31 May, 2006

Why the adhd librarian should be a guest on Rove Live.

Caution, this post is only for Australians!
Non-Australians should not read any further, but rather should move as quickly as possible to an Australian Consulate and begin filling out an application to emigrate.

Before I start on any claims that I myself am funny, let me set a scene.

Rove McManus
has been the new Daryl Somers for some time now. A crown he has managed to hold on despite the actual Daryl Somers returning like some sort of reanimated light entertainment zombie.
Daryl seems to be working to be the new Don Lane or perhaps a male Kerry-Anne?
So, what has this to do with me getting a national TV gig? Well, who remembers Daryl? the patrons of a Public Library, that's who. The very people who are asking my help choosing their large print Barbara Cartland novels because they dropped their bifocals in their colostomy bag.
Well, I can talk their language (why did you think it took so long to qualify as a librarian, all we do is read books all day). I am perfectly positioned to pass on the secrets of Hey Hey's continued high ratings even after it jumped the shark (perhaps 'Hired the Molly' could be the Australian jumped the shark).
You can't tell me Peter Hellier couldn't improve the show by going home and whipping up an ostrich puppet. And if Corrinne Grant isn't Denise Drysdale for the metrosexuals then I'm a chocolate teapot.
You know what I'm talking about Rove.
After writing this I wondered if anyone else thought this way. I discovered the SMH considerer Rove to be the new Mike Walsh. If only the frail aged (soiling themselves in comfort at the Public Library) remember Daryl, it would be fair to say there are only three people other than me remember who Mike Walsh was. Sadly, that includes Mike. Oh, he's not dead he just hasn't the foggiest idea who he is.
As for Kerry-Anne, I think it is about time we petitioned those who control the Matrix to reload our memories without her in them. After all, there is a difference between Light Entertainment and Vapidbrainliquefying Entertainment.

It seems that being the alternate to someone is the Aussie way. Steve Vizard tried to be the Australian Letterman and when that failed attempted to be our Michael Milken.
It's not all one way traffic though. I'm fairly sure Bill Clinton was trying to be the American Bob Hawke. He just failed to translate the jokes into American. Australians loved being governed by a lecherous drunk but Americans just couldn't see all the good things about having a leader who knows how to let go of stress. And there is Rupert Murdoch, who did a good job of becoming the American Rupert Murdoch.
Now, I'm not sure that this is enough to convince anyone that I deserve a TV gig. But if you know Rove, let him know I'm interested. I'd send it to him myself but I don't know his address. And who can find someone to do that sort of research for free. It'd take some sort of Government sponsored 'Public' Librarian and with The Australian Margaret Thatcher in office, there is unlikely to be enough money for both that and tax cuts.

30 May, 2006

Come Downunder

I've just come across a post I put up on LIS News almost exactly one year ago and just to make sure that it is in my archive as well as theirs I am posting it here.
It was a response to a query from A merkin about what they could expect their life to be like if they did a job exchange with an Aussie.

