Thursday, December 03, 2009

Reference Desk Liveblog

It's quieted down significantly in here tonight.

I read an interesting article about how Sarah Palin (or whoever wrote her autobiography) attributed a quote to John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, when it belonged to John Wooden Legs -- a Native American activist. Good stuff.

Just helped a student find a book with costumes and clothing from the Renaissance period. Interesting assignment.

Helped a nervous student find an e-book. He didn't think he had it in him to find it on his own...but he did. I then showed him how to find a couple of articles on topics he found in the book. Easy.

An unhappy faculty member disclosed that her students didn't want to write an in class assignment, using the (weak) argument that the class wasn't an English class. I can't imagine being that disinterested to complain to the professor in such a manner. What will happen when they graduate and can't communicate effectively? They will probably be hired by similar people who can't communicate well.


It bothers me to see able bodied people use the elevator. Walk people!

Just helped reset a Noodlebib password for a relieved student. Ah, with great power comes great adulation. Nothing would be worse than losing your works cited page minutes before a paper is due.


I haven't done one of these in a while. And it probably will be a slow one in here tonight. We've got the night before Reading Day, and all through the LITC, not a creature was stirring, certainly not a student.

OK, so that was lame.

But it's amazing how quickly the semester has flown by. The library has been very busy and we've set a record for number of one-shot instruction classes taught in a semester. Well, at least since I've been here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Education in South Carolina

We've had a display of student photography from the so-called "Corridor of Shame" schools here at the library. The "Corridor of Shame" refers to schools that run alongside Interstate 95 in coastal South Carolina. Predominantly populated with African-American students, these schools are some of the worst in the state and thus the country. Underfunded, ill-kept, located in high poverty and high unemployment areas, these schools are really despicable.

Students can't or won't learn in such an environment and tend to dislike formal education, often dropping out and joining the ranks of the unemployed in the area. A constant cycle of dysfunction and poverty, all because of insufficient funding and racism.

I've had a couple of research questions about integration in South Carolina lately, so I've been looking into that sad tale. Governors and legislators blocking racial integration at every turn, predominantly black schools having double the class size of its white crosstown neighbor, black teachers making half the salary of white teachers in white school districts, and so on and so forth.

Education, of all things, should not have barriers because of race. An educated populace, of any race, color or creed, can only improve our state.

What were officials like James Byrnes and Strom Thurmond afraid of?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Monkey Looks at One!

A year ago, we were getting ready for Wyatt to join the family. After nine months of worry with various health scares - low amniotic fluid and the potential for genetic defects and damage while inside the womb -- Wyatt Davis was born a healthy, happy little baby.

Fortunately, he didn't have any of the severe allergy issues that his older brother had, only light cradle cap and the occasional eczema spot on his legs.

It's been a whirlwind year beginning with me staying home with him for November and December, the crazy daycare situation (water, lights and car repossessed etc), Wyatt staying with the Williamses until the end of the school year, and finally getting to go to "school" with Owen (yay!) this Fall.

Although developmentally he is a few weeks behind where he should be, he is a very strong and healthy baby. Only one ear infection and no other major illnesses, unlike his brother who was sick a lot his first year.

He is walking along furniture and can even climb some steps, but it will be a while before he is walking unassisted. Owen, on the other hand, began walking unassisted the day before his first birthday.

We probably shouldn't be comparing the Owen and Wyatt's development cycle, because each child is different. Second children, I am told, develop more slowly and Wyatt was two weeks premature, adding to the time frame.

My only wish is that he would start sleeping through the night on a regular basis. He will sleep through maybe 1-2 in a two week stretch. Last night, Lisa was up at 4am giving him a bottle. The night before that, I was up at 1:45am. Two nights before that, he slept through the night without a peep. It will come around, probably when we get him weaned off of formula.

But what a year it has been! Time flies when you are having fun...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Home and Another School Year Begins...

It's one of the last quiet weeks here at Coker, at least until the Christmas holiday. I'm wrapping up the last major project of the summer, accumulating the various statistics for the many electronic resources we have.

So far, the statistics are slightly higher than they were last year -- even though we had fewer number of students enrolled. Our book circulation numbers are pretty flat, unfortunately. It's difficult to get students to use and read books when the databases and open Internet available to them 24/7.

