2018 in Review

I was browsing through Instagram this week and saw a post by @samjstirling: “Adulthood is completely understanding why Britney Spears shaved her head.”  And so I concluded that 2018 is the year that I’ve become an adult.  No more judgement from me, Britney.

I want to be vulnerable and open about my professional struggles.  If you would have asked me last year what was on my mind I would have likely told you that I felt frustrated that I didn’t have a passion, a purpose, a specific project or interest that would make my work meaningful to me.  Then, in November of 2017 I saw Janaya Khan speak and decided that I wanted to be more politically active.  I began working out my frustrations through local organizing.  I also decided that 2018 was the year that I would radicalize myself – and so I began reading.

all about love; where we stand: class matters; the will to change; fates and furies; arcadia; the girl with the back tattoo; the nix; sula; beloved; pedagogy of the oppressed; giovanni's room; the book of joy; the last season; norse mythology; between breaths; don't call us dead; the divergent series; new and selected poems by mary oliver; just mercy.

As you can see, I wasn’t entirely focused in my radicalization efforts, but many of these books changed my life as my awareness of the white supremacist, imperialist, capitalist patriarchy increased my drive for justice.

Consequently, I organized programs:

  • The Power of Partnerships: Building institutional and community alliances to transform research and learning, Delaware Valley Chapter of ACRL – April 20
  • Development in Allentown: Are you being left behind?, Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity – April 29
  • Structures of Power in Information, LVAIC Information Literacy Learning Community – May 23
  • People Matter: The changing faces of Allentown, Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity – October 13
  • Librarians as Advocates: Leading activism on your campus and beyond, Delaware Valley Chapter of ACRL – October 26
  • Party for the People: A night of art, community, and social justice, Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity – December 13

I taught classes and focused on critical information literacy praxis.  I began to develop a game to help students critically evaluate the Library of Congress classification system.  I helped a class in which half the students were incarcerated.

I began research on dialogue and news evaluation, information literacy and metacognition, and Allentown community dreams.

I canvassed for a candidate during the primaries and advocated for my communities needs at city council.

And in spite of all of this, I have had many mental health challenges.  Awareness of the horrors of our hate-ridden society has produced a lot of internal anxiety and an unprecedented amount of frustration about things I previously loved in my life.  This is the year that I’ve practiced meditation, abstained from drinking, and started cognitive behavioral therapy.  I’ve had to work hard to be happy in spite of the intersections of my privileged identities, love from friends and family, and a happy place to work.

I share this in the spirit of renewal and practice.  This year wasn’t just one of radicalization, but one of increased awareness, empathy, and compassion.  I’m thankful for my new direction in life and will continue to make small changes until I find more balance.  May the new year bring peace and connection and freedom from fear for you and yours.

 

 

The Books I Read in 2017

books-I-read-in-2017

Keeping track of books I’ve read over the year helps me reflect on what else I have accomplished as well.  2017 has been a year of growth – I have more roots and have become more of who I am; I am also branching out and trying new things.  When I take a look at these books I am reminded of my progress in my career, my commitment to rediscovering my love for reading, and the trips my partner and I have taken to visit family and friends.

Spring 2017 was my first semester as an adjunct professor – I taught Web Page Design and began my year hurriedly brushing up on HTML and CSS with the textbook.  I also started a library Student Advisory Board, which was a fun but short-lived experience because I accepted a position at Muhlenberg College as their Assessment and Outreach librarian.  I absolutely recommend Library Assessment in Higher Education for anyone who wants to brush up on how to create an assessment plan, it provides a straightforward guide and good questions to prompt brainstorming.

I attended my first ACRL Conference this year on a scholarship and read Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State and Bad Feminist in preparation for her keynote.  Gay is AMAZING, frank, perceptive, and brave and I read the rest of her books this year as well.

In my new position I’ve connected with some amazing professors.  I’ve worked very closely with one individual to prepare for her upcoming course this coming semester.  In working with her I’ve read Tom McCarthy’s Remainder and Satin Island as well as Philip K. Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep?  I’m so thankful for this special relationship especially since it’s so challenging to make true connections in an entirely new campus community.

I’ve done a lot of reading for fun this year – I basically doubled the number of books I read last year.  In my childhood I chose to read for fun at every opportunity, but I’ve diversified my interests in part because I’ve struggled to find books that I find truly engaging.  This year I’ve read so many books that I loved.  Honestly, every book on this list has sucked me in… though I’ve felt more satisfied after some (The Woman Warrior, A Tale for the Time Being, Typical American) than others (The Shadow of the Wind; Boy, Snow, Bird; The Circle).  

Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl, and Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods were listened to on trips to Baltimore to visit my best friends.  They moved from Corvallis, Oregon during summer 2016, so these books remind me of the gratitude I feel that they are only an audio book away.  A few of the others I read on vacation to Texas, where I met my partner’s paternal family for the first time, and at the beach, where we enjoyed the sun and surf together with my family for the first time.

Firsts abounded this year and included: slack lining, skiing, hosting a best friends week-long staycation, hanging pictures in our new home, planting an extremely prolific vegetable garden, participating in grassroots organizing, and I started printing and water coloring.  I’m looking forward to a new year, reading books new to me, and continuing to grow roots as I develop in new directions.

