Hello from the Jolly Librarian!

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!

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Monday Motivator: Get Help

As we recover from our malware incident, things are slowly getting back to normal. In the library, all is fixed except the student printing network. We have been printing student papers and assignments on staff printers in the back.

Tuesday I had a meeting with my boss. Telling her the printing issue, she asked, “Can’t we take the print management software off the printers until the server is fixed?”

To be honest, I stared at her for a few seconds, but I wanted to laugh. We had added the print management system to the printers. Certainly, we could take it off! But all I could think was “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Of course, the answer is pretty simple. I was too close to the problem. The two things (the print management system and the printers) were so entwined that I had started thinking of them as a single unit. It took someone outside of the library to ask the question.

Now it turned out it would have been too cumbersome for the overworked IT guys to remove the system off every computer. But they could remove it off some. So now we have six computers in the LRC where students can print. All seems well.

The moral of the story: You never know where a solution can come from. Don’t hide your problems. Share them.

Monday Motivator: Your To-do List Is Not Always Your Friend

If you looked at my to-do list for yesterday, you would probably think that I was quite productive. I completed 100% of my tasks. But to-do lists can be misleading. Most of the tasks I’d written down at the last minute, knowing my memory is not great.

What were some of the items?

  • Take bread out of the freezer to make sandwiches for lunch.
  • Put batteries in my LED candles for the fireplace.
  • Write my mother.
  • Study French.
  • A cursory glance would show that some of these items were more important than others.

If you asked which of the items had the highest priority, I would say write and write my mother. But is that where I spent most of my time? No.

Now writing my mother was fairly easy. I had just seen her the day before, and most of the letter dealt with things we’d discussed then. So that was not a problem. It was written and in the mailbox before dark.

But I didn’t get to my writing until after 9 p.m. while I spent way too much of the day doing things that weren’t important and could have been put off with no consequence whatsoever. (Do you know how long it takes to take batteries out of the industrial-strength wrapping and then put them in twelve small candles? I do. Way too long.)

So if you judge my day by what got done on the to-do list, I am a winner. But if you judge by what important things got done, I’m a slacker.

Spoiler alert: I was a slacker.

But tomorrow is another day.

Monday Motivator: Follow a Good Example

Our college president told us at convocation to never waste a crisis. She is an incredibly positive person, but she probably didn’t expect a crisis to come so soon.  Friday, we started having problems with our computers; by Monday, nothing seemed to work. We were in the midst of a malware crisis. We couldn’t get online. We couldn’t even turn on our computers.

What struck me was the patience of the students. They came in the library. We told them the network was down, and they stopped in their tracks. But then they smiled and just found a chair to check their phones while they waited for their next class. A few were upset, which was understandable, but the majority took the news in stride.

Wednesday, I had an appointment at the mechanic’s. I’d waited for more than three months for a part (a downside of having a ten-year-old car), and it was finally in and ready to be installed. I drove over and settled in a chair with what seemed to be never-ending episodes of “Property Brothers” playing on the television in the waiting room. It was supposed to take no longer than two hours. Three hours later, an apologetic service manager walked up to me. The wrong part had been sent. They couldn’t get it to work. They would have to reorder, and I would have to return.

I would be lying if I said that it didn’t upset me. I felt a surge of irritation rise from my stomach to the top of my head. I felt a tone coming up in my response.

Then I had a moment of inspiration. Suddenly, I thought of those students who were so patient in the library, who didn’t fuss, who didn’t take out their frustration on the library staff.

I realized that the poor man in front of me wasn’t at fault. The mechanic who tried so hard to make the part fit wasn’t at fault. And the person who sent the wrong part didn’t do it on purpose. And by lashing out, I would only make everyone feel worse.

I shrugged. “These things happen.” And I made my appointment for Friday.

I don’t tell this story to make me look good. I tell it because a good example can really make a difference.

Monday Motivator: Remember the Good

At the moment, we have a sheep on the lam (see what I did there?) in my neighborhood. She was part of a Scottish festival at a local park when she escaped. Sheep are not known for their brilliance, but she has managed to avoid capture now for more than a week despite several sightings.

