I Bring My Whole Self to Work.

There are so many things to consider when you’re up for a new job, particularly if said new job requires you to move. “Does it pay enough to justify the move?”; “What is the work environment like?”; “Will I like this new city?”; “Will I need to buy a car?”; and my favorite, “Are my future coworkers homophobic?”.

By the time I interviewed at SCAD, I’d definitely encountered toxic work environments where homophobia and transphobia (not to mention racism) was alive and well. Several of the libraries where I had interviews had also given me less-than-progressive vibes. In job hunting, as well as in life, I do my best to make it known that I’m part of the LGBTQ community. Which is why I showed up to my interview with a freshly cut mullet (that was an accident, but I’m sure it cued them in a bit none-the-less) and a resume sprinkled with LGBTQ service work.

I recently discovered that 51% of employees were not out to anyone at work in 2009 (Degrees of Equality, HRC). My guess would be that this number has decreased since 2009 since there has been progress in the fight for equality for the LGBTQ community, but for now we’ll stick with this number. Over half. To me, that is unacceptable. Part of my responsibility as a librarian is to help make people feel welcomed and safe in the library, regardless of any part of their identity. I’ve witnessed otherwise in libraries and I can say that it was my most painful professional experience. So, part of my approach to dealing with any potential issue around this subject is to be open, entirely, with those around me about who I am. It allows me to make space for others and it allows me to bring my whole self to work.

I’m not saying that every LGBTQ person should throw caution to the wind and out themselves, but there are serious benefits to being open. This helpful guide about coming out at work (HRC) may be of use to some who need to assess their unique situation more.

When it came time to assess my situation, I had a lot weighing on the scales. My new job was in the south, Georgia, where there is less acceptance and no non-discriminatory laws in place to protect people of differing sexual and gender representations. It’s one of the last states to allow same-sex marriage. This is the hometown of Chick-Fil-A. These facts made me nervous. So, during my interview I casually mentioned my partner, my concerns for moving to the south and the LGBTQ community, and gauged the responses that I got: They were all positive and reassuring, across the board. SCAD is incredibly diverse and progressive and I was even more delighted to find that my coworkers and boss were as well. Good. I couldn’t have made this move if I wasn’t working with people who valued me for who I am as well as the professional skills I bring to the library.

I love making.

I started an Etsy account way back in 2011, as a way to sell some bike kerchiefs that I was making at the time. A month or so ago I started making microfiche earrings, books, cardigan clips, and bracelets to sell on my Etsy; I actually really wanted to find a good cardigan clip and wasn’t satisfied with what I was finding on Etsy so I thought I’d make my own. That’s what started this whole thing. Then, I realized I have some vintage jewelry and clothes that I don’t really need or wear, so why not add those in?

I’m not great at promoting my shop, but I’ve still had several sales since breathing new life into it this year. I’m really happy to know that many of my friends, and even some strangers, are wearing some of my creations and vintage treasures.


My favorite collar clip that I’ve made, using vintage buttons and upcycled chains.20150110_145842

A funky bracelet made with dental xrays and vintage chain. 20150118_105933

Sweet little southern Oregon map journal, using very special paper that I bought when I was living in Budapest for the summer. I was pretty obsessed with all the different little graph papers, but the notebooks themselves were so flimsy. My solution? Mixing it all together and binding it into a solid hardcover journal.

Microfiche film bracelet.


Another collar/cardigan clip using vintage beads and buttons.mfb6And finally, the very unique microfiche earrings!

Should you visit the shop and want to purchase something, please use the coupon code “ACORNBLOG” for free shipping on all orders over $10 (expires Feb 28)!


In September, before I was officially offered the research and instruction librarian position, I had one of those unnerving tooth dreams. The kind of dream that is so real it leaves you constantly tonguing your mouth to make sure it wasn’t a real life event. This was different from any other tooth dream I’d ever had: No loose teeth (read: feeling unsettled and unsure about something), no crumbling teeth (read: fear of getting older), and no losing my teeth (read: anxiety, loss of control, and fear of failure). No, in this dream, I grew EXTRA teeth and it was possibly more disturbing than any of the other tooth dream scenarios. Like a shark, I grew another row of teeth.

