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Analog Productivity

April 11, 2015
E-Portfolio Goal Thermometer

E-Portfolio Goal Thermometer

Sometimes I strike a strange balance between analog and digital when it comes to my work habits.

I love Google Drive and Evernote, but part of my learning process when I’m trying to squeeze as much as possible out of a book or article is to write it down in a single subject notebook. Then it gets transcribed into the digital space (such as Evernote) – so I’m reading it twice, writing it twice. It’s stuck in my head pretty well after that.

When it comes to tasks and goals, I’ve tried so many different to-do list apps and programs, but nothing beats a piece of scratch paper or a bit of my calendar spread for writing down what needs to get done – the satisfaction of the highlighter swipe across the task is much more fulfilling for me than clicking “Complete” or “Done” on a screen.

I did this with my E-Portfolio for my MLIS in the fall of 2013 (see image to the right). I set goals for myself, based on percentages and given dates, and wrote down the date that I got the email back from my professor saying that I had completed the corresponding competency to her satisfaction. On November 14, 2013, when I finally filled in J with a green highlighter and wrote the date, I was immensely pleased with myself.

I got in the habit last year of creating daily and/or weekly to-do lists. I would get the same satisfaction crossing off items and doing quick calculations to know how productive I had been  – 80%? 90%? 100%? Given, this wasn’t an accurate productivity score – it didn’t factor in helping patrons on the phone or at the desk, or doing other routine service desk duties. Still – it was a little bit of daily motivation that didn’t require me to manage something like HabitRPG (as cool as it is). Also, having a little notepad next to me at the desk works a lot better than my phone. From what I can tell, you get the most out of HabitRPG when you have friends who also use (play?) it, which means getting buy-in from your social circle. While this isn’t impossible, I’m not sure if my social group would support a thing like this. It’s not the same as saying “Hey guys! Want to try out a new RPG Saturday night?”

The balance I’ve struck works for me. It’s not fancy. It’s not techy. But it generates the right amount of “small win” achievement-based motivation I need to tackle large projects.

A Library of Things at Sacramento Public Library

February 3, 2015

Sacramento Public Library has a “Library of Things.” Items are selected and added based on patron input, which I think is key for a library like this. It’s not the first library to check out things other than books – we’ve all seen the articles about libraries circulating fishing rods, baking pans, and tools.

What I love about this innovation from Sacramento is the idea of libraries as places to learn skills and make things. R. David Lankes talks about libraries fostering the creation of knowledge, and not all knowledge can be created by using a traditional library resource (e.g. books, magazines, databases, A/V).

I hope that, as we progress into this particular niche of librarianship where we expand our view of “resources” to include more than just the “how” to do something, but also the means to do it, more and more libraries expand their makerspaces and other offerings to include things other than the shiniest newest gadget. Things like sewing machines and food dehydrators.

Of course, the key is listening to the patrons. The fact that Sacramento is asking their population what they want rather than just guessing is awesome – and something that, unfortunately, too many people forget when they look at cool programs like this. There has to be an interest or a need. If there is, then if you build it, they will come.

Rock on, Sacramento!

Check Out the Internet

January 29, 2015

I heard about Chicago Public Library’s plan to circulate wireless hot-spots out of 3 branches on the radio this morning during my commute.

I’m so excited for this program, especially since those branches will have 10 tablets available alongside their 100 hot-spots. The hot-spots go out for 3 weeks, and presumably the tablets do as well.  My first thought when I heard the story on NPR was, “Well, that’s awesome – assuming that the people in this lower-income neighborhoods without internet that you’re attempting to serve with this have devices to connect to the hot-spot.” So huzzah on circulating the devices too! Whee!

The best part about this plan for me is that it gives people the opportunity to use the technology in their own home, which is a crucial piece to the digital divide.  Using a computer in the library isn’t the same. You have a time limit, or the pressure of knowing that there are other people waiting for their opportunity to use the station. You have little privacy – and even in a “quiet zone”, other people sitting near you, or even HVAC systems can be distracting. At home, the technology has a chance to become part of your daily life, if only for three weeks.

I hope that CPL includes appropriate instructional materials with their hot-spots and tablets, so that people aren’t intimidated by the prospect of checking them out and are able to get connected quickly and easily.

Rock on, CPL. Rock on.