Next week, we'll have the traditional back to campus meetings and the students will begin filing in next weekend. It was yet another quick summer here at Coker!

As for home, all is well. Wyatt is beginning to pull up on furniture and move around. He still has the happy disposition, for the most part. Both boys have had mild fevers off and on this week, with Wyatt coming off of a pretty severe ear infection (requiring back to back doses of antibiotics).

Owen can be very difficult at times because he is very headstrong and stubborn. His personality has changed a lot in the last few months. I can't help but wonder if this has to do with the older kids at daycare over the summer or just a natural progression.

He still astounds me with his knowledge and intelligence almost daily. He will remember the most minute detail, like who gave him a t-shirt a year ago. Last night, he pieced together a pun in the story I read him: a mother comes home from work and calls her husband and son "dears" because they are pretending to wear antlers. Owen said "Reindeers have antlers, too!"

We may have the beginnings of sibling rivalry, too. Owen can't let Wyatt touch any of his toys without snatching it away from him. Wyatt adores Owen, too...following him around the house as quickly as possible.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pelzer 'Cut

I was reading an article about Happy Cow Creamery, a dairy located in Pelzer, SC. Interesting article about how they produce some excellent un-homogenized and lightly pasteurized milk and other dairy products.

I hadn't thought about Pelzer in a long time, probably since the last time I drove to visit friends still at Clemson back in 1998.

The road through Pelzer is a semi-famous shortcut to Clemson from all points south. Maybe it was just my group of people from the Charleston area who used it -- but it really saved us a lot of time, and kept us off of I-85 which was under construction for most of the mid-1990s when we were students at Clemson.

I have fond memories of that shortcut - Highway 418 exit off of I-385 near Fountain Inn, to Route 8/81 in Ware Place, to Road 88 near Liberty, to Highway 123 outside of Clemson.

Why fond memories? I have no idea. Most of the early trips along this shortcut were with friends from high school who attended Clemson. I didn't have a car up there until my junior year, so we would often car pool home for weekends or longer breaks. Lots of griping about school (courses, professors, football team, etc.), great music were always a part of these trips. Time flew by driving with a group, because that stretch of road is really boring. Especially from I-385 to Columbia.

My last two years at Clemson, which included one summer session (für Deutsch 202) I had my own car (well, trucks), so I would often drive alone. Lots of time to think about school, life after Clemson, and whatever else was going on.

I remember one fateful trip after Winter break, I was carpooling up with the son of one of the bakery's neighbors from King Street. He and I attended the same high school, but he was a few years younger than me - my brother's age, actually. He died tragically later that year in a single car crash. But I digress.

It was one of a handful of times in my almost 20 years in South Carolina that we had significant snowfall. Although I got my license in PA, it was during the I had no experience driving in snow. We decided to skip the Pelzer 'Cut because the main highways were barely plowed -- it turned out to be a good idea because there were several wrecks on that stretch of road that day. It took us about five hours to get to Clemson, more than 90 minutes longer than normal. At one point, I-85 had about half a lane plowed -- I drove 20+ miles at an angle, with the driver's side lower than the passenger side.

I remember driving through Pelzer in the Fall most predominantly, probably because Fall break and Thanksgiving break were fairly close together. The foliage was always pretty attractive through that area and if I recall correctly, there were several large pumpkin patches along the road.

Other highlights were the various mixtapes I would make for the trips -- yes, I had a cassette tape deck in both trucks. I can't imagine having the time to make mixtapes these days -- 100 minutes of real time recording from CDs! I don't even take the time to make playlists for my Zune! Nothing really special about the music on those tapes: lots of Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers Band, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, the Police, maybe some jazz or blues. I think I had a Sony Discman with a cassette tape adapter at one point, but mixtapes were always better for those trips home.

The last memory of the short cut (for now) is most significant because it didn't include the shortcut! Easter weekend, 1995. My 1985 Jeep Cherokee dies shortly after getting onto I-26 at Road 88 Jalapa. This piece of crap truck had been nothing but trouble since I bought it from my parents earlier that year. Probably deserving its own blog entry for posterity, but this was one lemon. Anyway, it died and I walked up the I-26 off ramp in Jalapa to call AAA for a tow.