Of course, I waited a few days before Googling what that meant. I assumed all toothy dreams related to anxiety and loss on some level. What I found when I went searching was quite the opposite. Growing extra teeth represents new opportunities, or  graduating to a new stage in one’s career. You see, we have two sets of teeth; our baby teeth and adult teeth. Additional teeth growing in and/or replacing our adult teeth “signifies a very positive message that [one has] an abundance of opportunities available to them that will retrieve positive results”.

Huh. Unnerving as it was, this dream was absolutely positive. I’d reached a milestone in my life and in my career and my subconscious recognized this growth, interpreting it for me in a most unsettling way. Shortly after, I was offered the job that I would accept and move to Atlanta, GA for.

I’ve been in this position since November, but Winter Quarter was the first opportunity that I had to teach and take full responsibility for the instruction happening in the library. Each quarter is only ten weeks long, and I’ve taught approximately 25 classes, given several library orientations, and met one-on-one with over 20 students–this sounds exhausting when I write it out like that. The truth is, it isn’t. It’s far less exhausting than it was to work multiple part-time jobs, volunteer, and apply to new jobs in my “free time”. I find myself in a comfortable, busy, productive and creative space as I settle into these responsibilities and my new community. Exactly as my dream predicted I am garnering positive results and I am growing into my profession.


Job Seeking Advice / Just Keep Trying

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Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the ARLISNAP/VREPS virtual conference entitled “Visualizing the future: new perspectives in art librarianship”. I was a part of the advice roundtable focused on transitioning from student to professional and job searching–topics that I am VERY familiar with. Unfortunately, the conference was running on the long side and we were slated to go last; I didn’t get to share as much advice as I’d hoped because I was pretty wiped and we were cut short. I’ll try to share my advice here instead:

In November 2014 I landed and started my first full-time position as a librarian. Not only that, but at a school that I’d always hoped (but never expected) to work at: Savannah College of Art and Design. It is, quite literally, my dream job. As the reference and instruction librarian I work directly with students and faculty, providing library instruction on all of the wonderful, artsy subjects taught here at SCAD. I get to develop workshops outside of the class instruction, which are a bit more experimental and creative. And I work with truly amazing people.

My transition from student to FT professional took just over two years. In that amount of time I held four various, part-time library positions. I felt all of the frustration that many in our field feel when trying to land their first FT position while trying to piecemeal part-time positions to get experience and pay the bills. In 2014 I applied to a total of 23 jobs and had at least one interview with 8 of those institutions. I learned some valuable lessons while interviewing for those jobs that I didn’t get: 1) They weren’t for me. 2) I’m really awkward on Skype. 3) Keep trying because later you can consider what feels like beating your head against a wall “practice” for the one application/interview that leads to a job.

At some point I had THREE first-round interviews for the same job, without progressing to the second-round each time. I was convinced that it was the perfect job for me, but in all reality, it wasn’t. While I am grateful that I didn’t get this job and landed where I did instead, this was still an incredibly draining experience. However, I kept at it and became methodical in my applications. Once they were sent off and added to my spreadsheet (where I kept track of my applications) I didn’t worry about them. After the job that I thought was for me but wasn’t turned me down for a third time I created what I called my “dream job description”. It included everything in that job posting plus bits and pieces from several others. I got serious about acquiring the experience listed in that fictional, patchwork description I’d made and incorporated it into what I was doing in my part-time and volunteer positions. This helped. A lot.

