This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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#ALAO2015

Screenshot 2015-11-22 at 10.00.36 PM - EditedI attended my first library conference on Friday! I’d like to tell you all about it, but I’m not sure anyone who wasn’t there wants to read that. Let me just sum it up for you.

I have found my people. There were all sorts of different kinds of people at the conference, but there was something the same. Something I can’t quite articulate. People were friendly and welcoming, and that was lovely, but it wasn’t that. There was just some intangible thing that made me feel totally at home. Confidently at home. Empoweringly at home. (Did I just make up a word? Maybe. But I needed it.)

I helped with the registration table, calling like a carnival barker, “A through L over here, M through Z over there. Did you download the program in advance? Step right up and find your nametag. Would you like a free lanyard? Please see Megan for you packet.” Most validating part of the whole day? Watching all these librarians say the alphabet out loud as they searched for their own name tags. Sometimes they even got confused and started over or realized they were in the wrong line, skipping back over to the A through L side. It wasn’t just me! It happens to long time librarians, too!

I was a student volunteer, so I got to go for free. What a deal. I collected evaluation forms at the end of each session, and got to attend. I learned about managing student workers, creating hybrid lessons, teaching information literacy to students and employees, and creating programs for students to act autonomously at the reference desk. I met about a million other academic librarians and other support staff. I gathered a ton of vendor loot. I ate a couple rather tasty meals. Just a lovely experience.

Perhaps most importantly, I left with a feeling of elation. I think that maybe I didn’t pick a career in my first four decades because I couldn’t stand the thought of choosing wrong. The ultimate in commitment phobic, I guess. Once I applied for library school, I was pretty sure I’d chosen wisely, and I think I’ve gotten more confident with each term, each class. But on Friday, it was official. It was real. It was CERTAIN. I am so doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve found exactly the career for me.

Now I just have to find myself some gainful employment. Stay tuned.

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#FightTheNegative, a campaign of positive

I’m still fighting the urge to rant. Here’s my non-rant for today:

I fight my judgemental tendencies every single day. If I see you in the grocery wearing pajama pants and flip flops when it’s 35 degrees and rainy, I do think, “What gives? Have you no pride. You don’t have sense to put closed toe shoes in this weather?” Then my brain snaps back, and I remember that it’s none of my concern if you choose to wear flip flops in November. I have no idea what’s going on at your house, and frankly, it’s none of my concern.

Most of the time I’m winning the battle. Most of the time, I have no problem remembering that everyone is fighting their own battles and just like me, they’re probably doing the best they can. I don’t jump to the conclusion that you’re a terrible mother when I see you doing the opposite of what I’d do. I don’t assume you don’t care about the environment if you’re using plastic bags. Most of the time I am able to remind my overly critical self that I’m not in any position to judge! I’m not getting any parenting awards, I’ve been to the store twice this week when I should have showered first.

But here’s the thing, see, sometimes you ASK me to judge you. Yeah. Sometimes you put something out there, or actually a lot of things, that you know you want me to use when forming an opinion of you. I’m talking about social media, of course. I’m NOT talking about that one picture of Bernie Sanders you posted last week. I’m not talking about that one FoxNews clip you reposted this morning. I’m not talking about how you changed your profile pic to a French flag. I’m AM talking about all of it. When you repost three, four, ten, twenty memes a day, and all of them are extreme, on either side, you are BEGGING me to judge you.

The problem is that whether you are convinced that George W. created ISIS, or Obama did, whether you think we should deport every muslim in the country or bring every Syrian refugee to our shores, if you are so adamant about your position that you need to post so often and so hateful, I GET to judge you. I HAVE to! Humans can’t really help it. Our brains are wired to put things into categories.

So, will your social media audience put you in the category of “lover” or the category of “hater?” Choose your political beliefs however you like, I’ll keep working on withholding my judgement on all of that. But when you express them, be careful.

This week has been brutal on social media! I have never experienced this level of hate and anger and fear, and I’ve been on social media since the early days of website message boards. This is different. And very concerning. I won’t rail against it, or try to tell anyone why they’re wrong. Instead, I’m launching my own campaign against it. Yesterday I pledged on Facebook to post one REALLY positive post every day. It might be original , or it might be a repost, but I will put as many positive things out there as I can.

So far the response has been lovely, but maybe because I made one other change. These positive posts will be public. And I’m a little overwhelmed by how far it’s spread. I want them to spread as far and wide as possible. Negatives spread farther and faster than anything positive, so it will take an army of positive posters. Repost mine, or make up your own, I don’t care, just spread some joy, or love, or happiness, or any other positive emotion you can dream up. Kittens, puppies, engagements, birth announcements, pretty cloud pictures, stories of people doing loving, accepting things. Any of it. Post it. Please. I need to see it!

