Hello, friends! Before I dig into the news of the past few months, I will start with some housekeeping. Going forward, I will post my content to cygnoir.net and syndicate it elsewhere. Some follow-up notes:
If you want to know more about why I’m making the switch, read the IndieWeb overview of POSSE, which stands for Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.
And now onto the update …
About three months after the COVID-19 pandemic closure of the library building and the transition to remote work, the senior managers and I returned to the building to prepare for part-time onsite work again. And now, with the help of staggered schedules, physical distancing, face coverings, and sanitizing protocols, most of our team is working onsite for roughly half of their week, and working from home the rest of the time. We rolled out our “Library Takeout” service last week, enabling our patrons to make appointments to get their holds in a curbside pickup model. To write it out like that makes it seem so easy, but it has required months of many people brainstorming, planning, and testing to get to this stage. And we have so much more work to do.
If you know me at all, you know that I’m a structure and process nerd. I enjoy setting up rules, templates, and procedures because I find it challenging to keep myself motivated when I don’t know what is expected of me. I like knowing the rules because I like knowing when it is important to follow them … and when it is important not to.
The pandemic, then, has precipitated some upheaval in my brainmeats. The rules are made, and then the rules change, sometimes within a week or even a few days. This level of change adds a whole other layer of complexity to communication: in the midst of communicating with my team about a rule change, the rules change again, rendering the initial communication invalid.
And then, on May 25th, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police, and a whole bunch of white people woke up all at once. (Why now? I highly recommend the “Why Now, White People?” episode of Code Switch.) And even though I was at a different place on my personal journey of understanding systemic racism, I had a reckoning too. For years, I have avoided speaking about anything “too political” online, avoiding subjects that might cause confrontation with friends, family members, or even strangers. I used my white privilege as a shield to protect me from discomfort. I excused myself from the fight. I opted out because I could.
Can you relate? Can you recall a time when a friend made a racist comment and you did not speak up because you were afraid of hurting their feelings? Or because you were too tired, or felt like you didn’t know what to say, or because you were afraid that you’d make a mistake? I can. And while I am embarrassed to admit that to you, all the embarrassment and guilt that we white people feel now, that all well-intentioned white people have ever felt, doesn’t matter at all. Action matters. And we start with educating ourselves and then getting to work, and doing the work every day for the rest of our lives.
I started my own education by listening to Black activists, which is how I found this shared document of anti-racism resources for white people, which lists books, articles, videos, podcasts, films/television series, and organizations. A few of the books were already on my holds list at the library, so I started with the first one available to check out: So You Want to Talk about Race (public library). Ijeoma Oluo’s book is an excellent primer on systemic racism, well-researched and written in a straightforward way. It is a great place to start.
Loyalty Bookstore, a Black-owned independent bookseller in the DC area, has created an excellent list of anti-racist reading recommendations. I dearly hope that your local public library is sharing lists of anti-racist reading recommendations as well, especially e-books that can be accessed while library buildings are still closed. (Use the LibraryExtension browser add-on if you want to see library holdings on Amazon and Goodreads.) And if your local public library isn’t, well … I have something to say about that.
In fact, I have a lot to say about the pandemic, public libraries, and equity, enough for a whole other post I’ve already started to draft. Damn, it feels good to be writing again.
That’s it from my corner of the world today. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Dismantle white supremacy.
Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash.
Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.
That’s right! 🎉
Posted @withrepost • @tigardpubliclibrary Happy National Library Workers Day! See our story for our celebration. #nlwd19 #libraries #nationallibraryweek
I’m quite behind with Holidailies this year, so I’m going to catch up with one long post of pieces parts instead of trying to make, uh, eleven separate things. OK with you? Good, let’s go!
Every December starts out snail-slogging through the first week and then all of a sudden Christmas is next week wait what? Oops.
I won my Goodreads reading challenge of 25 books a bit ahead of schedule, but so many of those were short or re-reads that it didn’t feel like a real win. I’m about to re-read another book, too; I finally saw the trailer for the “Good Omens” series and I am beyond excited.
It is difficult to be annoyed by evening commute traffic while laughing at the latest episode of Paul F. Tompkins’ podcast, “Spontaneanation”.
The song “Level Up” by Vienna Teng has been running through my head lately. The song is excellent, but the video … well, it levels it up.
And then my uncle sent me a link to her exquisite “Ain’t No Sunshine / Lose Yourself” cover/mashup and though I thought I could not love her any more I became one giant goosebump when I listened to this.
It’s the season of giving, so here is one of the cutest kitten photos I have ever seen.
Have you heard of “binge boxes”? They’re boxes of 3-6 DVDs grouped around a theme or actor that you can check out from your local library! My favorite that I’ve seen: “A Box of Rocks” – all films starring The Rock.
Speaking of libraries, I love seeing positive tweets and posts about them on social media … but the best way to support your local library is to show up and use it. If you don’t know how to get started with your local library, or even where it is, leave a comment on this post and I will help you. I mean it!
Thus concludes the grand old Holidailies catch-up. I’ll try for another post tomorrow.
Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: rain and wind and rain.
This morning, I attended a meeting of a coalition of local organizations who provide services for people who are unstably housed. I was glad for the opportunity to listen to how the members of these organizations are supporting our community, and I was especially touched by how a couple of these members reached out to me to thank the public library for our part.
Way back when, in my first library job, I had no idea what librarianship was really about. (I cringe when I consider my very first library job interview; I probably said something lame like, “I love to read!”) I was barely cognizant of what customer service was, let alone public service. After a little over two decades, I am definitely still learning, especially as our field collaborates with social work, as in Whole Person Librarianship.
