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Knitting … and the peace it has brought me

17 Jul

I’ve just remembered it is Monday and I agreed to try

#glamblogweekly

and have now forgotten several times in one day to come up with a post.

This blog post should be about #VALATechCamp – which was amazing, and inspiring, and has given me a To Do list of 50 new things to try. However I have been going over my notes in between web meetings and my head is far too full at this stage to decant clearly.

So I’m going to talk about getting headspace back instead.

Anyone who has met me has probably been subjected to a bit of a rant on my obsession about work/life balance, and the work required to get to this harmonious and productive point. I have been a workaholic, still there after late night library closing, up sending messages again early in the morning. I’ve also been so disengaged with my work that days have passed without me being able to recall to anyone what I had covered in that time. Now I like to think I am achieving close to balance, and am always interested in new neuroscience research that talks about how to get there.

I signed up for Mindful in May this year, a repeat on last year, hoping to achieve real progression in my capacity to let thoughts go past my mind’s eye without grabbing them and developing each one into it’s own new docudrama or 10 year business plan. Some progress was made but not much.

At my CWA meeting in the same month we talked about learning new crafts, and someone mentioned that knitting was supposed to be good for depression, meditation and letting go anxiety. Then someone on my Mindful in May discussion group mentioned why a repetitive can assist in meditation, and I started to hope that a repetitive practice may help me.

I’ve now been knitting a little bit each day for a month. It has helped me calm down, focus and yes – achieve some mindfulness (for a few minutes or so). Like my pottery class, some part of your brain takes on the subconscious task of completing a known activity, and it’s enough to keep me anchored when other thoughts drift past.  In meetings, where after an hour I tend to get restless, where a part of my brain starts to focus on this as time lost, constantly straining to be doing something else; knitting has calmed that anxious voice. It may not be doing work but it is being used for something productive, and known.

At home knitting is creative, and has me thinking about the upcoming birth of a friend’s baby as I knit booties, rather than what I could be creating at work.

I’m sure it is also helping me that when I knit, both my hands are full and I cannot hold a phone or ipad …

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Econobabble and #filthyrichandhomeless

29 Jun

I sat down tonight to treat myself to watching to in my warm house as the rain came down outside – and got drawn into #filthyrichandhomeless – to REALLY highlight just how much of a privilege this treat was. 

I hadn’t planned to watch it. I thought it was going to be poverty porn at the worst, or spoilt brats getting tv space at a minimum.  It wasn’t. @blackfellafilms have done an excellent job of exposing the pathways to homelessness. I cried. I was inspired by the kindness of those living on the streets. 

So if you are reading this tonight, before tax cut off, please consider donating to Launch Housing via https://www.launchhousing.org.au/donate-now/

The discussions around solutions were very good too. So rare to hear from support services workers and policy writers on our to screens, and there should be more of it. Conversations about why governments aren’t achieving more with our taxes, and the role of taxes to support those in society who need; these link into a great book I am currently reading.

Econobabble by Richard Denniss   (Find him as @RDNS_TAI on Twitter)   is about how economic jargon is used to hide the fact that as a rich society Australia could fund social needs, but currently chooses not to. It is an interesting breakdown of what we could be asking our politicians for, rather than tax cuts. 

A relevant article he wrote about housing costs is online here 

Time travel questions

28 Jun

OK today’s #blogjune post is thanks to @libsmatter who will make all these into a Storify

  • If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing that was going to happen to you between then and today, what would that be?

Oh this is so easy. You’re gay, you’re gay, you are GAY! Sigh. The opportunities I missed not coming out at University.

I’m going back in time with Dr.Who, the TARDIS and Bill right?

Although as my friends who told me I was gay then would say
– I wouldn’t believe myself.

 

Maybe I would say “you are going to have a job, wonderful friends and your own house sometime in the future. Relax, enjoy the ride and stop worrying”.

I look at 20 year olds today (I work at a University, there are a lot around) and I wish I had a way to give this advice without sounding patronising. I wasted so much time worrying about the future, and it never led to anything changing; it just leads to time wasted on stress. Live every minute of the present if you can.

