Eleven months later

A crazy thing happened to me the other day. I looked at a calendar and realized it was almost the end of September. While normally this would have little significance for me (other than signalling that fall is here), this year the date jumped into my head. It made me stop and realize that HOLY CRAP, I HAVE BEEN AT THIS JOB FOR ALMOST ELEVEN MONTHS! This is a time I always knew would come since time always move forward, however, it seems like the 11 month mark snuck up on me really fast.

To use a cliched phrase, but one that I feel is apt in this situation: “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is exactly how I feel now that I am quickly rushing toward the one year mark in this position. I am extremely fortunate to have a job I love and to enjoy coming to work each day. To celebrate this almost anniversary, I feel a reflection on the last eleven months is in order.

A small sampling of highlights in no particular order:

  • Received a Dean’s Innovation Grant
  • Elected to represent Group II in the Faculty Senate
  • Elected to represent Group II on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee
  • The CMS Department was trained and became part of a NACO funnel
  • Received a “Highly Effective” rating on my probationary review
    • I am therefore now an actual Assistant Librarian
  • I was selected to help fellow librarians draft a UNT Policy specifically for librarians.
  •  Begin a research project to help make table top games more discoverable and searchable in library catalogs
  • Attended the 2016 ALA annual conference in Orlando, Florida

I am sure I missed some things, but even just looking at this list, it is amazing what can be accomplished in such a short time.

I am excited to move forward, continue in this position, and see what the future holds!

Grants

Well, I have forayed into the wide world of grant funding.

The UNT Library Dean, Martin Halbert, awards “Dean’s Innovation Grants” each year to various librarians who have an innovative idea and need funding to help research, study, and work on that idea. This is a great starting point for learning how to apply for grants, because they are small ($5,000 max) and internally funded. However, they do tend to be competitive because UNT has a lot of great librarians who all have great ideas.

This year, I decided to try and apply for one since I am really enjoying my new job and career as a librarian. At the suggestion of my Associate Dean, I reached out to some colleagues in the government documents area of the library, which is the same area of the library where I volunteered in the past. After a few meetings and looking at different collections, we settled on applying for the grant as a research and demonstration project. The basic idea of our project will be taking an already established collection at our library and adding current and cutting edge library technology to the information and see how it affects discoverability and use.

The application process was pretty simple and we thought our idea was interesting and fairly innovative. However, until Martin announced the grant winners, there was no communication about how many people applied or how the decision process worked (aside from his personal/professional discretion). But on the day of the awards ceremony, much to our surprise, only my grant and one other received the full $5,000 while some of the rest received about half of their asked for amount.

Needless to say, this shocked me especially because as lead person on this grant, I am very early in my career. But I do love working hard and meeting challenges and I am excited to see what this research holds. As we get started on the project, I will make sure to post updates here as well as links to anything that might be published elsewhere on the internet.

Wish us luck!

littleBits

I recently checked out the UNT Library’s set of littleBits electronics. These are essentially circuit board components that can be magnetically snapped together to create various electronic devices. There is no wiring or soldering required and they are geared toward getting younger kids interested in electronics and circuity.

The true beauty of this product is, that while there are building instructions for certain projects, all the parts can be interchanged and used with each other to create any number of other projects that have never existed before. Also, you can find inspiration on the littleBits website by looking at other people’s creations.

UNT has a few sets, with almost every piece from the littleBits collection included, available for checkout from The Factory at UNT. One word of note though, make sure you have time to wait when you want to check out/check in the littleBits kit because the staff at The Factory has to make sure every part is there before you can leave.

Tabletop Game Genre Headings

I am an avid gamer. I like computer games and casual games, but by far my favorite type of game are tabletop games. These can range from traditional board games, to card games, to family games, and anything in between.

I am fortunate to work here at UNT where our Media Library has one of the largest library-owned tabletop game collections in the world. I cannot share much now because the project is still in its early stages, but I am currently working with two other cataloging librarians here to develop genre heading terms for tabletop games. Our goal is to use these headings to help patrons find games easier in the catalog and a be able to narrow down a game selection based on exactly what type of game they want to play.

As we develop this list a move forward with the various stages of the project, I will keep this blog updated with our findings and ideas.

