The Mayfield Library is always looking for ways to let you know what’s going on with us, so we can serve you better. To better achieve that aim, we’re starting this library blog.
As we communicate with you, please keep in touch with us. We welcome all feedback.
After all, the Mayfield Library is here for you!
Last Tuesday we held our graduation ceremony. As usual, it was hot in the gym, and I did my customary prayer that I wouldn’t faint in front of all those people. Also, I had my usual difficulties with my cap; my curly hair does not like caps. It tends to spring them right off my head.
Still, I like the ceremony itself. I enjoy listening to the families cheer their graduates. I enjoy the smiles on the students’ faces as they cross the stage. I love the happiness of the entire night.
Like students, faculty are also tired–after a long year of preparing, presenting, and grading, not to mention the obligations to the college outside of the classroom. But I hope they took a moment during the ceremony to celebrate their contributions to students’ goals and dreams.
If we ever doubt the importance of our work, I think all we have to do is remember those happy faces of our graduates and their families. We need to celebrate such moments!
Yesterday was graduation, so summer has now unofficially started. A couple of years ago, I came across the idea of the ‘summer bucket list,’ items that you wanted to do before the summer ended.
Although some people might scoff at the idea of putting summer in a ‘strait jacket,’ I’m a fan. For one, I can’t count the number of times, people have said to me or I’ve said to them, “We really must get together this summer.” And then in August, we’d look at each other mystified that somehow we’d not managed to see each other once. In our minds, summer tends to be this one long magical period, somehow glistening with promise, but always in the future. So too often, that promise is unfulfilled. The summer bucket list keeps those vague promises we make to ourselves in front of our eyes, so we can either follow up or admit that maybe we never wanted to do them in the first place.
Second, as much as I hate to admit it, I am not good with unstructured time. I’ll say that this is the afternoon, I plan to go to the museum, and then two hours later, I have instead filled up a Pinterest board with images of pretty paintings. The bucket list, for me, is just a fancy way of saying a to-do list, but with more entertaining and meaningful items on it.
So this summer, the library staff will again writing and marking items off their summer bucket lists. Follow along and make one of your own.
Once again, the Jolly Librarian is stunned to find that no college has requested her wisdom for a commencement address. So once again, she will share her feelings with the world on this blog:
I have a certificate stating that I have worked at this college for almost as long as I have been an adult. Besides part-time jobs, my only other professional employment was four years teaching at a Catholic school. I came to NSCC thinking I would stay three or four years, earn my doctorate, and move on. I did earn my doctorate, but I’m still here. Mainly because I am proud of the community college mission.
Each year, as I watch the graduates walk across the stage, I see those who were in the library every week and others who were regulars in the Learning Center working with our tutors. I have witnessed ESL students’ struggles as they mastered a new language and culture. I’ve seen older students insecure about their inability to compete with younger people and then become progressively confident. And some I’ll see again later on their Facebook pages when they celebrate graduating from universities, getting jobs in their fields, and/or choosing to go for advanced degrees. It is a good feeling.
Each of you made a commitment to enter college, and each of you fulfilled it. That is a huge accomplishment. You faced your hurdles, both external and internal, and persevered. Take time to celebrate and relish this moment!
My wishes for you as you take the next step in life are simple, but not necessarily easy. I hope you
- continue learning. Whether or not, you continue your formal education, take opportunities to keep learning. There are, of course, practical reasons for this. Job requirements are always changing, and you have to keep learning to be relevant. But beyond that, I hope we at NSCC have instilled in you a love of learning, of always wanting to stretch yourself a little more.
- take responsibility for your own happiness. Take it from someone who has too often allowed herself to be blown around by the whims of others. You can spend time being angry and upset about the unfairness of life.Or you can change your circumstances. Or you can change your attitude. Continuing to be unhappy in an attempt to punish others never works. And it can eat up way too much of your life.
- will always “be of use.” Never pass up a chance to make someone’s life a little easier, no matter how small it seems. Many of us grow up wanting to be heroes, the ones who race into burning buildings to rescue crying babies. Even if such heroism is never asked of us, every day presents an opportunity to do something to make our part of the world a little better if we only look for it.
- do your research (What else could you expect from the Jolly Librarian?) We are inundated with bits and bytes of information each day, a good deal of it wrong. When reading the latest diatribe against a politician, the handling of an event, or a policy, consider if you are being presented with all the facts. Take a moment to check things out before you take a position. (You know we taught you how.)
Congratulations, graduates! This is your day. Enjoy it.
If you have an iPad (or any other tablet), you are familiar with the number popping up on your screen by the App Store icon, letting you know that one of your apps needs updating. And almost always, one of the things that is being done is ‘fixing some bugs.’ Most of the times, these bugs don’t keep the apps from running; they just prevent them from running as well as they should.
The end of the semester is just the time to debug some of our own routines, things that are getting in the way of our own effectiveness. As I looked around my house and my office, here are some things that need debugging:
- At both home and office, I have a tendency to put papers down on a table or my desk, and then they start piling up. So whenever I begin working on a project, the first thing I have to do is find the relevant paperwork! So I’m going to keep a separate folder for each project.
