Speed Networking: Making Professional Contacts

Your steps to success!

Speed networking is a fairly new concept that developed after the trending ‘speed dating’ of the late 1990’s. The idea behind speed dating is to spend a few minutes with someone to see if you click. If you do, you share information for a future date.

What is speed networking? It’s an opportunity to connect with people in your field. Speed networking is typically a formal event. But, you could create your own speed networking opportunity in an unsuspecting group setting making as many contacts as you can. You can also take advantage of online networking too.

You will need a few things to successfully speed network:

  • An elevator speech
  • Business cards (or contact information)
  • A smile
  • Ability to small talk


The elevator speech is important because it’s a purposeful statement designed to make an impact. Think about what you want to say ahead of time and create a few clear statements that sum up what you want people to remember about you. Be ready with a few statements so you can adjust what you want to say based on who you meet.

Business cards are easy to come by. You can print or design cards with a few clicks on your computer. If you don’t have business cards, have something you can hand to people with at least your name and email. It’s always good to include your phone number, where you work, and a phrase to remember you by. I’ve seen individually wrapped cookies and lollipops with tags that have contact information on it. I like this idea because it can make more of an impact than a traditional card as it is unique and more personal, though more expensive.

If you read my blog, you know I think smiling is important. If you don’t smile for personal reasons, you should for professional reasons. There is nothing more attractive and appealing than a great smile. Plus, smiling is a mood booster.

If small talk doesn’t come easily to you, simply Google “how to small talk.” You’ll find a vast amount of information that will help you become comfortable with this necessary skill. The purpose of small talk is to chat about simple topics that aren’t personal. When I train new staff at a service desk, I teach the importance of having talking points. At the least, have a short list of safe topics to bring up. I recommend talking about the weather. In a networking situation, a good opening to further the conversation is to simply note what you are enjoying about the event or the venue.

If you reference my previous posts, the importance of networking and having a prepared elevator speech, you will get a good overview of the concepts above. As I prepare for this year’s Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services Conference in Covington, Kentucky, I decided to incorporate a few rounds of speed networking into my presentation. After all, a professional conference is the perfect networking opportunity.

Further networking tips:

  • Good listening is an important factor in networking.
  • Network with another person or with a group, especially if you aren’t comfortable networking alone.
  • Follow-up after a speed networking opportunity in order to continue the conversation. Never send out a blanket email to those you met – personalize the email.
  • Some conferences will give you attendee contact information. It’s okay to connect with these people after the event, even if you didn’t get a chance to meet in person.
  • Look for new chances to network. At your next meeting, try sitting next to someone you don’t know.

For more details on speed networking, check out the resources below.

~I’m here to help



a2z, Inc. 2016. 5 Trade Show Secrets for Networking Success. Retrieved from: http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/trade-show-secrets-for-networking-success

AmeriCorp Alums. 2016. Top 5 Tips for Online Speednetworking Events. Retrieved from: https://blog.americorpsalums.org/2016/05/25/top-5-tips-for-online-speed-networking-success/

Brunelinnovationhub. 2016. 10 Tips for networking for Success. Retrieved from: https://brunelinnovationhub.com/2016/03/07/10-tips-for-networking-success/

Frost, Aja.  2016. 48 Questions That’ll Make Awkward Small Talk So Much Easier. https://www.themuse.com/advice/48-questions-thatll-make-awkward-small-talk-so-much-easier

NeuroNation. Why You Need To Smile More. Retrieved from: http://www.neuronation.com/science/benefits-of-smiling

Tung, Jennifer. 10 Big Rules of Small Talk. Retrieved from: http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/work-life-etiquette/manners/10-big-rules-small-talk

wikiHow. 2016. How to Small Talk. Retrieved from: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Small-Talk

Williams, Tina. 2016. Networking & Careers. Retrieved from:  https://tinaheretohelp.com/2016/09/01/networking-careers/

Williams, Tina. 2016. The Elevator Speech. Retrieved from:  https://tinaheretohelp.com/2016/04/11/the-elevator-speech/

Williams, Tina. 2016. Smile – Even When You Don’t Want To. Retrieved from: https://tinaheretohelp.com/2015/07/23/smile-even-when-you-dont-want-to-customer-service/


Networking & Careers

Networking is important – no matter what career choice you have made. I cannot stress this enough to those I mentor. What is networking? Engaging in conversation for the purpose of developing professional contacts and exchanging information. Most information I have read encourages newbies to network (new to a field, fresh out of school, new to a company, or new to town or country.) That’s great advice. But remember, networking is a lifetime process. You build bridges and networks of colleagues that will expand your knowledge and the number of people you know.

What are the benefits of networking?

  • Make important career contacts.
    • Expand your pool of colleagues.
    • Find potential clients or users.
    • Find potential future employers.
  • Exchange ideas and information.
  • Form partnerships and collaborations.
  • Find a mentor. Become a mentor.
  • Learn about the culture of people or business through other people.
  • Offer and obtain different points of view in your field.
  • Are you thinking about changing jobs? Are you considering a professional partnership? Find out more about related fields.
  • Find out more about specifics of a specialty in your field of work. What are the good points and the pitfalls?

When and where can you network?

  • Start collaborating with your colleagues, friends, and acquaintances.
  • Don’t skip that next meeting. Find someone you haven’t met yet and sit with them.
  • Take advantage of off-site opportunities: workshops, seminars, and conferences.
  • Join email lists (listservs), Google groups, Facebook groups, or other virtual worlds that are in your field or possible partnership areas.
  • Join online tools, such as LinkedIn.
  • If you attend an exhibitions or expos as a vendor, talk to the attendees and the other vendors.
  • If nothing presents itself to you, seek out volunteer opportunities.  Volunteering is a positive experience that can open doors for you while assisting others.

