But then I thought I should just post this video instead.
So after my post about haters I promised to write a blog post about how I got off the cycle of negativity. The problem is that it took me a long time and a lot of hard work to do it (both the blog post and ending the cycle of negativity). Consequently, the blog post kept getting longer and longer and longer.
First of all though, let me tell you that I used to be a super negative person. I was easily irritated or angry and hated on a lot of folks. If you had met me about 4-5 years ago you might have noticed that it wasn’t pretty and I was fairly unhappy. So, one day I realized how I felt and I decided to do something about it. The first thing I did was read all those goofy stupid self-help books about being a better me, or finding my path to enlightenment, meditation for dummies, seven secrets for happier people, etc… and even those irritated me. But really, one day I just decided to take a more serious role in changing my perspective on everything. After I made that decision it all became easy.
If you want to know what worked for me, this is my list. Feel free to create your own.
I used to work in a group home and when one of the kids acted out and retaliated against another kid or said or did something mean, they would just say, “I can’t help it, that’s just way I am.” This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. In fact, I would argue that the only thing you can control is yourself and your emotions. You can either feel good or feel bad. It’s a choice. If you’re feeling mad or upset or anything, simply choose to feel good. It sounds stupidly easy but it’s hard at first. Keep practicing, soon you’ll get it.
Change your Inner Monologue
I think this was the hardest thing to change. It’s just so easy to hear that kid screaming in the restaurant, or have that horribly bad driver in front of you, or read that guy’s stupid comment on your blog post, and think terrible thoughts about them in a split second. It happens without even thinking. But, you can take a couple of seconds or minutes after that thought and try to realize that maybe there are other things going on in their lives, that they’re not happy, or just take a deep breath, smile and move on.
Take a Deep Breath
That leads me to taking a deep breath. This was the most valuable lesson I ever learned. I taught martial arts for about 6 years and I worked for a guy who made us all take a deep breath as we walked through the door to work. As we exhaled that breath we visualized letting go of everything that happened to us up until that point in time. As we got better at it, we learned to separate what happens at home with what happens at work. Eventually, we started doing it when we went home so we didn’t take work with us. You could basically do this anytime you go anywhere so nothing that bothers you follows you anywhere.
Wear a Reminder
I’ve always had something on my wrist. It’s usually a band of some kind and it has been a variety of things from wristbands to watches to pieces of string or a hemp bracelet. Whatever it is it’s meant to be completely symbolic. It’s just a reminder to be the person I want to be, which is a happier person. I’ve been thinking about getting it as a tattoo.
I don’t think I need to explain this. But fall in love. Fall in love a hundred times a day.
Change your Routine
My routine was really getting me down once. There were a bunch of things I did that got me irritated throughout the day. I would watch TV and the commercials would irritate me but every night I watched TV anyway. I would read the news online and the comments would irritate me, but I would read the comments anyway. It goes on and on. Anyway, stop doing the crap that makes you mad.
Make a routine
How about a new routine? I started reading things that made me happier, watching movies instead of TV, finding websites that had funnier comments, etc… This is real easy. Things like the interwebs or television or books or whatever are either super funny or they’re super irritating. The good thing is that you can choose which experience you want to have.
Morning Dance Party
Every morning, just dance. I highly recommend the Jackson 5 channel on Pandora. It’s pretty epic.
In the movie Empire Records, Lucas said to Warren (I know his name isn’t Warren) “You know, someone like you needs to diminish their criminal impulses, not magnify them. Maybe some jazz or some classical.” The same holds true for everyone. If you want to diminish your negative impulses, check your music selection. Even Rob in High Fidelity asked the eternal question – “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” Either way, play whatever makes you happy. I know JP Porcarro will tell you to party to some Skrillex but that’s nto for everyone either. Find what makes you happy.
Negativity Begets negativity
It gets real easy to be negative if you’re around negative haters. It’s real easy to fall back into that cycle. If you know some negative folks, drop them like the bad habit they are. This is probably the hardest thing. I was easy for me because I moved, but not everyone can be that lucky but if you need to move that is always a viable option.
