Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Library Life Listers: Always Beginning

“Perhaps I’m too old to do this,” a friend said today about going back to school.  It reminded me of another friend back in Alabama who said something similar to his father: “Dad, if I go back for my Master’s now, I’ll be forty when I’m finished.”

“Son,” his father said. “You’ll be forty anyway. The only question is do you want to be forty with or without that degree?”

Sure, there are some age requirements out there. I know that I can’t train to be an astronaut even if I didn’t have dizziness issues, and watching Wimbledon this week reminds me that 30 in the pro-tennis world is considered really pushing it. And there are some things that really should have age limits: Being loudly drunk at the Ryman is not cute after you hit 22, for example. And almost no one out of college can pull off a pair of stretchy pants with the word “juicy” on the bum.

Still, most age limits are self-imposed. It would be hard to bemoan you’re too old to take college classes when, here at NSCC, you might be in class with retirees. I saw on the news the other night, a woman who took up running in her 60s and now, in her 90s, is breaking records all over the place (mostly because she’s the only person her age running, but still. . .).

So, if there are some goals you’ve left off your life list because you think you’re too old, go back and reexamine them. You’re probably not—unless you’re thinking of buying some “juicy” sweatpants.

Now for the lists:


write some things I’m proud of

Spent a few hours with about a fourth of my draft Saturday evening. It’s in a bit better shape now.

become more fluent in Spanish

Listened to part of an episode of Coffee Break Spanish, used some Spanish in teaching ESL this week, read (or tried reading) some poetry in Spanish, and told the man who came in to clean the building Friday, “Que tenga un buen fin de semana!” This morning I emailed Pam in Spanish.

give my best to the ESL classes I help teach

I’ve been teaching class by myself lately since the lead teacher is taking care of some other responsibilities. Sunday’s class went reasonably well.


Grow vegetable garden: Basil, tomato and cucumbers are all doing well.

Read less tripe, more classics: Read Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter over the weekend.

Jolly Librarian:

Socialize more:

  • Was quite the socializer this week: Attended a party on Friday night and actually talked with people I didn’t know. Then on Monday, I helped give Sara’s retirement party. Yesterday, I attended a little party for my boss’s retirement and birthday. Also, last week, I went to hear Harlan from the English department play and sing. (He’s very good!)

Complain less and just get things done:

  • This did not work so well mainly because I had a second mouse in my house. When I awoke yesterday, I found it sitting in the middle of my kitchen after escaping the trap. Let’s just say there was a traumatic period afterwards for both the mouse and me. Luckily, a friend was close by and came over and took the mouse away. But the combined effect of two mice in two weeks has made me quite a whiner at work. I think the library staff may come over and do a mouse hunt from top to bottom just to prevent further episodes of such public wailing and gnashing of teeth.



  • Benefit gig was successful in that we raised over $1600!
  • Next gig / High Hampton, NC – private trio gig with old friends from former band, Wild Rose. Should be great fun!


  • Another family was recently (today) diagnosed with DIABETES. It is so alarming, it is making me physically sick at my stomach. MUST control carbohydrate intake and maintain good blood sugar health. If not for me, as an example for others.
  • As far as walking, I have to say that I’ve still found an incredible outlet for exercise by weeding and planting, but not by walking. MUST find a workable routine. Am considering swimming rather than walking—wish me luck. TBA
  • I’ve discovered that I need BALANCE in my exercise routine. I overdo it and get sore and feel pain all week. I am thinking the Sportsplex may be for me. Swimming keeps speaking to me for overall movement and strengthening.


  • Read 2 books a month:
  1. Still listening to Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There
  2. Checked out a new Margaret Atwood book, have not started it yet, but it is next in line.
  3. Put Last Child on hold by John Hart


  • Weighed at my friend’s house on a good scale and was delighted to be 138.5  This gives me added inspiration to go for another 10! Thinking seriously about heading for 125. I’d feel SO good. It would be so interesting to see if my cholesterol and sugar would further drop. It is normal, but it would be interesting to see the link between diet and good health.