In order for a networking experience to truly work, it should be mutually beneficial. “Excluding the search through want ads, studies have shown that 60 to 90 percent of jobs have been found because of personal contacts, relatives and friends” (see source below: OSBA).

Find people you can share ideas, work on presentations together, form partnerships with, advance your career, or more. Sometimes it’s as easy as sitting around a late night campfire that you find the people you can network with or that you find can be more than colleagues, they can become your friends.

2015-10-14 22.27.00
ABOS Conference, October 2015

Networking is the most fun part of my job. I appreciate learning something new from someone else in my field or from a different field’s perspective. I improve myself, my knowledge, and my career by simply finding new colleagues, patrons, and partners.

~I’m here to help

Further reading and resources:

Balacano, Tina Marie. 2016. The importance of networking for a person’s career & personal development… Linkedin. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-networking-persons-career-personal-tina-marie-balacano

Ohio State Bar Association. 2016. The importance of networking. OSBA. Retrieved from: https://www.ohiobar.org/NewsAndPublications/News/OSBANews/Pages/The-importance-of-networking.aspx

School of Information. 2016. What is Networking? San José State University. Retrieved from: http://ischool.sjsu.edu/career-development/networking/what-networking

Turner, Amber Leigh. 2016. 20 Social Networking Sites for Business. Sitepoint. Retrieved from: https://www.sitepoint.com/social-networking-sites-for-business/

Library Network Resources:

Librarians are great at networking. We pull together to share resources, compare programs, price shop, and share ideas. Being part of a Facebook group, library associations, or attending workshops and conferences are easily accessible to us worldwide.

ABOS. 2016. Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. Retrieved from: http://abos-outreach.com/

ALA. 2016. Engage with ALA. American Library Association. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/membership/myala/engage

ALA. 2016. Divisions. American Library Association. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/groups/divs/

ALA. 2016. Getting involved in IFLA: an intro webinar for U.S. librarians. American Library Association. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/offices/getting-involved-ifla-intro-webinar-us-librarians

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. Retrieved from: http://www.ifla.org/about

Library Facebook Groups:

Beynen, Kaya van and Swenson, Camielle. 2016. Exploring Peer-to-Peer Library Content and Engagement on a Student-Run Facebook Group Kaya van Beynen and Camielle Swenson. Retrieved from: http://crl.acrl.org/content/77/1/34.full.pdf+html

Jess. 2015. From ALA to Zuckerberg: Librarian Facebook Group. 5 Minute Librarian. Retrieve from: http://www.5minlib.com/2015/02/from-ala-to-zuckerberg-librarian.html

Here are a few Facebook groups I have joined and find can be helpful: 

ALA Think Tank – https://www.facebook.com/groups/ALAthinkTANK/

Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) – https://www.facebook.com/groups/110013735696598/

Libraries & Social Media – https://www.facebook.com/groups/LibrarySocial/

Library Employee Support Network – https://www.facebook.com/groups/toxic.libraries/

Library Management Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1524906657799350/

WordPress and Librarians – https://www.facebook.com/groups/wordpress.librarians/

Illinois Reaching Forward Conference 2016






We are all people

This morning I was drinking a cup of hot tea and thinking about Fran. Fran was my mentor, my role model, and my friend when I was a young adult. She was the Polish cook at the church rectory in Berwyn where I grew up. I loved her like a grandmother and miss her since she passed away. She is on my mind because she was one of the kindest people I know, and she would have loved to hear about the last few weeks of my life.

I had the privilege of attending the IFLA Congress in Columbus, Ohio August 12-19, 2016.

IFLA First Timer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee SOIS, ALA: Libraries Transform

I was a first time attendee and am still in awe of this extraordinary event. Not only was it information overload, but to experience so many passionate librarians from all over the world was the coolest experience for this library nerd. 145 countries and over 4,000 librarians came together to share information, research, and experiences about libraries (public, academic, special, and more). Picture a week of meetings, learning sessions, exhibitions, poster sessions, and networking from 8:00am until late hours in the evening. I was in heaven and hell at the same time. Heaven was being surrounded by librarians who were thrilled to exchange information. Hell was not being able to possibly attend all of the opportunities available to me or absorb all of the information presented. But, I didn’t want it to end.


Today I feel compelled to write about the people I met. In my first hours at the Congress, I met kind librarians from Indiana, Colorado Springs, and Buffalo. I was in a section at the First Timers opening session with Indiana librarians. They were so excited to be part of the Congress and were welcoming. A shout out to the nice Indiana man, Jos, who refuses to be in the social media world for representing all the librarians that have put their foot down on not joining the masses in the virtual world as they prefer the real world. I met several librarians from Colorado Springs. A huge thank you to Tim for setting the tone for my perfect first day. He was so kind to try to help me find a “First Timer” badge label, and then offered to give me his since we couldn’t locate one. I didn’t see Tim the entire week again until the elevator ride after our very last session of the week. Hopefully, I didn’t scare him when I screamed his name because I was so delighted to see him again. To Ophelia from Buffalo for choosing to sit next to me at the Opening Session, thank you for laughing with me. I’ve never laughed so much with a complete stranger. After we exchanged business cards, I realized she is an Outreach Librarian too. No wonder we connected! Throughout the Congress I met people from all over the world who shared their stories with me.

After the First Timers and Opening Sessions, I tried to find food and somewhere to charge my phone. The food in Columbus was good. But skip the food court at the convention center. Searching for a place to charge my phone, I met librarians from France, Ohio, Canada, and Nigeria. Just when I was about to give up finding a place to charge, I spotted one chair near an open outlet. There was a gentleman charging and using his phone. He happened to look my way and waved me over. Since the outlet was by his chair, I handed him my phone cord to plug in. This was the start of a comedy of errors with the cords not fitting, him losing his phone call, and my phone getting plugged in without his.

