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That sounds like an admission of guilt or something. In reality, I’ve just been living and not really had anything I wanted to write about. Life keeps on moving. The boy went back to his father’s house shortly after my last post, things got really busy at the library and my energy was needed for other things.
On to bigger and better things:
May is bike to work month and I’ve been going full swing. My plan is to ride 100% to work this month and I’ve done it so far, with only a few days left to go. I’ve got 227 commuting miles under my belt and have actually ridden at least 20 more (I stopped keeping track) for side trips before or after work. My team is amazing, having ridden 1130 miles this month so far. We’re beating our rival team by over 200 miles.
The boy and I went to the University Street Fair on Saturday and we got him a bunch of art supplies for his birthday. I let him pick what he wanted, but was happy that he asked my opinion. I’m not terribly artistic, but I’ve used most mediums at some point or another and have had artists as friends, so I was able to steer him towards some nice brush and thin tip markers and we got him a calligraphy set inspired by an artist we saw at an all ages show last year.
On Sunday we went to my dad’s and I put the new bike together…well, mostly. It turns out I was missing a headset, so I’ve ordered that and I don’t think that will be hard to put on. Then I’ll need to practice because I’ve never spent much time on a road bike. It’s really different from the upright of a mountain bike. I am so excited to ride this bike during STP.
And finally, I’m seeing a new special someone. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I’m optimistic (probably too much so). I keep expecting someone to jump out at me and say “you’re not allowed to be this happy, give that back!” He’s sweet and strong and fun and that’s all you get for now.
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’m terribly bad at following through with my promises on here, aren’t I? I believe that I said I would talk about how programs and teen advisory groups build community. When I mentioned that, I was planning a short post because I was hoping to give a presentation on it at WLA this April. Instead I will be helping facilitate a round table discussion. No more qualms about talking too much.
I absolutely love having a teen advisory group. As I said before, I looked at a lot of programming ideas before I settled on on TAG (I’m a dork, I like to say “TAG, you’re it!” on publicity. The teens forgive me.) but after talking to Jackie I just felt like this was the right fit. Our branch has a lot of teens and younger kids, a lot of families. We lose the teens for a while in high school because they just have so much gosh darn work to do–I don’t think I would have gotten this group if they hadn’t started out in middle school last year. Now they are in high school and they bring in their friends. That means more teens using the teen area and the homework table. More teens being a positive presence in the library.
When we have programs, our meeting room is right in the front of the library and everyone looks in to see why we are having so much fun. If it’s a TAG meeting, we get curious gazes. When we have a program, I make sure to put a sign in the window so that everyone knows what’s going on. We celebrated National Gaming Day on Saturday and we got about 15 teens right at the start. Later, families started to show interest and as the teens were game, we invited them in to play with us. Moms, Dads and kids all came in and played Apples to Apples and Mario Kart. I got to tell them why gaming in the library is so cool and they told me how wonderful it was to do something on that rainy day outside their house. I invited everyone back to our inter-generational game and craft day in late December.
Building these bridges with teens, kids and parents is invaluable at the library. Giving teens a library connection to hold onto when they get into high school is key to getting them to return as library users when they become adults. Having friends that advocate and sell library with the air they breathe helps that happen, as does seeing that friendly librarian face as they’re racing towards the lunch room at school. I table a couple of times a year and offer candy for library cards. I revel in the teens that can recite their library barcode numbers to me. The ones that don’t have them want to know what all the fuss is about so I end up giving out applications with a “you’re going to need this for school” talk. Teen advisory group members stopping by to say hi helps pave the way.
I also try to draw the community into programs. When we had the neighborhood scavenger hunt last session, some of the locations were local businesses. I took the opportunity to talk with the employees and managers of the businesses to let them know that they would have visitors and that there is a library, right down the street. I’ve made acquaintances with some of them–we nod and smile now on the street–and one place has become very connected. The employees use the library and the manager has offered to help with some prizes in another program down the line. Full disclosure; I’ve been buying coffee and doughnuts there for a couple of years now. I don’t frequent the other businesses as much and my coworkers don’t talk about the library as much as I do (they probably think I’m crazy ;) I wear my badge proudly and talk about books and services when I’m out and about. Stalkers be damned. But my point is that if I spread my spending money out a bit, I would probably have a wider impact.