This is my first bit of advice: Know what you want (in terms of job responsibilities) and identify the gaps in your experience that may make it difficult for you to achieve what you want. Then, one-by-one, find ways to get that exact experience. I’ve thought, several times, that I wish we’d looked at more job descriptions during library school, instead of talking about theory. I know that this advice brings us back to the age-old problem of “but I can’t get experience if nobody will give me a job”, which leads me to my second bit of advice:

Make your volunteer/internship/part-time paraprofessional position work for you: This means that any old volunteering (i.e. shelving books) will not do. It’s almost inevitable that most of us end up in volunteer, internship or paraprofessional positions before we land that first job, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be picky about those positions and what they do for you. Resume padding won’t cut it with how competitive the job market is, so I would encourage you to seek positions (while in school or just after if you need experience) that allow you to experiment with your professional skill set and challenge you. If you’re in a position currently that doesn’t challenge you, find ways to make it challenging. Ask yourself how this position is helping you grow/serving you? If you are working for very little/free you should be getting as much out of it as the organization you’re working for. Putting yourself in this kind of position takes self-motivation and maybe a little risk-taking, but it is also way more rewarding than just shelving books. It’s what kept me from burning out during the job hunt process.

My example that I’ll share is my volunteer experience at the Read/Write Library. When I started volunteering there in January 2013, I knew I wanted to REALLY be involved but I wasn’t sure how yet. My first meeting the director said that the library needed an outreach coordinator and I immediately volunteered, without any real idea what that entailed. It tuned out to entail whatever I wanted, essentially. My first project was the Read/Write BiblioTreka. I worked, collaboratively, on a number of really amazing projects while at the Read/Write and I was happy that some of them were less involved and some of them were more involved, allowing me to get pretty significant project/event management experience and work more on those “soft skills” you need to effectively work in teams. I could have just staffed the library from time to time and listed it on my resume, but my experience was far richer because I wanted to make an impact and I was so eager to use my creative and professional skills.

Collaborate: They say to “fake it ’til you make it”. But I think that working with others on big projects is a better way to go about learning. This way, everyone gets to use their particular skill set and grow where they need to grow by taking notes from their peers. I’ve learned a great deal from collaborating with people at Read/Write as well as my book arts partner-in-crime, Michelle. We started our collaborative, complimentary relationship while we were Smithsonian interns and have worked on community outreach projects, co-coordinate a professional group, and have co-presented at conferences. We also live in different cities. It has never once felt like we were “faking it” when we’ve worked together because we are there to support one another when needed and can trust each others’ strengths.

Being involved in professional organizations in some capacity has made it easy to collaborate and learn from others in the field, but it can be difficult if you’re volunteering for a national organization as opposed to a local org. The local org allows you to get to know the people you’re working with a bit more and it’s likely you’ll get to meet with collaborators more often. My experience with serving on national committees has been a mixed bag, but I have limited experience with it. My preference is always to work with people that I know on a personal level, though. I also have a lot of friends who frequently (and successfully) collaborate on professional endeavors with their partners, which is as personal as you can get.

Develop a strong support network: This includes those that you collaborate with, library friends who can commiserate with you about the job market, and people willing to be references and sounding boards. Personally, the part that I hate most about applying to jobs is asking people to write letters on my behalf. Providing a phone reference isn’t so bad, but I always try to be considerate of others’ time when I list them as a reference. Always make sure that those you list as references really know and can speak to your professional accomplishments and interests. Give them plenty of notice if you are listing them, as well. I typically shared my cover letters and resumes with other job seekers to get feedback, and offered to do the same for them when the time came. The people who supported me throughout my job search are golden and I’m convinced I couldn’t have kept up my morale without them.

Friendly networking: Another one of the panelists mentioned that she is a fan of “friendly networking”; I would agree. Connecting with people at conferences and in the professional world can be intimidating for the newbies, but it is better to make one solid, genuine connection than hand out 100 of your business cards and call it a day. My current boss was someone that I had developed a rapport with over email and then met briefly at a conference last year. Not only had we corresponded regarding the professional organization that we’re both a part of, but we’d also connected over the fact that we both lived in Portland at some point/watched Portlandia. It’s kind of silly, but when it came time to interview with her I was much more confident knowing that we had already built that friendly rapport and that I liked her as a person and as colleague. Now, I’m incredibly fortunate to call her my boss.