Tina Christopher Exhibit Party
People are people.

After I laughed and apologized, we introduced ourselves. Without realizing it, we spoke for a few hours about the Congress. It was good to be able to talk to someone who was having a similar experience of being a First Timer at the Congress, who was as excited as I was to be among passionate and educated people in our field, and who was genuinely a nice person. Christopher taught me more than he will ever understand. I haven’t spoken to anyone from another country in a long time. I realized I had stereotypes about the different cultures. Once I realized that, I opened my mind to learning instead of judging. His boss attended the Congress and she really opened my eyes to women from other cultures. Within 30 seconds she grabbed my attention and I liked her. Another librarian had joined our conversation. He was nervous about finding his way in town to attend other meetings. We both gave him the same advice (paraphrasing): Find a librarian to ask for help. Librarians are librarians wherever you go. And by extension, people are  just people. People might have differences, but at the core we are just human beings trying to make it in this world. So to Christopher, Evelyn, and Indika, thank you for the fun, kindness, and insights you offered me. There are many more accounts of insights and kindness. A thank you to another Outreach Librarian, Wendy from Columbus. It was good to finally meet someone who has been an integral part of the ABOS organization.

Overall, I had wonderful conversations with some of the kindest people I’ve ever known.  I met librarians who touched my soul. I have made some new friends and many new colleagues. Thank you again to all those who supported me in attending the Congress! I hope to continue my research on all I learned and implement new ideas wherever I can. I will be writing blog posts about the various topics covered at the Congress. I had no intention of attending another IFLA Congress. But after this life changing experience, I’ve already started dreaming about next year’s IFLA Congress in Poland.


~I’m here to help


Further reading and resources:

2016 IFLA Congress. Retrieved from: http://2016.ifla.org/

ALA. 2016. Getting involved in IFLA: Getting involved in IFLA: an intro webinar for U.S. librarians. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/offices/getting-involved-ifla-intro-webinar-us-librarians

Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. 2016. ABOS. Retrieved from: http://abos-outreach.com/

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. Retrieved from: http://www.ifla.org/about

OCLC: Awards and fellowships. Retrieved from: http://www.oclc.org/about/awards.en.html

President Barack Obama. 2016. Message from US President Barack Obama. Retrieved from: http://www.ifla.org/node/10732



Libraries as Community Centers


Libraries are… When you hear the word library, what images come to mind?

  • Books. Movies. Music. Magazines.
  • Computers.
  • Children storytime.
  • A Learning Center.
  • Fun family programs, like Comicopolis @ the White Oak Library.
  • A cool place to read a newspaper in the summer.
  • A warm place to attend a craft class in the winter.
  • In the beginning of each year, a place for tax forms and assistance.
  • Resources.

What would you think if you saw…

  • librarians talking to people about local resources?
  • a teenager hanging out at the library all day?
  • a family come in out of the cold to warm up at the library?
  • someone sleeping in the library?
  • children eating lunch provided by a local food pantry?
  • librarians delivering to people’s homes who can not make it in to the library?


People come to the library for many reasons. Some drop in to read or use a computer. Others are coming for a program – to learn or for some fun. Some of the people are healthy, others are seeking information about their illness. Some have Alzheimer’s and others have mental health concerns. Some of the people are literate, others are getting by with limited vocabulary. xSome of the people are poor, lonely, or homeless. What if the library was a community center for everyone? A place for knowledge and resources? A place where everyone feels welcome and safe? Librarians – as leaders, educators, mentors, and valuable resources of knowledge – are looking at how we can become something for everyone. We are striving to meet the needs of our community.

I have always thought that a library as a community center meant making the building as inviting as possible to as many different people as possible. While in school, my vision of what a library could be broadened. Reading about libraries partnering with community services and hiring social workers (instead of security companies), my image of a library has expanded.

To me, this is not a new, hot trend. Expanding outreach services and including a social worker is the answer. If the library is here for everyone to provide resources and fill the needs of our community, we need to work with knowledgeable and skilled people who can help. The first time I heard about a library embracing local resources from the community and providing them in the library was at the San Francisco Public Library. I read a few stories and thought I want to work here. Leah Esguerra, LMFT, of the San Francisco Public Library, was quoted “The library’s goal is to connect its homeless and indigent patrons to available community resources, where their basic needs for food, shelter, hygiene, and medical attention can be addressed.”

The Oak Park Library in Illinois has developed a program too. I met Robert Simmons in June 2016 during a library meeting. I was beyond excited to talk to him about how the library is developing their outreach program as a model of community engagement. He has developed a plan with Library Director David Seleb, the Outreach Services team, and the library staff. Robert talked about the benefits of a high level of engagement with staff and patrons. He’s leading with results with on-going staff training and updated resources, stronger community connections, more support from local law enforcement, expanded outreach services, and more people using the library.

Having a strong outreach services team with a social worker in the library is beneficial to everyone. Patrons – especially those who are homeless, have mental health problems, or dealing with substance abuse – will have guidance to local services. The library benefits from stronger relationships with local organizations and businesses. The community benefits from having a supportive library providing services to everyone within their community.

I know librarians who are against the concept of hiring social workers in libraries. One concern I have heard is that we do not have enough funding to do ‘what we are supposed to be doing’ already. My question to them is what do you think libraries are ‘supposed to’ be doing? Librarians attend meetings and conferences to develop a knowledge base for helping patrons with special needs, mental health problems, and coping with homelessness. But even an annual training session isn’t enough to give librarians the tools we need to serve our patrons. Librarians directly benefit from having a social worker in the library. What if you could have on-going training and support, have people and a plan in place, and be able to assist your residents? How can we not afford to hire an outreach team equipped with a social worker to network and partner with community leaders, organizations, and businesses that will benefit the patrons and librarians?