Well the first thing you should know is that Aussie is pronounced Ozzy (as in Ozzy Osbourne). From there we can move on to more serious difference (keeping in mind that I haven't been to your part of the world, but I probably get more American culture force fed to my society than you get Aussie culture). We have no patriot act, indeed to American eyes we have no patriotism. However, that is just culture shock. Most Australians are proud of the fact that we're not proud. Aussie libraries don't tend to have titles challenged. I'm not saying it never happens, but I've never worked in a library where we had a set procedure for what to do with a complaint of that sort. My usual method is tell them to put their complaint in writing after which point I'll never hear anything about it. On exchange you might notice your spell-check starts underlining words you thought were correct. You probably need to let us Aussies (remember the pronunciation, we won't be offended but we will laugh at you. Besides how can America expect to deal with the complexities of a vastly different culture like Iraq when you can't even make the effort to pronounce Melbourne correctly - Mell Bun) know if you are planning to sojourn to a specific type of library. No point me going on about the public system when you are a specialist in presidential libraries (oh, and we don't have presidential libraries due to a lack of presidents. This lack should not be taken as a sign we are not a democracy, we're quite happy without any and don't need liberating. We even got to vote a little while ago and we voted not to have one.). And while I'm on the topic, if the American president is the leader of The Free World, why don't I get to vote? I'm part of the free work damn it! Oh, and land of the free, HA, I refer you back to my point on the patriot act.
You will hear people talking about cricket like it is important. This is very prevalent with male librarians. If you begin to find this difficult, you could do worse than remember that some of your own countrymen think that baseball is a sport. Oh and don't get us started about American football. We have constant battles to keep up the level of funding, same as y'all (see, I can make the effort to use your language). Aussie libraries are currently trying to update their image, and the image of librarians. So bun wearing shushers need to be aware we will force them to be cataloguers and stick them in the basement where they will see nothing of Australia that isn't on the dust jacket of a book. So what is the new image for librarians? Well we realise that all that is successful about Australia involves khaki clothing and crocodiles, so we're spicing up the libraries with live reptiles and Linda Kozlowski look alikes (see we do welcome Americans). Despite years of work by American cola companies and fast food chains Aussies still get most of their calories from food. Despite years of work by American drug companies Aussies still get most of their vitamins from food. Combining these two facts, if you let your Aussie co-workers know that you consider pop tarts a food, you will discover that this voids any chance people will listen to you. Yes, if you dare suggest that a big bowl of frosted anything (let alone with cola on the side) is a breakfast for anyone other than a seven year old with no parental supervision (or someone with ADHD) you will find that no one cares about your wealth of experience with ephemera collections. You will be forever known as the American Pop Tart. As in "Does anyone know if the American Pop Tart finished the shelving?" Oh and, you won't understand our sense of humour. This entire reply has been funny and if you haven't noticed (or if you were offended) then a trip down under will probably be more fun for you than a visit to Australia would be. No, I could go on, but I won't.

I'm disappointed to say that I only had one offended American reply to this, so perhaps I should try harder. That said there are currently two Americans on staff in my library, so perhaps I'm going soft in my attempt to point out the rest of the world to Americans online.
Although, it probably has more to do with the fact that American Librarians (due to working in libraries) may have if fact come across the existence of the 900s and guessed that some of these places mentioned may still exist.
The response from the Defender of America was all together too funny because when he played with every stereotype of Australia, I was able to ignore it as I was in fact born in the UK.

While on the American teasing exercise, I did post an article on a 'gun totin' librarian to LIS news recently. One reply I got from that, was the wonderful "guns don't kill people, people kill people" line. Which I loved on so many levels.
Firstly- I hadn't said anything about disarming librarians.
Secondly- I quite enjoy playing with firearms. I hunt on occasion (I even spent some time in the Australian Army). Although I never saw the need for an AK47 to go rabbit hunting.
Thirdly- based on my time in the Army, I can say that they did seem to focus on the guns during our 'how to kill the enemy' training. In fact I notice that most nations prefer to send their soldiers out armed with guns. This suggests that while the guns may not kill people, they certainly help.
Fourthly- There is something retarded about this automatic 'knee jerk' right to arm bears. It has all the passion (and logic) of a UFO cult.

Let us all bask in television's warm glowing warming glow.

ADD Attorney points me to about.com which in turn tells me about a study in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics which suggests that I have ADHD because of TV and other modern 'stuff' (I may have paraphrased).
While I know that claiming something isn't true based only on my own life is poor science, I have to chime in and say. I lived without a TV up until the age of 15. Yet somehow I still caught ADHD, perhaps I caught it from the radio or it is possible that the TV beamed its evil waves at me from the electronics section of department stores (I never could resist the flashy lights, which made it hard for my parents to shop for furniture).
Based on my wide experience of being me, I think it is possible that ADHD folk find the TV hard to resist. Ohhh shiny, but that is a far cry from being a cause. Perhaps it is an effect, I always get those two confused.
So it is possible that I managed to have a decent childhood because there was no TV to waylay me with its flashy light and I lived in a rural area with trees to climb and rivers which I wasn't allowed to swim in (I was in fact an appalling swimmer, constantly gasping to stay afloat. But to admit that would be to remind my Australian friends that I was in fact a Pommy, born in that dark cold land where you don't learn to swim at birth. And being as in that town the English were as close to Ethnic as anyone could imagine I didn't want to remind "me mates, bonzer, okker, crikey and G'day" that I wasn't Dinky Di.
"No Mum, I'm wet because I fell into a bucket of muddy water."
"Yes I went to school today, I'd never even consider spending a day on a rope swing when school and education are so important."
"I don't know how I got so sunburned."