Thoughts on websites: A website is a really nice way to showcase what you’ve done on your resume. It’s a good place to provide an example of those web and tech skills listed. Other panelists did not think that a website was as helpful, some pointed to linkedin as a better option. Whether you have a web presence via a personal website or social media like twitter and linkedin, make it count for something–keep it updated and fresh. I started my website as a student, to fulfill my capstone requirement, but after graduation it has evolved to what it is now. I like highlighting my projects that I talk about in my application materials with photos and stories. I also like showing that I make artwork and have other interests besides those on my resume. Some may tell you that job seekers don’t look at websites, but based on my website stats I would argue that I see a drastic increase of visitors when I’ve had applications and interviews.

Rejection sucks: But it’s part of the process. Unfortunately, if you’re a sensitive soul like me, it can really get to you. I encourage you not to let it get to you because:

The right fit: Every time someone mentioned the “right fit” while I was job hunting I wanted to scream. In my mind, ALL of the jobs I was applying for “fit” (Okay, maybe only most of them fit). It wasn’t until I was offered my current job AND another job at the same time that I realized that ALL of the other jobs I’d applied for weren’t right for me and the position at SCAD was the best fit, above the other job I’d been offered by a landslide. The position that I turned down was a job I could have easily done, but would have maxed out after a year. I saw little room for professional growth in my responsibilities and worried that it would only be another stepping stone in my process. I did not want to be on the job market (and moving) again in a year! It is true, that finding the right fit is key and takes time, but you’ll know when you do.

It’s been a crazy two years, but I am so grateful that I stuck it out and that I had such wonderful people to support me throughout the process (friends, family, collaborators, my lovely partner). Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Also, I’m still incredibly awkward on skype, so I’m happy that I was able to share my experience in writing after the virtual conference. :)

ARLIS/NA in Washington, DC

First, let me say that I LOVE Washington, DC.  I think that the city is amazing and the library community is exceptionally vibrant and awesome.  The ARLIS/NA conference was held in DC this year and I’ve been planning on attending this conference since my internship at the Smithsonian two summers ago.  I’m going to do a very brief recap and include some photos.




Topics I learned more about at the conference (or got really excited about):

  • Copyright and fair use
  • The People’s Library Project
  • Makerspaces in libraries
  • Budgets and collection development policies for Artists’ books
  • Book art thesaurus project
  • Rare book librarianship (=Custodianship, stewardship, advocacy, and outreach)
  • Using visual literacy to market library services
  • Current/possible collaborations between libraries/archives and artists
  • Feminism and wikipedia: a social movement

*I took about 10 pages of notes on these topics, but I’ll spare you.


Some fun things I did while in DC (outside of the conference):

  • Visited the Hirshhorn to see the Barbara Krueger exhibit
  • Ate at a super fancy restaurant called Rogue 24
  • Walked around and listened to Bluebrain’s National Mall location-aware app-album
  • Visited friends and made new ones at the conference



How I participated in the conference:

  • Attended as many workshops as I could fit in
  • Presented on my outreach work and the BiblioTreka at Read/Write Library
  • Taught a free workshop at Pyramid Atlantic on the self-preservation of artists’ books
  • Led the book art special interest group meeting with my friend/co-coordinator Michelle

image_8All in all, I learned a lot and I packed a LOT into the 5 days that I was in DC.  There were a number of social events that were exhausting but fun.  We also got to “party” in the Library of Congress (if you call giving overly tired, mentally exhausted, introverted librarians an open bar and a light dinner a party).


Info Lit Summit

When I heard about the Illinois Information Literacy Summit, I wondered why it was SO cheap to attend.  One of my coworkers said it was good, so I figured I’d give it a try.  I thought that it was a good conference with a lot of take-aways and interesting presentations.  It was also a short, one-day, conference in the suburbs so it was very accessible.