The amazing thing about providing these basic resources and filling these basic needs is that the library becomes a true community center. All people feel more comfortable, safer, and want to be there. People start using the library for what most people think it is there for – recall your original images of books, computers, programs, etc.20141025_135729.jpg

I invite you to read the articles and statistics in the links below. I’m inspired by the stories and cannot wait to hear the IFLA report at the upcoming IFLA Congress in Ohio on how libraries are helping homeless people and transforming the library world .

~I’m here to help


Further reading & resources:

ALA. 2016. Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/offices/extending-our-reach-reducing-homelessness-through-library-engagement-6

ALA. 2016. Serving At-Risk Patrons: Lessons from Library Social Workers. Programming Librarian. Retrieved from: http://programminglibrarian.org/learn/serving-risk-patrons-lessons-library-social-workers

Blank, Barbara Trainin. 2016. Public Libraries Add Social Workers and Social Programs. Social Worker. Retrieved from: http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/public-libraries-add-social-workers-and-social-programs/

Bunic, Sanja. 2016. On the front line: Libraries contribute to a sustainable future supporting people experiencing homelessness. IFLA. Retrieved from: http://library.ifla.org/1315/1/081-bunic-en.pdf

Goldberg, Eleanor. 2016. Library Offers Homeless People Mental Health Services, And It’s Working. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-library-is-often-the-safest-place-for-homeless-people-thats-why-this-one-hired-a-social-worker_us_56fbf43ee4b083f5c6063b0d

Irvall, Birgitta and Niesen, Gyda Skat. 20015. Access to libraries for persons with disabilities – Checklist. IFLA. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED494537.pdf

Inklebarger, Timothy. 2016. Library beefs up social work approach: New model emphasizes community outreach. Oak Park. Retrieved from: http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/7-26-2016/Library-beefs-up-social-work-approach/

Journalist’s Resources. 2014. Homelessness in the United States: Trends and demographics. Retrieved from: http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/health-care/homelessness-u-s-trends-demographics

Quinton, Sophie. 2016. Enlisting Public Libraries to Help Fight Homelessness. Pew Trusts. Retrieved from: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2016/04/04/enlisting-public-libraries-to-help-fight-homelessness

SAMHSA. 2016. Homelessness: Programs and Resources. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from: http://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources

Schering, Steve. 2016. Library hires employee to work with homeless, at-risk people. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-simmons-library-tl-0218-20160215-story.html

Williams, Tina. 2016. Mental Health Library Patrons. Tina Here To Help. Retrieved from:  https://tinaheretohelp.com/2016/01/17/mental-health-library-patrons/

Zettervall, Sara. 2013. Deposit Collections in Homeless Shelters. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from: http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2013/02/deposit-collections-in-homeless-shelters/

Got the customer service blues?


Do you have the customer service blues? Or, work with someone who does?


Do you dread unlocking the doors in the morning for customers? Do you breathe a sigh of relief when a customer walks away without encountering a problem? Do you find yourself hoping the next customer doesn’t ask questions? Are you judging people based on your previous customer interactions? It sounds like you have the customer service blues.

When you work with the public, it’s easy to become jaded. It might feel like an endless stream of negativity. You might have even labeled some of your customers as difficult.

How do you change difficult customers? We want to fix other people so they don’t make our lives more difficult. How do you change them? The same way you change anything, change your behavior. This is not something people want to hear. When I say this in a training session, there are typically a few eye rolls and moans from the group. But after we take time to analyze it and adjust our behaviors, we notice that many of our customers are not difficult, cranky, or hard to handle. Some people are. But most are not. We can become numb because we focus on the negative. We don’t have control over other people, only ourselves.

Change Your Perspective

  • Have a positive attitude. You can create good habits almost as easily as bad habits. Read tips on how to do this in the resources below.
  • Be genuine and treat others well. Even when you are having a bad day, be the best you can offer. Your day will turn around by helping others and putting one step in front of the other.
  • Walk the walk. Talk the talk. You might feel guarded or negative about your job or your customers. Replace a negative thought with a positive thought. Practice smiling and being pleasant with each person.
  • Pretend each person is your first customer of the day. Treat each person with a fresh outlook. Don’t let one experience bleed into the next.  After awhile, it will become second nature and you can allow each experience to stand alone and not influence the next customer service experience.
  • Practice active listening. I have solved many problems over the years by listening and simply asking “how can I help you?” Even if I can’t resolve everything for the customer, the majority of people are satisfied they were able to tell their story. People want to be heard.
  • Give people another chance. Maybe the person is having a bad day. Offer empathy, patience, and understanding. Don’t label the person and put your guard up the next time you see them. Give them a second chance.

Are you miserable in your job? It might be time to analyze further.

  • Are you utilizing your skill set?
  • Do you have fun in your job?
  • Are you trying positive attitude techniques in your life and job?
  • Is this what you want to do?
  • If it’s what you need to do, do you have a plan and goals in place to change your path in the future?
  • You might need some time away from a customer service job or need to change careers. Often, time and space can offer the perspective you need.

What if you work with someone who is singing the customer service blues?

  • Be a leader and set a good example.
  • Listen.
  • Offer alternative reactions or solutions, if they are open to it.
  • Be a team player and step in when appropriate.

You Set The Tone. Remember, if you are in the customer service business, you set the tone. How do you feel about your customers? If your business numbers are down, look at your attitude and your co-workers’ attitudes. Most people will return to a business as long as they feel they were treated well.  This article, 16 Customer Service Skills That Drive Every Business, has a lot of good information, tips, and statistics. Here are two supporting facts:

  • 76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them
  • 66% of customers switch companies due to bad customer service.

Treat others well and they will treat you well. Your business will be rewarded with happy employees that will want to work and happy customers that will want to return. I believe we treat people well if we are living a healthy, happy life. It starts with you. Take care of yourself. Work toward a positive attitude. Treat people fairly. Spend more time listening and less time speaking. After all, we can only control ourselves.

