The Organized Librarian Mind


Overwhelmed Librarian Mind


Organized Mind

As school librarians we are all in need of a 25th hour in our day.  School librarians are the librarians who “do it all.”  We are the reference desk, the collection development office, the computer lab assistants, and the circulation managers at our school libraries.  Some of us are blessed with wonderful clerks and assistants, some are solo librarians, and some are even juggling multiple schools.  No matter what the situation most school librarians are stretched thin.  As a blessed but very busy librarian, I often think “if I could just get organized …”   So, a recent book caught my attention “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload” by Daniel J Levitin.  I promptly ordered the book, however I set it aside at first. A 528-page nonfiction book is not often on my list of must reads.  It was not until I happened upon a Time article “6 Things the Most Organized People Do Every Day” that I really read this book.

Systems for the Librarian Mind

As librarians we have systems for everything.  Why else would the “Dewey or Do We Not” debate become so intense.  To stay on top of information overload as the information experts one of the keys is to develop systems for streamlining the everyday processes.  If you don’t have time to read Levitin’s entire book, check out the section “Getting Part of Your Mind Outside Your Body” pages 64-79.  In just this small section Levitin explains how “Writing things down conserves the mental energy expended in worrying that you might forget something and in trying not to forget it.”  He expands upon a whole new way of creating “to-do lists” based upon author David Allen’s  “4 categories – Do it, Delegate it, Defer it, or Drop it.” Librarians are not the only ones looking for a system to simplify and streamline.  Art Director Matilda Kahl writes wearing a work uniform has saved me countless wasted hours thinking, … I don’t think about what I wear.”  You might think this decision counter-intuitive for an Art Director but you can read more about Matilda’s decision in this article. There are so many ways to streamline both professional and personal life.  Author, Carl Phillips, advises “The paradox of our time is that we have so many choices available to us that many of us struggle to make any choice at all. Counter this by purposefully limiting your options at times.”  

Habits of the Librarian Mind

As we find the organizational systems that work for us we need to repeat the systems until they become habit.  I have developed habits for email, social media and library workflow. For me, using technology to my advantage is essential. I label and filter my Google email.  I use Tweetdeck for multiple Twitter accounts, for scheduling Instagram posts from my desktop, and Sign Up Genius for scheduling appointments. These specific tools may not work for you but there are thousands of apps and programs developed for streamlining your communication. I urge you to find what does work for you and create more time in your day.  I also found a couple of ways to save time at home by ordering groceries online, and subscribing to an online clothing exchange. I am not sure how I could do all things that I do without taking advantage of technology tools.


Levitin, Daniel J., The Organized mind: thinking straight in the age of information overload / Dutton;  (September 1, 2015)



Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Blog Topics, Professional Development, Technology

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1 reply

  1. Seems to b a good read. Hope to order for my library. At least i can think of reading after others recommend…..

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