I made sure to attend anything about online tutorials and one-shot instruction, because those are most relevant to my current job.  Creating tutorials is fun, but extremely time consuming so I was very excited to learn more about Guide on the Side–open access software developed by Code Library at the University of Arizona.  It’s almost too perfect for what we need in terms of our tutorials.

The other buzz was all about “Threshold concepts”–which are the transformative central concepts that are often unspoken, but are being used to really guide ACRL instruction standards and framework.  Every discipline has threshold concepts.  The ones that apply to information literacy (or metaliteracy) that I heard at the conference are:

  1. Scholarship is a conversation
  2. Format as/is process
  3. Authority is constructed and contextual
  4. Searching is strategic
  5. Research as inquiry
  6. Information has value

Trudi Jacobson from the University at Albany, SUNY (Co-Chair of ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force) and Tom Mackey from SUNY Empire State College started the summit with their wisdom and work around threshold concepts.

These are important concepts to keep in mind as I work on developing my own library instruction practices.  I am excited to see how I can work these into the instruction at both the graduate/doctorate level and at the community college level, and how those experiences will differ.  Scholarship is a conversation will be an especially interesting concept to present and see how students differ in their acceptance and understanding of it.



Recap: Hello Chicago

April came and went; so did May for that matter!  But it’s been a great spring in Chicago (albeit a few nasty cold days).

It’s been a really busy couple of months, full of adventures and happenings.  Here is a quick recap of what I’ve been up to and some exciting news:

  • We met our goal for the BiblioTreka fundraiser!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank YOU! those who were able to donate, share, and provide moral support during our fundraiser!  We are currently working out the finances, perks, and having the new bike Built by Haley Trikes.  Stay tuned.
  • In early April I accepted another part-time position at a Chicago community college!  I’m really excited about this new position for many reasons.  One of those reasons would be that I am interested in working with undergrads and young adults more.  Teaching is still at the heart of what I do in my work as a librarian and I think that there is a lot to be learned as an undergrad regarding the library and academic work.  More on that later.
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  • April 23 was World Book Night.  I applied to be a giver for the first time this year because I thought that it would be a lot of fun–I was right about that, it WAS a lot of fun.  I am grateful that the WBN organization exists and that this is such a huge event!  The book I signed up to “give” was Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild; I signed up for this one because at the time that I read it (just before I moved from Portland, OR) I felt that it changed me, for the better.  It was one of those books that really sunk into my core, that had me crying and laughing simultaneously, and feeling compassion for myself at a time that I felt a lot of doubt.  It was one of those perfect examples of how gracefully humans can pick themselves up in the face of pain, grief, and self-destruction.  I loved it and I wanted to share it.  I found myself mostly giving the book away to young women, who were likely around the same age as Cheryl was in the book.  This wasn’t intentional, but it just kind of happened.  Some people were off-put and thought I was trying to sell them something at first, or that I was the author, but happily took the book after realizing that it was free.  I mostly gave books out on the subway and near the train stations that I frequent between my house and work.  Everyone should sign up to do this–it’s really a great way to share the books you love.
  • I visited the Roger Brown Study Collection here in Chicago.  It’s one of the many unique house museums in the city.  The art and curiosities inside belonged to Roger Brown–a Chicago imagist who donated his three houses and all of their contents to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when he died.  The self-preservation group at RWL organized the trip and so we got to hear some of the challenges of “preserving” an entire house and keeping it just the way it was when Roger passed away.
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  • Another great weekend activity that everyone should take advantage of before mid-June are the “Elegant Enigmas” and “G is for Gorey–C is for Chicago” shows at Loyola Art Museum.  If you love Edward Gorey (I do!) and you enjoy theatre/puppet shows then I would say go on a Saturday and catch one of the “Vinegar Works” shows as well.  The installation and the performance were both amazing.  One of the things that I read, that really stuck with me, was this quote by Gorey: “I am a person before I am anything else. I never say I am a writer. I never say I am an artist…I am a person who does those things”.  I feel the same way, Ed.
  • FINALLY, I visited the Botanic Gardens last week.  It only took me 7 years.  We stuck the bikes in the car, packed a picnic, and drove up to the Skokie Lagoons.  It was only about a 2 mile bike ride from the lagoons to the gardens and it was the perfect morning for it.