ORGANIC FARMING / Farmer Gadd Chronicles

  • My neighbor kindly gave me some nutrients to add to my plants that are not so healthy looking. He says I need them in the dirt. The watermelon, beans, cantaloupe, okra and cucumbers are just not growing thick and green. They seem weak and yellowish. Update to follow J
  • Transplanted pepper and tomato plants. Tomatoes are coming in beautifully.


Have let things pile up (except for DISHES!!!). I’m staying on top of kitchen and bathroom.


  • Learn to Scuba Dive – Checked into lessons and gear. Cannot afford yet
  • Go to Hawaii with my mom
  • Do a 25 12 mile day hike — J
  • Have discovered a friend loves kayaking! Plans for a backpacking trip are in progress with kayaking on the list, as well J
  • Camp out in NC and see a billion stars again
  • Set my telescope up and see Orion’s nebula where new stars are being born
  • Make my office into a teaching studio – GOOD GRIEF this is a MUST! Am recruiting students –anyone know of someone interested in clawhammer banjo, five string banjo, mandolin or guitar lessons? THANKS for passing along my info, if so:
  • Visit the pyramids and Egypt
  • Visit Machu Pichu
  • Take a cruise to Greece


My leg muscles continue to get stronger.  I rode my bike all the way home to Mt. Juliet yesterday.  It was fun. I’m still very slow.   A couple hills I had to walk.  I saw the mayor of Nashville at Heartland Park.

I got to promote MERLOT and TEL to the Metro Nashville teachers that were on our campus yesterday for some training.  I sent them a link to My LibGuide about TEL and Content builder Tool about MERLOT.  That was fun!

Last week in East Tenn. I learned about a lot of new apps.  One is called Discovr.  It’s free and you can type in your in the name of an app you like and it will link you to other similar apps.  Pretty cool!

I’m learning about SoftChalk and MERLOT.

I am still working on my Cycling for Libraries idea for TLA next year.


Monday Motivator: You Have the Same Pants to Get Happy In

The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances. —Viktor E. Frankl

 At any given time, someone is telling me how someone else has made her/him happy, unhappy, sad, mad, or glad. And I can’t count the times that I’ve said the same thing, my favorite being “He made me so mad.”

Of course, psychologists warn us about using these expressions. After all, when we say others make us feel certain ways, we are giving them control over our emotions and our peace of mind. And relying on others to provide us with happiness is a precarious state to be in.

Now, my dad was of a similar mind years ago when my sister and I were kids. When we threw a tantrum, which was often, we would exclaim, “I am so mad at you.” This was usually directed at each other or one of our parents. My father would laconically reply, “Well, you’ve got the same pants to get happy in.”

To be honest, I had no idea what my father meant at the time. But the very Zen-like statement was usually enough to shut me up to puzzle over his words or to realize whatever else was going to happen, he was not going to spend any more time worrying about my anger. Now I think his goal may have been simply to watch football without two screaming children in front of him. And he did usually achieve that.

Still, my dad was wiser than he possibly knew. After all, in the end, there really is only one person’s emotions you can control: your own. So I could wait until my sister chose to stop making me mad, which probably was not going to happen. After all, this is the person who once ran over my back with her bicycle. And my parents were certainly not going to change any of their rules in order to turn my frown upside down. So, in the end, I had one choice if I wanted to be happy: to make myself so.

It embarrasses me to say it has taken a good several decades since childhood to learn this lesson, and it is often two steps forward, one step back in its progression. But I no longer expect anyone else to provide me with contentment and happiness. And on the days when I’m not so happy, I realize that it has more to do with my own expectations than other people’s intentions. And while other people can still arouse some mighty anger in me, I realize that if I hold on to it, then that’s my doing, not theirs. It’s both scary (If I’m unhappy, then it’s MY fault.) and liberating (I CAN make myself happy.)

This is not to say that life can’t be rough, and we won’t go through hard times. It can and we will. But I do believe that we make it even rougher by giving so much of our power to others.