The closest house, fortunately, was at the top of the ramp...but the woman wouldn't let me in. I was in my shaved head/goatee/ 270+ lbs phase, so I can't blame her at all. This was also before most non-wealthy people had cellular phones, too. I had to slide the AAA card under the door, and she made the call.

I waited back at the truck, and after 90 minutes the tow truck from Newberry pulls up. He loads the Jeep up, and we hop in the cab for the ride back to Clemson. On the seat between us, I notice he has an automatic pistol. Great. Apparently, I had a shocked look on my face and hereassures me it is for his protection -- he meets all kinds of people out here. He also comments that the poor woman who made the call should put a pay phone outside of her house -- his tow company gets 3-4 calls a week from her alone, not including the indirect calls from automobile clubs and auto manufacturer warranty tows.

EDIT: Looking at Google Maps StreetView, there is a broken down tanker truck at the top of that exit ramp. Amazing!

Now with AAA Plus, or whatever the name of the plan was, I got 100 miles of free towing. Beyond that, it was $1.50 per mile -- I was beyond broke at this point, and calling home wasn't an option because of the dire situation of the bakery. I knew I had driven about 80 miles or so to that point; the shortcut back would get me back to Clemson short of AAA's towing limit. Unfortunately, the driver didn't "trust no shortcut" and stayed on the interstates for the trip back. If he was going to drive all the way to Clemson, might as well get paid a little bonus, right? Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck all the way back, watching the trip odometer frantically. I had him tow me to the Death Valley Exxon station (wonder if that's still there?), which was closest to my apartment -- 97 miles. Whew. The Jeep's repair and drive home at the end of the semester is worthy of its own blog entry, believe me.

All of this outpouring because an article about a dairy farm. Yikes!

Also: thanks to Panoramio user bearden82 for the picture. She/he has some excellent pictures of the Pelzer/Ware Place area.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Family Vacation Roadtrip

We had our first lengthy roadtrip vacation as a family of four last week. We had a blast, although it was exhausting at times. We're actually all still exhausted, and Owen has actually come down with some sort of fever.

Briefly, we drove from H-ville to Toronto and on the return trip, spent some time in Pittsburgh.

Here are some things I learned:

  • The portable DVD player was the best $100 I've spent on Owen yet -- minus medical costs and food, of course. Even if he watched the 10 minutes of bonus features of Cars about 400 times in the 28 hours we spent in the van.
  • The engineers who blasted the West Virginia Turnpike out of those mountains way back in the 1950s deserve some sort of commendation. What a long and winding road. People really overlook the importance of the highway system and Eisenhower's leadership in this area. Shame we got the idea from Adolf Hitler...
  • We broke the drive up in two halves, staying in Morgantown, WV the first night. It was a perfect amount of time on the road -- around 8 hours or so, with frequent stops.
  • Speaking of stops, Owen did an excellent job with potty stops -- only a couple more than what Lisa and I would have done if we were driving sans kids.
  • Toronto is a wonderful city. Even with a city worker strike, the city was clean and most everyone was marginially friendly -- it doesn't help to have a cute baby with you either!
  • Canadians are proud of their country. We were there during Canada Day, and most everyone wore flags or red shirts -- even the skate punks at the coffee shop in the Beaches. Much more patriotic than in the U.S., it seemed.
  • One cool thing (and I wish I got a picture of it) is that the city of Toronto gives each household a larger recycling bin than garbage can! In fact, my sister-in-law informed me that the trash can has a false bottom, making it even smaller than it looks. How great is that? Darlington County is so far behind in recycling that it's pathetic. They don't even take office paper or junk mail unless it is shredded. Like public education here, it isn't a priority.
  • Wyatt learned how to crawl during the trip, which was amazing considering how little floor space we had at our hotels and in-laws. I rarely put him on the ground for fear he would have been trampled by his brother and cousins. But he is moving around pretty well, and he has four teeth in with two more coming in.
  • We tried to go see Niagara Falls. But traffic from Toronto to Niagara Falls was pretty heavy, and it was really crowded when we did get there. Owen saw the Falls, but wasn't impressed. On to Pittsburgh!
  • Owen called Pittsburgh "Rothelisberger"
  • We ate at a very loud and crowded Primanti Brothers Restaurant while waiting for the fireworks. It was excellent, but I don't think Lisa was impressed. Oh well. What's not to like with french fries and slaw IN your sandwich?
  • Our hotel in Pittsburgh was expensive, but very close to PNC Park and the fireworks. What a show! And only a five minute walk from our hotel down to the Allegheny River. I realized that this was the first 4th of July fireworks I'd ever seen in Pittsburgh because we were always on the Outer Banks that week.
  • We planned to go to the Zoo, but we were all out of steam by that point. A seventh night in a hotel room might have put us over the edge, so after a couple of stops (for food and formula), we decided to head back to Hartsville.
  • We borrowed a GPS, which made the trip a little more interesting. We changed the voice to French and British English for fun. It was nice to have a list of close hotels when we got to Pittsburgh, and we could find a Wal-mart with ease. It definitely was good to have, and if we travelled more often, we would buy one ourselves.
  • The GPS said it would take almost 11 hours to get home from Pittsburgh, but we made it home in under 10 with three stops.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Rant about how no one cares about what I say

