JollyLibrarian

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 week we did inventory. With out trusty iPads and bluetooth scanners, we touched every book, CD, DVD, videotape, and bound periodical in our collection. Dust fell on our heads as we scanned books and (especially) videos that have not been touched in a long time. Now we know the location of everything in the library. But we learned some other things as well:

  • Every advantage has a corresponding disadvantage. We were excited to learn that our new system would allow us to know immediately when a book was checked out, out of place, or even not in the catalog at all.  We would be able to fix things as we go! But our enthusiasm quickly died as we moved into some of the sections that are popular research paper topics. Scanners would beep every two-three books. Now 90% of the time this was because the book was only one spot out of place, but we still had to check. It was annoying, and we soon found a way to work around the problem (such as scanning the whole section, pulling out the books that were in the wrong spot, and fixing them all at once.) But it was a good reminder that it’s foolish to expect any system to be perfect.
  • There are several ways to track needs. Our library system can tell us when a book was last checked out, how often it’s been checked out, and when it was inventoried. By looking at a range of books, we know whether to buy more materials for a section. But there are also some low-tech ways to judge a section: how much dust falls on your head as you’re scanning or how many books are out of order (if books are in the same pristine order from the last time we read shelves, it’s a good bet that students aren’t browsing in that section). Always have more than one way to judge whether or not something is working or not.
  • The plan will have to be tweaked. Our directions on our scanners said that each could hold 5000 scans before needing recharging. This turned out not to be true. So we had to modify how many hours we could be up in the stacks each day. It’s good to have a plan; it’s also good not to be married to it.
  • People will approach work differently and that’s okay. When Pam was scanning, there were two piles of books at her feet: 1. problems, 2. books she wanted to check out. I tended to analyze my sections for what topics needed added materials and what sections had never been touched by students. Other folks could have been anywhere; all they cared about was the sound of the scanner. Some people chatted as they scanned. Others were silent. But the work got done. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, why not allow folks to work in their own way?

Some of the other lessons learned are more minor:

  • how much dust you can inhale before you start coughing like a maniac
  • that a mistake can exist for four years and not be noticed because students never go up in that particular section
  • the breaking point of every person in the library (Mine was the tiny pamphlets in the OT section. For Colette, it was the tall art books on the top shelf. For Emily, it was the section where every other book was out of place.)

We dread doing inventory every time it’s due, but we always agree that it was worthwhile. And grateful that we don’t have to do it again for another two years.

Last week, I went to visit a friend in the hospital. While I waited for her to be moved to her room, I sat in a room with a large family. They had obviously been there for a while, and the concern over their relative was beginning to show in different ways: One man leaned back in the recliner and slept and snored. Another woman kept coming in and out, obviously going to smoke a cigarette to calm her nerves. And then there was the woman in the opposite corner from me who kept up a dramatic monologue that listed all the people who were mean to her and how she was never mean to anyone, in fact, how she “killed people with kindness.”

When I am anxious, which I was, I crave quiet and solitude. So my first impulse was to run away, but that was not an option. The nurse was coming to this room to get me when my friend could be visited. My second impulse was to distract myself by reading and responding to emails and perhaps checking up on online gossip. But unfortunately, her tales of woe overcame my ability to concentrate on celebrity tales of woe. I couldn’t concentrate on the book I had with me. Finally, my thoughts became terribly uncharitable, and I hate to admit I was tempted to go over and say something like, “When you finally are allowed to visit your relative, please stop talking about this stuff, or she’ll go right back into her coma in self defense.”

Luckily, my introverted nature prevented that last from taking place, although I did fantasize about it quite often during that hour we shared space in the waiting room. But I reminded myself that there is no one way to express anxiety, and she might actually have been performing a service for her family by entertaining them with her stories (and perhaps allowing them to silently judge her) instead of dwelling what was happening in another room in another part of the hospital.  In any case, my sad-sack face certainly wasn’t making anyone feel better.

Still, in my perfect world, any place that had a waiting room, whether it be a hospital or a car repair place, would have one quiet space for the introverts.

In the academic world, we are ending a year. Students are taking finals. Many will graduate. After commencement, faculty will take a well-earned vacation for a few weeks (or months.)

In this spirit of endings, I’d like to suggest something. Probably over the last few months, one of the following has happened to you:

  •  Someone broke a confidence.
  • A friend hurt your feelings.
  • You felt disrespected.
  • You were left out.
  • Someone snapped at you.
  • Someone broke a promise to you.
  • A friend or colleague was totally undependable.

