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I’m feeling a little guilty. I just ended a google+ conversation with “You obviously know nothing about what libraries do, so I will just end this conversation here.” And I added a little passive aggressive smiley face.
Why do I feel guilty? My fellow public librarians know. I should be using the opportunity to educate the public. I should smile and tell about all the wonderful services we provide to those who need them. But when you tell me that “they” should take 25% of the public library budget to create a free 4G network so that people can download books for free? How does that provide access for all? That serves the upper middle class single male.
I should have told him about all the free digital books we already provide–for free–as well as about the great services we can provide him when he loses his cozy coding job over at Acorp. Living out of your car? Get a shelter address and you can have access to 90 minutes a day of computer time, take advantage of the free wireless and download books to the e-reader you bought just before you got that pink slip. At least till you sell it for food money. Don’t think it could happen to you? Watch The Company Men. The only thing saving Bobby Walker from life on the street is a loving family.
I recently read Rotters by Daniel Kraus. It’s a hard to believe tale about a boy who’s mother dies sending him to live with an unknown father one town over who turns out to be a grave robber. Yes, the story is a bit unbelievable, but the situation of going from a living wage family to being practically homeless is not. This is what our middle class male that works in tech forgets.
And what about the other people they have to share the earth with? What about the elderly patron who can’t use a mouse? Those who can’t imagine reading on a screen? Those who need audiobooks on CD because they are blind and can’t see the readout? There are many more scenarios, but I think you get my drift.
This description applies to two of my brothers and my brother in law. I find them to be a bit more enlightened about society than many, but they still don’t quite realize how good they have it. Doesn’t everyone have extra money every month? And I know I shouldn’t just pick on men, but they are the majority that have these blind spots and are in the tech field.
My excuse for not educating this guy? Google+ comments didn’t seem like the place. It would have taken too long and too much space on someone else’s post. Internet etiquette (netiquette?) tells us to blast away on our own forum, so here I am.
I was already planning on visiting my middle school on Monday, but because of timing and communication, I was just going to staff a lunch table, telling kids about library services and rewarding them for library cards. Then yesterday I got an email–can I come to 6 classes and talk about library searching, books and services?
I love visiting classes and my regional manager happened to be in house yesterday, so I was able to say yes. I have the weekend off, so I had to prepare that day. Luckily I found materials in my library that covered all three subjects that the students would be reading about (that’s really unusual) and I had the experience of searching for them using our catalog fresh in my mind, so showing the search mechanisms is going to be a snap. I’ve been wanting to do a Prezi for a while, but I can’t be sure of the internet filters and I really didn’t have time to do it right anyhow. Next time.
Life at home has been pretty normal. The Boy has a lot of homework, I’m at a new level of geekdom–watching The Guild–and crocheting a lot to try to get some projects done for the holidays.
What’ve I been reading? The City of Thieves by David Brnioff, Adult fiction with teen appeal. Lev Beniof is 17 and living in the middle of a Nazi siege of the city of Leningrad during WWII. One night a German soldier’s body drifts to earth and Lev is caught looting the body. Usually this means instant execution, but instead he and another detainee from the night, a deserter named Kolya, are sent on a mission for the Colonel. To find a dozen eggs in a land where bread is made of sawdust. Well written and intriguing, I’d recommend this book to almost anyone.
Ok, I’m back (I think, might be too soon to say). The Boy and I have been setting up house, getting used to each other again and struggling with homework discipline. He is coming around on the latter, slowly but surely. His grades are good, but it’s early to say that and the hard projects are coming. I’m hoping we can get him into a healthy pattern before they start. He seems to see the wisdom I’m preaching, when he isn’t rolling his eyes or telling me not to act like he’s stupid. We’re working on it.
And “The Boy” just sticks for me. I guess he will always be my boy, so not a big deal to call him such. Especially here where he never bothers to tread. I try to keep the embarrassing bits to myself anyhow.