Give things to people
About three years ago, Julie Strange sent me a button with a guitar on it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It’s strange (no pun intended) how much the little things like that can change your perspective for the whole year. It really made me feel good for no particular reason except that someone somewhere thought about me at some point. I still have that button on my boat. Ever since then, I’ve tried to make it a point to give things to random people for no reason and that makes me happy.
Write some Letters
The old fashioned way like with a pen and paper and some stamps. You could even write a love letter if you want! Writing a letter is a great way to express yourself and the act of actually physically going to put it in the mail forces you to take note of that action. Plus a hand written physical letter means a lot more to a lot of people. They can put it on their desks or walls and think about you. They may even write back and that should make you happy too. If you write me, I might write you back!
Find a group of people that make you happy and party with them. You don’t need drugs or alcohol or anything but a good time. If you need some inspiration for this you need to be following Andrew W.K. and JP Porcaro online. They are always a party and a good time.
Make It Happen
The last and biggest thing that makes me happy is having a bunch of goals. I get really unhappy when I don’t have goals. I need a huge project or something to look forward to in order to keep me going. I do things like the Story Sailboat, or my Guitar Collection, getting my Captain’s License, or the Seed Library to keep me motivated. I highly recommend making some kind of list of things you want to work toward. You can even doing it socially with one of my favorite websites called bucketlist.org. It’s great! Find me there and we can share our goals.
Ok, so… I’m still working on my response to my last post and I’ll have it out for you on Tuesday. In the meantime, here is something a little more unexpected. This is my all Keanu Reeves presentation on how to successfully network in the profession at conferences. I had way too much fun making this.
You know, I’m pretty much down for just about anything, but recently I’ve been watching some things develop which just kinda bug me. So I’m gonna hate on some folks for a second. I’m gonna hate on the haters.
We are Awesome
We work in the best damn profession in the world so get happy or get out! If its too much for you to be happy about being a librarian and enjoying all of the diverse thinking, the lovely people, the great services and programs we provide, the fine folks around us, then maybe this profession isn’t for you. I mean, I know about the budget cuts, I know about the hardships finding a job, I know about the whole eBook thing, and everything else but really… It’s still a fantastic profession so get with the program and celebrate it with me.
People will Find Out
If you’re somewhere and you’re talking shit about someone, guess what!? They will probably find out. Our profession isn’t as big as it feels sometimes. We are more connected to our fellow co-workers and all of the people around us by so many different lines of communication now that just about anyone will find out what you said about them that one time at the Elsevier Reception at ALA in 1983. If you don’t like someone or something that someone is doing then you should do what your momma taught you and not say anything at all. If you have to say something, maybe you could compliment their shoes or choice of hairstyles.
What are they saying about you?
If you’re hanging out around people who are hating on folks, please just walk away. It may offend them! But don’t worry because that’s not comparable to as much as you will be offended when you find out what they’ve been saying about you. The deal with haters is that they hate. They don’t care what they’re hating or why. While your talking to them they might be hating on that guy over there, but when they’re talking to him, can you guess who they’re hating on? Probably you. The other problem is that hating is like herpes and its contagious so don’t be around a hater without protection. Get it? Hating = Herpes and that’s bad.
Negativity begets negativity
Even if you haven’t started as a librarian yet or in the library field or your struggling to find a job, you shouldn’t let it get you down. Having interviewed way more people than I ever want to have interviewed in my life, the one thing that’s easy to spot is a hater. They’re typically someone with some negativity hanging about them. People who hate professionally are hopefully going to do badly in the profession. It’s very easy to get down on things that are going on in the profession and bring that with you wherever you go. People will be able to see this and they’ll treat you accordingly and then you’ll get to be even more of a hater because of the way people treat you and then this cycle will continue until you spiral out of control with no friends and you’ll wind up alone with thirty cats alone in your apartment at Christmas wearing the sweater you knitted for yourself while scowling at me at my presentation. Just be cool.
