31 October, 2007

Who wants to give me a job in Adelaide?


I'm moving on.
Alice Springs is nice, but I won't be missing the current situation in the library.
Still, I haven't done my block and told She Who Must Not Be Named what I think of her.
I haven't been fired, I have announced however that I plan on resigning soon.

Why?
Well, Mrs ADHD (who obviously isn't [isn't ADHD that is, she is certainly Mrs]) has just been accepted to study medicine at Flinders Uni. Yes, I will be married to a Doctor (in four years time, assuming I don't drive her so insane she throws me out).

So it is two years in Adelaide then two years in Darwin (yes Darwin readers, start planning now as bidding to have me in your library will be fierce).

30 October, 2007

your turn now

I know a few things about who reads this blog from my stats feeds, but I am interest in more information.

Who are you,
where do you come from
do I know you
why do you read my blog
do you enjoy the hints and allegations
how did you get here
Where's my wife and family
what if I die here?
who’ll be my role model
now that my role model is gone
gone
he ducked back down the alley with some roly-poly little bat-faced girl

26 October, 2007

Help a library student

Karen Cooper is an online MS-LIS student at San Jose State University and she has put together a survey for the librarians of second life. It is quite refreshingly low tech, she has posted the questions online and you can email your answers back to her (ha, who needs survey monkey).
just pop into her web page to give her your answers.

24 October, 2007

Stupid Smeging Internet Filters

If you can't read this email it is because internet filters are the genital warts of the internet age.
Sure, some of my problem is that I was raised in Australia, a land where "how are you you bastard" is not considered insulting (or depending on your social circles, even unusual).
A couple of weeks ago one of the guys at Rugby training shouted out "would you ***** stop swearing my kids are listening*" And we all laughed...

So why, if this is the Australian way (or at least part of the way) did I just get a message from the admin of an (Australian) email list I post to telling me
I hate you :P Your use of the word "bastard" in this email has just triggered every school filter in the land and I've got a nice pile of bounce messages as a result.
So my casual use of the word bastard in an email has reminded me off the importance of l33t speak.
But it has also made me think, who is the m0r0n who is putting a filter for the word b45t4rd on an Australian server. But more than that, why is it that the American puritanical mindset is the default mindset for all online resources in the whole bleeding world.

This email however has just been the trigger for the post, the real resentment has been building up for some time.
I recently had my work PC tell me it couldn't go to an online annotated Bible because it contained sex acts. Well, yes, what is the problem? This is not unusual for a Bible (they all do). Was the problem that this one was from the point of view of a homosexual activist? Should the filter have told me "Banned for being pro fag?"
It also stopped me from visiting Urban Dictionary (for the same "sex acts" reason). Not that the dictionary contains sex acts, but rather it contains definitions of words which can be used to define sex acts, but even the Oxford English contains the words cunt and fuck so where is the problem. Is it just that the Oxford can get away with it because it is written by dusty old men with suede elbow patches on their tweed jackets (whose homosexuality is nicely repressed thank you very much). [Or at least Americans who write filters think that this is who writes it].
I think the Boston globe was also blocked, as is Landover Baptist Church (although it hasn't always been).

Now I am lucky in that my workplace is not strongly pro filter and I can call up the IT guys and get a filter lifted if I tell them it is work related (they don't ask why, they just accept that whatever crap I want is an important part of my role in understanding youth culture). Furthermore, they lift the ban organisation wide and permanently.
The other funny thing is that I have had 100% anti filter success on the reference desk computer and the public internet access (yes it is not the Town Council's job to filter the internet for library users, but filtering for employees makes some sense).

Still, the number of false positives I get, combined with occasions I end up with porn on my screen despite not having gone looking for it are enough to make me sure that filters are a pile of steaming turds with no real ability to protect anyone from anything. This is made even clearer when you realise I suffer from no more accidental porn at home on my unfiltered computer than I do at work.

What worries me about filters is however the future. At present I see a "no you can't look at porn you naughty pervert" message and I can ring IT and say, hey your sodding filter can't tell the difference between porn and art criticism, please let me see this site as I need it for legitimate reasons. But what happens when we get higher level filtering and you can't call anyone simply to get things corrected or worse still, you don't get an explanation, it is just as if the page does not exist. And the Liberal government [who in Australia are conservative] of the day are currently looking at IP level filtering, which could be just such a tool.
Not that I feel I want to demand free and open access to kiddy porn or snuff films, but rather that I feel filtering in not the surgeons blade, rather it is the barber surgeons saw. A less than delicate instrument which is likely to remove our genitals along with the genital warts of my opening statement.

* the word missing here is I believe olde english.

21 October, 2007

Someone else's take on management

The librarian in black quotes from a SirsiDynix Institute 'thing' she went to which was called Dumping the Org Chart: Get 'Er Done: Management for a 2.0 Library
the bit I like is...

When you're a new manager these are the (sorts of) questions you should be asking of the staff:

  • What are the top things we need to preserve and why?
  • What are the top 3 things we need to change and why?
  • What are the barriers to doing your best work?
  • What makes you feel valued?
  • What do you most hope I do in my position?
  • What are you most concerned I might do in my position
To which I will add, there is no point asking the questions unless you plan on working with the answers. If you are only asking so you are seen to be doing the right thing then you're a pointy haired boss and everyone will know it within six months (or probably six weeks).
And that is (I find) the biggest problem with management seminars, great managers tell mediocre managers what they do but mediocre managers don't realise that the words are not a magic incantation to produce morale. So instead of doing what the great managers do, they end up just using the same word and making those of us who have to work with them suspicious of all managers and all management speak.

