Finding balance

Found on

Found on

I’m what my new boss calls an integrator – I don’t mentally switch off from work stuff the moment I get home, I check my emails while I’m on leave, and so on. My new role starts the week before Christmas so I am taking 17 days leave, in two batches, between now and then. I’ll check my emails daily, as there is a lot happening including staff recruitment, but I’ll also be painting, cleaning out my art room (which the mice have apparently moved into over winter, when I don’t use it – it’s attached to the carshed and freezing cold), reading a lot, napping a bit .. and spending a day in Wellington doing Christmas shopping.

Some people think it’s bad to not cut yourself off completely from work while on leave, but I like staying in touch with what’s happening. I prefer a quick email sort every day than coming back to hundreds of them; they multiply like the mice! I love my work, and don’t find staying in touch at all stressful. How about you – are you an integrator too?


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Kindness, & recording thoughts

Once again I have been thinking about kindness and what it means in the workplace. I’m reading “Leading with kindness: how good people consistently get superior results” by William Baker and Michael O’Malley. It talks about how kindness is regarded as a weakness but “true kindness demonstrates a powerful confidence in oneself and those one leads”.  They also say “By kind, we do not … imply a warmly permissive leader whose underlings run wild. Kindness, like many other traits, has an optimal level that makes it a virtue as opposed to a vice”.

I’ve also been thinking about how we record all the thinking we do about our work, values, management style  and so on. I often write about work in my art journals but don’t share it. Why not? I don’t know really – maybe I think people will see it as less serious (or something…) than a written blog post. So, here’s an art journal page I did today while thinking about my values as I count down the weeks until I take up my new role.

journal page

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My struggle with Te Reo

I passed SC maths with 51%, and failed UE maths with 49%. In my 20s I decided to try again and did an intro paper through Massey Uni. I completed the first couple of chapters and thought I’d cracked it. Then it got hard – too hard – and eventually I realised my brain has a limit when it comes to maths. Same with physics, even though a good Schrodinger’s Cat t-shirt always makes me laugh. And then there’s Te Reo Maori…

I have tried learning on my own, tried learning with others, and tried a Wananga distance course. I’ve failed, failed and, you’ve guessed right, failed again. Sure my pronunciation’s not bad, I can Kia Ora and so on; heck, on a good day I can even introduce myself with my mountain and awa. But that is not fluency, it’s nothing like fluency. It’s rote learning to plaster over the gaps.

Does that matter? In today’s world do I have to keep trying? Or can I cut myself a break?

One of the two libraries I manage is in a town where 51% of the population is Maori and I think we provide a pretty good service if the foot traffic and use our service gets indicates anything. All the kids at the local schools know our staff by name, the teens lift an eyebrow at me as they wander past my desk and ask me “‘s’up?”, and the older Maori teens sometimes hang out with us to use the APNK computers after they finish night shift at the works, while their mothers are some of the most prolific readers we serve.

Recently I told people on my FaceBook page that I have accepted my bosses role (she retires in December) and got comments like congratulations Cath tu bloody meke,  and I will miss your friendly attitude Cath, go well from Maori males in the community. I think Maori and Pakeha feel welcome and respected by me and my staff.

But here’s the thing; that doesn’t feel good enough. I have this  constant nagging feeling that I am failing by not being proficient at Te Reo. That it indicates, I’m not sure how to express it, a lack of commitment to the Treaty maybe? I’d love your thoughts on this. Is it time to quit or is the language something I *have* to conquer?



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#digsig14 Unconference

I went, shared & learned, and then Storifyed. Here you go:


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Hating on librarians

Trigger warning: talks about sexual harassment, picture has very graphic language.

I have been semi-following the #teamharpy saga – if you want to know more, hop on Twitter or Google it. Today the Librarian in Black, who I have admired and followed for years, posted about the sexual harassment she has suffered in her personal and professional life over the years. Sarah was brave to speak out and is being made to pay for it. I can’t begin to tell you how sad and angry that makes me.

This is the kind of feedback Sarah is getting already:


I presume the person who commented is connected to libraries in some way, otherwise how did they come to be reading her blog? The fact they have chosen a revolting pseudonym means nothing except that they are gutless.

I know those associated with #teamharpy have suffered a lot of this type of backlash. If this is how librarians treat each other, it’s a sad day indeed. Librarians should be backing each other, and being each other’s strongest advocates in times of need.

I have talked a lot in the last couple of years about #kindness. Please people, in a world where journalists get beheaded for doing their jobs, and the word ‘segregation’ is trending, can’t be just take a deep breath and be more tolerant? Kindness matters, try it.

