misc-joy

Explorations by Kenley Neufeld

Library

Expanding Library Hours? Yes!

By on April 10, 2011

In this economic environment, it’s not very often a library can expand hours. This semester, the Luria Library has been encouraged to expand our weekend hours and we have been given the funds to do so. The community donor met with me a couple weeks ago and she suggested the expanded hours. Over my other suggestions, she felt this would have the most immediate and direct impact for students – it’s not sexy, but it is practical. Our donor suggested tracking the usage over the next six weeks to see if it makes an impact for students. The funds also included advertising (which we haven’t completed).

The expanded hours do take a little juggling because of staffing — hourly workers, adjunct librarians, etc — but we made it work. The library will now be open from 10:00am-10:00pm on Sunday through the end of the semester. Today is the first day of our expanded hours and, ironically, I am working the circulation desk to cover for our regular staff person. It’s fun to be here on Sunday and see the type of work that occurs (and I can wear sneakers). The library is active and alive.

Until today, our normal opening time was 1:30. At 10am we had 3 people waiting to get into the building, at 11am we had 19 people in the building, at 12pm we had 44 people, and at 1pm we had 109 people. With limited marketing – a post on Facebook and Twitter earlier in the week and a few signs posted on the library doors on Friday – we have a minor success for the first day. I suspect that once the word gets out that we’ll see more students in the morning. The other side of the coin is remaining open until 10pm rather than 9pm; this matches our weekday hours.

How do we measure success? Is there a magic number of students to support the extra hours? Creating an excellent community college library means setting ourselves apart from the others. How many other community college libraries are open on Sunday?

Time will tell. Right now, I’m happy we can offer the expanded hours for those who are present.

Soil and Rocks. Breathing and Smiling.

By on April 5, 2011

We’ve all been there. The endless lists, multitude of projects, work/family/volunteer seemingly colliding together. Some days we feel like the rocks and soil are simply burying us alive with the anxiety and fear. It is in times like that when breathing and smiling can really save the day, at least in the moment. Even after gaining three hours over the weekend (flying west), I still came to work this week with the awareness of responsibility and tasks.

Being out front, wanting to lead, is something I’ve always done. I can manage many tasks at one time across a wide range of areas – committees, politics, spiritual, home. It seems to be a gift because it comes naturally for me . But the gift of abundance does also must have a balance. Most of the time my life feels in balance, but there comes a time when it feels like the house of cards will fall.

My goal is to present for those around me. This means that “my tasks” sometimes get put aside for the benefit of those who work for me and those who I mentor and support. Because this goal of presence is mine, I do it with joy and awareness. The others in my life, both at home and at work, hold no responsibility for my feeling of imbalance. As a Library Director, I let the day take me with it and there must be space in the calendar to allow for flexibility. As a husband and father, I let the evening take me with it even if the “work” tasks were left incomplete. Though I don’t do this 100%, it is an intentional goal and practice. As Catherine Hakala-Ausperk wrote in Be A Great Boss, “being prepared for permanent whitewater will give you the attitude you need for that day.”

The benefits of being available are immeasurable. There are costs, of course, but I believe the benefits outweigh the costs. It is the human connection that will have a lasting impact, not completing the report or reading the background material or finalizing that budget. Those things are important too, and they will get done, but I’ve set my priority elsewhere. When imbalance arrives, which it did yesterday, then I can use the tools of my practice to keep me centered. It could mean that I close my office door and focus on checking off a few items on the task list (which I didn’t do yesterday). It could mean staying up a little later or getting up a little earlier. Finding joy in the anxiety and fear is possible. Being present, sharing with someone, writing a blog post, they all contribute to balance.

(Recently I committed to writing 250-words a day, but I missed a couple days. That’s part of the letting go too, so here’s my post now.)

Interdependence and Hope

By on March 31, 2011

The theme of ACRL 2011 is interdependence. So much comes together each day to create our life experience. Some things are very tangible, like the keynote speech by Raj Patel giving very practical information about the world economy. Other things are a little less tangible, but no less real, like my wife’s support for my professional life. I also see my own past, including fears and dreams, seeking to surface.

I have a long history of seemingly radical politics, social justice efforts, and personal action to effect change in the world. In recent years I’ve probably become less radicalized because I’ve had a difficult time connecting with other radicals – the anger, the frustration, the drama are challenging.

I also have an awareness of the apparent contradictory nature of the world I live in – comfortable life, good work, professional travel, nice clothes, extreme hunger, poverty, economic collapse, environmental disaster, etc. This is my life and perhaps I judge myself to harshly. All these elements make up my being. They are connected.

