Friday, August 4, 2017

The Continuing Education Conundrum

A few times during the year, I give continuing education workshops through the Massachusetts Library System or the Connecticut State Library. They are generally on cataloging topics such as RDA (the new cataloging standard), MARC (the encoding scheme used in libraries), the Dewey Decimal System (do I really need to explain it?), or similar topics about which practicing library staff need to know.

But I have mixed feelings about them.

The cons:
They are a lot of work. If the topic is new or has changed a lot since I last presented, it takes a lot of time and research to put together or revise a 3 hour program.

Presenting requires a lot of energy. If I'm giving 2 workshops on the same day or one that lasts all day, and especially if I have to drive any distance, I'm wiped out for the next couple of days.

The pros:
They pay well.

There is a lot of ego gratification.

During the workshop I'm energized and feel great. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing.

For the last few years, I've been thinking that this will be my last year of Continuing Education; I'll take in my shingle and spend more time relaxing (or cleaning house). And then I get a call or an email asking if I can give a workshop on Copy Cataloging or another topic.

But something has changed.

Next week I'm scheduled to present a program on Public Speaking for Librarians and I'm REALLY PSYCHED! I'm actually enjoying reading (or re-reading) books on public speaking. And watching TED talks. And reviewing my notes. And making revisions. And thinking about examples. Maybe it's the topic.

All I know is that I'm really happy to be doing this. No mixed feelings whatsoever. And the euphoria is spilling into other aspects of my life. While I always like leading the senior exercise class, this morning I could hardly wait to get to the Town Hall and begin. I felt great! I'm still feeling great.

Watch out world. HERE I COME!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Serious Reading

In a few weeks I'll be giving a workshop at the Connecticut State Library (Middletown Service Center) on Public Speaking for Librarians.

One may think that Catalogers (who famously sit in a back room and do not interact with The Public) don't need to spend time developing such a skill. In my opinion, ALL librarians - in fact, ALL people - need good public speaking skills. It's a requirement for a professional image and librarians always need a boost in that area.

Public Speaking has been a vital part of my career and I want to encourage any librarian (or anyone else) to become more comfortable giving presentations to groups of people.

Here's what good Public Speaking skills can do for you:
1. Develop self-confidence
2. Project a professional image
3. Help communicate more clearly
4. Build a reputation
5. Show you care about an issue

The books I've been reading (and re-reading) in preparation are

Public Speaking for Success by Dale Carnegie. This is a classic and one I always recommend. Fortunately it's been revised (the previous title was Public Speaking: a Practical Course for Business Men).

The Elements of Speechwriting and Public Speaking by Jeff Scott Cook. I really like the way this book is structured. It spends a lot of time talking about preparation before moving on to presentation and I've structured my workshop similarly.

TED Talks: the Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson. This is a new book for me and I have mixed feelings about it. It began rather slowly and I considered not continuing with it. Nevertheless, I persisted and it did get better, more interesting and I found some useful information that was not included in the other books. Then, it began to bog down; I thought there were too many examples and not much difference among them. Again, I considered not continuing with it. But the last couple of chapters were the best and were really worth reading.

Recommended in the book is a talk by Julian Treasure called "How to Speak so That People Want to Listen". It is really worth viewing and I'm considering showing it to the workshop participants.

While the average librarian my not ever make it to a TED conference, anyone can attend a Toastmasters meeting. I was a member for several years and Toastmasters definitely helped me improve my Public Speaking skills even though I was pretty well experienced by then. I think the best thing about Toastmasters (like TED) is that there are people with lots of different backgrounds, not just librarians.

The "Public Speaking" I usually do involves presentations of technical information to catalogers. Toastmasters provided me with an opportunity to broaden my skills by giving speeches on a variety of topics and in a variety of styles.

I began attending meetings when I was "between jobs" hoping to make contacts and perhaps launch a somewhat different career. That didn't quite happen, but it did give me another workshop to add to my repertoire.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 1 and the word is SMOOTH

It feels (as it does every year) that summer is whizzing by. There are so many things M. and I want to do while the weather is warm; and there are other things I want to do while the weather is warm.

There is great theater around here during the summer. We're planning to see The Foreigner at New Century Theater; Hamlet and then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at Hampshire Shakespeare Company; and Midsummer Night's Dream and Cymbeline at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox.

We want to invite some friends for dinner and also to have a big party, or maybe two. We have a beautiful yard with a pond and patios and decks that we love to share. It's a great place to mingle or just sit peacefully. The pond has about 19 fish (it's hard to count them, they don't stay still for long) and I saw a turtle a couple of days ago. There are lots of frogs, too.

I want to take a trip to the Berkshires (in addition to Lenox) to the Clark Art Institute and MassMoCA. I have a gift certificate to the latter.

During June, I took a Spanish class at the International Language Institute. Even though I've taken Spanish before, I signed up for the beginner's class. My Spanish is very rusty and I didn't want to feel overwhelmed in a more advanced class. The other people in my class (there were 4 others) also had some Spanish, so we were pretty much even. The teacher was great. She may be one of the best teachers I have ever had EVER. She was very young, but experienced and, obviously, very talented.

As someone who has taught a variety of subjects (including cataloging and exercise), I know that the first few times can be rough, no matter how well you are prepared. Smooth is the best way to describe her. She transitioned smoothly from one topic to another. She introduced new topics smoothly. On the rare occasion she did not know a word, she smoothly looked it up on her laptop. She was fun and friendly and the class was fun and friendly. We talked a lot (the whole point of learning a new language) and she was very fun and friendly  - and yes smooth - as she corrected our pronunciation or verb endings.

Because of so many other things going on during July and August, I am not going to register for Spanish, but I am looking forward to another class in the fall. While I'm looking forward to taking Spanish again, I hope fall does not come soon.

