It is done. (Cue the choir)

December 5, 2019

It’s amazing to me how with the click of one “send” button, I can officially say that I have completed my work for this project.

I thought that this would be a joyous feeling, and yet it doesn’t seem to be. This summer, when I submitted my first recommendation report, I felt a *huge* weight lifted from my shoulders. And it was immediate, that feeling, last time. This time?

Meh.

Part of me wonders if I am suffering from a bit of burnout. I know that working while attending school is having serious detrimental effects on my mental health. My anxiety is high nearly all the time and I never feel as though I get to ever relax my mind. Any time I stop thinking about school, I immediately start thinking about work. If I finally have a weekend off of work? Great! Homework catch up time. It’s exhausting. And today, I am struggling to see the benefits of all my work.

I’m going to wait a few days and post again about my impressions of this project and of my work. But, I am going to wait until I have some distance. Because right now? This post is a huge downer.

Talk soon.

On being temporarily stuck.

November 29, 2019

What does it mean, to me, to be stuck?

I’m fighting writing right now, mostly, is what it means to me. I am resisting opening my working document to add/edit/adjust/etc…

Any excuse will do right now. Today? It’s that I have a bit of a crazy few days of work ahead of me and I am trying to give myself a break before THAT particular chaos.

On Wednesday (my only other day off from work), it was doing other assignments. The last few assignments for my classes are mostly personal reflections of one sort or another and I worked on those instead. I even managed to finish three of them in one day. I’ve got final look overs for two and half of a third left to go and I’ll be done for the semester.

Well, except for the EEP.

I’ve noticed that I am putting a lot of emphasis on being “in the right mind frame” for working on this paper. When I first started writing, I could barely keep up with myself, the words felt like they were leaping out of me.

Now, I’m worried that they are all gone.

I am fully aware that I am being a *tad* overly dramatic at the moment, but I am being honest when I say that I am tired. This one project has gone on for so long that I desperately want it to be behind me and yet I worry that I might not have enough new, innovative, and, frankly, good ideas left in me to finish it.

Alright. Thanks for the listen. I’m all whined out.

Until later.

It’s been a little while…

November 23, 2019

So, a few days (*cough, cough* WEEKS!) have passed since I last wrote here. What has changed?

Well, I have started writing. And, I’m not going to lie, I am a little surprised at how much writing there is this time.

I did not think that I was going to be able to find as much “meat on the bone” for this topic of financial literacy as I was for inclusion and diversity. I mean, there’s no comparison, right? Inclusion and diversity are HUGE topics and can be tackled in so many ways.

However, what I am discovering is that there are a lot of ways of addressing learning related to financial literacy. This is not a boring topic, nor is it handled the same way across systems. Sure, there are a few programs that make the rounds throughout Ontario, usually as government initiatives, but there are also a ton of specialized local programs that directly meet the needs of each library’s community. It’s great, actually, because it’s demonstrative that librarians *are* listening to their communities and responding accordingly.

One intense day of writing and I am already 27 pages into my report. I am fifty recommendations in and feeling like there’s still a lot of momentum to go. I have managed to synthesize the 105-page Google Doc of curated programs, services, and collections offered at public libraries in Ontario, and I am currently working on rationalizing it all with the academic literature that I already located.

There have been a lot of times that I have second-guessed my efforts with this project. I have wondered if I am trying hard enough or if my output is comparable to other EEP program participants. But, you know what? I am proud of the work that I am doing. I really feel like I am making a difference in an organization’s operational direction and that’s exciting.

I’m getting there.

Just call me the Little Engine that Could.

Until next time.

Hoping to wind things up…

November 9, 2019

So, we are left with about three weeks in the semester and I am questioning where I am. Do I have enough research? Is it enough to fulfill another report for Pickering Public Library? At this point, I am struggling to say exactly.

Today is my last big research push. I have an entire weekend off and I took all of Saturday to get caught up on my other courses and Sunday is just for EEP.

This will be it for me. After today, I am moving on to the writing portion of this project. There needs to be a time when I just walk away and start to evaluate what I have before me.

I have 33 more libraries to evaluate. I have a 55-page Google Doc full of image clips and explanations of relevant research material. And I have prior academic research that I haven’t touched in a month.

