Using our words: Getting it right on neutrality and libraries

Intellectual Freedom | Neutrality in libraries

by Joseph Janes | American Libraries | 09-01-17

I’ve always been a wordy sort of person. Yes, that too, but I mean word-y. I was the sort of kid who spent time with a thesaurus and dictionary as well as Tinkertoys and Matchbox cars. I was fascinated by words, their uses, and shades of meaning.

Even my amateur lexicographic interest ill prepared me for a world in which one of the more trenchant voices of political observation belongs to the Merriam-Webster Twitter feed (@MerriamWebster). If you don’t follow it yet, do so immediately, for its largely straightforward Word of the Day feature as well as its often wry and acerbic commentary on trending lookups based on “conversations” of the moment, not to mention words that aren’t really words (“covfefe”).

So the Webster’s dictionary has taken a side, or at least a perspective. Based on what I know of Noah Webster’s own colorful history and antipopulist views, I think he might approve. All of which puts an intriguing gloss on an emerging discussion within our own profession on what some may think a bedrock principle of librarianship: neutrality. This discussion includes my fellow AL columnist Meredith Farkas’s excellent piece on the critical librarianship movement (Jan./Feb., p. 70).

In one important sense, we aren’t neutral and never can be—nor should we be. Naturally, each of us has his or her own biases, prejudices, and preferences; we represent a sample of the breadth of society, so this is inevitable and necessary to avoid homogeneity of thought and action. Together, though, we advocate strongly on matters critical to our success. We fight in public for the rights of our patrons to read and think freely without fear of exposure, surveillance, or censure, as well as for open and equal access to a range of materials. We stand for the principle that government and public information shouldn’t depend on the whims of the moment. We are engaged with, represent, and fight for our communities and strive to improve them through our institutions and our work. Read more…

I want to be sure that we’re fighting the right fights on the right terms and, yes, using the right words.

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How nice people can master conflict | LinkedIn

Workplace | Communication | Career advice

by Travis Bradberry | LinkedIn Influencer | 03-20-16

When you’re a nice person, conflict can be a real challenge. Not that mean people are any better at conflict; they just enjoy it more.

New research from Columbia University shows that how you handle conflict can make or break your career. The researchers measured something scientifically that many of us have seen firsthand—people who are too aggressive in conflict situations harm their performance by upsetting and alienating their peers, while people who are too passive at handling conflict hinder their ability to reach their goals.

The secret to effective handling of conflict is assertiveness—that delicate place where you get your needs met without bullying the other person into submission. Assertive people strike a careful balance between passivity and aggression (that is, they never lean too far in either direction).

Read more…

 

What Trader Joe’s Figured Out About Work Culture That My Other Past Employers Haven’t

Workplace | Employment | Leadership

By Hayley Benham-Archdeacon—Lattice | 09.13.17

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[Photo: ablokhin/iStock]

When I was hired by Trader Joe’s at 16, I wasn’t even legally able to run a register. I was told I was hired based on my personality, even if I was almost useless. By the time I left seven years later, I’d worked across six different stores. And I don’t know how they do it, but they have the best managers possible, consistently.

Trader Joe’s hierarchy is organized unlike anywhere else I’ve worked. Each store runs with one captain, and a team of eight to 12 mates. Everyone else is crew. And yes, they are thorough with the sailor-ship deck theme.

I thought that having so many middle managers would cause problems, but in fact it turns out to be good for everyone. Oversight of opening and closing shifts are distributed evenly, and tasks and assignments are rotated throughout the week, which means no one is stuck taking in the frozen truck at 4 a.m. every single morning, or closing out our computers every night until midnight. Maybe that’s why managers are able to stay so nice to us. And if you don’t feel comfortable going to one manager about a problem or personal event? No problem, you have 10 others to speak to.

At my last store, my coworker was having a rough time in his personal life and the frustration was beginning to show at work. We watched a manager take him out back, presumably for a stern talking to. In fact, the manager handed him a box of broken eggs from the spoils cart, taped a plastic pallet wrap up to the wall of our loading dock, and told him to throw eggs at the wall until he felt better. It worked.