Now look over the list and grant each of those people total and complete amnesty. Give each of them a fresh start with you. Let this be a new beginning.

Why? Montague Jocelyn King-Harmon (try saying that fast three times) wrote in 1917 that “we are quick to judge others by their acts, but we judge ourselves by our intentions.” If we look very carefully at our own behavior, we will very likely find several instances when we were the perpetrators of some of the acts on that list above. We probably didn’t intend to be hurtful, but we probably were.

So assume that the people who hurt you also did not mean to, and give everyone a second chance.

For the people I’ve offended this past year, it’s more like a hundredth chance. But I hope you will.

Just a few days after my post about doing things as soon as they need doing, I received a great lesson in “do as I say, not as I do.”

I came home with a bag full of cleaning products, including some laundry detergent. I was hungry, so I dumped the bags down by the door and had a snack. Then I watched the most recent episode of Game of Thrones on HBO Now. Then it was time to practice piano. And I wanted to catch up with my friends on Facebook. And it was my turn on Words with Friends on eight games. Basically, one thing lead to another, and when I finally roused myself to put away the products three hours later, I made an unwelcome discovery.

The laundry detergent’s cap had been loosened, and two quarts of soapy liquid were now totally soaking in my carpet. And in case, this has not happened to you, let me tell you that stuff does not want to come out.

Lesson learned: Pay attention to my own Monday Motivators!

I have a relative who fell during the ice storm in Alabama. She was in the hospital, then a rehabilitation center. She’s now home but confined to bed and has to have people with her all the time.

This would be a stressful situation under any circumstances, but my poor relative is so engrossed in her own suffering that she is unintentionally chasing off all those who want to help her. If you wash her dishes, she’ll send you to the grocery store. If you bring her groceries, she’ll demand that you take out her garbage. Nothing is ever good enough. And the emphasis in any discussion must be about her condition.

Coincidentally, a friend of mine just had major surgery, which has also put her out of commission. When I visited her, she told me the story of her surgery, but then she wanted to know about me. The next time I went to see her, she remembered the gift I had brought her and told me how much she’d enjoyed it.

Now I sympathize with my relative. She is in pain, she’s bored, and she’s scared. That’s enough to make any of us selfish and more than a little whiny. And I can be selfish and whiny with much less provocation. But there are a couple of ways to deal when our self-absorption threatens to isolate us.

One is to simply express gratitude. Once when I had a stomach virus, a colleague brought me chicken soup, sherbet, and ice cream (for when I was better). Although I could not yet eat any of that food, I was so grateful that I instantly felt not only emotionally but physically better.

The second way is to think of others. By ignoring your pain for just long enough to care about someone else’s well-being, you can often lift your own spirits.

It’s hard when we feel the world pressing down on us. But one sure way to feel better is to get outside yourself, even if just for a few seconds.

Last week, I learned that I had not been chosen for a committee. Considering that I didn’t even know this committee existed, my response was interesting.

My mental process went something like this: Wow. I didn’t know about this committee. I wasn’t chosen. Why were those people chosen? Is the message that I can’t be trusted to be objective on this committee? I would be objective. I would be a good team member. Well, now I’m offended.

Luckily, one of my few good qualities is to be able to laugh at myself. And my jump from “Hey, I wasn’t chosen for a committee that I didn’t know existed and that I don’t particularly want to be on anyway” to “These folks don’t respect my ability to be impartial and trustworthy” was pretty laughable.

More than one social commentator has mentioned our propensity for being offended. And I think being offended gives a certain weight to our hurt feelings. People might expect you to be an adult about feelings and rise above them. But once you’re offended, well, that encompasses more than feelings. It can include your professionalism, your ethics, etc., etc., etc.

Always being ready to be offended can make for some pretty unhappy workplaces and relationships. Maybe it’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way. Instead of being the first to be offended, how about being the first to overlook and forgive?

After a long weekend, the weather seems to be as unhappy with the beginning of a new work as some of our students and faculty. It is dreary and rainy with a threat of storms. Even worse, it seems that the air conditioner has kicked on, leaving us shivering at our desks. What to do?

Luckily, yesterday, I visited Cheekwood Botanical Garden to see their yearly tulips display.  Tulips are my favorite flower; unfortunately, I don’t have much luck with growing them myself. So it’s always a treat to see the thousands in bloom during April. But there is an added bonus today. The memory of the yellow, red, and purple flowers just brightens up my mood on this rainy day. And the photos I took make me smile. I hope they do the same for you.more tulipspurpletulip close up

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