Information Relevancy and Literacy

Last week of school before the semester here. I love the fall semester, even though I’m no longer a student there something new and fresh about the start of a new school year. Maybe something like anything is possible? Maybe I’m just being a gigantic dork, but the energy around here is good this week.

The first month of fall semester is usually heaviest on the instruction side. New students means new people to introduce our resources to. I’m lucky enough to meet with some of our Veteran students in about 2 weeks to welcome them back to school and show them what the library offers and how to use our services. So that’s what I’m doing now. Grabbed a brochure, and throwing together an outline. I like to think that I wouldn’t need to prep for this stuff still, but there’s so much to say, and only an hour to say it so I have to plot my points so I don’t forget. And again, adult learners. Love it. I guess I like to feel helpful to them. I remember how horrible it was for me going back to grad school being out for only 4 years. I can’t image the anxiety that comes to some older learners who have to do things an entirely new way. There’s hope though, you just have to get over that fear. Sometimes we get scared of the outcome before we even try, which I think hinders a lot of people in a lot of ways. Sometimes just knowing HOW things work can help. A long time ago my less than computer savvy co-worker thought that I had just broken her computer because I pulled out the flash drive without going to the safe eject. She freaked out so hard. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Once I explained it to her she calmed down a bit, and from that point on was able to understand the logic behind it all.

That’s the challenge of it sometimes, people often don’t take the time to understand how things work, wanting the result and not caring about the process. You can try explain keywords to people, truncation or Boolean operators. These are things that can vastly improve search results when used properly. But many are just used to typing things in sentence form, like a thought: Does coffee make people anxious? AKA in the form of a question not keywords. I’m not knocking Google or Google scholar, I use them all the time and appreciate them from both a personal and academic standpoint, but people don’t see the organization behind this vast “web” of information. How to browse controlled subjects, formulate keywords, how to broaden and narrow searches. I guess that’s why we go to school for it? That’s another reason why I get so annoyed when people talk about how librarians/libraries are obsolete .OK there’s the first obvious reason: not only are books are awesome, entertaining, and open doors to all kinds of new ideas, emotions and theories, literacy is important in forming active educated members of society that will make choices on personal and collectively global levels that will dictate the future of the entire human race. As the information game shifts even further from analog to digital who will help people find relevant and accurate information? I love the internet. I grew up surfing it on AOL, I remember when you needed a disc for it for god sakes. But you have to know how to navigate it, and how to analyze information. I helped somebody in the tech center the other day who was filing their financial aid through a site that was requesting payment, she was asking me about how to fill out this page. I was like…Wait my friend, you don’t have to PAY to file your FAFSA…. I told her to get out of that page and show me how she got there. From a Google search she put financial aid and this is what pops up:

Fin aid

Yes it is clearly marked “ad” but people don’t pay attention to such things, these sites have disclaimers that people don’t read, and this lady was prepared to spend $75 for some god knows who company to “help” her submit her FAFSA (which is a free service). Notice how the actual legitimate federal site for financial aid is below the 2 paid ads? Geez. I think another time a friend of mine was about to pay for her change of address online through what she thought was the post office, but it just turned out to be another company who assisted you with it and took your money for an otherwise free and easy service. They even clearly stated they had no affiliation with the USPS and that you can obtain this service for free on another site, but people don’t read things. Sigh. See now how legitimate sources and literacy are applicable in real life situations, not only academic research?


A Sad End to August..

So, this post may not be very work related. In fact I think the only work related thing about it is that I’m sitting in the tech center while typing it up. August is almost over, and I took some breaks in blogging, took it easy, had some weekends off, and went on a mini vacay by myself. It was a great month. Then yesterday I received some disturbing news, kind of related to my last post. My therapist passed away at the beginning of August, about a week after our last email.

Her colleague (one of the ones she offered in replacement during her leave) called me once on Sunday and didn’t leave a message. I figured he just wanted to check in. He called me again last night and 10pm and left me a message to call him back, and that he would be up until 1. I could tell by the tone of his voice, and the time of the message what had happened but I still had to make the phone call. I guess she had died of rare complications from hyperthyroidism that she wasn’t getting treated, opting to go the natural path. She was only 57. I wondered if it had anything to do with the rash she told me about. I often thought about my therapist’s personal life. I tried not to. But it was just impossible to do. I can’t believe she was going through all these things, while I was seeing her, probably the whole 9 months.

Therapy is a strange concept. You pay somebody, a lot, then go in and literally expose to them the darkest parts of your brain, cry hysterically in front of them for hours while they pull things out of you that you didn’t even know were there, and give you a new perspective. You try to act like they are not your friend and remember they are just a paid professional, but then something happens to you and you think to yourself, wait until I tell so and so about this. You become excited to see them, and as time progresses, you really start to depend on them for a lot emotionally. There’s this fine line there. This was my first experience with seeing a therapist, and it helped me monumentally for the time I was able to go, I’m just kind of a bit melancholy at its ending this way. I’m not sure if I’m going to go back anytime soon, I don’t want to start over with anybody else. Last night when I heard the news I almost went straight for the whiskey, but then after really sitting with my feelings (as she often told me to do) I thought, is this how she would have wanted me to react? The answer was, no. And I knew she had successfully added a new, positive voice to my inner monologue. I wish I could thank her now, but I think it’s just a little too late for that.