I don’t have to tell you that community is the lifeblood of public libraries. Some libraries get sleepy, though. They forget. They serve the people who come in their doors with excellence, but don’t take the extra steps to bring in more (and yes, even when we have more patrons than we know what to do with, we need more advocates, more users). What do you do to entice people through your doors?
I started my Teen Advisory Group last year after looking at several options and talking to a friend about her group. My branch had a lot of requests for teen volunteer positions and no history of regular teen programs. When I came to work there, it was during a rather unsettling reorganization. None of us was doing much, and I got a few extra responsibilities that put a serious cramp in my ability to plan anything for teens. By the time I was able to train someone to take most of those responsibility off my hands, it was summer. The time was perfect to plan… something.
I considered a couple of different things. Weekly programming seemed like an option, but keeping things fresh could be a problem and we don’t house our region’s gaming equipment, so getting it regularly would require more driving than I wanted. Then I talked to my friend in another system about her teen advisory board and it sounded like the right fit. I didn’t have any funding yet, so I thought I would start with a once a month meeting. Now that timing seems right. We have supplemental meetings when we need to. And now we have funding, at least for this year, so they get to have pizza.
For the planning, I asked the librarians at the Teen Center for the forms they use for their Teen Center Advisors; an information sheet and a contract with a place for students and parents to commit to the time responsibility. I edited these forms and sent them to the local high schools and put them out in the teen area. I offer service learning credit for participating. Despite the fact that all the forms disappeared, I still had that moment where I didn’t think anyone would show up.
Instead I had 12 teens at the first meeting, and all of them stuck with me through the first year (two sessions, Sept-Dec and Feb-May). We planned an author visit, celebrated National Gaming Day and helped with an all ages winter family day. In our second session we made two videos, one for the ALA Why I Need My Library contest, the other to support our Steampunk Summer theme, and planned a community scavenger hunt.
I realized very early that I had to have an agenda and that it helps to write it up on the white board where everyone can see it. I have a couple of strong personalities in my group and I’m still learning the best way to channel their enthusiasm. But having a clear agenda with a few ideas for projects helps a lot. I try to make sure the ideas are the teens, but within the limits of what I can do at the library and as relevant to library ideals as possible. I was amazed by how many of those ideals the kids got when they made the Why I Need My Library video. When we planned the scavenger hunt, it came about because of a box of prizes that I had that should be used. I asked them how I should give them away, we brainstormed and the scavenger hunt idea was born. They created the posters, helped me with the clues and the structure and helped with the program itself.
I require them to communicate with me by email. Otherwise I would have to make 12 phone calls every time I wanted to talk to them. They have to write a blog post every month. I’d say that is the biggest challenge we have is getting those in from a couple of people. In the new session that just started, I introduced a log sheet for each participant to keep track of their hours and blog posts. That way they can all see what’s expected and how they’re doing.
In my next post, I’ll talk a little bit about TAG’s, programming and community and how the library can build stronger ties to it’s neighborhood through TAG activities.
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.
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:
I am finally back at work in a normal capacity. Nothing blew up while I was gone–a sign of good planning? I’ll take it as such. I had two volunteers come in yesterday and two will come in today. They are getting things done in a serious way–I haven’t had a regular volunteer since last summer and now I have 4! Soon I will be hard pressed to find things for them to do.
I just found out that I got the day off I needed for a long ride with friends. I was pretty hyper about it yesterday. Now I just have to book the hotel and train ride home. On the 4th, a few of us rode the Mercer Island loop, which from my house is about 45 miles. It was easy peasy, so I hope that this 100 miles a day ride won’t kill me.
What am I reading? I finished Ready Player One and I am having the hardest time giving it away. There are several people that I think will like it. It’s the future, 2044, and the world is really falling apart. Classes are very separated, with those scraping by living in squalid stacked trailers and many squatting in cardboard shacks outside of the cities. Wade Watts is a smart kid. He takes advantage of all that OASIS has to offer, goes to virtual school and hides all his scavenged equipment from his aunt, who would steal it to pay the rent and for drugs. He’s also a gunter, someone playing the scavenger hunt-like game that could win him out of his poor surroundings. No one has found a clue in the last 5 years and many players are ready to give up.