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To Cutt or not to Cutt

I’ve been talking with colleagues recently about Cutters. You know, the letters at the end of the Dewey number; helps to bunch like things together and so on.

A while back we got rid of the Cutter on our junior non-fiction and most staff have not missed them at all. Our collections just aren’t big enough for it to make a lot of difference.

We’ve been discussing the idea of removing them from adult non-fiction too. It saves materials, processing time etc. It simplifies things for the public who probably have no idea what they mean. If I think about our densest sections, say 635.9, we might have one shelf, maybe two at the most. So there’s not a lot of books to look through for holds etc – yes the Cutter would make it quicker to search, but not by much.

Do you have an opinion on Cutters for smaller collections? I’d love to hear from you.


By the way, the photo is from Google, not from our library.
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Hitting unfriend – when your values are challenged

The other day I commented on this story on my Facebook page and commented “This is such a sad story – I wish Christchurch could have more extensive social services. And that society as a whole cared more“. I got into a debate with an ex-colleague, who recently moved to Christchurch and works as a (newly trained) nurse. Essentially we have quite different views and I was happy to debate it with her.

Her husband posted this on my Facebook page “why can’t the parents who are taking her child look after her? or baby daddy or any other relli? and theres heaps of empty houses in chch so no need to sleep on grass, jobs galore, in chch. 4 kids! how about a snip, I could go on, but come on, how about she helps herself? we found a house on our own and jobs.”

The person the news story is about is an older prostitute, who suffers from bi-polar, and is trying hard to stay off drink and drugs whilst pregnant after the pill failed. My ex-colleague’s husband has a good job, so does the wife, nice kids, etc etc. His reply smacks of middle-aged, middle-class, uncaring white privilege.

My online life represents who am I, both personally and professionally – this is authentically me. Essentially he pushed my values button! I could not let his remarks go without comment, and have unfriended her so it can not happen again. As a librarian I care deeply about the people I serve – and not just the well educated clean “nice” ones. I try hard to care for all of them, even though I don’t always get it right. If you can’t care, and won’t respect those less fortunate than yourself, that’s your choice – but don’t spew your poison on my page.


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10 year budget time


I’m helping my boss with the 10 year LTP budgets. It’s kind of a big task – 10 budgets x 50 or so rows x 10 years = oodles of entries! On the other hand, Council has a really user friendly system for doing it, and because we doing “business as usual” we’re not thinking about adding extra stuff. Yesterday I spent a bit of time with some stats and my trusty calculator, working out some possible changes to make a few things more equitable. I’d love to see I have been gazing into the future, coming up with all kinds of cool futuristic techy things, but no…


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Why I keep my CV current

Some tasks are just not that much fun; filing, cleaning the shower, updating your CV. You can pay someone to clean the shower, and you can throw all your filing in a box and hope you never need it. But your CV? Updating it is one of those jobs that really is easier if you do it regularly.

I have worked for the same organisation for over 20 years, but I update my CV annually. In the last 2 years I have used to CV to support my application to join the LIANZA Professional Registration Board, which was successful, and to apply for the role of Editor of Library Life, which was not successful.

My manager is retiring in December and, having been her Deputy for some years now, I will be applying for her role. Instead of having to worry about the state of my CV, I know it’s good to go, and can concentrate on other things, such as ensuring I can clearly articulate my vision for the future.

What state is your CV in – do you update it from time to time, or only when you need it?


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Would I dare?

I have been reading quite a lot about the work of the librarians in Ferguson, who have stood up for the people in their community and offered a safe refuge amongst the turmoil that’s followed the death of an unarmed young man by police. They have put neutrality aside and taken a firm stand for their community – you can read more here.

I love my two communities and am passionate about providing for our kids and teens. I try to take everyone at face value and not judge based mental health, wealth, race, colour, physical ability, sexual orientation and so on. Respect me and I’ll respect you right back. I think we all need more #kindness in our lives and I try to start from a basis of kindness, even though some days I fail miserably (as most of us do…).

The Ferguson librarians have gone way beyond merely welcoming anyone in their doors. By the way, it’s the librarians, not the library, doing amazing things - the library is simply a building. Would I dare to take such a clear, and ultimately political, stand? Do I have the guts for it? I just don’t know. I hope so, and I hope my community never needs to find out. In the meantime, my thoughts are with the people of Ferguson.

Photo by Mitch Ryals, RiverFront Times. 20 August 2014



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