In 2006 I had the great fortune to be invited by the International Academic Partnership to present a workshop in Karachi, Pakistan. I worked with an extraordinary group of librarians, teachers, and principals to foster the collaboration necessary for resource-infused 21st century learning.
Among the friends that I made on that trip, none impressed me more than Nooruddin Merchant, my contact in Karachi for the Agha Kahn Educational Program.
I have returned home and the work of the Academy has carried me forward. Nooruddin remained in Karachi, his home, though he has since left the AKEP. As the situation in Pakistan has deteriorated, I have often thought of my friends, and have maintained email contact with Nooruddin. Recently, he sent me a 23 page proposal for my “input.” He is helping to design a “Learning Commons” for a new University of Science, Technology and Society, and, because his training is not in library science, he wants to know what I think about his ideas.
I have finished making my notes on his document, we will soon discuss it in “real time” using Skype. You have got to love this technology! Thank you Skype, for making it possible for me to continue an important collaboration even though it is not currently safe for me to travel to Pakistan.
Counted cross-stitch embroidery is a very slow pastime. To do it you have to pay attention to sometimes-complicated graphs which indicate where to place the x’s, and what colors they should be, but it is basically mindless. Since my work requires me to engage my brain for long hours at a time, I have long been attracted to cross-stitch for its ability to induce a zen-like trance.
Hence, when I found a really cool cross-stitch project involving primary-colored dinosaurs, I enthusiastically began to work on what was to become my grandson’s first birthday present. That was during college basketball season. By March, when I left for my cross-country bike ride, I had finished about half of the embroidery. My roommates on the trip were treated to updates each night as we settled into our quiet evening routines after an energetic day of riding. I finished the bike ride before I finished the dinosaurs, and so I took it on our river cruise vacation in May. Then I took it when I went to visit my family in Atlanta. Ori’s birthday came and went, and I was almost done.
With the embroider finally finished, I set out to make it into a rainbow-bordered quilted wall hanging. This is how it looks.
If you look closely, you can see that T-Rex is holding a sign that proclaims “Orin Rules!”
He definitely does.
My birthday was in April, and Dean decided to get me a Kindle 2.
I was away at the time, so he decided to “test” it. He became addicted to it, and so I never received it. He felt guilty enough that he said that I could have anything I wanted. I decided that what I really wanted for my birthday was a new gas grill. My previous gas grill (15 years old–Alex assembled it for me when he was 8!) finally gave up last year, and I have really missed it. I don’t like to have to plan far enough ahead to use charcoal. After significant deliberation, I chose a Sears Kenmore 3 burner grill. It is red, sturdy, and quite beautiful. One could make burgers for a small army of grandchildren with this grill.
Andy has been visiting, and so she helped me pick it up. We invited Meredith for dinner, and she got to help and assemble it.
We decided to inagurate the new grill by making wood-grilled pizza. I made the dough and a salad, and then sat back while Andy and Mere did all the rest of the work.
The pizza turned out great!
I am very happy with my birthday present. After all, you can’t eat a Kindle. And now I don’t have to shop for Dean’s birthday.
One of the great advantages of belonging to the NOBLE consortium is the opportunity it affords for professional development of the entire staff. OWHL team members perform many different jobs, but NOBLE provides opportunities throughout the year for professional and paraprofessional staff to get together with their peers to share ideas and learn new tips and techniques. Probably our favorite professional development opportunity of the year is the annual NOBLE Tech Expo.
The recent Tech Fair featured a wide variety of programming. Jeffrey Marzluft, the OWHL Associate Director and I attended a session on Open Source Library Systems. NOBLE Executive Director Ron Gagnon provided an overview of the grant application process and timeline, and Elizabeth Thomsen and Martha Driscoll demonstrated Evergreen and Koha, two of the leading systems. I have agreed to serve on a working group which will begin this summer to evaluate the options and propose our ideal system.
Emma McElfresh, who manages the library’s Facebook presence, attended a session featuring staff from NOBLE libraries using Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. The OWHL has long had an active presence on Flickr, and is developing a new presence on Facebook.
Tim Sprattler, the OWHL Assistant Director and I attended a session by Heather Cole, Assistant Director of the Massachusetts Studies Project, on the Mass Memories Road Show. The Road Show, an initiative of the Massachusetts Studies Project at UMass Boston, is a project of UMass Boston and is cosponsored by Mass Humanities. The project documents Massachusetts history by collecting and digitizing family photographs and their narratives. Tim has just assumed new responsibilities as Andover’s interim Archivist, and we are exploring the possibility of holding a “Road Show” to collect memories from our alumni in conjunction with reunions.
During the past academic year, I was granted a six month (two term) sabbatical. My principal project involved the study of copyright as it effects the Academy. I completed seven online courses offered by the Center of Intellectual Property at the University of Maryland, and over the summer I’ll be completing several written documents including a proposed copyright policy for the Academy, a description of the process and procedures needed to implement the policy, an education plan for the community, and detailed procedures for copyright (mainly dealing with copying, e-reserves, and inter-library loan) for the library.
But a sabbatical is intended for rejuvenation as well as for professional reflection. In that spirit, I spent a lot of time pursuing one of my passions-riding my bike. Last fall I rode in the Cycle North Carolina state ride, the Shenandoah Country Roads tour, a Florida Keys ride, and, during the spring, the WomanTours cross-country ride. I posted updates to my personal blog The Bicycle Reader during the cross country ride.
I am now back to work, and am delighted to report that the library is in excellent shape as we wrap up this academic year and prepare for the summer session. I feel refreshed and ready to undertake the important work which lies ahead in the rapidly changing library world. I am deeply grateful to the OWHL library staff, whose excellent work allowed me to be away without the slightest anxiety, and to the Trustees of Phillips Academy, for the great gift of this sabbatical.