Fermentation, afternoon tea, and other February notes

I’m a bit radio silent because I’m starting a food history business (more info on that TBA!) and finishing my book manuscript for Rowman & Littlefield’s Food Culture and History series (more info on that TBA too! I have some great ideas for afternoon tea-related events and so many things to share with all of you).

I also have a few other exciting announcements (beyond starting a business and publishing a book which, I know, are already pretty big announcements):

  • Fermentation residency: I’ve been accepted to be a part of this amazing workshop, fermenting food and learning to build outdoor ovens (so I can then build my own in my yard and make all the baked goods). The workshop ends on my birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it! This is especially exciting since the food history business I’m starting will (eventually) also be coupled with a nonprofit, so I can use my business to build connections between people and the past through hands-on food instruction, and bring food-making and art-making skills to parts of our community who might not normally have access to such classes. I’m very excited to learn some new skills in this workshop and to deepen my appreciation of fermented foods so I can use that to inform my work moving forward.
  • Ink making: I’ll be joining my friends from Explore Wildwood, The Homestead Atlanta, and Eventide Brewing again this month for the Wildcraft Palette Curiosity Club. I’ll be talking about ink making using natural pigments (I just finished making an ink with cloves, for example, which smells amazing!) If you’re around on 2/20, come out to Eventide and see us!
  • Common Good 10th anniversary: I am so very excited to be celebrating my colleagues at Common Good for their 10th anniversary this Sunday. They have transformed the lives of so many incarcerated scholars, and bring such a passion to their work. I count myself as very lucky to know Sarah and Bill, and am so happy to have a chance to celebrate them and all they do.

 

 

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Helping Colorado Libraries Rebuild

Most (if not all) of you know about the recent devastating floods in Colorado. If you’re looking for a way to help out, sending a few dollars toward affected libraries is a great way to help vital community organizations rebuild so they can continue to provide information during a time when community members need resources on rebuilding (and recreational material when they need a break from recovery efforts). As an added bonus, donating directly to the library means more of your money is going to meet those needs, rather than being filtered through a third-party organization that may take out a portion of your donation to cover their overhead.

These posts are probably starting to look familiar (I’ve written posts raising money for libraries after other disasters in the past), but this one hits especially close to home since, well, Boulder is my hometown. I was devastated to see the flooding in the town I love and the damage to so many places I care about, and this is a great way to give back to an amazing community that is home to so many wonderful people.

I’m working on compiling a list of libraries that have been impacted by the floods and could use help rebuilding. So far, the list is small, but if you know of a library that has been flooded and is accepting donations, please let me know in the comments so I can add it to the list! To everyone else, please donate what you can to the libraries on the list below. Every dollar helps!!

Boulder Public Library, Reynolds Branch: This branch of my hometown library is closed until November due to flood damage. Katherine, one of the friendly folks on their reference staff, said that donations can be sent through the Boulder Library Foundation site (this branch is actually the closest branch to the neighborhood I grew up in, so by helping them out you’re doing a favor for me and for my old neighbors as well as the library!)

Lyons Public Library: I emailed them earlier today as well, but given the extent of devastation here I’m not placing any expectation on when they will be able to respond. You can fill out their donation form using this link to donate to the Friends of the Library.  (Note: I put a link for an online donation page earlier, and looked more closely later and found it was for an Illinois library. I’m sure they still appreciate the donations, although they aren’t anywhere near the flooded area!)

Exciting Changes Happening Everywhere!

It has been a *crazy* time in the land of Julia, but I wanted to  update my readers about a few of the things going on!

New Book!
My first book, based on the Modernizing Markham blog and project I did for the Center for the Book, is now out through Candle Light Press! It’s going to be the first in a series of books that deal with the works of Gervase Markham and the foodways and domestic culture of 17th century England. I’m excited about it because I love the press, and the project allowed me to pull in learning from my work with social media and blogging along with work in book art and history. I’ve got a few ideas for what the next books in the series might be, but I’m always open to suggestions too!
You can purchase the book here, or here, although as always I encourage folks to first try to order books through local indie booksellers.