So this week, even if for just a couple of times, choose to be happy.  


The Jolly Librarian Considers Job Interviews

In the past month, the Jolly Librarian has been on two interview committees for positions open at our college. In general, I have been impressed with the people I’ve met. Still, there are some common mistakes folks make that could easily be avoided, and which, unfortunately, often eliminate them from consideration. So here, in no particular order, are some tips on making a good impression during the job search:

  • Never talk badly about a former employer. Even if your former boss was Satan himself, avoid the temptation of pointing out the stupidity and weaknesses of your previous place of work. I have been on too many committees where even a hint of criticism  of a former boss puts someone out of contention, so I’m not going to suggest that this can ever be tactfully done. And one would think that saying things like “The company was too stupid to appreciate me” would be something never said. Unfortunately, it’s not.
  • Do some research. There is so much information online about companies that it is a clear warning signal to hiring committees when people don’t know basic information about the place they say they want to work.  Such ignorance implies candidates have simply sent out hundreds of resumes and haven’t taken the time to consider this actual position. And, in this economy, there will always be another candidate who has taken the time.
  • Target your cover letter. In the field of higher education, we tend to hire by committee. This is relevant because someone is likely to catch what other people miss. I tend to skim cover letters looking for relevant experience and grammatical problems. But on every committee, there is someone who mentions that the cover letter is generic, one that was probably sent out to everyone with only the address changed. So even if you are sending the same basic cover letter, make sure that there are some specific points:
    • Name the place. (And if you have a generic sentence, such as “your company,” change that if you’re applying to a college.)
    • Make your letter align your skills with those mentioned in the job listing.
    • Although this isn’t about targeting your letter, proof it until your eyes bleed and then give it to the most detail-oriented person you know for another round.
  • If you are applying for your first supervisory position, show those skills, even if your job experience has not been managerial. Let’s face it: there’s no mystery in being a supervisor. You deal with budgets, planning, and personnel. If you’ve done any of those things at any level, let the interviewers know that. Evaluate your previous jobs or hobbies for relevant skills. Maybe you kept the budget for your sorority. Maybe you had to discipline resident assistants as dorm manager. You might not have been “in charge” at your last job, but you did the planning and execution of a major event, including “firing” one vendor that wouldn’t follow through. Many people have these skills if they’ll just think carefully about their lives.
  • Don’t lie. Don’t depend on people not  checking your information. I always check references. And being caught out in one exaggeration puts your entire application at risk.
  • Be cheerful and upbeat. For most of us, interviewing ranks with public speaking and dental work. It’s simply stressful. And a committee will understand if you’re nervous. But they also want to see that you’re happy at the thought of coming to work with them.  And, over the years, most of us would rather spend extra time training a happy person than hiring a person with all the skills but who is also negative and whiny. So show your positive side.
  • Ask some good questions. One of the most surprising things about my recent experience with search committees was the paucity of questions asked by the candidates. I knew we had not covered every aspect of the job, especially since I was the chair of one of those committees. And I know that nervousness kept some folks from even being able to think about questions. So write them down ahead of time. Think of this as the moment that you get to interview the company. Ask some of the same questions: “Where do you want this department to be in five years?” “What are the biggest challenges this company faces in the next year?”  And so on. But don’t just stare at the ceiling blankly and then blurt out, “Uh, no. I can’t think of any questions.”
In an economy where competition is heavy for almost every job opening, don’t let simple mistakes keep you back.  If you find yourself not getting jobs or even interviews over and over again, ask a trusted friend or a career counselor to evaluate your resume and interview style. And don’t get discouraged. Like every other skill, job hunting skills get better with practice.

Library Life Listers: Summer Time

Now, in my mind, I was thinking that summer would be a great time for checking off some life list items. After all, I’m on a modified contract, so I should have some extra time. Right? Somehow, that doesn’t seem to be quite true. Or maybe I’m just spending that extra time catching up on reruns of America’s Next Top Model. In any case, my accomplishment list is not getting any longer.

