Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Jolly Librarian Considers Leaving

Last night, instead of going home, I took a drive through the countryside and thought about the day. Allison had come in my office a few hours earlier. Just finished with her student teaching, she was going on interviews. She had one at a middle school yesterday morning, and she had not been back in the office long when the school called to offer her the job.

Now I knew this was coming. For one thing, the whole reason she moved to Nashville was to earn her teaching certificate and start her career in education. For another, she is so bright and personable that it’s hard to imagine that anyone wouldn’t snap her up in a heartbeat. So I wasn’t surprised, but I am sad that she’ll be leaving us.

Of course, leaving is the one constant in academic life. If everything goes according to plan, students move on to universities and jobs. Graduate students at other colleges work as tutors and adjuncts and then return to their home cities or start new careers.

Yes, leaving is a constant at a college, but the idea has become more bitter than sweet recently. When I first came to NSCC, I was in my 20’s. Now only a handful of people have been here longer than I. In the past year, three of my closest colleagues have retired, another is moving away, and two more have died. There is a sense of being haunted in the halls by the people I have laughed, argued, and sometimes schemed with.

And new people don’t replace the old; instead they tend to superimpose upon one another. A student will ask a question, and I’ll hear Rosetta’s wise words before I answer. Another student is yelling into his cell phone; I remember Deborah announcing over the loud-speaker, “No cell phones in the library” before going over to ask him to quiet it down a bit. And no matter how many Assistants to the President come after Eileen, it will be her pretending to talk into her wristwatch phone when mentioning Dick Tracy at the Board of Regents that I’ll see.

As a child with half my family in England, I believed it was easier to be the leaver than the left. The leaver had places to go, new tasks to tackle. The left returned to the same places, just without the leaver, and nothing to distract her from the missing.    All these years later, I still think so.


The Self-Improvement Chronicles: Kicking the Fat Out (of our Dairy)

Our task this week was to reduce the fat in our dairy choices.

And the Jolly Librarian sighed with relief. I gave up whole-fat dairy many years ago. In fact, I was the first in my family to do so. At home, I buy no-fat milk, reduced-fat cheese, and low-fat ice cream (or no-fat frozen yogurt). But to be honest, all of this tastes as good as full-fat does to me. If it didn’t, then I’d probably be making different choices.

Emily, relaxed from her vacation, actually combined assignments: She found low-fat organic milk at Costco, which lasts a month (an economical choice as well). However, her sassiness returned in time for her to add, “I don’t buy low-fat cheese and never will. ”

Pam was faced with a dilemma. Since her latest physical, she has been trying to add calcium to her diet, while keeping watch on her fat intake. How to do both? Here are her thoughts: “I now use 1% milk–rather than soy in order to get more calcium. I only buy low-fat cottage cheese.  I’m careful to watch my intake of cheese, however, I do at times choose a lower fat, white cheese over a heavy yellow (delicious) cheese in order to have less fat.  Ice cream and frozen yogurt are not even something I bring home to have at the house anymore, and let’s face it, McDonald’s dip cones, although they call my name VERY LOUDLY IN THE SUMMER, are not an option.

Here’s an article about women and dairy from our Health and Wellness database.

This week’s grades:

Pam–         A

Emily–      B+ (no low-fat cheese ever?)

Jolly Librarian– B (low-fat does not mean it’s all right to have 6 scoops of ice cream)

Monday Motivator: Take Five Minutes

On my iPad, I have an app called Zite, which gives me a sort of personalized magazine of blogs and articles on topics of my choice. One of my topics is happiness, and on any given day, there are many authors with many ideas on achieving, maintaining, and losing happiness.

Usually, there’s nothing revolutionary about these articles. Usually, I’m looking for a reminder of something useful that I’ve forgotten. Which is what happened yesterday. I was feeling a little dispirited. Shopping for my vacation had not gone well. The clutter in my house (and the resulting dust and dirt) was becoming overwhelming.

I clicked through my magazine and glanced through the subtopics of an article that  promised to make me happier in the next few minutes. The third idea caught my attention: “If it can be done in the next five minutes, do it.”