Moving (again!)
Wait, you say, didn’t you just move to Tallahassee 2 years ago? Well, yes. And I love it here–I’ve made some of my closest and most incredible friends, grown as a scholar within the best department I could imagine being involved in, and had plenty of fun experiences. I’ll definitely feel homesick for this place, but I’m moving on in late May to go to New York in order to work on my dissertation research and to live in the same city as my partner.
Right now I’m selling off my artwork and most of my possessions, and I’m looking to adjunct or work in a research facility to bolster my income while I work on the next steps to my degree. We’re planning on living in Brooklyn, so if you’re in that neck of the woods, let me know! I’m always up for librarian/PhD meetups!

Housekeeping
Last, I wanted to solicit some input about my site: I’m considering making another page on my site that has resources for recent grads/LIS students. One of our faculty members has done a similar thing, and I think it’s an awesome idea and a great way to continue to connect with and help students after the semester ends. I’m not sure exactly what would go up there yet besides his site, some things from Hack Library School, and INALJ, but I’m curious if any students out there would find that helpful or if any students/instructors have tips on what should go on such a page. If you have an idea, please leave it in the comments!

 

How Our Past Impacts Our Present: Where do Info Pros Come From?

I’m working on finalizing a super awesome project (TBA soon), and it has gotten me to thinking about the different ways my haphazard professional past has actually worked to my benefit as an academic. I’ve also been wondering how other information professionals’ pasts have impacted either the decision to enter the field or have proved beneficial once a library (or academic, or whatever) job has been landed. How have your experiences shaped who you are as a LIS professional? What experience do you think everyone should have?

A bit about my background
I won’t go too in depth here, but this is a (very) brief overview: I grew up in Boulder, CO, and moved to Iowa for school. I originally went to college for art, changing my mind after a year to Psychology  so I could do victim’s advocacy at a rape crisis team. While getting my BA, I went to one private college, one community college, and one state university. I applied to school for PhDs in Psychology after I got my BA, but didn’t get in to any of them. During my undergrad years, I worked in a cafeteria, a call center, managed a convenience store, and got a job driving buses, and took a couple breaks/part-time semesters (meaning that the degree took 2x longer to get than people say it’s “supposed” to). I took a break after school and flip-flopped between working as an assistant manager at a yummy coffeehouse/eatery/bakery, and driving buses. When I went back to school, it was to get my Master’s in Library & Information Science and my Center for the Book certificate, although I still worked driving buses (except for a 6 month medical leave that was filled with unpleasantness) and in the state historical society. Before I moved here to start my PhD, I spent my last summer (sniffle) driving buses. Now I work as a teaching assistant in my department!

Crossover skills
Putting up with stressful situations/unpleasant people: I firmly believe that everyone should spend at least a year working in the service industry. Not only does it help you appreciate the complexity and sometimes stressful environments that go with service industry jobs, but it makes you more likely to be pleasant to the people you encounter in restaurants/on buses/whatever, and to be calm under stress (being slammed during lunch rush, driving a bus in a blizzard, etc.). After spending some more time in the academy, I’ve recognized the value in staying calm and focused in that environment too. The people I encounter in school are all awesome (and most of the customers I had in my old life were awesome, or at least just fine, too), but I still feel the stress of having an article rejected or somehow being told my work isn’t what it should be. I doubt I would explode on anyone or crumple into a heap without my service industry background, but it definitely makes it easier to recognize that work-related unpleasantness is temporary and to take it in stride.

Remaining interdisciplinary: One of the biggest bonuses of having a patchwork background is that it keeps my mindset broad. Focusing to an extent is good, but if I can’t see the forest beyond the one tree I’m studying, my work isn’t going to be nearly as interesting (for myself or for my poor committee who will be subjected to reading it). It also allows me to draw connections I would not have thought of otherwise–almost every article I read on information seeking reminds me of my customers.

