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Alexsis’ comment on my last post reminded me that I should update. The Paperback Riders did come in first, both in miles (widely) and percentage (barely). I’m really proud of my team and I have heard from other staff that observing us participate in Bike to Work month has motivated them to start riding to work as well. Which is really the goal, right? ;)
I’ve finally done some real riding on the Surly, and she is a beautiful machine. Really light and fast. I went on a short ride with the new Mr. a week ago and I blasted up a big hill, leaving him in the dust. Evidently he didn’t realize I had it in me and had settled in for a long slow climb. Oops, I’ve got to stop complaining about hills. It gives the wrong impression.
I just got back from a Union convention in LA, where the only exercise I got was swimming in the salt water pool on the roof of our hotel and lots of walking. And breathing, that felt like exercise in LA.
Now it’s time to start training again.
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 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.
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.
I’m going to take a time out to rave about a couple of things. Not crazy rave, but enthusiastic rave–although I leave it up to you to determine whether I am crazy ;)
The first is La Bête, a sweet little restaurant on the West slope of Capitol Hill. When I showed for our reservation on Sunday, I found myself hoping that the food would live up to the decor. Whomever designed this place is a master. The moss greens and browns blend nicely, the art is modern and provocative without overwhelming, and I simply love the grates covering the windows, New Orleans style.
It is a place of smaller, shared plates. I know at least one of us were worried there wouldn’t be enough. Not so! We had oysters on the half-shell, pork rinds with pickled red onions and rabbit and chicken liver pate to start, then followed with the softshell crab, a spring vegetable salad, baked romanesco, the morel mushroom tart, house made merguez sausage, and one of the specials–rabbit wrapped in bacon. I won’t describe each to you but I’ll give you a couple of bites. The flavors were very complimentary. The crab was fried perfectly and was creamy and crunchy and yummy. The pate came with a date and apple jam and curly endive on walnut toast. The oysters were fresh and were some of the best I’ve had, including those I ate in New Orleans. The spring vegetable salad had young garbanzo beans and a perfectly cooked poached egg. The only thing I didn’t care for were the pork rinds, but I have a feeling that has more to do with me than them. It was also a great place for a group dinner and the service was excellent. (P.S. Thanks Dad!)
My second rave was for Gregg’s Geenlake Cycles. I have window shopped there before and bought a couple of accessories, but the price of their bikes has always kept me a little at bay (I’m not saying they are over priced, just out of my range). However, I had gotten a look over on my bike from another shop during the bike to work celebration, and I wanted to see what Gregg’s said. I walked in at 8:20 (they close at 9) to ask if they had time to do an estimate. The guy behind the counter was seriously friendly and instantly set me at ease. He hoisted my bike up on the rack and looked it over. His estimate was much less and less expansive than the other place, he lubed up my chain and break line and made a couple of adjustments. My ride home was sweeter than any I’ve had on that bike, maybe on any bike. I am definitely going back to get a new chain set, chain and cables. Hopefully next week. It’s amazing what a little excellent customer service and honesty can do.
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.
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’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.