Monday, January 25, 2010

Part of my weekend

My Saturday morning was spent with a wonderful group of ladies at a SHE support group meeting. We celebrated one year of this support ministry and had a guest speaker.

The guest speaker talked about her own struggles with having children and how she finally came to be the mother of five children. One biological, three from Guatemala, and one a domestic adoption. At 49 she has five kids ages 11 to 2. What an amazing story she had!!

We then celebrated! The group has been together for one year. It was started by a wonderful friend of mine and I have met some wonderful people through it. I had won a birthday cake back in November from a bakery in Paris, KY. I hadn't had a chance to actually use the gift certificate so offered to get a birthday cake for this group's one year anniversary.

Oh, and we also have a new logo!!

Check out the new logo, a picture of the cake, and a picture of the group at the blog Percolating Petals.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Do You Do?

I rarely use my blog to talk about my work. And I don't intend to start. However, I was reflecting on something today that did involve work so I am going to let my work seep into this post. I promise I will not start a trend.

So how often have you been socializing in a group and people ask you, "What do you do?" Probably too many times to count! It's a frequent questions. It helps break the ice, it allows people to discuss the similarities in their jobs and/or to ask questions about the differences in their jobs. It's a safe question to ask when you're at a party, on an airplane, or at some sort of social event.

Monday evening my husband and I attended a Theology on Tap session on vocations. One thing discussed was the difference between your vocation and your job. Your vocation comes first; God calls you to your vocation. For example, my vocation is as a wife and mother, my job is as a librarian. My job will always (and should always) be secondary to my vocation. There are many vocations: husband, wife, priest, nun, religious sister, religious brother. Even deacon is a vocation, but a slightly more complicated one that we won't get into here since some deacons are also married, thus living two vocations.

All of this wasn't news to me, but it was nice to hear it proclaimed. And kind of leads into my reflections later in the week.

Thursday at work, I submitted a proposal to my supervisor for a project I want to work on. No big deal, just one of those things that I do on occasion.

Thursday evening I went to Bible Study and during the social time between the small group session and the lecture someone asked me what I did. So her and I and my husband started talking about our various jobs. Mostly the two of them talked because they were both engineers at Lexmark.

But I did think some about how I sometimes answer that question. In that setting I just said I was a librarian. Short and simple, no details. I might have mentioned that I work mostly with music materials and that I wasn't at the main library. Most people assume that if you say you're a librarian at UK you work at the main library, not realizing that we have about 10-12 campus libraries.

Anyway, depending on who I am talking to depends on how much information I tend to give out. My job can be difficult to explain sometimes.

Okay, remember that proposal I submitted on Thursday? I'm getting to it! So, I get to work on Friday morning and, while I was waiting for a meeting to start, I checked my email (gotta love technology!) and my supervisor had forwarded my proposal to our Associate Dean for her approval. She was in full support of it (yay!) but did add that if the AD agreed, I should probably add some language into the proposal about providing access to hidden collections.

Okay, so this is where I started thinking about the real question: What is it that I really do?? You know, there is the question people ask in social situations and there are appropriate answers for those situations. And then there is a similar question that is asked amongst colleagues, because even people with the same job titles do different things. And there are answers (usually of a more technical nature) for that.

My reflection on this situation has more to do with the state I see of libraries right now. And I'm not talking about whether or not we are viable institutions in the age of Google, or whether e-books and the Internet are going to be the primary sources of information seeking one day and make libraries obsolete. Those conversations are for other people to bat back and forth. For me, I'm interested in perspectives of librarians from other librarians.

Slowly over the 10 years I've been in the profession I see more and more catalogers having to justify their work. I keep telling people that if all the catalogers left, the library would run perfectly fine for a while. But it won't take long to realize that new things are no longer in the catalog. I think catalogers are viewed with less and less of a professional eye, like we are just data entry people and that any sort of specialization on our part is of our own making. If you believe that, try running a library with no catalogers, or untrained catalogers, and we'll see how long you last.

In addition to my daily job, I also used to teach cataloging. I always emphasized to my students that the role of the cataloger is to provide access to collections and that as a cataloger you have to know who your patrons (or customers) are. Who are they? They are the students, faculty, community members that are using the catalog to find materials. They are also the public service librarians who are using the catalog to find materials for the patrons. They are the collection managers who need to know if we have an item already before they buy it again. In other words, our whole job revolves around knowing what our patrons want so that we can provide access to the collections.

That sounds like a public service kind of job! Guess what: cataloging is a public service!

So having my supervisor say that maybe my proposal (which is a cataloging proposal) needs some language in it about providing access seems, to me anyway, redundant. Isn't that the whole point? And don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing her, I'm criticizing the fact that it has become so ingrained in us as catalogers that we have to tell other librarians that the reason we're doing any particular project (or even just our jobs) is to provide access.

Um ... raise your hand if you think I like to catalog books, scores, and sound recordings for my own edification.

