You Must Be Very Polite With Yourself

What’s the most important thing you learned in 2009?

This is a question posed by ALALearning on Twitter.  I’ve been pondering it over the last several hours.  I’m not one to normally do a review of the year gone by at the end of the year (although I know it is perfectly natural to do so).  I was having a hard time answering the question.

To me learned implies that I’ve mastered it to some degree.  I feel like I’m still learning photography (of course I am I’ve been doing it less than a year) so that couldn’t be my answer.  I thought some more.  I’m still learning so many things and even if I feel confident in them I don’t ever see myself as mastering them (which to me is a good thing as I think once you’ve mastered something you might rest on your laurels and not learn anything else).

While soaking in a hot bubble bath tonight (sorry for the TMI) I was reading “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I came to a sentence on page 56 that just struck me.  “Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.”  I had an ah-ha moment.  The light bulb went off.  As a trainer I feel that (and have been told as well) I’m very patient with folks learning new skills.  However, I know for a fact that I’m not very patient (or polite) with myself when learning.  I am impatient, I want to get to the next level, I want to master it (sounds ironic considering what I’ve said in the previous paragraph).

I think, no strike that I know it is my biggest stumbling block when it comes to my photography.  I so want to be at a better level than I am yet I have failed to see that to get to it I need to learn all the little steps in between.  I need to be more polite, more patient with myself when I’m learning something new.  I need to remember the patience I have when a student has asked for the umpteenth time how to copy/paste – I grin and quietly, calmly instruct them once again on how to do it perhaps trying a different tactic so this time it sinks in for them.

So, although I still can not answer the question posed to me, I am hoping that the bath time revelation I had will prove to be something that I try to do when I’m learning something new.  I need to treat myself as I would one of my students.  So maybe next year I can answer that I’ve learned to be polite/patient with myself (and others) when learning something new.

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Sorry Mr. Dewey, I Am For Real

Savage Non-Fiction section
Image by mlibrarianus via Flickr

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in the last 15 years or more – I shelved a cart of non-fiction books.  A call went out for help in getting the large amount of non-fiction carts out to the shelves.  Since I’m usually chained to my desk and computer screens I thought it might be nice to have a change of pace.  It’s good to step out of your normal routine and try on someone else’s shoes for a bit.  I started as a page shelving materials so it was fun to get back to my roots.  Also it turned out to be a Mother and Son two for one deal – my son who is also a shelver at my library was in the non-fiction section yesterday.

There is something soothing about shelving non-fiction and getting the shelf in perfect order.  But after about 1 section of the cart done I started looking at things from a different perspective.  It started after doing one section of the cart and not having one single shelf was in order.  Things really changed perspective for me when I was in the computer section.  I was puzzled to see that Linux, Mac and Windows books were interfiled.  Hmm, why wouldn’t all the books in this particular section on Linux be filed together, and then the Mac ones or the Windows books?

As I continued to shelve I got to thinking about the Dewey Decimal system and whether or not our customers really use it.  How many people outside of the library profession can tell you what the call number is for cookbooks, computer books, or even financial books?  Has Dewey seen his day?  What about Library of Congress classification?  Yes, I understand we need some sort of system to file things so everyone can find them but is 005.4469T really the way to go?  I mean does it really mean anything other than a cataloger?  Would perhaps 005 T do just as well?  I can tell you most customers when returning something to shelf don’t seem to see the cutter numbers.  Why do I spend all this time trying to get a shelf perfect if the customers aren’t doing the same?

Book stores don’t use Dewey or LOC and people seem to find the books they want just fine.  So why are we still in this day and age insisting that our customers follow our rules instead of finding out what works for them and providing an easier way to find our collections.  My apologies to all the catalogers.  I’m not trying to make you redundant but I do think it is time we rethink call numbers and how we shelve our materials.

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Nearest Book

Noticed this note on a friend’s Facebook profile and thought it would make a great meme for all the libraryworld and booklovers everywhere:

Nearest book.
Rules:
* Get the book nearest to you. Right now.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write this sentence as status.
* Copy these instructions as commentary of your sentence.
* Don’t look for your favorite book or your coolest but really the nearest

The nearest book to me was Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin.  Page 56, 5th sentence is as follows:

First, they’re not going to do the local leadership required when tribe members interact.

Everyone that reads is hereby tagged.


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