Now, the fact that this was published in 2004 and I hadn't come across it before (Did I mention I'm a librarian) may suggest that it isn't sweeping the medical treatment for ADHD aside. So perhaps I'm not the only one who has come across this cause/effect dichotomy in the research.

oh, and look the attorney found by blog before I found his
I don't know if I should blame my spam filter or my brain but I have no memory of his email to me.

Just to prove I can do the librarian gig, the study mentioned is:
Christakis, D.A. et other guys and perhaps also Mr ibid Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children in Pediatrics Vol. 113 No. 4 April 2004, pp. 708-713

29 May, 2006

Who am I to talk?

I've had a few emails about my post on smelly black people. Good god, I honestly didn't think anyone (other than an automated spambot) would bother emailing me. Or at least not about my blog.
Yes I may have said that some black people are smelly, that is not racist abuse. Racist abuse would be if I had said that they were smelly because they were black.
But people are also wondering what that has to do with ADHD or Librarians,
good point,
to which I say, bugger off it is my blog I can post about what I like. Report me to the Advertising Standards Board if you don't like it.

Well, OK. There is a connection.
The library in which I currently work services a large indigenous population and I spend a lot of my time with indigenous kids. For the most part it is just like any other public library, except here all the kids who are cutting school are genetically distinguishable. Now I don't want to bag out the local people because their kids don't go to school. I myself forgot to turn up to school when I was about 14, I managed to survive the Department of Education contacting my father because he had just met the woman who would become my step-mother and as such was feeling in a happy mood.
So, have I been clear that these kids aren't skipping school because they are black? they are black and they are skipping school. No big deal to me, there are always kids skipping school in the library and I'm happy to spend my work day with them. Better here with me than out in the car park with a plastic bag full of chrome paint.
There are some things that people let indigenous kids get away with because they suffer from white middle class guilt about the stolen generation or the Coniston Massacre or their own passive racism. What we end up with in return in a reverse racism, not like positive discrimination, but where I see kids still in nappies coming to the library on their own. Or even worse (for our cleaners) kids who are so young they should be in nappies, but aren't.
I see kids who are about nine, who are spending their day in the library because they are looking after three or four younger brothers, sisters and cousins. I see kids who haven't eaten in a couple of days because the older members of the family have drunk their dole money.
And what is done about this? Nothing, because the Australian government once had a stupid racist policy where they took aboriginal children away from their parents by force (and we alone did this, no other nation on earth has ever been so evil woe woe woe, and so on). So now, rather than deal with the past wrongs (by doing something like offering an official apology) we ignore the problems it has caused and don't let the people from welfare take these children away from their substance abusing parents.
We'll let the welfare folk take away white children, Indian children, Vietnamese children, Children of African decent, children of any ethnicity (and Australia has a few) but not aboriginal kids.

So I sit at my library desk, turning around kids under seven and telling them they can't come in without an adult. I send them off to do what ever the hell they want to do in town, go play in the traffic, go watch mum get drunk and fight but don't come into my safe library because I don't have the ability to deal with your problems and the folk who should be helping you, won't be either because they need more money, more people and a complete change in the whole social structure of Australia before they can do anything to help a child who has only been neglected. they need their resources for the actively abused and even then they are dealing with only a fraction of what people suspect is going on.

I'm a celebrity

Yes, I've been whoring myself out to the local media outlets again.
I had a couple of radio gigs last week and a kids TV show I filmed earlier went to air. I'm on the radio again tomorrow morning. This time around however, I'm a little less hopeful that someone is going to see my star potential and whisk me away for a life of luxury.
That said, I am being recognised. Sure some of that is the usual stuff, whereby friends and workmates say "heard you on the radio yesterday". However, someone I didn't know before saw me on the box and said hi, it was like this....