There were some conferences and other things in there, but I’ll save the more “professional” news for another post. Happy Spring!

Press it

I have a habit of sticking things inside books for safe keeping.  Flowers, notes, ticket stubs from things I want to remember but don’t want to become clutter.  My partner likes to keep things she finds out in the woods in books, too.  It gave me an idea to make her a book specifically FOR pressing things like ferns and leaves and anything else she finds and wants to keep.  We’ll think of this book as a work in progress, because I plan on adding some envelopes and pockets to the pages for smaller natural items.  The book is made of mostly recycled materials (old file folders, paper that I made out of old clothing scraps from a few years ago, and found book cloth).  I wanted it to be archival quality, sturdy, and able to press somewhat thick natural objects, without putting stress on the spine, hence the accordion folded spine and room for expansion.

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I used old rub-on lettering for the labels.photo 2photo 3

When the book has stuff in it, being pressed, it is tied tightly shut.  I think if I make another book like this, I’d like to use a thicker bristol board for the pages, even though the file folders are aesthetically pleasing and work just fine so far I worry about whether they’ll hold up over time and lots of use.

Out with the bad technology habits.

One of my New Years resolutions was to be more active on social media, while cutting out some of my Facebook time. I’ve been slowly weening myself off of Facebook, starting last year. I wasn’t connecting with anyone in a very genuine way and I wasn’t contributing to any kind of important, social dialog. When I decided to get a smart phone I realized I spent a lot of time on FB, but I hadn’t become more engaged. Here’s how I’ve been getting more engaged while fixing bad tech habits:

1) I banned my computer from my bedroom. It sounds crazy, but it works. Not sharing a bed with my laptop has been extremely helpful in the last 6 months. I read more books and I rest when I need to rest. I’m more productive when I need to be.

2) Unfollow your friends who do nothing but post about their meals, rant, and generously share play-by-plays of their day. While it is important to maintain personal relationships with social media, I find this kind of information less than stimulating, sometimes irritating, and useless. I’m trying to stick to real conversations and check-ins with friends. I’ve started following more organizations and people who are doing interesting things with their careers (especially my creative and library friends). It’s inspiring, and on the days that I can contribute to that conversation, I feel good about it.

3) Shut your phone/all devices off at night. For that matter, don’t bother looking at them first thing in the morning, either. I just came across this HuffPost article about checking your email in the morning, which I have noticed can serve as a bigger distraction than anything else.

So, how do you wake up? I have turned back to a regular alarm clock. NPR wakes me up and tells me the weather for the day; it’s been refreshing to ignore my devices until I’ve at least showered.

4) I’ve recently been working on the social media guide for the library I work at, which has also helped me think about my actual presence on social media. Creating content is something that many people have gotten away from with the ability to simply “share” others’ content (articles, status, happenings), but having your own voice is important if you’re going to feel engaged at all in what’s happening on social media. If you share something, add some commentary. Why are you sharing what you’re sharing? Put a little of yourself out there (not all of it, nobody needs to see those photos). I have to remind myself of this at times.

5) One habit that I’ve always maintained is to never, ever allow “push notifications” from the platforms I use for social media. I’ve been in the room when someone’s phone is beeping/buzzing/flashing constantly because their friends are updating their twitter. There’s nothing more distracting from the present and in this way, you’re never “off”.

In the end, limiting my time on my devices has been helpful. Using social media is more enjoyable when it is more intentional.