I’m here to help

disney 2

Further reading & resources:

Daus, Caroline. 2015. What I Did About My Miserable Job. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/caroline-daus/what-i-did-about-my-miserable-job_b_8785204.html

Dewe, Craig. 11 Tips for Maintaining Your Positive Attitude. Life Hack. Retrieved from: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/11-tips-for-maintaining-your-positive-attitude.html

EABarnes. 2016. The Best of Customer Service – A Positive Attitude Counts. HubPages. Retrieved from: http://hubpages.com/business/Positive-Attitude-in-Customer-Service

Hansen, Mark Victor. 2016. It Takes a Positive Attitude to Achieve Positive Results. Success. Retrieved from: http://www.success.com/article/it-takes-a-positive-attitude-to-achieve-positive-results

OFlaherty, Declan. 8 Tips To Help Create A Positive Mental Attitude. Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/8-tips-to-help-create-a-positive-mental-attitude/

Robbie. 2016. 16 Customer Service Skills That Drive Every Business. JitBit. Retrieved from: https://www.jitbit.com/news/customer-service-skills/

Walters, Natalie. 2016. 11 Signs Your Job Is Making You Miserable. Business Insider. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/signs-your-job-is-making-you-miserable-2016-3

Wycklendt, Megan. 2014. 10 Habits To Grow A Positive Attitude. Fulfillment Daily. Retrieved from: http://www.fulfillmentdaily.com/10-habits-to-grow-a-positive-attitude/

Don’t forget to link to my Pinterest boards for more information and inspiration.


I’m celebrating one year of writing this blog. This is my 31st post. Almost 3,000 people have viewed what I’ve written. That is a humbling number. Thank you for reading, for your support, and for your feedback. And remember, if you need anything, contact me. I’m here to help! ~Tina

Changes, choices, check lists

When I was a children librarian, a series of books came out called “Choose Your Own Adventure” by R.A. Montgomery. The purpose of the books is to allow reluctant readers the freedom to choose their adventure. I believe he created more than readers, he gave kids the knowledge that they have freedom to make choices.

Today is my niece’s high school graduation party. We are so proud of the woman she is becoming and the choices she has made to bring her to this point in her life. I took her for a pedicure last week and we talked about her current crossroad, choosing a college degree. It can be a confusing time because the world is vast, the path is long, and it can be scary to take that leap of faith, accept the changes, and make choices for the future.

The conversation with my niece has me thinking about how life can be overwhelming if you truly understand that you can choose your path. The best advice I can give is to  follow your heart and dream big. Life is long. You may wind up where you envision your life going, you may not. All you can do is choose one step at a time. You are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to change paths. You may change your vision of what you want. You may choose based on what you need. You have the power to change and create new paths.

Change can be difficult, especially when something outside of your personal choice is creating the change. But even when we have chosen, change creates a level of discomfort. Why is that? We are creatures of habit, even when it’s a bad habit. It takes courage to move out of your comfort zone into the unknown. It doesn’t matter if you are pushed onto a path or you chose a path, accepting the path makes all the difference. Evaluate the crossroad with a check list.

  • Talk about it. I talk with people that support me. I can speak freely about the change and it helps me work out in my mind what is making me anxious about what is to come.
  • Write about it. Writing forces a higher level of thought. I find, when writing, I am more positive and I allow myself to dream.
  • Have a vision. How far can you see in to the future? Create long-term goals.
  • What’s the worst than can happen? Okay, reality check. What’s the worst than might actually happen?
  • What amazing things could happen? Dare to dream!
  • What is motivating this change? If it’s not your choice, find something about the change you can embrace as your own.
  • What choices can I make? Create short-term steps.
  • Did you take time to breathe, meditate, and center yourself? Sometimes taking care of yourself and not thinking about what’s to come helps you open your mind and embrace the future.

nelsonWhether you are off to college in the Fall, looking for a new job, starting a hobby, or looking for more out of life – remember, your path is what you make of it. Don’t fall back into an old habit or let fear guide you. Choose to embrace life and the changes that come with it. Take a leap of faith and follow your heart. You know – “choose your own adventure”.


~I’m Here To Help


socrates blue

Resources and further reading:

Carter, Sherrie Bourg, 2012. Change Is Hard, Here’s Why You Should Keep Trying. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201210/change-is-hard-heres-why-you-should-keep-trying.

Nelson Mandela Foundation. 2016. Biography of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/biography

Soul Nectar. 2013. 22 Inspirational Quotes by Nelson Mandela. Soul Nectar Wellness Blog. Retrieved from: https://soulnectarwellnessblog.com/2013/12/17/22-inspirational-quotes-by-nelson-mandela/

Steenbarger, Brett. 2016. Why Is It So Hard To Change Our Behavior? Forbes. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brettsteenbarger/2016/02/07/why-is-it-so-hard-to-change-our-behavior/#42c751ced659

Vishnu. 2016. Life Lessons on Embracing Change and Impermanence. Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/6-life-lessons-on-embracing-change-and-impermanence/

Zulberg, David. 2015. Why It’s So Hard To Change After You’ve Shifted Your Attitude. MindBodyGreen. Retrieved from: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18501/why-its-so-hard-to-change-after-youve-shifted-your-attitude.html




Fired. Dismissed. Let Go.

steve jobs

You’re Fired. Dismissed. Discharged. Terminated. Put on notice. Sacked. Got the boot. Marching orders. Pink slip.

Those are words that invoke all sorts of feelings. Whether you have ever had to fire someone or you have been fired, it can be a terrible experience. Could we forget how many people Donald Trump fired on his TV show? It’s not that easy. Some of the most famous and recognizable people have been fired: Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Thomas Edison, Julia Child, Jerry Seinfeld, Walt Disney and more. They rose above and came out the other end on top.