 

  • In 20 years time (presuming the world gets better, not worse) what do you think will be the biggest technological difference between your life now and your life then ?

 

Hmmm. Well I want the difference to be that capitalism is dead and the world revolves around people, the environment and supporting both of these.

However I know that 20 years goes faster than expected, so I think the real difference will be Artificial Intelligence. I assume we will be able to access larger and larger data sets more easily, that transactional jobs will have been handed over to AI and that work as we know it will have ballooned into creation of new things based on reusing  information.

Perhaps if this happens society will be heading towards my dream anyway, as social and intellectual capital becomes more important than physical manufacturing.

Tips for management

27 Jun

I was thinking about my career path after I wrote up last night’s (rushed) #blogjune about my first Library job. I have been lucky enough to have some amazing colleagues, and received real hands on mentoring from a range of senior library staff.
I’ve been trying to offer the same to my colleagues recently, as succession planning, general mentoring and engagement with people across management levels seems reduced in recent years.

I was considering what are the key tips I have been told. Below are a few, however keep in mind that the advice that most resonates depends on the context the listener has at that time. Often multiple people had given me the same advice but I only heard it from the one who told me when I was in the right space myself. 

Self care – setting a visible work/life balance standard is not only important for your own self care; it also means that your staff can feel free to do the same. 

Management is not supervision. There is more to it, and you need to educate yourself and study the areas you need to improve if you want to make it a career. 

Learn what your stress triggers are and then practice asking for help well before you reach those stress points. Be open with your colleagues about what your behaviours under stress may be, and how to manage you if they emerge. 

In change resistant culture remember that you may not see the results of a change, or acceptance of its implementation, for up to 12 months. Do not give up early because you think you have no results. Plan for long term implementation. 

My favourite: Incompetency is almost always more likely to be the cause than maliciousness. (This one has saved me from yelling at tired people, and also lowered my own blood pressure and assumptions a lot).

Today I heard a good one – when you meet new colleagues always make time at that point to build some trust and engagement. If you wait for a future less busy time that person may already have decided not to engage with you. I like that this advice gives a great rationale for prioritising people and networks building.  

What advice do you have for colleagues based on your own work experience?

Lifelong learning 

25 Jun

I had a wonderful afternoon today in Thornbury, Melbourne attending a Women of Letters event. I heard beautiful performance as women read their own written letters, learnt that Rebecca Gibney has a strong fear of public speaking, was inspired to lose weight whilst holding onto my vices by Sue-Ann Post and was overwhelmed by the strength of real women in my community who have been through hard trials and survived to find a life of joy. 
I get a lot of these great options living in #Melbourne. I recently enjoyed a “How to draw monsters” class from a wonderful group called Laneway Learning. Effectively you get to explore a cafe/bar down a Melbourne Laneway, whilst also learning about something new. Classes are cheap and at handy evening times. Topics are very diverse, and if you’re looking for new friends you can stay on afterwards to discuss what you learnt over a drink.
Melbourne also has a wonderful writers meeting place called the  Wheeler Centre. They offer free or paid talks that cover a range of subjects around the theme of writing, authors, politics, religion, the environment etc. They try  different formats offering podcasts and online book clubs for those who prefer online, and country events for those not in the CBD.

Then yesterday I was introduced to a knitting group, held in the back room of a yarn shop Woolarium. The members talked about how wonderful it is to have a space to relax, work through issues, chat to people about the hobby they love or are learning.
I am so thankful to have these (and many other opportunities) to learn about a range of things. Lifelong learning is important to me in formats other than formal education. I will engage more creatively when assessment is more non existent or relaxed. 
What learning do you all undertake in your lives? 

Future of libraries

24 Jun

At MPOW we are currently under review. Again. Our last review was just over 2 years ago. In academic time measurement, that’s 10 minutes 😉
Initially all the stress of the last review returned to me with a whoosh. I was vocally negative about “why” we needed another review, what was it trying to achieve. It took several months for the Terms of Reference to come out, and luckily for me, in this time I got tired of listening to my negative self.  I’ve moved on to enjoying the motivation to sit back and review what I do, what my work delivers, and what I could contribute in the future.

