The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions

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Professional Reading: The Organised Mind

25878011._UY200_This book is written for the curious minded, however because the word’s “Organised” and “Information Overload” is used on the front cover, librarians are going to be drawn to read this.

I was so excited when I saw this in my local bookstore, I had seen it referenced in another book and saw it popping up on various social media sites, I thought I have to purchase this little gem.

Levitin is a psychologist, so he is somewhat removed from the library and information profession, but we all love to learn. In addition, I always hear librarians speak about gaining knowledge about their profession from outside sources. It is true we do look outside the library to see what everyone else is talking about and we always try to situate ourselves among the chatter. This time, I found myself with a psychologist, not a bad thing really!

To begin with Chapter 1, Levitin does start strong he throws in historical events that will make your head spin. I really like the little taster of theory as he mentions some of my favourite theorists that I studied in Sociology and Anthropology it is really intriguing to find them noted here. What really made me sit up is his reference to survival, he is making the point of our human ancestors and how we categorised the world around us, he goes on to say;

“those who were interested in acquiring knowledge – whose brains enjoyed learning new things – would have been at an advantage for survival, and so this love of learning would eventually become encoded in their genes through natural selection” (Levitin, 2015, p. 31)

Now I hope I am not the first to go, “These were definitely librarians in the making”! The text goes on to note Clifford Geertz a very famous anthropologist, Levitin then goes on to show how Claude Levi – Strauss gives an opposing view. Without getting into too much detail the argument is, did we start to categorise in order to survive or did we do it because we wanted to make sense of the world around us, learn from it and thrive from it. Maybe we did both! A wonderful discussion to enter into, and one that I sense could go on forever.

His main aim with this first chapter is to see how we, society, have changed in today’s information age. How does the speed at which we consume information affect our minds? Levitin teaches us how our minds work with information in every form. His focus is on attention and how our minds adapt to what we need to pay attention too, or even how we make or minds pay attention, the other side of this is what distracts our attention.

In reading this I have been paying extra attention to paying attention! I am not the best when it comes to doing and completing anything unless it is a paying job that of course is different. But when it comes to me doing tasks in my daily life, like for instance reading this book and writing about it has been a difficult task. I am easily distracted, I will daydream, I will start researching aspects of the book and get side tracked, and before I know it I am still reading the same chapter for two months! So it is interesting to read about what happens to your brain as it is paying attention.

The last part of chapter one for me is the best, it sets up the next chapter for me. I want to read more! He gives wonderful examples throughout and many make you realise that this mind that is all yours is pretty awesome. Psychologists make you feel damn good!



Making ‘ME’ Find-able!

danielle-orner-quote-i-am-hereI recently joined a webinar through SLA titled “Create your own Career Path”. This inspiring webinar was given by Kim Dority,  a Content Strategist, and LIS Careers Expert. Kim’s blog is also a very good place to go to for inspiring pieces about your career journey and what we face along the way.

This webinar really made me sit up and think, many of the points she made throughout the presentation hit a nerve with me and I found myself thinking, HEY! I need to do something here.

One piece that Kim spoke about that I found very interesting is how to create your own career path through LinkedIn, my LinkedIn is Twitter so here I have mapped what we need to do.

Firstly you need to deeply think about the people you want to connect with and why you want to make that connection. What impact will this person have on you and your career going forward?

Librarians are great for networking and we are not shy when it comes to reaching out and asking about each others roles. Reaching out to people today is easy, for example, librarians are very active on twitter, however, the question to ask is “who really knows about you”?

According to Kim with social media like twitter you have to set your professional reputation so that you actively take a role in what perceptions people have of you. You have the responsibility to show other professionals “Here is who I am” and “Here is how I can help you”.

To really learn from these professionals connect with them. Kim suggests doing this in a formal capacity. Suggested here is to find a list of professionals, whose job titles fit your interests, library orientated or not. Next research this target area as a whole, once this is done, create an email inviting them to take part in an information interview.

Hands up anyone who has heard of an information interview because I never had. It is “a meeting to learn about the real-life experience of someone working in a field or company that interests you”. Where was this when I was in school? There have been a few professionals that I met in the last year and I have been intrigued about a lot of things mainly, how they came to be in their particular role(s)?

To learn more about the details of an information interview I would suggest contacting Kim, she is very welcoming.

Personally, I feel these information interviews will give me a lot of confidence. Ireland is small and the conferences are great, however, I meet the same people over and over again. I want to talk to the Principal of a school, I want to talk to the various local authority managers. I want to talk to these diverse people because they don’t realise they need me as a professional, they don’t know I exist. I need them to know that I am here, that I am not far away and I can help them, or at least inform them of what we do as librarians.

So I hope with this blog post that all the wonderful librarians out there can do this also, we need to put ourselves out there and we need to get out of the library and talk to different individuals who just one day will wake up and go, I NEED A LIBRARIAN/INFORMATION SPECIALIST.

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The Tipping Point!

Since we broke for Spring Break (as I will now and forever refer to it) I felt I had everything under control.

All modules were in check, and I was nicely moving along, the sun had begun to shine and the daffodils were blooming.

Then it slowly changed in a day the temperatures dropped, rain, snow, sleet.

So I took the miserable weather and sat down to organise my 2 weeks off.

  2. Digital Libraries

However 2 weeks later I am no more further than I was when I made the list, hence the title of this post.

I am at the tipping point, however I don’t now if Malcolm Gladwell’s book will help me get through these assignments.


This blog is certainly the place for me right now. A place where I can write and space out my fears of college and reflect on what I really have to do. There is a point when you get yourself into a rut, that you really can’t see the wood from the trees and time seems to go at super speed. Week 8 is fast approaching, I am going to take these next few weeks and visit the National Library, go to Chester Beatty Library which I adore and start planning a productive approach to seeking employment!

The Library world that I have been apart of since starting in SILS has made this approach to planning exciting. To seek employment on a scale where I can access people for advice on job applications, interviews and certain career choices, is amazing.

It is not a world where you feel on your own, since being to the conferences and meeting the various Library personal and engaging with the talks on twitter I feel very confident that I will find some kind of experience outside college.

So, to put aside all worries and set a new plan for getting my assignments done, it will be all worth it in the end.

I love reading I just have a lot of it to do!