But let’s see how my colleagues are doing:


(Sally is away in East Tennessee at a library conference.)


  • Learn French: For the time being, I’ve quit. However, I still remember the words for candle and bus, which I’m sure will come in handy if I ever get lost in Paris at night. (Jolly Librarian’s comment:  I have a vision of Emily holding a candle waiting for the bus. I don’t think she’ll last long in Paris.)
  • Cook new dish: Last week’s dish was pistachio crusted orange roughy with a Greek yogurt sauce.
  • Grow garden: Only harvest has been jalapenos and herbs. We have many green tomatoes coming in.

 Jolly Librarian:

  • Cooking: After buying my cookbook, I was ready for my first dish. I made egg salad. It was tasty and my lunch for two days. I’m going to ignore that the only cooking involved was boiling eggs.
  • Reading: I bought two more books that are on my “Books that English Professors Should Have Read But Somehow I Missed” list: Gulliver’s Travels and Don Quixote. They join the fifty or so other books on my ‘to-read’ shelf.
  • Doing Things Rather Than Whining about Them: I discovered this week, I can combine the two. There was a mouse in my kitchen. I whined as I set the trap. I whined the next morning when the mouse was caught and I had to dispose of his carcass. And I whined as I cleaned up the kitchen afterwards.


translate the book of Esther

While I haven’t done any more work on this – and am still fine with that – I had a conversation with a friend whose Hebrew professor recommended the book of Esther specifically as a good book to translate to keep in practice. Now my friend is thinking of tackling the book…I told her she should, and that as she gets further into it we should compare translations. This should be fun!

work toward solving the problem of homelessness in Nashville

I really, really want to volunteer somewhere, but with the schedule I’m keeping (I choose to spend hours at a time writing, for instance), I just don’t know if I can. Last week I did have an opportunity to explain to someone why I support The Contributor. I hope I was able to clear up some misconceptions about the nature and purpose of the program. This conversation was a small step, I guess, but one person better informed and less skeptical of a program that works (over 35% of Contributor vendors have obtained housing through profits from their sales) constitutes a small change in the fabric of our society. If any of you wish to learn more about The Contributor, you might visit the website, including the FAQ section.

write some things I’m proud of

I’ve been focusing on the overall shape of the piece I’m editing before getting down to individual words and sentences. So far, so good…

become more fluent in Spanish

I reloaded my ipod with some earlier episodes of Coffee Break Spanish, so I can review. I also visited a Spanish-speaking church Sunday evening.

give my best to the ESL classes I help teach

I taught Sunday afternoon’s class by myself, and it went well.



  • Have a benefit gig this coming Sunday. I sure would appreciate anyone who could come.
  • Benefit


  • I attended a reunion of family and friends I grew up with this weekend and was deeply concerned and sadly alarmed to see so many dear people I love having become…well, obese. Along with this, I can’t tell you the number of folks who informed me they are now diabetic. This has inspired me to again rid my body of high sugar and carbs, grease, etc. I do not want to go through life never allowing myself a treat, but it seems time to sculpt the thin layer of fat off of my body and get to business eating responsibly. It’s my life, after all.
  • Plan to walk the greenway again this week.


  • Read 2 books a month:

Completed I’m a Stranger Here by Bill Bryson

Listening to a new Bill Bryson book Neither Here Nor There

Reading The Last Child  by John Hart


  • Emily, please bring your scale….The day of reckoning has arrived!

ORGANIC FARMING / Farmer Gadd Chronicles

  • New cherry tomatoes are green and full. Cabbages are turning into real little cabbage heads! Sugar snap peas all gone. Green beans on the way. Watermelon, pumpkins, cucs, canteloupe and yellow squash peeking out but taking their time. Stay tuned…

THRILLED to be on top of things!!


