Tag Archives: tnl

It’s the Holidays?

The only reason you call December a holiday is because of Christmas and then, the fast approaching New Year. Well, all right,  the students have gone off on their holidays. That certainly gives the reason to declare it a holiday. But a holiday, really, a real one? Bah! humbug, I say!

For the past weeks, TNL has been looking forward to leisurely morning bus rides to work with the least number of vomit-inducing stops, a nice cruise along Clementi Road, a seat all to herself but more importantly, buses that come at regular intervals (not 3 at one go). But does she get any of one of these, nooooo…..

Then, there’s the weather. Yes, it is nice and cool but it doesn’t seem to be quite like the usual December weather. You have your freaky deluges and then, you have your sunny shunshine. And at times, TNL can well declare that it is jolly June hot.

And the work. Ok, so it is not back-to-back, cheek-by-jowl, “Kill me now” kind of work. It’s the kind of work you need to do for the next year but can’t get done because a bunch of people ain’t around because why? Beeeecause they are on holiday!

You call this a holiday? Look over your shoulder, aha, you can just about glimpse 2010 sticking its tongue at you. Holiday, shmoliday. Bring it on, 2010!

The Zoe Project

TNL met with a tutor friend along the corridors of the Business School recently and what she said gave TNL quite a nice lift of the spirits.

It seems this semester’s MNO1001 (Management and Organization) students are doing a project that totally grabbed TNL’s attention. It is called the Zoe Project . Our young ones’ mission is to go forth and improve someone else’s life. Just think Pay It Forward but with depth and academic credits.

So what has this got to do with organizational behavior? Plenty it seems. The question is: do we care more for the bottom line or the people that contribute to the bottom line. According to the project outline, effective management is less about the efficiency and more about people and relationships. And people want to be part of a community in which people care for each other. But caring for others is something learned over time and does not come naturally. How true.

But in a world where the first question asked is “what do I get out of it?”, an answer such as “meaningfulness in life” may not cut it. So TNL took a step back and thought of the people in her life that have shown care and reflected on the ROI.

A recent example was one that was close to home. A colleague’s father passed on after many years of being bed-ridden, plagued by illness. TNL’s colleague took upon herself to care for her father herself even though she had a maid and siblings. The little pains she took to ensure that he was comfortable and contented was admirable. But what took the cake was her humor despite the frequent grumblings of an insistent father and his demands for attention. She chuckled, shook her head and all the while she endured with love with never a sigh.

One may call her filial or attribute this to the duty expected of a daughter. But let me ask you this – could you see yourself commit to giving care with such good humor and love in the most difficult of situations every day for that many years? Perhaps the question should actually be what is the ROI? A sense of fulfillment? The satisfaction or relief of a duty well-discharged? A clear conscience?

TNL can’t answer that. But the impact of her attitude and actions on TNL was the realness of goodness. Surely, we can do this. Surely, with good humor, with a positive perspective of things, with the desire to love and care will give us the impetus, the courage to face these issues, to willingly wanting to give.

The MNO1001 students are expected to measure the impact of their project. This can be measured by the improvements made. TNL would like to suggest students look at the impact in reaching out to the witnesses, the observers of their good work. Should the ROI then be the number of causes observers suddenly pick up to pursue with passion?

How about this – the ROI is what it creates inside you, the desire not to turn away, a gesture of compassion, a pause to listen, a glimmer of hope for the next day. The ROI is allowing it to take root.

Statistics and Lots of It

TNL was minding her own busy business, preparing to give an overview of statistical databases to her PhDs, when she remembered a funny story she could not resist not telling.

One day, while again minding her own business (TNL minds that quite a bit), a graduate student from faraway Europe asked for statistics. She wanted to prove that a particular drug taken by people in India for some sort of malady was also causing the death of carion-eating birds. Far-fetched? Not according to the lovely lass. With all these dead bodies left to rot out in the open, surely you can’t blame these birdies from pecking for food and unfortunately, dying from it.

But I digress… she needed lots of statistics (it was a statistical analysis module, after all).

So what are we talking here? The volume of this drug consumed by Indians over how long? Correlate this to the number of deaths caused by the known side-effects of the drug? Then, correlating the number of these deaths with the number of bodies left out in the open? Do we have number of Zoroastrian deaths and causes of deaths? Are they the only ones leaving their dead out? What about the number of deaths of them poor birdies? And how many of them died of what again?