19 October, 2007

in which the ADHD librarian is more forgiving of others

Some of you saw my recent rant, others have only seen a post about it having been removed.
here is another attempt at a more 'everyone knows who you're talking about' friendly version.

Managing people is a hard thing to do, managing me (or any other hyper intelligent ADHD nutjob) is probably harder. Why? Well:
  • I don't always remember what I've been doing when you ask me.
  • I don't always plan things before I do them
  • I don't always tell you my plans before I start things
  • I don't usually finish tasks in a logical order
  • I work in bite sized chunks (made more pronounced by the constant disruptions you get by having the closest office to the circ desk and the closest office to the children's area)
  • I do 90% of a task then get bored and start something else, so you don't get a completed project for months, then you'll get a dozen in one afternoon as I put all the finishing touches together.
  • I don't always look like I'm listening (even when I am)
  • I don't always listen (even when I think I am)
  • Stuff
So I can understand when those who are tasked with my supervision are concerned. I would however like to think that this is quite an easy problem to deal with.
I am approachable, I am slow to anger, I am relaxed about having people point out my faults because I am myself quite aware of most of them.

I guess where I do get angry though is when people act like I am a wayward child.
Perhaps I play up to this aspect of my personality here, but I like to think that my work speaks for itself in the real world. And I have certainly managed to be successful in a wide variety of library roles (once my supervisors get to grips with the fact that I am not quite 'normal')

So,
how would I manage me (and how have I managed others in my time as a librarian)?
After all I have had the audacity to present a conference paper on the theme.

In no particular order, some short points:
  • If it works, don't worry about how
  • If it doesn't work who best to fix it
  • Everyone is important (not just the professionals)
  • Don't get personal
  • You can't tell people to volunteer
  • You can't force people to like you
  • You can't legislate esprit de corps, but you can kill it
  • Don't play favorites
  • Listen to everyone
  • Don't say "my door is always open", get off your arse and spend some time in the workroom
Some longer points:
  • I truly think that one of the most important skills for a library manager is the ability to do all the jobs in the library or at the very least to understand them.During my time in the big chair I prided myself on this. I made sure that I learned enough of everyones role to understand why they did what they did.
    Now, i would not have been able to do these jobs as well, as quickly or as thoroughly but if staff know you have a certain level of understanding then it is easier to deal with issues which may arise. It also puts you in a stronger position if you are commenting on an employees work habits.
  • Everyone starts with an assumption of 100% trust and capability and there is no need to get into anyone's face in order to look for fault. Everyone has some (I have plenty) and if they are too damaging to their productivity they will become obvious in time.
  • Don't treat employees like your children
    OK I know I've posted about this before but there have been way too many librarians in my life who assumed I wanted them to treat me like I was their idiot son.
    I am not your son, I am an idiot only in a couple of specific areas (which I am open and upfront about) and I do not respond well to being treated like a child.
    Come to think of it, your son(s) probably don't like being treated like that. Umm OK that's a sore point.
  • Never (ever) get the opinion you are a good manager. Always assume you have areas which need to be improved and be open about them, because your staff are probably able to name half a dozen things they think you're crap at. But they won't care about those things if they know you are currently focusing on improving your management style in some way.
Yep, that'll do for now.
It isn't personal, it addresses so many issues (and not just in my current position) and I think it may well just be a constructive post for some who read it.

yes, I have edited myself

My latest post is gone (it has in fact reappeared after an absence of a couple of years) after some advice from some people with more sense than me.
Much as I feel like venting, I guess I did that by writing the post and I don't need to destroy my own career by portraying myself as, well as more of a dickhead than I usually do on the blog.

Who knows it may come back later, or perhaps in another form.
I did once decide I was going to be very open and honest on this blog (and I like to think i have been) but I guess there is a difference between being open and honest about my failing and being open and honest about the failings of others (whose identity some of you could have deduced from the post)
Life was so much easier when I was a nameless and faceless blogger (it's all CW's fault as she is the one who recognised me at CLICK06, I don't know how she knew but I am apparently ADHD enough in the way I say hello to someone that it is obvious I am umm, well me).

I Rant About My Library Manager

Work is currently not a fun place to be and I am not alone in this. Most of my co-workers have confided in me a dissatisfaction which mirrors to a large extent my own. During my six month reign of terror as manager we had a fantastic sense of team unity, everyone was doing above and beyond the call of duty and despite all the problems that came upon us at that time (under staffed in most professional positions) the library performed admirably. Indeed the loan figures and door count figures at that time are still amongst the highest we have had. I lacked somewhat in the administrative side of the role (inexperience) however at the end of the six months I was getting it organised. For six months after this, under the new manager I acted as the library 2IC and once again I know where my weaknesses in the job lay, I admitted them to the staff and received an enormous amount of help in those areas. Now however when I look at the staff I see a complete and utter lack of motivation to do anything but the bare minimum required by their jobs. Why? Well, lets just say 'management' and leave it at that because I don't want to speak too much for others on an open forum like this blog (especially now that it is no longer anonymous).
So rather than post about others I will post about some of my most recent experiences, experiences which have made me furious. I am still considering what action I shall take, yesterday I wrote an email which I was going to send to my manager and CC to the Director and the CEO. However I have a don't press send when you're angry policy, so I have calmed down enough to not send it.
However while I am deciding I shall post this bogified version of it here because:
  • I have an urgent need to vent
  • This is an example of crap management which my readers can learn from
  • I can't think of a single other thing at the moment so with luck writing it down will clear my head and let me work

So, the short (edited) version (names removed to protect the annoying).