So why are people ashamed when they “get their pink slip”? Change is hard on people.  Involuntary change can be devastating. At the most basic and reasonable level, we feel loss. If you do not find another job right away, you have a loss of income. Sometimes you lose more than just the job. Some people lose themselves.

oprah ghosts

You’re fired. Those are just words. They do not define you. You are more than your job. You have talents, dreams, aspirations. There are plenty of self-help websites and articles about what not to do after the loss of a job. I listed a few resources at the end of this post. Here are some tips on what you could do to stay positive:

  • Put together a resume. If you already have one, update it.
  • Find a mentor. Discuss success strategies.
  • Look for a new job.
  • Ask yourself: Do you want to stay in the same field? Do you want or need a change? Do you want to try out something completely different?
  • Brush up on your computer and work skills. Check out what your local library is offering for free.
  • Watch TedTalks and inspirational YouTube videos. Listen to podcasts.
  • Take up a hobby. Read. Do something fun.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Exercise. Keep moving.
  • Eat healthy and drink water.
  • Get into nature and soak in the world. Nature can be a reminder that the world is much bigger than whatever you are facing at the time.
  • Meditate. Be in the moment. Practice mindfulness.
  • Lean on your support system of family and friends.

This is a great time to evaluate yourself, your job, and your future. Reflect on what went wrong. Reflect on the past, present, and future. Write about it:

  • What did you love about your job?
  • What things came naturally?
  • What aspects didn’t you enjoy ?
  • What skills did you learn?
  • What obstacles did you face?
    • How would you handle those now?
  • What went well?
    • What contributed to those successes?
  • What is your dream job?

steve jobs

It’s important to not let this moment define you. You are not your job. You are worth more than your paycheck. Accept what happened, understand your role, and begin again. How do you respond in an interview to why you were fired? You answer like you do any other question:

  • Be honest.
  • Be direct and stick to the facts.
  • Be positive.

If you do all these things, you will be open to an amazing new journey. Breathe. Take it in. Embrace it.

~I’m here to help

Further Reading:

Watch an inspirational movie. I’d recommend In & Out from 1997. An inspirational movie about a teacher who loves his job and overcomes adversity. Retrieved from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119360/
Listen to an inspirational speech. I’d recommend Steve Jobs‘ Most Inspiring Speech. Posted by Try10000time. Retrieved by: https://youtu.be/PAs867sz9oE
Follow an inspirational person currently pursuing his dream. Retrieved by:  https://www.facebook.com/daviddarrko
Talk to someone who understands. I have a personal story about getting fired that is almost a decade old. Here’s my story:
I still say “when I left there” because the truth is I stayed too long. I knew politics and attitudes had changed. There was a shift in communication. Discussions were a thing of the past and wild accusations became the norm. Though my mentors encouraged me to move on, I kept thinking I could fix the problem because I had resolved more than any one person should need to resolve in an entire career. I was thinking of all the hard work I had put in and was horribly devastated that I could not fix this. One obstacle for me, after leaving, was dealing with not knowing what I did wrong and feeling ashamed for not leaving when I truly should have.

I didn’t have the common problem of dealing with low self-esteem that comes with being fired because I was confident in all I had accomplished, my skills, and the knowledge I had acquired. I never felt resentment towards a replacement, which I have read is common. Months prior to being let go, I spent time cleaning up any projects and loose ends to make way for my eventual replacement. I was hoping for more time as I tried to get my position ready for a new candidate because I saw the writing on the wall.

I found employment right away and have been blessed to work with amazing people. I kept busy with my new job and developed new management skills. But I still didn’t discuss what had happened to me. I don’t talk about the sexual harassment or the emotional abuse I endured. I was ashamed mostly because the library world is small and rumors surface. It’s frustrating because I haven’t heard anything that I could say “oh yes, that happened”. So, like many people who are fired, I reflected on what happened, learned from it, and moved on. My team, patrons, and family lifted me up and made me feel whole again. I have a new found strength. You grow when you learn from your mistakes and, if you are open to a new journey, amazing things can happen.

One lesson I learned was the job will be there and the library (or business) will go on without me. I made time to go back to school and finish my masters degree. I made time to take care of myself and spend time with family and friends. I widened my network of librarians, started mentoring people, and created this blog. I made time for things bigger than my day-to-day job.

Recently one of my patrons, Peggy, said “You have shown me more about librarians and how libraries are supposed to be than anyone before. And I have spent my whole life loving libraries.” That was an amazing statement coming from someone who is 85 years old and loves libraries. It’s why I do what I do. I try to be the best leader for our field that I can be. I have been blessed in my current position as the Outreach Services Manager. Outreach Services is all about impact within the communities we serve. We put a personal spin on those we touch and let them experience the library from a new point of view. Although Outreach Services isn’t always seen as a vital role, I believe Outreach Services is the leading trend in customer focused positions, in both the library and the corporate world. There is no greater impact than being out in the community and showcasing what we do and what we can be for our patrons.

Thank you for being on this journey with me. Write me and share your stories.

