I have tried, several times, to start writing here over the last couple of weeks.  There has been a lot going on, lots of work stuff blowing up, then coming down, then (hopefully) getting fixed.  As most of you know, our budget was cut pretty severely this year.  Many of my colleagues were transferred out of their positions and into non-librarian positions, or just right on out of the library.  Everyone was offered a job–not the job they applied for, not a job they wanted, but a job.  So there is a public statement saying that no one was layed off.  However, a demotion is a lay off.  A cut in pay is a lay off.  Elimination of a position is a great loss, as it is likely we won’t ever get that position back.

Anyhow, as sad as that was, we were all dealing.  We had voted overwhelmingly to take a pay cut, to forgo our COLA, to go on furlough.  We had been informed of where our newest re-organization would take us (I was personally lucky, I do not have to move again), and were all dealing with that loss.  Some of the communication was awful.  Really awful.  Like finding out that your position had been eliminated during a unit meeting with a group of coworkers, no formal acknowledgement, just your position isn’t on the roster.

This week we had another blow to our moral.  Three people would be promoted and given raises and a currently unfunded deputy city librarian job would be filled.  That’s right, raises and more money to the top level of management.  There was a public outcry for several days.  Testimonials were written where all staff could see them.  Everyone was so upset.  Aside from the money, the fact that there was no  competitive hiring process was a blow and most felt that the three did not deserve a promotion.  Eventually the three gave back the raise–temporarily–but no one was mollified.  People went to the Library Board meeting yesterday and the union read a letter stating our dismay.  It was well done.  That, combined with staff letters and a local citizen’s testimony about staff feeling disfranchised, made the board realize that something was really wrong.  They cut the line from the budget allocating funds to a deputy and made a commitment to funding public services cuts before giving any money to raises or new positions.  They also stated that the library needed to create inroads to better communication with staff; that they wanted staff to be able to come to work happy and engaged, not beaten down by bad tactics.

So, I am hopeful.  And our new interim city librarian should be awesome.  Oh, and the Friends of the library received enough donations to gain the matching funds.  That is also very cool and thanks so much to everyone that donated. That’s all I have for now, as the library turns.

What did I read while I was hibernating? Oh so much.

Awaken by Kate Kacvinski.  I had a hard time suspending my disbelief over the premise, but the story itself and the writing was sound.  When I explained it to my father, he said he could believe it, so that might just be me.  Basically, in this post 2040 future (only date I saw) everyone has retreated behind a computer, too scared to leave their homes for various reasons.  It all began because school bombings and shootings had gotten out of hand and in order to protect the children, school had been moved into the family home via digital school, or DS.  Maddie is the teen daughter of the founder of DS, but she isn’t convinced it is the best thing and has a checkered past of helping protesters, whom some might call terrorists, fight DS.  Now that she is older and realizes the impact she has had on her family in betraying them, she is torn between not hurting them again and following her beliefs.

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft. The feel of the story reminds me of K.L. Going’s Fat Kid Rules the World. There are short, hot chapters and the writing is poetic. I wanted to go get my notebook several times while reading, and I haven’t written anything longer or more creative than a flyer in years.

The main character, Jonathan, is mourning the loss of his twin brother from an accident a year before. He lives with his bikini barista mother in West Seattle in a ‘needs some love’ house that his mother wants to transform into a wedding chapel. His inability to deal with his personal tragedy has dropped him into a hole, and one that his principal wants to help him out of. She gives him an ultimatum: don’t skip class, interview a world war two vet and write his book, and perform at graduation and she’ll let him pass 11th grade.

A very worthwhile read. Steady and entertaining. The only thing I had a hard time with was how well everything came together and how much everyone wanted him to succeed. I enjoyed all the local references, most of which I recognized, although Jonathan’s world isn’t one I have a lot of experience with first hand. His life, his circumstances, felt very different to me than my own growing up just a little bit North. Sign of the times or just a more urban existence? Either way, I found the differences interesting.

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz. Allie is a vinyl expert. At 16 she has already put in 2 years of service working at her local record store; her home away from home. But the numbers of record aficionados are shrinking and so are the store’s clientele. In order to reach more LP fans, Allie starts a blog and a zine, talking about all her favorites slowly garnering a larger and larger fan base, including “Fan in Berkley” whom she fantasizes is the illusive mystery man she sees occasionally in the store.

Like a simplified High Fidelity, this book will satisfy budding music lovers and LP fans. There’s a bit of crime and morality that has an interesting twist.

I read this one on my iPod touch using bluefire–a library download. The text was big enough that I wasn’t straining, even on the small screen. A very fast and satisfying read.

Zombies Vs Unicorns edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black. My son and I listened to this audiobook on our long drive to Nevada.  It is a book of short stories that alternate between zombie and unicorn themes (some combined) and feature authors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier fighting it out over which is better.  The stories themselves are by awesome YA authors and vary greatly in tone and depth.

We had a great time listening to these.  The banter between Holly and Justine seemed a bit tinned, but was still amusing.  I really loved the second story about a boy who had contracted a rare form of brain virus (the author tells this better) and he travels the country eating other humans–the brains are the best part.  My second favorite was about how to train your baby killer unicorn, and that just says it all right there.  In my opinion, the zombie stories win but the contrast is excellent.  Some of the readers are better than others (there is a mix of readers and one story seems to have 3 different readers, one for each of the “voices”.)  The excellent readers seem to coincide with my favorite stories… thank goodness.

Ok, I’ve overwhelmed you enough.  You may go.

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