Writer’s Corner

If June is the month for conferences, then July must be tied between being the month for vacations and the month for special projects.   You know, all those creative ideas that you put down on your performance plan that you would enact once you had a breather?  Well, here at my university, we don’t really ever see the proverbial “slow summer”, but there is a minuscule lessening of the frenetic place this month.  So this appears to be the month to look at new tools, draft out those fantastic article ideas I had back during the winter months, and find some new favorite experts and fellow writers to follow.  I never get as much done during these blessed moments as I hope, but here are a few things I came across that I want to share with each of you today.

New (to me) blog for Academic Librarians on Writing

In mid-July I attended a free UKSG Webinar on Writing for Academic Publication.  The speaker was Helen Fallon, the Deputy University Librarian at Maynooth University in Ireland. As well as having a delightful accent, Helen presented a terrific webinar for librarians who are interested in getting involved in academic writing and publishing.  If you missed the webinar, all is not lost!  Helen is also the blogger behind Academic Writing Librarians, a very nice blog that I will be following henceforth.  In addition to her blog posts, there are two very useful tabs: Top Tips from Journal Editors, and Top Tips from Published Authors where she has collected advice from many other experienced individuals. Helen also has a tab for Resources which links to copies of her past presentations and other bibliographies of interest to writers.

A Scientific Writing Tool I found at ASEE Conference

I discovered this self-proclaimed “online LaTeX and Rich Text collaborative writing and publishing tool” called Overleaf at my ASEE conference this year.  Overleaf was launched back in 2012.  This cloud-based, typesetting tool has a premium version as well as a free version that supports up to 1 Gig of storage space and 60 files. This tool will be particularly interesting to writers who need the formatting power of LaTeX, but desire a much easier front end than the typical LaTeX tool.  They have a number of pre-formatted templates that make getting started even faster and easier. Files can be shared with collaborators via a unique url, but I would not recommend a project where frequent collaborative editing will be taking place since only the pro version has version history.  The individuals at the Overleaf booth passed out two interesting case studies of universities who have implemented Overleaf:  Purdue and University of Cambridge. If LaTeX is popular on your campus, Overleaf is worth a closer look.

What have you discovered this summer?  Share new tools with us so we can all continue to grow.  Then take a few deep breaths…. August and the Fall Semester is looming!

It’s June, So That Must Mean Conferences

It’s midway through June already.  Hard to believe that half our year is already past. June is a great time to pull out our Performance Agreements (or objectives for the year) and review where we stand with regard to the projects we contracted to perform this year.

Also a common activity in June is the attendance at professional conferences. National Annual Conferences for SLA, ALA, ASEE  all meet in June and librarians are flying hither and yon to attend them all.  Many of us will be presenting or participating in poster sessions at these conferences as well as completing national committee tasks and attending the presentations of others.  Below are a few tips from other conference goers to consider as you prepare for your next big conference:

  • Oxford Royale Academy posted “How to Survive Your First Academic Conference“.  While it is targeted to undergraduate students, it offers noteworthy tips for new librarians as well.
  • Edtage Insights prepared this short article on “8 Tips for presenting a paper at an academic conference”  It offers some basic ideas to keep in mind to make your conference presentation flow and connect better with  your audience.
  • In 2007, Vega and Connell wrote a still timely study “Librarians’ Attitudes Toward Conferences: A Study” which was published in CR&L News.  I found their survey interesting reading.
  • Interested in finding a subject-specific conference to attend instead of one of the big librarian conferences?  Karen MacDonald and Robert Tomaszewski of Georgia State University wrote a 2009 article for the Journal of Academic Librarianship on just this topic.  Identifying Subject-specific Conferences as Professional Development  Opportunities for the Academic Librarian is well worth a read.
  • The Free Range Librarian had a great post in 2010 for ALA goers.. ALA Conference Survival Tips – 35 Conferences Later.  She has some valuable insights no matter which conference you plan to attend.
  • And I would be remiss if I didn’t add a few (possibly unusual) tips of my own to the mix:
    1. Pack a laundry bag to separate worn clothes from those you did not wear.  I have been known to use a scented plastic drawstring trash bag for this purpose.  They are also great to have in situations where you have wet shoes or umbrellas to pack for home.
    2. Consider packing a few new baggies in various sizes.  They can be great substitute ice bags for tired feet or aching legs and ice is always available at hotel snack areas.
    3. Evernote is your conference friend too! Easily added to your phone and computer, Evernote can be a great place to store your conference notes.  Take pictures/scan handouts and upload to Evernote to get rid of excess paper and to keep all your notes organized.  You can photo business cards too and annotate them in Evernote so you know who and why you collected them.
    4. If you prefer to go old school instead of scanning, take a 8 1/2 by 11 manila envelope and keep all your conference receipts/ airline stubs/ hotel bills etc together until you can file for reimbursement.
    5. If you have room and expect to collect a good bit of freebies at the vendors, put a flat mailing box in the bottom of your suitcase.  It doesn’t take up much room, but can be a great help for last minute  mail-home-instead-of-carry-it options.  They will have them at the conference post office, but it is more time consuming to get them then.
    6. Pace yourself.  A conference can be a long exhausting week.  But it can also be very rewarding as well.
  • What Have I left out?  Got a conference article or tip you’d like to share?  Now’s the time.  🙂