Creatives and Open Access

Open Access is *supposed* to inspire additional creation of work, specifically because there are no barriers to access or use.  However, it seems that we are so used to working within the realm of traditional copyright we rarely know what to do with work in the public domain or work licensed under Creative Commons.  My upcoming project with the Muhlenberg Open Scholarship Faculty Learning Community will hopefully increase people’s awareness and increase use of open data, textbooks, scholarship, art, etc.

I’m exciting about combining my librarian tendencies towards collection and organization with my penchant for visual design and communication.  Right now I’m in the research stages of this project – trying to identify open resources and looking into other ways that they have been promoted (via libraries, Creative Commons?).  I’d love to hear how your library promotes open resources and creation!  And, hopefully, if this project is successful, I will eventually have a set of posters to share with Librarian Design Share!  

The Books I Read in 2016

books-i-read-in-2016

2016 was the first year I began and ended as an academic librarian.  The books I’ve read definitely reflect that professional change – learning about assessment, information literacy instruction, critical pedagogy, developing a student advisory board – it’s been a busy year!  (I must admit, I’m still working through the essays of the Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, but they are so good I couldn’t wait to include it in next year’s review.

I also made a bit of time for reading for fun.  Ever since I finished graduate school I don’t take any moment spent reading fiction for granted.  I received Meghan Daum’s My Misspent Youth and Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem Essays from my dear friend Katie Eelman of media + events at Papercuts J.P.  Obviously, she has great taste and there are other recommendations from her and others on their site!  My first Margaret Atwood was a head-scratcher, but fun.  I’ve always loved Louise Erdrich.  And Mark Magro is a friend, and his first YA novel is really good!  The Interestings and Station Eleven were gleaned from a Twitter conversation from Anna Sale of Death, Sex, and Money and Marc and I read them aloud to each other during our honeymoon.  We spent an entire day in bed… reading.

There are probably a few books that I’m forgetting; I’ll do a better job of keeping track next year!  If you’re reading this and have a book suggestion please comment below!  I think you can tell my interests are pretty eclectic!

Reflections on Summer #1

I have a note on my desk to remind me to reflect on my experiences and problems and construct my own understanding.  Time and time again I remind myself that reflection is an important part of the learning process; I need to be mindful of my successes and failures and in my day-to-day activities.  The following text is a bit jumbled, as it is my reflection on my first summer employed by a university.  I think this is representative of my experience.  I’ve discovered that summer is a time to work on many projects in rapid succession.

Other academic librarians that I met had told me that the summer is a time to recoup after a long year.  I imagined that my summer would be spent accomplishing a big project (didn’t happen…).  It didn’t occur to me that I would teach for the entire summer.  Yes, it isn’t quite as busy, but the ACCESS classes that I serve go through the summer – so there wasn’t a break.

I did finish a few marketing projects.  I have become more fluid in Adobe Illustrator, so these kinds of projects don’t take me nearly as long as my first design project.

We met as a group of librarians and started trying to identify learning outcomes across the EN-103 classes. This type of project needs to be developed in the summer and then implemented in the fall.  We still have yet to establish a plan for implementation.  Hopefully that occurs in the next week or two.

I utilized LibWizard, a new Springshare tool, for the first time this summer and developed a few quizzes with embedded tutorials.  Students and faculty have responded well to the interactive aspect of these tutorials.  I also implemented a new library space in Blackboard  utilizing the Springshare LTI. Embedded services and resources are more user-friendly, right?  Great interest in this application across campus as well.

Thus far, my entire experience as an academic librarian has been at break-neck speed.  The clear difference I see between my summer and school year schedules is in my priorities.  When students and faculty are on campus my priority is providing great service.  When the library is empty and my inbox isn’t raining e-mails I am able to focus on library improvements and developing new resources.  It’s an interesting and engaging cycle.

Framing the Information Conversation: Framework v. Standards

It’s June 2016 and the ALA rescinded the Standards.  I’m writing primarily for this reason because here I am, a librarian, and this is the first time I’ve seen my professional community up-in-arms.  I’m lurking on the ACRL Framework listserv and have received over 50 e-mails in the past two days in which my peers are “venting” about how the ACRL, an organization that is usually lauded for their professional resources and support, is not supporting the needs of its members.

Personally, I’m baffled.  The Framework appears to me to be an inclusive, progressive document.    All of the Standards are included within the frames.  The frames even include knowledge practices and dispositions that are written in a similar format.  Of course, I became a librarian right after the Framework was published.  It was suggested to me that I take a look at the “new Framework for Information Literacy” as part of the preparation for my interview.  My immediate reaction to the document was one of excitement – I find the Framework to be exciting and inspiring.  I appreciate its “richer, more complex set of core ideas.” The Standards didn’t do justice to describing the information landscape as it is now.  Students come to higher education having lived a life overwhelmed with information, but by being taught particular concepts their own dispositions and mindsets change.  I love the Framework’s attention to novice learners and their development through education and practice towards expert understanding.  This is a story to which every librarian can relate, not one that is exclusive or pejorative.  I’m happy to be a librarian in a post-Framework world.