Today, if you haven’t seen it, I reposted this story about a woman in an airport.  If it doesn’t make you smile, and maybe get a little teary, you should re-evaluate things.

 

 


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I won’t rant, I’ll ramble

I’ve wanted to rant for days and days, but I haven’t gotten my thoughts in order. I want to rant about all sorts of things from politics to social injustices, to neighborhood crazies on Facebook and Mommy Wars. Every time I sit down to try and sort it all out, I just keep coming back to one main thought. So what? And not “so what” in the usual way that nobody wants to really hear what I have to rant about. I’m fully aware that I’ve got a pretty, um, well, a pretty limited audience. It’s different this time in that I know I’m just adding to the problem I’m most annoyed by. I don’t really know how to fix that. I want to jump in and share my indignation, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the world is full up to the tip top with all the righteous indignation it can hold, and most of it ain’t doing anybody any good whatsoever.

Instead of trying to distill my indignation, which I assure you is super duper righteous, into any kind of actual post, or even trying to figure out how to channel it into something of some use to somebody, I spent several hours on Friday on a project of no use to anyone. Absolutely nobody on this planet is better off for knowing what I figured out in the three hours or so I spent on this task. No one will eat, sleep, or breathe any easier because of this knowledge. Yet, somehow it helped me put some things into perspective.

Let me see if I can distill THAT for you. I’ve mentioned before that I discovered a few years ago my direct descent from Gov. William Bradford. That and a five dollar bill will get me a plain red cup of coffee these days, for sure. I’ve done the math. Some THIRTY FIVE million Americans can trace their lineage to one of the 24 males on the Mayflower who produced heirs. I just ain’t that special. The cool thing is that I know all the names. ALL of them, that directly connect me to the Mayflower, and the pilgrims, and the first Thanksgiving, and all that. Now, this isn’t the time to tell me about the down side of Puritanism. I’m well acquainted with the shortcomings of this favorite American myth, but that’s not the point I’m getting at, either.

The super cool thing about knowing all those names, is that they’re all wrapped up with all sorts of other cool things going on in the country over those generations. Think about it. There just weren’t that many families back then compared to now, and even fewer of them had the means to do more than subsist. And those that did do important things often didn’t have surviving records for us to peruse today. But having an ancestor like Gov. Bradford means there’s a good chance that many of the generations in between are also well documented. So, I’ve found out some other fun things over the last few years.

For instance, Maj. James Fitch, who married Alice Richards Bradford, granddaughter of Gov. Bradford, generously donated the farmland and all the glass and nails to build the first building for what would become Yale University. James and Alice’s daughter, Lucy married Henry Cleveland, a cousin of Moses Cleaveland, credited founder of Cleveland, Ohio. Maj. James Fitch’s maternal grandfather, Henry Whitfield, was the leader of another group of puritans. They founded Guilford, Connecticut and built the Henry Whitfield home. The stone house still stands, and is a state museum.

So, I knew about Lucy Fitch Cleveland. For no particular reason, about a year ago I came across Lucy Fitch Kilbourne, first wife of James Kilbourne, founder of Worthington, my adopted hometown. I just knew there had to be a connection, given the time period and the fact that the Scioto Company came here from Connecticut, too. I wrote a bit about it when I came across the name last year. It popped up in my Timehop, Facebook memories, blah, blah, and I’d forgotten all about it. Friday seemed a good day to waste some more time on this project. I reposted the blog post on Facebook, and a genealogy enthusiast friend jumped right on it! It took us less than an hour to track down the actual connection this time. I’ll spare you the begats and begots. Here’s a chart.

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Clear as mud, right? Well, Paula and I were pretty psyched to figure it out. It was a lovely little diversion. Of course, I couldn’t just say MYSTERY SOLVED and go on about my productive day. That would be ludicrous. I spent another couple hours poking around the internet reading random things about the Fitches and the Kilbournes. Turns out, one of James and Lucy’s sons was Byron Kilbourne, who was one of three founders of Milwaukee, WI.

I found a few more tidbits, but they’re too convoluted to spell out. Let’s just say there’s a link to the Fitch in Abercrombie & Fitch. That doesn’t even get me a family discount, so whatever.

This is what I know now. I have even more connection to this place, Worthington, than I thought. It didn’t matter when I thought I had no ancestral connection to this town, and it doesn’t matter that I found one now. Still, for all that it doesn’t matter, or change a thing, I’ll still go visit Lucy’s grave this week. Lucy Fitch Kilbourne died in 1807 during childbirth. She and the unnamed baby girl, her eighth child, are buried together in St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery just a mile and a half up the road.