A game of rugby has just finished, the players (tough rugged men) are shaking hands with their opponents and saying such things as "good game Wukka" "nice tackling Donk" and so on. My moment of macho zen is broken when one players says "were you on (name of kids TV show) last week?"
"I thought it was you, I recognised your voice"
Suddenly I don't feel so tough, I'm a librarian playing at being masculine and I've been found out. That is until I realise that this guy was at home at 10am watching kids TV.

18 May, 2006

Aboriginals are smelly

I have small children,
I'm not sure how many as they tend to move around a lot, which makes it hard to count them.
One of them though, recently said to me "Daddy I don't like Aboriginals". This concerned me because we live in a town with a large number of Indigenous Australian and that sort of comment could well be seen as racist. So I had a little talk with said child about why this was so, and pointed out to her several of her friends are in fact Aboriginal. "No they're not!" she replied. And when I asked her why she was sure that they weren't, it turned out that they couldn't be because they "aren't smelly".
Thinking on this I was able to take some comfort from the fact that one of my kids was not in fact racist. She was unaware that being Aboriginal had anything to do with being dark skinned. She assumed it was a name for the drunken itinerants who sleep in the parks around town.
This has come to mind again because of a recent report on abuse and violence in the Aboriginal community. Something most white Australians living on the east coast had forgotten about, because the last report on this (which appalled everyone and lead to all the Chardonnay socialists weeping into their morning lattes was two years ago, so they'd all forgotten that Australia still had black people). My problem though is that Australians are suffering the same problems as my daughter. They've lost sight of what it means for people to be aboriginal, so when they talk about Aboriginal men being violent they are tarring them all with the same brush. The problem is however not a problem with Aboriginal culture. What this is, is a social problem in Australia where a section of our community are living in a cycle of poverty and lack of education. Anyone who looks at world history, be it the Deep South of America, the Slums of Glasgow or the suburbs of Housing Commission homes in Western Sydney can see that substance abuse and violence go hand in hand with a lack of hope. As long as we keep identifying this as an aboriginal problem we'll be failing to do what it takes to repair this rift in our society. We'll also be heaping shame about their aboriginality on the heads of young aboriginals, in particular young boys who will be given the message that this is all they have to look forward to.
So, perhaps this 'shocking' report, might better be used to inform people that...
homeless people may be smelly
drunk people my be violent
unemployed people may be depressed
uneducated people may be unemployed
and that while an Aboriginal person may be violent, it does not follow that violent people are aboriginal.

16 May, 2006

M is for Malpractice

Don't ever go to the hospital in my town. Now I realise that I'm not giving you much to go on as I don't mention where I come from. So just to be safe, stay away from all Australian Hospitals.
Why should I, a librarian, be steering you away from the medical care of the Australian medical system and what are my qualifications that you should heed my warning? I have just watched one of the local doctors photocopy the best part of four volumes of the Encyclopaedia of Family Health. Now, I'm a Children's Librarian, so I have recommended this particular tome on many occasions. I do however feel that it is probably not an adequate substitute for Actual Medical Training.
Before any medicos tell me I am doing their profession a disservice, let me be clear that I don't know the difference between a registrar and an emeritus professor of surgical cuttinguppiness, so this doctor may well be one of the most junior in their profession. Given the frequency with which I attend the local hospital to have myself stitched or plastered, it is still fear worthy.

15 May, 2006

World Record Vomiting

Everything old is new again.
Matthew (the well dressed librarian) is posting about ties again, so perhaps it is time for me to post about my personal attempts to make vomiting an olympic sport.
Yes, I've been at it again. This time it was on a four wheel driving trip. We were five hours from nowhere and I decided to see if I could make the trip take longer by getting out of the car every fifteen minutes and projecting my lunch into the bush. Oh, should I mention two car loads of friends watching?
And not one of them helped me to die quietly, no matter how often I screamed "kill me, kill me arghhhhhhhhhh, kill me"

And the moral to this tale?
Well Dressed is classier than ADHD

I'm back, now where was I?

Where oh were has the librarian gone
oh where oh where can he be.