Tee hee, silly title, right?

It really doesn't have to do with this blog, at least entirely.

I'm just trying to figure out why people decide to participate in certain online conversations and not others, in social media like Facebook and message boards.

I could post a link to the most amazing article that has pertinence to most of my Facebook friends, but it goes unremarked upon and unnoticed beneath all of the infantile and ridiculous quizzes. (Fortunately, I've discovered you can hide quizzes without hiding the friend). Because I really don't care what video game character you are, or what you just did in Mafia Wars.

Yet an acquaintance posts something about a nefarious bodily function, and she gets 10 replies... a genuine conversation.

It isn't unique to Facebook, either. This has always happened to me on various message boards, dating back to the mid-1990s. I've used dozens of screen names, so I don't think people see my name and ignore me...

Maybe I just don't have anything interesting to say? Why do some people's opinions mean more to others, especially in an online environment?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Hangover/Random Stuff/Father's Day

So we went to see The Hangover yesterday -- my boss graciously watched the boys so we could get out and enjoy some time together. I think this was the first movie that we've attended together since last summer. We saw Dark Knight in Myrtle Beach last July or August. Yikes.

Anyway, it was a funny movie...full of infantile jokes and so on. My following rant has nothing to do with the movie itself, which I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the sequel in a couple of years.

Shortly before the movie started, a group of giants sat in front of us in the non-stadium theater. I really hate this because the theater had probably 20-30 people and over 100 empty seats and this big goofball HAS to sit in front of me.

So we moved over to some empty seats across the theater, and while we were moving, Lisa noticed one of her former students (a rising 6th grader) and his eight year old brother, accompanied by their mother. The movie hadn't started yet, but we knew it was R-rated and from the trailers knew the content probably wasn't appropriate for children. In fact there were several groups of families with teenagers at this screening. As we watched the movie, I was even embarrassed by some of the content of the movie -- I couldn't imagine what the parents were thinking about some of that stuff. None of them got up and left either, but at least they didn't talk through the movie. I guess that is one consolation.

For being in a supposedly conservative area, where "church" means Southern Baptist and liquor can't be found for purchase between 12:01 am Sunday until 12:01 am Monday, I was shocked to see so many underage kids at this movie. I couldn't imagine my parents taking me to Porky's or Revenge of the Nerds back in the day (although I watched both on Cinemax well before I was 17). Unbelievable, but I guess the upside is that they were with their parents and not alone. If parents want to make that kind of choice, then they are free to do so.

Now some random stuff:

  • My eye is finally getting back to normal. I poked it with a garden stake last Sunday night while weeding the tomato beds. I nicked the cornea and caused "significant" damage to the eyeball. Nothing permanent (to my knowledge), but I was pretty miserable for most of last week. Two sets of eye drops and now down to just a steroid to get the inflammation and light sensitivity alleviated. Almost back to 20/20!
  • I had an enjoyable Father's Day. We went to our new church (more on that later), Owen made me a key holder at school, and both he and Wyatt "signed" my Father's Day card. Capped off with a movie and dinner, it was the perfect day. I can't believe it's been three father's days so far!
  • Work is quiet, even with summer school in session.
  • Our new president, Dr. Robert Wyatt, has been on campus even though he isn't "on the clock" until 1 July. This is an excellent sign, and it goes without saying that everyone on campus is excited about his arrival.
  • My panel session talk at the SCLA Summer workshop was very well regarded. I got a lot of compliments from people in high places. I even pulled out the "What do libraries and bakeries have in common?" joke. Answer: Neither ever has enough dough.
That's it for now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's in a job title?

