On Work & Pregnancy – 3 Lessons

I’m half way there. Half way to meeting this little person I’ve been waiting to meet for most of my life. Being pregnant is incredible and terrifying in ways I didn’t anticipate. I won’t get too much into the personal side of this for folks who come here to read about Library stuff but suffice it to say it’s pure energy.

Being a recovering (Reforming? Restructuring?) workaholic while pregnant has been teaching me a lot I thought I might pass on for other workaholics, be they men or women.

1- Do less, do better.

This was also a lesson the universe slapped me upside the head with during my internship with Dokk1. The ability to do good work does not create a need to do said work. The observation that a hole exists does not mean you should be the one to fill it. There will be times stepping up to the plate and filling holes will be rewarding and fulfilling. That your ability to do good work will result in something positive for your community. However, work that is done for the sake of working almost never results in proper follow up and reflection. This will leave you frustrated and unable to replicate your success (or build on it which is what should really happen).

Being pregnant I’ve been forced to slow down. I’m closer to 40 than 30 and that means that in my attempt to listen to my body one thing has been made loud and clear. If I’m to do this well I need to focus and that requires time to be still. I will enjoy this to the fullest if I allow myself to revel in the minutiae and deliciously bask in each of these details I’ve been waiting so long to experience. As I’m working full time while pregnant I’ve allowed myself to shift my focus and allow myself to slow down and try out what I swore I’d try when I returned from Denmark: creating less at a higher quality.

Take a look at your work load by starting with your customer service. Are you able to offer yourself completely to each patron you encounter? If not then your work load isn’t properly balanced. Start from that customer service goal and then add on. When something isn’t getting your attention in regards to proper, thoughtful planning before and then considerate, honest reflection after you’re not properly balanced and should reevaluate. This is SO hard. But you can do it if you start being honest with yourself one task at a time.

2- Sustainability will save us all.

Working to create a plan for my work to continue while I’m on leave is both humbling and challenging. We are all unique with skill sets we feel are critical to our institution’s success. And for the most part we’re right. Those details and quirks we bring to the table contribute to the library microcosm in special ways that flavor the experience of our patrons.

Removing myself for months from that experience will have some affect unless I take care to bridge the gap and create a meaningful patch that will not jar the experience of our patrons.

A good example in my case is the sewing programming I teach on a weekly basis. I lead four drop-in friendly, group sewing classes (one at each of our branches) as well as up to 10 one-on-one private sewing lessons per week. While I am gone I’ve begun establishing a series of programs the branches will lead for the group lessons that will be taught by branch staff and will focus on their own sewing interests. It could be hand sewing focused so they don’t have to deal with the level of machine troubleshooting I’m comfortable with during class, it could also be teaching the basics of the machine (after they’ve been comfortably trained) so that everyone becomes a little more comfortable. It won’t be the same but it also won’t be lacking. I’m excited to hear how the experiment goes and to see coworkers flourish and learn how they adapt the program to their own unique needs. It will give me a better understanding as to the adaptability and replication of what I’ve been building for our system. Knowing it can be adapted means I’ll know I can share it with other libraries more confidently.

As for the one-on-ones we’re lucky enough to have another team member with sewing skills who will step in for some of the higher level requests. My teammates who regularly work upstairs will be retrained on the basics so they can all step in for the intro lessons that deal with the basics of operating the machine.

If you’re not building for your patrons you’re building for yourself and that doesn’t serve anyone except you. Your strength should lie in creating a legacy because of your work, not a vacuum where it used to be. Accomplishing your legacy will look different for everyone but start by imagining “what if I left?” And see where that takes you.

3- Use your time.

You earned it, taking time off for you will create a fresher, happier person for your community to interact with. As a (recovering/reforming/restructuring) workaholic I’m one of those proud folks who “never takes sick days.” I have recently become better about taking vacation time off, especially since I want to honor my body and my pregnancy but a good diet, healthy lifestyle, and my stubborn addiction to work still mean it’s rare for me to take time off for physical health.

