Category: Adventures Of Me

A Little Less Time Commitment; A Little More Thought Control

One of the knitting bloggers that I regularly read has started setting a timer on how long she’ll spend on a blog post before she hits send. As a result, we’ve been getting more frequent updates from her, including with a picture usually, but they’ve been shorter.  I’m not sure it’s a model that would work for me, though i’m tempted to give it a shot. Often the prospect of writing a blog post, knowing I’ll be at it potentially for a while even with my own fairly speedy typing, gets it relegated to “when I have more time.” In the interim, here is what I have been doing to get my fragmented brain a little more under control.

The three consecutive research days (plus weekend) were, in my mind, a huge success. I think I told you that I had intentions of converting to do lists to post it notes and sorting them around our still-fairly-undecorated dining room.

My walls bleed in tidy lines of post it notes

That’s most of the result.  A color guide for you: green (far left) is personal.  There are some post it notes off screen and frankly, I didn’t really spend much time on personal stuff.  That’s something I might tackle on an upcoming holiday weekend though. The odd multi-color section in the corner is blog posts, again, very incomplete.  The first swath of orange is research projects. Each project that is currently in process or floating around the back of my head waiting for some work got it’s own line. A few little ones are stuffed in there too. The narrow and extremely full orange section is professional service, almost entirely made up of post it notes with “LITA BLANK COMMITTEE” in the top right corner.  Pink is other work stuff. Left hand side is less categorical things; right hand side is liaison work.  And finally, the yellow post it notes, that wee little section: those are my handoffs: the few things that I could immediately identify as things that needed to be someone else’s responsibility or we needed to acknowledge that they were no longer something to be doing.

Note that there are only 7 yellow post it notes.

Now, the personal stuff and the blog post squares are still on the wall (yes, I’m sure the Philosopher is enjoying my abstract brain explosions, why do you ask?), but I did take all of the other ones down and transcribe them into project management software.

Yes, I said software. The Philosopher spent a number of days picking apart various software options–both for me and for a few work projects he’s managing–and settled on TeamBox.  This is web-based project management software with a heavy social component. There are a lot of opportunities for people to interact with each other about a project within the software, features that I’m not using at all presently.  While the original plan was a home server hosted version, for purposes of throwing rocks at this, I opted for a free cloud hosted account to start out.  With that I have 5 Projects [Work, Research, Misc, Service, Home], each with countless task lists and tasks on those lists.  Some things got dates, others did not. A few still need a better breakdown than I gave them, but I tried to start with verbs and actions for each task.


The Final Stack

I still need to add more due dates to tasks, I’m finding that this helps immensely in my getting things done. Looking at a list of several hundred to do items is really overwhelming. Seeing 5 things that I scheduled myself to have done today and seeing that three of them are in the brilliantly named list “Ten Minute Tasks” is far more manageable. Now I have a half hour of stuff and two bigger projects that I need to find time for today.

I did chat with my supervisor about those 7 hand offs and one other section that we’re trying to figure out if it’s possible to get off my plate. Madame Mentor has grabbed TeamBox as a good tool for  a research project she’s working on and helped me acknowledge that one of my research projects really needs to go on hold until I can get a few more things off of my plate.

And overall, my brain is a little quieter. The research days also included a TON of research backlog work for one project and an incredibly productive meeting with another research partner.  There’s still quite a lot more to do but I’m learning to add it to the list and make sure things get checked off, rather than trying to hold everything only in gray matter.

How are your time managing strategies going? Any new tips?

Open Access Tenure: One Year Later

Can you believe it’s been a year already, since I stood on this little platform of mine and said to the world “Let’s do it OA!”

There are a lot of challenges with tenure that I don’t regularly blog about and I worry at times that most of what I do give you is catch up posts and vague check ins. Tenure comes with a lot of balancing acts, a lot of wondering how many hours is really appropriate to be worrying about it and working on it, and, at times,  lot of opacity. Self-reflective journaling on a public platform often feels indulgent in the face of other obligations.