- I don’t write stuff down that I need, thinking “there’s no way I’ll forget that I need deodorant,” and then come home with dental floss (I already have 10 packets) but no deodorant. This should be a simple fix. I have a smart phone; I’ll just keep the list there.
- In the office, we often end up having the same discussions more than once because we don’t write down the procedures. The fix: This year we are (finally) going to get our procedures manuals in shape.
Anyway, you get the picture. Life goes on quite well without any of the above. (Well, except the deodorant!) But I’d be just as a little more effective, a little less harried, and probably a little happier if I could I just debug those inefficiencies.
So what do you need to debug? This might be a good time to start.
Ninety-nine percent of my job consists of being the ‘good guy.’ We’re the ones who help students find books and other sources when they despair of ever doing so. If they forgot a pencil to take a test, we have one. If their calculator died, we have one to lend. I love going home each day, feeling that I have helped to make the day better for others in some small way.
But then, there is the one percent of the time that the Jolly Librarian has to bring out her dark alter-ego (Justice Librarian). I have to go after those patrons who refuse to bring items back. Now as a group, the overdue people are few, and the vast majority of them are simply forgetful. One simple reminder is all it takes. But, like in most fields, the one or two egregious offenders can take up a lot of time and mental anguish.
In almost every case, these offenders take home textbooks on reserve, meaning that other students without the textbook are left in the lurch. So it’s not the rule-breaking, but the selfishness that gets me. And as anyone on the library staff can tell you, it can turn “jolly” into “holy terror.”
Now we have a procedure to deal with these folks: We either call or send an email with the gentle, “You must have forgotten that the book shouldn’t leave the library. Please return it immediately.” Each succeeding message gets less and less gentle until we have to turn the student over to the Dean of Student Services for disciplinary action.
This takes up our time and energy; it upsets other students who need the book, and it probably isn’t that much fun for the offenders who are having to withstand our many, many attempts to contact them. Still most books come back with an apology, and the matter ends there.
But then each year, there a few who take the textbook removal to a whole new level. I am now dealing with a student I’ll call Clementine. (I’ve changed names and details to protect the guilty.) Clementine took home a physics book. After being contacted four times, she brought it back, claimed she didn’t know the policy, and promised never to do it again. The next month, she checked out the book and once again took it home.
After calling her cell phone repeatedly (always getting voice mail) and emailing her (never receiving a response), my staff told me about it. I went to her classroom and left a message for her to come see me immediately.
Which she did, but not to return the book. Instead, apparently not knowing she was talking to the very person who had left the message, she tried to check out another textbook. When I reminded her of her current troubles, she said that she had no idea she couldn’t take the book home. A reminder that she had been in the same situation last month did not jog her memory.
Finally, the book returned after she had taken her final. She must have supposed that this would be the end of it, but we had already turned her case over to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action, and I refused to drop the ‘charge.’ So now that dean is the only person who can remove the hold. (And she happens to be out of town at the moment.)
“But it’s not fair,” she says. “I brought the books back.” And that’s true. But it was also unfair for other students to not have access to the book while the class was going on. She was told what would happen. She just didn’t believe us.
And while I am usually upset when anyone is angry with the library, I’m bearing up rather well this time.
Every finals week, the library supplies candy to weary students as they finish projects and take finals. (Now, no worries: The only tax-payer money used for this is our own personal funds.) Students seem to appreciate the gesture. Now, several semesters in, we have drawn some basic conclusions about candy week:]
- Students can go through a lot of candy. Yesterday, we gave away five pounds in less than 24 hours (and 9.5 of those hours, we were closed.)
- Judging by the candy packets in our own waste baskets, staff can go through a lot of candy as well.
- There are definite preferences. When we get down to the bottom of the basket, there are always lots of Krackels left while the Snickers bar is a perennial favorite. On the non-chocolate side of the house, Skittles rule while Smarties languish.
- Some students are frugal, taking only one piece. Some grab a handful. Some take a handful, but only after searching through the basket, making sure that a favorite flavor is not missed. (There is probably some psychological analysis that could be done from how people choose candy if any of you psych types want to come do a study.)
- Candy does seem to make everyone a little more cheerful!
In honor of finals week, we thought we’d look back at our own educational experiences and pay tribute to our own set of the best, the worst, and the just plain odd teachers.
Colette: I knew by the seventh grade that I wanted to be a teacher. That desire was more deeply solidified by a few outstanding high school teachers; thank you Bruce and Karen and Leslie. I am truly in your debt for inspiring me to pursue such a joyful career.