Career update

4 Month Update

It is hard to believe I have been a librarian now for four months. It seems like I just started yesterday, but when you look at the numbers I have almost been here half a year. As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun, and I am truly having fun.

Here is a small look at the things I have done and learned since arriving last November:

  • Joined the RIG group of librarians which promote research and publishing
  • Attended various meeting and tried to make myself known by people around the library
  • Learned the intricacies of being a “faculty-equivalent” librarian
  • Cataloged a lot of physical and electronic books
  • Began creating a poster presentation with a colleague about a signature database we use
    • This presentation was accepted at TLA and we are waiting to hear back from ALA
  • Began researching genre terms for table top games with two other librarians
  • Took over responsibility for facilitating the physical book workflow in the cataloging department
  • Learned about and took classes on the new BibFrame standard being created by the Library of Congress
  • Was nominated for a seat on the UNT faculty senate
  • Dealt with the interesting quirks of the UNT Library Annex Building
  • Participated in the campus visit/interview of the new head of cataloging
  • Began to adjust to the fact that I am now truly a colleague of the other faculty on campus
  • Became cataloging liaison to the collection development area
  • Became one of three liaisons for the libraries for the new UNT Faculty Information System
  • Began to find out how I fit as a librarian into the profession

I have had a blast so far and I hope to continue to do great things and have a lot of fun while doing them!

Thanks for reading.

Sphero 2.0

I recently checked out a Sphero 2.0 from the UNT Library’s Factory, and I must say that it is one of the coolest pieces of technology I have ever played with.

For those that might not know what is, it is essentially a small white plastic ball, that you can drive/control through apps on your smart phone or tablet. Here is a picture of Sphero and it’s packaging:

Sphero 2.0 and packaging

Credit: sphero.com

The best way to experience Sphero before buying one is to see if your library, such as UNT’s, has one available to play with or check out, or you can also watch these videos created by the Sphero team:

After having checked this out and played with it, I am certainly purchasing one and encourage anyone with an interest in robotics, gaming, cool toys, coding, creating apps, or just wanting to have fun to also consider buying a Sphero.

(In addition to Sphero, the company has created an app controlled BB-8 from Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens and another app controlled robot called Ollie.)

This is not a paid endorsement in any way. I just love Sphero’s products.

Commuting on a bike.

I have enjoyed biking all my life, but my current love of cycling was developed when I was a student employee at the UNT Media Library. Two of the staff members there were big into the local biking community and talking with them got me excited to regularly ride my bike again. I would go on bike rides in the evenings or on the weekends and I had a great time exploring on two wheels, but I never had the need to ride my bike unless it was just going out for fun. Also, due to the proximity of previous work and home, I could always walk and never needed to bike (even though I did most of the time, just because it was fun.)

However, when I got my new cataloging job at the UNT Libraries, I decided that I would revive my days at the UNT Media Library and make my commute to work on a bicycle. This seemed easy and straightforward, because my new work location was only about 3 miles away from home. When I drove there in a car for the first time, the route seemed easy, except that there is really only one road in and out of this location. Also, the area where I work is home to a Peterbilt truck plant, and at least five large manufacturing and distribution operations. This means that there are no shortage of large semi-trailer trucks on the single road to and from work and home.

This was initially unnerving because I would be on a tiny bike and having to share the road with 18-wheelers. However, I did not lose my conviction and decided that I should make a few trial runs before my initial start date. Early one Sunday I got up, hopped on my bike, and rode to work even though I would not be starting for a few more weeks. This ride proved much easier than I had thought, but it was a Sunday after all and the traffic is usually subdued on a Sunday. Therefore, I decided to put my want of a bike commute to the full test by riding to new-work one evening before I started during the 5ish o’clock rush hour. This was just as easy as the Sunday ride even though there were more cars and trucks on the road. They all gave me adequate room or slowed down as they passed, and never once did I feel like I would be run over.

I have been bike commuting to work ever since and it is still going great! On the rare occasion I have to drive my car to work (to either get to a meeting or somewhere else quickly) I always find myself wishing I could be on a bike. If you enjoy biking and ever find yourself able to safely commute via bike, I highly recommend it!

Biking/Bike Commuting Tips:

  • Wear a helmet!
  • Use lots of lights and reflectors so you can easily be seen.
  • Test your route to ensure safety and familiarity.
  • Have fun and enjoy the ride.