conferences without actually being an ALA member? These are all valid questions, some I have even asked myself as a newer librarian.

The question of why someone should belong to ALA, really translates to the value ALA has for our profession. ALA will continue its work as long as it has members. Abby Johnson wrote a great post called “ALA is Not Your Mom” a couple years ago and I think it’s still relevant as discussions around this ballot proposal arise. Getting involved helps the organization to change, but I think it’s hard to even see what difference one committee member can make sometimes. ALA is a big organization, any change that one person can try to make can take a long time. Sometimes, we just don’t have that time.

My Thoughts

I do see value in the work that ALA does for librarianship. They represent our issues on a national level and hopefully stand up for our work. I know that I’ve had a few opportunities that have helped to advance my career, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of ALA. For example, last year I was able to propose and moderate a Conversation Starter at the ALA Annual Conference. Having any opportunity to present your work on a national level is pretty great for your career in my book. Also, Jenny Levine and Tina Coleman at ALA has been very supportive of the Hack Library School blog, and has worked with us on hosting events at conferences, and helping us promote things. Seriously, that means a lot to have people who care about your projects and want to help you spread the word.

The reason why I ask these questions is because not everyone has an employer who provides financial support for professional development. I’m actually very, very lucky that my work does support this, so voting yes wouldn’t hurt my pocket as much personally, but I empathize with those who pay for membership themselves. It’s not cheap once you start adding in other divisions and round tables. We all come from different libraries with different working environments. Being involved is going to mean different things to people.

I’m obviously flip flopping between this issue, although after doing much thinking, I’m going to vote yes. However, I’d be interested to hear what others think of this ballot proposal. Did you vote on it? Are you even a member?

Further reading:

ALA Council approves dues adjustment proposal

ALA MW

 

Avery and Noby

A picture which isn’t related to the topic of this post AT ALL.

It’s almost the end of January. Most good bloggers would have made several reflective posts by now, right? One around Thanksgiving about what they are thankful for (I meant to do that), one around the end of the year to reflect on all the things that have happened (many things happened last year), and probably one at the beginning of this month to set up some new goals (like update my blog more often). The truth is, I am not at the point in my life where I can really commit to updating this blog as much as I did when I first started out. I teeter between wanting to delete the whole thing, and then wishing I had more of a posting schedule. I still think this online space has value and writing is good for you. So I’m not giving up just yet!

Anyway, on to the important things. For those who are going to ALA Midwinter, I want to invite you to the HackLibSchool Meet Up this Friday, January 25 at Whisky Bar. It’ll be fun! I’m a sucker for anything with the word whiskey/whisky in it. Also, the beverage known as whiskey. It should be a fun time and a chance to meet good people.

I will also be participating in a discussion on Sunday, January 27, 2013 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am about public speaking and hopefully will facilitate some interesting conversation about that. The presentation that I will be part of is called Speak Up: Developing Effective Public Speaking Skills. I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous but only a robot wouldn’t get nervous. Last year, I made it a goal to do things that scared me. This presentation is an extension of that goal.

I hope to see some folks around this weekend!

Updates Updates Updates

How about a pretty picture for a change?

I have not been able to keep up here on the blog lately, but things have been really crazy! These past two months have been full of change and opportunity. This is one of those boring, this is what’s happening with me types of posts. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to blog in the next few weeks. Okay, first I want to mention that I will be moving to Chicago at the beginning of next month. I will be working at the UIC Library as a resident librarian in their IDEA Commons. I am really excited to be joining their team. In my interview, one of the search committee members did a shout out to the ALA Think Tank. He mentioned that he knew I was a member, and that is the type of thinking they want to see happen there. Hurray for new ideas!

Last month, I also presented at my first webinar! It was a great pleasure to speak with Dr. Lanke and Tamara Capper. You can access the archived webinar here. I was really nervous about it, but it’s kind of like presenting at a conference without the people. In some ways, it makes it a lot easier. I was just talking into a phone and clicking on the computer. My general advice to anyone who in interested in presenting at a webinar: make notes, but don’t read off a paper. Actually, that advice works pretty much anytime you do any public speaking. I make notes to myself to mentally prepare and have something to refer to if I need, but I try not to just read my notes like a script. It sounds more dynamic that way in my opinion.

Last week, I submitted my first book review for publication. The Chronicle had a really interesting article call The Endangered Scholarly Book Review a few months ago. One of the major takeaway points was that writing book reviews is a good way for new grads and faculty to practice scholarly writing. Hopefully, the review will be published in Library Quarterly sometime in the future. I like keeping an eye out for calls for proposals. For a future post, I’d like to compile links to places for people to check for writing opportunities. If you are interested in academic librarianship, book reviews might be a good start to beef up your publications. I’m glad that I had to write book reviews and abstracts for a few of my classes in grad school. I found that really helped me prepare for this type of writing. I’m so used to writing for blogs, so writing a book review was a nice switch.

I also stepped away from HackLibSchool last month, and I’m having withdrawals, but I am happy that the blog is in good hands. Alright, I think that’s enough updates for now. Hopefully, I will have more time to write. It’s like exercise, the more you write, the better you are at it.