Trying new things: This was something the fine folks at Cambus helped me get better at. I’ve always loved to try new things, but after working there, I found it even easier to say “I want to try doing that thing” and then actually go do it. I applied for the job on a whim: I was broke and needed money, but I wasn’t expecting that they would actually hire me (especially when I almost fell backwards out of my chair during my interview). But they did, and I found out I really loved it. That mindset is how I decided to try my hand at grad school, how I decided to take a class in “Circus Activities” this fall, and how I decided I want to spend much more time traveling (a goal I’m still working on).

Keeping up with hobbies and enjoying down time: Sometimes, I really miss my service industry jobs. I miss making coffee and food for people, I miss spontaneous conversations with whoever walks in, and I miss driving buses. I don’t doubt that I made the right career choice, but my yearning for an environment where I’m being creative with food makes it easy for me to find the time to actually engage in those activities (i.e. having a hobby, something that can easily get lost as a PhD student). That’s not to say I don’t get my work done–I work more hours as a PhD student than I ever did in the industry, but I’m getting a little better at maintaining a work-life balance. I also love keeping in touch with my friends outside of libraryland and academia not only because I have *incredible* friends, but because it gives me the chance to talk with people about something besides school/work. Not becoming too insular (and losing touch with people outside of our discipline, which would be most of the people in my life) is always a good thing.

This is probably an incomplete list, but I want to get feedback from my friends in libraryland/service industry/the academy/etc. What unexpected skills did I miss? What experiences have you had?

Fun Infographics

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, but trust me, it’s been because I’ve been doing some really cool research that I can’t wait to post about once it’s farther along!

Anyhow, I got an e-mail from a man named Peter a little while back about his infographic, and I just got a chance to give it a look today. It’s all about ramen, and I thought you all would like to see it too. I think the layout is fun, and I love to learn the history of things we tend to take for granted. It’s been a few years since I’ve eaten ramen, but there was a time when all I ate was stuff from the food bank, supplemented by ramen. I know a lot of us in libraryland run across infographics all the time, so I thought I would use this as a chance to open up a discussion about them too: what makes a good infographic (or a not-so-good one)? Do you find the content or the design of the graphic more heavily influences your opinion?

Here is the link to Peter’s ramen infographic (the whole thing is a little big to fit here, but I’ve dropped a screen shot of the title area below to entice you). I personally think it’s pretty good, but I am curious to hear what other folks think as well.

Ad-Free Zone

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog. About 3 weeks, to be exact. Once the dust settles from some recent crises, I *promise* you’ll get more funding posts, discussions of libraryland, etc. In the meantime, I had an interesting experience today that I wanted to share and get some feedback from my readers.

Someone (for courtesy’s sake, they will remain anonymous) e-mailed me today asking whether they could pay me to put ‘relevant’ links up in one of my funding posts and pay me to do so. I’ve never gotten any requests for anything like this before (honestly, I’ve never thought I had a big enough reader base for any advertiser to bug me), but it gave me a chance to put in writing why I don’t want advertising on my blog. I wanted to share the text of our exchange here to see if any of you have had a similar experience and how you responded? A couple things to note–the person who wrote the e-mail was very nice and respectful, and I’m sure just doing his/her job, and not at all pushy which I really appreciate. Also, when I say ‘online colleges’ in my response, I am referring to certain online schools that are very aggressive about advertising, not about all online education programs (I T.A. for online courses!) So, here’s the text:

Hi Julia,

I just finished reading your post , ‘Funding Opportunities, Week of November 27’ and really enjoyed it! I would like to offer to place a few relevant links into the post that would complement your original writing. For this, you’ll be paid via PayPal. These links would direct to resources on education and topics related to the theme of your site. If this sounds at all like something you might like to be a part of kindly let me know. I will be happy to answer any concerns you may have 🙂

Thanks
_________

Hi _____,

I’m glad you enjoyed my post! I appreciate your offer, but I don’t feel like it does any services to my readers to offer resources I’ve carefully selected and then provide them with other content that serves the purpose of making money for a textbook company/online college/etc. I’ve purposefully kept my blog free of all advertising particularly because I don’t agree with the idea of compromising the quality of content of the focus of my work in the interest of money. Thanks again for the offer, but my concerns with compromising quality far outweigh any benefits I might receive from sharing other links.
Best,
Julia
******
Did I handle this well? What would you have added? What are your thoughts about the impact of advertising on the content of a site?
I am very grateful that the writer was a very friendly person, and I’m also glad I got the chance to write down a few thoughts. I’d like to expand on them at some point, but however my ideas are refined I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never compromise the content of my site or mis-direct readers for the sake of a few advertising dollars.