I took a short lunch because I had nothing to do at lunchtime
I went back to work and was doing some cataloguing
I got bored cataloguing and decided to take a break
I couldn't be bothered going out back to the tea room so I picked up a book and read it at my desk
The boss walked in and went off her trolley at my audacity?

"John this is the second time I have caught you reading a book at work"
yes that is right, in two and a half years she has twice seem me reading, oh it is true I am a criminal mastermind. I was told to come to her office where I was treated like a naughty little boy. "John you are a senior member of staff, what sort of example is this. How dare you, give me one good reason why I shouldn't have this written up"
Oh,
an opening,
I get to talk?

Umm, well I was taking a break?
It's no big deal etc

She it seems was very unhappy with this and became quite heated.
I stood up, told her I'd talk to her when she calmed down
and walked out.

She followed me, through the library back to my office shouting at me to get back in her office this instant. Yes, through the Public Area of the library, where the patrons are

Eventually, she had the sense to say she would stay quiet and let me speak. So to shut her up I went back to the office and, well she didn't quite shut up and she was still acting less like a manager and more like a mother talking to a naughty child. As I left, she had a nice parting shot, don't ever walk out like that again.
I managed to hold my tongue, but I certainly wanted to shout back that I'd walk out whenever she decided to get personal, condescending and unprofessional. But I didn't.

A stupid altercation? Yep, so I thought, after all despite personality differences we've worked together for two and a half years with only a couple of dustups crossing the line of professionalism. So, this was another one and it was over now, no big deal.

Wrong, three days later I was called into her office and told I was going to have a session of Performance Counselling for my poor time management. WTF? I know I have time management problems, I have put that down on my annual appraisal every year for the last four years, but she had never mentioned my time management, never indicated a problem, not questioned it informally in our fortnightly meetings, not sent me on a training course (although I did get to do one while I was acting manager).
I talked to the HR manager (acting) and decided I couldn't be bothered having my union rep come along. It was just going to be informal and a bit of a discussion of future issues. OK, I could cope with that even if I don't believe it is a coincidence that this crops up after an argument got a bit personal.

She asked if it could be that afternoon. What? Not a chance, Tuesday next week because she was going on leave? I reluctantly acquiesced. I worked the weekend, so I had Monday off. I got a phone call (at home) from HR to reschedule because he had an interview for the HR manager's position. I said I'd sort it out on Tuesday when I was at work with my roster at hand and hung up. An hour or so later I got another call (at home, on my fucking day off) telling me what time the meeting was going to be. I still don't know why it needed to be so rushed, couldn't it wait until she came back from her two week break? After all it had never been mentioned before.

So, the meeting came.
It consisted of a list of four tasks and a blank with date for completion. I was asked about when these tasks would be completed. I replied that two of them basically were and that the other two would take me a couple of hours. I was told to have them done by Thursday. Meeting over.

Thursday,
a new meeting have the tasks been done? Yes. They go over the details, then comes the moment I was waiting for.
"John what have you learned from this?"

I lean back in my seat, I relax and take a deep breath and open up with both barrels. "Nothing, this hasn't been performance counselling. I haven't been told where the problems are, I haven't been given any tools to use to change things I haven't been offered any help or asked why there are problems. I have done four tasks, which has meant some other things didn't get done but I did them the same way I would have done any task..."

Shocked faces looked back at me. Mouths opened and closed with nothing to say. I had an urge to say "this is more about performance counselling for you, because as manager you are obviously unable to explain to me your priorities without having HR involved in the process" but I decided I had said enough, for now. I'll save that line for later.

HR wanker spoke first, "Perhaps performance counselling is the wrong term, but lets still see where we can go from here"
He asked what priorities were next, she started to speak but I spoke louder. I listed my priorities, I gave them a ranking and the two guppy faced morons sat, nodded and said we'll have another meeting to go over these things when Mrs Manager gets back from her two weeks holiday. Not the outcome I wanted, but still.
They also asked me to set up the meeting request.
I did, under the heading Follow Up Meeting (not performance counselling)

And now I am still wondering whether to get the Union involved or to go talk to the CEO (who I get on well with) because I don't want to have to put up with this shit just because the boss and I have different ideas on some things (like how to treat your staff and patrons).

This post was invisible for some time, but it has reappeared because the manager who I spoke of is retired, I no longer work for the organisation in question and because I want this blog tobe honest (even if it doesn't always paint me in a perfect light - please not potential employers, I am imperfect). That said, hiding it at the time was probably expedient.

16 October, 2007

My Pledge to Not Suck at the Internet

I, the ADHD Librarian, pledge that:

I will never comment on a blog saying "Why do we care?" because if I don't care, I can go away from the blog. Instead I will sit back and have a good five-minute think about my life.