TNL’s tenacious little colleague found this site that told of a similar story. It tells of how an anti-inflammatory drug given to cows was causing their deaths. Since the Indians did not eat beef, them poor creatures were left out to rot and who comes along but our carion-eating birds. But since these poor birdies are dying off from eating toxic cows, what does nature do with all that good food going to waste? Send in wild dogs, of course. Of course, then, you would have your rabies and all sorts of other diseases.

So, now, tell me again, what statistics do we need to correlate human deaths caused by rabies to an anti-inflammatory fed to cows?

A Tortoise at Central Library

Or rather a “tor-toy-ise” as my bunch of Sec 4s said trying in vain to distract me from giving them a comprehension exercise. These kids!

 But I digress….Yes, folks, a tortoise! And what a tortoise it is too!

All through vacation, as we got off the bus in front of Central Library, we saw it growing. From its steely skeleton to its large canvas-like shell being hoisted up, it was a lovely prelude to its birthing as we wondered what would be revealed before us.

And today, as TNL got off 151, a quiet, little “Wow” got out too. There it was this dome-like creature standing all beige and steady. Walking under the canopy and looking up, the first thing that came to mind was how nice if it was to stay this way – all spacious and airy underneath and all light and cheery above.

 You see, the practicalities of campus life hit home. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any single space on campus in possession of good traffic flow, must be in want of a campus event.

For all those who have been holding their breath with trepidation, fearing the loss of good feng-shui or mourning the passing of the old, and oh no, the crowds, the crowds – let TNL persuade you to look for the light and the whimsical, the lovely contrasts of curves and lines.

Stand at the bus stop in front of Comp Centre (all of you working at Comp Centre, look out your window) or even along the brick pavement on Central Library’s side. Focus on the curved dome of the tortoise and then, let your eyes lead you to the straight, sharp vertical lines of Central Library’s columns. See how the curves soften breaking the stiltedness. Just let your eyes travel, sweeping gently along the edges of the library and that of the dome. Imagine touching the soft beige canvas-y shell and the cool feel of the little chips of white tiles on the library’s columns.

 Step back, look at the whole picture again.

 Now, doesn’t that deserve a smile and a quiet, little “Wow”?

So Long and Thanks, Maggie!

TNL bids farewell to Maggie, our LINUS Blog editor who is off on a new adventure.

What can TNL say except – Take me with you!!

As far as TNL is concerned any librarian that sits up and say, “Aha! I’m going for it!” deserves a pat on the back, a righteous, loud “Good on ya, mate!” and if he or she is nice and cuddly – a big hug.

TNL gets all self-reflective and contemplative when her friends say “So long and thanks for all the fish!” When you have been in the same place for the past 20 years, you sometimes feel like that bit of gum stuck on the underside of the table. After a while, that gummy place isn’t so bad after all. Ah….

It takes guts. Yup. Of which TNL lacks. Seriously. She is gutless. You can see no guts.

Another friend is also leaving. Now, that one. Where he is going – it takes a whole lot more than a tangle of guts. It is not a matter of wanting a change or an adventure or pursuing one’s heart’s desire. TNL believes it is much simpler and basic. She wishes very much she could take this one beautiful step of faith. Perhaps another time, huh?

So, friends, go forth boldly and our best wishes to you!

What’s Up at Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library?

One Stop Service Desk

We kind of figured that our students and library users would prefer to have all our information services in one place – hence, both Information Desk and Loans Desk are now located at one place – near the entrance of the library.

Then, some mysterious flu virus from across the Pacific Ocean decided we needed some temperature taking. That certainly threw a spanner in the works. So staff were deployed to stick the thermometers into ears while service points had to carry on. So what we figured earlier on, kicked in to pool resources.

We now have one point from which our services are given. Yay!

So what does this mean for you library users?

1. You get to borrow, return our library books, videos, DVDs all from one spot.

2. You don’t have to walk all the way to the other end of 1 level just to book seminar rooms, borrowing of newspapers, adaptors. You can do your booking just as you enter the library.

3. Got a question and want to ask us? We are there near the entrance of library – look for the sign that says “INFORMATION”.

4. Lost something? Oh, yes, these lost things do make their way to us. Come and look into the glass cabinet of lost items located near the Loans Desk.

So what happen to all the librarians sitting in that glass office behind the old Information Desk? We are still there and hey, if you feel like popping in to get some help for your research paper, etc, feel free to do so.

We ain’t going anywhere… yet…

TNL is Not Dead

It feels like it, though. Or at least, in a hole 6-feet under.  