2011 Reflections

This year has been incredibly eventful, so much so that I feel like I have trouble remembering all the many things that went in to it. I am so grateful for everything that I’ve learned and accomplished, and for the many wonderful people in my life who have been there to guide me through all of it. I’ve taken a few key lessons from the year that I am putting here because I think they apply to my growth both personally and professionally.

People and situations will meet your expectations
If you move to a new place, go visit a friend in a different town, or spend time around your new coworkers, those situations will all reflect your expectations. A few years ago, I had this epiphany on a visit to a friend: I was so determined to make my trip fun that even when some parts of it didn’t work out how I thought, I still had a blast. The same held true this year when visiting Boston for the first time (love Boston!), meeting all my new friends in Tallahassee, or even just moving to the town in the first place. Because I expected to have a good time and find something for me in my new home, I did, and now I feel comfortable here and feel like it’s a place where I can grow and learn tremendously. The same is true for professional relationships, btw–because I expect the people I’m around to impress me with their incredible insights and great ideas, they always do because I am open to letting those amazing qualities come through in our interactions.

You really can do what you love
I remember being worried about feeling ‘boxed in’ at a desk job or in a situation where I might not get to conduct research and grow in that way. As I went through my MLS program and my Center for the Book certificate, I realized all the incredible opportunities there were for me to discover new things and how much interest I could generate in a project I cared deeply about. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to enter into a PhD program, because it has shown me that I can pursue my dreams and that other professionals believe in my abilities enough to support that pursuit (this has been the case for a long time, but sometimes it takes me a while to see things). Now that I’m here, I’m amazed at all the things I am learning and at how welcoming, fun, and inspiring my peers and faculty members are. I’m also learning that I can use the PhD as an opportunity to try my hand at a few different types of research in different areas (while I still have faculty who I can work with as a student and ask for guidance!)  and get a better understanding of my many research interests (and whether they will still be interests for me later on!) Even in my personal life this is true–now that I am pursuing my hobbies my renewed vigor, I have noticed that I have the opportunity to share what I learn with other people through my food blog or just by bringing people food, and that makes it even more fun.

Loss is an opportunity for growth
There were definitely some losses this year, just like there are every year. When I was in high school and studying as an undergraduate, I had gone through a number of very traumatic and life-altering losses, and I learned some very valuable lessons. First, that those losses are an important part of who I am and that the things I learn from them are lessons I should cherish. Second, that I will never ‘get over’ my losses, nor is that a healthy approach to take. I had an incredible professor and mentor as an undergrad, who taught me to view loss as something we incorporate into our experience rather than something that we place a time limit on (i.e. I just need to grieve for a month or so then I’ll be over it) or assume that it only has relevance to our past. I have survived some pretty incredible (and some incredibly bad) circumstances, and each has taught me that I can survive whatever comes my way because I know I can incorporate it into my lived experience and use it as a learning experience. That learning can come from something as seemingly minor as leaving a part-time job to something as major as death of loved ones. This year has been an incredibly valuable reminder of that, and with that reminder comes the reminder to treasure what we have in the present moment (being aware and present is something I hope to work on in 2012).

And finally…Change is good! Very good!
I stayed in Iowa City for 10 years. Iowa City is an amazing town filled with amazing people, and living there gave me a chance to grow and learn and build connections. Without that experience I would not be in the same place I am now, but since it was not the first place I lived I also knew when it was time to go. I still miss a lot of the people there, but I am amazed at how refreshing and invigorating it is to be in a new place and pursuing new opportunities. Moving to Tallahassee has been so rewarding personally and professionally, and has inspired me to think about bigger changes I could make in the future (living overseas, perhaps?)

I’m excited to see what changes 2012 brings to me and to all of you! Happy New Year!