No hands better be up!!

I do it for our patrons and for the other librarians. And that should be the mantra of all cataloging librarians. That's why we do what we do! Who cares how perfect the record is and that you followed all the rules, can your patrons find it?

(Okay, some people may read this and say, "but K, you are such a stickler for the rules?" To which I say: yes, I am, but I know where to draw the line as well.)

All this being said, I will probably add in the appropriate language to my proposal if asked, because I know that the politics of the library require that this be done. The reality is that yes, we do have to explain our jobs to the people we work with every day. It's kind of sad, really, because if I asked a reference librarian what they did and why they bothered doing it, they'd probably look at me funny. We all know what they do, or we should.

In the end, it is just a job. And a job I like and get a lot of pleasure out of doing. It is good to complete a difficult original record, to finally find that perfect subject heading for that obscure dissertation, to untangle a mess of different editions of an item that all ended up on the same record, and to do research into a name heading that provides enough information to finally split two people from the same undifferentiated name authority record. And as much satisfaction as I may get out of some of these tasks, I do it all in service of the customers of my library: the professors, students, and other librarians that have to use the library and its materials for their research and education needs.

That is what I do; this is my job. But more importantly, my vocation is as a wife and mother. Above all of this, I serve my husband every day as his partner, just as he serves me. And one day we will be given the responsibility to raise children who will also go into the world to serve others in the vocation God calls them to as husbands or wives or priests (God-willing) or nuns or religious brothers or sisters.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Letter to my Son

My Dear Baby Zachary,

Today would have been your first birthday. We probably would have celebrated with a party this weekend, thankful to have you with us. But instead we remembered the loss of you at a Mass last night at the Cathedral where we had hoped to have you baptized. Today should be a happy day, but it will forever be bittersweet.

Today I have been thinking about what you would be doing as a one-year old little boy. I think about how you would be crawling around our house, how I'd have gates up on the stairs and there would be toys everywhere. Probably too many toys from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. By now you would probably also be starting to pull yourself up and making your first attempts at walking. We'd be watching you every second waiting for those fateful first steps. Those first steps that tell us that now you'll be harder to chase after. You would also be eating more and growing bigger every day. We'd be able to laugh with you, and make noises with you, and "converse" in your own special baby talk. I sometimes wonder what unique surprises you would have for us in your personality and all the little things you would do and discover every day.

One year ago today I sat in a hospital room and prayed that God would help you to live. I was more than happy to accept whatever difficulties might come with having a baby too soon. Whatever the consequences of coming at such an early age in your development, I was willing to be a part of those challenges. No matter what, our love for you would make it all worth it. Unfortunately none of that was to be. Instead you went to our heavenly home.

We miss you every day. Every day I think about how different life would be if you had lived instead of leaving us so soon. I'm grateful for the short time I got to hold you in my arms and see you in your daddy's arms.

But I am also happy to know that you are already home. I know that you are held in Our Mother Mary's arms, that you are with Jesus, and you and Casey are praying for us. As a mother I am so happy to know that both my children are in heaven and are already saints, able to hear our prayers and intercede with God for us. You are a special saint and I pray that one day I will be reunited with you.

But until that day, I will continue to think of you. And especially every year on this date, I will remember those precious few moments I had with you.

Today, when I leave work, I will stop at a store and pick up a few flowers and instead of driving past the cemetery I will turn in and come visit you. I'm sure your marker is covered with snow and it may take a moment to locate it. But once I do I will brush it off, say a prayer, and leave both the flowers and a small stone to let others know I was there.

Zachary, you are missed by so many people. We all keep your memory in our hearts and will never forget you. Even one year later it brings tears to my eyes when I think about you. Pray for us, little Zachary, and know that you are remembered here as well.

With love, little one,
Your Mother

Thursday, January 07, 2010

First Book of the New Year

I have already finished reading one book this year, and I didn't start it in 2009 either. I only started it a few days ago and I'm already done. Don't be too impressed though, it really was an easy read.

You know how you flip through channels on the TV when you're bored and you come across a Lifetime or Hallmark Channel movie already in progress and you stop. Next thing you know ... you have to see the end. You missed the beginning, it's sappy, and not the kind of movie you would intentionally pick out to watch, but you stick with it anyway. And once it gets to the end, you still have no desire to watch it again ... ever ... even though you never saw the beginning and some of the plot (if there was much of a plot) still didn't make any sense. This is kind of how I felt about this book. Also the reason I read it so fast.

The book is Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner. I've never read anything by her before, mostly because I don't read a lot of fiction and when I do I tend not to read chick-lit, which is what this was.