  • Learn to Scuba Dive
  • Go to Hawaii with my mom
  • Do a 25 mile day hike
  • Go canoeing or kayaking
  • Camp out in NC and see a billion stars again
  • Set my telescope up and see Orion’s nebula where new stars are being born
  • Make my office into a teaching studio
  • See the pyramids
  • See Machu Pichu

Life Lessons from the Library: Be the Headlights on a Dark Road.

I’m in the process of hiring a new director for the Testing Center, and it’s not a job I enjoy. Oh, I enjoy meeting new people and talking with them. I enjoy getting to spend time with the hiring committee, people whom I don’t see on a regular basis. But I have to admit that I’m not comfortable with the final stage of hiring: There is only so much you can tell about a person in an interview and listening to references. In the end, he/she has to come in and do the job before you really know if you’ve made the right choice.

It’s like driving on a dark night, something that I’ve never been fond of either. I could never understand why people would leave for trips at night. “The traffic is nonexistent,” they’d say. “You get there so much faster.”

Perhaps so, but I like to be able to see around me, and I like to see where I’m going and where the potential hazards may be in the miles ahead. Of course, it is a fallacious comfort I find in driving during the day. My only wreck was in broad daylight where I could see five or six streets in front of me. And that was the problem. I was so focused on the red light 500 feet ahead, I didn’t see the one right in front of me.

I’ve think, in most things, we’re all driving at night on a very dark road. We see as far as we can and have to make our decisions based on that. We can never be certain that anything we do will have the results we desire. But we have to keep moving forward.

I often feel that way in the library. Some students make us their home away from home. They give us updates on their classes and tell us where they’re going to university. But for most, we see them only once or twice. The student I helped today is an older adult with children, a job, and  a lot of fear. I can’t do much about any of those things. But like those headlights on a dark road, I lit up a small space for her to be able to get this one assignment done. And for this day, it was enough. And if she comes back, we’ll be here to provide a little more light. Because that’s what we do here.

And that’s what we all should be doing for each other.

Monday Motivator: Conquer a Fear, Whether Mountain or Mouse!

Eleanor Roosevelt said to do one thing each day that scares you. It is good advice, since doing something scary automatically gets you out of your comfort zones. Of course, the definition of scary varies from person to person and task to task. You might dive off a cliff without a second thought but almost cry when asked to give a speech. But no matter what our personal fears may be, we often deal with them by trying to ignore their existence or putting off doing them as long as we can.

Last week, I realized that I was not just being clumsy throwing things in my garbage pail under the sink; there was a mouse pulling out and gnawing on my discarded ice cream lids. Now I have a great fear of mice. This comes naturally to me. One of my earliest memories is of my mother pulling my sister and me onto a trunk and screaming as a mouse ran through the room. Also, as a child, a groggy, poisoned mouse once decided to spend its last hours in one of my warm knitted slippers. Let’s just say I’ve never worn slippers again.

So, a mouse in my home is the equivalent of a malevolent stalker. I was upset that I briefly considered going online to matchmaker sites with only one criterion for love: Will you kill my mouse?  But instead, I bought a trap and set it.

The next morning, I woke, jumped out of bed, and then remembered there might be a mouse waiting for me downstairs. So I jumped back in bed and covered up until hunger got the best of me. In the kitchen, I gingerly opened the cabinet. And there it was: dead mouse in the trap.

Now at this point, you would think the hard part was over. But I discovered that I am scared of dead mice too. So I did what any reasonable person would do: walk around the condo looking out my windows hoping a neighbor would pass by. But then it occurred to me that there was no good way to ask someone to take  a dead mouse out of your house. So I put on some work gloves, got out a garbage bag, held my breath, reached in, pulled out the mouse, tossed it in the bag, and then threw the bag out of my front door. (I did later take the bag to the dumpster.)

Still, it was a good fifteen minutes before I stopped shaking enough to make my cereal and coffee. And I’m not sure when I will be able to open my cabinet door again without flinching.

However, the experience was a good reminder that fear-busting is not getting rid of the fear; it’s proceeding though your hands are shaking and your knees are wobbling.

So this week, take one of your fears and conquer it, step by trembling step.

