Tag Archives: vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

13 Aug

Granted, it was only a week, but I got a lot done during my summer vacation.

Family visited. (That was fun.) We had the memorial service for my mother-in-law who passed away last January. (It was a meaningful and special time. I know she’d approve.) We went to Cape Cod for a couple of days. (Can’t beat that.) I built a patio in our backyard. (Yes I did.) And I read a book. (Of course I did.)


I read the book, “The Shepherd’s Life,” by James Rebanks. It’s a beautiful story, beautiful writing by a contemporary shepherd; a story of people who straddle the line between a long, deep history and an ever-encroaching modern world. I loved it. I also read it for fun and thus wasn’t thinking much about work or libraries or evaluation or any such stuff that feeds my blog posts as I turned the pages. But along about page 58, I found the need to fold over a dog-ear edge to remind myself of a paragraph that was a good one for this space:

My grandfather worked hard and turned that run-down farm around. He supplemented his farm income by working on other neighboring farms. He was a good horseman. He dealt in livestock. Was an opportunist, like so many of his peers: If pigs paid, breed or fatten pigs. If Christmas turkeys paid, fatten turkeys. If selling eggs paid, get hens. If wool was wanted, grow wool. If milk paid, milk cows. If fattening bullocks paid, buy bullocks. Adjust. Adapt. Change. Do whatever you needed to – because you stood on your own two feet, there was no one to pick you up if you fell down. The geographic constraints of the farm are permanent, but within them we are always looking for an angle.

As I read these words, my mind went to the the “geographic constraints” of the library and librarianship. Traditionally, the physical library has been a boundary for librarians. It’s been a constraint. Even the professional title of “librarian,” a derivation of “library,” has dictated where and how and what librarians do. But this, of course, has changed of late. Why else do people like me do librarian work in other places and under other titles? Like Rebanks’ grandfather, we’ve adjusted, adapted, and changed. We’ve done what we needed to do in order to keep going.

I’m not really sure which profession is older, librarianship or shepherding, but they’ve surely both been around since the dawn of time. We’re surviving professions; ones that survive by being opportunistic. When we refuse to take advantage of opportunities, when we refuse to adjust and adapt and change, when we trust too heavily on some larger entity to make us relevant and/or keep us going, we die. When we can no longer figure out how or lose our desire to do these things, family farms cease and libraries close. It’s a fact of life for both.

I took a lot away from this book. I was inspired by the landscape, awed by the amount of work that goes into this livelihood, and stirred to make my own life (both at work and at home) to be a bit more honest. By this, I mean having something to show for my day at the end of each day. I find it’s too easy for me to slip into a cycle of doing a whole bunch of tasks, e.g. answering a hundred emails, going to meetings, taking notes on this and that, watching television, running on a treadmill, noodling around on my guitar or mandolin; things that, when I reflect upon them at the end of the day, I’m not sure have led me to accomplish a whole lot. Thus, I built a patio. And I returned to my office this week with a goal to be a bit more aware of how I’m working and how I’m spending my hours behind my desk or in front of my computer.

It was only a week of vacation, but I believe that these type of renewals are exactly why we need them. I hope you’ve found some time for vacation this summer, too. If not, it’s still not too late!

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

31 Jul

Nothing says vacation time like a water skiing squirrel!

Go, Twiggy, Go!!

I’ll be back writing mid-August. Until then…

Postcards from Chicago

2 Jun

I was on vacation last week and the week before spent most of the days in Chicago, attending the annual meeting of the Medical Library Association. As always, it was a meeting filled with great ideas, innovations, inspiration, and an awful lot of fun with friends and colleagues that I don’t get to see nearly enough. I wrote about one of the plenary sessions, “Reshaping Our Professional Identity,” over on the blog of the North Atlantic Health Sciences Libraries, Inc. Check it out there!


As for my vacation, let’s just say I enjoyed some early dog days of summer.

Hanging out with Eliza


An Illustrated Vacation

12 Aug

As noted in my previous post, I was on vacation last week. Vacation is important. Sadly, too few of us are afforded it, take it, and/or enjoy it. Many lament that taking a vacation only results in more work, either before you go away (all of the prep involved in going away) or upon your return (the pile of email and phone messages and “to do” items that await). I know very few people who actually go away for a week or two and stay away, i.e. don’t check email, answer calls, follow-up on things. Somehow, we just feel like we cannot be away. And this is a shame, because time away is really important. We need breaks from our work and the stresses of the everyday work-a-day world. We need some time to do nothing. We need a change of scenery every now and then.

Determined to follow my own convictions, I went away last week (well, for 5 days, anyway). I checked email only occasionally and I don’t believe that I actually replied to any until I returned home on Thursday. Even then, I answered only a couple of them; ones that just really needed to be answered. I tried really hard to simply enjoy being away and to engage the parts of my brain and my body (physically, because I sit way too much in my job) that don’t get the attention they deserve when I’m working.

Not out of the ordinary, I took along a journal and recorded our adventures. What was different this time, though, was that I illustrated the week. I owe a great deal to Suzy Becker, Mike Rohde, Sunni Brown, the folks at AlphaChimp, and others who have inspired me over the past year+ to think with both words and pictures. If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve mentioned all of these people before. They inspire me with their illustrated memoirs, their sketchnotes, their doodles, and their scribing. I took them all with me, in a way, on my trip. Here’s a little bit of the result (a few selections from my notebook):

Vacation_Page_1 Vacation_Page_2 Vacation_Page_3 Vacation_Page_4 Vacation_Page_5 Vacation_Page_6 Vacation_Page_7


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