Three weeks to put it all together into a coherent submission for Pickering Public Library and my final grade.

It’s going to be a long three weeks.

Wish me luck.

UPDATE, same day: I’m done. 74 public libraries assessed. 106 page Google Doc. Lordy me! 🙂

A productive few days…

November 3, 2019

A quick pop-in to give an update: I am halfway through assessing my previously curated list of 73 public libraries in Ontario for financial literacy! Go me! 🙂

Some interesting findings that I have had to date are simultaneously the overlap and diversity of programs offered. Which just sounds weird.

Let me explain: there seem to be a lot of public libraries in Ontario offering what amounts to the exact same program across the province. I was a little surprised by this because I would have hoped that there would have been adjustments made for the individual communities and their specific needs. Are we trying to say that Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario residents have the exact same needs when it comes to financial literacy programming? That feels to me, at least, as though the libraries are not customizing the programming offered to respond to the unique needs of their communities. However, I also understand that many of these libraries have very little funding available for programming and the specifically repeated programs appear to be partnership programs with governmental agencies. Perhaps that is a limitation of the partnership: no customization.

On the other hand, there are a lot of libraries out there that are offering a *lot* of programming for financial literacy. For instance, there is a wide variety of programs offered at the London Public Library (LPL) regarding financial literacy. While the argument can be made that this is an example of only six different programs, the span of topics covered by these six programs highlights the responsive approach taken to programming at this Library. LPL’s staff have tackled retirement, taxes, children’s financial literacy, saving in general, housing, and support for filing your taxes. I really appreciate the breadth of topics and the wide swath of their residents who could benefit from these programs.

I will report back again soon with more juicy tidbits!

And the beat goes on and on and on…

October 27, 2019

So, what’s new you might ask? Well, a bit, actually.

Today I had another productive meeting with Violet, another EEP student. She has a wonderful way of putting the anxiety that I feel about this project into perspective and just taking the tension-level down a few notches in my head.

For now, I am reflecting on where I am today. I have:

  • Academic literature;
  • Grey literature (mostly American Library Association and Public Library Association publishings);
  • The beginnings of individual public library assessment (looking at their public websites and determining how they are supporting financial literacy);
  • A smattering of websites, blogs, and URLs of additional research that I want to view.

I am not in the exact same place, output-wise, as I was last semester at this time. I know that I will get there, but juggling four additional classes with this work has been a struggle. EEP research is consistently the first thing that gets shelved when I am behind on other homework for the simple reason that I don’t have any short-term deadlines associated with the work and so, “I’ll get to it tomorrow” becomes a dreaded mantra.

Violet and I reiterated our comments about this challenge today. For future pilot project inductees, there will need to be some structure provided and some scheduled meetings with mandatory attendance.

I think we both feel grateful to have been given this opportunity, no doubt, but being guinea pigs comes with some unintended hurdles that need to be addressed in future trials.

Of all the work that I have done on this project, the one huge advantage has been my ability to construct meaning from the topic that I am researching. I am not coming to this topic without prior knowledge. Quite the contrary, I have a lot of experience in public libraries. And, I have been learning about adult learning in this AEDT program. It’s the synthesis between the two that keeps me excited about the work. Each time I make a new connection or gain a new understanding of why one program worked and another didn’t in a library, all based on my understanding of andragogy/pedagogy, I feel like I’ve had one of those Oprah “AHA!” moments. Cliché, I know, but they are there. Today I was reading about how one blogger was recommending that libraries make financial literacy video with their patrons (Mies, 2014, para. 11). I couldn’t help but be reminded how this would serve several purposes such as providing “just in time” learning for patrons, authentic learning opportunities, and Knowles’ “readiness to learn” experiences.

I feel like part of me is starting to get it. This project isn’t solely about producing some expected quantity of material, rather this is about making meaning for myself from the learning that I have had. Generally, how will the AEDT program relate to my own life in a meaningful way? Specifically, how will the EEP project exemplify that meaning-making?

It’s days like this that make me want to be better than I am currently.

Lifelong learning indeed.

I think I’ve been bamboozled.