Recently, I took the time to go see friends and celebrate together. Then I went to my mom’s house and relaxed with her. It was amazing. On the day I returned to work a normal Dr.’s visit resulted in a scare and a surgery. I had to take 4 days off for bed rest following the surgery. For someone like me this meant extreme feelings of guilt over abandoning my team, discomfort over the loss of my independence, and now I’m facing a set of physical limitations to begin adapting to so that baby and I remain safe as I continue work. Needless to say, this is all WAY out of my comfort zone.

However, because I took the time off to be with my friends and family ahead of this scare I had a good sense of self going into it. I was better able to be honest with my team and make the call to not try and tough through the problem but to respect my limitations and allow myself to heal because I was thinking clearly having basked in the love of friends, family, and my own self for two weeks. Moving forward I know I will need to ask for and accept help. I’ve struggled with this for years but for the first time I’m looking forward to the challenge. I love my team and I trust them enough to try this.

Allow yourself to take time for your physical and mental well being. You really will become better for it.

The Healing Library in InfoToday!

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What an amazing week I’m having.

The husband and I changed the hill in front of our house, planting a DOZEN azalea bushes which should provide us with a wall of flowers for years to come. (Did you know I was a landscaper for years?)

The husband and I also went out and got my Christmas present now that Spring really seems to be here – a kayak so we can spend this Summer out on the water as much as possible! (Did you know my undergrad is in Adventure Recreation?) It’s also a fabulous object I can acceptably put stickers all over as an adult…

Finally, my interview about The Healing Library came out in InfoToday’s April issue! While it’s not one of my longer pieces it felt very personal. In part because Justin was the one interviewing me (and he always seems to get to my emotional core) and in part because now that the project has been live for 6 months I’ve had time to bond with it even more.

Back to the emotional part – Some of you who are closer to me know that my last few years have featured the deaths of a number of people who were important to me. Even as a person with a relatively large amount of privilege I found navigating all that death to be confusing. I wound up participating in some unhealthy behaviors and had to do some searching for a set of healing strategies that would work for me. After, I felt a strong desire to share some of those strategies and the fact that healing can be mix-n-match for each of our needs with others. I think because of all those experiences the writing was more tender and considerate than it ever could have been before.

The bonding I’ve been experiencing with the project has a lot to do with the fact that launching felt a bit like sharing my “baby” with the world, but now that baby is growing and changing. The team has been talking about potential ways to move forward but I know it takes a village to raise a child so I’ll soon be asking for your feedback.

I’m getting ready to talk to more people about The Healing Library at next week’s CLRC Webinar and can’t wait to share our story, the Social Emotional Learning benefits of The Healing Library, and to hear from others about what direction they think the project should go moving forward.

If you want to read the article go ahead and subscribe to InfoToday! If you can make it to the Webinar go ahead and register! In the meantime, do a little something extra for your own well being today. Take a little walk, turn off the TV and put on some soothing music, take time out for a bath, whatever gets you more in touch with you.  You’re worth it and the world will be better with the best version of you in it! (I’ll be baking some cookies and watering my new azaleas!)

Wowie Zowie! I’m Blushing!!!

Words can’t properly convey how honored I am to have been chosen to participate in the upcoming national forum on Design Thinking & IMLS.

From the IMLS Website:

Syracuse University School of Information Studies and the University of Washington Information School will hold a National Forum on design thinking and methods in master’s level library education. The Forum will address: identifying gaps in existing MLIS curricula; exploring approaches for incorporating design thinking in master’s level library education, and offering actionable recommendations for this incorporation. The project will consist of three phases: 1) a field scan of design topics in MLIS curricula; 2) a meeting of educators, library employers, and design professionals; and 3) production of sample syllabi.

Syracuse University’s Rachel Ivy Clarke recently invited me to take part in phase two of this IMLS granted program. What is phase two, you ask?

2) A national forum on design in master’s level library education. The forum will include 12-15 participants comprised of educators from ALA-accredited programs and design schools, library employers, and design professionals. Participants will meet for 2 days in Seattle to review and discuss the results of the field scan, identify aspects of design education relevant to MLIS education, share professional experiences, and brainstorm curricular approaches. Participants will be invited based on identification from the field scan and/or notable identification with design thinking in libraries.

Here’s what this means…  I’m one of those 12-15 participants. Most likely I’m in the “Design professional” category since I know I’m none of those other things.

