Doctors and Dog Walks and Opening Day!

31 Mar

Happy (belated) Doctor’s Day to all of those who give the years to learn and train, all to care for us. There are LOTS of things broken in America’s healthcare system, but the individual physicians usually aren’t part of that mess.

I had an appointment with my cardiologist this week. I just love her. She’s such a kind and caring physician. The first time I saw her, several years ago now, she told me that she remembered me as one of her librarians during med school. During our visit this week, we talked about book clubs and work and families and my health. We were both very happy with my blood pressure (the reason that I see her). I told her that after a really difficult year that included losing my beloved dog, Eliza, I got a new pup in December. Now I’m back to walking with a four-legged friend twice daily. I know that our morning walk through the park is such a welcomed treat for my physical, mental, and emotional health. And I didn’t do it during those months alone. I’m grateful for Bayer, for Eliza, and for Dr. Carlson. Here’s to good health!

And for more being outdoors, it’s Opening Day for the Worcester Red Sox! I’ve got my ticket and am looking forward to cheering on the hometown team. I’ve never been to an opening day before. Being New England, you’re taking a chance on a baseball game in March, but it looks like we may luck out and have a little sun and temps near 50. Play Ball!!

A few good resources that I came across this week include the IMLS-funded project, Data Quality Evaluation, a national forum to build and promote competencies in academic librarians around quantitative data, data quality problems, and evaluating data quality. I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of the resources available. It also reminded me of the IMLS-funded project, Visualizing the Future, that my colleague Tess and I were a part of. More great resources can be found there on the topic of data visualization.

The Librarian Parlor is a project aimed at building a community to strengthen original research among librarians. My colleague, Regina, shared it with us this week after learning about it at ACRL’s recent annual meeting. You can find recommended readings, online learning, and classifieds – calls and opportunities to engage in research projects.

And lastly for fun finds, I read an interesting paper, Publish, Don’t Perish: Recommendations for Mitigating Impacts of the New Federal Open Access Policy” in The Journal of Science Policy and Government. It offers lots to think about regarding the recently released Nelson Memo and how the benefits of open access weigh against some of the burdens it brings to authors, publishers (particularly smaller ones), universities, and libraries.

Speaking of sharing freely, do people in your workplace have their own personal libraries of work-related books in their offices – ones that they’d gladly lend in-house to colleagues, if asked? Well, we do here and I want to give a shout-out to Kayla, our library school intern from the University of Rhode Island who’s helping us solve this problem. One project that she’s tackled is cataloging these personal collections to create a means where staff can now find the items in our regular catalog to borrow between one another. This is such a useful project and one that’s provided the opportunity for Kayla to learn several new skills. I know the staff will be really appreciative of her work.

Other stuff:

I finished “Daisy Jones and the Six” this week. Based on the novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, it’s a 10-part limited series on Amazon Prime that follows the rapid rise and fall of a rock band in the 1970s. I liked it a lot, particularly in part because all of the actors are singing and playing their own instruments. I appreciate that a lot. I’m also very ready for the new season of “Ted Lasso”. I’ll start that soon. Can’t wait!

Nickel Creek’s long-awaited new album, Celebrants, dropped this week. It’s super! Here’s a review from the good peeps at Folk Alley.

And finally, I read a great piece in The New Yorker on Audie Cornish, the former NPR host, now on CNN. She has a new podcast for the latter called, “The Assignment.” I’ve listened to a couple of episodes and find it thoughtful and refreshing; a highly effective way to bring important stories in the news to listeners. I recommend it.

That’s a wrap for this week. Until next time, be well and be kind.

This Week…

24 Mar

Someone referenced my blog in conversation this week, reminding me that – RATS! – I got off track again. But I appreciated the prompt to send me back here.

I’m working on preparing a session for this year’s Massachusetts Library Association’s annual meeting happening in Falmouth, MA in early May. The session, “Getting to ‘AHA!’ Using Creative Freedom to Build Justice through Empathy” is a brand new one for me. I’ve long been interested in the intersection between creativity and other aspects of life, particularly how physical activity and creativity are linked. This topic is helping me discover the depths to which creating things – art, music, writing – can help us develop empathy towards others. I’ll share more as I begin to pull the workshop together, but for now, I’d like to point you to a great resource I discovered. The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts has some excellent on-site programming (for those who live in the area), as well as great things to follow on-line. You can find recommended readings, a white paper, toolkits, and more on their website. Check it out!

I also re-read an interesting blog post from last spring about citational justice. It’s easy to forget some of the inherent biases in current citation practices and worth thinking about how we might aspire to change them for the better.

