I just stumbled upon this quote on Amazon from a review of The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carre, check out what Rosemary P. wrote in October 2016,

“Like sitting in an oak paneled library at dusk with a cherished companion, fire burbling in the grate and a glass of something wonderful within reach–nary an error of grammar within earshot! An absolute delight. A wonderful book that achieves exactly what it’s meant to.”

Wow! Knocked it out of the park! I would definitely pick up the book! Sure beats a typical, “I liked it.”

I find this encouraging to use the imagination to better describe what we find enjoyable about something. Analogy is a good way to do it. Now only to start practicing this in speech and in writing.

 

I was just looking back over my notes on Greg McKeown’s Essentialism particularly pages 20 to 25.

The three core facets of the Essentialist are something to keep in mind:

  1. Explore and Evaluate: Discerning the Vital Few from the Trivial Many
    • McKeown’s sums it up by stating, “We aren’t looking for a plethora of good things to do. We are looking for our highest level of contribution: the right thing the right way at the right time.”
  2. Eliminate: Cutting Out the Trivial Many
    • McKeown’s has a few lines worth taking to heart, “To eliminate nonessentials means saying no to someone. Often. it means pushing against social expectations. To do it well takes courage and compassion. So eliminating the nonessentials isn’t just about mental discipline. It’s about the emotional discipline necessary to say no to social pressure.”
  3. Execute: Removing Obstacles and Making Execution Effortless
    • This one is counterintuitive. I best think of it as working smart not working hard. By taking away the hurdles you are able to be that much better positioned to accomplish your goal. I’ll throw out some examples in a later post.
  • Return to the Center by Bede Griffiths
    • This helped me become better aware of a connect ion with spirituality. Stepping back from the world allows us to see it anew in all its beauty.
  • Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
    • Learning to live in rural Provence (France), Mayle takes the reader on a series of adventures. I love how the home renovation project becomes a running theme throughout the book. What most of us think are straightforward tasks are anything but in this book. However, Mayle takes it all in stride with great humor. One can read it multiple times and still enjoy every word.
  • Essentialism by Greg McKeown
    • This is going to be a classic for the 8020 librarian blog. Learning how to reign in over-commitment and focusing on only the most important things that yield the biggest positive results. It will be getting its own blog post in the near future here.
    • This book has inspired me to develop a new mantra for the 8020 librarian blog which is comprised of the 4 points cited below.
      1. Everything is not important.
      2. Only a few things truly have major importance.
      3. Find out what those few things are.
      4. Focus on doing just those few things very well.
  • Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
    • This book debunks the workaholic culture and offers us an antidote to burnout. If Winston Churchill found the time to take naps during World War II, then we can all find ways to rest and refresh. At times the breaks we take are just as important as the work we do.
  • Crucible Leadership by Steven Bell
    • This is going to be one of the most important books of all time in the library industry. Bell has 15 different library leaders each writing their own chapter on leadership. I did not read every single chapter. Rather I skimmed to find the leaders that most interested me and spoke to where I feel I am at professionally right now. Then I just read those chapters that those library leaders wrote. The book definitely deserves to get its own blog post here on the 8020 librarian.
    • The most interesting leader for me was Kenley Neufeld who is currently Dean of Educational Programs at Santa Barbara City College and a mindfulness teacher in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. I am coming to believe in the power of meditative practices and Neufled does a good job of articulating how mindfulness has helped him in this personal and professional life.
26. March 2017 · Comments Off on Criteria Used to Select Books for a Vacation · Categories: Uncategorized

I recently came back from a two week vacation and noted in my journal writings the importance of selection criteria for books to bring on vacation.

Here are several questions for choosing books to bring on vacation:

1)      Is the vacation an action packed tour of many cities/countries you have never seen or is it a relaxing extended stay in one particular place that you may have even visited before? For the very active travel regiment I suggest just bringing one book. Chances are that you will be so busy focusing on what to see in each stop that the book may actually take away from the vacation experience. For a blitz like trip that I took to western Europe 18 months ago, I only took one book and never finished it.  On the other hand, if you are spending time in one location mainly for relaxation purposes and especially if you have visited this place before, I suggest up to 5 books to bring. On my recent relaxing vacation I was able to read through all but one book. I was able to read the chapters that most interested me in the book I did not finish, so this was still a victory.

 

2)      Will I actually enjoy reading the books I bring? Am I bringing these books with me out of my own free will? I would not bring anything that you feel forced to read. Students should not take any school books with them (unless it is an absolute need). Taking work-related material with you, will very likely mentally take you out of the vacation.