I will not sign up to Twitter or a blog just to write "I am getting my hair done" or other inanities. Every message I write will be entertaining and/or informative; e.g. "Getting a beehive hairdo so I won't fit under the parking garage clearance pole" or "I am on fire, please assist me." (Note: The latter is appropriate only if my hair is, in reality, on fire.)...

I will only add up to one application per month on Facebook. This application will not be a zombie maker, werewolf maker, "top friends" maker, or anything that serves no purpose and is not, again, entertaining and/or informative....

I will trick people into seeing Goatse, because that is funny and will never not be funny.

I will not comment on YouTube...


there is more,
find the rest at Modern and Awkward. Then read it and make the pledge yourself.

15 October, 2007

Did I mention I went to India?


Well I did and I have finally put the photos up on my flickr account (if anyone cares).
Most of them are entirely uninteresting photos the kids took out the window of the car at different times.
At this stage they have no descriptions, but they are there!

14 October, 2007

How do you define a library?


I was thinking about this when I went onto 20Q, so I played with that in mind.
However at the end the computer told me that others had different ideas to me.

You were thinking of a library.
Could it be found in a classroom? You said Sometimes,
20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.

Does it usually have four corners? You said Irrelevant,
20Q was taught by other players that the answer is Yes.

Is it tall? You said Irrelevant,
20Q was taught by other players that the answer is Yes.

Do you use it at night? You said Sometimes,
20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.

Contradictions Detected
The opinions of the 20Q A.I. are its own, and are based on the input of players. 20Q's answers reflect common knowledge. If you feel that 20Q is in error, the only way to correct it is to play again!


So people,
computer literate people,
computer literate people who play with fun (but slightly intellectual) things on the web think...

That a library can't be found in a classroom.
That a library usually has four corners.
That a library is tall.
That you do not use a library at night.

Well, two out of those four things concern me slightly.

Taking the Bait

Some time ago, Tom Goodfellow baited me with a post on what you could call the antitheist movement. How do I know he was baiting me? Well the post was entitled “ADHD comment bait”. This was his position:

I've been loving the atheist/anti-religion movement stuff thats been going on recently. My hero in the, ahem, crusade, is the splendidly cantankerous Christopher Hitchens. Indeed he has converted me from being an atheist into being an antitheist.
In essence, this means that not only does God not exist but I am glad he doesn't. God is a tyrannical figure who knows not only my action but my every thought, who judges me on those actions and thoughts, and who condemns me to an eternity of unimaginable torture and misery if those actions and thoughts do not accord with his arbitrary wishes...but he loves me. Hmm.
By contrast, the wonderful Richard Dawkins is something of a Professor Yaffle figure (to use Charlie Brooker's hilarious comparison) but I love this uncharacteristically startling moment from the interesting Beyond Belief symposium:


Well, let me start by saying that I like what he has to say. Despite being a theist myself I am always questioning they whys and the whatthehells, so the fact that others ask questions is to me a good thing. In fact I find I have more in common with an antitheist who has arrived at their conclusion with thought and consideration (or perhaps even fear and trembling) than with someone who sticks a fish sticker on their bumper bar but has in fact invested minimal time and/or effort into actually thinking about why they call themselves Christian and what they actually believe about God(s).
I can understand something more of the antitheist position, the hatred of God (if he exists) because there is an awful lot in this world to be unhappy with and there is an awful lot in the Bible which seems to be completely and utterly at odds with logical, companionate or even rational thinking.
Let me therefore say that I am not (nor ever have been) a traditional, fundamental, unquestioning or otherwise stiff necked Christian.
I don’t like Paul and I don’t like his writing (although sometimes I think what I don't like is what people have done with his writings).
I am not sure that the current cannon of scripture is infallible or even complete.
I don’t believe that the Bible is literal. (well not all of it)
I don’t accept that the gospels are necessarily (100% accurate/complete) eyewitness accounts.
I don’t believe in an interventionist God.
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Whoops, I lost my train of thought there for a minute.

What I think though is that there is enough in there to make me convinced that I shouldn’t dismiss the idea of a deity. Plus as an added bonus, I like that Jesus guy and what he had to say (or at least as much of what he had to say as filtered down through history by a lot of old men with a particular agenda they wanted to push).

I don’t accept a literal seven day creation (although I don’t care enough to argue about it anymore). I’m happy to accept scientific rationalism in relation to the size of the universe, the evolution of life, the psychology of the human mind…
But that still doesn’t convince me that we can ever understand everything or quantify everything. Mayhap it is fuzzy thinking, but there are more things on heaven and earth Tom than are dreamt of in your philosophy. There is enough in the writings of Paul Tillich and Soren Kierkegaard (and their contemporary counterparts) to keep me tied to my theistic ways and to make me see hope for the future of critical Christian thinking outside the pull of the ridiculous American Christian Right and their political agendas masquerading as Christianity.

Well, I'm loosing my train of thought at the moment,
so I will end this rambling post in pre-conclusion mode and see about amending it later.

12 October, 2007

A Bit of Fry and Laurie - Slightly Mad

Time to lighten the mood a little I think.
For those of you who only know Hugh Laurie as House or Stephen Fry as a man with a brain the size of Kent (and host of QI which is worth downloading if you [like me] live in a nation which does not air it)
Air QI that is, not air the country because that's just be silly.
Whoops looks like I've gone a little bit mad - which at least brings us back to the original topic.

