During my two o’clock desk shift yesterday afternoon, I had a business student come to the desk and ask a rather unique question. He explained that his group was working on their second project of the quarter, and he admitted that he really needed some serious help searching online databases. I told him that I’d be glad to help at any time, as that was my job.
He seemed to appreciate that and then asked, “How can I get in touch with you if I have a question and you are not at the library?”. I suppose I was a little flattered that I at least portray that sense of approachability and availability. However, I had to tell him that despite all of the ways to get in touch with me, I cannot possibly be available around the clock. I like many, do check email from home, and I will respond quickly to a query if it does not take too much time away from my home life. If it is going to take a while, it’s not fair to my wife, son, dog, or myself to bring work home.
One of the greatest things about this job, is that you can leave work at work. You can go home with the satisfaction of having put in an honest day’s effort, and know that you have helped people in a number of different ways. What we as librarians do really matter, even if the results are often not very tangible. The satisfaction you get from helping someone can get addictive, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself answering emails and IM’s from home late into the night. While technology can extend the librarians reach and availability to our patrons, it can also make it difficult to define where and when the workday ends. While it is important to go out of your way to help someone, it is also very important to go out of your way to spend time with family, friends, or your favorite hobby. Achieving that balance is often a full-time job in itself, but it is perhaps the most important one you may have. Have a great weekend, and don’t work too hard.
With all the business that we conduct via email, the web, blogs, and other online mechanisms, it is often very difficult to unplug. Even at home, the computer can call out for you inviting you to check email, read a blog, fire up your aggregator. Before you know it, that casual glance at the computer turns into full-blown work. And your’re working when you told yourself, your boss, and your spouse you wouldn’t. It’s easy to get sucked into this constant drive to keep going. And before you know it, you are either totally consumed or burned out. Michael atTame The Web provides some good advice in balancing work and fun:
Please library folk… don’t live and breathe all the stuff I write about here. UNPLUG. Last fall I was working intensly on SLIS 6700 for UNT, blogging, working, writing and getting ready for two conferences: one in the UK and IL out in Monterey. By late November I was having an MRI because of neck pain… guess what? I had herniated a disc in my neck. NOT FUN. The cause: too much LAPTOP.
Now, I unplug. I take breaks. And I’m doing workouts 4 days a week — plugging in only to my iPod.
I also think we need to be carerful to pick and choose our interests. I have realized I can’t do everything I want to do in libraryland… Choose a handful of your favorite feeds/blogs/news sources… and RELAX!
Some good food for thought. While I have to work the reference desk both days this weekend, you can bet I’ll be picking a tune on my guitar, playing with my son, or sharing good conversation with my wife when I’m at home. I hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing, unplugged weekend.
With this rampant librarian shortage 😉 and all, it helps to have all your stuff together when applying for a new job. Christine over at NextGenLibrian has a pretty good write-up of what to do and not do with your cover letter.
I have served on a couple of search committees, and it truly is an educational experience to see how others promote themselves. You definitely learn a lot about what sells and what doesn’t by looking at a bunch of resumes. The tips at NextGen are definitely good food for thought for anyone looking to polish up a letter.
I am still dinking around with possible names of this blog. As I think that this blog will contain mostly library and job-related stuff, I am thinking of calling the blog Library Voice or My Library Voice. I am leaning towards My Library Voice, I think simply because of the emphasis on My. My wife occasionally tells me to use my library voice because I often have a tendency to talk too loud (particularly in overly sensitive situations). This blog could be my way of exploring and writing about some of the issues in the library world, while trying to discover my library voice.
Another thing to consider is that Library Voice seems that it might be a little too close in name to Library Stuff, Librarian.net, or LibraryPlanet.com. All are great sites that I read daily in my aggregator, but I don’t know if I want the name of my site being so similar. There are even more blogs out there that start with libr*, so perhaps My Library Voice is the best bet.
Due to all of the packages, luggage, and the piles of baby supplies, I had to leave my guitar at home during our twelve-day holiday trip. When I returned, my guitar was there for me, still in its case, and miraculously, still very much in tune. I have been dinking around on it a little since coming home, although time has limited any real practice.
I had my lesson yesterday, and then played for another hour after that. It felt great, although it was difficult to make my fingers some of the chords, or pick some of the patterns. I have to admit, I got a little frustrated and would not let myself be defeated by a simple fingerstyle pattern. I played to the point that I had to stop, as continuing on would have made me like Brian Adams in Summer of ’69. Now it seems that my fingers hurt so bad that I can barely type. I really missed being able to play, and now I am anxious to get back into practice. I have begun working through a couple of fingerstyle books with my instructor.