I’ve done it, and I’m sorry
Ok, so here is my part. I’ve been a hater about some stuff before. Especially early in my career and I regret everything I ever said that was not nice. If you know I said something, I’m sorry and you can slap me in my face next time you see me. But then I’ll buy you a beer and we’ll be friends and do awesome stuff together like picking blackberries on warm summer days under a double rainbow while riding a unicorn. (or something similar)
Luckily I figured out how to get out of that vicious cycle and I’m going to share that with you in my next blog post. But you’ll have to wait until then.
I’m sitting here at the New Jersey Library Conference (fist pumping) and I was thinking about how much my conference experiences have improved the last couple of years. I also saw a bunch of recent tweets about newbies going to ALA. So, I thought I would share my own experiences about what makes an awesome conference experience. This is going to be ALA heavy since it’s coming up, but everything here can be adapted to your local conferences as well. So, here they are in no particular order-
This is probably the most important. ALA is all about involvement. The greater part of the organization is run by volunteers. There are a bunch of ways to get involved in it but if it’s your first time to ALA I would recommend going to the ALA Scheduler and taking a look at what isScheduled for New Members at the conference. They can give a bunch of good information about what kinds of things you can do to be involved. There are a bunch of committees, roundtables, interest groups, etc… that are looking for interns or people to just help them out with whatever they might need. The best thing you can ever do is ask “How can I help.”
Bonus Tip– I also recommend running for ALA Council for the bitching rights but that happens in Midwinter. For Annual you can sit in a Council meeting and see what happens there. I’ll be there so don’t be afraid to come up and say hi!
My favorite thing to do at ALA is meet people. The people that we work with in the profession are absolutely amazing! There are so many great people doing such fantastic things that I love to talk to as many people as I can about whatever they’re passionate about at the moment. I actually learn far more from these conversations than I do at a lot of the programs and I also have a large network of friends and mentors that I can rely on for whatever questions I might have or inspiration that I might need. The biggest problem is remembering everyone’s name (hi Veronica!) but that’s something that I’m working on.
Just as a step beyond meeting everyone, it’s very important that you practice your social skills at ALA. This was the hardest thing for me to learn because I was a pretty intense introvert for most of my life but it’s something I’ve worked to get over while at conferences especially. Remember, this is the largest gathering of people in your profession in the world and you should be taking advantage. This isn’t the time to hide in your hotel room, eat or drink alone, or otherwise have any kind of anti-social tic whatsoever. So don’t be shy. If you’re eating lunch, ask strangers to join you, if you’re in an elevator talk to the people around you, if you go to a program talk to be people sitting next to you, and if you hear about a meetup or tweetup or dance party then you should go! You can find out about many of these opportunities on Twitter or on the conference scheduler.
Find a group
This is probably the hardest part and the one thing that made ALA better for me. When you’re out and about and being social you should try to get in with a group of people that you think you might like. At my first awesome ALA experience I was running around with some great folks from Reforma (I’m not even a member). After that I started meeting more and more people and now I have a really cool groups of folks that started by renting a house together for conferences instead of a hotel by myself.
Get Free Stuff
Find a totebag, put stuff in it. You can use the hashtag #alafree if you want to let other people know about it. Besides totebags and more books than you can carry there is always a ton of free food and drinks all over the conference. There is no reason to go hungry or spend money on food or drinks. Once again, you can find out a lot about where and when this happens on Twitter and the Scheduler.
You will walk. You will walk A WHOLE LOT. Be prepared for that. I see a lot of folks wearing some pretty nice clothes that look like they would be a pain to wear. Wear something comfortable and especially wear comfortable shoes. If you want to get an idea about what to wear to ALA then you should check out the Librarian Wardrobe Tumblr and see what other folks wear to conferences. Bobbi also wrote a great blog post with some tips for packing this stuff too.
