Thursday, August 28, 2008


I am embarrassed to admit that I spent a lot of time writing the post below when I was supposed to be reviewing example portfolios so I can get my first competency paper drafted. It's a pity I had so much to say about a topic that I WASN'T supposed to be covering for the final project.

Also, as you can probably gather from context, school has started. I have 2 papers a week until end of October to write for the portfolio (after that I'll be revising and doing re-writes as necessary). Except this week - I gave myself the first half to find my evidence and only set myself to do one paper. Which, by the way, I'm behind schedule on. Back to work!

Librarians & Rules

Pardon my pontification, if you will, but I have something on my mind. In a conversation about my upcoming internship with my mother yesterday, she made the observation that librarians were "sticklers for rules". I've been thinking about this. It seems unfair, yet it is difficult to argue with this point of view. In the defense of librarians everywhere, here are my thoughts.

When you are talking about "managing information," and "serving your community" you are conversing on very large and nebulous subjects. In order to make progress, you have to narrow your focus to certain specific goals; you can only work towards so many ends at one given time.

First of all, in order to serve a community, you have to define who the members are. In an academic setting, you are supporting students and faculty; in a public library, the residents of the local geographic area. But once you know that, you have to look further - what are their specific needs and how do you serve them? Well, you have to decide what the primary needs are. And in order to meet those needs consistently and measurably, you have to document them. Once you have documented service policies, covering types of materials, service hours, and so on, you have to follow them in order to be sure you are serving your community effectively. Items outside those documented areas are outside the library's purview, until such time as the goals are re-assessed and updated to reflect changes or developments in the community's needs. Rules.

In order to operate on a day-to-day basis, there have to be rules to ensure consistent and non-discriminatory behavior. Librarians have to set up careful guidelines to help prevent personal opinions or bias from affecting their level of service to the community, whether those biases are based on information content or patron identity. The same set of guidelines apply to everyone, all the time, in order to preserve a fair service to everyone. More rules.

When you are managing information, you are restricted by format behavior and preservation needs, by local and national laws, and by the usage requirements of your community. How best to preserve both content and container of your information may be under debate, but once it is determined that preservation is required, some action must be taken. For consistency's sake, guidelines are needed for handling of all the various formats contained in the institution. Local and national laws are external rules that are imposed upon the library and must be upheld. And the requirements of the community, as noted above, have to be laid out and defined. Still more rules.

In short, in order to accomplish anything - to manage the information and serve the community - guidelines have to be established in order to direct activity and measure its progress. And progress measurement is important for any organization who survives on outside funds, and would like to continue to receive those funds.

In some hands, it's true, library rules can become weapons rather than a tools, or excuses to do things they way they've always been done without reassessment. When following rules, it is sometimes easy to forget why they are in place, and simply act upon them out of habit. It is up to the library management to try to avoid these behaviors, and to re-visit established policies and procedures periodically to make sure they are still serving the community and managing the information in the best way possible.

Unfortunately, the public has very little insight into the difficulties of serving so broad and open-ended a mission as "manage information to best serve the community." To those who bump up against the execution of these rules, it may seem that librarians are unnecessary sticklers. But if materials are defaced or not returned, the community cannot use them. If government restrictions are ignored, the library may be held responsible and penalized. If preservation steps are not taken, materials may become unusable over time.

In my experience, the rules of librarians usually have a considered purpose. They may not be convenient to the individual, and the purpose may not always be apparent, but the fact remains that librarians are sticklers for a reason; so that they can fill their mission as completely and fairly as possible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

General Life Update

School starts in just over a week. My internship is lined up, and the school-side orientation has been attended. I should be chatting more with my library (Santa Cruz Public) this week. I've printed out my "core competencies" so that I can start lining up school assignments for evidence this coming week while I'm staying at the beach house of some friends. (The printout is backup in case there is no internet access... not sure what I'll find when I get there.)

Fortunately, I juuuuust started to get restless as summer came to a close. Good timing, self! It means I did a bunch of prep the last 2 weeks that I'm going to be glad about next month.