Library Life Listers: Making a Little Progress Day by Day

In the life list business, it’s important to realize that, when you want to improve skills, it takes time, and progress can come in small drips and bits. Especially if you’re trying to learn a new language or break a bad habit, it often feels like the proverbial one-step forward, two-steps back. That’s why it can be so important to keep track of progress, so you can realize that you’re now reading actual French and not having to look up each word or that, although you’re still overeating, it’s now only 3 days out of the week. Just a simple checklist can help keep you on track!  Try it.

Now for our life lists:


Painted dining room. Not sure if I like the color.

Emily's New Dining Room Color

Vegetable garden still growing, but its care has been met with many a bug bite.

Probably need to revisit item 12: Write fewer sentence fragments.

New list item: Get MFJ to realize life listing has run its course.  (Jolly Librarian note: Emily is the sassy librarian!)



  • Goal: To perform 20  1 show with my full band this year.

Got a call this morning for another gig (duet) next Friday here in town at a wedding reception. Very happy about this.


  • Walk 5 3 days a week:

Walked 1 durn day – yesterday—about 3 miles along greenway – over to Sylvan Park and back. I highly recommend this, and it occurred to me while strolling along over bridge and smelling the moist wood near the creek—that I cannot actually believe I go through ANY day without such a peaceful place/time to reflect and gather myself. I am inspired and plan to get into the routine of doing this — (especially since I’ve discovered that there is a route via the Greenway –over to Bobbi’s Dairy Dip on Charlotte!!!)


  • Read 2 books a month:

On last cd of Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger Here and still reading The Last Child by John Hart. Have 2 new Bryson books for trip home this upcoming weekend. Will keep you updated.


  • Trying to eat 6 5 fruits and vegs a day.

Have given up on fudgecicles. Have been eating raw vegetable suppers including avocado / raw cabbage / raw jalapeno and cayenne peppers. Also adding raw pecans and Swiss cheese and stone ground crackers. Love these nutritious meals and feel they help boost my immune system. Too, because they are low in calories, I can eat more. Also, I’ve added in jello –almost every day – in order to strengthen my nails.

ORGANIC FARMING / Farmer Gadd Chronicles

  • Tomato plants are growing strong and tall – small fruits are appearing. Jalapenos are coming. Squash, pumpkin, cucs and okra, as well as yellow squash and green beans are coming up beautifully. Such a thrill.
  • Staying on top of this week to week. It’s all I can do, but I’m determined to surround myself with a peaceful, organized living place. It makes a difference in my overall being.


  • Learn to Scuba Dive
  • Go to Hawaii with my mom
  • Do a 25 mile day hike
  • Go canoeing this summer
  • Camp out in NC and see a billion stars again
  • Set my telescope up and see Orion’s nebula where new stars are being born
  • Make my office into a teaching studio
  • See the pyramids
  • See Machu Pichu


translate the book of Esther

I have found, to my dismay, that translating and writing are so similar in the kind of energy and effort they require (not to mention time) that I can’t make significant progress toward my goals in both of these domains at the same time. For this reason, I still haven’t translated any further than Esther 5:8. I’m all right with this, though. I’ve made significant progress, and I’ve enjoyed and benefited from the experience so far. Even if I don’t finish translating Esther this year (and now that I’m so far behind schedule, this doesn’t seem likely), I still want to translate the whole book eventually. It just might take longer than I’d originally planned.

work toward solving the problem of homelessness in Nashville

Back to looking into volunteer opportunities. Read up on a couple of volunteer organizations in the area; sent a couple of inquiry emails.

write some things I’m proud of

Check. Earlier this week I finished something that I’m pretty happy with. And without going into huge detail about the project I’m editing–it’s going well, too.

become more fluent in Spanish

Attended the Spanish-speaking church Sunday evening.

give my best to the ESL classes I help teach

Sunday afternoon’s class went reasonably well. I’m in charge of the next class. I haven’t yet finished preparing, but I do have a plan for it.



