I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.
The other books I have read by Gene Wolfe were intricate, dense books of deI received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.
The other books I have read by Gene Wolfe were intricate, dense books of detail and magic, books that almost required a re-read once you reached the end. This is not like those books, and I'm trying to separate my surprise at the change in writing style from the book itself.
The publisher describes it best:
"E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.
A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated."
At its heart it is more of a mystery novel with a twist. Light and fun to read, but I'm not sure it's a reread type....more
This book was referenced heavily in one of the units of a Library Advocacy Unshushed MOOC I was participating in, so I sat down and read/skimmed it. IThis book was referenced heavily in one of the units of a Library Advocacy Unshushed MOOC I was participating in, so I sat down and read/skimmed it. I think the underlying lesson I took from it is that libraries have changed a lot in fifteen years. Imagine a discussion of privacy, democracy, and equitable access before the Patriot Act!
Some of the philosophies do endure, but I think how we practice them is different than what Michael Gorman may have envisioned. I took note that Gorman recommended the flattest structure possible, after my library recently added a level of hierarchy.
"A modern catchphrase tells us not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that, too, is a utilitarian approach. To many of us, however, such intense practicality leaves a void, a sense of longing for more meaning and richer philosophical underpinning."
Verdict: a bit outdated, but a noble attempt to provide a newer philosophy for any library no matter the type.
A faculty mindfulness group recently started gathering, and I went out of curiosity. This book was mentioned as a good way to start. It probably isn'tA faculty mindfulness group recently started gathering, and I went out of curiosity. This book was mentioned as a good way to start. It probably isn't for everyone but I needed concrete ideas of specific things to do, rather than just hoping to be more mindful.
Then I hit this part of the introduction:
"Our essential hunger is not for food but for intimacy. When intimacy is missing in our lives, we feel isolated from other beings, alone, vulnerable, and unloved in the world. We habitually look to other people to fulfill our needs for intimacy. However, our partners and friends cannot always be there for us in the way we need. Luckily a profound experience of intimacy is always available to us - all it requires is that we turn around and move toward life. This will require courage. We have to intentionally open our senses, becoming deliberately aware of what is going on both inside our body and heart/mind, and also outside, in our environment."
Well, that resonated with me and I paid more attention to the rest than I might have otherwise. I borrowed this from a library but want to get my own. I tried out a few of the exercises a week at a time, and my favorite was probably the non-dominant hand. I even taught a class writing on the board with my left hand, ha....more
Intended for working in the K-8 classroom, this book is a well-illustrated how-to book on introducing improvisation. The first half explains the exercIntended for working in the K-8 classroom, this book is a well-illustrated how-to book on introducing improvisation. The first half explains the exercises, and the second half pulls the exercises into lesson plans with standards from specific teaching systems. These were good examples of how to apply standards, but this part of the book is surely already out of date if relevant at all for those using it.
While the book is aimed at the learning benefits for K-8 students, I felt like there were enough good ideas to be used in other situations. I plan on using some with grownups in a retreat. The suggestions for "sidecoaching" in the games will come in very handy, ways of encouraging growth without telling participants they are doing it wrong, apropos since improvisation is all about Yes! And!
This is a good overview of not only how to do improv but how to put on performances, ways of making money, etc. I read it to get some ideas for a retrThis is a good overview of not only how to do improv but how to put on performances, ways of making money, etc. I read it to get some ideas for a retreat I'm running. I laughed when improv games other books recommend are skewered in this book, like "First Line/Last Line." I plan to combine a few of the games for fun!...more
As with most books on librarianship, there were some chapters I found relevant and useful, and some not so much.
The chapter I will return to is by SusAs with most books on librarianship, there were some chapters I found relevant and useful, and some not so much.
The chapter I will return to is by Susan E. Parker, where she details a style of leadership she calls "credible optimism." This is the kind of leader I strive to be, although I didn't have a name for it. I appreciated her concept although many of her examples were decades old. ...more
Most of the book was not as relevant to me, either from a focus on public libraries, or giving advice on work that we don't do at my institution (we hMost of the book was not as relevant to me, either from a focus on public libraries, or giving advice on work that we don't do at my institution (we have Development officers and wouldn't do our own cold calling, for instance!). But a lot of the ideas can be applied to different types of institutions.
