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My Training Plan… Er… BOPSIASK

Everyone needs a personal training plan, but I really feel the need for one this year as I get familiar with academia, strange duck that it is, and work my way back into the hardcore library IT world, which is a duck with three wings and one leg one day, one wing and three legs the next… Then again, there is the notion that for a manager, every day is Training Day… but I digress.

A training plan: I need one. Although perhaps “training plan” isn’t suited for academia, and I should call this my “Bibliographically-oriented Prism on Sequential and Intentional Acquisition of Scholarly Knowledge,” or, to get cozy, BOPSIASK.

So here’s a few elements of my BOPSIASK (bop – SEE – ask). What would you add or change? (I look forward to visiting this in a year, by the way. Sometimes I deeply regret not having a time machine.)

Reading. Beef up my scholarly/IT-ish reading by really, really reading (scouring, not just skimming) every issue of journals such as DLib, Current Cites, and First Monday; stay on track with the wider world of IT via regular reading of magazines such as Information Week and Business Week, and random bidness magazines in airport kiosks; to keep in touch with the cultural world, continue to read Atlantic, Vanity Fair, New Yorker, and People. I’d also like to renew my commitment to reading at least the headlines and big stories of two dailies every morning (the New York Times and the local paper, the Democrat). I skim a slew of blogs, of course. Then there are the books, articles, and grey lit I’m hoovering up from various Internet tubes, dark and light, about ETDs, institutional repositories, DSpace, Greenstone, learning commons, and all the other au courant academic trends.

Hands-on Education. Cracking the books is a big part of the plan; but for topics I am not working with every day, a training class forces me into a room, far from the madding email-telephone-IM crowd, where I can concentrate in community with my peers and ask the crucial if dumb questions a book won’t answer. (It’s why I am tepid about online training. I have yet to make it five minutes into a “webinar” without fielding a phone call or getting distracted.)

I get some hands-on module training with Ex Libris in late March, courtesy of MPOW’s wider ILS System, and I’m looking forward to it. I wish I had a reason to learn more MySQL, since I enjoyed that last year and found it useful, but I don’t personally need it at my job (there’s something fundamentally language-like about MySQL that appeals to me; imagine a sestina MySQL query), so I may have to let that dream go. C’est la guerre.

As we take steps to strengthen our asset protection in my department, I am also doing some training related to disaster preparedness and response. I find DP/DR totally hot, but then, I spent eight years in the military practicing What To Do If Your Hangar Was Blown Up. I know some people feel DP/DR isn’t that interesting or important because you can’t touch it or smell it, but heck, you could say that about radiation poisoning. DP/DR is something everyone has a reason to learn more about, whether you realize it or not.

Conference programs, done right, are naturally central to my BOPSIASK. I had to miss LITA Forum last fall, but I guarantee I will be there with bells on this fall. There is just no substitute for a professionally-appropriate conference with good programs and the right people.

Vendor schmoozing. One of the reasons to avoid aspiring to the highest of ALA offices (my apologies, ALA) is you just don’t get the schmooze time any more. I wish I had a photo of John Reynolds of Serial Solutions patiently walking me through some subelement of their product at ALA Midwinter. John–a big fella–probably felt he was talking to one of the Borrowers. Plus John Law’s new beard is way cool, and the RefWorks team is always fun. (I so adore RefWorks, and I love that they love that I love them. Hey, I can love a product, can’t I?)

Speaking of vendor schmoozing, every time I walk onto the floor of ALA exhibits for the first time at a conference, I remember giving a spiel about FPOW near my exhibit booth several years back… and Gordon Conable, then working for LSSI, saying, “You know, you’re really good at that. You could be vendor scum.” He died just a few months later. The exhibit floor may seem an odd place to get nostalgic, but I grin a little when I remember Gordon’s praise. He was a good man, a great librarian, and a tireless champion of intellectual freedom. If you think vendors are “them,” get over it.

Teaching and Training. “Gladly would I learn, and gladly teach,” says one of the pilgrims in Canterbury Tales. One of the reasons I love to teach is that it forces me to learn more about a subject. (The primary reason is that I groove on the classroom experience in a way that only teachers who groove as I do fully grok; it’s catnip for me to be thinking in community in real-time.) I am being careful about conference submissions this year, but I am cooking up some local training on Flickr and YouTube, and will undoubtedly do more as the year progresses.

Writing. Q.v. teaching. ETD policies, IRs, IT cost models for learning commons… the pen will flow.

So that’s it for now. What are the foot-stompers I’m overlooking?

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