Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘priorities


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listening // to get disowned by hop along, sports by modern baseball + npr.

watching // twin peaks + audrey hepburn.

reading // snowflake/different streets by eileen myles.

wanting // this sleeping grizzly bear bean bag + these baby skull earrings.

working // on signage for the new library, summer plans + a new writing gig (details soon!).

writing // blackout erasure poems from an old ornithology book.

thinking // about letting go of the life i’d planned to embrace the life in front of me.

What are you guys doing?

(inspired by Kara at I Just Might Explode)

Written by Erin Dorney

March 27, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Posted in Life

Tagged with , , , ,

Keeping Track of Ideas

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Last March I blogged about a Computers in Libraries session on capturing, sharing, and acting on ideas (presented by Adam Shambaugh and Jill Luedke from Temple University). Since then, I’ve been thinking about the different tools I use to record my ideas:

On my phone:

  • Voice Recorder App – Mostly I use this to capture ideas while driving. Six-hour trips between Pennsylvania and New York equal lots of time for creative reflection. I try to be as safe as possible (open the app before I leave, keep the phone on my lap, one tap to record and pause, etc). On my last drive I recorded all the billboard messages I saw, transcribed them and am now working on a hybrid found/erasure poem using the messages as my text.
  • Notes App – I’ve been known to jot a line or two down in my iPhone notes. I usually do this when it’s the only available option—if I’m in the middle of attending a lecture or something. Eventually I transcribe these into one of my writing notebooks.
  • Camera – I like to take pictures of things like really great or really awful signage or businesses practices that I think might translate well to libraries.

On my computer:

  • Bookmarks – Yup, I still bookmark a TON of stuff in Firefox. And they’re not synced between my work and personal computers. I know there are more robust bookmarking tools out there, but bookmarking usually comes into play when I see something random (after clicking along from five different blogs/websites) that I’m not sure I’ll be able to find again. This results in a huge mess of unsorted bookmarks on both my work and personal machines. About once every month or two I go through them all and either organize them (if it’s a place I’ll want to visit multiple times), read the article/post and delete the bookmark, move the information somewhere else, or buy the item.

In the cloud:

  • TeuxDeux – I’ve blogged about this tool before, but can’t resist sharing it again. TeuxDeux is browser based which allows me to add “home” do-to items while at work and vice versa without syncing headaches. I also purchased the iPhone app, so my lists are available there as well. Yes, this is more of a to-do list tool than a place to capture ideas. However, in addition to a weekly calendar, there is a “someday bucket” which I use to record opportunities I want to look into at a later date. It helps me keep those opportunities fresh in my mind because I see them whenever I look at my daily to-do lists.
  • Google Docs – I recently received an email from Google notifying me that my 894 files stored in Google Docs are now in Google Drive. Eight hundred and ninety four files! I have Google Docs for everything—work projects, creative writing, papers, research projects, presentations, conference notes, lists of things to do, and more. I have a shared doc called “Fishbowl of Awesomeness” where my colleague Melissa and I put snippets of ideas we have for research and publication projects. Google Docs is also where I collect my blog ideas and outline them before drafting them in WordPress.


  • Notebooks – While I do a lot of my work and writing digitally, I still love paper notebooks. I usually have a few going at once—right now there are three: a Moleskine in my purse/work bag at all times (for anything); a hand-bound journal next to my bed (mostly journaling and book notes); and a spiral bound notebook (reserved for poem crafting).

In the past I’ve collected ideas on sicky notes, large pieces of paper (mind mapping kinda stuff), Evernote on my iPad, and whiteboards. Having a great idea—the perfect line for a poem or topic for a post—and not having a way to record it is a terrible feeling. This usually seems to happen to me when I’m in the shower, just about to fall asleep, or somewhere in public where it would be awkward to pull my notebook out. I repeat the idea over and over in my head, convinced that there’s no way I could forget such a beautiful phrase or thought, but inevitably, the idea is lost if I don’t record it.

How do you keep track of your ideas? Any tips or tricks? Do you keep work ideas and personal ideas separate?