Will and work

In the 2 month absence of my therapist due to an unknown skin condition I am left to try to sort some things out on my own. She gave me numbers to some suggested replacements in the meantime, as well as recommended that I could find somebody else through my insurance. I don’t mean to sound weird or overly attached here but it’s like your husband telling you to just find somebody else to have sex with some random stranger, since he isn’t feeling up to it. I can’t just start over with somebody else, trust and uncovering of deep-seated issues takes time, all my emotionally intimate eggs are in this basket so I found it interesting this casual suggestion to see somebody else, I wonder if others may take this more lightly if they were in my situation. I am feeling better than I was 9 months ago when I started all of this, and it gives my expenses a break so I’m not too sad about it, but was kind of on a roll with this whole self-discovery thing so I’ve been exploring different theories in psychology just through random readings. This can be dangerous, probably just as dangerous as Googling any symptom you may have as it ultimately just sends you to worst case scenario thinking. Well maybe better because I’m skimming scholarly materials from established professionals.. BUT, if I keep this in check, it’s just interesting to see what theories are out there in the field, and how they could (possibly) pertain to my own web of consciousness.

I stumbled upon Alexander Lowen, who came up with the idea of bioenergetics analysis. I won’t even attempt to explain this, as I’m only like 40 pages into 1 of his many books, but here is a link to his bio on Wikipedia (now I must side shame myself for using Wikipedia and being an academic librarian, but it’s just a blog). When he talks about the schizoid personality and its tendency to force behaviors to attempt to seem like a functioning emotional being he explains how it is a facet of society that we all have to force behaviors from time to time and this is a normal part of being in today’s modern world (especially the work force). This quote about it really stuck to me.

“Yet, the fact is that many people in our culture are forced to use their will in routine activities. How often one hears the remark ‘I had to use all my will power to get to work this morning’. If this sounds like a schizoid statement, it should be realized that conditions of work in modern culture alienate the individual from the creative process and deny him the pleasure and satisfaction of his productive effort. One works under these conditions because of compelling necessity, not desire. To regiment oneself of the mechanization and standardization of a mass production system requires an effort of will” (Lowen, pg.48, 1967).

It’s crazy that we have set up our society to basically oppress our own creativity to maximize profit and production. I mean, this doesn’t apply to everybody, but for a long time I struggled with this working in real estate for about a decade. It’s hard to swallow that people spend their life in a constant state of misery just trying to feed themselves and their families squandering any attempt at creative output. It’s such a struggle. And one I fight with too, even now that I’ve found a career that allows to me express creativity, and encourages it.

Anyway this book is old, and looks boring as heck, but Lowen has some great ideas about identity and the schizoid personality. If you happen to be struggling with your own identity or sense of self it may be a good read for you, it’s kind of dry, obviously.

Lowen, A. (1967). Betrayal of the body. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Book hoarding

Librarians are the worst kind of library patrons hands down. We hoard things, check them out and override max number of check outs, or just keep the items forever since we get no fees. Sorry it’s so true. Part of the time you feel like a kid in a candy store. There so much out there to get your hands on. And with both public and academic libraries at my disposal it becomes even worse. I pick up so many books and hold on to them for months and never get around to reading them. It’s a balance, you have to force yourself to do social things occasionally or be a shut in with your books. Half the time when you are out you just wish you were at home reading with a bottle of wine. But then I guess a lifetime of that and you die alone with the cats. OR find somebody that just wants to stay at home and read with you. I may be wishful thinking.

One more month and its back to school here, which sounds good to me. It’s like a ghost town around here, and although I don’t need the constant flow of people that happens at the public, I do enjoy the bustle of a new semester, and new students that breathe some life into this old re-purposed Alpha Beta. But there’s still 3 more weeks in August to get through before that happens. Fall weather is something to look forward to as well but that doesn’t happen here in So Cal until November. (grumble) Tomorrow I’m going to meet with the archivist and talk about possibly putting together a digital collection for our 125th anniversary as a college. I’m excited because it’s something I worked on pretty hard last year for the history wall that never really got anywhere, so it won’t be much work to put together at all it’s mostly done. Plus it’s a digital collection, my child, something I created for once, I guess it’s not the next great American novel, but it’s a start. Still trying my hand at being more creative lately, but I’m lacking a muse, or creative partner. How do you find one of these? Craigslist? Instagram? What about that saying.. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear… I’m pretty sure I’m ready, and figuring out that creativity doesn’t live in a drunken vacuum, as I previously believed.