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Where’d You Get Your Information From, Huh?

Back in April, I published a post detailing how I was using Google Tasks as part of my experiment to manage my work and personal projects. I lamented at the time (April 12, 2018) that there wasn’t a Tasks app. Seventeen days later, Google launched a Tasks app. It’s very simple and very straightforward, and it’s been very helpful.

While I am updating posts, I will mention that after writing that my place of work hadn’t approved Google Calendars, it has since approved Google Calendars. Now I can start begging for Tasks app approval.

Now Get Busy

My wife and I write a blog about the Eurovision Song Contest called Eurovision Lemurs. We do a lot of writing this time of year as the participating countries select their entries.  We will stay busy until well after the last piece of confetti drops in the middle of May.

After the Song Contest ends, we usually end up going silent until the new season begins. This year, we set a goal to have one new post every two weeks from June through December. We have a few topics we have always wanted to write about, so summer and fall would be perfect times to tackle them if we just were a little more organized. And also didn’t suffer from post-Eurovison depression.

So we’ve set up an editorial calendar using Google Calendar. I’m going to use it for this blog as well, since I really want to make a proper go at it this time.

Even though the writing projects have nothing to do with my job, I also plan to take the editorial calendar mentality to the office. I have a Post-it easel pad in my cube on which I wrote down all of the major projects I have on my plate. It acts as a sort of to-do list, but it occurred to me recently that it is missing actionable deadlines.

I’ve read a bit about time blocking, and I do see the value in scheduling segments of the day to work on projects without distraction. But I never really got into the habit of doing it. Finding another angle to approach it may help. So let’s see if an editorial calendar works. More to come…

Computers In Libraries 2016: Day Three – The Newest In New

During his Computers In Libraries presentation on podcasting, Maurice Coleman said of his podcast, “[T Is for Training] has been my professional development. It has been my advanced degree.”

I love that. It reminds me of a quote attributed to Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher: “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” It also dovetails nicely on Stephanie Petruso‘s advice to her staff at Anne Arundel County Public Library that if they come across a new tool or service, they should try it out on their own first to figure out if it is a good fit for the library.

It seems odd to me that my biggest takeaway from a professional conference that the best professional development often comes from just trying stuff out. But I’ve been thinking a lot about alternatives to conferences. I overheard that attendance at Computers In Libraries was down this year. That and the continuing decline of SLA makes me wonder if the conference model is still viable.

(To be fair, a sample of two conference is by no means conclusive, but bear with me here.)

SLA made a big deal in recent years about how it is your own responsibility to tend to your professional development. In other words, you shouldn’t skip the conference just because your employer won’t pay for it. But a $500+ conference, plus transportation and lodging fees and meal costs make a serious dent in any librarian’s bank account. You’re only going to save so much money sharing hotel rooms and pigging out at receptions.

If my professional development truly is my own responsibility, then I am going tend to it responsibly and look for alternatives. I will get active in local associations and leverage my social media connections. I’m going to look for new things to do and play around with them to see what I can learn from them.

I don’t mean to sound so down on Computers In Libraries: it was a terrific conference this year and I learned a lot. (See: the first sentence of this post.) I would be missing out if I found myself in a position where I couldn’t go to it. (Versus just opting not to go to it.)

But my advanced degree curriculum is all around me, not just at conferences. I just need choose my electives wisely.

Computers In Libraries 2016: Day One – Keep It Going Full Steam

The first day of a conference usually feels like a family reunion because there are always a slew of people you only see when you go to a conference. So today was as much a day for catching up with old friends as it was a day for catching up on new trends.

Trendspotting wasn’t really on my agenda today anyway. What I really wanted to spot were ideas that I could bring back to my office. As I mentioned before, my job is not exactly a traditional library job, so I am hoping that I can bridge some gaps this week.

What I learned today is that it is easy to see my place of work as some kind of “special snowflake,” to borrow the words of Jeff Wisniewski during UX Practices & Patterns. But while I may face some unique challenges (“Shoot, when I said Macedonia, did I mean Montenegro?”), I am also facing a lot more challenges that my peers are already attacking head on.

I’ve found it is way too easy form me to dismiss stuff by saying it wouldn’t work where I work. But what would I be expecting, to implement an idea in the exact same way that a conference presenter did at their place of work? Of course not. So what am I really rejecting? Probably the work I would need to do to implement an idea, even though implementation is always the hardest part. I don’t want to say I’m too lazy or too scared, but there has to be some sort of fear-based laziness or laziness-based fear going on here.

So now I have a notepad filled with ideas.  My challenge is to take those ideas and try to make them work. Some of them may come to fruition, some of them may die on the vine, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Also, I may not have eaten enough for dinner. The point is, regardless of how out of touch with the library profession I’ve been feeling, what I am doing is not so unique that I can’t take inspiration from my fellow librarians and run with it.

Computers In Libraries 2016: Kicking It Wall to Wall

I am going to be attending the Computers In Libraries conference next week and I’ve registered to be a conference blogger. It has been a while since I’ve actually attended the conference (versus just meet friends for lunch while they are in town for the conference) and I am really looking forward to it.

I packed my schedule with sessions, but I know from experience that I will probably not attend all of them. This is not meant as a slight to presenters, but sessions sometimes are not as interesting as network opportunities. If I get involved in a good conversation with someone, I am not likely to cut our discussion short to rush off to a session.

In the past when I’ve blogged at conference, I’ve usually taken a reporter’s approach: take notes, take pictures, write up a summary, and pray that the quotes are accurate. That’s not my plan for next week though. To be sure, I will be taking lots of notes as I am expected to report back to the office when Computers In Libraries is done. But I plan to take a more impressionistic approach to the conference, looking for themes and talking about the conversations I have while I’m there. I really just want to capture the vibe.

I have to admit that I’ve not been particularly enthusiastic about going to any conference for a while (PTPL Annual Meeting excepted). The expense and the planning had kind of worn me down. To be honest, I wasn’t planning to go to Computers In Libraries until just a few weeks ago. I knew that sales reps from two of the electronic resources providers we work with were going to be in town, so it made sense to attend.

But the more I thought about it, the more excited I was to go.  Granted, daily access to Dolcezza had a lot to do with that excitement.

By coincidence, I happened upon an article by Abbie Digel on Syracuse’s Information Space blog called “Why you need to go to a library conference.” It’s addressing library school students, but it could also be targeted towards jaded old-timey librarian types like me. It helped me take a step back and remember why I liked going to conferences in the first place.

So if you happen to be at Computers In Libraries next week, I will see you there. Or at Bistrot Du Coin. I love that place too.

© 2018 Chris Zammarelli

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