Cataloging in Swaziland

Cross posted from Just One More Page, my library blog.

Givens Cataloging in Swaziland

A project and paper I did for class.  It was a great experience!


Surviving Grad School: or anything else

Two and one half years ago I found myself needing a career.  My husband of 26 years had left and I had to support myself. I immediately landed a third part-time job at 2nd & Charles, a used book store, which put me on the path to library school.

I am now in my last semester of a Master’s in Library Studies degree.  Before returning to school I had spent the previous 26 years as a housewife, raising and homeschooling my four children, working part time doing background checks, and teaching martial arts (stories for another day).

Since starting school 1 ½ years ago I have finished that divorce, suffered from fatigue related to an illness, worked 2 or 3 part time jobs at a time to support myself and my youngest, tried to help my four children in college, cared for one of those kids who has chronic daily migraines, taken 2-3 classes at a time, and maintained a 4.0 GPA. My father passed away as the current semester started 2 weeks ago. Writing it out in a list like that is overwhelming… but right now I need to remind myself of what I’ve already been through and survived, and even thrived.

I started this semester behind due to the death of my dad. When I got home from Texas I felt so overwhelmed with work and school and the never ending job hunt, in addition to grieving Daddy’s loss and worrying about my mom. It has been a very long two weeks. Yesterday I took some time to ponder all of these things. In an effort to keep moving and get through the last leg, I thought about this journey I’m on and how I have managed up to this point. It occurs to me that my list might be of use to someone else. These are the things that keep me moving and sane.

  1. Accept the fact that you do not have to have a 4.0 GPA.
    1. Read the abstract, intro, and conclusion. Skim everything else for relevant or interesting information.
    2. There is just not time to edit every paper 3 times. Sometimes not even 1 time. Turn it in and move on to the next thing.
  2. Work smarter. I recommend the book, Do More Better by Tim Challies.
    1. Todoist is a great tool. Pick some kind of planning system and stick with it.
    2. Evernote is also a great tool.
  3. Do the next thing.
    1. Plan out the big projects in advance. Look at the big picture, divide it into weekly and daily goals and tasks, and then keep working on the next thing.
    2. Work ahead whenever possible.
    3. Above all, do not wait until the last minute to start something!
  4. Be realistic in my expectations of myself. If you cannot do anything requiring thought after 9:00pm (or before 9:00am), don’t even consider those times for doing homework.
  5. Budget your money, your time, and your energy. I had to learn to budget my energy last semester when I had an overloaded schedule and fatigue. It can be done.
  6. There is not enough time or energy to do everything. My house will not be neat, my meals will not take a lot of time, I will not be able to do everything I want to do. But this season of life will end, keep your eye on the goal.
  7. Remember that it does take time to live life. Kids, parents, laundry, meals, groceries – all that life stuff takes time and has to fit in somewhere.
  8. I must also plan down time for myself. I have a list of things I enjoy that take very little time, planning, or money. Every day I try to work in something from that list. An audio book while I drive, reading something for fun while I eat, crocheting during class, dinner with a friend, a walk or a hike, and occasionally even the ultimate pointless pleasure: watching TV for an hour and playing with my Legos. Write your own list.
  9. Plan time to exercise. I have been very active in martial arts the last 8 or 9 years, and suddenly there was no time for it. But I have learned that if I will plan time to exercise I am more productive afterwards. I do a short stretching routine several times each day, I walk during my lunch break, and plan longer walks or workouts on the shorter work days or days with no class. This is the first thing I tend to cut out when time is short, but I always regret it when I do.
  10. Communicate with professors when conflicts or the unexpected emergencies happen. My professors have all been very understanding when I had even normal trips or life that interfered with class or schoolwork; when Daddy died they were all very considerate about assignments and missed classes. But if they don’t know why you are not in class or why your assignment was late they can’t give you extra time or extra help.
  11. Work on relationships. You need people, even when you are so busy you are overwhelmed.
    1. Family
    2. Friends
    3. Co-workers
    4. Classmates
    5. Teachers and Mentors
  12. Plan time to think and ponder life. I am an introvert, and I need time to sit with my journal and my Bible and a cup of coffee every morning.
  13. Lastly and most importantly, overarching all the things listed above, is my faith in God. I know that I am fulfilling His Purpose for me, and I trust Him to lead me each step. He will give me the strength and the resources to do what He has called me to do. I trust Him no matter what comes in the future, whether good or bad; I have seen Him work for my good even in the midst of terrible circumstances. I would never have chosen this life for myself, but I have never been happier than I am right now. His Plan for me is far better than anything I imagined.
    1. Stay in the Word.
    2. Stay in the church.

