One of my favorite things to do as a kid while my mother practiced the organ was play in the church’s bridal suite. It had this closet of two large mirrored doors opening to a floor-to-ceiling mirror. I’d close the mirrors on my leg or arm, slide around in there and watch my appendages travel into infinity. As a librarian this has always been my go-to symbol of all things meta — metadata and (my favorite) the you-don’t-know-what-you-don’t-know problem. Answering the New Year’s call for reflection, I thought I’d put a meta twist on the top ten themes from my 2016 and some 2017 resolutions in response to the same.
It feels like 2016 brought a lot of death. Maybe I’m just becoming more aware of it as I age. Then again, the first of the year marks the death anniversary of a dear friend and my first experience of losing someone very close to me. So, loss and grief have since then been particularly acute themes this time of year. In 2016, I experienced death in my professional life as well. Navigating this brought to mind the list above and an American Libraries article on death cafes in libraries. Knowing firsthand the physical effect of stress on one’s health, and the reverse benefits of de-stressing, death can be a brutal reminder of the stakes involved. So, I’ve resolved to relearn and practice coping skills for anxiety and stress at work this coming year.
9. Happiness — 15 Things Incredibly Happy People Do
I first learned some of this list’s tips during my involvement in organizational and staff development work at my institution — #1 through Brene Brown’s vulnerability research and #3 through mindfulness. I have since put many more to use during stresses like the tenure review process and reorganizations. One of my 2016 resolutions was to do more perfectly reasonable travel (#4 on this list), which I did to two neighboring states this year. Less reasonably, I was even able to get all the way to Hawaii! In 2017 my focus will be going offline, building relationships, and taking more chances, all helping me with meta list items 5, 3, and 2 below.
8. Reduce Stress — De-Stress at Your Desk
After a back injury two years ago, I’ve made fits and starts at keeping up an exercise practice. The stretches my chiropractor recommended were a lot like these, but not nearly as fashionable or fun. This year I finally have a morning yoga routine down, and hope to kick it up a notch in 2017 by adding these moves back in during the day.
7. Time Management — How to Design Your Time Rather…
One of the professional colleagues who passed this year, Shane Lopez, was the author of Making Hope Happen. His work is one among many built upon positivity research. Similarly, this 5-minute read from Fast Company gives a positive strengths-based approach to time management. But you should really check out the time research of Dawna Ballard who was the 2016 ER&L conference opening keynote speaker.
6. The Election — Behind the Lens: 2016 in Photographs
The presidential election was certainly was a significant marker of 2016, and the issue of fake news cycles signaled renewed attention to digital information literacy for libraries. White House photographer, Pete Souza, reflects on the Obama presidency in one of my favorite list mediums, a photo series. And to healthy resolutions (laughter being the best medicine), I’ll just leave this bonus list right here.
The election cycle had me enmeshed in social media, leading me to consider some serious de-teching resolutions in 2017. So far that’s meant removing Facebook from my phone and an online password management overhaul. The former took two seconds, the latter the better part of an entire day. This year also brought a number of new technologies to my work — VoIP phones, among others. WIRED magazine is great for keeping up to date on such things, even if it does sometimes cause me existential dread.
My university welcomed both a new dean of libraries and a new provost in 2016. Both have shared a strong commitment to action on issues of diversity, equity, and social justice (DESJ). My 2016 reading, limited as it was, occurred mostly in this vein. Since exploring this in my first ACRLog post, I’ve been learning about the use of gender pronouns, my own biases, and microagressions. My resolution in the new year is to facilitate conversations about how these issue play out beyond the service desk in our daily work.
3. More Reading and Writing – The Greatest Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Famous Authors
Feeding my recurring resolution to read more, here’s another recommended reading list by one of my favorite sources. In 2016 I took to writing about the changes in my work for traditional publishing venues. But joining the team of bloggers ACRLog in 2016 has been an amazing opportunity to learn from other academic librarians and (hopefully) become a better and more habitual writer in my profession. Still a newbie, I confess that each post so far has been met with part inspired anticipation and part crippling anxiety. I know reading and writing more are the surest ways to improve each skill. Surely with such practice (and above lists 9, 8, 7) the intensity of it all will ease.
2. Ask for help — 5 Ways to Get Better at Asking for Help
I also know the benefits of asking for help. Unfortunately this is also the hardest for me to put into to practice, so much so I considered leaving it off the meta list altogether! Interestingly, these suggestions for improving that ask mirror some approaches I’d like to take in my research this year. Ultimately, I want to take what the reference interview did for patrons asking librarians for research help at the desk and apply it in other, different kinds of information needs in the library. How do patrons ask for help differently when troubleshooting access to digital resources? How do we ask help of our colleagues when needing their assistance to change workflow? How do we ask for help when power dynamics change from patron and librarian to staff and supervisor? A big resolution will be getting this research question out there (no, really, this time) and asking for help.
1. Cats — The most popular cats on YouTube
Really nothing at all to do with the old or new year, but what library meta list would be complete without cats?
Do you have another list, resource, or comment to add on these themes? Please share!