Banishing The Ghost Of Melvil Dewey

The idea of a public library is a modern concept convinced in the mid-1800’s.  It took years before free libraries were established across the country.  One of the early proponents of public libraries in America was Melvil Dewey, who became the State Librarian of New York in 1888.

Today Dewey is best remembered as the originator of the book classification system that carries his name, as well as a founder of the American Library Association.  What is not well remembered is the social agenda that powered his belief in public libraries.  In a recent article on “The Establishment” web site called Banishing The Ghost Of Melvil Dewey: How Public Libraries Are Outgrowing Their Classist Roots, author Anna Gooding-Call shares this view of Dewey:

220px-Melvil_Dewey“He was a zealous librarian celebrity, famously arrogant, and completely committed to the idea that the public could only improve themselves if they understood and embodied Christian morality. Dewey could provide this education with books, which would “elevate” them through a system of ideologically coordinated public libraries. When shown the foundation of Western literature—ran the logic—readers would understand how society functioned as well as their place within it. The result would be literate but passive components of a capitalist machine. Public libraries would be its oil.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article that examines how libraries today are adjusting to a present much different from what Dewey ever imagined.

Acceptable Interruptions

Have you ever been interrupted at work?  The truth is that we are interrupted constantly throughout the day.  In fact, it is one of the top concerns that my workshop participants raise in the seminar pre-survey.  The mental cost to get back on track after an interruption is very high. So much so that most people would like to close their door, put on their earphones, and have a full day without anyone interrupting them.

man in brown long sleeved button up shirt standing while using gray laptop computer on brown wooden table beside woman in gray long sleeved shirt sitting

However, are all interruptions bad? I believe there are at least three acceptable types of interruptions.  They are:

  • Emergency Interruptions – If the building is in fire or someone is hurt, please interrupt me.
  • Major Organizational Deadline Interruptions – When a big gala is happening tomorrow, budget deadlines are here, or key strategic projects are in their final stage, these items may override all normal work. Best to help your teammates out cheerfully here.
  • Customer Service Interruptions – When scheduled to be the point person for customer affairs, or if a major customer needs attention, you are committed to set other work aside to focus on them.

What else do you think is an acceptable interruption?

GTD For Teens

gtdteensMany people say, “I wish I had known GTD when I was in school.”  The problem was that Getting Things Done and other productivity books are encountered after they start their career, mostly because these books are primarily aimed at the business community.  However, this has changed with the release of the new book GTD for Teens. As noted on the GTD web site:

“The most interconnected generation in history is navigating unimaginable amounts of social pressure, both in personal and online interactions. Very little time, focus, or education is being spent teaching and coaching this generation how to navigate this unprecedented amount of “stuff” entering their lives each day. How do we help the overloaded and distracted next generation deal with increasing complexity and help them not only survive, but thrive?”

GTD for Teens take the system and explains it using language and situations common to teens.  Learn more about the book on the GTD for Teens web site.


My GTD Story @ GTD Online!

Idcrane-gtdt is an honor and a privilege to announce that I am currently featured on Getting Things Done!

About a month ago, the GTD team reached out to me to ask if I would share my story about how I discovered the system and use it.  Without any hesitation I jumped at the chance.  Here is an except from the story:

How long have you been practicing GTD?
I started in 2011. I am one of those excited people who dove in head first and did a total implementation of the GTD process within the first month. One of the best support tools for the early years of practice was the 10 CD set of David Allen’s complete GTD two-day seminar. I pretty much listened to it on repeat in my car. Each time I listened, it took me deeper into the GTD process. I still dive into seminar from time to time for a refresher.”

Read the rest of the story at the Getting Things Done web site.

Celebrate Small Wins

Next time you watch a basketball game, pay attention to what happens after a team scores.  The players on that team high five the teammate who shot the basket.  It doesn’t matter if it is early in the first quarter or late in the fourth quarter, teams are constantly celebrating success.

man dunking the ball

With that in mind, do you ever have days at work where it feels like nothing was accomplished?  You worked hard but it seems your major goals stay out of reach.  It can make our jobs very frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be that way.  Perhaps all you need to do is focus on the value of small wins.

The game of knowledge work requires us to set the success conditions.  Too often we define our projects in large terms, such as updating the strategic plan, launching the new service, or completing the budget process.  In truth, those larger projects contain numerous small projects, each one of which is a crucial step forward.  In turn, the smaller projects also contain sub-projects of their own.

In basketball, each team may hit 40 or more baskets.  While a basket itself is worth very little, teams celebrate as they know that point helps achieve a larger victory.  In knowledge work our scores are calculated different, but they are still as meaningful.  So why not celebrate each one of your small wins along the way? That’s why I enjoy clearing my inbox, delegating a task, completing a next action, or finishing a two-minute item.  Small wins every hour of every day add up to the big win later on.

Therefore, celebrate your small wins trusting in the fact that each step is moving you towards your big goals.

Twittering Away

twitterbirdJust a quick post to share that I have finally joined the 336 million other people using Twitter.  I’m not sure yet how often I will tweet, but hopefully my 280 character correspondences will be entertaining and educational in some small capacity.  I’ll continue to focus my tweets on efficiency, productivity, and library themes.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter at:

efficientlibrarian @efficientlibra1


The Productivityist Podcast

I recently came across an engaging podcast from a company called the Productivityist.  According to their web site, they are:

“A company built with the quest to help people stop “doing” productive and start “being” productive through developing practical and tactical approaches to their work and lives.”

productivityistThe host is Mike Vardy, the President of the company.  So, what exactly is a productivityist?  Mike offers us this description:

“A productivityist is a productivity enthusiast. They are someone who studies productivity, be it the tools or habits. They dive deeper into the realm than most people. Just like a comedian looks at the world differently, so does the productivityist. Productivityists, like other enthusiasts, like to go further in their craft and push boundaries. They like to explore new processes, new ideas, new ways to get things done.”

The podcast is worth a listen and it can be found on the Productivityist web site or through the Apple Podcast app.  In future blog posts, I’ll explore the thoughts and ideas of some of the podcast’s unique guests.