However, shedding light on the process and seeing how I personally evolve through it by looking through my own archives is something I do continue to aspire to do. The search committee I’m on for the two science librarian positions closes in a couple of days and I will be interested to see if, when we get thru this process,  any of our selected candidates knew about this or had gotten a sense of our tenure process through my writings. I’m arrogant enough to hope so.

Starting in another five or six months I go through my first formal review process. I have to write teaching statements, research statements, fill out myriad forms. I will be assigned someone just to help with my paperwork–aside from my mentor and her responsibility to focusing on helping me with my research stuff. But that’s long term and big picture at the moment.

Tomorrow, we welcome the redoubtable Dorothea Salo to do a workshop on Research Data Management for some of the UIC, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University liaison librarians. I’m really looking forward to this cross university collaborative learning experience and to seeing our fearless teacher.  This has been underway in planning for some time and seeing it come to fruition is exciting.

The following five days involve me, a very large multi-colored package of post it notes, all of my research work, Evernote, whatever project management software the Philosopher has come up with, and a fresh kettle of tea on the hour every hour. In consultation with my supervisor, I found three consecutive days (plus weekend) to take as research days. I’m spending that time getting to the bottom of my current obligations, writing out in clear manageable chunks next steps for each of my research projects, and doing a pretty heavy amount of grunt work on a couple of those projects. I’ve had trouble finding uninterrupted time at work that didn’t get overriden with last minute meetings, students, and an unforgiving inbox count so I’m taking time and hoping to only check email once or twice a day. I might even get some of the  blog post drafts finished up and fill your screens with all of the thinks I am thinking.

Thank you for coming along for the ride of Year 1 of this. I am looking forward to a point in a few years we’re talking about “now that I’m tenured….” If there are questions I can answer, tenure topics you’d like me to write about, please send me an email.


A Personal Open Access Plan

Watching the momentum swirl in academia in response to RWA and the increasing verbal acknowledgement by faculty that the closed access publishing system isn’t working has been exciting.  I’ve talked to a number of students and faculty who are very interested in what’s happening. The students, particularly, are horrified at the status quo (whether their horror outlasts their need to publish in the future remains to be seen).

Thinking about this and the efforts at Cost of Knowledge and the blog posts of very smart colleagues, an idea started forming in my head that I wanted to share with you–mostly to keep myself accountable, partially so I can give you updates as it happens, and finally so I think through this a little more.

I am making a public commitment to try to get tenure at UIC only publishing in Open Access journals.

Why is this scary? I’m at a R1 institution and a huge portion of my tenure evaluation is my ability to publish. I’m absolutely in a publish or perish situation for the next four years and that’s a big red flashing deadline at the top of the really long to do list.

What are the opportunities? There are a number of new(er) peer reviewed OA journals in the library field that will be good fits for me. Most of the ALA Journals have gone OA. I have friends and colleagues who have expressed interest in writing with me and who think finding an OA journal sounds fantastic.

Who is with me?  In addition to those potential coauthors, I have other friends and colleagues who are cheering me on from the sidelines.  The faculty at my library approved an Open Access Policy (not linked on our website yet) that I’ve mentioned before.

What might be potential barriers?  Time–I’m up against an unforgiving clock and my department has lost 1.75 FT people since September. Coauthors. Colleagues. Projects I don’t know about yet.

But now is a good time for this.  Five years ago, my publishing options would have been limited and this would have been much harder.  Newer journals have emerged and I think we’ll see their traditional impact factor as well as alt-metric power rise as people make use of freely available information. And I’d much rather give OA journals what few hours I do have to edit and review (speaking of which, who needs help?).

I haven’t looked through all of our tenured/tenure track faculty, but I think this will be a first for my library.

What all of this will mean, how it will shake down, where we go from here remains to be seen. I can’t begin to predict everything that’s going to happen in the next few years. I go forward, however, with this commitment.

Hedgehog to Midwinter

I’m leaving for Dallas in a couple of hours. It’ll be my first Midwinter. It’s supposed to be 70 degrees warmer in Dallas tomorrow than it is presently in Chicago.

Here’s my approximate schedule if you’re looking for me. Tweeting @hedgielib or calling my cell if you have it will be the best way to reach me. Watch for the trailing yarn.


