This probably does not come as news to most, but moving to a new city, starting a full-time job and balancing an actual life is hard work. The past two months have been crazy busy and stressful. Every time I remembered I needed to still write a farewell post for Hack Library School my brain shut down and I got sucked into another Dr. Who episode while reorganizing my bookshelf.
Then came the time when I realized how out of touch I was already becoming with the library world, and the actual world outside of my own.
During graduate school it is easy to blow off not staying up-to-date with life outside of campus because you are swamped with homework, group projects and applying for jobs. It may not be a good excuse, but it is one I have used many times. After I graduated from undergrad I started working full-time at the University and was relieved to find time to scan news blogs during the day, watch the world news at night and still have time to debate these topics with anyone who would listen.
Unfortunately two months into my current position the same has not been true. Does that make me a bad librarian? Am I being a bad citizen for not staying informed? I feel guilty not knowing every detail of the war overseas or what new policies are currently being debated in libraryland. So far my schedule has been centered around staying on my own two feet and staying on solid ground as I pretend to know what I am doing at work (because “The Fraud Police” is a real thing), learn to navigate a brand new city and retain enough energy to stay in contact with the people I love the most. I do hate excuses, but now that reality has slapped me in the face I realized the need to get back in touch with the rest of the world.
During my first taste of full-time work I had a pretty good system set for staying in touch with the real world and it is something I would like to readapt and implement again. Hopefully these tools will not only be useful for myself, but they will also be useful to others in similar situations. If I am alone in this dilemma, please share your magical ways of information gathering so I can be as awesome as all of you.
- Blogs: Google Reader sucked me in (RIP), but Feedly is just as awesome with the ability to subscribe to and categorize favorite blogs and RSS feeds – like Hack Library School for example. This way I can quickly scan feeds sorted by world news, libraryland, YA literature and natural beauty (my weakness!) on my computer, phone or tablet. Some other favorite library blogs: Library Stuff, Letters to a Young Librarian, and The Travelin’ Librarian.
- Morning news shows: Most weeknights I do not get home until after the dinnertime news is over and I am reading in bed during the nightly news, so morning is really the only time I have in front of the TV. While most of these shows are more fluff than news, local news gets a few minutes to share headlines that I can follow up with later and CBS This Morning also does a quick summary of headlines at the top of the hour at 8:00 a.m.
- News apps: I have been a longtime subscriber to the CNN app, even to back before it was an app and just text updates to my cell phone. Every new headline prompts a notification that I am forced to read before dismissing, which I love because it is quick, easy and low commitment. I am sure there are other news apps just as annoying – err, persistent – with news updates throughout the day. I also used to be a big user of Pulse and I heard Reddit is finally working on making a decent official mobile app.
- Podcasts: In college I was naturally drawn to NPR podcasts (because what else does a college student listen to?) and listened to the 7am News Summary every morning before class. When did that habit die? Podcasts are so easy to subscribe and download to listen to in the car or during that boring train ride. According to podbay.fm some other top news podcasts include Global News, On the Media and Common Sense.
- Social media: During a recent discussion with friends, one mentioned using Twitter solely for their main source of news. How brilliant! Lets use a social media site you already login to everyday to also stay informed about local elections or national headlines instead of just obsessively following that silly (and absolutely adorable) angry cat. (Note: I just made a reference to Grumpy Cat because I have no idea what the most recent meme is.) Twitter chats are also a great way to stay informed and network with library people.
What resources do you use to learn and debate news in and outside the library world? Do you have a favorite blog, podcast or social media account you follow? Comment here and tweet at me to continue the conversation: @CayMcCoy.