 

3)      If I ran out of things to read, would I enjoy reading these books again for a second or possibly third time? If I did not answer this question in the affirmative the book stayed home.

 

4)      If any or all of the books were damaged or lost, could I easily get another copy? Don’t take any rare or signed books. Also don’t take someone else’s book with you unless they are fine with the book potentially never returning.  The ease of access to another copy is helpful if you find yourself in the middle of a good read and need to snag a quick copy to get back into the read. The physical item is not as important as the content. In the movie “Wild”, the main character was encouraged to burn the pages of a book she read as she went on a lengthy backpacking journey.  This served the dual purpose of having kindling for night-time fires and for lessening the weight load being hauled around each day.

 

5)      Can all the books be fit into a backpack or other carry-on bag (with room for all other essential carry-on items) in such a way that the backpack or carryon bag can fit beneath a seat on the plane?  Say no to large hardbacks and yes to slim paperbacks.  Use size as a factor to whittle down what books you plan to bring. I was able to bring three slim paperbacks and two medium sized hardbacks with enough room to spare for all other carry-on essentials.

 

6)      What about electronic books? If you want to use electronic books go for it. However, keep in mind some disadvantages. You might be faced with even more reading options than you would be if you just focused on print books.  You might have to deal with paralysis by analysis. Also, if your device gets lost or damaged you’re out of luck. You’ll need to make sure you bring your charging cord and that you have frequent access to electronic outlets. If the device can’t charge you’re stuck.  Finally, you’ll need to be in a position to pick up Wifi. If your vacation spot can guarantee you all these then you’re set. If not then look to print.

 

7)      Anything else I should bring with the books? I would suggest a medium sized notebook and two pens to jot down any good ideas you get from the books or just to journal.

 

In the next several posts, I’ll discuss the 5 books I brought with me on vacation and why I brought them. I’ll then go into some vacation dos and don’ts.

 

10. February 2017 · Comments Off on Favorite Quotes: Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is The Way: Turning Trials into Triumph · Categories: Uncategorized

Below I have cited my favorite quotes from Ryan Holiday’s  The Obstacle is the Way: Turning Trials into Triumph

“We decide what we will make of each and every situation. We decide whether we’ll break or whether we’ll resist. We decide whether we’ll assent or reject. No one can force us to give up or to believe something that is untrue (such as, that a situation is absolutely hopeless or impossible to improve). Our perceptions are the thing that we’re in complete control of. They can throw us in jail, label us, deprive us of our possessions, but they’ll never control our thoughts, our beliefs, our reactions. Which is to say, we are never completely powerless. “ (Page 21)

“An entrepreneur is someone with faith in their ability to make something where there was nothing before. To them, the idea that no one has ever done this or that is a good thing. When given an unfair task, some rightly see it as a chance to test what they’re made of-to give it all they’ve got, knowing full well how difficult it will be to win. They see it as an opportunity because it is often in that desperate nothing-to-lose state that we are our most creative. Our best ideas come from there, where obstacles illuminate new options.” (Page 52)

“We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given. And the only way you’ll do something spectacular is by using it all to your advantage. “ (Page 69)

“We talk a lot about courage as a society, but we forget that at its most basic level it’s really just taking action-whether that’s approaching someone you’re intimidated by or deciding to finally crack a book on a subject you need to learn.” (Page 75)

“We will not be stopped by failure, we will not be rushed or distracted by external noise. We will chisel and peg away at the obstacle until it is gone. Resistance is futile.” (Page 77)

“Like any good school learning from failure isn’t free. The tuition is paid in discomfort or loss or having to start over. Be glad to pay the cost. There will be no better teacher for your career, for your book, for your new venture.” (Page 84)

“When it comes to our actions, disorder and distraction are death.” (Page 89)

“Some problems are harder than others. Deal with the ones right in front of you first. Come back to the others later. You’ll get there.” (Page 92)

“Everything is a chance to do and be your best.” (Page 94)

“To whatever we face, our job is to respond with: hard work, honesty, helping others as best we can.” (Page 95)

“Right action-unselfish, dedicated, masterful, creative-that is the answer to that question. That’s one way to find the meaning of life. And how to turn every obstacle into an opportunity.” (Page 96)

“But if you’ve got an important mission, all that matters is that you accomplish it.” (Page 100)