On Tuesday (June 9), I participated in a panel discussion at the SCLA college libraries summer program in Columbia. The panel discussed emerging roles in academic librarianship, and I was fortunate enough to be selected to discuss the small college perspective alongside two librarians from Clemson University.

Emerging roles was the theme of the workshop, and throughout the day I heard stories and anecdotes from larger school librarians about how much we all have to multi-task. I felt reassured that what we do at Coker in this regard isn't that much different than at other schools.

I feel that job titles in our field are mere starting points or "tips of the iceberg." Some are bound by HR/Personnel restrictions, while others of us can change our titles easily. Coker lies in the middle of these two points. I got to pick the favorite of my two main responsibilities to put first in my job title. I made this change recently (officially), and included it in my e-mail signature. Two days later, after sending out a staff and faculty-wide e-mail, I got a request to help someone with Microsoft Access! I guess "Electronic Resources" means something different for a non-librarian!

Here's an outline of my talk:

· Interviewed for Electronic Resources position (newly created) got the Bibliographic Instruction position, ended up having both jobs!

o Although resources were handled by other librarians, the sheer number (thank you PASCAL and DISCUS!) of new and future resources

· Unique background in a small family owned and operated business (bakery) helped facilitate transition to small college library job

o Multitasking is nothing new for me: I am also a reference librarian, collection development/liaison librarian, systems librarian…utility librarian!

· I view “electronic resources” to cover the broad spectrum of information delivery systems, not just periodical databases and other traditional resources

o Some of my tasks since coming to Coker:

§ Electronic Resources

· Virtual chat using Meebo & Facebook

· Kindle as a cost-effective replacement for subscription to New York Times

· Personal Response System (clickers) as an evaluation and assessment tool

§ Systems

· First major project was preparing to migrate from Voyager to III/Millennium

· EzProxy to provide off-campus access (moving from a homegrown solution)

§ Instruction

· Started a one-credit Intro to research skills course (LIB 101), assist with implementation of Advanced Research Skills Course (LIB 301)

· Assist with fundamental computer and research skills: first generation college students, non-traditional students, and students from “corridor of shame” school systems

§ Outreach

· Marketing the library

· Other roles: graduate school advising

o Graduate school forum

o Small school syndrome: more access to students, we know most of the juniors/seniors on a first name basis, this role has fallen through the cracks

Our discussion was well received, and I personally got several flattering comments. I tried to keep it light with humor -- I even made a horrendous pun about both libraries and bakeries not having enough dough.

Is it peculiar that I was more worried about driving and finding parking than I was about giving the actual panel discussion?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Tough Decisions

Yesterday afternoon was spent making decisions on what print periodicals to keep in our collection. It pains us to cut anything, especially from our very small print periodical section, but with the economic realities of this upcoming budget year, it is a necessary evil.

Our periodicals just don't see a lot of use, unfortunately. We've tried talking them up in courses and in faculty meetings, but these methods have not reaped any significant benefit.

The good news is that most of the periodicals are covered in full-text databases, which students and faculty prefer to digging through bound periodicals and back issues for articles. Our database usage is way up, of course.

We're planning to keep a large amount of popular periodicals for browsing purposes, and we'll end up keeping some journals that are tied to our most popular majors and minors.

We've shifted the subscriptions for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to the Kindle, and I hope to promote and market the e-reader more next fall.

(Thanks to University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Library for the picture)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Summer Projects at the Library

We had a splendid graduation on Saturday, with 180+ students earning diplomas. The weather cooperated for our outdoor ceremony, although it was hot with the black regalia!