It is however possible you know them from Blackadder in which they played
Lt. the Honorable George Colhurst St. Barleigh
and
Gen. Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett
and other roles in the earlier series.

However in Blackadder it is Blackadder himself who goes mad (see back on track again) you can tell because he sticks pencils up his nose, wears underpants on his head and says Wibble.



Where Do I stand on drugs?


This blog has on occasions tackled the issues of, what drugs am I on. But only in a half arsed fashion and with no follow up.

That is because I may try a new drug, or a new dosage and I then write about how happy I am, but if I'm not happy I couldn't be arsed to write.
So I'm going to post now on my druggy ways.

First, I like being me. I don't feel like I want a personality change or anything like that. It'd be nice to lift the for on occasion (like when I have a report due next week) but other times the ADHD works its own magic (like when I have a report due in half an hour).

For those who came in late...
I got my official diagnosis and my first bottle of dexies when I was acting manager of the library for six months. There was a need to pay attention to long boring meetings with the CEO and Directors so I figured I'd give professional pharmacology a try.

So the Dexies...

  • Made me a lot more focused
  • Helped with my time management
  • Let me see (for the first time) the points of view of others
  • Let me see (for the first time) the body language and non-verbal clues off others
  • Made me a better rugby player (from useless to half decent)

but it also...

  • Took a very high dose to get any effect
  • Made me jumpy
  • Decreased my appetite (a lot)
  • Wouldn't let me sleep
  • Gave me a dry mouth

The problems seemed like a small price to pay for all the benefits. Or so I thought at first, but as time wore on the benefits seemed less impressive and the problems loomed larger in my mind.

I hated feeling jumpy all the time, I was loosing weight rapidly. I wouldn't take them on weekends and would try and get a weeks worth of eating done in two days. I started drinking a lot of G&T of an evening in order to lessen the high strung feeling and help me relax enough to sleep a little.

So I lowered the dose,
the problems lessened but so did the gains. Some gains stayed though. Having gained a little empathy I found I kept it. Sure, not to the same degree but I am much more aware of others' feelings now even when I am off the meds. I also play better Rugby, not as well as when I was on high doses but a lot of what I learned when I was using has managed to burn me new neural pathways (or something like that).

But the lowered dose wasn't good enough in many ways. I wasn't happy with my work performance. In fact I was more unhappy than before because I was now actually aware of some of the things I could be doing. All this took place over about two years.

But at the end of two years it was, back to the Doc. This time I tried Strattera (the first nonstimulant FDA-approved medication for the treatment of ADHD).

This time not the great leap forward I had experienced before. I instantly hated it, but I gradually increased the dose hoping to reach the point where my brain clicked into gear.

Nothing good happened.

  • But I became sleepy
  • I felt stoned all the time
  • I felt even more vague and unmotivated


Shit, not good then? Well I am not sure, I'm currently trying a new approach. I take it at night just before I go to bed. Apparently this works better for some people.

My judgement so far?
Well I don't know. For a drug which made me feel lethargic when I took it in the morning it seems to be preventing me from getting a good night's sleep. This could be unrelated, I've just started rugby training again and my body is currently purple and my lungs are currently trying to enlarge themselves to take on the huge gasps my unfit body is forcing them to make. However, my dreams have been unusually vivid and I think that is more likely as a result of drugs than rugby.

As for benefits? Well I am managing to write this post, so that's a plus. The lethargy and stoned feeling still seems to be there, but not to the same extent. I'll try this for a few more days, then start increasing the dose and see what I get.

One possible indication that Strattera is not for me is that it is less quick acting than the Dexies. So it is less suited for someone who wants to be able to take it occasionally for a temporary benefit and more suited to someone who wants to take it every day at the same time for a consistent result.
I don't want the consistent levelling out effect, I like the ADHD in eight out of every ten situations in my life and I don't want to loose my edge.

Still, I'm just trialling it at the moment and if it doesn't do what I want it to do I'll be going back to the psych and getting a script for slow release Ritalin and see how that suits my personal brain chemistry.

and just as an addendum,
I found the cartoon via The Last Psychiatrist. Which is well worth a read for all you ADHD kiddies reading this.

I probably should make special mention of his post on How to take Ritalin Correctly.

11 October, 2007

ADHD, the quintessential library skill

The emails I’ve had in the last couple of days have (once again) got me thinking about the suitability of a boy with ADHD becoming a librarian. Or more broadly, should you look for someone with ADHD to offer a different skill set for your library.


You won’t be surprised to find out I say yes. ADHD and the library is a match made in heaven. Your typical ADHD librarian (and it seems there are plenty of us) is going to annoy the hell out of your stereotypical bun haired, order loving cataloguer. Or at least, at first. In fact I find that some of by biggest allies in times when I have had difficulties at work have been the shy quiet people who actually care about the library with a passion.

Why? Well I’d guess that just as I see the benefit in the skills they have which I lack. They also see the benefits in the skills I have. That is to say that their detail helps my inspiration. My exhibitionist nature helps balance their conservative one when it comes to dealing with different clients. My ability to deal with emergencies balances their ability to plan for emergencies.

On the desk I am able to inspire patrons with confidence, I can draw out of them the fine details of what they need, I can calm them in their times of crisis. But it is often my colleagues who provide me with the bits of information I need to finish a search. Likewise, I often find that I can calm their clients when tempers are frayed. My ability to give insight into alternative ways to phrase their client’s search or alternative ways to interpret the request is appreciated.

