Visit to Fountaindale

Rob Zschernitz from NSLS and I had a great visit with Paul Mills. Paul is the Technology Services Manager at Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook, IL. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Paul for the past decade when he was at the Prairie Area Library System. It was great to visit a friend and see his excitement in leading technology initiatives at Fountaindale.

And, what networking manager wouldn’t be excited with the clean canvas in front of him. Fountaindale is building a new library and it promises to be quite a showcase. With great leadership and a supportive community, this library is already a showpiece of great Illinois libraries at work – can’t wait to revisit when the new building is open.


Zafen – It’s Our Business

Put this in the category of “Excellent people doing excellent work.”

DePaul University is commemorating the 350th anniversary of Vincent de Paul’s and Louis de Marillac’s deaths by creating opportunities to collaborate in support of microfinance programs geared towards Haitian development, with emphasis on direct funding for Haitian business and education initiatives.

The website, www.zafen.org, provides a gateway for matching projects with donors.  Search for projects which match your passion and track progress to bring these initiatives to reality.

Special thanks and kudos to David Miller and Marty Kalin for writing the code to manage the matching and tracking process of projects.  Their minds are sharp and quick – they probably designed this on a napkin and wrote the code one weekend. While some of us were pulling weeds preparing for spring gardens, they planted seeds that will grow for lifetimes.

I just helped fund a “non-wood Charcoal Production” project. During the process I found some really neat networking features. It grabbed my gravatar image and it allows you to create teams. Ok, old DePaul ACS gang, I’m recruiting you to help.


Libraries I Love – The British Library

British LibraryThe British Library is one of those places I want to work when I grow up, or start over with my next life.

The King’s Library displayed behind glass in the center of the public space is my favorite part of the library. Knowing that only library staff are allowed into the King’s Library makes me want to work there even more.

The gallery of treasures is indeed that. Highlights for me included the sacred texts – such a wide and varied collection of early religious texts. The diverse style and art is amazing.

The pristine original wood blocks made by John Tenniel as illustrator for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were displayed. Thought to be long destroyed, they turned up in 1981 in the bank vault where the publisher first stored them back in the 1860s. Dodgson’s (Carroll) hand drawn drawings on the original manuscript definitely set the mood for these beautiful illustrations. With the release of the new Alice in Wonderland movie, “Alice” history and London pride of ownership was pronounced.

Seeing John Keats’ letters and then watching “Bright Star” as my in-flight movie selection on the way home brought those mournful words to life.

And of course, for me, I always notice the “Way Out” signs. Seeing those just makes me want to go crazy instead of follow orderly toward an exit.


Nutritious Relationships

I have an article hanging on my bulletin board that I clipped from Western News, WIU’s alumni news about 5 years ago. It is turning yellow and the photo of author, Gordy Taylor (now retired – Associate Vice President for Alumni Programs) is faded. But the sentiment and thoughts Gordy shared in that article remind me daily of the importance of relationships.

Gordy was asked by a friend “You’ve had this job for 26 years, you still seem to be at the top of your game, and you’re still having fun – how have you done it?” His response – “I’ve managed to surround myself with quality people who care about me and have enriched my life in every conceivable way.”

Inspired by an article “Are Your Relationships Nutritious” by Lisa Mascuro, Gordy managed to put into perspective the importance of healthy relationships in all walks of life, not just personal.

Nutritious people are good listeners and they accept you for who you are, not what you can do for them. They help you achieve your goals, help you to be a better person, and provide encouragement. They are honest and truthful.

The article inspires me because it reinforces the impact we have on others. It makes me think about the positive impact nutritious people and relationships have on an organization. Related to network theory, it manifests as a virus spreading – a good virus. The more people working in an organization who are engaged in positive work and relationships, obviously the healthier the outcome.

Personally, I find no greater professional reward than mentoring others or helping solve a problem with someone. It is the collaborative exchange – the healthy give and take, sensing the spark (whether giving or receiving) that makes the shared end result that much more gratifying. Success for all is very heady stuff.