Until next time.

Reference:

Mies, G. (2014). Four Financial Literacy Ideas for Your Library [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/blog/four-financial-literacy-ideas-for-your-library

Where things stand today.

October 18, 2019

It’s Reading Week right now. Well, it’s almost over at this point, but you get my meaning.

I finally am starting to feel better about where I am with EEP in this second semester. I have a nice pile of reading that I have accomplished and I can start to see how things are going to play out in the report. One of the nice side-benefits of having taken so much time thinking about what I’m going to do is that my reading is slotting itself neatly into my mental picture. So, I thought I knew what I would be writing about and as I read my articles, they are conforming to those mental images.

Does this mean that I am not learning anything and everything that I am reading is just confirming my own knowledge? No. Not at all.

What it does mean is that I do not have to feel like I am really struggling to understand how Pickering Public Library might be able to use the literature that I have to date. It’s more intuitive than the inclusion and diversity research from last semester. Because inclusion and diversity are so broad and hit so many different areas of library service, it was not always immediately obvious how it might work in a public library environment. However, with financial literacy, it’s really about core services and programming and just feels easier.

I have no doubt that this is a karmic statement that will bite me in the hindquarters later, but until then, I am going to ride the lessened stress.

Hoping to have some details about the findings to share next time.

Later!

GAH!

October 7, 2019

I had not anticipated the frustration that would come from being as powerless in this process as I am.

I have received another email from the Library and instead of the expected list of recommendations to explore, they are wanting me to focus all my time and attention on this new financial literacy strategic goal instead of furthering my research with inclusion and diversity.

As a researcher, I am feeling beholden to my “client”. They have a desire to make improvements at the Library and I am there to help them meet those goals. Simultaneously, I want to see my vision through. I feel like there is so much more that I want to explore with this topic and the research that I have already completed. And yet, if it is not valuable to them, then it would be wasted time.

I need to be more flexible. This is my new mantra.

Be flexible.

It’s not about me.

It’s about meaningful change for them.

And I can’t determine what is meaningful for them.

Repeat.

Moving forward on this uncharted path…

October 6, 2019

The poking for financial literacy literature has begun.

As I suspected, there are not nearly as many results for this topic as there are for “inclusion and diversity”, but there is more than I anticipated.

So far, what I am finding relates to academic libraries, which is not a terrible thing, to be honest. My research is focused on adult learners and academic libraries are delightfully full of them!

Work and life are ramping up a bit, making it challenging to give this project the time and attention that it truly deserves. I am going to start scheduling in time for the necessary work to get completed. My printer is very full of research just waiting for me to explore.

This semester, I suspect, is going to have me pacing myself more than I suspect I would normally. I am going to start to schedule myself so that I can accomplish a little all the time. Read and annotate a paper a day, for instance. I need to get into a better habit than this “burst” of work and nothing for days routine that I appear to be stuck in. I end up feeling like I haven’t accomplished as much as I could have that way.

Ah well. Off to the races again. Wish me well!

Word from on high…

October 2, 2019

So, I had my meeting with Pickering Public Library. It was not as packed of a meeting as I had expected, so that was a delightful bonus. Most of the discussion surrounded how the Library might help me meet my deliverables for the course. I thought that this was particularly kind of them because it’s really supposed to be all about how *I* can help *them*.

What ultimately came from this meeting is a new two-pronged approach to the final report:

  1. I am going to receive from them a prioritized list of recommendations that they would like to implement and I am going to contact the people who inspired the recommendation and help to develop an action plan for moving forward.
  2. Until I receive the list from the Library, I am going to work on actioning another strategic goal. This time, I am going to look at financial literacy.

I explained that it is unlikely that I will find nearly the content for financial literacy than I would for inclusion and diversity. The topics are not covered in nearly the same scope. However, I think that I could make some valuable insights into the kind of programming and services that are offered at the Library, so there is value in that.

I am not sure how I feel about this new direction change. I think that it echoes earlier sentiments that I had about having to negotiate each semester anew. Things have changed so much since the beginning of May. But, I am a little disappointed that my initial vision is not going to be followed through.

It’s about meaningful change for the organization. This is my new mantra.