And it isn’t all front desk stuff. I come into meetings all fired up about everything 2.0, whereas others will be more cautious. I’ll take the leap into the new, while my co-workers will help me finish the test, keep things updated and generally be involved. But they are involved in something they probably wouldn’t have attempted themselves.

There are other examples, but this probably gives a good idea of what I mean.

Where the problems occur is more often with people who are unwilling to listen to the new or who have a love of what once was. And I tend to find that with the management types. Librarians, perhaps can be a bit staid, but those who don’t have such an emotional connection with the library are much harder to inspire. So whereas the stereotypes and I know the library is busier or that we’re loaning out more graphic novels and less cassettes because we’re on the floor and feeling the ebb and flow, the management types don’t care unless it affects the particular numbers that they are monitoring. So perhaps I feel the library is busier, if it is because everyone is staying longer (rather than visiting more often) it won’t show up on the door counter.

Likewise the door counter won’t show if we have more homeless people in the library and less teenagers. It’s all pure numbers to those who cause me the most pain.

So, there is a need for the ADHD librarians to learn to deal with the management, I’m currently dropping out of my Master of Business for a while but still the fact that I have done most of it is a good source of bullshit words to feed to the management drones. I get to find creative ways to explain my new ideas in old terms. I get an insight into accounting (grahhhhhhhhhhh) and it helps me to argue my case for a budget increase for graphic fiction (or it should have done but my boss didn’t feel the need to have a budget meeting this year – she just said “same again” much to the anger of myself and my current stereotypical colleague).

So, if you’re a management type. Grow some balls! Employ your own ADHD librarian, be ready for them to fail spectacularly upon occasion because if they don’t ever fail with a scream and a small explosion it is because you’ve got them wedged so far into a preconceived box that they’ve given up trying and you’ll get nothing out of them if that is the case. Not even productivity.

Ask Dr ADHD


As I am now an expert on ADHD issues in libraries (self proclaimed) I thought I would share another answer I sent to a reader on the topic. (all personal details removed to protect their anonymity).


John,

Did you know you had ADHD before becoming a librarian? I just started the meds about 3 weeks ago for ADHD. All I have read recently explains my life. I was already struggling w/ depression/anxiety...

...I thought I found my niche here and because of my condition I feel like running away. I really love my job, it's just that continuing problems have finally come to a head. ...I have been a "go-to" person at my library. I have taken on more responsibility than I get paid to do.

...Part of my problem is that my supervisor is more of an administrator than a manager

I guess I started working in libraries before I knew I was ADHD. But I sure suspected I had it before I studied to become a librarian.
There is lots of stuff in your email that sounds familiar to me and not all of it is to do with ADHD. There are plenty of librarians who are stuck in a rut and refusing to look at the amount of good we could be doing in terms of techno changes and the like.
I also find that there are a lot of baby boomer librarians who should be put out to pasture because they can no longer cope with the pace of library innovation or they just don't care any more and they are blocking the way for the gen X librarians (me [and you?]).

So it is worth remembering that there are plenty of mentally stable librarians out there just as frustrated with that sort of crap as you and I are.

As for the diagnosis (and meds)
I found that the official diagnosis and a bit of reading on the topic did more for me than the meds. You probably know from reading my blog, but I don't (always) see ADHD as a problem. Sure it can cause problems (in your case it seems some depression) but that is something which could be treated separately from the ADHD. After all if I read between the lines of your email I think it seems like you have been doing a damn good job in the library up till now.
So knowing what problems are likely because of the ADHD enables you to work towards solving them. Which is to my mind a better option than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

After all if you are the 'go to person' and you accept lots of responsibility then it shows that you haven't been a failure in your pre-medicated days.

So,
My advice (I'm an advice columnist now).
Look at as much stuff as you can on generational theory in the workplace.
think about which of the problems you are facing have more to do with attitude to technology/library management and so on than they have to do with ADHD.

Then learn about your ADHD, trial the meds. Be willing to experiment with the doses (under Doctor's supervision) then decide if there is a benefit from them or if you would rather accept the downside of ADHD because the upsides can be so much fun.

\nothing new to see here folks, just an edit at the request of the letter writer who had concerns she could be identified from some of the info if the right (or wrong) person read this blog.

10 October, 2007

This was in my comments box today and I thought I'd reply to everyone.

John,
I have an interesting 15 yr old ADHD son, and I'd love if you could give me some insight.
I love your blog, by the way.
I also work at a library though I'm sure I don't have nearly as much fun at it as you do.

Insights on an ADHD fifteen year old?

Well I was one (for about a year if I remember correctly) So I should be able to string a few words together for what worked (and didn't work) for me.
So, in order to see if my experience has any relevance let me give you a few of the details of my ADHD.

Firstly, I was diagnosed (unofficially, by my step mother [a special needs teacher] in my 20s). I was officially diagnosed only a couple of years ago. But I've known I had it for years, probably since I was about 17 - when I read a bit about it and figured it fit me.

With both the official and unofficial diagnosis there was an immediate assumption I was ADD (no H) because I am highly functional in so many areas (and a librarian).
In both cases it came back that if there were more H's available I could have had more.
Yep I am ADHHHHHD but my hyperactivity isn't always obvious to people (my attention deficit it immediately apparent).