It has been a frantic 1 month of deadlines to get some awesome stuff. Hopefully, all this frantic-ness will lead to some Eureka moment. Suffice to say, all that work has not quite come to a full-stop. More of a pause. Thinking, writing, thinking some more and writing some more. I have never had to write 2 proposals on the same subject for 2 different sets of administrators within the same period before and dealing with the communication that ensued. It was like being in a bizarre, parallel universe. TNL wasn’t quite sure whether she was coming or going. Did I just write that… or not?

Along the way, TNL got hit on the old noggin with the mother of all realities – the reality of manpower constraints. Ouch! Still nursing a bump but at least, that got me out of Never Land. I suppose TNL has administrators to thank for the regular reality checks.

Oh well, TNL is keeping her fingers, toes and eyes crossed. Not a pretty sight, mind you.


It seems it is time to come out of hiding…

Well, TNL wasn’t really hiding per se… And no, you are not going to be reading a bunch of excuses and self-analysis babble… let’s just skip all that and come right to the point…

It seems there has been some talk about us librarians and what we actually do.

Let me see…I have been a librarian for ohh…24 years.. and man, what a ride it has been (and still is)!

I can tell you this… it ain’t the same as each year goes by. And each year gives you a little mini roller coaster ride of its own. You know – just to get your adrenaline pumping a bit.

The other day, an old friend wanted to bring a sweet, young thing to visit. The young lady was thinking of a career change. She had acquired a culinary degree from France. After trying to fulfill some Christmas cake orders, she decided that maybe, just maybe, baking isn’t as stress-free as she wants it to be. So she thought of that one single place in which the world stands still; cushioned in its silence from all stress – our beloved library.

Mind you, I still go “shhh…” when the occasion arises. I still answer questions about the darndest thing keeping a straight face to assure people that there are no stupid questions. I deal so much more with people that I need an emotional bank account more than I need cataloguing skills. I teach. And teach and teach some more.

Each passing year brings us new groups of students with changing information needs and with different levels of information literacy. What about the ever-changing information landscape and fast-encroaching technology? And don’t get me started on making do with shrinking budgets.

We never did get to meet the sweet, young thing with the culinary degree. Maybe she decided baking was a healthier choice to librarianship.

What was the question again? (Part 2)

Last weekend, there was an article that says researchers at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories “created a technology that could eventually display on a computer screen what people have on their minds”.  <http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081211/sc_afp/sciencejapanbrainoffbeat_081211052641>

So if our tall, blond, blue-eyed friend had walked through some fancy machine that scans what he had in his head, TNL would have known he wanted to use our stapler straightaway. What about search engines then?

There was this article on good old Google in our good old ST. Sorry no article link because you know how ST access is given now. So check out Grace Chng’s “Google re-tools to beat back competitors” in print.  <http://linc.nus.edu.sg/record=b1196337>

There is this thing called a contextual search and providing “relevant and presonalised answers” by looking at “user’s search patterns”. “Search engines will understand more about you as a user, your location, the language you speak and your preferences.”

But of course, “we’ll use the information only if users give us permission.”

So the next time I look for the nearest post office, I will be mighty glad that I will have an updated map, the bus numbers, the opening hours, landmarks. After all, I have been searching and googling quite a bit. My “user pattern” should be archived somewhere. I will be retrieving relevant and quality information.

So why do I see writing on the wall? And does it matter what it says?

What Was the Question Again?

A tall, blond, blue-eyed student came up to me at the Information Desk a few weeks ago and asked, “Do you use a stapler?”

Uhh, yes… I use a stapler… But the librarian in me kicked in and after a little probing, I discovered that the young man wanted to use our stapler.

There was an interesting article on the quality of information in the Internet and the use of semantic technology. Basically, it is about how semantic technology could be used to search and retrieve quality information.In my work, I am constantly trying to teach students how to discern quality information or sources of information. If I want to find the location of the nearest post office, I would certainly hope to get the correct address, an updated map, the buses that get there, the post office’s opening hours and perhaps a little help on what landmark to watch out for before I press the bell (yah, I get disoriented very easily).Ask anyone who has been using the Internet, how to locate the nearest post office, and they will give their fave site for locating places. They don’t tell you how to search. The search itself is never the issue. It is figuring out which site would give you what you want that counts.

Yes, of course, the search engine still matters. Yet, I am wondering about the questions we ask.

“Do you have annual reports?” is usually translated to “Do you have 10 years of Sales Turnover of XYZ Co.?” We get that a lot.

The article I mentioned tells us that “the underlying idea behind semantic technology is to teach computers how the world operates”, my question is do we even know how the world operates?