It's a pretty light, easy read. Probably the kind of book that someone would read on vacation at the beach or something. So not the environment I was reading it in! It's the story of two women who were best friends as kids, something happened in high school that caused a falling out, and how they are brought back together in the midst of situation that arises at their high school class reunion. It was one of those stories lines that has two or three different things going on in the present as well as many, many flashbacks. Some chapters are in the first person of the main character (one of the women) and some are in third person where you learn about other characters in the book, and some chapters are in third person and entirely in italics, I guess to set those characters off from the rest of the story. There's a lot of back and forth, but the author handled that well, I was never really confused.

However, I did kind of guess what the plot had in store as it went along. A new character was introduced and I thought, "ah, he's going to be the love interest!" And then another situation is referred to and I thought, "I bet such and such will happen." And every time I was right, no real surprises. But that's typical chick-lit for you. It's supposed to not make you think too hard and just provide an interesting story.

The other thing I didn't like was the treatment of the main character. Her friend was shown as somewhat shallow, out-going, and kind of needy. There always has to be a character that needs "fixing." As the story moved along I wanted the main character to evolve from the mousy, low self-esteem person she was into a more strong, confident person. And she did some, but she still seemed kind of stupid. The big surprise at the end, was not a surprise at all, at least not to me. But it was certainly a surprise to the characters in the book, and I think it was meant to be a surprise to the reader, just not this reader.

One thing I did like about this book was the depiction of my generation. The class reunion that was central to the story line was a Class of '92 reunion. So they are essentially the same age as me (Pope HS class of '93). So the flashbacks to their childhood all sounded familiar, the flashbacks to high school were dead on for those years of the early 90s (clothing, hair styles, etc.), and the present day stuff was very accurate: Internet dating, Google, smartphones, etc. It is rare that I read something and feel like the characters led similar lives to my own and could be living their lives just down the street. It was pretty realistic in that sense.

Like those movies on Hallmark or Lifetime, it was one of those stories that makes you want to keep reading, even though you kind of know how things are going and how it will all turn out. Thus I read it in about three days. And that will probably be it, even if we do end up on a beach somewhere this coming May, I'll probably not be bringing this book along for a re-read.

Next on my list is Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. Quite a change, for sure.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Epiphany

Did you know that gifts were often exchanged on January 6 and not on Christmas Day? Why? Because that is the date when the Epiphany is celebrated! It is basically the feast day when we celebrate the manifestation of the Lord to the Gentiles, represented by the magi (or kings, wise men) who came to venerate the Christ child.

January 6 is still the Epiphany today, but in many places in the world (the United States included) it is moved to the closest Sunday, which is today!! January 6 is also the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. So Merry Christmas!! This is when many families will start taking Christmas decorations down.

In our house, we don't put the three kings we have into our nativity scene until January 6. We start taking some decorations down, but usually leave the nativity scene up a little longer since it's not even completed until this point. This year we didn't put much up since we were in the middle of a kitchen renovation and were going to be out of town for Christmas. But I had fun last year moving the wise men and the camels around the house, closer and closer to the nativity as we approached the Feast of the Epiphany. I look forward to doing it again next year, and especially when we have kids.

Want to more more about the Epiphany and why we celebrate it, how it came to be a feast day, and more? Check out this page I found with all sorts of interesting facts and history: All About Epiphany.

Happy Epiphany and Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

To Resolve or Not to Resolve

Most years I do not make new year's resolutions; some years I think about it but don't actually make any real "resolutions." This year, I'm going to do it!! Resolutions are being made and hopefully kept! Accountability is important, so here's what my resolutions are for 2010.

First of all, I want to post more on this blog. I enjoy posting reflections and insights into the things happening around me. Even if no one is reading, at least I can look back and see what events have been meaningful in my life. And for those who do read this blog, hopefully I'll be more active this year so you won't forget about me.

Second, my husband and I have resolved to say a daily Rosary together. We've tried this in the past and never gotten past a week; hope we will do better this time! I'd love to get into a better habit of this so that when we do have kids we'll be able to do it with them eventually too.

Third, I want to read more. I have tons of books that I want to read and just never have the time to actually do any reading. When I think about it, I know there is time in the day, I just tend to turn on the TV or read posts on Facebook. As I read I'll post to the blog what I'm reading, favorite passages, interesting things I've learned, etc.

So far the above three resolutions all have to do with my intellectual or spiritual well-being. All good things. What's left? Physical well-being!!

My fourth resolution is NOT going to be the "lose weight" resolution that so many people make (and which is the ONE resolution I often contemplate making). Instead, I am resolving to work on a healthier lifestyle. It would be great if I did lose some weight, but my main goal is to get into a better exercise routine and eat healthier more often. Hopefully, this will lead to a somewhat healthier weight that will also result in a pregnancy this year as well.

2009 taught me that God is control. It's a lesson we all know, but sometimes life's events have a way of proving it very clearly. In 2010 I hope these resolutions will help me to focus on my spiritual, intellectual, and physical well-being. All of these things will hopefully bring me closer to God and help me to allow Him to be in control, as He should be.

What are your New Year's Resolutions for 2010??