“Part of the reason why a certain skill often seems so effortless for great masters is not just because they’ve mastered the process-they really are doing less than the rest of us who don’t know any better. They choose to exert only calculated force where it will be effective, rather than straining and struggling with pointless attrition tactics.” (Page 106)

“Ordinary people shy away from negative situations, just as they do with failure. They do their best to avoid trouble. What great people do is the opposite. They are their best in these situations. They turn personal tragedy or misfortune-really anything, everything- to their advantage.” (Page 120)

“To be great at something takes practice. Obstacles and adversity are no different. Though it would be easier to sit back and enjoy a cushy modern life, the upside of preparation is that we’re not disposed to lose all of it-least of all our heads-when someone or something suddenly messes with our plans.” (Page 137)

“The next step after we discard our expectations and accept what happens to us, after understanding that certain things-particularly bad things- are outside our control, is this: loving whatever happens to us and facing it with unfailing cheerfulness.” (Page 152)

“We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we feel about it. Any why on earth would you choose to feel anything but good? We can choose to render a good account of ourselves. If the event must occur, Amor fati (a love of fate) is the response. “(Page 154)

“There are more failures in the world due to a collapse of will than there will ever be from objectively conclusive events.” (Page 158)

“Shared purpose gives us strength.” (Page 164)

“Whatever you’re going through, whatever is holding you down or standing in your way, can be turned into a source of strength-by thinking of people other than yourself. You  won’t have time to think of your own suffering because there are other people suffering and you’re too focused on them.” (Page 165)

“Compassion is an option. Camaraderie as well.” (Page 165)

“Help you fellow humans thrive and survive, contribute your little bit to the universe before it swallows you up, and be happy with that. Lend a hand to others. Be strong for them, and it will make you stronger.” (Page 166)

“But thinking about and being aware of our mortality creates real perspective and urgency. It doesn’t need to be depressing. Because it’s invigorating. And since this is true, we ought to make use of it. Instead of denying-or worse, fearing-our mortality, we can embrace it. Reminding ourselves each day that we will die helps us treat our time as a gift. Someone on a deadline doesn’t indulge himself with attempts at the impossible, he doesn’t waste time complaining about how he’d like things to be. They figure out what they need to do and do it, fitting in as much as possible before the clock expires.” (Page 170)

05. February 2017 · Comments Off on Favorite Quotes from The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield · Categories: Uncategorized

These are my favorite passages from The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

“If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct , as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.”

“Fear that we will succeed. That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess. That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are. This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face…” (Page 143)

“We come into this world with a specific personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it. If we were born to paint, it’s our job to become a painter. If we were born to raise an nurture children, it’s our job to become a mother. If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it’s our job to realize it and get down to business.”  (Page 146)

“But the artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don’t believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life. The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake. To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.” (Page 151)

“Here’s another test. Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it? If you’re all alone on the planet, a hierarchical orientation makes no sense. There’s no one to impress. So, if you’d still pursue that activity, congratulations. You’re doing it territorially. If Arnold Schwarzenegger were the last man on earth, he’d still go to the gym. Stevie Wonder would still pound the piano. The sustenance they get comes from the act itself, not the impression it makes on others.” (Page 159)

 

 

 

27. January 2017 · Comments Off on Congratulations to Barbara Alvarez on Embedded Business Librarianship Article/Book · Categories: Uncategorized

Congratulations to Barbara Alvarez, who was a guest columnist on this blog back in the summer of 2015 when she reported on the ALA Conference!

Barbara authored a piece in the ALA Magazine January/February 2017 edition entitled: Embed with Business: Taking your library into the business world found on pages 44 to 48 (the starting page to go to on the pdf viewer is page 46). Barbara also wrote Embedded Business Librarianship for the Public Librarian.

Below are some of my favorite passages from Barbara’s ALA Magazine piece:

“Instead of going to community functions to give sound bites about the library and why people should support it, or presuming to know how it can support them, an embedded librarian will attend meetings, join committees, and network in ways that emphasize the library’s desire to learn and understand the business community as a peer.”

“It is important not to seize this moment as just an opportunity to boost program attendance and door count numbers, but instead to put energy into forming and sustaining meaningful connections.”

“When members of the business community are informed about the resources, workshops, technology, or other ongoing engagement projects at the library, they are often amazed, intrigued, and prompted to learn more. This appreciation grows when librarians develop meaningful relationships and work with business people on committees and socialize with them in networking groups. This appreciation can become mutual advocacy. The library no longer has to tout its own accomplishments and worth because others will advocate for it. It is much more valuable to have peers vouch for an organization than to have the organization vouch for itself.”

