Yes You Do Have The Time to Learn That New Fangled Internet, Just Put Down The Remote

134/365: Water kickThis post has been rolling around in my head for a while and after reading Stephen Abram’s response to  Emily Lloyd’s strip about 23 Things I’m putting fingers to keyboard to get it out.

My reaction to Emily’s post is different from Stephen’s. What I see is how important it is to keep learning.  23 Things was, and still is, great. But let’s not forget lesson 2 was on life long learning. The purpose of 23 Things was to get your feet wet, a place to start, test the water, so you could jump in and swim, not continue to sit on the dock.

We have this idea that once we’ve memorized all the dates, learned the facts and pass the test we are done.  I think it starts in school. You learn something, you take a test, write an essay and check! you’re done learning about that on to the next thing. There is no focus on ongoing learning.  I talk about this when I talk about transliteracy, you are no longer done learning. You can not learn Flickr, or Twitter or how to use your current phone and declare yourself transliterate, it is a journey, a process. There is no end.

Which brings me to my rant (I have a birthday coming up I suspect I’m becoming old and cranky).

I hear over and over from people – I don’t have time to learn all those new things, how do you keep up with everything, I don’t have time for that.  Guess what? You do. Turn off the tv, put down the gossip magazine, quit watching cute cat videos on YouTube and start learning.  You do have time, you are just choosing to spend it doing something else. When you say you don’t have time what you are saying is that it is not a priority. That’s fine, we all have different priorities. But stop telling me you don’t have time, you do.

Stop complaining that no one gives you time to learn these new fangled things like Twitter at work.  Why should they? (yes I can think of numerous reasons why they should) But if they aren’t or wont, take some initiative! Continual learning makes you a better person, a better employee and a more informed citizen. Stop waiting for someone to hold your hand and show you the way.  Figure out how to use an iTouch on your own, hear about a new site or online service on the news or from a friend? Check it out! You’re smart, you have common sense, you don’t need me there telling you not to post your home address or publish those pictures of you from that vacation you took at the nude beach. Really. You can do it!

30 thoughts on “Yes You Do Have The Time to Learn That New Fangled Internet, Just Put Down The Remote

  1. This post makes me tremendously happy. This complaint goes hand-in-hand with those who “can’t” do professional development because their employer doesn’t allow it at work or won’t pay for conferences.


  2. My favorite quote from this is very telling “When you say you don’t have time what you are saying is that it is not a priority”. Thank you for saying it when so many of us are thinking it.


  3. Yes!….Brilliant! And, really… do we need an excuse like age or crankiness to be passionate about a topic? I’ve found myself using that same line recently but now I’m thinking we can just say what we believe…with no caveat. Men don’t seem to need an excuse…I think it’s conditioning. That in of itself might be blogworthy….Hmm. Anyway…I agree, the line “When you say you don’t have time (to learn new things) what you are saying is that it is not a priority” as I said, Brilliant!

    Similar to a blog post I had to rant called “Don’t be a Rotary Phone” saying that some “experienced” school librarians are wont to say “I went to library school not technology school – why should I have to learn this?”


    1. Gwyneth – You’re right (and I agree with you it it mostly women who do that) I’m entitled to my opinion, no excuses needed, I work hard on that but I still have work to do!


  4. Bobbi–I’m glad someone read the Shelf Check strip as I had intended! Another advantage to always attempting to learn or try out new things: brain fitness. The longer I decide not to learn something, the harder it usually is when I finally pick it up. Brain fitness-related books, websites, activities are all the rage now–and their message, distilled, is: keep trying new things; keep learning.


  5. Reading this post made me think of old movies where someone’s hysterical screaming (like Gene Wilder’s in The Producers) is ended with someone slapping their face.

    I see where the other side is coming from, something like “I don’t want to do work type things 24/7.” But maybe that just means they need to find a new line of work. For me learning new stuff is fun and while I have a lot of liberty NOW to do it at work, in previous positions, I did need to do a good chunk of my tech exploration at home. But it was fun to do so.

    Maybe we need a discussion on making learning, or at least exploration, fun.


    1. Daniel

      I see where the other side is coming from, something like “I don’t want to do work type things 24/7.” But maybe that just means they need to find a new line of work.

      I agree those who feel that way should find another line of work. To me this is an assembly line worker mentality – I do my job, I go home, the end. Which is fine if that is the type of job you have. Librarianship is a knowledge worker job, part of which means you need to keep growing and learning even if it is on your own time.


  6. Hear, hear!

    This is a great professional version of “your destiny is what you make of it”. To throw it in the other direction, if I had to learn how to use an abacus since it was how my patrons experienced math, I had better get those beads moving! There is always something for professional development, you just might have to figure it out on your own.