BBC. 2015. “What does it feel like to be fired?” BBC. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20151009-when-i-suddenly-lost-my-job-it-was-like-being-in-a-different-universe

Carter, Sherrie Bourg. 2011. Seven Things to Avoid After Being Fired. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201108/seven-things-avoid-after-being-fired

Colley, Beth. 2016. After Being Fired, Answer the Job Interview Question: Why Did You Leave Your Job?  Job-Hunt. Retrieved from: http://www.job-hunt.org/job_interviews/answering-why-you-left-fired.shtml

Conlan, Catherine. 7 things you should never do after getting fired: Don’t let your emotions run away with you. Monster. Retrieved from: http://www.monster.com/blog/b/7-things-never-do-fired-0130

Gillett, Rachel. 2015. 21 highly successful people who rebounded after getting fired. Business Insider. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-people-who-were-fired-2015-10

Lee, Tony. Getting Fired or Laid Off: A Survival Guide. Career Cast. Retrieved from: http://www.careercast.com/career-news/getting-fired-or-laid-survival-guide

McLeod, Lea. 2016. 8 Steps to Bouncing Back After Getting Fired. The Muse. Retrieved from: https://www.themuse.com/advice/8-steps-to-bouncing-back-after-getting-fired

Simms, Laura. 5 Empowering Lessons from Being Fired. Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/5-empowering-lessons-from-being-fired/

Spinks, David. 2016. How does it feel to get fired from your job suddenly? LinkedIn. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-does-feel-get-fired-from-your-job-suddenly-brahmanapalli

Wright, Annie. 2016. 101 Self-Care Suggestions for When It All Feels Like Too Much. The Mighty. Retrieved from: http://themighty.com/2016/04/self-care-ideas-for-a-bad-day/

Living Your Dream

When did you know what you wanted to do with your life?  Are you searching for your purpose?  If you are one of the lucky people who know what your calling in life is, pursue it.  Some people are searching for a dream job, while others are looking for a bigger purpose in life.  Those who make a living fulfilling their dreams are bravely embracing life.

When searching for a career or your next calling in life, I ask you to take note of your journey thus far:

  • have you had different jobs?
  • have you tried things out of your comfort zone?
  • have you felt passion when doing something?
  • what do you enjoy doing?
  • what comes easily to you?
  • what would you do, even if you weren’t paid to do it?

If you do not have the answers, it is okay.  It just hasn’t come to you yet.  Some people know from the time they are a child what they want to do in life, while others have to keep trying on hats until they find the right fit.  Plus, no one says you have to only do one thing or walk one path.  Though life is short, you can create many stories on your journey.

road stories

The first time I remember understanding that it was okay to follow my instincts was listening to Oprah.  I feel like she gave us all permission to listen to our inner voice and follow it. What does your inner voice tell you?  I embrace people who show kindness and give of themselves for no other reason than because it’s in their nature to do so.  I strive to be like this.  From the time I was a small child, I wanted to be a teacher.  I have realized it is in my nature to be kind and to be a teacher.  I enjoy finding information for people, training and mentoring, and touching people’s lives.   In short, I have listened to my inner voice and have embraced helping people.

Today’s blog post is inspired by my dear friend, David.  In truth, I am selfishly sad that he will be leaving my daily life to continue on his journey.   I am beyond proud of him for pursuing his dream and for embracing life. He is amazingly talented, loves unconditionally, and doesn’t judge others for their life choices.  More importantly, he is the most awake person I know. (Yes, it’s a Joe Versus the Volcano reference.) He has my heart and he inspires me to fully take life in.  I am a better person for knowing him and I will miss seeing his face.

Here’s my advice:

  • practice mindfulness
  • reflect on life
  • try new things
  • keep moving
  • read – to learn, grow, and enjoy
  • work at being a better you
  • choose your path
  • travel different roads
  • be respectful, peaceful, and loving

Don’t look back wondering how life would have been if you had chosen to be brave and follow your path, your calling, your inner voice. I wish you “your Oprah Aha! moment” and that you are open to it when it comes.

~I’m here to help


Further Reading & Resources:

David Darrko. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/user/daviddarrkoTV/about

Joe Versus the Volcano.1990.
IMDB movie information retrieved from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099892/ Movie quote information retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICGIcfj4ZKE

Bloom, Steve. 2011. 6 Tips on Finding the Courage to Pursue Your Dreams.  Do Something Cool. Retrieved from: http://dosomethingcool.net/6-tips-finding-courage-pursue-dreams/

Constantino, Tor. 2015. How to Read the 3 Signs Telling You Your Purpose in Life.  Entrepreneur. Retrieved from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247433
Kaiser, Shannon. 2014. 3 Unexpected Ways to Find Your Life Purpose.  Huffington Post.  Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannon-kaiser/3-unexpected-ways-to-find_b_5176511.html

Norbert. 19 Reasons to Ignore Everybody and Follow Your Dreams.  Globotreks. Retrieved from: http://www.globotreks.com/features/19-reasons-ignore-everybody-follow-your-dreams/

Oprah Winfrey Magazine. 2006. Aha! Moments. O, The Oprah Magazine.  Retrieved from: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/aha-moments

Oprah Winfrey Network. 2012. How Do You Find the Courage to Follow Your Purpose?  Oprah’s Lifeclass. Retrieved from:  https://youtu.be/qCL9dkEh9H4

Ross, Sharen. 2015. You Need To Visit These 20 Websites If You Want To Learn New Skills. Life Hack. Retrieved from: http://www.lifehack.org/352144/you-need-visit-these-20-websites-you-want-learn-new-skills

Skillcrush. 2015. How to Find Your Dream Job (When You Don’t Know What You Want). Levo. Retrieved from: http://www.levo.com/articles/career-advice/how-to-find-your-dream-job-when-you-dont-know-what-you-want

The Muse. 2013. 9 Questions That’ll Help You Find Your Dream Career. Forbes.  Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/11/01/9-questions-thatll-help-you-find-your-dream-career/#4166f80623bb

Trombetta, Sadie L. 2015. 9 Books To Help You Find Inner Peace, No Matter How Crazy Your Life Gets. Bustle. Retrieved from: http://www.bustle.com/articles/96129-9-books-to-help-you-find-inner-peace-no-matter-how-crazy-your-life-gets

Z, Kristyna. 2015. The 37 Best Websites To Learn Something New. Maqtoob. Retrieved from: https://entrepreneurs.maqtoob.com/the-37-best-websites-to-learn-something-new-895e2cb0cad4#.hok9nl5ae


Follow me on my journey to the international library conference, the IFLA Congress:  http://gofundme.com/tinaheretohelp




Lifelong Learning

Donate at https://www.gofundme.com/tinaheretohelp

Lifelong learning is a phrase I often hear in my profession.  It’s a basic belief that you can take advantage of opportunities, formally and informally, and to learn at any age.  Lifelong learning is both for professional and personal fulfillment, to improve yourself, your knowledge, and your skills.