There are so many parties and opportunities to celebrate our profession and get away from all the doom and gloom and end of time prophecies that we keep hearing. You should take advantage of them. We get to work in the best damn job in the world so this is a great opportunity to celebrate that fact. Be positive, enthusiastic, fun, excited, passionate, and everything else that comes with a good party mentality.
Make It Happen
You are responsible for your ALA experience. If you think that the conference needs a dance party then make one happen, if you think it needs an unconference then make one happen, if you think it needs a QR code hunt then make one happen. There are so many opportunities to make something happen that you want to see at ALA that it’s ridiculous. So I’m telling you, don’t complain about there not being something that you want there (I won’t listen), you can make that something happen if you really want it.
Here are my materials from the 2012 New Jersey Library Conference Pre-Conference in Atlantic City. I was going to write more about the presentation itself but then I figured you probably should have just gone to if you want it all anyway. Here is the description of the presentation from the Conference Scheduler-
“Join Patrick Sweeney of East Palo Alto California Public Library and the Great Library Roadshow as he presents some of the exciting innovations in librarianship across the country.
He’ll share ideas on topics such as non-traditional library collections, community-oriented programming, team building, and patron-driven local knowledge creation. Employing open-space technology, you’ll then have the opportunity to share your own ideas and gain knowledge from other attendees in a discussion-driven Unconference session.”
Andrew W.K. Party Hard Video.
I took photos of everyone’s notes from the session and made this video from the collective notes for anyone who wasn’t there. I think this is a cool way to farm the collective knowledge and takeaways of the session from the community of participants.
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked in the ALA Think Tank about what MLIS program they should enroll in. They wanted to narrow down their search to a school that would allow them to do well in a museums and archives library. It didn’t take long for many people to answer her question in a few different ways and it got me to think about what made my Graduate program as San Jose State so successful for me. I thought I would share a longer post about my thoughts on getting the most out of your MLIS Program for your future career.
Don’t Pay Too Much!
I know a couple of librarians who paid to go to private institutions or otherwise very expensive schools to get their MLIS. I would advise you not to do this. The MLIS that you receive is pretty much the same no matter where you go and the big difference is the dept you have when you’re done. You probably won’t get paid more if you go to a prestigious school and the starting salaries for librarians are pretty sad. However, you might come out feeling well trained or that you got a good education, but most librarians I talk to and many of the ones that paid for those expensive schools said that they learned more in their first week on the job then their entire academic career. I would suggest (as sad as it is) to select your library program on price.
So what do the big schools have to offer if they’re so expensive? Well, a lot of those schools have professors or other contacts within the profession that will help you out later in your career. For example, Pratt has John Barry and his words of wisdom and mentoring have helped more than one librarian I know out of that school. But I’ll tell you this, many of these same people go to conferences and other events where librarians gather and you’ll do just as fine meeting them there. So the money you save from not going to those expensive schools can take you to conferences around the country where you get the same perks and the option to meet even more people!
If you can’t afford that then I would suggest joining Twitter, youtube, starting a blog, joining the ALA Think Tank, or another Facebook group, and connect with people there. In the end though, I would always suggest that you back up your online persona with your real one so at some point meet people face to face.
Make It Happen
Still don’t have the money to get to conferences? No problem, start your own meetups and gatherings for librarians in your area. For example, in the Bay Area there are three Meetup Groups for librarians. There is the Bay Area Librarians Group, the Information Amateurs Social Club, and the Information Professionals Social Club that put on events. But beyond just meetups and socials etc… you should just generally try to make it happen wherever you go. If there is something that you think that profession needs, just go ahead a do it! For example, Andy Woodworth created the People for a Ben and Jerry’s Themed Ice Cream Flavor, a bunch of people in SLIS made a Librarians do GaGa video that gained them notice in the profession, and there many other example. Basically, I’m saying make something awesome happen!
Schools typically have a student chapter of the ALA or various other leadership opportunities that you can take part in. These kinds of things look great on your resume and show that you’re taking a serious interest in your profession beyond the day to day job. If they don’t have one of these you can make it happen and start one.
