Something old, something new

No, it’s not a wedding; it’s a job change.  In December, I became a systems librarian at the Harvard University Library.  Back to academia for me.  I’ll be working with Aleph and Verde for the foreseeable future – either of which could be old or new, depending on your perspective.  I have never supported Aleph before, at least not Aleph Acquisitions, so that’ll be new for me.  If you’ve been concerned about the lack of posting at Ab’s Blog, fear no more, because I cannot think of anything more inspiring than an ILS Acquisitions client, can you?

So far the job has gone like this: office tour, paperwork, holiday party, snow day, a little work, Christmas Eve half day, vacation until tomorrow, and then, half day employee orientation.

Lest that sound like a cushy schedule to you, let me add that I’m not working in just any old library building – no ma’am.  I’m working in this building, which, for those of you who didn’t follow the link, has achieved gold LEED certification.  Do you know what pressure this puts a new employee under, not to mention an interviewee?  What if I push the wrong button on the toilet and use twice as much water as I need?  Will an alarm go off somewhere?  Why isn’t there a trash can at my desk?  Maybe I’m not supposed to throw away anything at all?  Oh, it’s just an oversight – are you sure it isn’t a test?  I am sure that if I throw my tea bag wrapper in the trash instead of walking to the paper recycling 10 feet away, I will be fired.  I am sure that if I take the elevator without a doctor’s note or arms full of heavy packages, I will be shunned (although the elevator is probably self-powered, come to think of it).

Also, this building is square on the inside, with two stairways like a double helix running up the middle.  If there are any Mawrters reading, think of the maze that was Erdman and you understand.  In trying to locate my boss, I might accidentally wander into the Head Honcho’s office instead.

So you can see it hasn’t all been fun and games and sleeping in. I suppose that with a little time I’ll get used to this whole green building/maze thing.  The Aeron chair will help, as will my new colleagues, who will be models of sustainable behavior, I’m sure.  And around 1 p.m. tomorrow I’ll start to focus on getting Verde up and running, which will leave little time to worry about the fact that I left my desk lamp on while I went off to a meeting.

If I really need a break, there is always The Globe Corner Bookstore downstairs – yes, right in the building! – and that is a temptation I’m not sure I can resist much longer.

On Being the Newbie Again

Now that I’m into week 5 at the new job and my personal belongings have caught up with me, I’m ready to tackle a blog post again.  It sounds simple, but let me tell you, starting a new job is exhausting!  I hadn’t done it since 2000 and had forgotten that feeling that comes around at 2 or 3 every afternoon for the first couple weeks, the one where you want to put your head down on your keyboard and close your eyes for a minute, even though you’re in a cubicle and everyone will see you sleeping at your desk.

I was pretty frustrated by the fatigue until I started listing in my mind all the things I’ve been trying to learn:

  • workflow diagrams
  • SQL
  • Web Services
  • Unix
  • travel tips
  • Interwise
  • the correct way to fill out an expense report
  • where the supplies are
  • how to set/un-set the office alarm
  • Oracle
  • Powerpoint animation

and, oh yeah, Verde.

This is in addition to all the random observation the brain is doing half-subconsciously: what’s the best way to get in touch with my manager? does she prefer e-mail, IM, or dropping by the office?  is that Hebrew I’m hearing over there? is it OK to pop my head up out of my cubicle to ask my neighbor a question? what does this button on my laptop do? should I just eat my lunch at my desk, or at that small table in the kitchen?

I’ve answered a lot of the questions and am making progress on the big stuff, but I definitely have a newfound empathy for new employees. If you’ve gone one at your place of work, take them to lunch or bring them some chocolate!

Seeing the World through Dial Up

I’m all moved into the aforementioned apartment (can you believe it?), although not all unpacked. I plugged a phone in today and found a dial tone, so I got myself a dial up connection to use while I wait for Verizon to hook me up with the high speed. This means that I’m currently torn between wanting to browse and not wanting to hurt all over: the phone jack is not near any place to sit besides the floor. Since there’s a good chance I’ll hurt all over no matter where I sit, I’ve opted to browse.

I don’t remember the last time I used dial up, so it’s been quite an experience seeing which sites load in what I consider a reasonable amount of time: Google does pretty well, of course, and Newsgator is OK too, but WordPress, always a bit slow, is downright sluggish. And I desperately want to spend the going-away gift card some colleagues gave me, but iTunes just laughs.

Sorry Binghamton readers, but here, one more time, is the list of things I can walk to from my new place, in order of proximity:

  • dry cleaners
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • pub
  • ATM
  • work
  • express bus stop
  • Thai food
  • Starbucks
  • post office
  • the Charles River
  • Whole Foods (if I’m not buying much)

Talk Amongst Yourselves

My last day in the office is tomorrow and then I tackle the job of moving in earnest. I expect things will be quiet here for a while. I’m cleaning out my bookmarks as well as my files; here are a few pages for your amusement:

Yahoo! vs. Google search results – visualize the difference

Talk to a person – “The gethuman project is a consumer movement to improve the quality of phone support in the US”

Moosewood Restaurant recipe archive

The Vermont Country Store

Organizing My Professional Self

In the course of wrapping up at Binghamton, I’ve needed to save quite a bit of professional e-mail, mainly correspondence related to presentations, articles, the list I manage. I also want to maintain several discussion list subscriptions that I’ve had through my work account.

So, I set up a new Gmail account just for professional but not strictly work-related e-mail, and boy, do I wish I had done it a long time ago! I would have saved myself the hassle of having to print, save, or forward messages that I now want to keep beyond my tenure at BU. And, more important to work productivity, traffic from several high-volume lists is now diverted from my work account, significantly lowering the e-mail distraction factor. Although I felt ambivalent about having yet another e-mail account, it’s worked out very well and I highly recommend the strategy.

I’m in the process of setting up an e-mail form (and some other stuff) on this site, so stay tuned if you want to contact me.

Traveling Again

Some musicians and bands have been a fleeting presence in my life, easily evoking a very particular time or experience whenever I hear their music. Others have stayed with me as lifelong friends, following me through college and grad school, into marriage and professional life. Here it seems appropriate to invoke Dar Williams, whose music has been with me for at least 10 years:

Have I got everything ? Am I ready to go?

Is it gonna be wild, is it gonna be the best time

Or am I just a-saying so?

Am I ready to go?*

Next month, I’ll be moving to Boston to take a position as Verde Implementation Librarian with Ex Libris. I’m happy about this move on so many levels: I get the chance to use my years of erm experience (that’s lower case for a reason–the system was in my head!) and combine that with interests in project management, training, and general rooting-around-the-system, and my spouse and I will get to live in the same city again.**

What will I miss, besides Binghamton’s housing prices? A stellar group of colleagues here, many of whom have played a major role in my professional growth and development, and who are always pushing the boundaries of what one person and one library can do within the parameters of state government. 😉 It’s been a pleasure to work with you.

How about the blog? I don’t expect it to change much, although my professional interests certainly impact what I write about. And things may be quiet for a bit as I wrap up at Binghamton, go apartment hunting, move, and start the new job. I think that will be enough to do for a while!

* “Traveling Again” from The Honesty Room. I should hasten to add, for those familiar with Dar, that most of the song’s lyrics do not apply to this situation.

** He’s been doing a fellowship at Johns Hopkins for the past 18 months.