The Dangers of the Comfort Zone

As I mentioned in a post last week, I have a lot of significant anniversaries in the first half of July. I want to talk some about how I got to where I am today. But first, I want to share this blog post:

Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life by Leo Babauta (posted on Zen Habits, July 12, 2013)

This is one of the wisest and most important things I’ve read. It resonates deeply with me. And there’s a lot of history which explains why I find this post is so meaningful.
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I feel a bit guilty that I’ve allowed this blog to languish lately. Aside from a spate of posts the other week, my frequency has dropped noticeably over the past couple of months. It’s summer, so when I’m home I want to be outside and not sitting in front of my computer writing. And we’ve been really busy here in the Kansas City Public Library’s Digital Branch so I haven’t had the kind of time I normally do to write.

  • We just launched our newly upgraded online catalog.
  • We’ve launched – and are getting ready to launch – some new online content services and databases.
  • We’ve had our Summer Reading Program going on; we’re also setting up for a major Big Read program this fall and we’re planning to make the online components more robust than we’ve ever done.
  • We’re getting close to launching our revamped dedicated local history website, The Civil War on the Western Border, which has been in development for some time now. It’s going to offer some features that are truly unique for history websites.
  • We’ve begun the first steps toward planning a complete redesign & upgrade of the Library’s website and we’ve made some initial incremental changes already.

It’s exciting times!

Today is the 5th anniversary of my first date with Julie – next Tuesday is our 4th wedding anniversary. Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of me starting my employment at KCPL. July 1st is the day we left Chicago and arrived in KC to stay.

With all these big milestone anniversaries, I’m thinking a lot about all the decisions I made, and actions I took, that have brought me to where I am now. So I’m working on a couple of personal reflection posts to go up in the next week or two.

Stay tuned…

Unintentional Knowledge

I love this article! It’s a wonderful summary of the real value of browsing the stacks.

Unintentional Knowledge: What We Find When We’re Not Looking by Julie Alves (posted on The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 2013)

As a professional librarian, I’m obsessed with the phenomenon of serendipitous discovery. Some of the most rewarding learning experiences of my life came to me by chance; I discovered some of my favorite books and authors simply by browsing the shelves at the library and allowing interesting things to catch my eye. I’m more grateful for these unlooked-for experiences than I can say.

With new digital content services, and with more libraries going towards automated storage and retrieval systems for their print collections, we’re challenged to find ways to maintain the possibility of non-targeted browsing and unanticipated discovery under these new conditions.
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Information Tsunami

One of the primary functions of libraries – and librarians – especially in our current Information Age, is to sort through the ocean of information available to us and find the truly worthwhile bits. We talk about “tsunamis” of information, “deluges” of information, and we’re acutely aware of how easily people can get lost and drown in it all.

I recently had an experience that made all this very real to me.


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This Is Why Libraries Are Important: A Reminder

When I got to work this morning, I had an email from a co-worker sitting in my Inbox. He’d sent it to all staff in our Library. It was a link to the following video interview:

Father’s Pride, Support Brings 10-Year-Old Son To Tears During Emotional Interview [VIDEO] (posted by NewsOne on June 9, 2013)

My co-worker’s message to go along with this video was simple and powerful:

I hope this message finds everyone in good spirits. I am sharing this video link because, every once in a while, I think we all need a reminder of why we decided to enter the world of literature and education.

[This is] a link as to why we as a library system are so vital in the 21st century. … I hope your takeaway is the one I had as to why all of our jobs are so important.

Scroll down in the article to watch the video. For some sense of the part libraries play in the lives of children everywhere, the power we have to contribute to the transformative process of education, see how they talk about the role of of reading at 2:30 and again at 3:00.

This is a message we need to hear and it’s one that we need to communicate to our communities. This is the role we play in people’s lives.

How To Attribute Creative Commons Photos

Given my concerns over the current state of copyright law, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’m a fan of Creative Commons licensing. The main issue I – and many others – encounter with CC, though, is proper attribution. Attribution of CC material can get rather confusing.

This infographic helps clarify the issue for photos:
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The Lies You’ve Been Told About the Origin of the QWERTY Keyboard by Alexis C. Madrigal (posted by The Atlantic, May 2013)

This article strikes me for two reasons:

  1. It’s a great example of a user-focused design process – the QWERTY keyboard was designed based on user feedback to serve user need.
  2. It’s a great example of why a user-focused design process can’t ever stop – because this isn’t the best design for users anymore.

It’s so tempting, once a design project is pushed out to the public, after a lengthy development and feedback process, to say, “We’re done!” This is what happens with many, many websites in particular. But really – once it’s public, that’s just the beginning of the next stage. The user feedback should never stop.