Find an On the Job Opportunity
I know a couple of folks who didn’t work at all during their SLIS program and once they got out where surprised to find that employers want someone with some kind of experience. Please, I’m begging you, if you don’t take any of my advice, at least take this one! If you don’t have library experience prior to enrolling in your SLIS program then you need to volunteer, do an internship, find a library job as a page, or at the very least offer to wash a library’s windows or something! Here is a cool tip BTW – go to your local elementary or highschool districts and offer to volunteer in their libraries. Many of these are closing and you might get some pro-points by voluntarily running one. This is a rocky subject because these libraries SHOULD NOT be run by volunteers, but at least both parties get a little something out of it. If there are school librarians on campus they are usually way over worked, way underpayed, and in some cases they are not even librarians so they are even way undertrained. This place is a goldmine for exciting work that can show how important libraries are to these communities of students (but that’s another blog post)
In end, let me just reiterate what I said at the beginning – It doesn’t really matter what school you go to, but what you do with your time there.
The idea of Play in libraries isn’t a new concept and it was talked about quite a bit in my MLIS program so long ago, but it is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. There are a few librarians that I can think of that are doing playful things in their library like Justin Hoenke and Kirby McCurtis. But it became even more apparent as a legitimate concept after the visit to the ImaginOn library on the Great Library Roadshow. I just wish I was in the design phase of a library remodel or construction project since I would love to incorporate these concepts into the facility itself. Since I’m not in the position to bring embedded play in my library, here is my list of resources for just playing in the library.
This is a blog all about fun. It could be useful for future programs and the development of programs. The blogger (Bernie) writes about the ways the people play around the world and about many different games and activities with videos, pictures, and descriptions. He also talks about the ways that people use play to solve social problems like littering or hack their environments with play to make them better.
This one takes playing to a very academic level and legitimizes it as a valid social discipline. From the description “Play is the vigorous force that drives children to explore the world around them. It is an instinctive curiosity that motivates them to test their surroundings for their usefulness.” How is that perfect for libraries?
If you would like to take the library to the streets for some fun and playful activities, this blog is a great resource with many example of street play, rules, concepts, etc… “The variety of ways we’ve found to amuse ourselves in the streets is amazing. At the drop of a hat, we invent games and through sheer determination make them indispensible and legendary. Using whatever is at hand–bottlecaps, a stick, or the ubiquitous spaldeen–city kids though the ages create games that are the envy of any sportsman or marketeer.”
This is a serious resource for camp councilors with games, crafts, etc.. but it could be pretty awesome for librarians too. I was thinking about the concept of a library camp. I mean, why not? A lot of the same things are done at both the library and at camp. We tell stories, sing songs, play games and make crafts just like they do. What if a library made a summer camp centered around literacy and learning? Oh wait… We already do that at my library!
If you want to see some of this in action you can check out this fantastic library in the Charlotte Mecklinburg library system that partnered with a Theatre Company to create a dual space. “From Page to Stage.” I had the opportunity to explore this concept in person on the Great Library Roadshow and you can see one of the videos on my youtube channel.
So, I thought I had a good idea once. No, it wasn’t a jump to conclusions mat, it was a library CREATING content for their webpage. We talk a lot about libraries allowing users to create content, or re-purposing libraries as a space for our patrons to create, make, innovate, and as hacker spaces. But what about the librarians themselves creating informative content? I thought I was on to something awesome!
I started with this thought when I came across some amazing YouTube videos. There was the one about the best way to tie your shoes, how to properly peel a banana, and most importantly about how to open a bottle of wine without a proper opener. It occurred to me that the library should be creating these videos that are informational and educational and present creative solutions to real everyday problems in our patron’s lives.