Read more…

The Job Market: Where Should You Apply?

Jobs | Career Advice | Academia

September 11, 2017

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In my three years on the tenure track, I’ve already served on five faculty search committees and two for staff positions (across four divisions and four departments). That’s life at a small college. If I’ve learned anything from being on this side of the hiring table, it’s that applicants need to think beyond the position when deciding where to apply.

We all know the faculty job market isn’t pretty. And plenty of Ph.D.s don’t feel as if they have any choice in pursuing teaching positions: They go where the job is. But as a new hiring season gets underway in academe, I will take a somewhat contrarian position here and urge Ph.D.s to be as choosy as they can in the interest of their own professional longevity.

Can you build a life there? Before you accept a position, I strongly encourage you to consider whether it aligns with your personal life. Most notably: Is the job located in a place you actually want to live? The answer to that question is complex, and should consider a wide variety of factors — cost of living, proximity to friends and family, access to desirable nonwork-related activities, and affordability of local housing. For single people, the viability of the dating scene is a serious consideration, just as the quality of the school system should be of supreme importance to applicants with children.

Racial and ethnic minority applicants have a few extra considerations when determining if a city is a good fit. Will you be “the only” everywhere you go? Can you get your hair done or find haircare products without driving for an hour? Are there churches or faith-based organizations at which you could become a member? How accessible are cooking ingredients that fit your cultural needs?

 

Technologies librarians need to know Current and emerging library technology trends in 2017

Career advice | LIS | Skills

kimdorityby Kim Dority

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Trying to get a handle on what library technologies LIS professionals need to know can be a challenge, as both the tasks that librarians are taking on – and the tools they’re using to do them – seem to be changing daily.

Nevertheless, it’s especially important for job hunters to be aware of technology skills and knowledge that are in-demand, because increasingly these tools will be central to successful performance of your career.

Two ways to frame key librarian work technologies

When understanding what may be relevant to your career, consider two variables:

  1. Where you work, i.e., whether the employer would be a traditional LIS or non-LIS setting.
  2. The responsibilities and type of work you might be doing for that employer.

LIS employer type or collection

Read more…

What Kind of Career Growth Are You Seeking?

Career advice | Professional development | Mentoring

Live.Work.Think.Play.

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In today’s world, career paths have been described as “boundary less”. We build careers and seek fulfillment by collecting varied experiences — across organizations, managers and work content. However, what we are seeking growth-wise at specific points in time will often guide that direction.

Ultimately, we seek situations that offer alignment with our current career vision.

Through years of speaking with individuals about work and career, I have observed combinations of elements (such as change vs. stability) that describe different types of growth “states”. We might flux in and out of these states — depending on our life situation or goals — and none would be considered “right” or “wrong”. Interestingly, some contributors seem comfortable remaining in one state for an extended period of time. while others might shift to meet their evolution.

Here are just a few I’ve observed. Please share any others in comments.

  • Future forward.

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How to Bounce Back: 5 Resilience Building Strategies for Your Career | LinkedIn

Career advice | Resilience | Emotional Intelligence

by Dr. Marla Gottschalk January 24, 2017

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I’ve often wondered why building resilience isn’t a key business imperative. My opinion is such, primarily because being human, is often at odds with work life. Work can routinely bring stress, negativity, setbacks and outright failures — and most of us are challenged to combat the effects.

We often frame conversations about resilience with stories of extreme hardship or extenuating circumstances. However, resilience could serve as an ever-present, daily mentor, helping us to rebound from the collected pressures of work life. Most of us forge on — taking little note of the increasing toll — and building resilience isn’t considered.

This can be a serious mistake.

Through all of the trials and tribulation, we rarely notice that our psychological resources are waning.We muddle on. We develop idiosyncratic mechanisms to bolster our mood and maintain motivation. However, the damage accumulates. We become less able to bounce back. Months later, we may realize that we still lament the project that has been cut, laid off co-workers or failing to land an important client. Read more…

 

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