I may have changed my mind about teaching had I encountered my worst teacher earlier in the process. He inches in ahead of the fourth grade teacher who forced us to make yarn God’s Eyes, literally every day, skipping math and spelling and such nebulous subjects as those. My worst teacher’s name is Dr. Bob Ross. I remember this, vividly, because he spent an entire semester talking about himself in the third person. “Dr. Bob Ross didn’t get the papers graded this weekend because he dealt with some Ross family matters.” “Dr. Bob Ross expects your annotated bibliographies to be turned in by midnight tomorrow, even though Dr. Bob Ross will be sleeping if you do.” It was creepy. I suspect he was exceedingly narcissistic because he liked to talk about himself and his salt water fish, as much as he liked hearing the sound of his own names. Plural. The only thing which saved my classmates and me is the fact (insert unsympathetic giggle) that Dr. Bob Ross got an unstoppable case of hiccups and had to be hospitalized. Is that a thing? Can a person really be hospitalized for that? Dr. Bob Ross did not return for the last few weeks of the semester, and we got a perfectly acceptable replacement, whose name, I’m sorry to say, escapes me.
Emily: For being the most fun: Mrs. Batson, my second grade teacher who let us make sandwiches with M&Ms and put candy in our shoes at Christmas (I think the take-away here is that I like people who give me candy).
The award for imparting the most knowledge goes to my AP US History teacher, Mrs. Scarborough. She’s the reason I still remember Warren Harding is the most scandalous US President and she didn’t get mad when I went through a period of sleeping in the back corner of the classroom (My parents had just gotten AOL and I’d discovered instant messenger…).
Best all around: Coach Mittura, my high school physics teacher who dropped a bowling ball off the roof of Clarksville High and convinced us all to come to school on Christmas morning to watch a solar eclipse.
Oh, and I can’t forget my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hoover, who invited 25 eleven-year-old’s over to play kickball in the rain at her house.
Pam: Admittedly, my biggest crush (okay, okay, I know…that’s not the point) was on my handsome as the day is long, 28 year old, 7th grade teacher, Mr. Hilliard. I thought about him for years and when I was 19, he came in one night unexpectedly to hear me play banjo and sing. My heart still did pitty-pat. Goodness! Now, on to my all-time favorite teacher…It would have to be a tie between 1.) Miss Groseclose (yes, that was truly her name), Judy Groseclose from Ft. Wayne, Indiana who taught me in 6th grade at Beechgrove Elementary School in Independence, Ky. She was just a warm, thoughtful, engaging, great teacher. She was 23, and perhaps at 11-12, I was at a most impressionable age, but I really wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She drove an orange Volkswagon Beetle bug, and I wanted one just like it. When she moved away to become an airline “stewardess” for American Airlines, she stayed in touch with me. We wrote letters for years. When I was 15, while on vacation with Mom and Daddy out west, we stopped by and I got to meet her husband, Jack. She was nearly due with her first baby. That baby would now be about 37 years old! Miss Groseclose got behind us in class and helped us put together a first-time talent show at our school, where I performed publicly for the very first time. In my faux-suede “hot-pants” and white go-go boots, I played guitar and sang “Rocky Top”. I humbly report that the audience went wild, and I found my passion for life. She encouraged us to role-play in class, creating skits to act out, solving cases, etc. I just adored her.
2) Tied with her would be Tammy Ruff, who teaches psychology right here at Nashville State. She created the most interesting, thought-provoking, and fun learning environment I’ve ever been in. From her challenging her students to participate in an “act of random kindness”(our group took our dogs to visit at an elderly day-care center and interact with the patients there), she made us critically think outside of the box. She brought in guest speakers from Nashville Cares who shared their tragic stories of contracting HIV, and very memorably she began our first class by having us sit in a circle and introduce ourselves (as well as then naming the person next to us who had just introduced themselves), thus learning every single student’s name by the end of the class; it was amazing. Perhaps most enjoyable was that she brought such an entertaining, delightful sense of humor to the classroom, something which kept us wanting to come back from week to week. She truly found her life’s work when she decided to become a college professor, someone who, now 13 years later, I can say is one of my dearest friends.
Sally: My favorite teacher was my 5th grade teacher. She read us books in class. My favorite was The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. She would always stop at a very exciting place, so would have to come the next day to find out what would happen. (I was never sick so I never missed any school days from Kindergarten – 12th grade, kind of like my job here at NSCC.) She made the classics come alive. It was a very enjoyable year for me.
Jolly Librarian: Mrs. Simmons, my 4th-grade teacher, was obsessed with flying saucers and the fact that I didn’t eat lunch. (Perhaps she thought people who didn’t eat lunch were aliens?) Anyway, I have horrible memories of swallowing scalloped potatoes whole as she approached, hiding yucky foods in my milk carton as she left, and being left to sit with the 5th graders while she made me stay in the lunch room to “finish your lunch.” (I hate to admit that I was not a very smart kid; it took me several days until I realized that once she left the lunchroom, no one cared if I ate my lunch or not and I could throw it all in the garbage can.) Every report card had the same comment: “Faye needs to learn to eat.” For some reason, she left at midyear, and Mrs. Crawford took her place. She took no interest in my eating habits, but on my next report card, wrote, “Faye’s love of books is a rare and wonderful thing to witness.” Life was good again. (And, Mrs. Simmons, if you’re out there, I did learn to eat.)