It’s not perfect – I’m still stressed about retaining a job with good working conditions and salary and whether I will have to sack people who work with me. However I have been able to pull myself out of my negative spiral that disempowered me, and feel more proactive by considering the future and where myself and my colleagues would sit in that future.
So … I’m genuinely interested in where you all think the future of libraries lies? From everyone out there. 
My thoughts so far cover

  • Seamless access: libraries can work with publishers and other content owners to continue to ensure pathways to content are user friendly, authentication is simple and awareness of what you have searched and what you haven’t is transparent. Areas in this include fighting for legislation for open access, improving authentication systems, working with publishers to reduce multiple interfaces, continuing to argue for affordable packages and some general public access. eg @mrsuperspy has been working hard on ensuring publishers divest themselves of old textbook models and are understand they need to move into electronic options 
  • Improved search options: the internet keeps growing and growing. Google can however only find you what is items with the right identifiers so metadata is a massive future arena for librarians. Teaching people how to search well, how to find what you actually need is a good space for librarians; or even just going back to the old days where a student presented their thesis to the librarian and they did a search and produced associated literature for them, perhaps librarians will be paid searchers again. Can’t help feeling this will be one of those jobs that will go to the much touted robot automation that is apparently going to sweep through our current career choices though. Social tagging might still be a human arena though, to aid in trends and thought pathways that don’t make logical sense and hence can’t be programmed for. 
  • Discovery pathways: @malbooth has been arguing  for ages that our so-called discovery interfaces are just search, and we need to truly explore discovery pathways that expose new content, true serendipity with some sense of leading people through strands of related thought. GLAM sectors are already starting to experiment here.
  • Lifelong learning: as the robots take over transactional or high volume search work (eg legal clerks searching through articles for precedent) I believe a range of other work will emerge. However education will need to be ongoing therefore as more people have a continuous learning path to upgrade skills or change career paths multiple times. Libraries that can support different forms of learning and offer pathways to emerging areas of study will hence be important. Alongside this, if people are able to explore a wider range of professions, as the repetitive work disappears (yes I believe in a positive future) knowledge warehouses such as libraries will be ideally placed to support teaching or exploration of old skills. 
  • Information credibility: in this time of “fake news”, training in how to establish the credibility of sources is very important. Libraries can support this not only by teaching skills, but also by maintaining multiple sources in their knowledge banks, demonstrating the multiple voices on issues.
  • Support for diverse communities: libraries still have great social capital across most cultures. One of the reasons for this is  is because of the resources they have been to disadvantaged people in the past, many of whom have risen to power later through this support. There are a range of humane reasons we should support disadvantaged groups, and there is also the realisation that if we invest in those who most need it, we will retain social capital over time. 

    So what do you think libraries future contains?

    In this moment

    23 Jun

    I’m copying @flexnib tonight and stopping to check in with myself

    – I’ve just finished reading Hannah Kent’s “The Good People”. Haven’t had a book I can’t put down in ages, and this is one. Her writing style is fluid and expressive and her characters have depths. Amazing on a dark topic. Thankyou to my book club who regularly recommend books that surprise or challenge me.

    – I’m disappointed the judges didn’t throw 3 government ministers out for unprofessional behaviour, but pleased that there are still some checks and balances left in our community

    – I’m feeling positive about my work future because our senior directors for University Services are running group sessions to talk about building future strategy, and are actively asking for all staff feedback. Today when asked “What would you do if you were Director for a day?” Someone said implement a policy to give everyone leave on their birthday. I love this.

    – I’m feeling surrounded by wonderful friends that give me advice, and help me lift things and tell me when to stop and hire an expert, and I am so lucky to be so loved and supported. Friends are the real wealth. 

    – I am grateful for my health and feeling reenergised to improve it myself. 

    – I am so thankful to the rescue organisation that brought me a little white dog to delight me. 

    – I had takeaway Indian food and fresh orange juice for dinner and it is raining and there really are moments when life is wonderful in ordinary ways you never thought would seem so valuable.

    Count your blessings sometime this year everyone. They may surprise you where they are to be found. 

    Happy weekend to you all.