I manage to be a high functioning ADHD 'sufferer' in part because I have a brain the size of planet. that is to say, when I was officially diagnosed I was told that if not for the ADHD I would be a genius. In fact I am a genius in three out of the four measures of genius. So where do I fall down.

Ready?

Remember I am a librarian, I have a degree in which one of my majors was literature (with a high GPA if you ignore the times I failed because I didn't hand anything in).

So my area of failure is in the area of language.
If I was 15 I'd be saying WTF!
Because I'd always thought that language was a strength (top English class at school etc)

But I still think that it is my strength, it is just that my use of language is not conventional. Also I fall over with an inability to spell or to type the letters of words in the right order (but who cares I have spell-check these days).

I speed read, I have a very high level of reading comprehension, so I don't care too much that my strength is in fact my weakness.

So now,

On to my poster's son. If he shares any (or all) of these characteristics then my experience may well be able to give some insight.

Firstly, I have a very small monkeysphere.

I don't care enough about others to remember their names. I don't make eye contact when I talk to people, so they don't always connect to me either.

I have a few friends and I have to work damn hard to make sure I follow some of the norms of social relationships (like letting them talk occasionally, or listening when they talk, or caring about what they say, or remembering to ask how they are coping with their mother's death, or remembering not to make dead mother jokes...)

it is in some ways a very similar to being a narcissist, but it is not that you are completely self interested it is more that you have to remember to engage with others because it is not as automatic as for most of the rest of the world's population.

Hyperfocus is another one. I can use it to my advantage now, but at fifteen it was damn hard to break away from something once I was focused on it. As such I would resent being called for meals, having to go to school, having to go from one class to another just when I was getting it...

If you can use hyperfocus well, then you are in a damn good place, but finding out how to turn it on is hard and finding out how to turn it off when you've accidentally focused in on something irrelevant is even harder.

Distractions, when you're 15 everything is a distraction, the breasts of the girl sitting next to you, the breasts of the girl sitting behind you, the arse of the girl standing in front of you, the laugh of the girl next to you, the breasts of your teachers. With ADHD it is much more of a problem because if you hyperfocus on the breasts of the girl next to you you're liable to find that she notices too.

But if you hyperfocus on the way the sun shines off the buttons on her shirt (which just happen to be near her breasts) she won't think you're staring at light on her buttons and when you get punched in the arm you won't be able to explain because you're so zoned out and unaware of what the hell you were doing that you wouldn't be able to understand what the hell you were doing.

And buttons can be shiny, but almost anything is a distraction. I nearly failed a major school exam because I spent three quarters of the time staring at a parrot which landed on the branch of a tree outside the window. And when it flew off I was too busy thinking about parrots and trees and flying and then I realised that I was in an exam and had to usee my giant brain to try and do the whole thing in a very short time.

I could go on I guess,
but that'd be the highlights.

So where to now?

I'd say have the boy do a Myers-Briggs type personality test. Then do one yourself, because it does a great job of telling you where the problems are likely to be in your relationship.

it doesn't have to be an expensive psychologist do the test Please Understand Me II by Keirsey is a nice starting point for a self test.

Then, do what you can to help him embrace his ADHD. I don't think of it as a problem but as a gift. Sure it is a gift that causes problems some times, but it's not as problematic as the Midas Touch.

He can think in ways others can't. He can find solutions others ignore. He can respond to crises well, without panic, without being freaked out by everyone else's panic.

He can probably (if the school system hasn't stolen his confidence) manage to work out more of his personal strengths.

Drugs is a bugger of a question. I took them during school, but they weren't the prescribed type.

I've found a lot of problems with the ADHD drugs when it comes to me personally. So, I tend not to take them. Occasionally I'll try some new option or go with the Dexies if I need to function in a particular way, like finish a report or write a conference paper. But they cause problems too.

They take away my biggest strengths and in return make me average at things that I'm usually bad at. So the conference paper which is written while on Dexies, needs to be revisited while off them in order to find the edge. Or better still, if I can focus enough to write it while off the drugs, I can come back later while I am on them and do things like finish incomplete sentences or look for sections which don't make sense.


What a trade, Excellence in some area others don't care about in return for mediocrity in areas your teacher/boss thinks is important.


If he's not going to punch holes in the wall if he goes without ritalin, it might be worth trialling time without it. Letting the creativity counteract the lack of focus, because once school is over there is a lot more need for creative people in so many areas than there is for mediocrity and once you become mediocre it is damn hard to break out of that mould and find the excellence.


If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

-Henry David Thoreau

08 October, 2007

I've read the internet and now I'm bored

So,
I'm installing World of Kaneva (self proclaimed mashup of facebook and secondlife).
It's taking a damn long time to install all the needed updates.
If I ever get online with it, there will be a well written and researched logical article on the usefulness of this platform as a library tool.

Or, perhaps I'll just string some bullshit together and throw in a few ill thought out jokes and call it a report.

lol Godz


Yes folks,
I know you felt it, there was a disturbance in the force as if a million voices screamed no God no God no no no and were suddenly silenced.

But for those of you who like Cats and God and lol, do I have a wiki for you.