So, libraryland is busy as always. The new session of TAG is underway and while my group is smaller, it seems more solid. I have a lot of kids back from last year and a few new people. There are definitely a couple of dominating personalities, so I will be looking into learning about moderating meetings in that situation.
I took a beginning Excel class offered to city employees. I expected to be bored for most of it, since I’ve been using Excel pretty often for the last 10 years, but I was pleasantly surprised that I learned something new through most of the training. Part of it was learning where things are in the ribbon, which I admit has been making life difficult since the upgrade to Windows 2007. I got my questions answered too, which will make me a better treasurer and would likely land me the temp job of my choice!
I also wrote my first “professional” blog post, over there–> It’s nothing revolutionary, but something I am interested in and not necessarily librariany. I have some thoughts for a couple more, but need a few minutes at work to write them down. Then I have some more reading and thought processing to do.
I had some fun with the pictures in the header. They are all pictures I took, mostly around Seattle. I like how they fit my mood and seem to fit my profession.
Ok, I’m off. Lots to do this lovely Saturday that is likely to be the last sunny day in a while. Ciao.
I just got home from seeing PJ 20 at the Cinerama. It was recommended by another mom with a teen, and at first I thought mine would rather see Moneyball, being the bball player he is, but he readily agreed to see the Pearl Jam documentary. My hope was to take his mind off not having friends to hang out with yet (which proved not to be true since he was offered a ride to see the football game tonight). So, we went to sushi on Capitol Hill, then wandered downtown until the movie started.
If you’ve been on the fence about seeing this, let this tip you towards it. The documentary was very well done and I am sure that the band is very proud of how it turned out. Their voices were all there, not just EV’s. I loved learning all the quirks and how they came together, what made them different from other bands and how they dealt with their fame. I am not the most hardcore Pearl Jam fan–I’ve only seen them live once, a few years ago at the Gorge–but this show made me feel like I know them just a little. I can’t say that someone that dislikes them would appreciate it, as there is definitely an angelic glow that covers even the most tragic events in their career, but if you do like them, see it. You won’t be sorry.
Books! I’ve been reading them…somewhat slowly lately.
I finished book 2 in the Monster Blood Tattoo series. Lamplighter is the continuation of the story of Rossamund Bookchild, foundling and now apprentice lamplighter for the emperor. Rossamund goes bravely into apprenticehood, and even though he isn’t good at everything, he makes up for it in perseverance and smarts. Soon after arriving–a week late, as he finds he can’t live down–a young woman, Threnody, also joins the ranks and becomes a sometimes troubling friend. Circumstances push all of the apprentices out into their profession a bit early, and Threnody volunteers to accompany him to a difficult posting. During their time there, much happens to cause Rossamund to question who he really is. Don’t forget the monsters and subterfuge. I think we will learn more in book 3, Factotum.
The adventure is wondrous and the story strange. If it weren’t for the fact that this book keeps me racing to the dictionary, I would recommend it to everyone. It is not a light read, but very entertaining.
I am finally finishing up Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, which also had me consulting a dictionary. Two heavy reads at the same time, it’s lucky I got through them both and almost at the same time. I think I need some fluff to bring my brain back to earth.
I can’t say enough good about Perdido Street Station. In fact, I can’t seem to say anything about it right now. It is amazing, the world that Mieville creates is mind blowing. That’s not as much of a metaphor as it would usually be. You’ll just have to read it yourself.
I have been in non-bloggy mode for quite a while. It might be that making it a future assignment took all the fun out of it, or it could just be that life is happening, as life does sometimes. Summer is always a busy time and this one is no exception. I haven’t really been updating anything else either–goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Google+. My p-patch…ouch. I’m going over later today to check the damage.
I have my last Summer Reading Program this week–gaming. The sun has finally come out in Seattle and unfortunately that means that kids probably aren’t going to show up to play games inside. Hmmm, which reminds me that all of my table games are at another branch. I’m going to have to get on that.
