Archive for March, 2009

Clutter Lovers Unite: Don’t stress about the mess!

I was gratified this morning to read this article in the New York Times by Sara Rimer: An orderly office? That’s personal. The article reports on Lisa Whited, an interior designer who specializes in adapting work spaces to the needs, habits, and goals of their users. She’s not your typical “get rid of the clutter now!” organizer. Instead of boilerplate suggestions for getting organized, Whited begins her jobs by interviewing clients to determine their specific work habits and styles.

What particularly caught my attention was that after interviewing her client (the author of the article), Whited surmised that she was the kind of person who needed to see things in front of her or else she forgot she had them, so putting things away in a filing cabinet might not be an effective organizational strategy. Reading those words, I wanted to reach into the paper (well, into the laptop–I read the Times online now) and wrap my arms around Whited and thank her for validating my life.

Out of Sight Out of Mind
See, I’m an out of sight out of mind kind of guy. Just today I came to work without my wallet (it was “put away” in a drawer), and twice last week I came to work without my phone (it was charging in another room.) I pretty much have to organize my morning so that anything that requires my attention (phone, wallet, pants. Well, maybe not pants, I’ve effectively habitualized that one) needs to be visible to me when I’m leaving the house.

Likewise, with work. My whole organizational strategy is about keeping important things in my field of vision. If I’m not looking at it, it may as well not exist. (Note to friends and family: Apologies for being out of touch but I forgot that you existed.)

Since there’s only so much that I can keep on my desk, it’s generally not possible or practical to have too many physical reminders (notes, papers, etc.) in my field of vision. That’s why I rely heavily – VERY heavily – on text message and email reminders which I liberally set for myself using Google Calendar. (Note to Google Calendar: I’m not saying I’d leave my wife for you, but I admit we have something very special.)

Everyone I’ve ever worked with has learned that I will not see a message unless it’s placed on my chair seat. I’ve learned that if I need to do something first thing in the morning, I leave a note on my keyboard where I can’t miss it. Before text message reminders came into my life I relied heavily on taping notes to the doorknob at home (“remember to go to meeting in Trenton this morning!”)

While paper reminders in my field of vision can help, they also have their downside. One piece of paper can be accidentally placed over another piece of paper. Or it can blow away. Or it can have coffee spilled on it. For these reasons, I’ve actually arranged my work life to be as free from paper as possible. There’s probably the equivalent of 20 reams of paper sitting on my desk right now, most of it in colored folders. 98% of it has been generated by someone else and given to me at a meeting or conference. If it’s something I think I may ever want to reference again, I’ve trained myself to scan it into PDF so I have an electronic copy. One great benefit of putting everything into electronic format is that, thanks to Google Desktop Search, I can find anything I ever “touched” on my computer — email, website, pdf, etc. — immediately, and sometimes quicker!

Don’t Judge My Piles!
While these piles on my desk may look like a mess to the outside observer, I like having them visible because they remind me to look through them now and then and pull out little tidbits. A note jotted in the margin a of a Powerpoint handout from a conference presentation or a handout from a workshop I’ve given (and completely forgotten about) can trigger new insights and connections, or give me a new perspective on a problem I’m dealing with. I like the serendipity of it. It’s both relaxing to me and stimulating.

Perhaps one reason most “get organized” books fail to help people like me is that they’re written by people who are not at all like me—they’re written by people who equate neatness with organization, and assume that a neat orderly environment is an a priori good and an end unto itself. I think the authors of these books are people who feel stressed out when they see a lot of stuff, so by gum they’re not only gonna put away their stuff, they’re gonna make sure MY stuff is put away too!

But they fail to appreciate that many people (like me) are NOT like them—we don’t function best when everything is “put away”, nor are we particularly stressed by clutter. In fact, I’m generally oblivious to clutter. I don’t even see the piles of paper on my desk.

Organization Is Not an End Unto Itself
This is what I want to tell the neatniks, declutterers, straighteners, and put-awayers of the world: Organization is a tool. It is a means to an end but it is NOT an end unto itself. The end is effectiveness. Happiness. Comfort. Flow. And I need lots of stuff around to achieve those states. So thanks for trying to help, but my brain isn’t wired like yours. So if I need help getting organized I’ll call Lisa Whited because she understands. It’s personal.

