This week, I presented at a conference. I also presented at a conference last month. Next month, I present twice at the same conference. In the fall, I'm giving a webinar for a national library organization. I've got half a dozen more proposals out for consideration and I legitimately think most of them will be approved.
Every time one of my proposals is accepted, I am surprised. There's a heavy dose of imposter syndrome going on because who am I to be chosen to talk about these things? Who am I to say that I can teach these things? Who am I compared to the others in attendance? I have a hard time seeing myself as more knowledgeable, skilled, or talented. In fact, I know I am woefully average.
And - yet - my proposals are still selected.
I think my shock comes partly from societal norms that tell women that they're not good enough. I think many (myself included) have a fear of rejection. If your proposal is not accepted, it must mean you are not as good as you think. I also think it comes from the lack of transparency when it comes to demonstrating expertise. At least in librarianship, there's no one teaching you "this is how you present at conferences." You don't learn a process. It's a leap of faith to jump into it.
I took that leap of faith because, one year, I just decided to say "Screw it! Let's try." It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
What are you going to leap of faith into?
Don't ban books.
If you don't want to read it, that is your choice. You should not be able to keep others from reading what they want.
It's that simple.
Banning books is never about protecting kids or morality. It's about control. The current wave of book banning is inherently tied to the culture wars of politics. When one party feels like it's losing, they resort to power moves of control. Banning books is one of their weapons of choice.
People who ban books are cowards. They are afraid.
They are afraid of one of the most delightful board books I have ever read. Everywhere Babies celebrates all the amazing things infants do in their first year of life.
Some folks in Florida are afraid of infants. (WaPo - may be paywalled)
I have read this book with my child more times than I can count. You know what the cowards are afraid of? The possibility that there may be some gay couples in this books. It shows two men walking together, another set talking together, and two exhausted women near a baby in a cradle. The cowards are making inferences into the illustrations. The people illustrated could just as likely be friends or family. At no point is there any explicit mention of parents who may be gay or queer or asexual or transgender in this book.
And even if there was, it shouldn't be banned!
Books are one of the safest and most comprehensive ways to understand topics that are hard or make us uncomfortable. Fiction makes us more empathetic. (Discover) Non-fiction provides research into history, science, society, and every other subject you can think of. (Library of Congress) Books are at the heart of education. When you ban them, you make learning incomplete.
Instead of learning from or growing from discomfort, the cowards have chosen to try to deny that things they don't like exist.
It won't work.
Because cowards run away and heroes stay.
Whenever I present at a conference, I like to assess how I think it went afterwards. This week, I thought I nailed it. The chat was lively, there was lots of Q&A, and people were @ing me on Twitter. On top of that, I just felt damn good with the work I presented. I rode that high for a couple of days.
Here's what else was good in my week:
The spring semester at my University is about to wrap up. Things are ending a bit later this year, so I have a shorter interim period in which to plan what I want to tackle over the summer.
Normally, since things are slower, I try to add a few more complex projects to my list. I don't think I'm going to do that this summer. I've got carry over things from this year (and last summer to be honest) that I want off my list. Instead of doing new things, I'm declaring this the summer of clearing out as many Trello cards as possible.
Here's what else has my attention.
You would think, that librarians would just find answers.
We do - but we also ask a lot of questions.
When we work with people, we want to make sure that we are answering their questions fully and completely. Oftentimes, that means we have to draw out the real reason for the question. Sometimes being asked "do you have X" or "can you tell me about Y" is not the full question.
To get to the heart of the matter, we're trained to conduct reference interviews. We ask just as many questions as are asked of us. Some of the techniques include:
This skill is useful outside of the library, too. I've found I have more meaningful conversations because asking the right questions elicits a deeper connection.
Every spring, I look forward to the day when it's possible to open the windows. I adore these weeks when we can turn off our heat, open the windows as far as they will go, and enjoy the fresh air.
In our area, however, there is one major downside to this time of the year. Pollen. Lots and lots of pollen.
When we leave our windows open, inevitably we get a fine layer of green over almost everything we own. This is most visible on the black IKEA bookcase we use as a sofa table. Last week, I dusted it to a pristine clean on Thursday. We opened the windows and less than 2 hours later, there was a fine spray of pollen all over the top. When I clean our surfaces now, I wipe up a gross - but also oddly satisfying - greeny yellow dust.
I'm willing to put up with this because letting in the cool breezes and fresh air makes it all worth it. I see windows open season as a way to put winter behind me and welcome the warmth. In spring, I always feel some pep in my step, a boost in my mood, and the desire to tackle new projects.
What's your favorite/least favorite part of spring?
I just nabbed a tiny chocolate duck out of our candy dish. The grandparents sent Easter candy before the holiday, and most of it is still around. I'm glad I have the option to satisfy my sweet tooth without too much trouble.
Here's what else was good in my week:
I have thoughts on the ending of mask mandates. Many thoughts. I will spare you the diatribe.
Here's what else has my attention at the moment.
Thanks to a lot of time devoted to reading this past weekend, I am already three-quarters through this one already.
In my mind, the premise is kind of a stretch, but I love how the author is telling the story. It’s a modern spin on the epistolary novel and I find the whole thing delightful and charming.
I'm not sure if this is true of all Type-A personalities or just my Type-A personality, but I have to plan my free time.
Case in point... Saturday was the start of my 24-hours off from parenting. My husband and I agreed that we would each get two this year and I decided to schedule my first one for this weekend. I packed up a suitcase full of snacks, spa supplies, and my laptop and rolled it down the street to a hotel near our home. For 24-hours it's just me, a rewatch of Bridgerton season 2, a long hot bath, and random scrolling of the internet.
But, I can't just enjoy this indulgence as it happens, I have to plan for it. For my one night away, I made a packing list, schedule, menu, and a spread in my bullet journal. Sure, some of the timing in the schedule is vague and I only listed some activities I'd like to do, but I still planned my entire night off down to which face masks I wanted to use.
I simply can't not plan. (You hear that? It's all my friends and family snickering in recognition.) I find that I enjoy my time more if I have a roadmap for where I'm going. My brain gets itchy if there's not a list or a schedule. I need to be able to cross things off, even on my "unproductive" days.
Do you plan your free time?