Healthy and nutritious professional relationships can shift the focus from the drain of office/organizational politics to the excitement of creative energy.

As I reflect on all my professional nutritious relationships, of which I am thankful there are many, I’m going to enjoy my chocolate candy bar. You know, nutrition doesn’t have to rule all aspects of your life :)


The Calculus of Friendship

Must Read

The Calculus of Friendship: What a Teacher and a Student Learned about Life While Corresponding about Math
by Steven Strogatz

One of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. The utlimate social network – letter writing, provided a deep connection between student and teacher, scholar and cheerleader. Makes you realize how important it is to share intellectual passion and encourage those you teach. We all need a Mr. Joffray in our lives and can learn from the lessons Steven Strogatz shares. I’ve been blessed with parents who both remind me quite a lot of Mr. Joffray.

Mr. Joffray is the perfect mentor. With subtle actions and words he encourages a young mathematician and finds loves that his protege far exceeds him in talent. He is thrilled to turn the tables and learn from the student. Perfect reward – lighting the spark in someone and then feeling the warmth from the fire you started.

Note to self: hand write a letter to someone who inspired me.

P.S. Ignore the math problems, unless of course you love Calculus – they simply provide the backdrop for a beautiful story.


The Emperor has no clothes, and neither does Muffy Vandeverre

WJIL[reposted from WebJunction Illinois' blog, dated May 3, 2007]

Innovation and open-mindedness are essential in our business. A dose of honesty never hurts either. So, here comes my confession and thoughts.

I started my Second Life about six months ago. I was anxious to join people on Info Island and demonstrate this emerging technology and means of interaction as I spoke to library groups. I created my avatar (free of course) and jumped right in. I didn’t need an orientation, I just wanted to get to the cool library stuff.

Thus, Muffy Vandeverre was born. She is a furry. As I prepared my demonstration I was horrified as I tried to change my scandalous outfit. Wardrobe malfunction took on a whole new meaning as pieces of clothing slipped off while I frantically tried to cover-up. I was one of those kids who dreamed about giving a speech in front of their 5th grade class with only their underwear on. With nowhere else to turn, I relied on my tech-savvy socially-networked 17-year old daughter. Not even she could return my dignity and leave me with an outfit that my mother would approve of. Never in a million years would I consider myself satisfied with hot pants and a tube top, but that was the best we could do. Actually, I was finally successful in getting a Bradley University Library t-shirt. It must be 100% cotton and I think someone dried it on high – it looks more like painted skin.

Read more…?


Trouble with Tribbles – Wiki style

WJIL[reposted from WebJunction Illinois' blog, dated May 3, 2007]

I’m in love with wikis, but I’m starting to feel like the Starship Enterprise isn’t the only vessel being buried. Suddenly, The Trouble with Tribbles is taking on a whole new meaning for me. Am I alone in thinking that wikis are starting to mirror the behavior of tribbles – born pregnant?

I think it is time for some well designed birth control. Within the past year, hundreds of wikis devoted to library topics and resources have sprung forth. Before we continue down this path, it seems like the perfect time to ask some hard questions.

Why is wikipedia so successful? I’d argue that it is due to its comprehensive knowledge base in addition to its devoted author and editor base. If this content was scattered throughout hundreds or thousands of wikis, the effectiveness would be greatly diminished. So why do we insist on creating individual wikis for every project or collection of resources we organize in library wikispace?

Do we really believe in radical trust and shared authorship? In principle, absolutely, in practice – well, I’m not really seeing that as much. We seem nervous to open the floodgates and share wikispace authorship across organizations. It really is much harder to share than to create our own spaces. But, the richness of our content and long-term viability suffer from this approach.

Just some initial thoughts – there will be more along this line as we struggle in Illinois to work within the WebJunction shared wikispace while trying at the same time to develop customized wiki features that require collaboration at the tool level, as well as the content level. It seems easier to just create our own sandbox, but in the long run, we’d rather be playing in the expanse of the beach.

Can tribbles swim?


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