Wow! I was really on to something. I was totally going to come up with something awesome that hadn’t been done before. This is totally going to help our patrons in a great way! They would use this, they would enjoy this, they would use our information in their day to day lives! I thought about presenting my idea to director, going for some kind of grant, using the patrons for video ideas (or even to create the videos), and eventually presenting my idea at conferences, writing articles, blogs etc… I realized that Fame, fortune, money, alcohol fueled parties with rock gods and movie stars, and houses on the Riviera!! It would all be mine AT LAST!! (Because that’s why I got into librarianship in the first place) But then…
I saw this EFFING brilliant site posted to the ALA Think Tank page by Kyle Denlinger.
I guess it’s all been done. Kuddos to you Kimbel Library… Kudos.
In case you don’t know, my other passion besides libraries is sailing. As part of that passion I’ve always wanted to get paid for it like I do for libraries. Isn’t it fantastic to get paid for what you love doing? Anyway, in order to make that happen I need to get my Captain’s license and have a business to do my captaining from. So, about 4 years ago Joey Elle and I put together the beginnings of a non-profit. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I didn’t have access to a lot of the resources I needed to finalize it. Well, it looks like I almost do now! So I started it back up again with some changes thanks in large part to a lot of brainstorming with Andrea Davis.
This non-library (but still kinda librarianish) sailing project is being blogged about on its own website but I thought I’d re-post this introductory one here in case anyone is interested in following that blog and our sailing adventures. It’s called the Story Sailboat.
The Story Sailboat is an epic project to travel the world by sailboat collecting the stories of coastal people and relaying them to the world while providing literacy training to the local people. This project is being put together by Patrick Sweeney (PC Sweeney) and Joey Lehnhard (Joey Elle). You can follow Patrick and Jo on various Social Media if you want to see what else we’re doing in life besides just this but let me tell you a little more about the two of us
Joey is a teacher in East Palo Alto at the 49ers Academy where she teaches seventh and eight grade math and science. For two years before taking her job in EPA she was working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the country of Lesotho (South Africa) as a primary teacher trainer. She also worked with African Library Project to establish libraries throughout the country. She has her undergraduate degree in molecular genetics and her masters in education.
Patrick works for San Mateo County Library and manages the East Palo Alto and Portola Valley Libraries. He has worked in libraries since 2005. He is also a councilor for the American Library Association, writes a library blog at http://www.pcsweeney.com, and is involved in a far too many library-related projects. He goes by the name pcsweeney online and just about all of his work can be found by Googling that name. He has a masters degree in library and information science and an undergraduate degree in philosophy. He is working towards getting his USCG captain’s license this year.
We live on a Columbia 34 named Surprise Me Too in Redwood city that we are rebuilding and preparing for some sailing. While this will probably not be our final boat, we are learning as much as we can about what we need to know about the maintenance and repair of a boat on it. It’s also the cheapest way to live in the Bay Area.
We sail a Santana 22 called Sailboat Jerry (named after Patrick’s favorite rum). This boat is strong, in great shape, and ready to take us all over the bay area. Patrick purchased it from Spinnaker sailing and it was one of their school fleet of boats meaning it has been well taken care over the years. If you learned to sail from Spinnaker Sailing then you might have sailed our boat!
Patrick used to live on Coronado 27 that was called Surprise Me (hence, the naming of the Columbia to Surprise Me Too). That boat took him and his friends on many adventures around the bay and was his first serious bay boat. It was traded for the Columbia because the owner of the Columbia wanted a smaller boat.
Before that, Patrick and Jo owned and sailed a string of various small sailing dinghies ranging from Snark (made by Cool) to a wonderfully fun Lido 14. We’ve also sailed a wide range of larger boats all over California.
The Journey Begins
We have a long way to go and many different things we need to do before we are actually ready to set sail for good on this journey. So, this blog is going to be about everything we have to do to get ready to go. We are going to review the boats we are sailing, document the work we put into our boats, the resources we use to get Patrick his Captain’s License, the sailing equipment we learn about, our trial runs at collecting great stories, and also our sailing adventures as they happen. There is so much to do and we’d love to take you on our journey with us so follow us here or on Facebook!