Making Buttons

Marketing the library is so important, especially at the beginning of the year when students are coming onto campus for the first time. I say it’s good to recruit the newbies and convert them into library regulars. The latest buzz on the ILI-L is about beginning of the year activities like library open houses, scavenger hunts, and more. Someone asked about catchy slogans for buttons which got me thinking about the types of fun library marketing materials we can create for ourselves. I’ve been toying with the idea of making buttons but wasn’t sure how to go about figuring out what to put on them. The list generated some great catch phrases like:

  • AND OR NOT
  • Do it in the library (use this one at your own discretion)
  • human search engine
  • the original Google

Today I went ahead and played around with my own designs. I’m known at work as the “Keep Calm and _______” person so I had to throw in a Keep Calm button. My student group has a button maker so I have yet to test out creating them but here are my Library Marketing Buttons. I made them in Publisher and they are for a 1 ¼” button. When I get a chance to actually test them out I will update with some pictures. Char Booth has some awesome templates and a post on how to incorporate button making in the library, which I hope to try out some day. This is why I need a button maker!

ALA Annual 2012 Announcements

I’m gearing up and getting ready for #ALA12! This past week, we’ve had a bunch of posts over at HackLibSchool dedicated to prepping for Annual in case you missed it. Lots of fun events and chances to meet new people. I have a couple of fun announcements too in regards to this year’s conference.

First, I will be moderating the HackLibSchool Conversation Starter. This is the first year that ALA’s done this series so let’s see how that goes. I do hope that library school students, n00brarians, and veteran professionals can come together and do what librarians do best: share information! Also, this is the first library conference presentation that I’ve ever moderate/participated in. I hope it goes ok! Generally, conference presentations make me nervous but it always turns out fine in the end.

Second announcement: I have been asked by the ALA Basecamp group to help report out events and going-ons at the conference. I’ll be blogging about what I’ve seen, and give ALA the low down on all the cool stuff that’s happening. I’ve been asked to take pictures and interview folks too, so if I see you, don’t be surprised if I ask to talk to you for a brief moment.

Third: I volunteered to be a greeter for the NMRT Resume Review Service. I’ll be at the Placement Center from 11am-1pm. They’re also having an Open House from 10:30am-12:00pm, so you can come on down, have someone look at your resume and talk to potential employers.

In addition to all that – I will also be a photographer for Librarian Wardrobe! Please don’t be shy about me taking a picture of you and your awesome outfit. While I don’t proclaim to have awesome style, I do have a good eye for folks who know how to wear their threads and wear them well. With that, I leave you with this Felix da Housecat dance song, “Ready 2 Wear”: 

I’m really excited about going to Annual this year! If you are going and see me, please don’t run away from my camera. Say hi!

How do I sound less like a robot? Cover letters with impact.

Anyone else out there on the job market? If you have ever tried to find a full-time library job, you probably understand how difficult and emotional it can be. Sometimes I wonder how helpful it is when you’re obsessively trying to find a job to read all the career articles that talk about everything you’re doing wrong. So, this post isn’t going to focus on what NOT to do, there are plenty of those. Here’s a list of some useful/constructive ones:

I’m not sure what a very terrible cover letter looks like, but judging from what many people say, don’t do the copy and paste thing. Also tailor your cover letter! Yes, that’s all and good – I think most of us should know that by now. What I personally struggle with is addressing all the key points of the job ad, but NOT sounding like a robot. I’ve gotten good at saying “You want a,b, and c, here’s how I have a,b,and c.” but maybe that’s not good enough. It doesn’t necessarily show my actual excitement about the job, or any glimpse into my personality. I found that this example of a great cover letter highlights both her qualifications, and her personality. I have read this cover letter and gone back to re-read it many times. The writer is so smooth and confident! How can I be like her? Well, everyone’s personality is different so I’ve tried to find something that works for me.

I still struggle with adding who I am to the cover letter because I feel like there’s a lot at stake, and maybe they won’t like my sense of humor. On the other hand, you don’t get much of a chance to show employers who you are and why they should talk to you. By making it at least interesting for them, perhaps they will continue to read on.

I also wanted to share this list of Juicy, Proactive, Kick Ass CV keywords. I found it somewhere, but can’t find the original article. Feel free to use these!

Juicy, Proactive, Kick Ass CV keywords

Happy National Library Week!

This semester has been busy! It’s my last one before I finally graduate but I feel like I’m burning out fast. I can’t wait to just breathe for a little bit. Anyhow, this week was National Library Week! This year, I got to help plan some fun things for the students and faculty, just to make them more aware of this lovely event. I created some cool temporary tattoos to hand out at the desk. We have a Silhouette Machine and they sell temporary tattoo paper for it. Here are some of the designs I made. It was so much fun!

I also took photos of the staff, faculty, and students to make READ posters for them. That was a great way to get to know some of the students who come to the desk often, as well as engage with faculty.

National Library Week Display

My National Library Week Display

I like doing these things because they’re fun and get people to know the library in a different way. Plus, who doesn’t like a unicorn tattoo?

Annie Pho:

The LIS Queen was so kind and asked to interview me for her blog. I’m reblogging her post here.

Originally posted on The LIS Queen:

What appeals to you most about being a librarian?
Many folks say that telling interviewers that you want to be a librarian because you love books is basically an interview suicide. Although I do love books, I actually wanted to become a librarian because I wanted to help people with their research. The most appealing to me about being a librarian is helping people and connecting them to the information that they seek.

I’m also glad to have found a profession where it is perfectly acceptable to love cats.

What program are you in? What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about your program?

I’m currently going to school at Indiana University – Indianapolis. I wrote a Hack Your Program Post on it if you want the full scoop. My favorite part of the program is all the opportunities within the city of Indianapolis to get hands on experience…

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