Here’s what this really means… I’m gonna’ get to sit in a room with some of the most progressive individuals in my field and nerd out for TWO WHOLE DAYS over my passion for Design Thinking! I haven’t been this excited since landing my internship with Dokk1!!! (Yes, I know I owe you all a blog post on that experience. I swear, it is coming…) I’ll have the opportunity to be a voice at a table where we discuss how to help our future library leaders through practices that I believe so strongly in.

Yes, me, the kid who repeatedly got stuck in her own swing set. (Who knew experimenting with user access was rooted so deeply inside me?)

Me, the teen who got lost in Yucatan City, Mexico with some friends and spoke almost no Spanish. (I really had Please, Bathroom, and Water down though…)

Me, the non-librarian who finally ponied up and got her Master’s Degree but secretly enjoys fooling people by omitting the Library part, telling strangers I have a Master’s in Information Studies just to see how they react. (Will I ever find a way to experiment with frame of reference that doesn’t tickle me? I hope not…)

Want to check out the proposal? Take a peek here!




By the way, it would be pretty irresponsible of me not to mention that our current administration has proposed a budget that threatens to slash funding to IMLS. You can contact your representatives here and encourage them not to cut our funding.  The work that we who work in libraries and museums do carries a lot of weight for our underserved populations. This opportunity to assist in the future of library leaders is going to engage and uplift people but that takes time. We believe in you and all we can accomplish together. Please share your voice and show that you believe in us too!


Librarians: We’re All Drag Queens at Heart – A PLA 2016 Spark Talk

Two years ago I gave a Spark Talk at PLA to inspire folks to feed their brains and take care of themselves that was based entirely off the plot of S.E Hinton’s The Outsiders. I loved it. It was so cool to watch people’s faces realize the reasons they started in this fabulous profession and to hear afterwards that they felt refreshed by the talk. I’ll update the blog with it one of these days, I promise.

So when I saw the call for Spark Talks for this past April’s PLA conference I jumped at the chance and was lucky enough to be picked again to speak. The brain child of the fabulous Kevin King of the Kalamazoo Public Library (check out his wonderful blog Library Lost & Found) and brilliant Toby Greenwalt of Carnegie Library in Pittsburg (Toby’s brilliant blog theanalogdivide is also not to be missed) the idea is for us more plebeian librarians to get a chance to share a fresh idea, alternative perspective, or create a scene in 5 minutes.

I now share with you my talk from this year, every slide and most all of the point I made in those fast paced and fun five minutes. Since I used a lot of gifs and I don’t want you to miss out on their awesomeness I’ll post each slide followed by the gif (for all the gifs that still exist!). It won’t give you the full effect but you’ll see why it’s worth the clunkiness when you see how beautiful they are…

Finally, if you were there (or if you weren’t but this evokes thoughts now!) and want to talk about it let’s do it! Post a comment and let’s share! I wish I could have talked more at length about what a wonderful art form drag is and more deeply about the ties I feel exist between drag and librarianship but 5 minutes isn’t much time and Kevin may or may not have had to sound an air horn to make me stop talking. (Okay, he did. But I only went over by about 2 seconds…)


Librarians- We're All Drag Queens at Heart

Good Afternoon, everyone! I’m here to talk to you about some beautiful similarities between two ancient traditions you may not be aware of.

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But first, I should explain who I am. I’m Megan! I’m the author of Cooking Up Library Programs Teens and Tweens Will Love: Recipes for Success. On twitter you can find me at @bibli, and I’ve just broken my decade mark working in public libraries. I’ve worked in public libraries in Vermont, Maine, and Tennessee and throughout my illustrious career I’ve held over 40 different jobs. I know this because my mother in law, Carol, made me count them all once when she didn’t believe me. Currently I’m enrolled at Syracuse University’s iSchool where I’m earning my MLIS degree, something I never thought I’d do.

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When I was little my dad once told me that swearing was a naturally occurring part of language that had it’s place and to be aware of that when speaking. Drag culture is one of those places where it’s not merely occurring but celebrated. If you’re sensitive to bad language now is the time to cover your ears or leave.