Peaceful Polemics Online


Peaceful Polemics Online by

I did not set out to link to two Challies articles in two days, these just crossed my path like that.  This article was in this month’s Tabletalk magazine, (a devotional magazine I have been reading for several years… highly recommended).

The basic premise of the article is that with our new technology we can communicate around the globe in an instant of time.  How often do we let fly our immediate (and often irrational) opinion?  We give little thought to how it will come across, and little thought to speaking the truth in love.

This is a good reminder to think before hitting that send button.  To speak, and type, with the strength of truth combined with the softening quality of love.

Don’t Tweet that Sermon! by Tim Challies

Don’t Tweet that Sermon! by Tim Challies

I have mentioned before how much I’ve appreciated Tim Challies’ writing; in fact I have another article by him that I am planning to post also.  I ran across this one this afternoon, and as usual he got me thinking about technology and how it is changing our everyday lives.  This is a good read.  His second point really struck home with me.  Tweeting a sermon means you think someone else needs to hear it rather than thinking about what God is saying to you in that moment.  How often have I had that thought?  “I sure hope so and so is listening to this,” and inevitably a few minutes later I realize how much it applies to me.  Pride sneaks in all too easily.

His next point is frightening… “tweeting reduces a sermon to its tweetability.”  We as a culture tend to be ADD.  Life moves faster and faster, we are less willing, and even less able, to focus on something for more than a few minutes.  But I personally don’t want a tweet from God, I want an extended conversation.  And I suspect He doesn’t want a tweet of worship from me, He wants an extended period of time that is completely devoted to worshipping Him, and that includes the sermon.

So yeah, I echo Challies’ assessment.  Don’t tweet the sermon.

Reflections on IT Literacy/Fluency

As I mentioned in my previous post, the semester, and LS560 in particular, is coming to an end.  As I described the class projects, I thought about how far I have come and how much I have learned.

Learning HTML has helped me on this blog… I understand what I am seeing when I look at the back of it, the HTML tab view, and I can adjust things.  That is cool.  I also have a greater understanding of websites that I am viewing because I know more about what makes them work.  This project also showed me that I am capable of acquiring new tech skills, which proved to be a good thing to remind myself as we moved through the semester.

I have enjoyed having more knowledge about website design, and I see that it has helped me in my other job.  I have been helping my boss (we do background checks) evaluate a new web platform for his business, and also some new vendors.  Again, this is something I have proven I can learn, but really it does not come naturally to me because I am more of a content person rather than a form person.  But form is important when you are trying to communicate something.  Good form, good design, makes the content easier to reach and use.

I am glad I have now helped conduct a simple research survey, I can see that will be useful in my academic career.  I have thanked God nearly every day for my group in this class.  I also enjoyed doing the personality tests we did to help us interact in a group.

While I understand the basics of databases, I was not the one in our group that designed our database (I am not complaining, I’m fine with that!).  Nor did I do the tech tutorial; I mentioned previously I would like to develop that skill.  This class, as in every other class I’ve had as a library student, has given me something new I want to study, and that is a very good thing.  But the class has also shown me that I do not want to pursue this particular field of library studies.  I enjoy knowing how things work, I can see how it is useful, but I don’t want to build these particular things.  I’ve had to look up how to add something to my website as each project was finished.

To sum up, I have definitely improved my IT skills and knowledge.  I am definitely IT literate – I can function well, I can learn new things.  I am not sure where the line is between literacy and fluency.  Maybe in common user areas I am fluent, but in the tech design world, I am not, and frankly, I have confirmed that I don’t want to be.  There are too many other areas of life I would rather explore.  I will leave that area to those gifted with it!