Today I feel inspired to embrace this contradiction. People are so full of kindness, generosity, and intelligence. We are also full of many challenges and personal struggles. We smoke. We drink. We swear. We stumble. And yet it doesn’t mean we can’t be kind and generous. the people I’ve interacted with today demonstrate this to me.

I’m feeling the Interbeing nature of my life from experiences today. Thank you to those who touched me today. Good people are here. Please help me to keep my eyes open.

Writing an Introduction for 3k People

By on March 30, 2011

How do you write a 5-minute introduction for an award winning author and scholar for ACRL 2011? To say I’m a little nervous is an understatement, though I’ve done my homework.

I’ve known for several months about this introduction, and tomorrow is the big day to introduce Raj Patel. I read his most recent book, watched some video interviews, read a few book reviews, communicated with him via email, had a conference call with him to discuss themes, and made a few notes here and there. Despite this effort over a period of months it comes down to the night before and I’m actually giving the introduction some form.

I must work better under pressure. In my experience, when it’s real and the times up, then the creativity is released.

I loved the book. I love the themes. I’m a radical with socialist leanings. I’m deeply committed to equality, the environment, reducing consumption, and generosity. As a Buddhist, it’s easier to understand and embrace his solutions. Radical democracy, with full engagement of the population, is what we need and what is being proposed by the author.

Here’s the challenge. He’s speaking (and I’m introducing) in front of 3,000 academic librarians. Certainly a more liberal bunch than the average American but not uniformly so. I’m aware of this potentially more “general” audience and yet perhaps this isn’t necessary? Maybe I let it be what it is without any sugarcoating? After all, a few years ago we had John Waters give the keynote. It’s a librarian audience but the author has something to offer us that can be applied to scholarship and the dissemination of information.

I’m very excited. The introduction is written. I’ve rehearsed and will rehearse again few more times. Now I’d like to find a good iPad teleprompter app to scroll the intro.

Interview on Libraries, Social Media, Mediation

By on November 24, 2010

Thank you to Kate, the marketing intern at Santa Barbara City College, for doing such a great job across campus interviewing people and demonstrating the value of our campus community. I was honored to sit down with her to talk about the Luria Library, social media, and mediation. If you have ten minutes, I hope you take the time to watch the interview.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSbFJ-Ok8Zo

Game Changers for Community Colleges

By on November 4, 2010

I just returned from 2-days at OCLC where thirty community college librarians gathered to discuss the community college library environment. If I walk away from an event, conference, workshop, etc. with a list of action items then I know the activity was worth while – the OCLC sponsored event this week was definitely worth my time because I have a short list to work with now that I’m back.

This invite-only event came together around a series of OCLC-identified game changers for community colleges. They did a pretty good job of identifying themes in order to frame our discussion. As we sat around discussing these themes, a great deal of experience was brought into the room and we stepped in directions beyond the five game changers that were initially presented. The five brought to the table were (1) exploding registrations and student populations, (2) budgets, (3) eBooks, (4) working with faculty, particularly adjunct, and (5) leadership and succession.

The list brought to the table does encompass many of the common themes we are experiencing at the community college level. I found the discussion to be rich, informed, and enlightening. No answers were provided but awareness of these themes is important as we proceed in our libraries. My hope is that others can engage in this type of discussion in the future – perhaps regionally – to help frame our status in the academy.  (more…)

When Ready, the Position Will Appear

By on October 19, 2010

I loved the brilliant blog post by Meredith Farkas over at Information Wants To Be Free. She explores the theme of management, upward mobility and sticking with honesty and candor. It’s important to see our strengths and where we might apply them in our work environment. I’m posting my thoughts here as well as on her blog.

My experience has been that one can customize the director position to be who we are as individuals; to be honest about our style and personality. I wouldn’t want to work for a disingenuous person, and I try to reflect that in my director role. Do I wear slacks and nice shirt? Most of time, but I like to look good. I also try to present myself professionally since I represent the library to many of our constituants. I don’t wear ties – don’t like them! My experience also tells me that when I was ready, the position appeared. For some this occurs quickly, others enjoy lingering in their profession by offering valuable service to their community in non-director positions.

This is good and needed.

I’m in my second Library Director position. In between the two, I worked as a classroom-based professor/reference librarian and as a systems librarian. Those two roles were just what I needed between the two director roles. I can honestly say that I’m a much better director this second time round; I needed more experience. Looking back, I’m not even sure I’d want to have worked for me the first time round but it did give some good lessons for this time.

Though Meredith was reflecting on moving from frontline librarian to director, I’m reading this with reflections of moving in other directions. As a Library Director, I periodically think about what it might be like to work as an non-library academic dean or vice-president. Could I ever leave librarianship?

I’m not ready now, but it’s fun to consider. When I’m ready, the position will appear.