I looked around my house. There was a space heater sitting in the middle of the living room floor. Each weekend, I was going to put it away in a closet, but it was now five weeks after the last cold morning, and still it sat there. That could be done in less than one minute. I picked it up and moved it.

While in the closet, I noticed the filter I bought for the air conditioner. I’d been putting that off too. I could do that in five minutes. So I did.

You guessed it: One thing led to another. I even vacuumed the carpet because it’s a lot easier to vacuum when there’s not a bunch of stuff on the floor.

Now, let’s be clear, my house is never going to win the clean or clutter-free award, but it’s better than it was. And all because instead of thinking of the massive amount of work ahead of me, I took things in five-minute chunks.

Time management experts call it the Swiss-cheese technique. It can work for all sorts of tasks, even studying!

So this week, take one thing you’ve been putting off and give it five minutes.

The Self-Improvement Chronicles: Go Organic

The Jolly Librarian is not an organic sort of person. I’m not going to give a bunch of excuses. End of story. However, I have started buying organic eggs, not because of any health benefits, but due to a story a friend told me about conditions in chicken factories. I may not care about my own health, but I do think there should be some concern given to animals who are being asked to sacrifice for our comfort.

Pam and Emily are much better at this than I. They are both avid gardeners. Pam’s garden is totally organic. In fact, even as I write this, she is having a moral dilemma over dealing with the bugs that are eating her lima beans. Emily is on vacation this week, but we have all been going to her house to water her garden. Things seem pretty organic there as well. 

If you are thinking about going organic but are worried about the costs, Dr. Oz has some tips.

Our grades for this week:

Pam                        A

Emily                       A

Jolly Librarian            F

The Summer Bucket List

I have a confession to make. When the year was winding down on my first-grade experience, I was overwrought. I didn’t want it to end. I cried so much that my dad actually took me down to the school where the principal explained that the only school in the summer was for those who had not passed the first time and had to have extra help. I was even willing to attend that, but was gently refused.

Looking back, I don’t think it was my unadulterated love of learning that caused so much trauma, but my subconscious realization that school provided something that I didn’t have at home: a structure. Not being blessed with a large amount of self-discipline, without structure, the summer days merged into one another with very little to show for them.

Things haven’t changed that much, except that I’ve noticed I’m not the only one. Each May, my colleagues and I talk about the accomplishments we plan for the summer: trips, concerts, lunches, writings, paintings, etc. Usually, that’s the last time I see them again until August. (Of course, there is the possibility that they simply don’t like me and aren’t including me in on the fun. But I prefer not to go there.)

In August we meet up again, shake our heads, and say wonderingly, “Where did the summer go?”

I don’t know about anyone else, but here is my problem with summer. I think of it as this huge monolithic idea–that, like Godot, is always coming but never arriving. I don’t get started on things because I “have all summer.”  And then without being aware of it, summer is gone.

But this year, I’m trying something new, an idea that I’m guessing started from exasperated mothers of bored children: the Summer Bucket List!

From Creative Spice Blog

This summer, I’m determined not to let summer pass me by. I’m putting it in writing. And I’m checking off as I go. Wish me luck.

Follow along and create your own summer bucket list!



Monday Motivator: Opt Out

My friend Robert Benson wrote about the pains of email in his blog, and as tempted as I am to steal his ideas and pretend they’re mine, I’ll simply direct you to his eloquent words about his email frustration.

There are many things about email that irk me:

  • People who don’t read emails and then get all huffy about ‘not being informed.’
  • People who send me emails and then call to tell me they’ve just sent me an email.
  • People who send emails to everyone when only a few people are affected by the contents.

Still, those are mere annoyances. In general, email is a great help to my job. If an item is in my inbox, then I know it still needs to be dealt with. When there’s some discrepancy about who agreed to do what, I can go through archives to sort it out. And, let’s face it, for introverts, it’s much nicer than talking on the telephone.