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Another warning – If you’re offended by drag you can also leave but I invite you to take the next 4 minutes and 20 seconds to expand your horizons on how our two beautiful traditions have more in common than you may have ever realized.

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Finally, if you’re into drag and you see a reference or queen you love in this presentation cheer her on! We’re all in this together so let’s have some fun!!!

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To kick things off…

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GLITTER. We may act like we don’t like it from time to time but face it. Glitter is awesome and we all know it.

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We like to trace our information roots back to cuneiform tablets and our modern roots to the Library of Alexandria…

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…but drag is probably a lot older than you think!

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Shakespeare had men playing both the parts of men and women so guess what – the classics have their roots in drag. On the right is of a man in drag in the 1800’s posing for a photo and in the center who could forget the fabulous glamour of 80’s metal. Those boys owned more lipstick and fishnet than I ever have.

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We’ve all done it. It’s okay. We see that one patron come through the door who we can’t stand. Maybe they take up a huge amount of our time, maybe they aren’t as nice as they should be to the other patrons. But before we know it our librarian instincts kick in and we’re only focused on helping them because of all their good points and information needs. Truth is well curated judgement is part of our jobs. It’s how we get to the root of how to help people best.

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In drag they’ve taken care of these feelings of shame or guilt over thinking such things but not saying them out loud by guess what – saying them out loud. They call it opening the library. When the library is open you have permission to say a snarky word or two about the person who’s bugging you in an open forum where feelings are put aside and you just listen and take your lumps. It’s like a roast but funnier and with better clothes.

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Talking about that other person is referred to as Reading them. I bet you didn’t know we have such similar terminology!

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We give face! Giving face is when no matter how a person makes you feel (see above) we don’t let them see it. Instead we give them what they need to see –

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Our most helpful, most beautiful side.

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But that’s not to say that we don’t have our limits. We do. There are times we simply will not put up with your insanity.

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Sometimes we have to stop some nonsense.

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And bring order to the chaos that surrounds us.

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The diaspora is real y’all. Where my millennials at? You know what I’m talking about. I’m on my third public library in ten years. If you want to make it in this field the new normal is to pack your bags and be ready to move because the jobs will not come to you.

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But that doesn’t mean ours isn’t a small world. Thanks in part to the diaspora you never really know exactly who you’re talking to (or who they may become) so watch your mouth. In fact, THIS is Manila Luzon, one of my favorite drag queens. While preparing for this presentation I learned that fellow librarian Jerome Rivera has ties to her.

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In the video for her song Hot Couture Jerome’s sister-in-law played supportive mom to young Manila. This means I’m 2 degrees of separation away from her and that she liked a tweet about all this last Monday.

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See? I die…

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We bot share strict yet strange dress codes that vary based on our sects. Whereas drag queens bicker over breastplate usage, shoes, padding, and plastic surgery we quibble over our own rules. My wardrobe is utterly schizophrenic. I’ve got different outfits for maker days, working with teens, presenting to my higher ups, and for public speaking. Let’s not even get into my outreach wardrobe.

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Sigh… Maker spaces, updated furniture, continuing education funds, dream programs… Our list of wants is never ending…

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But we’re all struggling with budgets that don’t match those dreams.

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But even though other departments within our city’s may not understand us or why we can’t simply do what we do with a cheap trip to Party City,

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we don’t let it get us down or take it as an insult,

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and we always make it work.

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Because we give everything to our jobs.

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We’re capable.

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We’re creative geniuses.

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We live to lift other people up.

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We’re confident.

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We find inspiration everywhere and see limitless possibilities.

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There’s a lot more to our art forms than is represented on television. We know that but it’s our responsibility to set the script straight. If they don’t get to all the amazing work you’re doing is it their fault they don’t understand our depth? Get people into your space so they can be wowed by the fabulous work you do. Have them leave impressed with you and then keep impressing them.

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But that doesn’t mean we don’t need support. From others yes, but also from one another. So get off your ass, go to your local library (and drag shows) and be a part of the conversation. Furthermore, don’t just support your own library, support one another.

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Finally, in conclusion…

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Here are some references…

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Thank you.


I leave you now with Manila Luzon’s Hot Couture video so you can fall in love with her.