My leg continues to get stronger.  I’ve even been able to stand up to pedal uphill some.  It hurts a bit, but it’s good therapy.  I am still scared of cars.

New things learned I learned this week:

  • The grade Ohio high school student Robert Heft got for the history class project for which he designed what is now the U.S.’s 50-star flag was a B-minus. That was in 1958, when there were 48 states. Heft’s teacher promised to change the grade to an A if Congress ever adopted the design. That happened two years later, after Alaska and Hawaii became states.
  • At the beginning of World War II, the Washington, D.C., building that had a subterranean bunker with desks, beds, and a fully stocked kitchen set up for the president was the Treasury Building, in its vault area. The bombproof emergency shelter was kept in readiness 24/7 in the event of an air attack on the nation’s capital.
  • The four sports where players dribble a ball are basketball, soccer, water polo, and bandy. Bandy is a winter sport played on ice with a ball and stick.
  • The innovative techno-musician Moby come by his unusual name because he was a relative (a great-great-great-nephew, give or take a great) of writer Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick. He was nicknamed Moby in early childhood.
  • Koala’s have 2 thumbs on each front paw along with 3 fingers.
  • Armenia’s coat of arms features a picture of Noah’s Ark resting atop Mount Ararat. Mount Ararat—in eastern Turkey, on its borders with Armenia and Iran—has long been considered the sacred symbol of Armenia and the spiritual home of its people.
  • Yesterday was Flag Day and I learned that the first U.S. flags were made of hemp, a sustainable fiber that requires no pesticides or dioxins to process.


I just cataloged a book called, The Party Girl Cookbook, which I thought might help some of my colleagues with their desires to be more social and cook more interesting dishes.

I continue to tell everyone about TEL and MERLOT.  I produced a LibGuide about TEL.

It tells about the new addition to TEL: the World Book Encyclopedia!

I also produced a handout for students about my 2 favorite mobile device apps: Access My Library(Gale research databases) and EBSCO’s new library database app.  I produced a guide about “mobile apps for libraries” using MERLOT’s Content Builder.

Cycling for Libraries is still being worked on.


The Jolly Librarian:

Weight Loss Challenge: Joined two friends to lose 10 pounds each this summer. On our first weigh-in, our total weight loss was (wait for it!!!) 1.4 pounds.

Getting Up On Time: So far, my streak remains at 1 day. I get up on time one day and not the next. But being the ever-eternal optimist, I keep trying.

Cooking: I have become re-motivated to learn to cook. I’ve bought a cookbook and will be working on healthy recipes to bring for lunch. Of course, before I actually cook something, I will have to buy the utensils, the pots and pans, and ingredients, including any spices that may be required.

Learning French: Having joined Yabla, I was afraid just watching videos wouldn’t work. But I have found that taking the quiz at the end of the video is very helpful. It makes me listen carefully to the dialogue. So carefully, a couple of times, I had new wrinkles after completing the task.

Photography: Am playing with my new camera, learning how it works, and taking lots of pictures. I am also reading a book on it, so I can use all its features.



Life Lessons from the Library: We’re Always Beginners!

“. . . for everything you gain, you lose something else.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

In many ways, to work in a library is to work in a state of perpetual ignorance.  “Wait,” I hear you say, “How can this be so? Librarians are surrounded by information at every turn.” Which may be the thing that reminds us constantly of our ignorance.

For the past two weeks, technicians have been setting up one of our classrooms so that we’ll be able to teach and run workshops live with our campuses in Waverly, Dickson, and Cookeville. This is great, and we’re all looking forward to it. Well, except for one thing. We don’t know how to use any of the equipment, so we’ll have to be trained. So in the space of a month, we’ve gone from experts to novices.

No one likes making mistakes in front of classes, but the thing is, in libraries, you get used to change or you’re left behind. Of course, much of this has to do with technology. In the past year, our library system was updated, and we bought a new federated search. Both require learning new procedures. So one day, we were conducting searches like the information wizards, and the next, we wondered what key to hit. It was humbling.

