Andrew: Having some of the library staff at the wedding of Sarah and me in September. It’s nice to be friends, as well as coworkers, here at NSCC.
Colette: A very nice student whom I have helped with research this semester, and who also attended a couple of the library’s workshops on PowerPoint and MLA citations, came in the other day to show me her grades for the semester. And to say “thank you.” She did very well and I’m very proud of her.
Sally: Cataloging the Bone Box and the Brain model, and helping the A&P students.
Jolly Librarian: Seeing our student workers and students I’ve helped in the library walk at graduation. Getting to work with some really great people. And talking music with colleague Pam as we both take classes to learn how to play the piano.
Andrew: The Quiet Room: A Journey out of the Torment of Madness by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett. It tells the true story of Lori’s struggle with schizoaffective disorder that was a challenge to diagnose and resistant to treatment. Although she expressed her discouragement through violent and suicidal behavior, she finally finds hope. I found this book at the NSCC library, and it was so interesting that I’m going to order it from Amazon.
Colette: 2014 was a good year for good books; perhaps my favorite (and most recent) was Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. The entire novel is written as a series of letters of recommendation, written by a fictional professor. I was impressed by how much plot and character development the author squeezed into such a unique format. I laughed out loud and that hardly ever happens when I read.
Emily: The Secret History by DonnaTartt. After refusing to read The Goldfinch, I picked up a copy of The Secret History at Costco (anytime they have a decent book, I impulse buy it). The Goldfinch is now on my nightstand. Favorite book released in 2014 that I also read in 2014: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
Faye: The Bible is my favorite book. Every year, I plan to read the Bible from cover to cover. Some years I don’t complete the New Year’s resolution—but each year I keep trying. The more that I read the Bible, the more I can understand God’s Word. The Concord Reference Bible presents the King James Version of the Bible in a clear and readable print. It offers a treasure of reference material, dictionary of names and phrases, and maps. The words of Christ are printed in red.
Sally: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I have to include this one too: Ecology, Economy, Equity: the path to a carbon-neutral library by Mandy Henk.
Jolly Librarian: There were so many good books this year. I too enjoyed The Goldfinch, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, and Dear Committee Members. I also enjoyed What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault and A Field Guide to Happiness by Linda Leaming.
There is something about the holiday season that leads to an expectation that we can put the dark things of life on hold, that all should be merry and bright. Holiday movies promise that all will be well in the end if we just believe.
Of course, the world does not always cooperate with our expectations. This week, two of my friends are attending funerals for loved ones. One is nervously awaiting the results of a medical test. Another totaled his car. And these are just the people I know. The briefest glance at the news is an additional reminder that, even at the most joyful time of the year, devastating things happen.
So I’m thinking one of the best gifts we can give this holiday season is kindness. We can give the overworked waiter who drew the Christmas Eve shift the gift of not getting upset if the order takes longer than expected or if the iced tea that we didn’t order is on our bill. We will not require that the colleague who is mourning the loss of a loved one participate in our holiday activities; in fact, we can give him a free pass to ignore them if he wishes. And we won’t say, “You’d feel better if you’d just get in the holiday spirit” to anyone at all.
This year, let’s give the gift of lightening the load for someone else even if for just a moment.
Sally: Finding historical newspaper articles.
Faye: Searching the databases for the subjects that they are wanting to find. Also, I help more students with formatting their papers using Microsoft Word.
Emily: Madam Rowley’s Toilet Mask
Jolly Librarian: Anything literary. It’s fun to show students how they can use similar themes in an author’s other works to prove a point.
As I write this, the fall semester is officially over (with the exception of frantic English professors still grading those last few essays so they can turn in their grades by the 4:30 deadline). So it seems an appropriate time to reflect on and thank the people who unintentionally served as my teachers this year.
- To Donna, thanks for sharing how to suffer a great loss with dignity and love and for providing an example of courage and faith.
- To the ESL students who come to the library, thanks for reminding me how much persistence matters when going after a goal.
- To the LRC staff, thanks for being both supportive and honest, and never letting me be surrounded with a bunch of “yes men.”
- To the grumpy woman at the check-out counter, thanks for the lesson that a kind word can often deescalate a situation, but an angry word on top of another angry word will surely not.
- To Jeff, the IT guy who has an office in the library, thanks for demonstrating that it is possible to be patient and kind, even when asked the same question over and over and over and over again.
- To the constant complainer, thanks for reminding me that constant complaining is the surest way to drive people away.
- To that person who can never take criticism and advice, thanks for showing me how I don’t want to be.
- To the man who screamed at the Wendy’s employee at the drive-thru, thanks for not being in my life for more than this one unpleasant moment.
You get the picture. There are teachers everywhere if we’ll just pay attention.
In the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, Cal Newport makes a convincing argument that the passion hypothesis (that we must find our passion to have a satisfying and enjoyable work life) is wrong. His belief is that passion comes after we put in the hard work to learn a skill, not before.
This can be a very liberating philosophy. Instead of worrying that we’ve found the right career, we realize that we can do well and be happy in a variety of careers. It gives us the freedom to try new things, not afraid we’re missing out on our ‘passion.’
Whatever job we’re in, Newport recommends building “career capital,” so when and if we’re ready to make a move, we’ll have options:
- Work on a craftsman mindset. In other words, work on getting better at a job, not on trying to find the perfect one.
- Find out what’s needed in the field.
- Seek feedback.
- Minimize the time spent on activities that won’t improve job performance.
One of the major problems of the “Passion” mindset, according to Newport, is that we spend too much time worrying about what the job is giving to us instead of working on the contributions we can make. We end up with the same skills we had when we started the job, something that doesn’t make us look very attractive to potential employers.
So when we are giving advice to college students, maybe we need to back off on the passion part. Or at least temper it.