Open Up Your Plans and Damn You’re Free

On the bottom of my email signature at work, I have a small quote from myself which too many people miss the significance of.

Everything I do is open source.

Now, some people think that means I favour open source software, which is true. However, I also operate in the real world and work in a large library system that has certain needs and maintains a certain architecture. So do I use Linux at work, at least as my primary environment? No, because we’re a Microsoft shop, I use Windows 7. Do I use only open source software to do my job? No, because we require proprietary software for certain tasks. As a web guy, I prefer PSPad over Dreamweaver, but I still use Dreamweaver for some things. I’m required to do things in Photoshop and occasionally InDesign. That’s just the fact on the face of it. I use the tools they give me and use them as they require.

Oddly enough, even though I have Office installed on this machine, I rarely use it. I use LibreOffice more than anything for word processing and spreadsheets and the like. I rarely use the actual Outlook client because, as a web guy, I have a browser open all the time and I prefer to use the web client because it does 99% of what I need. It’s one less programme I have to have open. However, all of that really isn’t tied into what that quote means.

Nothing I do is a secret. The only secrets I have are passwords and yeah, I won’t share those. But my process, the actual method to my madness and the things I do? All of that is wide open. If someone wants to know how I put stuff on the library’s site, I’ll tell them. How do I create graphics for the site or other places? I’ll tell them. How do you set up a website on the offsite hosting account? I’ll walk them through it. How does something work in the ILS? I’ll explain it.

All of my documentation, graphics design work, logos, development environments, and saved folders are on the staff shared drive. I’m not only the web guy, but I also do a lot of training and instruction. I can’t very well do a good job at that without sharing information, so I share everything I can. Which brings me to this latest bit of insanity.

Actually, I don’t think this is insanity, but some people did. I’ve been scheduling various trainings at the branches and holding downloadable content classes and so on. I’m busy, and usually all I need is for someone to pick a time and date and I’m there. Have laptop, will travel; will code for coffee. The emails setting all this up were getting a bit tedious.

Me: Of course I can help out! When’s good for me to come to your branch?

Them: I don’t know what’s your availability?

Me: Well, next week is okay. Pick a day and time!

Them: The 12th.

Me: Ok, but what time?

Note: Not my actual calendar.

Note: Not my actual calendar.

Repeat this a few times and suddenly I’m wondering, “Why in the hell can’t they just look at my calendar and pick something?” That thought was closely followed by another one “Yeah, well, why can’t they? You can share your calendar with co-workers. Maybe you could share it with everybody.”

Now, to be clear I don’t put personal appointments on my work calendar unless, you know, they interfere with work. Even then all I put is something like “Doctor’s appointment,” and that’s it. All my running around to various branches is there. It’s easy to see what I’m doing and where I am. All you need to do is look, but that’s the trick.
Can I make my calendar openly available for everyone?

As it happens, yes I can. We’re using Exchange Server 2012 and Outlook 2010 clients. So I Googled around a bit and found that you can change the default permissions on your calendar. Usually the default permission locks everything down so only you can see it, but you can share it with individuals. When you share it with individuals, you can determine how much access they have to your calendar. Can they see full event info? Can they add events to it? My standard practice is to set all sharing up as “Reviewer.” That means they can see everything and change nothing. You want to get on my calendar, fine. Email me. I’ll do it. I’ll remember it better if I do it, so grant me that one dispensation.

After reading about what permissions do what and what the default permissions are, I set my calendar to have a default status of “Reviewer.” With that being the default status, everyone in the library’s organization can search for and view my calendar. They can see where I am, what time, and any notes I put in the notes field. Right now, I’m the only web specialist in the system, I think it’s important that people know where I am and what I’m doing. That way they can reach me quickly and book appointments for training more easily. I’m here to do a job and much of that job revolves around helping co-workers, so let’s remove a barrier between me and them.

I’m a librarian working for the public. My job is not a secret, my calendar shouldn’t be one either.

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