Wishing everyone a successful conference month!

Memorial Day: Thank You to All Those Who Serve

By Ron Sterling [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], from Wikimedia CommonsOn this Memorial Day, I am departing from my usual monthly post in order to recognize and thank all those who serve us in America and around the world. Service men and women, firefighters, police, medics, volunteers, lawyers and public servants who fight for our constitutional rights … the list could go on and on. And especially the families of all those individuals who sacrifice and suffer loss.

God blessed us with this magnificent land and countless brave and dedicated individuals make sacrifices every day to help keep this country as we know it safe and free.  I am humbled by all you do for us and am so very grateful.   Thank you.

Links Roundup #40: Journaling, Podcast Apps, Digital Humanities and Evernote

saddle and ropeGuidance on Beginning to Journal

Michael Hyatt’s magazine this month is on the benefits of journaling.  He and his guest writers share tips and insights on the practice of journaling here.

Also, check out The Productive Benefits of Journaling from the folks at doist.com

Best Podcast Apps

Looking for a new podcast app for your Android device?  Try the 10 Best Podcasts for Android by Joe Hindy, or Tom’s Guide to Best Podcast Apps.

Feedly

While you are considering a new Podcast app, you might want to also take another look at an app that’s been around for some time.  Feedly will not only support your podcasts, it also handles RSS feeds, Youtube channels and more, all in one convenient app.  It made the list of best 15 free Android apps of 2018 on Android Authority this year.  CloudeeReviews just did an indepth review of Feedly that you might also be interested in.

A little Late to the Game

I’m a little late to the game with this one, but to my defense, I am not a humanities librarian.  I just came across the dh+lib website, where digital humanities and librarianship meet.  It’s been around since 2012 and was developed from discussions on the  ACRL Digital Humanities Discussion Group (DH DG) listserv.  They describe their purpose as providing “a weekly roundup of recommended readings, resources, posts, calls for papers/participation, jobs, and other items of potential interest to dh+lib readers.”  November 2017 marked their fifth year of operation, and as one who recognizes the effort in keeping a website such as this vibrant, I congratulate them on their continued success!

Big Evernote Update!

Mspoweruser.com reports that Evernote’s Windows 10 Gets a Big Update!  Welcome news to all Evernote users on the MS Windows platform for sure! Included in the update is a full-fledged editing experience, drag and drop functionality, and a zoom feature to the Image Gallery as well as a number of irritating bugs which have now been fixed.  Yay, Evernote!

Book Review: Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt

Picture of Your Best Year Ever book coverFollowers of this blog will recognize the name Michael Hyatt.  In 2016, I reviewed his book Living Forward in which he shared his method for creating a life plan for one’s life.  In his new book, Your Best Year Ever, Hyatt drills down on the goal setting slice of your Life Plan’s pie, providing methods for setting and achieving goals.

I must place a caveat up front.  This book did not have the same punch for me as Living Forward did.  With the former, I actually had some life plan illuminations that motivated me to make a few positive changes in my life.  I do not really see the same personal benefit from Your Best Year Ever.  Perhaps that is because I have been required to create and meet or exceed goals every year of my working life for each of the various positions I have held.  Perhaps this is just an area that I feel I have sufficiently mastered.  But I am certainly not everyone.