Information Technology Class Projects

The semester is coming to a close.  Allow me to take a moment to tell you about the projects from LS560.  A later blog post will include my personal reflections.

I have learned quite a bit about Information Technology these last few months.

I created a hand tagged website using HTML, starting with nothing but a blank notepad page.  I am a bit proud of that, and will even share it with you: Becky’s First Webpage.  This site includes links to each of the projects completed for LS560.  I found a great resource for learning and using HTML.  W3Schools is a web developer site with tutorials and examples for everything you can imagine.

I also learned about web design, and finally understand why some websites are so easy to navigate and read, and others aren’t.  This web design study moved into the practical realm with a group project to evaluate a website for CommPro, a company that provides real time captioning service for the deaf and hard of hearing community.  We conducted a usability survey to help them in the updating of their website, and I look forward to sending them our results.  They offer a great service and I hope our survey will help them.  You can find a link to the work we did for them on my website listed above.

In the course of that project, I worked with a fabulous group of ladies.  There are so any horror stories about group projects, but really, I had such a great group.  We worked well together, and we balanced each other’s abilities well.  This has been a difficult semester for me in my personal life, and I don’t think I could have managed the last part of our assignment without them.

After the usability study, we were introduced to database design.  A database is kind of a 3D spreadsheet.  We built a simplified database to house client information for CommPro.  I can see how a database like that would be very useful in their business; useful for their clients to be able to access account information and for the business to use for marketing.

The last part of that project would be the most useful tool of the semester for a librarian.  Producing a tutorial.  We chose to teach a beginner how to use Dropbox.  This involved using a program to record the audio instructions and video of actually performing the tasks on the computer screen.  We were also able to add closed captioning to the video.  I really wish this project had been a stand alone project and not a group project, with more time devoted only to it, so that each of us could gain experience using this.  But there was only time for one of our group members to do it while the rest of us did other parts of the project.  Even at that, it was time consuming to get it right.  But think about a library being able to do this for your library’s website!  Tutorials for all kinds of things, easily accessible, what a great skill to have.  Again, there is a link to this on my website.

That wraps up LS560.  Read the next post for my personal reflections…


My Briggs Myers Test

This past week I took the Briggs Myers’ personality test for a class. I have to admit that I was skeptical going in. How could a quick free test really show my personality type? My understanding is that this not a truly scientific definitive test, and I know several people who score differently on it every time they take it. I answered the questions, some of which I would like to have had an “it depends on the situation” answer, but I tried to give true typical responses and feelings.

My results were INTJ – Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging. It gave percentages of each:

Introvert(56%)  iNtuitive(38%)  Thinking(38%)  Judging(44%)

  • You have moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion (56%)
  • You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (38%)
  • You have moderate preference of Thinking over Feeling (38%)
  • You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (44%)

So in other words, I am not extremely any of those things, but I am definitely in those categories. The website then went on to describe my personality, learning style, communication style, and listed famous people (and literary characters) who share my personality type. It also listed some career choices, and I was pleased to see Librarian listed!

I found the results interesting, and very accurate. I can see that this type of test could help people evaluate and understand themselves, and give them words to help others understand them too. Reading this also gave me a clue as to how other people might react to me. Seeing my strengths and weaknesses in words helps me see some traits I need to be aware of and sometimes work to change (or at least reign in and control) as I relate to other people. I am also aware of how I have grown and changed over the years, and would be curious to see what trends there are in the scores as people grow older. I would think a growing, maturing person would tend to become more moderate in personality… although, maybe not. Some people do seem to become more set in their ways, whatever those ways are, and more extreme in their personality as they grow older. I’ve always taken that as a reason to work hard to become a better person while I can. As I said, seeing the scores over a lifetime would be an interesting study.

On a team, using this type of test to understand ourselves and our team mates this way could help everyone work together, and work to each person’s strengths. There is a handy chart on the website where you can click any of the personality types to read about them.

I would love to see my family and friends scores! Feel free to take the test and share with me.