Archive for December, 2008

Ten Random Things

One of our administrators added a bonus challenge onto our 23 Things: Tell everyone 10 random things about yourself.

That’s wonderful, really. But I have 2 minor problems. First, I have an unfortunate habit of thinking that everyone already knows everything about me. After all, since I know it surely everyone else does too, right? The other problem is that I like to tell stories, so I’ve totally lost track of which stories about me everyone’s already heard and which ones are new to people.

So chances are I’m going to bore you with at least half of this post. Hopefully the other half will make up for it.

1. I was born in Cincinnati but moved to New Hampshire before I was a year old, so I’m a New Englander at heart if not by birth. It’s a complete coincidence that I’m back in Ohio.

2. I’ve been a Red Sox fan since I was at least 6 (my favorite player was Jim Rice). My mother is a professional singer, and sang at an annual charity event where she was able to get me autographs of many former Red Sox greats (including Ted Williams), and also sang the National Anthem at Fenway park.

3. I started ringing tower bells at my home parish in Concord, NH when I was 9. I still ring the chime at Trinity Episcopal Church on the corner of Broad and Third and was written about in the Dispatch for it.

4. My father and I have climbed all 48 mountains in New Hampshire over 4000 feet elevation, and most of them we did together. This started when I was in junior high school and first got into hiking and woodsmanship and my father realized this was something we could do together during my teenage years. I know this went a long way to making my teen years much better than they might have been and bringing us closer together. We finally finished in 2003 when we climbed Mt. Moosilauke.

5. In college my summer job was working as a tour guide at Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH.

6. In college I was very heavily involved in the theater: so much so that even though I graduated with only two half credits in drama, I co-won the departmental award. By the time my senior year rolled around there was literally no dramatic production on campus that I wasn’t involved with. In addition to acting, I stage managed, directed, built and designed sets, hung and designed lights, and co-founded an improv comedy group that performed professionally (twice). I even used those skills to work as a master carpenter for Actor’s Company of Pennsylvania for a few months after leaving college.

7. I first met my wife while she was still married because her ex-husband was friends with my best friend in college (it’s not as much of a soap opera as it sounds).

8. I have a 19 year old stepdaughter who’s currently attending Rochester Institute of Technology. When I moved in with them she was 6. So to all of my older colleagues who currently have teenage children or children in college, even though I’m younger than you I’ve actually already been there!

9. I moved to Columbus to enter the doctoral program in Philosophy at OSU. 4 years later I failed my candidacy exam, quit the program, started working at the library and wondered what I had been doing for 4 years.

10. Speaking of Ohio coincidences, I found out only after I moved here in 1996 that my grandmother’s family was from Columbus, and that 4 generations of that side of the family had lived in Central Ohio. If you go to the Cardington cemetery, I’m related to any Maxwell you see there.

Well, that’s ten. I’m sure there’s plenty more, and like I said I like to tell stories. Ask me sometime and I’ll probably yak your ear off!


December 3, 2008 at 6:41 pm 5 comments

The End

We have come to the end of the 23 Things, although hopefully not the end of Learn & Play @ CML. There’s no question in my mind that this is one of the best things the library has done to train staff. Not only did it take much less time in the long run than it would have to bring every employee into a classroom to be spoon fed this information, it also brought so many staff across the system closer together. I constantly hear about how people felt like they got to know their co-workers better and felt closer to staff at other locations than they ever did before. Since CML has been battling some provincialism among the branches for years, this alone could have made the entire project worthwhile.

I can’t help feeling that there are a couple of things missing, though. Unfortunately, to get this project to work we couldn’t make it mandatory. What sort of “play” experience is required? But staff who didn’t participate have lost out in so many ways. Not only did they lose a chance to find out more about their co-workers, they lost a chance to discover how their work has changed and gain skills that will be absolutely necessary working in libraries as we move forward. No matter how much you try to ignore all the “Web 2.0” stuff that’s out there, it’s not going away and it’s only going to increase and spread. People and organizations who don’t get on board are going to be left behind. This goes far beyond simply being jaded about how the library has changed and mourning the “loss” of books. The way information is organized and delivered has fundamentally changed, and people who don’t understand this risk finding themselves without prospects very quickly.

The other element I think wasn’t quite right was the scope and size of the assignments. The reality of our work now is that we must spend a great deal of time in the public space. This only makes sense, since our primary job is public service. But this makes it much more difficult to find time to explore a lot of these things in the depth required. I’m not sure if there’s any easy way to pare down the assignments into more manageable chunks, or maybe make the tracking requirements simpler than a blog post for each item (a daunting proposition if you feel compelled to write more than a few sentences). But I think a lot of staff won’t finish or didn’t even start because they felt that devoting as much time as would be necessary to do these assignments well would take them away from the floor for too long, and that’s a shame since this project can only help them in their work.

But regardless, this project has been great. I’ve gotten to know so many people so much better. I’ve found new tools to help me do my work more efficiently. Tools that I was already using have now been adopted by more of my co-workers, making connecting with them easier. And everyone who participated has a better understanding of how the world has changed and how their jobs are changing as a result. This can’t be the end, because we’ve only just begun.

December 2, 2008 at 10:37 am 3 comments

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