I found it refreshing that Cline doesn’t pound the reader with the “future will suck if you don’t fix…” mallet. The future is what it is, and while one of the contestants does want to use the prize money to feed everyone, it is easy to see that more than money is needed to fix the world. Some dystopian fiction seems to bang away with an agenda, and while I feel that saving our planet is important, I don’t need an otherwise exciting book to preach at me while I am trying to enjoy it.
I am now reading Hellbent by Cherie Priest and I am loving it. Great distraction. I feel lucky that I get to read so many fun/amazing/interesting/provocative books right now. And most of them aren’t out yet.
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 still in New Orleans, but ALA is over. Many of the librarians, et al, have packed up and gone home. The Mister and I have one more day to enjoy together before we both get on planes going to different places. I find myself unable to make up my mind as to what I should do with this last day. I have a couple of souvenirs to pick up and a box of books to ship home. We should probably eat something. But right now we are just sitting companionably in our artfully messy hotel room listening to the St. Charles street car go by every 10 minutes.
I have been to conferences before, even ALA. In fact, I have been to dental conferences (don’t ask). This is the first conference where it really clicked why I am here. The sessions were good–I learned a lot about the future of digital media (ebooks, music, etc.), cloud computing, databases, and most importantly, myself. I talked to people I didn’t know and gave them ideas from our system that they will take away and use to make their school library more interactive with students. I learned from them too, in many ways. Mostly I learned that my system is amazing, that we do a lot, even if we librarians sometimes feel that we, as a system, don’t take that first innovative step until someone else has tested the field. There are a lot of places where we are the front runners in public libraries.
The panel I moderated went amazingly well. Forty people came, which was great since it was in the very last time slot for presentations at the conference and that’s about what the room could hold comfortably. There was a good representation of academic and public libraries in the audience and many of them had zine collections. Our panelists, Jenna Freedman, Chris Ritzo and John Stevens made for a well rounded presentation. Jenna is a librarian at Bernard College, which has an extensive zine collection. Chris is a volunteer librarian at the Urbana Champaign Independant Media Center. And John is at the State Library in Melbourne Austrailia, where zines are archived for the future. Both John and Jenna have their own zines in addition to helping preserve them. All three are very active in the zine culture in their areas, as well as in their professional pursuits.
After the panel we all trooped out to the parking lot to ooh and ah over the Zine Mobile, which will be taking a jolly band of zinester librarians (and honorary, or rogue as the case may be ;) on a road trip that passes through Florida and ends up in Milwaukee for the 3rd annual Zine Librarians Un-Conference. I loved the van:
Once again, I am not going to tell you about what I am reading now because I wouldn’t do it justice under all this conference talk. I’ll have a special book review edition after I return home.
I made it to vacation and I (think I) even got everything done.
Tomorrow we leave for camping on the Olympic Peninsula, which almost guarantees that it will be raining. I am sad that the Boy can’t come, but he has basketball camp starting on Sunday, and besides it is Father’s day weekend and I am sure he wants to spend it with his dad. Hopefully I will have a signal so I can call and harass him every night. I’ll post some pics here too if I can.
I have been wading through ALA related email, trying to decide what programs to go to. A few have been added and I know I won’t really make up my mind until I get there and see where everything is. If the sessions are across town, it’s not as likely I am going to make it.
Being the geek that I am, I reread that last paragraph and had to look up if it was bad grammar to end a sentence (or in this case, several) with a preposition. Evidently not, although it is not recommended for long sentences where the preposition can end up far from its object, confusing the reader.
What am I reading? Finally in the last chapter of Fevre Dream. I have to admit I am getting tired. But I really want to know what happens! Tonight for sure.
Also still on The Jewel and the Key, and typing that I just realized what the title refers to. I can be a little slow. I still get a little frustrated with the Seattle references, but I am starting to move beyond it to enjoy the story and the writing. Spiegler does a really nice job with description and substance, although I feel the character development is a little lacking at this point.