Friday, June 16, 2017

It's June again!

Finally! Until last week, the weather was mostly cold and rainy, but then there was the heat wave and the last couple of days have been clear, dry, and refreshing.

Well, this is New England - noted for its variety of weather. Isn't that why we live here? So we won't be bored with beautiful sunny weather day after day?

June is the month of anniversaries: M and I were married 6 years ago, began living together 26 years ago, had our first date 28 years ago. It's been an adventure living with M. and sometimes I wonder how I got myself into this situation. But then I remember it's because I wanted some variety in my life and I need help with that. If it were up to me, I'd have nothing but smooth routines - a little like that perpetually sunny weather described above.

June is the month of my birthday. This is a big one - another decade. Fortunately, I'm not nearly as upset about turning 70 as I was when I turned 60. I have lots of positive role models much older than I: most of the people in my exercise class and also M. I think he keeps me young.

And June is when I was laid off from my job in 2010. Shortly after that, I began this blog as I was looking for another job and, as it says in the tag line, maybe another career. I've found both.

Fortunately (wow, that's the second time I've used that word in this post), I'm old enough to collect Social Security and can afford to work only part-time. After many, many different part-time jobs during these 7 years, I've settled into being the MassCat Cataloger - probably the most perfect job for me I could imagine. The work can be tedious, but it's only part-time. I might go crazy if I had to do it 40 hours each week; I can manage 18 hours.

And then there's my exercise class. True, I don't get paid to lead it, but if I were the entrepreneurial type (which I'm not), I could develop those skills into something to produce income. I do get several free meals each year from the appreciative organizations for whom I volunteer.

Sounds as if things are pretty sunny after all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm Really Beginning to Dislike Laura Ingalls Wilder

It's not really her fault. Nor is it the fault of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, or William Shakespeare.

They all wrote LOTS of books and LOTS of companies published those books, often LOTS of times (revised edition, updated edition, abridged edition, illustrated edition, etc.) That makes sorting out the duplicates from the different editions rather difficult. Where's FRBR when you need it?

I'm still at the beginning of the letter L in my alphabetical list of possible duplicates - that's the beginning as in books starting with the word Laura. I'm hoping when I get further along, and get to books starting with the word Little, many of the duplicates of Little House on the Prairie will already be cleaned up.

Trying to come at these from a variety of different direction - and finding different things along the way - I did a search on the one word Laura, then Ingalls, then Wilder.

Since Gene Wilder only died last year, most of his death dates were not filled in. I did learn that at one point, it was thought he was born in 1935, but he was born in 1933. And his birth name was Jerome Silberman. That all came from the Library of Congress Authorities. The Authority Files have so much more information in them now.

And I found a book of poems by Melville Cane called Wider Arc which had the incorrect title Wilder Arc. That has been corrected.

Every time I merge records, upgrade a record, correct a record, I get a real feeling of satisfaction and think of people using MY online catalog and finding what they need.

It's time for my annual review. Instead of listing what I've accomplished during the last year and what I hope to accomplish during the next, I'll just hand my supervisor this blog! :-)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ugh! Computer problems

Without going into details, we had some major computer issues that resulted in a complete wipe-out and restore. I've been depending on my computer at work to do some basic things like e-mail and renewing my library books.

However, the evil machine is now up and running. Perhaps I should be careful about using abusive language with it. I don't want to jinx anything.

On a more positive note, M. and I just returned from a 2 week vacation in Spain and Portugal. Traveling with M. is not easy. He refuses to be part of any tour, go anywhere anyone else wants him to go, or do anything anyone else wants him to do. He's very independent.

As a result, we spent 1-3 days each in several different towns or cities: Ubrique, Spain (where we visited friends), Ronda, Spain (where we spent an afternoon at an archaeological dig, Malaga, Spain (where we visited a sculptor M. had met via the Internet and we also saw some major Semana Santa processions), Huelva, Spain (which was a mid-point between Malaga and Lisbon; we were driving), Lisbon, Portugal (where we boarded a plane to the island Madeira), Madeira, Portugal (where we visited friends who used to live in Hatfield), back to the Lisbon (where we had to stay overnight because of the flight schedules), and then to Boston. From there we took a Logan Express bus to Framingham and then drove home. Whew!

We don't travel a lot, so this whole "living out of a suitcase" thing is awkward. I'm someone who likes security and routine. For 2 weeks I did not have either.

The weather in Spain and Portugal was warm and sunny. We arrived to chilly drizzle. The last two days were more like our vacation, but today is rainy and the same is predicted for tomorrow.

Well, this is April (as in showers).

I'm so looking forward to those May flowers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I always feed sophisticated ...

... while reading a book by Donna Leon.

Commisario Guido Brunetti and his wife Paola are elegant. Their family sits down to lunch every day. They even have wine at lunch

Donna Leon's prose is elegant. Her detailed description of Venice, Italy; traveling along the canals; looking at the architecture are all elegant.

While I read the books (the one I just finished is Quietly in their sleep), the ambiance begins to permeate my body and I feel elegant, too. I want to sit at a cafe and sip wine; I want to cook and serve elegant meals; I want to have stimulating intellectual conversations; I relish life.

Despite the fact that there are crimes being committee - usually murder, but lots of other things, too - this series is just plain elegant.

Leon's  descriptions of Venice are so thorough that, before visiting the city, friends of mine read several of her books and took copious notes. They felt they could actually find their way around by following in Guido Brunetti's footsteps.

Italy is a country about which I've heard many good things. Everyone I know who has been there loved it. Perhaps one day I'll have the chance to visit Italy and, specifically, Venice. I'll be sure to read (or maybe re-read) Donna Leon's books so that I know the best places to sit and sip wine and be elegant.