She is now a local celebrity. She was on the local news. She has a Facebook page. And she has become the focus of many of us in our part of town. We want to get her home. After all, it’s hot. It’s a suburban part of town, so there are cars everywhere. And there are coyotes.

One thing I’ve appreciated about our escaped ewe is how our community has come together. People have gone out looking for her everyday. There have been search parties. And any spotting is immediately put on social media The owner of the ewe has been invited to future events and has invited us all out to his farm.

It’s a nice reminder that people are more than their social media presence. Because, if I’m being honest, our Facebook page is often filled with complaints about the service in restaurants, people who park badly, people who drive badly, and people who have the nerve to differ on political issues. And gun shots. People are always hearing gun shots, to the point that one person finally posted that if every noise was a gun shot, there would be nothing but bodies lining the highway that defines our neck of the woods.

But the sheep incident has brought out the softer side of our neighborhood. It allowed us to gather around something other than others’ faults. When the complaining starts again (and it will), I’ll set aside my irritation by remembering the good instead. Maybe I’ll even make Belle my screensaver as a reminder.

 

Monday Motivator: Keep Calm

On Wednesday, I walked in the library to find that there was a computer problem in our building. Some computers were not working. Some were. However, none of them would send documents to our printers. This was a problem, because one week in, there were several assignments that were due to be turned in (in printed form).

But library folks noticed that one of our staff printers was on the network. Two of them wrote their email addresses on slips of papers and handed them to any student who needed to print. The students sent their documents to the staff members who then printed them. Students went to class with their assignments in hand.

Of course, this was not the only way the problem could have been solved. Library folks could have put ‘out of order’ signs on the printers and told students to inform their instructors that the network had gone wacky. And I’m sure that instructors would have been sympathetic.

But it was the first assignment and students were understandably nervous about not having their work in hand for class. So the library staff calmly analyzed the situation and decided on the course of action that would both keep the library working and students comfortable.

I have a saying that everyone in the library is surely tired of hearing: In cases of stress, it’s best if someone keeps calm. And I prefer if that someone is one of us.

So I was happy to find that not only had my staff kept calm during our first major bump in the road of the semester, but also that calm allowed them to find a reasonable solution.

It is easy to stress out when people are stressed out around you, especially when they are looking at you for help. But becoming anxious and stressed makes finding a solution harder. It’s better to take a deep breath and a minute to think through the options.

And thinking is always better than freaking out. (The previous sentence may or may not be based on personal experience.)

Tuesday’s To-Do List: Five Tips for Starting the Semester Strong

  • Put away your smartphone during class.  No matter what you think, the science is clear. You are not multitasking. You are simply taking your attention away from your professor. Don’t argue. Just hide your phone. You can make it for a class period. I promise.
  • Introduce yourself to some classmates. You might meet your new best friend. But even if you don’t, it’s nice to have some buddies, people you can text about assignments.
  • Whether it’s on your phone or old-fashioned paper, put all your assignments in one calendar.
  • Don’t rely on the PowerPoints. Take notes. Once again, the science is clear. Taking notes increases retention.
  • Know what support services are available. Most colleges have offices for veterans, disability services, tutoring, etc.

Monday Motivator: Here We Go!

Today is the first day of classes. In the library, we’ve been looking forward to this day for a while. We use the breaks to get caught up on inventory and weeding, but there is simply no substitute for students being on campus. You can feel the change in atmosphere just walking on campus.

To be honest, the first week of class is not going to find students rushing in to do research. We see our mission those first few weeks to provide students with a friendly face and help them with what they do need. In most cases, it’s one of the following:

  • They left their schedule at home and need a new one.
  • They can’t find their classrooms.
  • They’re not quite sure what a course shell is and was too embarrassed to admit they couldn’t find it in class.
  • Rushing from work to class, they didn’t realize they didn’t bring a pen.
  • They need to print.