As an academic librarian, I really got a lot out of this chapter from two Duke library development people (not sure if they are librarians or staff). Of course Duke is a champion of donor relations across the board, but what they do just in the library is pretty incredible:
Crazy Smart: Creative Approaches to Developing your Donor Pipeline and Increasing Support by Thomas B. Hadzor and Kurt H. Cumiskey (Duke)
-Homecoming tours for alumni- general and behind the scenes -Reception for library donors on Reunion Weekend -Alumni Bookplate Initiative (dedicating a book for deceased alumni, free of charge) -Naming opportunities page of the library website ...more
A short story, delicately read by Kirby Heyborne, about a boy trapped in a library. Things are not what they seem, and the sheepman seems to be at theA short story, delicately read by Kirby Heyborne, about a boy trapped in a library. Things are not what they seem, and the sheepman seems to be at the center of it all.
To be fair, I skimmed this book for bits that were relevant to me. I read chapter 3: Stress, very carefully. It was a revelation to discover that theTo be fair, I skimmed this book for bits that were relevant to me. I read chapter 3: Stress, very carefully. It was a revelation to discover that the body actually creates glucose as part of the stress reaction, and shuts down cells from processing it so that it remains available for immediate energy, leftover from back when stress was always physical danger.
All sorts of connections to my own health - made.
"One of the ways exercise optimizes energy usage is by triggering the production of more receptors for insulin. In the body, having more receptors means better use of blood glucose and stronger cells. Best of all, the receptors stay there, which means the newfound efficiency gets built in. If you exercise regularly, and the population of insulin receptors increases if there is a drop in blood sugar or blood flow, the cell will still be able to squeeze enough glucose out of the bloodstream to keep working. Also, exercise increases IGF-1, which helps insulin manage glucose levels." ...more
This is a decent read on how to apply the Kanban system to your personal workflow, especially considering that when I first heard about Kanban and wenThis is a decent read on how to apply the Kanban system to your personal workflow, especially considering that when I first heard about Kanban and went to look for books on it, all I could find came out of lean manufacturing. Most helpful in this book are the two simple rules - visualize your work and limit your work-in-progress.
The second most useful part of the book are the examples of how people have made personal Kanban work for them.
Less useful were the chapters trying to make Kanban different from Covey or to-do lists. The authors attempt to villainize both, perhaps in an effort to make you think their system is the only system, but I use Kanban alongside Covey thinking and to-do lists and don't find them to be in conflict at all. Those two chapters were unnecessary, as were several others that merely repeated the concepts and the fuzzy illustrations found earlier in the book.
Still, I'm a fan of Kanban and use it to manage my group of Outreach librarians, and wanted to see what they had to say about using it for personal workflow.
In the end they do dip into group workflow as well, especially near the end. I liked the idea of using Kanban to handle an emergency situation, and that is something I'll file away for the next situation that damages library materials. ...more
I came across this book in my library catalog while looking for resources on library budgeting.
The topics covered by this book are well thought out aI came across this book in my library catalog while looking for resources on library budgeting.
The topics covered by this book are well thought out and apply to both public and academic library directors:
-At the Helm -Customer Number One: Your Boss -Engaging Staff -Dealing with a Board and a Faculty Senate -Dollar Sense -The Borders of the Realm (outreach) -Dealing with the Press -A Death in the Library (surprising for an entire chapter?) -Changing Times (managing change) -Transitions (new position, being fired, retiring, etc.)
I found a few pieces of good advice, especially about dealing with administrators (good and bad), and how life changes when you work your way up to the top:
"Once you accept a director position, you have given up those specializations. It doesn't mean you aren’t interested, but it cannot be the focus of your attention. Now, people will tell you that you have moved from being a specialist to being a generalist. Don’t you believe it — you have a new specialty. You must now be the master of integration."