C'mon folks, I'm the ADHD librarian. What did you expect?
I know I've been forgetting about my loyal readers (how have you both been).
In truth, I've been trying to remember to work whilst at work, and whilst at home I've been working towards a Master of Business (Arts and Cultural Management)
Because I decided that I want to be a library manager again, but this time I plan to know what I'm doing. That said, I have recieved a new dose of inspiration so I am back again (again).
How long will it last?
Well that depends, if I can stop procrastinating about my uni work, you probably won't get many posts. So you can probably look forward to two a fortnight, all designed to coincide with another bout of procrastination.

old bio info

John has worked in a State Library, a University Library and several Public Libraries.
He is currently working in the Australian 'outback' having decided this was a great way to fast track a career that had been (up till that point) decidedly slow tracked. And having spent more time acting in higher duties than in his own job, this has proven to be correct.
Despite living in the outback John does not say crikey or poke venomous reptiles with sticks. Although he has been bitten lizards and redback spiders.
John is constantly playing with the net, new technology, dismantling and re assembling the shelving, doing things he shouldn't be and not doing things he should. He is, in short, the sort of librarian who drives his manager to distraction.
His disastrous attempts to do things new ways are matched only by his spectacular successes in convincing people it was worth a try and that he has learned from his mistakes. He is likely to come to work on a Monday morning with broken bones, stitches, a limp or boot prints on his face due to an unfortunate Rugby habit.
His tendency to talk about himself in the third person is problematic in real life but quite useful when writing brief biographical information for a blog.

even older bio info:
it is my attempt to get laughs and make sense of why in God's name a kid with ADHD who almost forgot to attend high school would consider taking the nine years needed to complete four years of university and then run screaming around a public library.

copyright reform

I submitted this to LIS News, but you get to read it here.
yes, you no longer have to buy multiple copies of the same song in order to listen to it in different places.
You can now copy your vinyl records straight to your ipod (I knew if I held onto them long enough they'd be useable again. Ha music industry, now I'm never buying '1986 just for kicks' on CD. The future's so bright I've got to wear shades!)
And for librarians, 'format shifting' of material such as newspapers becomes easier. (Although libraries who could argue they were doing it to maintain access to archival collections could do this in the past).
Let Attorney-General Philip Ruddock tell you about it himself


Skin of Your Teeth Library Management:
How to Survive Falling Up the Career Ladder
This paper will look at what it takes to manage a library and how to get it. It will consider the necessary skills to manage in libraries, covering a range of examples from the supervision of a small team to working as ‘The Library Manager’.
Falling up the career ladder is not an unusual occurrence in Australian Libraries. While librarians without management training may find themselves floating just out of the depth in unfamiliar waters, the alternative is too often managers without library experience. This second group can find themselves splashing around at the opposite end of this metaphorical pool.
As such, this paper will present several methods of dealing with the management side of librarianship. Looking closely at what will work for those who have not studied management as a discipline and need to learn on the job. It will also consider how to decide which style of management will suit you as a manager and your organization. Possible ways of managing staff with more knowledge and experience than yourself will be explored in some depth.
Throughout the paper, consideration will be given to acquiring and using;
* Library Knowledge
* Interpersonal Skills
* Conceptual Thinking
* Self Management
* Balance
The management theories promoted by popular business psychology books will be examined in order to asses their potential for providing relevant information to the accidental library manager. As Library managers are often required to present information in formal settings, consideration will be given to the skills of public speaking and internal promotion. Emphasis will be placed on presenting information to a board of directors or an elected council. Finally, the benefits to the library sector of librarians acquiring formal qualifications in a management field will be examined.