  7. Great article! To extend the frustration factor, I seethe when people undermine my choice to prioritise using online networking tools and say things like: ‘twitter, blogs? I wouldn’t bother with all that rubbish’. By all means choose where you want to spend your time and the direction you want your career to go, but don’t belittle what I do and the achievements of those I admire. *breathes*


  8. I think we could all use a little more focus on work/life balance. Some need to drop the remote while others need to exercise more. Others need to relax their tech devotion while some may need to develop it. We’re all at different points in our lives/careers. I had a baby last year which totally re-prioritized my life. Suddenly, there’s way less time for everything…work, professional development, baking, friends, movies, tv, twitter, reading, everything.

    TV is an easy time drain to focus on, but it could just as easily be taking care of a sick family member. Or dealing with a personal problem. Or raising goats! Cut people slack because we always over estimate our commitments while underestimating everyone else’s.


    1. I’m sorry I don’t follow. As I said we all have different priorities, sometimes those affect our jobs. Our jobs involve serving our patrons if we are failing to provide what they need to be active, informed literate citizens in todays society we are failing.


      1. I’m all for lifelong learning and serving our patrons. I also have empathy for employees who do not necessarily choose their life’s priorities. Choosing one’s priorities is kind of a privilege. I guess I don’t share your frustration because I can totally understand why some employees do not want to use their limited free time to learn another skill. I encourage all of my employees to learn new skills but I give them the time to do it on the job.

        Isn’t it kind of a compliment for someone to say to you “how do you keep up with everything, I don’t have time for that”? They are kind of amazed at your commitment.


  9. Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson canvassed this topic quite eloquently last fall at; consequently, this topic was the subject of many blog posts and responses in quite a few virtual (as well as f2f) spaces. There were also some very meaningful “counterpoint” arguments as well (pro/con both, actually) at Doug’s blog:

    While largely ignored by those outside school library circles, I think the article and subsequent conversations from last fall have relevance for all librarians and educators (it isn’t just library land struggling with these issues).

    While I agree that we need to be self-starters and take initiative for our learning instead of always waiting for someone else to show us or lead the way, I think rants at those who are resisting or not making professional growth will pretty much fall on deaf ears no matter how articulate or spot-on they may be. I think the bigger issue is why has the administration of workplaces like libraries and education enabled stagnancy and complacency; perhaps advocating for a culture of innovation and creativity is a more effective strategy for encouraging people to engage in ongoing professional growth. It also makes me wonder if professional undergraduate and graduate programs are not stressing the importance of lifelong learning, curiosity, and knowing how to be a self-starting learner—this is evident in the whines I see periodically from librarians who lament their MLS program did not prepare them for librarianship (as if any program, not matter how good, can ever teach you everything you think you might need to know, which is a ridiculous expectation anyway).

    The reality is not everyone is a self-starter, and we all have different learning styles; while I understand ad appreciate your frustration, I have to come realize in the last year that investing time in showing people concrete strategies for jump-starting their learning and the value in doing so is generally a much more effective approach that berating people. I think professional issues like this are a prime opportunity to demonstrate leadership through action and to build our “tribe”.



  10. While I agree that we should all try to help our patrons by familiarizing ourselves with every technical competency possible, the “get with the lifelong learning or find another line of work” argument is a little harsh. There are times in everyone’s lives (and if this has not happened to you yet, you are very lucky) when learning more at home will not fit. It is not that your job is not a priority. It is that there are too many priorities and too few resources.

    Right now I cannot help patrons with some e-device download issues beyond reading forums with them because I do not have the device, my library does not have the device, and at this point in time I do not have the discretionary funds to purchase a device to learn on my own by try and fail.

    There are times that the time I might be devoting to learning greater technology competency outside normal work hours is devoted to developing programs for patrons outside normal work hours or writing an article for a library association outside normal work hours or taking on database training (training other librarians) outside normal work hours or attending functions on behalf of the library outside normal work hours.

    And there are times that discretionary time (what a misnomer!) during a particular week or weeks must be devoted to family or personal rejuvenation so that I can give the patrons my all when I am working with them. There are librarians who must hold down multiple jobs so one job is occupying a slot of time that could be devoted to lifelong learning.

    Lately I have had the opportunity to read a number of posts and view a number of clips indicating that people who are not on the way to being as technically adept as the writer or maker of the clip are lazy or not dedicated. Skills outside the technical are devalued. Collection development, training, patron job assistance, and literacy programming might be what are taking up some of that time that “should” be devoted to technological skills acquisition. We do all have priorities. They all are different. Many of them, in addition to technology skill, may be librarianship based. And sometimes life intervenes.


  11. Bobbi, this is a great post! I love taking the initiative – I think that sometimes people need a little push that yes, they CAN do it, they DO have time, and they ARE smart about their online identity / reputation. Hopefully your post was that push 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s