Some of the statements were a bit strange and seemed to come from the author's personal experience, not universally experienced:
"Some days you may feel that you are living in a soap opera. Libraries do have a strong element of the soap about them — staff searching for a mate, falling in love, breaking up, and getting married. Add to this that many of a library’s part-time workers are young people whose quest for a partner occupies a sizable part of their brain."
(What? Part-time young people occupy their brains with partner questing? This seemed pretty dismissive and untrue.)
The writing left a bit to be desired and it could have benefited from a hefty edit, but the chosen topics reflected an experience in the field that had to come from the inside. Some of the topics made this book more like a handbook, something to pull out when you encounter a specific event (death, firing, the press), while others were more philosophical and about approach. I think the author is spot on about including the entire library and the entire community in the future of the library. The one idea I can steal right away is having a list of students, preferably officers in student organizations, to e-mail about library-related events. We can't e-mail ALL students but this might be useful. I'll be running it by my director!...more
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Anything I quote may have changed in the final version.
This was a veryI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Anything I quote may have changed in the final version.
This was a very difficult book to read! I am never good at being criticized, and magnify that difficulty by taking everything as criticism. Ha. I'm also in the position of giving feedback to a crew of librarians and can always use ideas for how to do this in the best way!
What I really like about this book is that it examines what the problems are, focusing on the person reading, while also giving ideas for how to address both the problems that are internal and those that are relational, structural, or role-based. I got a lot out of even just breaking it down into these categories, because it helped me see how complicated these elements can make something like giving and receiving feedback. It made me think a lot about myself, more in the role of receiving feedback than in giving it, probably because that is where I need the greatest help!
A few of the practical concepts I marked for further pondering -
-Disentangle we from what -The speed at which we interpret data, sometimes making us miss the actual meaning or intention of feedback -Noticing different things despite having access to the same data (ask "Why do we see this differently? What data do you have that I don't?") -How much is role and how much is personality? -Pay attention to your own silent switchtracking reaction to others' feedback
The concept of "identity story" is something I've come across before, but I felt it was well-handled here. How some people see themselves as unchangeable and that makes feedback more difficult, and how sometimes figuring out what the story we are telling about ourselves can really help us wade through our reactions to feedback.
I loved the set of "forward-looking" questions that the authors recommend you take to any evaluation conversation: "What were the criteria you used? What did you consider to be the most important? Are there concerns I should know about? Are there skills or experience I am missing? Looking forward: What are the consequences? How will this effect me in the coming year? What should I be thinking about or working on? When might we reassess?
Since the authors are careful to distinguish evaluation from coaching, and at once point suggest interpreting some evaluation as coaching, I liked this idea of having a tangible way of turning feedback around into immediate useful, actionable directions. Excellent.
There was one scary suggestion of asking people around you "What do you see me doing, or failing to do, that is getting in my own way?" It is probably a clear indicator that this book did not save me from being terrified of this kind of conversation, but I'm mulling it over. Perhaps if I start with safer people. And the authors suggest always having someone safe on hand to bounce ideas off of.
"When we are under stress or in conflict we lose skills we normally have, impact others in ways we don't see, are at a loss for positive strategies. We need honest mirrors in these moments, and often that role is played best by those with whom we have the hardest time."
Hmm, interesting. Actually they are not suggesting a safe person to mirror you, but someone who you struggle with. I am not ready! I will need to start small, but that is an interesting question. And as someone who has been under too much stress in the last two years, I'm not sure I want to hear the answer. Ha....more
"The survivors stay on pills, waiting... We go on. You cannot choose whether you get depressed and you cannot choose when or how you get better, but y
"The survivors stay on pills, waiting... We go on. You cannot choose whether you get depressed and you cannot choose when or how you get better, but you can choose what to do with the depression, especially when you come out of it."
This was an incredible book that took me months to read, a dense mighty tome about depression. It weaves together the author's personal experience of multiple breakdowns and decades of treatments with other narratives, scientific research, historical background, and social context (and sometimes- literature!). Rather than try to summarize depression, he lets it stay messy as it really is, different for each person, with no clear path for treatment. I learned a lot, and hopefully my increased understanding will make me a better boss, a better faculty advisor, and a better friend.
This was also discussed on Episode 009 of the Reading Envy Podcast.