Fly in, arrive around 1 p.m.
Go to the Sheraton Dallas, drop everything off, have a short nap
4-5: LITA 201
5-whenever MC calls me for dinner: LITA Happy Hour


8-12 LITA All Chairs Meeting/Office Hours/PPC Not-Meeting
My committee is not really meeting at this conference. Yes, I still owe you all another post about that.
12-??  Lunch. I need plans. Who’s free?
Afternoon: Roaming the exhibits, asking pointed questions about RWA, SOPA, and PIPA.
Evening: More dinner plans. LSW people, call MC or I.  


8-10: Invade the LearnRT Board Meeting. Get Maurice Coleman’s help in bringing up some LITA PPC stuff. 10:30-12: The Role of Metadata Standards in Scientific Data Publishing: Part One (ACRL STS)
12:30 Lunch with Rudi
Afternoon: Possible running amuck in Dallas. Or I may get drug into another meeting. Who knows.
Evening: Library Boing Boing Event. I need dinner plans for Sunday. 


7-10 Debate why I got up this early to hear about the Newbery, which I will most likely not have heard of nor read yet. My children’s librarian capabilities are seriously slipping.
10-12: Check out of the hotel.
12-4: Run amuck in Dallas before heading to the airport.
7:30: Hopefully fly back to Chicago, assuming weather cooperates.

Gypsy and Pyewacket will be under the supervision of the Trombone Player. They’ll be getting hours of playing with their favorite rope toy. I doubt I’ll be missed at all.

Whither Said Account?

Towards the end of last year, my friend Iris mentioned that she wanted to get her online passwords under control. I was very interested because I know that mine have also gotten a bit unruly.

Today, once I saw the emails from 6pm and Zappos about the hacking and personal data breach, I decided to run through the four major email accounts that I use and see just how many user accounts and websites I could come up with having without having to do a huge archaeological dig on myself.  I’m not entirely sure the website I used as an undergrad that had something to do with kiwi is still active but then, that hotmail account has been dormant since 2005 or so.

The present count, which I’m sure will increase in the next few days/weeks as I think of more, log on to other computers, etc, is 201*.  My completely uninformed guess says that puts me probably somewhere about normal or on the low end for people of my demographic.

There are things that I need to do with this information

  • I do need to get my passwords sorted and I keep hearing good things about LastPass.
  • I need to create a list of these accounts that’s part of the documentation that goes to various people if I should die. (I’m fine, truly, just planning ahead. Same reason I had a lawyer draw up powers of attorney and a will for me, it’ll mean there are a lot fewer questions should the unexpected occur. It also prompted a lot of conversations that I’d rather we have now than later.)
  • I’d like to make a second/third/fourth pass through that list and see where I can nuke the accounts. I don’t anticipate that it will be easy to delete an account, most of the websites I visit don’t even seem to have that option anywhere. All the more reason to have a comprehensive list floating about.
What would I like to get rid of?
  • Sites that stopped updating three years ago
  • Sites where I only purchased one thing but had to register to do so
  • Prescription management sites from three jobs ago
  • Any website I no longer remember why I signed up
Things that aren’t immediately clear.
  • Should I hold onto the health insurance websites from three jobs ago? Try and log in and see if I still have access? Download that info and then see if they’ll kill the account? (I know, that last one is doubtful.)
  • What should I do if the website appears to be dead and gone? (Other than keep it in an archival spreadsheet)
  • What do you use to sign into websites without creating yet another sign in? I know there was a service that would let you do that. What have experiences been?
Other than Goodreads or strictly related to things I’m doing on Twitter (e.g. Twitterfeed), I don’ t like using my Twitter log in elsewhere.  Same goes for Facebook. I find it a little creepy that I see the “Log in with your facebook account” everywhere.  My Google accounts are tied into a wide variety of sites that I use, mostly acquisitions over time (e.g. YouTube).
I also think I need to start doing more “purchase without logging in” and I wish websites more often gave you that option.  Obviously I don’t need to add further to my list.

*It was 130 when I started this blog post a  couple hours ago.