12 May, 2006

The Mad Librarian

The fact that I am a librarian is the source of much amusement amongst rugby players in town, all of whom have macho jobs like plumber, electrician, builder, unemployed or prison guard. I have therefore been dubbed "the mad librarian". This was highlighted last Saturday when I made a fantastic tackle on a MUCH larger opponent. It was textbook stuff, my shoulder into his guts - driving forward and sitting him on his arse. It was so good that he couldn't hold on to the ball. I stood, proud, strong, a rugby player!
Then, from the stands I heard a voice "hit him again, his books are overdue". So it seems I'm still the mad librarian.
As a postscript, I didn't do anything else interesting that game and we lost by a large margin. I still have this reoccurring fantasy that I can play the game.

listen to this man, he has the smartness

So, now thay you know I will be talking at the ALIA new grad symposium, you are probably wondering how I convinced anyone to give me a chance in front of impressionable new librarians. Well, here for your reading pleasure is my 'about the author' I'll put up the abstract later.
During 2005, John, a librarian with two years post-graduate experience found himself in the Manager's office. While this had not been unusual during his ten years as an Assistant Library Technician, on this occasion he was not being pulled into line, but was 'Acting in Higher Duties'.
For six months this Library was made glorious summer by this son of ALIA (not the trucking company). During this time John discovered that his experiences at the bottom of the pecking order had prepared him wonderfully for many aspects of library management, but that there were some things for which he was woefully unprepared.
Having now returned to his own duties, John has enrolled in a Master of Business program in order to prepare himself for his inevitable rise to power in the cut and thrust world of Libraries.
In the meanwhile he has taken time out from his latest assignment to distil the wisdom learned during his time in the big leather chair of management and to present it as...
Skin of Your Teeth Library Management:
How to Survive Falling Up the Career Ladder

Just a spoon full of sugar

At some time in my childhood my parents decided that they weren't going to spend much time together any more. (Someone without ADHD might remember how old they were when that happened). Anyway, I stayed with Dad. This meant that I became responsible for my own life quite early.
Somehow however I seem to always work alongside women whose sons (of around my age) are hopeless looser. They always then assume that I too am a work shy commitment phobe. I, in return, become snarky and settle back to live down to their expectations. After all, no point trying too hard when they've already decided I'm a layabout. Please believe me when I say always, I mean without exception there has been a woman like this at every place I have ever worked.
Today for example, my boss decided my desk/office needed a spring clean. Fair call, I forget things if I can't see them. So I put everything on my desk. So, how does the boss do this? John, tidy your bloody desk! (like one former manager would have said) No, we got stuck into it together. I felt like a fucking five year old whose mummy is teaching him to tidy his bedroom.
It was all I could do to keep myself from singing Mary Poppins numbers...
Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down
medicine go dooown
medicine go down
Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down
In the most delightful way.
Remember to put your barcodes back in your toy box when you're finished playing with them. Then we'll always know where they are.
Look what I've found. You've been looking for your favourite marker pen haven't you.

11 May, 2006

Life, study, work and getting back on track.

Well, it's about twelve months since I became one of Dexy's Midnight Runners and it has been an improvement. It has however, not been the "fog lifting" I can see clearly now the rain has gone, road to Damascus experience that many ADHD people report. It has however given me a lift in my productivity, a better level of focus and an opportunity to redesign my life so that my "oh look shiny thing, mmm I wonder what the Pope does at night, that's a nice book, Oh I like beans, mmm where are my car keys, hi how are you, what was I looking for again?" doesn't dominate my life.

Work is where I've seen the biggest improvement, which may in part be because I spent a while as manager and as such I understand my role a bit better now. Study has also improved, three subjects into my masters and I've only failed one assignment. And I still managed an overall pass in that subject.

Where I'm failing to make up ground is however at home. I don't like taking my evening dose because it ends up with me awake till 3am staring at a dark ceiling while my brain solves all of the world's problems. As such my time at home with the wife and kiddies is my braindead coming down time. Something which is failing to make them feel like they are the most important people in my life.
My GP is keeping an eye on some non-stimulant options which have recently been approved in Oz and I might try switching to that and seeing if it is a better fit for me.

10 May, 2006


The ADHD librarian will be speaking at the ALIA New Graduated Symposium this year. Although, I will be using another name. http://conferences.alia.org.au/newlibrarian2006/
ALIA New Librarians' Symposium 2006
Pathways and possibilities
Fri 1st - Sat 2nd Dec 2006
The John Niland Scientia Building, Uni of N.S.W.
Sydney, Australia

Come along, while you may not know who I am you can assume that whichever speaker you liked most was me.