While the Australian Black Dog Institute doesn't seem to exist online anymore, and they were the force leading to the writing of this book, I still thWhile the Australian Black Dog Institute doesn't seem to exist online anymore, and they were the force leading to the writing of this book, I still think it will be useful to people who want some specific strategies for dealing with depression in the workplace. I didn't find the personal anecdotes very useful and they take up half of the book, but every once in a while they would provide an idea. This also comes from Australia which has different government policies driving how workplaces can legally deal with depression, however I was more interested in improving work environment and understanding the possibilities than in what I was legally obligated to do.
Some of the suggestions are institutional, which are probably very helpful in a situation where someone would have the influence to make changes. I actually think one idea, of holding training for supervisors in dealing with mood disorders, would be something I could suggest. If mental health isn't a stigma, let's talk more about it, not just pretend it isn't creating challenges for people at work or in school. I think people know how to accommodate for physical issues but feel less empowered to do so for mental issues.
As a college advisor and supervisor of employees, what do I get out of this book? The need for greater flexibility for people struggling with mood disorders. Flexibility in time, for doctor's appointments, drug side effects, and just really bad mornings. In a perfect world, also finding more ways of not equating a depression-fueled dip in performance to general failure in performance. How can we be reasonable in our expectations and keep work a place that provides a reciprocal environment to all employees and not just those not struggling? I'm not sure I have the answers but I feel I have a tiny bit more understanding. Hopefully this will help me be more of an advocate and less of a straw to add to the camel, if you know what I mean. That is my entire reason for reading the book in the first place.
Here is a list of modifications from page 96 that I found useful: -restructuring the job -flexible scheduling -flexible leave -supportive modifications to the work environment -providing a mentor -changes in training...more
This was a great book for people looking to have a better understanding of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, bi-polar disorderThis was a great book for people looking to have a better understanding of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, bi-polar disorders of multiple varieties, panic, and seasonal affective disorder. It covers issues varying from relationships to work to disclosure to disability, and the last section has personal stories from people who deal with varying disorders on a daily basis. It isn't medical advice and does not include a lot of documented research to support the claims (in other words please see your doctor) but I found it to be helpful for the outsider who has no idea what these things are like. The way it is written, it seems to oscillate between assuming the reader is an outsider to these things and thinking maybe the reader is suffering and looking for affirmation. I think this was a smart way to write the book, because it could easily go either way, and often people who suspect they might suffer from depression find information in a less threatening way, like a book.
I was just looking to understand all of these things more. I have seen myself get frustrated at work and with friends because of behavior I now understand to be related to dealing with depression. I guess I felt that learning more about it would help, not because I'm interested in treating anyone or giving medical advice, but to increase empathetic and compassionate reactions. I didn't want to fake it, I wanted to understand. I get that from my mother, reading a book to try to understand. :)
I particularly liked the section that distinguished "I'm feeling depressed," a word people mean when they are feeling down or sad, from actual depression. This has always confused me and it helped to have it spelled out a bit more.
Little bits I marked:
"Ironically many people do not seek help for depression because they are too depressed... Sleep deprivation and anxiety merely add fuel to the fire, stoking an already precarious situation."
How to help - realize that isolation is often a symptom of depression (but people need connection, so you need to reach out to them), persistence pays off, protect yourself while remaining present, you can only do what you can do, don't be afraid to ask. (All of these come with a lot more information, but I found them useful. I often feel like I don't know if I should try to be there, to ask, etc., and I'm seeing that it is at least possible that a person dealing with depression may need me to at leas try. Probably not every time, this isn't a formula. Tricky, but there it is.)
"One of the realities about depression and anxiety disorders is that there are good days and bad days. The nature of the beast is that its course is unpredictable."
From the personal stories:
"Most of the time I feel like I am not honest with my friends; therefore I am not really a true friend at all. I feel like a mere stranger with them, and that only compounds the problem."
"The fact is many of my anxiety attacks happen when I'm trying to be overly responsible, trying too hard to be perfect, to satisfy the desires of others in place of my own, to achieve everything on an unwavering schedule. So being responsible often makes the anxiety worse."...more