Links added April 2:

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March 26, 2009 at 10:59 am 7 comments

Friday Fun: Google Street View "Outtakes"

You never know what Google Street View will find — some of it is pretty funny and some of it is downright embarrassing. Some random surfing today brought me to this article posted by the Telegraph in the U.K which also includes a slide show of more than a dozen street view images that have been pulled from the service following complaints or requests since the service went live recently in the U.K. and other European cities.

Not sure if the image with Paddington Bear in Trafalgar Square was pulled — I found it cute and appropriate. But then again, there is some question about whether Paddington was actually stalking the Google cam team.

How fun that they built in a Where’s Waldo game to the Street View as well — and even cooler that Waldo was found!

Of course, many questions could be (and have been) raised about privacy and the “Big Brother” aspect of street views… but that is a whole other post for a different day.

March 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm 2 comments

Focus on photography

I read a number of blogs that are not library related and sometimes I see things that I think other librarians and the general public might be interested in. Case in point, I read a great blog from Photojojo, which gives tips on things to do with your photographs, DIY projects. I’m a real photography person . . . I love taking pictures and getting the right shot, the right light, the right everything. (Have I ever mentioned that I am also a perfectionist?) And this Photojojo newsletter is right up my alley. It provides great, easy and cheap ideas for craft projects. Are you like me in that you have TONS of photos but no way to really display them or to have people see them?

Now think about your Library. Does your library have a photo club? Or teach classes on using digital cameras and need a project for the class to work on? Does your library have photos that you’d like to use but haven’t figured out the best way?

This site is a gold mine of ideas . . . think about using photos of teens from your latest teen program and creating something, like letting them create these glass jar frames OR letting the teens take pictures and use them to make these cool photocuffs. Immediately I think of teen programs but, of course, you could also do these projects in some of your children’s or adult programs, especially if craft events are as popular in your library as they are in mine. With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day just around the corner, think of all the possibilities of gift making programs using personal photographs!

Another recent idea is to use your photos for business cards. I did this a number of years ago using photos of the Bradley Beach Library (where I work) and they were always a big hit when I gave them out. What else makes your card stand apart from every one else’s? It also gives you a story to tell when you are handing your card over, the story of that particular photograph. You can customize your own cards at Moo, where they used to only have small calling card size but now have full sized business cards. I can’t wait to order new ones as soon as I figure out which of my photos to use!

What else can you do with photographs that your patrons have taken? Think about amateur photography exhibits or a photo contest, with a cool donated or purchased prize from a local camera shop or a web based photo site, like Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, or Photojojo, just to name a few!

This is just a reminder that we need to be looking outside the library profession to get new and innovative ideas. The most successful and well-attended programs often come from ideas that no one ever expected to find in their Library!

March 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm 1 comment

OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT AT ALA at the CLENE Training Showcase!

OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT AT ALA at the CLENE Training Showcase!
http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/rts/clenert/trainingshowcase

Do you have a staff training or staff development program you’re proud of? Would you like to present at ALA this summer?

If so, you’re invited to participate in the CLENE Training Showcase where you can share information about your program AND learn about the best practices of other libraries and organizations. The program is poster session style, and electricity and Internet can be provided if needed. Applications are due on April 1.

The Showcase will be on Sunday, July 12 from 1:30-3:30 pm. The planning committee looking for libraries, library organizations, presenters, speakers, and vendors to participate – anyone who has a great training or staff development program they’d like to share.

The Showcase normally attracts between 200-300 attendees over a period of 2 hours and there will be 20-30 presenters. It’s a really fun event with refreshments and lots of door prizes. Each participant has a 6’ draped table on which to put a portable table-top display unit, handouts or other related materials.

Please see CLENE Round Table Training Showcase website for more information. There’s a link on the main page for the Training Showcase Page with even more info about the Showcase, along with two online application forms – one for those wishing to participate and one for those want to be a sponsor or a donor.

There are a few photos from last year’s Training Showcase in Anaheim in the Dec. 2008 CLENExchange Newsletter as well as photos from previous years on CLENE’s Flickr page. If it looks like everyone is having way too much fun, it’s because we were!