There will be a week of furlough, which will give me plenty of time to get The Boy (hmmm, he’s not much of a boy and I don’t want to perpetuate that now that he’s growing up. Perhaps…) I mean, the K-Man ready for his new school. Serendipity allowed him to get into the school I am responsible for and I am really happy that he will be in a place where academics matters, right along side of having fun and playing sports. I feel like he will have a much better chance at succeeding here than at the area school he would have arbitrarily been assigned to because of our address.
What am I reading?
I got about 25% through Perdido Street Station before my check out time expired. I really love it, as I seem to all things China Mielville. I am finding that reading ebooks on my phone is not efficient–especially not adult novels. Maybe a reader would be better, but I have my doubts. I think I am going to save my ebook use for travel (of which I have none planned) and stick to paper for a while. Since the hold list on Perdido Street Station has gone through the roof lately, I am going to borrow a copy from my sister to finish.
I also read several of the ARC’s that I got at ALA. Most of these are quick reads, but satisfying. Here’s a couple I remember fondly:
Tankborn by Karen Sandler–I believe this one is just hitting the shelves. When earth became uninhabitable, the rich people packed up to head into space, but realized they needed laborers to build the ships and their new homes when they found a new home, so they brought some along as indentured servants. This created an instant hierarchy and discord. To placate the lowborn, the rich created another race to serve, these were the the Tankborn (rather than natural born). These new people were enhanced with animal dna and given special skills that could help them in their labors. Kayla is a tankborn and at the age of 16 she is assigned to help an old man with his basic needs, but things are not what they seem and Kayla finds herself in the middle of a quiet revolution that goes against everything she’s been taught.
Tankborn has a good balance of explaining the science behind the world and character development. The class unrest and profiling felt very probable to me and everything was easy to follow. The story was full of twists and I never felt like I knew what was coming, so it kept me interested all the way through.
Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson–I got to meet this author at ALA and we chatted a bit about our volunteer work with homeless and incarcerated teens. She offered to Skype at the Juvenile Detention Center where I visit my mentee. I’m not sure yet that I can pull off the technical side of things, but how exciting!
Calli and her two mom’s are inviting a foster sister into their lives. Anderson captured the feelings of a young teen perfectly; the excitement of a new sister turning into the bewildered frustration of realizing that this person is not going to fit the mold that was in her mind. The change in family dynamics and the maturity that Calli gained from the experience despite the embarrassment of realizing her mistakes all struck home. Great book and would make a great addition to a foster family reading list.
I also have a copy of Anderson’s Boarder Crossing, which I am looking forward to.
One of the things I really enjoy about my job are all the opportunities to participate in events and projects. In the last few years I have been on the Instruction Committee (creating policy around our computer classes for the public and laptop computer labs), blog committee (tech liaison etc), scheduling software committee (just wrapping up) and have helped coordinate a teen lock in/overnight, All Ages Art Night, Comixtravaganza, a regional gaming tournament and a reading marathon. That doesn’t include the regular programming I have done at my branches and outreach to my schools. I really love making my library a relevant and innovative space that is attractive to all ages. Now that things have settled down with some of my other projects, I am taking some new challenges.
One thing that will take up much of my time is the formal mentoring program I entered into at work. I am trying to figure out if management is the right direction for me–to make sure that goal isn’t sticking with me just because it feels like that should be my next step. I love what I do, do I really need more? One of the things I want to work on during this time is critical reading and analysis of management and library topics. My mentor will assign me reading and I will pick something I find interesting and blog about it. Not here–I have set up another wordpress blog and will use that. I’ll update when I actually write something, probably in August sometime. The other thing I will do is job shadow and interview current managers and assistant managers to see what they do and how they balance life and work.