These may not sound like big things, but I can tell you that they are. More than once during my college years, I was sure I knew the location of my classroom only to forget on my way to campus, and my schedule was left sitting on my desk at work. And while I met some kind faculty along the way, on that first day when I was lost and embarrassed, the people who helped me came from all over the university: the security guard who showed me where to park, the secretary who smiled and said that anyone could forget a schedule, or the guy in maintenance who helped me find a building.

So I’ve resolved to be that kind of person for students I encounter at my college. And I know most of my colleagues do the same.

In the library, we really only have two guidelines for the first week:

  1. Make every student feel welcome.
  2. Remember that, although it may be the 100th time we’ve heard a specific question on a given day, it’s that student’s first time to ask. So we treat the 100th time just like the first.

Whether it’s your first semester or your 100th, welcome! And let’s have a great year.

Tuesday’s To-Do List: Getting Ready for the Semester

  • Have enough cutlery to get through the semester. Our college doesn’t have a cafeteria, and students often remember their lunches but forget a fork or spoon. Where do they go for help? The Library.
  • Stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues. Students (and staff) sneeze and sniffle. A lot. It’s best to have materials on hand.
  • Be prepared for questions from faculty about any changes to electronic resources over the summer. (Faculty don’t like changes.)
  • Remind staff that students will be returning next week, and that means a return to library voices (or at least no shouting from cubicles to front desk).
  • Make one last effort to find the source of the funky smell that greets you each morning.
  • Send out email announcements to campus. Field questions from staff who didn’t read the emails.
  • Remember when you answer the same question for the 100th time on the first day of class, it’s the first time you’re answering it for that particular student.  Act accordingly.

Monday Motivator: Play the Point That’s In Front of You

The other night I was watching the tennis channel. A storm had delayed the match, so there was a rerun of a famous U.S. Opens Final Match. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention until I heard one of the announcers say that Victoria Azarenka was playing each point, and not the legend across the net, Serena Williams.

I liked that idea and think it has applications outside the tennis world.

Maybe you are a freshman who didn’t have the best academic record in high school. You might start college with the idea that you are not a good student, and life is going to be hard. Let go of the legend of your past. Instead play the point in front of you. Make a new start.

Or maybe you were a high school star, and suddenly you’re in a class that is hard, really hard. And you’re having a hard time keeping up. You think that it isn’t fair; you’ve always done well in school and that’s what you expect to do now. Forget about the past, and play the point that’s in front of you.

And there’s no fairy tale ending. Azarenka didn’t win. But she put up a good fight by not being overwhelmed and taking each point as it came. And that’s all any of us can do.

Monday Motivator: Eat that Frog!

This morning I did something unusual, for me, at least. I had one item on my to-do list that had to be done before I went to bed. I mean, really had to be done, or there would be consequences. It had been on the list on Friday. And Saturday. This morning, after eating breakfast, I sat down and got it done before I did anything else. I didn’t go to the gym first. I didn’t see who was playing on the Tennis Channel. I didn’t take a shower. I got that item off the list.

Throughout the day, I was amazed at how light I felt. I didn’t have a project hanging over my head as I worked out or went to the mall to take back some skirts or as I watched Grantchester.  Halfway through the day, I thought:

This must be how productive people feel all the time.

In general, I am an awful procrastinator. Actually, that’s wrong. I am an excellent procrastinator. That excellence is not something to be proud of. Putting off things is such second nature to me that I had forgotten what it feels like to get things done and off my plate. I thought that the vague feeling of dread as the hours crept closer to my deadline was normal and nothing I could do anything about.

The title of today’s blog comes from a saying from Mark Twain (or at least attributed to him. Mark Twain gets credit for a lot of things on the Internet.) According to Twain, if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you have the satisfaction of knowing that is probably the worst thing that’s going to happen to you that day. Brain Tracy also used it for his book on time management and procrastination. The premise is simple. Do the big thing, or the worst thing, or the most worrisome thing immediately, and then you won’t have to procrastinate or fret about it for the rest of the day.

What is your frog? Identify and deal with it right away. You really will have a happier day, I promise you.