For more information, contact either Pat Carterette, pcarterette[at]georgialibraries.org or404-235-7124 OR Melissa Lattanzi at lattanzm[at]neo-rls.org or 330.847.7744, extension 12

Hope to see you there!!

March 12, 2009 at 9:31 am 1 comment

45 Billion Minutes!

A few fun facts from an interesting, but not surprising, article from PC Magazine today that reports on some findings as a result of recent market research done by Nielsen Online:

One in every 11 minutes online globally is accounted for by social network and blogging sites, the group found, or 45 billion minutes in total.

Blogs and social networking are consuming more online time than checking and writing personal email.

A search engine was used by 85.9 percent of the world’s population, followed by what the firm called “general interest portals and communities,” such as Yahoo, with an 85.2 percent reach. Software ranked third at 73.4 percent, with the member communities of blogs and email fourth, at 66.8 percent. Email came in fifth, at 65.1 percent. All categories showed gains from the year before.

Facebook remained the most popular social-networking destination around the world, and user attention rocketed by 566 percent from a year ago.

As well, this article provides some interesting and quantifiable data about a trend that we have all been observing — the movement of “old fogies” to Facebook (see my previous post) is driving the original demographic to leave:

Growth in social networking is being driven not by the young, but by the middle-aged. The category of men and women aged 65 and above moving to social networking grew by 7 percent, Nielsen found, while the 2-17-year-old category dropped by 9 percent. The most popular age group with Facebook in terms of growth is the 35-49 category, which increased by 24.1 million people.

This article gives terrific insight in to the shift that occurring online and gives some great data to justify the addition of digital branches and social networking features to a library system. The reach of social networking is extending and, like email before it, is something that library patrons of all ages are becoming comfortable using.

Source: More Time Spent Social Networking Than On Email (PC Magazine Online, 3/10/09)

March 10, 2009 at 11:46 am

A Little Link Love

Just a quick post to share a few articles and links that I have found interesting/useful/funny — and sometimes all three. These are in no particular order and with no particular theme.

Why Facebook is for Old Fogies: A humorous article from TIME with lots of truth mixed in about why adults want and need to be on Facebook. A great handout to add a little levity for classes on social networking or for any bibliography for a presentation. My favorite reason from the list:

10. We’re not cool, and we don’t care. There was a time when it was cool to be on Facebook. That time has passed. Facebook now has 150 million members, and its fastest-growing demographic is 30 and up. At this point, it’s way cooler not to be on Facebook. We’ve ruined it for good, just like we ruined Twilight and skateboarding. So git! And while you’re at it, you damn kids better get off our lawn too.

Building Your Base Toolkit: A great resource for those who do library programming from the New York State Library and hosted by the Mid-Husdon Library System. This site is designed to give libraries “tools for connecting with your community” and has lots of good marketing advice in addition to tips for running successful library programs. I am always on the lookout for new programming ideas and they have a lot of good ideas on the Creative Programming page.

Twitter Basics for Librarians: This post is meant to help libraries and librarians start using Twitter, but it could easily be adapted for any group or for a handout for a basic class on twitter at your library. This post also led my to discover Tweeters Directory: Librarians, twitter resource that I had not seen before (although I am undecided about adding my name as I like to keep my following/followers list small and hate to decline people).

Flickriver
: My new favorite way to browse and explore flickr, but be warned that this site can be a giant time suck. If you want to have lots of fun, do a search for the tag “librarian” and sort by “interesting” — here are the results of this search. It is so cool that Cindi’s photos comprise 3 of the top 5 and very telling that many of the “interesting” shots comprise photos of the stereotypical “sexy” librarian image. Oh, and the “librarians in shower caps” mosaic ranks quite highly too! Of course, it is always fun to search for your user name too. The black background and not needing to click to get to the next image just makes the browsing so much better.

Best and Worst Blogs 2009: The second annual list by TIME “spanning politics, housekeeping, astronomy and everything in between”. I found a few new blogs to check out thanks to this list and was happy to see many of my favorites included. The Most Overrated Blogs list is short but right on the money.

March 5, 2009 at 8:50 am 2 comments


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A Note on the history of posts

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