In my own time, I also plan to submit a proposal for a presentation at WLA which is happening in Tulalip next April. It is a small conference, close to home and a good place to try out my public speaking. The worst thing about it is that I will probably know people there–bigger chance I’ll embarrass myself, right? It’s a chance I’ll take. My proposal entails building communities; how to make teen volunteers/teen advisory group ambassadors for the library and using programs to connect your library to the community.
Speaking of programs, I had a great time making books with Seattle Center for Book Arts:
Man, I am slow with the posts lately. No apologies though, I have been super busy. I came back to work and got dunked in Summer Reading fever in which we are often 4 kids deep giving out prizes and signing them up. I always forget how involved it is and what a great opportunity it is to engage the little readers–and make them less afraid of talking to the big scary librarian ;)
Plus we have been getting some serious reference questions mixed in there despite school being out. And readers advisory for all ages–lots of folks going on trips and looking for a “good book” or a book on cd. My teen shelves are at half capacity right now. Almost all the easy to recommend stuff is checked out. I’m having a hard time finding things to put on display.
So, I promised a what I’ve been reading catch up, so here it is.
Embassytown by China Mielville The first person narrative and the cold science fiction combined with the short story format leave this book feeling cold. The stories are great, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t feel like I invest myself in them. As always, Mielville creates an interesting and surreal world where you feel immersed in the setting. Embassytown is a settlement on a world far from others in civilization. The humans there share their space with the Hosts and while I am only half way through the second story, I have a feeling there is more to the name Hosts than just inviting others into their homes.
Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin I found myself thinking of this book a lot in New Orleans. It is set in the South, along the Mississippi river and follows the captain of the Fevre River Packets owner. You learn a lot about piloting and outfitting a steamboat, which might sound boring, but totally is not. Did you know that steamboats would use lard to make their boats go faster? There are vampires in this book, but their origin is different from what we are used to and the plot is so interesting. Very mysterious and dark, Fevre Dream kept me interested all the way through. It takes a great writer to weave historical elements into a story to make parts that are slow in plot fill you with thoughts of steam engines. This book is not as long as Game of Thrones and not as fanciful. It’s a good solid read, although probably most satisfying on dark cold winter nights.
Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows by Molly E. Johnson I got this one in the mail from Rain Town Press just before I left for vacation. They included a carmel apple pop, so I couldn’t say no and I have to say that the mystery of a book wrapped in black paper also piqued my interest. As their website says:
RainTown Press is extremely proud to announce our first book, Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows, by Portland author Molly Johnson. It’s a high adventure runaway tale about Spartacus Zander, a normal kid with a not-so-normal name (and freakish circus abilities) who runs away from home in search of his human cannonball mother who he thinks has been kidnapped by a traveling circus. No spoiler alert here, kids. You’re going to have to wait until October 1st to find out what happens.
I am also not going to give away any spoilers, but I will say this is a wonderful book for older children and tweens. It’s a bit dark with some moral questions about families that might make it hard on younger readers. There are lots of cool tricks and characters–lots to do and see! I’ll definitely be recommending it for purchase.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline I was lucky to get this book, I think. I approached the Crown booth at ala11 and saw some intriguing buttons scattered around the table. These were green pixelated keys and half full hearts on a black background. I asked the rep about them and she started telling me about a book that was coming out, called Ready Player One. It is set in the future when the world has become so disheartening that most people retreat to OASIS, a simulated world where one can go to school, see movies and look however you want. It’s also a place to play massive multiplayer games.
The rep saw my Intellectual Freedom Fighter ribbon on my badge and said that the Unshelved guys would be posting an interview with the author sometime soon. She could tell I was interested and I mentioned that I had read and liked Corey Doctorow and similar authors, so she kind of looked around then went over to a cabinet and pulled out a copy of the book and handed it to me. It’s the book I decided to keep out to read when I sent all the others off by media mail, and I am almost done. I will tell you more about it next time, when I am actually finished. I can say that I love it. Great first novel that I can’t believe is a first novel. I keep going to the back of the book to make sure I read that correctly.