To date, the training that has helped me the most has been Ryan Dowd’s Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness. Ryan also has a weekly newsletter for tips on compassionate work with patrons experiencing homelessness. But better than any training is the affirmation like the kind I received this morning: there are people working hard to serve our community, and they appreciate all the help that we can give them.
If you want to get involved, here are a few organizations in eastern Washington County:
Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: a small tortoiseshell cat snoring.
It’s funny, the halfway brain that sprouts from sleep deprivation. I wake up at 05:30 but really I wake up on the bus in downtown Portland, trying to remember if I did basic things like dress myself and feed myself and not leave the front door wide open.
So far, I’m doing pretty well. (But let’s not jinx it.)
Many photos to catch up on! Nineteen, in fact. I may have a little bit of a preoccupation with flowers. To be fair, this city blooms gratuitously. And now ripe apples and plums are falling off the trees, sometimes knocking me in the head like a physics lesson.
[gallery ids=“93971,93972,93973,93974,93975,93976,93977,93978,93979,93980,93981,93982,93983,93984,93985,93986,93987,93988,93989” type=“rectangular”]
I’m still in love with my new job, but it is mentally and socially intense. Most evenings I come home and barely have enough energy to eat dinner. While my in-laws were in town, we managed a little weekend escape to Forest Grove, which I needed desperately.
Zen now reliably wakes me up with mournful howling before my alarm goes off. While FunkyPlaid is out of town I have taken to sleeping in my study downstairs so I can soothe her faster.
Other snippets from the past few weeks:
Time for bed. Tonight I will rest well, being all caught up with my project. Well, for a few hours. Then Zen will start to sing …
Writing from: my study. Listening to: some episode of “Prison Break” I’m not really watching.
The first day of a new job is always hectic, and today was no exception. I’m less than an hour away from collapsing in a crumpled heap. But my new colleagues welcomed me thoroughly, and although I know this gig won’t be without its challenges, the mere prospect of doing it all again tomorrow makes me feel … well, see for yourself.
We visited my new workplace today and I took a shelfie featuring one of my favorite authors.
Now that it is official, I can break the news: I got a job! Next Monday I’ll join a local public library team as their circulation division manager. I’m failing at finding the right words for what this means to me right now. It’s big. And I’m so excited. Wish me luck.
Our days are filled with wishes and hopes.
“I hope we get that place.”
“I wish I would hear back about that job.”
I try to stay centered amidst all the wishes and hopes that pile up on our shoulders and around our feet.
And then I turn a corner and there is yet another micro-library on someone’s front lawn and I giggle like a gnome.
Writing from: a magical place. Listening to: a passing freight train.
[caption id=“attachment_91983” align=“aligncenter” width=“687”] Processed with VSCOcam with q3 preset[/caption]
Today I visited the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. I enjoyed a warm welcome from former coworkers and it was wonderful to be back in their company. But after an hour, the tenor of the reunion changed: I became desperately sad, missing it all so much, then overcome with the knowledge that the library and all the lives it contains exist separately from my memories of working there. The two are not the same. It’s easy to pretend they are from a distance.
After descending the magnificent central staircase so that I could snap today’s photo, I crossed the street and ducked into the Civic Center transit station. Two women on the Muni platform were singing “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”:
I don't like you, but I love you Seems that I'm always thinkin' of you Though you treat me badly, I love you madly You've really got a hold on me
Writing from: a nostalgic room in Marin. Listening to: The Bobs’ cover of “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”.
The libraries have extended hours for the end of term, so work today was a bit more strenuous than usual. Tensions are high and so I instructed my coworkers to deploy cute pictures of baby animals as needed. One provided me with Ukrainian photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko’s macro photography of snails. It sets a high bar for cute.
While shelving DVDs, it suddenly occurred to me that I could start today’s portion of my routine reboot right there at work! I mentioned in March that one of my goals for 2014 is to watch 50 films. Since setting that goal, I have made zero progress on it. So I picked up a copy of “Mean Girls”, a silly film I keep meaning to watch. (Did you know that you can check films out from libraries? Because I’ve worked in libraries for almost two decades and I keep forgetting this.)
Unfortunately, by the time I got home from work I was too fried to figure out why the DVD wouldn’t stream over AirPlay without crashing every appliance in the flat, so I ended up with Netflix. A desultory glance through the available titles led me to “Frances Ha” and “Friends with Kids”, neither of which I recommend but were entertaining in their own ways. Mostly they gave me an excuse to do absolutely nothing while providing Torgi a warm sleeping place.
Now it is time to cleanse my palate with Helene Wecker’s “The Golem and the Djinni” which I am reading so slowly because I never want the world she has created to end.
Photo credit: Vyacheslav Mishchenko.
From the Am Law Daily:
“The [amended settlement agreement] would grant Google control over the digital commercialization of millions of books, including orphan books and other unclaimed works,” Judge Chin wrote. “And it would do so even though Google engaged in wholesale, blatant copying, without first obtaining copyright permissions.”(via FunkyPlaid)
In part 2 of our query into the end of print, Matt and I discuss books, e-books, libraries, the Kindle (timely!) and my iPhone snobbery. Matt busts out with the phrase “the democratization of distribution” which is merely one of the reasons why he is so awesome.
I eagerly await our listener Ned’s comments on my library-related diatribe. If you haven’t read his comments on part 1, you’re missing out. Every podcast should have a Ned. But not our Ned. Go get your own.
Matt and I talk about the end (question mark) of print in this episode of “… and scene”. We had a lot to say about the topic, so this podcast comes in two installments. The first is about the fate of the newspaper. Tune in next week for the second!