Image CC BY 2.0 courtesy of seanmcgrath on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

November 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Goals for 2012

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I don’t typically do a lot of goal setting, but there are some key things I want to accomplish in 2012 so I thought I’d post them here. If nothing else, it might help me stay accountable now that these have been released beyond my mind’s eye:

  • Read more for pleasure (35+ books)
  • Learn Drupal or die trying (okay, that may be a little extreme…)
  • Successfully defend my MA thesis & graduate from West Chester University
  • Complete Five Wishes/living will and collate all paperwork relating to benefits/insurance in case of an emergency
  • Pay off my remaining student loan and save $10,000
  • Apply for promotion & tenure

And some guiding principles:

  • Go outside
  • Do good work
  • Ideate
  • Help others

What are your goals for 2012? Do you separate personal/professional goals or lump them all together?

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Written by Erin Dorney

January 4, 2012 at 6:07 PM

What inspires you?

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Stuck in a rut? With crappy things being reported in the news and the end of the semester drawing near, it’s easy for the daily grind to take its toll. Technology can definitely help you get your inspiration back. You can use an app to receive daily poems on your phone, subscribe to the RSS feed of an insightful blogger, use Twitter to build supportive networks of colleagues and friends, follow Tumblrs featuring beautiful spaces or cats. These are all useful methods for getting back on track when it feels like every square inch of passion and motivation have been sapped from your body.

In addition to all of these channels, I find it extremely important to have non-digital inspiration around me. Which is why today I have decided to give you a mini-photo-tour of the things I draw strength from:

agate stonejonha smithcardscloset shelfpostcard & poemtony & kitten

Clockwise from top left: 1) Small, smooth egg-sized agate stone (gift from a colleague) for stressful times at work. 2) Amazing new artwork from my friend Jonha Smith. 3) Various items on a shelf in my closet, including a Christmas tree ornament from my mom, a thrifted framed print of a baby bird, two owls from a church rummage sale, a vintage Wilbur Buds tin & a salt shaker filled with blue sea glass from the shores of Lake Ontario. 4) Image of Tony & a kitten every time I unlock my phone throughout the day (okay, this one might not officially count as non-digital, but I had to include it). 5) Gandhi postcard (from my dad) and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem Ebb (typeset and hand-printed by yours truly) on the wall in my closet. 6) Rotating correspondence from friends and family around the country (holder via MoMA Store).

What gives you inspiration? Feel free to share in the comments. And have an amazing Thanksgiving – Among other things, I am thankful for all of my readers (that’s you!).

Written by Erin Dorney

November 23, 2011 at 8:35 AM

“There’s the silver lining I’ve been looking for”

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Real Life:

  • 3-8 inches of snow predicted for tomorrow.
  • A Very She & Him Christmas.
  • Jack Frost Tea (African Red Bush, Vanilla, Peppermint & Spearmint).
  • Ventriloquism zine by Prathna Lor, courtesy of meg woog via Portland, OR.
  • Evening agenda includes baking an apple pie & writing an essay about my personal library. Rock.

Work Life:

  • Massive technology outage on campus killed our library website, which has both positives and negatives. Get excited.
  • Got to work with our awesome reps from Supply Source on the design for the Outreach Team Work Space for the new library & am attending my first “design expo” next week with them – NeoCon East. ::swoon:: Check back for pics of sweet furniture!
  • Invigorating conference call with co-presenters/facilitators for our LJ/Temple Future of the Academic Library Symposium panel discussion.
  • Invited to do a session for students on how to be wise with social media for the Office of Experiential Learning & Career Management.

What are you looking forward to?

Written by Erin Dorney

October 28, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Posted in Libraries, Life

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What I’m not bringing to ALA

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girl with suitcase

Travel is stressful by *Seth on Flickr

There are some pretty intriguing posts popping up around the web detailing what people are packing for the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. Some of my favorites can be found at Librarian Wardrobe, but there are also packing/conference tips from Bobbi Newman at Librarian by Day and and advice from Karen Schneider at Free Range Librarian. Be sure to check them out if you’re attending!