This book might be particularly appealing to managers who would like an easy to digest book on effective goal setting to recommend to their employees.  The writing is straight forward and engaging, full of vignettes from past clients as well as hypothetical stories illustrating various goal setting points.  With sections focusing on why written goals are important, and how to stay motivated, Hyatt goes a step beyond the familiar SMART goals, by  proposing the importance for SMARTER goals: goals which are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Risky, Time-keyed, Exciting and  Relevant.

Hyatt certainly reaches beyond simply focusing on professional goals, covering goal setting for each of the ten principle life domains of one’s life: Spiritual, Intellectual, Emotional, Physical, Marital, Parental, Social, Vocational, Avocational, and Financial.  In this respect, the book dove-tails nicely with Living Forward.  I also like his point regarding taking the time to consider why your goals exist. Ask yourself, what is the importance of a given goal? This can prove very motivating to remember when achieving a particular goal gets tough.

Hyatt ends his book with a section of sample goal templates filled out for the different life domains that he had defined earlier.  The sample pages illustrate how the various aspects of Hyatt’s goal achievement process fit together to form a plan of action that motivates getting started… and sometimes getting started with a goal can be the hardest part!

I think that one of the difficulties that I had with this book is that I really felt that Hyatt had the techniques of social media marketers on full blast with this book and the surrounding hype leading up to and through the publication of Your Best Year Ever. I follow Hyatt’s blog as well, and between the book itself and the blog emails, I started to feel like I was caught in an infomercial.  I don’t react well to that, which is probably why I am an academic and not in business marketing, lol. But that is another blog for another day.

Links Roundup #39: Feb. is for New: New Book, New Blog Series, New Podcast…

saddle and ropeNew Productivity Book Alert!

I’m thrilled to tell you that one of Professors whose posts I frequently mention is coming out with a new book in September (preorders are available now!).  Bonnie Stachowiak of Teaching In Higher Ed is publishing her book:  The Productive Online Professor.  I can’t wait to read this book; I know from my own limited exposure to online teaching (mostly creating online modules and providing one time library instruction via video) that this delivery method of instruction is a whole distinct animal that can eat up enormous amounts of time.  Bonnie is sharing techniques with us all about how to handle our personal productivity in this challenging environment. Congratulations Bonnie!

New Mindfulness Podcast

If you have read my blog for a while, you will recognize my fondness for the work of the academics from the Greater Good Science Center of UC Berkeley. I loved their online MOOC, The Science of Happiness, and now they are launching their Science of Happiness Podcast! It is an interesting premise where the Science of Happiness researchers will run experiments with “happiness guinea pigs” and interview them for the 15-20 minute podcast episodes while also sharing the underlying science behind their reactions.  The podcast is hosted by GGSC Director, Dacher Keltner.

Puzzle Creator Tool

The folks at Literacy Central (Reading is Fundamental) created a nice quick tool called the Puzzle Creator to design three different kinds of puzzles that can either be completed online (they provide the URL to the puzzle), or printed out.  They have word search, crossword and memory match. They limit you to single words of no more than 15 characters, and they give the word answers to the student for the crossword puzzle in a “word bank”, but it is a kind of fun tool for quick puzzle creation.

New Voice in Productivity Blogs

Kent Holsinger, the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School at UConn started a new series of posts in 2018 on productivity and Getting Organized that are quite nice.  I love blogs where an academic documents what works for him or her.  Dr. Holsinger is a MAC/i-everything user, which I am not, so his voice adds a nice counter-balance to the posts I have offered over the past several years from the android point of view.

How I …..

While we are on the topic of academics who document in blog posts how their productivity systems, I can also recommend the “How I Plan series” by Dr. Ellie Mackin Roberts.  If I may quote directly from Dr. Roberts’ site, ” How I Plan is a collection of interviews looking at how people approach their research planning….It was inspired by Eva Lantsoght’s ‘How I Work’ series on PhD Talk.”  I haven’t yet read Eva’s series, but that will be my next stop.