Libraries offer the perfect venue for these opportunities.  They offer something for every age and try to cover a vast subject area.  There are programs for all ages, baby through senior citizen.  Check out a book on a topic of interest.  Attend a seminar.  Learn in a computer class.  Play board games.  Listen to a Ted Talk.  Discuss a hot topic referencing a magazine article.

What I love is that you can do a lot for free!  Be part of a book club, knitting club, adult coloring club, and more.  Join a writing group, computer class, or a health or exercise club. Sign up for the summer or winter reading initiatives – read, join fun programs, and win prizes. Come for an ESL conversation class or citizenship class.  Learn how to cook, start your own home brew, or learn about chocolate of the world. The list is long and it changes as people’s needs change.

Park districts, local colleges, and hospitals are other ways to continue your quest for knowledge, though typically for a small fee.  When libraries partner with these (and other) organizations, we bring you the information for free.  Perhaps, you have the opportunity to listen to:

I believe in lifelong learning.  This blog is part of that thirst for knowledge.  For every post, I look up information and apply it to what I already know.  I speak to colleagues and I listen to people in other fields of work.

Recently, I started up a Go Fund Me campaign to help me on my journey of lifelong learning.  There is an international conference coming to the USA for the first time and, perhaps, the last time during my career.  I have dreamt of attending this conference for years.  I have utilized the IFLA website often because it is full of helpful information and insightful ways of doing things in libraries.  Topics have included: libraries in society, library design, serving people with disabilities, serving those with Alzheimer’s, public library design, impact of digital technology, and more.

“The IFLA World Library and Information Congress is the international flagship professional and trade event for the library and information services sector.  It brings together over 3,500 participants from more than 120 countries. It sets the international agenda for the profession and offers opportunities for networking and professional development to all delegates. It is an opportunity for the host country to showcase the status of libraries and information science in their country and region as well as to have their professionals experience international librarianship and international relations in a unique way. The congress also offers an international trade exhibition with over 80 exhibitors. The combined buying power of all delegates can be estimated at more than 1.2 billion dollars.” 
Source: http://2016.ifla.org/congress-information

Donate at https://www.gofundme.com/tinaheretohelp

What librarian wouldn’t want to attend this amazing week-long event?   Unfortunately, the state of library funding limits what opportunities we can access. Though this conference is a dream of mine, my salary does not allow me to afford it on my own.

Though it is rare of me, I decided to ask others for help.  Take a look at my campaign.  Please consider a donation, if you can.  If you can’t afford to donate, please share and join me on my lifelong learning journey.  Share, if you think others may benefit. I’d appreciate your feedback and ideas.  Thank you ahead of time.

Check out your local library for lifelong learning, for fun, for information – to read, to grow, to entertain yourself.  Check out a book, a movie, a magazine, an eBook, an audio-book.  Attend a program, watch a movie, share your stories, speak to a talented librarian to help you out.  I’m proud and amazed at the level of service public libraries offer their communities.  If you are one of the people who don’t think the library has anything to offer you, I ask you when was the last time you were in a library?  There is something for everyone!  It’s why we are here.  We are here for you.

~I’m here to help


Tip: Typically colleges gear classes to ages 55 and older for lifelong learning.  Those under the age of 55 should look into continuing education. Look for those buzz words when looking up information.

If you want to read a description and history of the terminology lifelong learning, read Wikipedia’s entry:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifelong_learning

Further Reading:

Edlesonjan, Harriet. 2016. Older Students Learn for the Sake of Learning.  New York Times.  Retrieved from:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/02/your-money/older-students-learn-for-the-sake-of-learning.html?_r=0

Medical research has shown that as people age, intellectual stimulation and social interaction promote healthy minds.

Mayberry, Matt. 2015. Why You Should Strive to Be a Lifelong Learner.  Entrepreneur.  Retrieved from: Why you should strive to be a lifelong learner

Go ahead and challenge yourself today. Commit to expanding your mind, continuing your education and becoming a student of life. Utilize the world as your classroom, and no matter how big or small, always come away with a lesson. Remember to cultivate your mind so it is prepared to expand, blossom and grow. And share your fountain of knowledge. My bet is you will slowly begin to notice you are not only achieving everything you are setting out to accomplish, but you have stimulated a perpetual hunger that drives you for more in both your personal and professional lives.

Young, Scott H. 2012. 15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning.  Life Hack.  Retrieved from:  15-steps-to-cultivate-lifelong-learning

Assuming the public school system hasn’t crushed your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.



IFLA wrote about the role libraries play in lifelong learning: The Role of Libraries in Lifelong Learning.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. http://www.ifla.org/about

One book I referenced in school was Donna Gilton’s book written in 2012 Lifelong Learning in Public Libraries.

Lifelong Learning in Public Libraries demonstrates that public librarians can promote learning by combining the elements of Information Literacy Instruction (ILI) with traditional practices of public libraries. This approach contributes to the information enfranchisement of patrons and enhances the fulfillment of the traditional goals and purposes of libraries.

White Oak Library’s mission statement, like many other public libraries, embraces the concept of lifelong learning. http://www.whiteoaklibrary.org/news/60/57/District-Adopts-New-Mission-Statement/d,news_detail

By connecting people to a world of intellectual thought, accurate information, and reliable technology we promote literacy, lifelong learning, and personal success.