Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Back in the Saddle Again

In the immortal words of Timbaland, it's been a long time. I shouldn't have left you without a dope beat to step to. Or, failing that (since I don't actually own a drum machine), at least a few posts. Digging out from under the electronic & paper-based detritus that accumulated while I was at ALA Midwinter took considerably longer than I'd anticipated. It was a learning experience, though, and I'm posting my tips & notes to self about handling all that stuff, ahead of time and after the conference.

Before The Conference (or vacation, or whatever away time is coming up):

  • Unsubscribe to all your listservs. If you're a moderator, ask someone on the list to be a temporary moderator in your absence. I love YALSA-BK, but I returned to over 300 messages. After telling myself for days that I would read them, I finally deleted them all. In the meantime, I received a number of "mailbox over the limit" messages from my IT Department. Sorry, guys!
  • Set your e-mail to send out "I'm Out of Town" messages. I didn't do that. I now think that was rude. Your correspondents deserve to know that they won't be hearing from you for a while, and when they can look forward to hearing from you once more. Don't rely on being able to check e-mail while you're out of town -- rely on getting it done when you return.
  • Pack marked envelopes for all receipts. You may think you can keep track of your cab receipts, meal receipts, and snack receipts in your nice, roomy wallet. You would be wrong about this. Use one credit card for all transactions, too -- it'll be so much simpler to track your expenses & reimbursements when the bills come next month.

Upon Your Return

  • File your reimbursement requests immediately. The longer you put it off, the longer you wait to pay off your bill, the more likely you are to forget or lose a receipt. That's no good.
  • File your conference report right away, too! I just received a note from my HR guru about this; no report of my doings at the conference = no reimbursement. Quite a motivator. So is time; the longer I wait to summarize what I did, the more likely I am to forget some part of it.
  • Wait to resubscribe to your listservs. Your professional universe will not come crashing down around you if you miss out on another 3-5 days' worth of discussion. Take the time you need to do the following:
  • Respond to all the e-mail, voicemail, and regular mail that may have piled up in your absence. You may need to be a bit ruthless with this part. Delegate where you can; where you can't, prioritize the order in which you respond to issues, duties, or questions that may have arisen in your absence. If you're on a distribution list for periodicals, pass them on to the next person to give yourself a bit of breathing room -- they'll come back your way in due time.

Other tips? Put 'em in the comments!


  • At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great post, Sophie. Useful for anyone who is away from work for more than a day. I just read this piece at Change This. com, URL: http://www.changethis.com/10.TyrannyOfEmail

    Overwhelmed by email? Tired of non-sensical barely-English missives from coworkers? Wondering how an entire day can go by without any work getting done at all? OLE EICHHORN has a few simple suggestions, such as turn off your e-mail when you need a block of quiet time to work on a project. Then check and respond on YOUR schedule. What a concept!

    Bill Brookover


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