I'll be starting my annual summer "catch up" projects soon. They will include:

  • Statistics - we gather a multitude of statistics for a variety of professional and governmental agencies. I will be placing them in spreadsheets and deciphering what the individual surveys are actually looking for.
  • LibGuides - we will be adding to our very slim collection of subject guides. We need to beef them up for a hard launch in the fall
  • Revamping LIB101 - Alexa and I are retooling LIB101 from the ground up, and going without a textbook.
  • Updating EzProxy - our proxy software is a couple of years old now, so it will need updating with the help of our crack IT staff. I probably won't do this until mid-July when Coker is not in session
  • Prepping for my SCLA poster session - I am still working on a Kindle poster idea for this Fall's annual conference.
This is only the tip of the iceberg!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New blog, school ending, kids

I've started up a new blog that will cover the activities of the Coker Library - Information Technology Center. Check it out at Mostly library news and information, it probably will only be of interest to Coker students, faculty and staff. But maybe random people might find it interesting.

The semester ends early next week for the day students and the end of next week for our evening school students. Graduation is May 2, at 9 am. Seems like I was just helping the freshmen move in to their dorms back in August. Wyatt wasn't even born yet! Amazing how quickly time passes...

Speaking of Wyatt, he is now nearly seven months old. He is cutting some teeth and is getting close to sitting up on his own. He is an extremely laid-back baby, so we often "forget" about him. Now before you call social services, we don't really forget about him. But he often will just chill in his bouncy seat while we are busy in other parts of the house. He rarely cries when he is hungry or needs a diaper change -- only first thing in the morning most of the time. He adores watching Owen and has a smile for everyone. Fortunately, his allergies are very mild compared to Owen at this stage. A little bit of cradle cap and eczema, but no where near the level that Owen had.

Owen turns three in two weeks. What an amazing little boy! So smart, funny and getting bigger each day. Fortunately, he has his mother's amazing memory. He remembered that that Lisa's dad gave him a specific shirt a year and half ago.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Reference Desk LiveBlog 30 March 2009

It's time to LiveBlog. It's been far too long.

Time to go home!

A rush of activity!

I've been working on circulation stats, pulling them from our III server. Since we joined the statewide borrowing network (i.e. shared catalog), pulling circ stats has been a little cumbersome. Instead of listing just our locations, it also lists the locations of each school that we've borrowed books from. Interesting, but difficult to sort out the numbers. Once I got some reasonable numbers, I had to remember how to fix comma separated value text automatically. It finally worked!

I also had a citation question, my first real reference question tonight. It was a good question: how to form an in-text citation in MLA for an online encyclopedia. Essentially, the name of the entry, in quotes, then in parenthesis gets the job done.

About 15 minutes left.

A reference question of sorts, more of a homework help session. I get a lot of these sessions, particularly with older students with difficult assignments. This particular student has a paper due but needed clarification on part of the assignment. Unfortunately, the professor has been missing class so she couldn't get any help there. Enter reference librarian.

Well, I helped someone get a book on reserve. If I was designing this library all over again, I would make the reference desk separate. Most of the questions I do receive are directional or could be handled by a work study student. But it really doesn't bother me. Service is very important, at any level.

The reference desk has that quiet feel to it tonight. It's a shame, because it has been so busy lately.

No reference questions yet. I see a lot of LIB 101 alums in the library, though. Always a good sign.

We couldn't find a barcode for a juvenile board book. Turns out that the last pages were stuck together. Fun times.

5:12 PM
The library is busy, heading into the last month of the school year. It's amazing how fast this school year has passed. It seemed like yesterday I was helping the freshmen move into their dorms!

We are getting ready for our summer projects, so Alexa and I were discussing some possible areas to tackle during our quiet time.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting What You Pay For

One of the best things about having a blog that no one reads (or at least comments on the posts), is that I can have the occasional self-indulgent post that is totally irrelevant to almost everything. For instance:

I have always hated buying clothes. It has something to do with being overweight, because I always hated being reminded what sizes I was (especially waist size).

Back when I was single, I would buy nicer quality clothes -- and most of them I still own. For instance, I have two L.L. Bean shirts that I bought during my freshman year in college (1992-1993). Both were fairly expensive (especially the flannel lined canvas shirt), but are in really good shape. A little weathered, but they are just now getting broken in.

Flash forward to some clothes I bought a year or so ago from Old Navy. Half the price and they are already in much worse shape than the L.L. Bean shirts. The button placard (I think that's what it is called, the strip of cloth where the buttons are sewn on) is puckered and frayed and the color is already fading.