Life otherwise has had some ups and downs, but nothing too horrible. I got to see some old friends this weekend, and it was nice to be reminded both of how much I like them and their quirky ways, and that it's not a bad thing that I don't hang out in that crowd anymore. Sometimes when I'm worried about the future, it's easy to take a rosy view of my "hippie" period. But really, I wasn't happy a lot of the time when I was living that life. I need to build my own happy medium, since I haven't really found a good local community that matches how I want to live. I need to remember that this is not a bad thing. It just means I have to work a bit harder at it.

So onward and upward, into my last semester of grad school! May I come out on the other side in 2009 an unscathed, graduated, balanced person, ready to look for gainful employment.

Conceptual Knitting Patterns

I love this "conceptual knitting patterns" idea created by Lea Redmond. If I were still commuting via Bart, I would totally make this scarf on my travels. As it is, I'm tempted by the sky scarf - gather appropriately colored yarns, take a look at the day's sky, then knit 2 rows in the closest matching color. Repeat each day until the scarf is complete.

I have some yarns that would work for this already. Hmmm. Not, as I've said, that I need to start any more knitting projects.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I have start-itis. I have some things I'm supposed to be doing to prep for the start of school (today is the first day I've actually started actually looking forward to that!), but instead, I've become re-obsessed with knitting. And I have been knitting my fingers off.

This is the Branching Out lace scarf I've been talking about... well, my second attempt at it. The first attempt used much more glamorous yarn but I was having a hard time actually seeing the design. So I switched to a plain wool with a consistent width. It's a bit thick for what one thinks of using for "lace" but it isn't far off from one of the pattern options, and it seems to be working. Maybe the design is not quite as clear as I'd like (after so much work and drama and ripping out of rows), but I think blocking will help with that. At any rate, when I hold it up in front of the window, I see the leaves, plain as can be, and that is making me very happy. Even if I can only do 1 or 2 pattern repeats before my brain gets tired and I start making mistakes.

But, of course, knitting lace is something that requires a lot of concentration for me, at least right now. So I've also started something nice and mindless for watching videos or listening to podcasts that I actually care to follow. This is just a one-by-one rib with some gorgeous Manos del Uruguay yarn that I bought last Christmas to make a scarf for myself after I finished knitting all the presents... of course, I was down to the wire on that, and kind of wiped out on knitting scarves in January, plus there was that lion-yellow mohair I got so obsessed with... so it never happened. I'm already really looking forward to wearing this one in the fall, though. I especially love the burgundy and gold varigation in the black yarn. (I've lost the tag for that one, and don't recal the color name, alas.)

There's only one sad aspect of working with this yarn - it came from Knitting Arts, which was the yarn store right around the corner from me. I say was, since they closed their doors this summer. (Even the web domain is up for sale, alas.) I don't know what happened, but I am very sad that they are gone, even if it's better for my budget. This is far from the last Knitting Arts purchased yarn in my stash, however - I bought a ridiculous amount of stuff at the going out of business sale, none of it with any set purpose. So I think those yarns will be popping up in random projects for some time to come.

Sidenote: that article about Manos marks my first ever edit to a public wiki - I've used them inside corporations but have never even registered on a public one before. See what yarn obsession can make you do?

Note 2: from browsing around on Ashley Yarns it looks like the color of the black yarn might be mulled wine - my 2 skeins are much blacker but there's a lot of variation in hand dyed yarns.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

SXSW-school-knitting update

No, I haven't registered for SXSWi yet. Yes, I probably should.

It's so hard to know at this point what I'm going to be doing next March... what with graduating in December and all. (knocks on wood)

Today I've been updating the resume for an internship search, finding actual posts to apply for, and (shock) knitting. I haven't finished either of the projects I blogged in July, but I started something new today. An honest-to-goodness lace pattern called Branching Out.

I'll wait to post a picture until I get a bit farther, just in case posting "starting out" pictures is some sort of curse which causes me not to finish.

Monday, August 4, 2008

iPhone Wallpapers

Okay, iPhone people, Rannie Turingan has posted some gobsmackingly beautiful wallpapers for your iPhone and iPod Touch. They almost make me finally want to go out and get an iPhone. Seriously.

Rannie is a super talented photographer as well as being an all-around nice guy - you should check out the rest of his site as well.