I find email to be a useful tool, but that doesn’t mean I like the fact that on any given day, I receive more than a hundred emails. I’m not that popular. I’m not that important. So after reading Robert’s blog, I investigated my own inbox and found, to my chagrin, that I was the unintentional cause of a great deal of my own pain.

It appears that my email address is often put on order forms for items we buy for our division. And like any good marketing department, those companies added me to their mailing lists. Besides my work emails, I’m receiving ads about software, conferences, tutoring services, newsletters, etc. The purchase may have been an one-time thing, but the marketing emails are eternal.

Unless you unsubscribe. And that’s what I’m doing. For the past three days, instead of automatically deleting those emails, I’ve been taking the extra step to unsubscribe. If all goes according to plan, I should have a more streamlined inbox with only those emails that have relevance to my current situation.

We’ll see. As of today, my inbox is at 137, the lowest it’s been in over a year.

So your task for this week is to start controlling your inbox by unsubscribing from all those companies that have you on their marketing lists. It’s probably an accumulation of months and years, and you just might be surprised what a difference it can make.

BTW, today’s post does not apply to the Jolly Librarian!

The Self-Improvement Chronicles: From Peaches to Purpose

Our book took a radical turn this week. We went from adding some fruit to our diet to finding our purpose in life. Yikes!

Typically, my colleagues took very different views to this assignment. Emily’s first response: “I discovered nihilism this week.” But after some thought, she added,  “My purpose in life is to provide inspiration to the Jolly Librarian’s “Emily” character — loosely based on the real me  — who loves self-improvement and sassin’.”  (And the Jolly Librarian appreciates it!)

Pam, whose favorite conversation starter is “Why are we here?” took a different approach: “It’s been a thoughtful time as I think beyond an Associate’s degree and ponder my life up ahead in my 60’s. Haven’t had any breakthroughs – go back and forth (stunning, I know) with thinking I believe I could one day have something to offer others who struggle if I pursued clinical social work counseling. Have looked at the Philosophy/Religion degree at Tennessee in Chattanooga and it is alluring. Music is alive and well again and finding its way into my life in four new areas, so I continue to hope that will be a part of my professional path. So for now, I’m living one day at a time sorting through life as I go, as we all have to do, and enjoying growing some green beans, turnips and tomatoes along the way. Anyone for a nice squash? I seem to have planted them everywhere thinking they were nice tomato plants. Oh, yea, gardening…Did I mention that in my future prospects as a life career?”

The Jolly Librarian would like to keep working with students and books while writing words of wisdom for her ten blog readers. And since she is now closing in on what self-help writers euphemistically call the second act, she, like Pam is thinking of new opportunities that may be waiting.

As you might imagine, there are many life purpose articles out there. Here are some links to a couple of worksheets:

Monique Martineau

Life Purpose Worksheet

Grades for this Week:

Pam:  A  (How can you count points off on someone’s life purpose?)

Emily: A (for making me laugh)

Jolly Librarian: A

What the Library Staff Does on Semester Break

I must admit the May break is my favorite. There are not the competing concerns of holidays as in December. And the time in August is not like a break at all since faculty are returning and students are here to register for fall. The May break simply is.

At this moment, the library staff outnumbers patrons by about two to one. So it is quiet and peaceful.

But not unproductive. Since student workers are gone, we are doing all the shelving of books and films that are returned. We are also calling the students who have forgotten to return their materials.

This is also the time that we work on projects that have somehow managed to keep getting swept aside on the daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists. I’m working on the division’s goals. Emily is experimenting with our new equipment so that we can offer a media center in the fall. And the librarians have met to discuss what modifications need to be done to our website.

And, of course, the regular work goes on as well: cataloging, checking in magazines, and deciding which books to order when purchasing opens again.

We need this quiet time in order to recharge, plan, and make things better for students when they return. I enjoy it, but I find myself missing the students, yearning for the smiles as they come in, the quick questions, and the sometimes desperate requests for that last source to make a paper complete.

And then I remember that in two weeks, I’ll be doing precisely all those things again and wishing for some quiet time to plan and think.  Perhaps, it’s a reminder that no time is perfect, but all times can be good if they are simply experienced