But it’s also good for us. As library staff at a community college, we are constantly coming across students at all ends of the spectrum. There are some who probably could build a library system if we gave them access. And we have some who are totally insecure about computers and need help logging into the system. Always being learners ourselves reminds us to be patient with those newbies.

Every gain is a loss of something else. We have a room worthy of Star Trek, but for the moment, we have lost our ability to go in and conquer the equipment with ease. We admit we have lost that comfort, but that loss makes us more patient with students.

As usual, Emerson was right.


Monday Motivator: Welcome Rejection

Most people think of rejection in only one way: that it’s awful and should be avoided at all costs.  And I don’t disagree. After all, I have the distinction of once being rejected twice in one day: first by a colleague who thought I was the worst department coordinator in the history of our or any college and then by my boyfriend who, after listening to my sad tale over the phone, said, “Well, I guess I’m about to make your day worse” and broke up with me.

No, no one likes being rejected, but rejection has many good lessons to teach if we will only stop crying and learn them. I once read an interview with an author whose short story had been rejected by the New Yorker. When asked what he did then, he said that he went about learning to write a story good enough for that magazine and did so.

Rejection usually feels personal, but if we can rise above the hurt, we can often see a way to proceed that will make us better in the long run. Maybe I didn’t get the job because I was the only candidate without a Master’s Degree. I then have a decision to make: Do I want this type of job bad enough to return to college? If not, what other options do I have?

Another reason we should welcome rejection is that it is, believe it or not, a sign of progress. When you’ve been rejected, it means that you’ve been out there attempting something new. You’ve tried to get your story published or your song recorded. You’ve tried a new relationship. You tried to get a new job or a promotion.

Sure, rejection means you didn’t make it (this time), but you’re not sitting in the corner letting life pass you by. You’re going for it. And as anyone who has accomplished goals knows, rejection (in fact, multiple rejections) comes with the territory.

So, this week, court rejection. He  is not the most pleasant companion on the road to success, but he is a necessary one.

What Makes the Jolly Librarian Bang Her Head on the Desk!

Today a student came up to the circ desk during and told me that she needed to find an article from a sociology journal. This is just the sort of assignment the Jolly Librarian loves. So I showed her my favorite database and how to narrow down her options to professional journals and how to tell from the abstract whether the article dealt with a study or not.

The student was  excited. “This is so easy,” she said. “I can do this from home.” Then she gave a little embarrassed smile: “I kept looking and looking online for something, and here it was all the time.”

I was happy she was happy. And I hope that I’ve made her future searches that much easier, but there was a part of me that wanted to bang my head on the desk after she left. Because, for every student who comes up and asks for help, there are five out there who don’t, who have no idea how to search our databases, and who end up finding research so irritating they stop even trying.

Yet we try everything to get the word out that we’re here to help: in person and online. We have tutorials and handouts. We go to classes to teach the basics of research. And we librarians are not the only ones: dedicated faculty are doing the same. Yet we all know that we’ll miss some, and others won’t catch on but simply won’t say anything.

When I did classroom orientations, sometimes weeks later, a student would walk up to me in the library, look totally embarrassed, and say, “You came to my class last month to teach about looking up sources. But I can’t remember how to do it.” It was obvious the person thought I would be offended that my words had not become a permanent fixture in his/her brain.

What I wanted to do (but didn’t since scaring the person was not my intent) was wrap my arms around the poor student and proclaim, “You remembered the most important thing. If you run into trouble while doing research, you come see us. We’ll help.”

But I know that the 2-3 people who came to afterwards were not the only folks who needed help. I’m not such a good instructor that my one thirty-minute orientation made thirty super-researchers. I know that many wandered through the Internet hoping to stumble upon a good source. And I know, from my colleagues’ critique of papers that get turned in to them, that most were not so fortunate.

So I hope that student today goes out and tells her classmates about the database she discovered. And I hope she mentioned that the nice person in the library helped her. Not for the praise, we never exchanged names. But in hope that one more lost researcher will come through the door.