Translating the bible into kitty pigion,
I give you Genisis 1 : 1-19

In teh beginnin Invisible Man was invisible, and he maded the skiez and da earths, but he did not eated it.
The earths wus witout shapez and wus dark and scary and stuffs, and he rode invisible bike over teh waterz.
And Invisible Man sayz, i can has light, and teh light wuz.
Teh Invisible Man sawed teh light, to sees stuffs, and separatered the light form dark and stuffs
And Invisible Man sayed light Day and dark no Day. Teh evning and morning was teh first day.
And Invisible Man sayed, letz tehre be teh ceilings of waterz, with waterz up n waterz down.
And Invisible Man doed the skiez with waterz down and waterz up, and stuff.
And Invisible Man sayed, letz up be teh firmmint, so evning and morning was teh twoth day.
And Invisible Man gotted all no waterz into ur base, so no waterz wus not wetted
And Invisible Man called no wather Earths, so tehre.
And Invisbile Man sayed, letz us has grass and stuff, so yield seeds and stuff, and fruitzors and stuff, upon the earths.
And Invisible Man sawed that weedz is teh good stuff, so, letz tehre be weed.
And so teh evning n the morning of the threeth day.
And Invisible Man sayed, letz tehre be lights in the firmmint for dividing day from no day.
So tehre, lights everwaer, like chrissmass, wai.
And Invisible Man doeth two greate lights, teh most big for day, teh other for no day.
And Invisible Man screweth tehm on firmmint, with big nails and stuff.
And Invisible Man sawed it wus the goodz, so wai.
And so teh evning n the morning of the furth day.

Or would you prefer some new testament? Well they haven't got the sermon on the mount up yet (and no, I'm not going to try). So how about this...

Matthew 3: 13-17

Den Jesus caem from Gallalee, to has baptizm from John
But John was all "Ur doin it rong, j00 needz to baptize me"
And Jesus answered sayin "STFU and baptize me n00b" and John did.
Wen he was baptized he gtfo of teh water and, ZOMG, teh hevens opened up and teh Spirit of Invisible Man caem down liek a duv and landeded on him
And, ZOMFGWTF, a voice from heven sayed "Hai guise, dis my son, and I tink he teh leet"

07 October, 2007

to go with yersterdays post

So I know what searches get me people visiting, but where do you all come from?

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Canada
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Norway
  6. Germany
  7. Sweden
  8. New Zealand
  9. Italy
  10. Netherlands
  11. India
  12. Philippines
  13. France
  14. South Africa
  15. Brazil
  16. Iceland
  17. Spain
  18. United Arab Emirates
  19. Singapore
  20. Hong Kong
  21. Thailand
  22. Argentina
  23. Ireland
  24. Switzerland
  25. Bahamas
make of it what you will.

06 October, 2007

Top 25 reasons to visit me

Now, I know you are all loyal readers who get my posts, staming hot via RSS.
But that isn't true for everyone,
so for a bit of a laugh I am again posting the searches which get people to ADHD librarian.
Now, some of these are just being reinforced by putting them up on top lists every so often. But I find it funny anyway.

1. cuban costume
2. just a spoon full of sugar
3. emperor nasi goreng
4. librarian blog
5. librarian blogspot
6. adhd
7. adhd accountant
8. adhd librarian
9. adhd post blog
10. aunties in blouse
11. hyperactive
12. "a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down"
13. "club foot" wheels biography book
14. "going to the library" + social stories + download
15. "joanne keleher"
16. "mask of respectability behind the stacks"
17. "not the nine o'clock news" creed
18. "the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit"
19. a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down
20. accountant with adhd
21. accountants and adhd
22. adhd "christian "
23. adhd - comic
24. adhd and confabulations
25. adhd and movies


Oh,

and there should be more ASLAXX stuff to come (if I ever get around to it)

03 October, 2007

The post paper post

Presentation done,
people said nice things.

I know I lost my way at one point in the middle, but I'm sure I managed to do a decent job of saying things until I remembered what I was supposed to be talking about.
Stephen Abram was complimentry, but he's hardly going to be saying it was crap even if he thought it was (which he didn't, because it was me and I'm fantastic).

Now I can sit back, relax and take in a few other people's speaking (and see if I can scout out people to present papers at DREAMing08)

ASLAXX - day two

I've just spent some time playing with my presentation and I am set to go in one hour.
I wrote out what I am going to say (or at least reminders of things I think I might say) on my slide printouts during the first keynote speaker this morning.

I've just introduced myself to Stephen Abram (keynote speaker for DREAMing08) and he's told me he's going to come to my talk (ohh the pressure, I have one of the Library Gurus of my topic stopping in to hear me talk bullshit for fifty minutes).
Well, GAME ON!

02 October, 2007

ASLAXX

I'm standing at a PC in Adelaide, I am all set to present my paper tomorrow for ASLAXX.

Well I say all ready, I forgot my USB with my presentation on it, so I've just downloaded it from gmail to a new USB I bought. Lucky I saved a copy to gmail,except I didn't.

I put the USB in the PC to save a copy to gmail for emergencies, I then wandered off and forgot to do it and in the process left the memory stick in the PC. So I had to phone home and ask my wife to email it to me.

Still, I have it now and I am listening to jazz, drinking red wine and eating green prawn wraps.

In ADHD news, I also forgot all my business cards (no networking for me).
I also only realised yesterday I am talking for 50 minutes (for some reason I had written a talk of 30 minutes), so I've had to do some editing to get my presentation up to time. Other than that, all is good, I'm unmedicated and @ a conference so expect plenty of library related updates this week.