Falling Skies by Paul Tobin I don’t actually have this comic in my possession yet, but The Mister and I started watching the TV series in our hotel last week. It was pretty amazing and I love Noah Wyle. When Dark Horse tweeted about the TV series, I replied that I was watching it and they replied to me that there was a comic and had I read it yet? I immediately went to see if the library had it, and no they didn’t, so I put in a purchase suggestion and today it popped up in my hold list. They were probably going to buy it anyway…but it always makes me happy when they purchase something I suggest. I can’t wait till my copy comes in.
I’m here in New Orleans and enjoying myself immensely. The Mister and I have walked all over the French Quarter, checked out the River Walk and tasted some mighty fine gumbo. We’ve given up on finding a grocery in walking distance, but I found a farmers market this morning and we got some peaches. I seriously need fresh fruit or the gummy bear addiction goes into overdrive.
Yesterday I volunteered with NOLA School Volunteers through ALA’s Libraries Build Communities. We helped paint a school room at a local high school. Pictures above.
Also pictured is a promotional postcard for a galley I am looking forward to reading. I met Jessica today in the exhibit hall and we had a great conversation about incarcerated youth and she offered to skype with my new mentee’s home. I hope to take her up on it.
I’ll fill you in on What I am Reading when I am back at the computer.
Wow, the two weeks since vacation have been crazy pants. I don’t know how I packed so many obligations into such a short amount of time, but I figured out yesterday just how much I had booked. 2 computer classes (one of them my first day back), 1 TAG wrap up party, 1 TAG video edit (coming soon), 2 training sessions, 1 school visit (with 7 classrooms and a lunch table), 1 scavenger hunt program–throw in a weekend Union conference, a general membership meeting and a few personal things–The Boy’s basketball tournament in La Connor!–and I’ve been one busy woman!
Of course, there are upsides and downsides to this kind of thing. I got to do everything I wanted (everything!), and I get the second half of the month off for vacation and ALA. The downsides are that I had to drive most days because of supplies and early mornings, I woke up at odd times from anxiety dreams, and I was a little high strung.
Usually I don’t plan things so close, but a few weren’t my doing (training) and the others couldn’t be helped (without making the choice not to do them). I had time for them all and planned really well, so they all came off without a hitch (except for Facebook class, but I blame Facebook’s ever shifting craziness for most of that). I put the finishing touches on my Steampunk Summer display last night after the Scavenger Hunt and I like the way it turned out. I talked up the teen summer reading program to teens at the local middle and high school and they seem pretty excited about it. All of my hidden books disappeared pretty quickly and coworkers said that kids came in asking about it. (Click the link above for more info about Steampunk Summer).
What am I reading? Still finishing up Fevre Dream by George RR Martin. That books is long–but worth it, as Martin books are.
I just started an ARC that a local author gave me; The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler. She’s a history teacher and also wrote The Amethyst Road. I like it so far, but I find that books set in Seattle unnerve me a bit. Usually they use landmarks I know, but mix up their locations to fit the story. I find myself wanting to look up every location on a map, which is distracting, but not the author’s fault. The first scene of The Jewel and the Key is at Lincoln High School, which is a real place, but has not functioned as it’s own high school for a long time. It is currently being used to house other schools while their school is undergoing renovation. Right now, I think there are two elementary schools using the site. Lincoln is in Wallingford, so every time the character turns a corner, I try to envision where she is. I used to work in that ‘hood and know it fairly well. I’m going to have to let this go to enjoy the story. So far the writing is good and the characters are interesting. More later.
I finished A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan–very contemporary. I liked this book, but I’m not sure I loved it. I felt like I was reading several related short stories that eventually came together in one conclusion. I liked each of these individually–even (or maybe especially) the one done in power point slides–but overall it felt choppy and hard to follow. I did enjoy the characters; meeting each one, discovering their strengths and weaknesses and following them on their journeys. Egan creates a very in depth picture of each of her characters, and they are very interesting.