“However, embedded business librarianship is not self-serving. It comes from a true and honest attempt to understand, learn, and be an equal partner. This means stepping back and listening-not just telling the business community what you think they want to or should hear. It also means demonstrating the library’s case, not just saying it. Embedded business librarianship recognizes that you do not know or have to know all the answers to the issues or struggles that the business community faces. You are going to work with them toward a solution, not try to be the solution.”

“Essentially, when you develop relationships with the business community, you are developing relationships with the entire community.”

“You may feel you need to be a business expert to get started in this role. That is not true. Having a business background can certainly be helpful, but an interest, curiosity, and desire to learn more about business are the most essential assets. The most important aspect is your knowledge of your library and your own eagerness and desire to make a difference. If a library professional possess these qualities, there is no reason that he or she cannot be an embedded business librarian.”

“As you continue in the embedded  business librarian role, you will go from an outsider who has to be clued into the community’s goings-on to someone who is aware of the latest developments, trends, and events.”

“This is a process that will take time. Have patience with yourself and with the community. Encourage yourself to learn new technologies, trends, relationship interactions, and everything else that comes with your role.”

27. January 2017 · Comments Off on Final Post on the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up · Categories: Uncategorized

This is the last in a series of posts on Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

One final piece of advice from Kondo with respect to storage is found on page 142.

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away not the effort needed to get them out.”

22. January 2017 · Comments Off on Post 2: Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo · Categories: Uncategorized

This is a continuation from last week’s post on Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

How often should one be tidying? Kondo urges us to make tidying marathons a special occasion to prevent rebound. The reason being is that one-big tidying session has far more positive mental impact on us than a gradual tidying. Also, with tidying that is done piecemeal we are most likely to give up or postpone completing the tidying session until some other time. Once a successful tidying session has been completed, there will come a point when the person knows just how much stuff they really need, then they can stop discarding and focus on storing items. After doing this, then the person only has to engage in daily-tidying which just means putting things back where they belong.

Kondo believes that the best order in which to tidy is to start with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous items, and then items of sentimental value. The reason is that things that are not rare or things that lack much personal value are the easiest to start with.  If you start with precious things first, you can easily get discouraged from continuing. For clothing, I found that Kondo’s recommendation to store things standing up instead of laying them flat works best to see all the clothes in a drawer which would be difficult to do if you just laid one set of clothing over another set.  For books, the suggestion is to only keep the ones that spark joy and would make it into a special book “hall of fame.” I enjoyed Kondo’s remarks that the true meaning of a book is to convey information not to sit permanently on a shelf. Once the book has been read we have experienced what the book had to offer, so we are ready to part with it. For papers, Kondo’s rule of thumb is to discard everything.  For miscellaneous items, store only those things that bring you joy.

Now for the precious sentimental items, these should actually be handled (as with everything else listed above) one by one. Kondo’s main point is that the importance that keepsake items had was fulfilled at the moment they were either created or when the information they contained was read. When we work with the sentimental items we are actually sorting out our past and putting it in order.

My favorite quotes on the keepsake items are cited below:

Page 117, “The purpose of a letter is fulfilled the moment it is received.”

Page 118, “It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Page  119, “The meaning of a photo lies in the excitement and joy you feel when taking it. In many cases the prints developed afterward have already outlived their purpose.”

Finally, I thought it valuable to note that Kondo believes we should properly send off discarded items with a greeting so that we launch them on a new journey.

16. January 2017 · Comments Off on Post 1 on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo · Categories: Uncategorized

The 8020librarian likes to impart the idea that not everything is important and that a single project or a few small things end up having a major impact.

Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is well worth the read. The main take-away that I get is that by cleaning up you make a direct positive impact on your personal life. For me, while I have not completely gotten to where I need to be as a cleaner, I have noticed that mentally things become clearer after parting with possessions that I no longer need.

Conceptually, the two main tenets to Kondo’s cleaning philosophy are discarding and then deciding where to store things. Discarding is the most important and must come first. While, I can think of a number of questions to ask myself when discarding (i.e. Do I really need this? Who could use it?, etc.) Kondo’s main question for almost all the possessions you own is straightforward. She asks, does the item spark joy?  Here we are not following rational thought, but rather intuition. If the possession does not spark joy, get rid of it.

For further reading, Kondo mentions the Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi.

I will be back in the next post with some of the tips I learned from the book about how often to tidy, the best way to tidy, and how to rethink our relationship to precious possessions.