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You know that song? The one you really liked the first time you heard it? And even the fifth or fifteenth? But now your skin crawls when you hear it? That’s me and Doodle.

In the last three months I have filled out at least a dozen Doodle polls for various meetings outside my organization. I complete these polls at work, where my two-monitor setup means I can review my Outlook calendar while scrolling through a Doodle poll with dozens of date and time options. I don’t like to inflict Doodle polls on our library admin because she has her hands full enough, including managing my real calendar.

I have largely given up on earmarking dates on my calendar for these polls, and I just wait for the inevitable scheduling conflicts that come up. Some of these polls have so many options I would have absolutely no time left on my calendar for work meetings, many of which need to be made on fairly short notice. Not only that, I gird my loins for the inevitable “we can’t find a date, we’re Doodling again” messages that mean once again, I’m going to spend 15 minutes checking my calendar against a Doodle poll.

I understand the allure of Doodle; when I first “met” Doodle, I was in love. At last, a way to pick meeting dates without long, painful email threads! But we’re now deep into the Tragedy of the Doodle Commons, with no relief in sight.

Here are some Doodle ideas–you may have your own to toss in.

First, when possible, before Doodling, I ask for blackout dates. That narrows the available date/time combos and helps reduce the “we gotta Doodle again” scenarios.

Second, if your poll requires more than a little right-scrolling, reconsider how many options you’re providing. A poll with 40 options might as well be asking me to block out April. And I can’t do that.

Third, I have taken exactly one poll where the pollster chose to suppress other people’s responses, and I hope to never see that again. There is a whole gaming side to Doodling in which early respondents get to drive the dates that are selected, and suppressing other’s responses eliminates that capability. Plus I want to know who has and hasn’t responded, and yes, I may further game things when I have that information.

Also, if you don’t have to Doodle, just say no.

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Free Range Librarian by K.g. Schneider - 1M ago

This morning I spent 40 minutes in the appointment line at the Santa Rosa DMV to get my license renewed and converted to REAL ID, but was told I was “too early” to renew my license, which expires in September, so I have to return after I receive my renewal notice. I could have converted to REAL ID today, but I would still need to return to renew my license, at least as it was explained to me, and I do hope that was correct.

CC BY 4.0, https://wellcomecollection.org/works/m8wh2kmc

But–speaking as a librarian, and therefore from a profession steeped in resource management–I predict chaos in 2020 if DMV doesn’t rethink their workflow. We’re 18 months out from October 2020, the point at which people will not be able to board domestic flights if they don’t have a REAL ID or a valid passport, or another (and far less common) substitute.

Then again, California DMV is already in chaos. Their longtime leader retired, the replacement lasted 32 days, and their new leader has been there ca. 60 days. Last year featured the license renewal debacle, which I suspect impacted the man standing behind me. He said he was there to apply for his license again because he never received the one he applied for last fall. And California DMV is one of 10 states that still needs a REAL ID extension because it didn’t have it together on time.

Indeed, I was on the appointment line, and nearly everyone in that line was on their second visit to DMV for the task they were trying to accomplish, and not for lack of preparation on their part. Some of that was due to various DMV crises, and some of it is baked into DMV processes. Based on how their current policies were explained to me today at Window 13, I should never have been on that line in the first place; somewhere, in the online appointment process, the DMV should have prevented me from completing that task. I needlessly took up staff time at DMV.

But the bigger problem is a system that gets in its own way, like libraries that lock book drops during the day to force users to enter the libraries to return books. With me standing there at Window 13 with my online appointment, my license, and my four types of ID, the smart thing to do would be to complete the process and get me out of the pipeline of REAL ID applicants–or any other DMV activity. But that didn’t happen. And I suspect I’m just one drop in a big, and overflowing, bucket.

I suppose an adroit side move is to ensure your passport is current, but I hope we don’t reach the point where we need a passport to travel in our own country.

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Free Range Librarian by K.g. Schneider - 1M ago

I get up early these days and get stuff done — banking and other elder-care tasks for my mother, leftover work from the previous day, association or service work. A lot of this is writing, but it’s not writing.

I have a half-dozen unfinished blog posts in WordPress, and even more in my mind. I map them out and they are huge topics, so then I don’t write them. But looking back at the early days of this blog — 15 years ago! — I didn’t write long posts. I still wrote long-form for other media, but my blog posts were very much in the moment.

So this is an old-skool post designed to ease me back in the writing habit. I’ll strive for twice a week, which is double the output of the original blogger, Samuel Johnson. I’ll post for 15 minutes and move on to other things.

I am an association nerd, and I spend a lot of time thinking about associations of all kinds, particularly the American Library Association, the American Homebrewers Association, the American Rose Society, the Redwood Empire Rose Society, the local library advisory boards, my church, and our neighborhood association. Serving on the ALA Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness, I’m reminded of a few indelible truths.

One is that during the change management process you need to continuously monitor the temperature of the association you’re trying to change and in the words of one management pundit, keep fiddling with the thermostat. An association didn’t get that big or bureaucratic overnight, and it’s not going to get agile overnight, either.

Another is that the same people show up in each association, and–more interesting to me–stereotypes are not at play in determining who the change agents are. I had a great reminder of that 20 years ago, when I served as the library director for one of those tiny Barbie Dream libraries in upstate New York, and I led the migration from a card catalog to a shared system in a consortium. Too many people assumed that the library staff–like so many employees in these libraries, all female, and nearly all older women married to retired spouses–would be resistant to this change. In fact, they loved this change. They were fully on board with the relearning process and they were delighted and proud that they were now part of a larger system where they could not only request books from 30 other libraries but sometimes even lend books as well from our wee collection. There were changes they and the trustees resisted, and that was a good lesson too, but the truism of older women resisting technology was dashed against the rocks of reality.

My 15 minutes are up. I am going in early today because I need to print things, not because I am an older woman who fears technology but because our home printer isn’t working and I can’t trust that I’ll have seatback room on my flight to Chicago to open my laptop and read the ALA Executive Board manual electronically, let alone annotate it or mark it up. I still remember the time I was on a flight, using my RPOD (Red Pen of Death, a fine-point red-ink Sharpie) to revise an essay, and the passenger next to me turned toward me wide-eyed and whispered, “Are you a TEACHER?” Such is the power of RPOD, an objective correlative that can immediately evoke the fear of correction from decades ago.

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