My favorite cheap clothing story has to do with Old Navy. After I lost 70 pounds, I had to go out and buy a lot of new clothes. There was one particular type of shirt I liked from ON, and I got a couple of different patterns/colors in the same style. Well, you would think that the identical style shirt (with just different colors) would fit the same, right? Guess again. The two shirts were made in different factories and thus had different quality control and tolerances. Ridiculous. So, I have two identical shirts with different sizes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ACRL 2009 Breakdown

I returned from the ACRL National conference in Seattle late Sunday night. I missed a little bit of the conference on Sunday, but I needed to get home and get back to work. Never mind that I came home to two sick kids and a very worn-out wife.

First of all, Seattle is a great city. Clean streets, friendly people, great food...all in all a great place to have a conference. Normally, I tire of the big city after three days or so -- but not with Seattle. Maybe it was because I haven't been out of South Carolina for any lengthy amount of time, but it was definitely somewhere I could live, work, and raise a family. It reminded me a little bit like Asheville, NC but on steroids: progressive thinking, artsy/folksy, and lots of Subarus!

The conference was very informative, to say the least. My brain runneth over with all of the ideas and innovations I would like to try here at Coker.

I was fortunate to win a scholarship to attend the conference. Looking at my professional development budget, I wouldn't have been able to attend without it. Should any of the ACRL people stumble across this blog post, thank you for awarding me the scholarship!

It goes without saying that I had a lot of preconceptions about the conference before I even set down in Seattle. Even though I had read through the conference schedule, I thought that a lot of the discussions might be above my head as a relatively new librarian. Definitely not the case. Also, librarians are all in the same boat regardless of size of school or budget. Our biggest challenges are financial shortcomings, competing with the open Internet, and dealing with faculty and administration (to name a very few).

LibGuides was the hot topic during the conference, with at least six separate discussions spread out through the four days. It felt good that Coker was (slightly) ahead of the curve with our subscription to this great resource. I hope to finish more of the guides when classes wind down later on this spring.
I felt reassured that I could add to the conversation next time around. Although it is difficult to earn a slot as a presenter at the ACRL national conference, I feel that I have the chops to produce something significant enough to share with my colleagues, perhaps as early as 2011 in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Back to work!

I started back to work yesterday. Although I was more than ready to get back into the routine, I do miss being home with Wyatt. He really was an easy baby to take care of -- eat, change diaper, sleep, look cute and so on. He started with the new daycare yesterday and there weren't any problems to my knowledge.

As for work, the campus seems quiet for the beginning of the new semester. Our overall enrollment is down slightly which probably means further budget cuts. Hopefully, we'll get some last minute enrollments to keep our numbers up.

LIB 101 starts next week and I am still polishing up the lectures and assignments. Not a lot of heavy lifting there, just some fine tuning. I've had to tighten up the attendance policy because of last semester's miscreants. I had three students miss 4 of 16 classes with no excuses given. Tardiness was also a big problem -- several students came 10-15 minutes late to a 50 minute class, including two of the 4 absence students. I didn't have any problems last spring semester with an older class (mostly sophomores and juniors), so I figured brand new freshmen and a couple of sophomores would be able to handle it. The maturity just wasn't there, so I will have to crack down.

If I was a student in my class at 19-20 years of age, I might have abused the attendance policy -- but certainly not 25% of the class meetings. I have to remember that my most recent academic experience was as an adult graduate student. Clemson had a pretty rigid attendance policy which I thought was Mickey Mouse back then, but I see the reasoning behind it. I just figured that the maturity level of a 19 year old was a little higher than it was. I guess not.

On the book front, I am waiting for a couple more Alan Furst books to arrive via interlibrary loan. In the meantime, I am reading David Hackworth's Vietnam-era memoir Steel My Soldiers' Hearts. It is sluggish going so far, but should be interesting once it gets going. Hackworth joined the army at age 15 and was in the occupation forces in Italy after World War II. He also served prominently in Korea and in the early stages of Vietnam. This book, co-written with his wife, details his job in turning around a misfit Army battalion in early 1969. This guy earned ten (!) Silver Stars for meritorious valor -- the military's highest award short of the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross.