Everything, Libraries

On Teamwork and Libraries

Last week, the library system I work for held their annual Staff Day, which worked like a mini conference for all of our employees. I had a great time, and I left feeling validated and excited for my future in libraries. Below are some of the main concepts and ideas I took away from the meeting:

The Main Library on Staff Day.
The Main Library on Staff Day.

Teamwork and Outreach

One of the sessions I attended focused on outreach and collaboration between our library branches and the surrounding communities. However, I found a hidden message in the speech: teamwork is essential to the success of a library. One of the speakers, a manager from a branch in a neighborhood similar to mine, spoke about how she encourages her staff to work together to help their branch reach their potential.

Rather than taking on the job, as the branch manager, of reaching out to and forming partnerships with community organizations alone, she allows her employees to go to community meetings, form partnerships, maintain those partnerships, and so on. She shares the task of keeping the branch involved to her employees, and she trusts them to understand how partnerships work, how to keep them going, to know when to end partnerships, and how to enrich them.

Together, they have combined their knowledge and resources to bring in organizations that can help their patrons and they have made their branch a focal point and gathering place for the community. That is what I hope for every single library I will ever work for.

Libraries and Communities

Me working on a Valentine's Day craft program.
Me working on a Valentine’s Day craft program.

Libraries are no longer a place to find books, they are community centers in disguise. They work with and for their patrons. They are information hubs, and they don’t just know books anymore. They know community resources. They know where to find help for struggling patrons. They either know it, or they know where they can find it.

However, a library can’t just open up and say, “We’re here; let’s get started.” They need to listen to and know their community. What her patrons need may not be what my patrons need; what my patrons need isn’t what a branch in a wealthy neighborhood needs. We, as libraries, can’t go into a community and assume we have all the answers. We need to know our patrons; we need to know the needs of our community; and we need to know what our community needs from us. Our job isn’t to tell them what we do; our job is to listen to our community and then work with them to figure out what we can do to best help our community grow stronger.

Whether we serve as a gathering place for community leaders, or whether we offer and instruct classes and programs that help our patrons succeed, we need to listen to our communities first.

Teamwork and Your Library

Family Craft Night in November 2014.
Family Craft Night in November 2014. I’m honored to have the opportunity to step away from my normal duties to have fun with our young patrons.

In this post, I have done my best to try and explain the importance of libraries and communities using teamwork to make the community stronger, and I have done my best to outline that it’s not the job of the library to determine what the community needs; the library has to listen to the community to best figure out what they can do to be a part of the community and make it grow.

I want to return to a point I made earlier about the branch manager and her staff. They did everything together and as a team. They demonstrated what makes libraries work best, and that is delegating tasks and trusting each other.

No one person can hold a library together. The community uses the library, the library needs the community, and the library staff makes sure nothing falls apart. A library works best when the tasks are delegated to all of the staff members. Being given responsibilities outside of their “regular” duties allows staff members to feel connected to their branch, and it gives them a sense of purpose.

Our events calendar and some of our displays for Halloween 2014. I have the responsibility to create our events calendar and to help with displays, which gives me more motivation and happiness when I come into work.
Our events calendar and some of our displays for Halloween 2014. I have the responsibility to create our events calendar and to help with displays, which gives me more motivation and happiness when I come into work.

When staff members feel like they matter to their business more than just their job outline, I think they are likely to perform better. This all is just my opinion of course, but I’ve seen it happen.

As always, there are people who are just there for the paycheck to survive, and that is absolutely fine. But for employees lower on the “totem pole” and who are passionate about the work they do, being given responsibilities encourages them to perform better, and it boosts their morale.

I’m thankful to have been given the chance to attend Staff Day and to have listened to such an inspiring and thought-provoking session. A lot of what I’ve said here is just my opinion, but I think there’s some merit to it.

To be a successful library, we have to work together with our fellow staff members, and most importantly, we have to work with our community.

Current Events, Everything

News and Nightmares

I’m one of those people who has at least one dream every night. Usually I average two or three, and I typically remember most details from them. For the most part, I have good dreams, but there was a solid two weeks where I had nothing but nightmares.

I blame the news.

My current living situation has my husband and I living with my parents until the new year, and my dad watches the news nonstop.

What has been on the news in the past couple of months? ISIS, beheadings, Ebola, plane disasters (in the local news), MH370, shootings (local and national), Ferguson, serial killers (local), and so much more.

I am not ignoring the importance of these news stories; Ebola is killing thousands of people abroad, ISIS is a horrible organization that is also killing thousands of people, there are still almost 300 people missing in the MH370 disappearance, one local father is missing in another place tragedy, racial injustice and racially-motivated deaths are still prevalent in our society. I understand the importance of bringing awareness to these and other issues. These are important issues. 

However, I have problems with how these important stories are written and presented.

When these stories are sensationalized, dehumanized, and blasted all over the television and internet, they miss out on the important conversations that need to happen about them, and they create hype and terror.

Here’s how the news affected me: I had two weeks of nightmares where planes crashed into my home, I was beheaded, and I was attacked in multiple ways. As happy as I am about the fact that I am alive and well, I would rather be having conversations about these issues rather than nightmares.

I expect the news to tell me what I need to know, not to scare me. The news should be a place I go to learn about what’s happening in the world around me and to hear important conversations about the root causes of some of the issues. I also expect the news to tell me what I can do to help improve the world around me.

I believe that every single person can make a difference in the world, as long as they are equipped with knowledge and (sometimes) given examples on what they can do to help.

10498043_10152639805621554_5540103886214924500_oFor example, Babar Suleman, a local father and pilot, went missing after the plane piloted by his son, Haris, crashed during a world-round trip to raise money and awareness for education in Pakistan. I attended the launch party for the pair, and many of my friends knew them personally. After the crash, the family launched a #BringBabarHome campaign to keep the search for Babar and the plane going as long as possible. It was a fairly successful campaign, but the searchers were not able to recover Babar. Hopefully, the searchers will continue trying to find the wreckage and bring peace of mind to the family and friends of Babar.

My point is that people have power, and there is power in numbers. With a hashtag, we were able to encourage and support the searchers for the plane, we were able to bring further awareness to the Seeds of Learning campaign they were flying for, and it gave people here, on the other side of the world, the power to make change.

No, it wasn’t the greatest or most successful campaign to ever happen; it didn’t change the world, and it hasn’t yet brought Babar back, but we took up the cause because we were empowered, not scared, by the media to do something. That is what needs to happen with all of these issues.

The media should educate the public in an unbiased and helpful way. They shouldn’t search for what will bring them the most viewers. To be frank, I honestly would watch more of the news if they did hold conversations about the root causes of violence, poverty, etc. and what we can do to help. I get that the media wants us to know what happened, but instead of telling us what happened and moving on to the important conversation, they continue to repeat what happened in different ways. That doesn’t educate me; it makes me sad, angry, and feel completely helpless.

The media should simply do the job of sharing information.

Why the media chooses to present news in a way that gives some nightmares is beyond me, but it won’t stop me from trying to learn about the important issues in the world and what I can do to make things better. However, I might have to turn off the news first.

Of course, this is just how I feel about the news. If you have anything to add to the conversation, I’d be more than happy to read it. Keep Reading!

Everything, Theatre

Thoughts: Clark Gable Slept Here

Last week I had the chance to see Clark Gable Slept Here written by Michael McKeever and directed by Bryan Fonseca at The Phoenix Theatre. Aside from the amazing acting (as to be expected), I was very happy to have several interesting topics emerge.

1. Does it really matter if someone enormously famous is gay? 

Without giving away too much of the plot, there is someone who is famous that is gay, and according to everyone around him, the news that he is gay would totally ruin the careers of everyone involved. Is that really true? Do we as a society really care so much about the gender of who a person loves, sleeps with, etc. that it would ruin their acting career (let alone the careers of those closest to them)? Why?

Along with that, Raven-Symoné was in the news this week after appearing on Oprah saying that she rejects the notion of labels, especially related to her sexuality. This TIME article sums it up pretty well. She’s got a point that speaks closely to the plot of the play: sexuality shouldn’t define a person or their career.

2. A play can have both English and Spanish in it while still flowing well.

I don’t speak Spanish (though I am learning), and I can almost guarantee you that most of the 35 other people in the audience that night didn’t speak it either. Not being a speaker of the language myself, I can’t attest to the quality of the Spanish (check out this article about Spanglish in television). The actors playing the Spanish speakers did an excellent job, and I would hope it’s because the Spanish dialogue was well-written. 

With that said, there isn’t enough Spanish to make the show understandable for Spanish-only speakers, though there’s enough English to make it suitable for English-only speakers. However, it’s a play being performed in a place where there are mainly English speakers; it doesn’t have to cater to Spanish-only speakers, but it would be neat if it did.

I don’t know much about Spanish-language theatre, but I plan on looking into it. Regardless, I’m happy there was a lot of Spanish. It tells the English speakers in the audience that there is more than just English in the world and to not be scared of other languages appearing in theatre. Good plays challenge us to think, and I think that having a bilingual play challenges the audience to learn more about another language and culture.

I hope I’m able to see more bilingual plays, and I hope the dialogue is done well.

3. There’s a lot we might not know about the world of Hollywood.

It should come as no surprise that what comes out of Hollywood influences the way we think and do things. From advertising to the TV shows and movies we watch, we are being fed ideas (good and bad). However, as it’s said in the play, the people behind the scenes create the legacies of the people on the screen. It hints that there’s a lot that goes on that we mere mortals never see. They make these people into supposed super-beings. They aren’t humans who make mistakes (though they really are and we all know it). To the audience, they appear to be perfect beings, and that is the image that is crafted for us by Hollywood.

The real question here is what are the motivations of people in Hollywood? Why can’t celebrities be normal humans with a very public career? What are they hiding from us about celebrities and why? Is it a privacy thing, a money thing, both, or something different all together?

I’m not saying I want to know every detail about their lives (nor do I have a right to know), but why do actors need PR managers? Can’t they just be themselves without someone micromanaging every detail of their lives? I don’t know. I’d like to know more about what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood and why certain things are the way they are…

Back to the play, Clark Gable Slept Here was a very interesting eighty minutes. Though it wasn’t the greatest comedy in the world, it brought up a lot of interesting topics that still need to be investigated further.

That’s the great thing about theatre. It asks questions. It makes the audience think. It questions our beliefs without us being totally aware of it. Michael McKeever does a great job of challenging us without making it overly obvious.

That’s good theatre.


Why I Joined a Sorority as a Senior

Firstly, I didn’t join a sorority that has been on my campus for ages.  I joined a colony (which is hard work); a sorority just coming to my university. Along with around 90 other women, I struggled to help my sorority establish itself on our campus.534081_10203342678792389_918174242_n

My situation is a bit unique. I started at my university at the age of fifteen while still in high school. When I graduated high school at sixteen, I started at my university full-time. I was young, and I was still developing my sense of self and what I valued. Sorority life wasn’t right for me at that time, but I was interested. I began to research the sororities at my university. I found a couple that I liked, but I wasn’t ready to join.

10155026_2502251313298_9209470050506734000_nIn general, sororities choose their members based on shared values, interests, cohesiveness with other sisters, and what each sister could bring to the organization. I was too young with too few life experiences to share with the members, and my age was probably a liability (though I’ve never confirmed this). I hadn’t developed a strong sense of values, and I hadn’t had much leadership or volunteer experience. More importantly, I didn’t know why I wanted to join a sorority. I just wasn’t ready.

My birthday falls over the winter, so I didn’t join a sorority when I turned eighteen. I didn’t join during my eighteenth year because I spent a semester abroad. So, it got to be the fall of 2013. I was nineteen, and Delta Zeta was colonizing at my university. This time, I was ready. After researching the organization, I found that my experiences led me to similar values. I connected with our Creed, which speaks of social justice, friendship, love, family, service, and scholarship. All of those things I valued already, and the Creed of Delta Zeta gave me a format to express my values.

1926836_10203325800968440_504362634_nI started hanging out with the other potential new members (colonizing looks very different from formal recruitment), and I absolutely loved them. We all share similar interests (volunteering, Harry Potter, food, etc.), and they were all academically driven.

I also had my “why.” Delta Zeta has a strong alumnae presence, especially where I live. Joining a sorority is a lifetime commitment, and I wanted a sorority where I could stay involved after graduation. I wanted a sisterhood with strong-willed, independent women who care for one another and for others. The more time I spent with Delta Zeta, the more I knew it was right for me.

The last reason I wanted to join is because Delta Zeta was colonizing. They were new to my campus, and they needed women to help create a lasting sisterhood at my university. My university’s slogan used to talk about leaving an impact, and this was my biggest chance. In the past years, I worked to help others. I did a lot of volunteering and leadership development. I did what I could to leave an impact, and I could use those skills and lessons learned to help make Delta Zeta a powerhouse at my university.

1966834_10203426925616493_605971851_nAfter joining, I was encouraged to help lead. I was selected as Secretary, which gave me the chance to help prepare a new-to-uni executive board for leadership while setting up my position to be taken by the next Secretary. I helped to edit the bylaws and created an attendance system while in my position. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an easy year, but I am so proud of the sisterhood my sisters and I helped to create at my university.

My joining wasn’t a “Hail Mary” or a last-ditch effort to do something (trust me, I did a lot) or find sisterhood before graduating from university. I joined because the time was right, the organization was right, and the members were women I will be proud to claim as a sister for the rest of my life.

It’s not the right choice for everyone, but Delta Zeta was the right choice at the right time for me. That’s why there are tons of sororities–so we find the best choice.

My time as a sister didn’t end when I graduated. I joined Delta Zeta as a senior because I knew there was a lot I could do before I enter the flame eternal. As it was said to me before I became a sister… Choosing a sorority is like getting married. You get to dress up in white, make promises, have good times (and bad times), but in the end, you are bonded to these people for the rest of your life, and that’s the best part.10372307_10203783494930503_788805432666866692_n





One-Hundred Dollars to Solve a Problem

You have been given a $100 to come up with a solution to a local problem/need.

This semester, I took an Introduction to Mentoring course, where I was asked to come up with a $100 Dollar Solution. If you haven’t heard of it, click here. I thought I would share my solution, as I think everyone has a solution in their head; they just need a place to express it.  Who knows? Someone might adapt your solution and solve the problem!

The following post is adapted from what I came up with for the class:

After toying around with several ideas, I finally settled on one. This could really be adaptable to lots of situations, but I will stick with the one I listed. Here’s what I have come up with:

The problem: There is an increasing number of people in many states who are overdosing on drugs. Back in Eastern Kentucky, we recently (as in his funeral was Tuesday) lost the son of a good friend of my family’s to an overdose. Drug overdoses in that area are becoming increasingly common, and it’s tearing families apart, including mine.

The solution: So, I have decided to combat this problem in two ways:

1. Pretty well everyone knows someone who knows someone else that you know. They’re a community. By word of mouth and $10 spent towards making flyers, we will spread the word about a community day. There are many organizations that are willing to combat the issue, so we will all gather in a park (probably Jenny Wiley State Forest). I will gather up as many organizations as possible that are willing to donate their time to come and hang out for a day (the kickoff). The kickoff will be a big cookout. I will leave $50 to go to food for the event, and I hope others will donate or bring food. During the kickoff, I will either speak or bring an expert in to speak about the effects of drugs and how to prevent an overdose. I will also invite police, EMT’s, and firemen to speak about how they combat the issue. After that, I will organize walks around the park. These walks will get everyone out of their homes and into nature. The idea of the nature walks is to provide the families who have lost someone to an OD time away from the usual. This event will be monthly and will rely on people bringing in food and strengthening the community. The focus will be on the speaker and the walks.

2. After getting in to talk to local judicial representatives, I will set up a program to partner with the organizations who come to the event. They will likely need volunteers, so I will offer the families who participate in the event the chance to volunteer, but I will focus on those who have been arrested on minor drug charges. They will work in these organizations that combat drug abuse or a related issue, and they are allowed to come to the event. Hopefully having human interaction, community service, and a chance to walk in nature will help them start to kick the habit. Of course, anyone is welcome to volunteer. I’m hoping to get the local animal shelter involved, too. They always need volunteers, and caring for animals can be therapeutic.

This solution relies on the community. Hopefully, there can be some sort of fundraising after the $100 runs out, but the focus should be on giving and being out in nature. The organizations give their time and resources for the event, and people will volunteer for them. Everyone gets to be out in nature and experience the beauty, which is really what the event is all about.

I’m happy I didn’t major in business.