Both my women’s and men’s NCAA March Madness brackets are in shambles, but my March Mammal Madness bracket is holding strong! I love that we have a friendly MMM competition each year in my library. A little animal trash talking is good for the soul. If you’re unfamiliar with this AMAZING activity, you must educate yourself. Dr. Katie Hinde and her colleagues, including librarians, at Arizona State University do an incredible job of bringing this fun, educational, and downright brilliant tournament to the world each year. MC Marmot’s “Rodent Recaps and the Twitter Play-by-Plays are not to be missed. And LET’S GO, SEA OTTER!!

Mike Baird, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m wishing the Research Data Access & Preservation Association (RDAP) a terrific 2023 Summit next week. One of my roles as the Associate Editor of the Journal of eScience Librarianship (JeSLIB) is to shepherd the special edition of JeSLIB dedicated to RDAP each year. I look forward to seeing what emerges from next week’s meeting!

Finally, I host a radio program on my local, community radio station, WCUW, every other Tuesday evening. This week, I celebrated Women’s History Month with a 2-hour program featuring all women artists. You can listen to the archive of the show through April 3.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Give a Hoot! And a Thanks!

17 Feb

I was the perfect age to appreciate Woodsy Owl when he was introduced in 1971. Along with Smokey the Bear, Woodsy helped reinforce my love for nature and the world around me. He also instilled a deep disdain for littering. I was taught that littering was wrong from a very young age and for my entire life it’s been perhaps my greatest pet peeve. I simply cannot stand litter. I cannot stand people littering. I cannot begin to understand and/or fathom how anyone does it.

In his book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger writes about littering as a sign of disconnectedness. He quotes Dr. Rachel Yehuda, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Trauma at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who says littering is “the perfect example of an everyday symbol of disunity in society.” She says, “It’s a horrible thing to see because it sort of encapsulates this idea that you’re in it alone, that there isn’t a shared ethos of trying to protect something shared. It’s the embodiment of every man for himself. It’s the opposite of the military.”

Junger goes on to add, “In this sense, littering is an exceedingly petty version of claiming a billion-dollar bank bailout or fraudulently claiming disability payments. When you throw trash on the ground, you apparently don’t see yourself as truly belonging to the world that you’re walking around in. And when you fraudulently claim money from the government, you are ultimately stealing from your friends, family, and neighbors – or somebody else’s friends, family, and neighbors. That diminishes you morally far more than it diminishes your country financially.”

When I read this, several years ago now, it was the first time I’d ever read anything that better explained my thoughts and feelings on the subject. I’ve never forgotten it.

Fast forward to this week – this morning, even. I’m taking part in the current Medical Library Association’s “MLA Reads” virtual book club. We’re reading and discussing Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s book, What the Eyes Don’t See. Dr. Mona was a keynote speaker at MLA’s annual meeting last May. She was engaging and inspiring in her talk with us, and reading her book is the perfect opportunity to spend more time being engaged and inspired. In brief, Dr. Mona is the pediatrician who led the research and the fight to bring the Flint, MI water crisis to light. It’s an excellent book. I highly recommend it.

But back to this morning’s discussion, we started with an icebreaker where we each shared a Rose (a little something positive), a Thorn (a frustration or struggle), and a Bud (something to look forward to and/or pursue). When it came my turn, I shared something that happened this week. It was about litter and trash, something I’ve thought about a lot while reading and discussing the book.

Earlier in the week, I was walking my dog through Beaver Brook Park in my neighborhood in Worcester, MA. I like to think of this park as a small gem in the city, complete with ball fields, a street hockey rink, playgrounds, and a dog park. I love to walk there in the mornings. For many years, city workers tended to the park each day, emptying the trash bins, caring for the grounds, keeping things fairly clean for a city park, but those workers retired more than a year ago now and they’ve not been replaced. Slowly, the park is falling into a state that is so disheartening. So much trash, so many examples of people unattached from any sense of our community and this particular shared space. Even as they enjoy using it.

So I took pictures. Pictures of a mattress on the ground, a recliner and end table tossed down the side alley, trash piled high in the dugouts of the off-season Little League fields. And I emailed them all, along with a note, to the mayor, my city council representative, the parks department, and the 311 complaint line. THORN

Later in the day, I received a very thoughtful reply from Councilor Etel Haxhiaj, sharing my frustrations and letting me know some of the efforts she’s backing and/or initiating around the issue. One of these is a Community Clean Up day on April 1, led by the Worcester Clean Corps. I was thrilled to hear of this and plan to be there, to share cleaning up with my community. If you happen to be local, consider joining, too. BUD

Finally, this morning as Bayer and I turned the corner to the park, we noticed straight away that the mattress, after months sitting beside the Youth Center, was GONE! We also noticed the other furniture has been removed and the dugouts cleaned up. There’s still a lot left to do, but this start to my day was one heckuva ROSE.

Along with sending my email, I also groused publicly, via social media, about the state of the park. I tagged the city. It was a low point. So here I want to publicly say, “Thank you!” to those who received my complaint and took action. And made my day.

Thank you!