My post is a bit different. Here are four things you won’t find me bringing to ALA 2011:

  1. Laptop. I typically drag my MacBook with me to conferences. I tend to take notes by hand (gasp!) in a small notebook that I can toss into my purse and then type them up at night or post-conference. Occasionally, I bring my laptop to sessions but only if I am fairly certain I will be able to find an outlet nearby (this beast is a power hog). But for NOLA, I will be sans personal computer for six days. I got an iPhone a few weeks back so I am hoping that will be enough connectivity to sustain me, but I already know I’ll feel naked! I am planning on using my phone to check email, keep up with Twitter, etc. and maybe the hotel business center if I miss the clickity-clack of a keyboard during my stay.
  2. Work. Oh, out-of-office-auto-responder, how I love thee. Let me count the ways… I will refrain from work email during ALA (part of the reason for saying it out loud here is to hold myself accountable). I will focus on networking, my presentations & learning from/having fun with my colleagues. The library will not implode. No one will die. I will catch up next week. I will not feel guilty about this.
  3. Workout stuffs. Yeah, I tried this at a few conferences. It wound up being a waste of expensive suitcase space for running shoes, etc. and it just never happens! I am either too damn tired at the end of a day of conference sessions or too darn drunk to run on a treadmill. Some people can make it happen, but I just don’t have enough willpower.
  4. Pleasure reading. I can always snag free books in the exhibit hall if so inclined. However,  I have found that if you have a ton of time to relax and read, you might not be getting as much out of the conference as you could be. I will get out of my room (and my comfort zone) to make the most of this trip while paying attention not to overextend myself mentally or physically.

So, what are you leaving behind when you head to ALA later this week?

Written by Erin Dorney

June 21, 2011 at 8:40 PM

My birthday & student loans: Bring on the numbers

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CC image courtesy of ginnerobot on Flickr


Does 26 still count as mid-twenties or am I coming up on late-twenties now? Either way, I think my birthday (today, whoo hoo!) is the perfect time to talk about some numbers — specifically, my student loans. While my ever-increasing age is inevitable, student loan numbers upset me and that is why I devised a plan:

Pay off my student loans.

Genius, right? Easier said than done, but I am proud to report that I have been able to bring my principal down $16 grand since graduating in 2008. That’s a lot of payments! I still owe about $20 grand, but if I continue at the same rate (about $8G/year) I can be debt free by 2013. I am going to try to do even better and finish a year early. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Why am I sharing this information with you? Partly because I am pretty amazed with my progress (I’ve never been good with money, just ask my dad), but mostly because I know many of my friends and colleagues have school debt of their own. Whether you have more or less, I hope I am able to inspire you to work towards your own financial freedom. I know it’s super difficult with this economy and that many of you are currently looking for jobs, but I thought I’d share some tips that have worked for me.

  • Create a budget. You don’t have to stick to it 100% of the time, but knowing how you spend your money (and where & when) is immensely helpful if you’re trying to save up or make a monthly loan payment. Try tracking your spending for two months and I guarantee that you will be surprised by how much money you spend online shopping (Etsy is my personal weakness), buying fancy coffee drinks and eating out at restaurants. Just being aware of how much you’re bringing in and how much you’re shelling out will get you in the right frame of mind to think more carefully about spending and saving.
  • Find someone who motivates you. We were very into Dave Ramsey a while back, and still subscribe to a number of his concepts (had to stop listening due to his religious rhetoric, however). But the person who really motivates me is my boyfriend. He follows his own budget to a T, and encourages me to make responsible decisions with my money. Sometimes that extra step of talking to someone gives you enough time for the impulse purchase feeling to pass.
  • Set a goal. Then reach it, and set another one. Share your goals with other people so that they can keep you on task and celebrate with you when you save $1,000 for your emergency fund or make an extra payment. Start small and you will gain momentum with each success.

In other numbers news, this is my 100th blog post! Thanks for reading (and commenting – over 320 comments to date), friends.

So, what financial advice do you have? What works for you? What are your biggest money woes?

Written by Erin Dorney

October 7, 2010 at 7:13 AM