Saturday, November 21, 2009

I am moving to a system in which I will use ark-based metaphors exclusively. You have been warned.

As you know, earlier this week I turned a paperback book into a series of mp3 files. Then, again with the help of my amazing IT department, we posted it on an internal webpage (thus avoiding those pesky copyright issues), meaning that students would be able to download it to their own computers before leaving for Thanksgiving. Meaning that in less than 36 hours the answer to the question, "Is this available as an audio book?" went from, "No" to, "Sure. Here are the instructions for downloading."

I think this is one of those, "It's amazing what one can accomplish when one doesn't know what one can't do" situations, as even a week ago I didn't think that this would be possible, and certainly not so quickly.

The response from the teachers teaching this book, other teachers who've wanted to see this happen, learning specialists (including two people who are, allegedly, in charge of implementing assistive technology), the head of school?


Which was annoying and frustrating and (at the end of the semester when I'm over-tired and burnt out) actually kind of upsetting. After finishing the project for the person mentioned in the earlier ark-themed post and not even having it acknowledged, let alone getting a thank you, I was also feeling extra-sensitive to issues of gratitude, and gratitude-denied. I wasn't looking for a ticker-tape parade (though, honestly, I wouldn't turn one down), but the 30 seconds necessary to hit reply on an e-mail and say, "Thanks for your work on this" would have been nice.

To be fair, my immediate supervisor, the assistant head of school, gets it and was just as excited as I was. She is, for the record (and I'm saying this even though I'm fairly certain she doesn't even know this blog exists) an amazing, inspiring woman and one of the main reasons I work here and will continue to do so. I went to her on Thursday to talk, in part, about how frustrated I was that this thing I'd done that was, for me, a major accomplishment had been greeted by such thundering silence.

She pointed out that yes, we'd built this ark, but now we need to build a ramp up to the ark. If all your life you've been able to easily access information in print (or—and this is where our conversation got sort of confusing—been able to use stairs and not needed a ramp to gain access to a building) you don't necessarily get what a difference something like this can make.

If it's not raining where you are, it's hard to see the point of building an ark.

Which makes sense to me. 'Cause even though the "powers that be" seem underwhelmed, students—who have been standing at the bottom of that ramp for years, waiting for someone to build the ark—have sought me out to tell me how cool it is that they'll be able to download the book. Two of the students I talked to directly about the book and how to download it hugged me. One girl said, "Wow. You must really care about us."

Which, when I take a step back and get some perspective, I remember is why I really do what I do.


  1. So much for XKCD's idea of academia:

  2. What I've found from my own technological endeavors is that even if people know how much your work means to the people who'll benefit most from it, they have no idea how difficult or impressive it was to accomplish. Thus, rarely do you get the amount of recognition you deserve. Still, it's great that your supervisor gets it. And of course, your friends think it's awesome.

    Also, though it may not be raining where I am, I still plan to come raid your ark (and while I'm there, your fridge).

  3. I saw that XKCD earlier this week; never before have the events of my life been so accurately reflected by a webcomic.

    I knew my friends would get that it's awesome, due to the reflexive property of awesome (it's science. Look it up).

    Nate, I am trying desperately to come up with a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" joke, but I got nothin'.

  4. Pretty impressive, K-M. Good job. Way to go. Thanks for doing this! I really appreciate the effort you put in.


    Someone who works with you who's not an asshat

    ...and, SCENE

    Wow that was a weird feeling inhabiting someone who doesn't exist...

  5. Cool! You are my librarian-hero! (and I mean that - I'm not just throwing compliments around!)