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I’m holed up in my fancy hotel, cramming for my presentation tomorrow. All of the work has been done, now it’s all about finesse and timing.

I get really nervous speaking to peers. Someone in the audience probably knows more about my subject than I do. Middle school taunts loom large in the back of my brain. It’s not logical, it’s just there.

So I’ve been working on it. I’ve signed up to talk about our new Service Learning model to the library world at large. I spoke at the Young Adult Services conference in November and will be speaking at the Washington Library Association Conference tomorrow.

I’ve made some realizations. Having a partner is key. One person droning on is never as exciting as two. It takes the pressure of all of those eyes off of me to have another person up there and allows me to take a breath when I need one.

I deliberately procrastinate on practicing my slides until within a day of my presentation. It keeps me from getting nervous leading up and keeps everything fresh in my mind, what I want to say and how I want to say it. Why torture myself sooner than necessary? The trick is to make sure to leave time in what can be a busy conference schedule to practice on my own, and then at least go over timing with my partner.

Having really wonderful friends doesn’t hurt either. I’ve had support from several people who have helped me see past my boogie men to the heart of the matter, and offered to be there for me at my presentation to cheer me on.

The presentation in November went great. I won’t pretend that I am suddenly a rock star–I have coworkers who provide celebrity grade performances when on stage; I don’t have that skill and I probably never will. Part of getting over my anxiety is letting things like that go. However, if my subject is interesting and I can present on it in a steady and interesting way, I’ll be happy.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep practicing in this luxurious cage.

davenport

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A lucky few that are subscribed to my blog somehow have probably noticed the reviews that have popped up here recently. I’ve been reluctant to start blogging again because private life has been more exciting than library life in a lot of ways, and I talk about that so much on Google+ that it seems silly to blog it too.

However, library life has had some golden moments in the last 6 months.  I attended the Pacific Northwest Library Association’s Leadership Institute in October of 2014. It was held at Fort Worden in beautiful Port Townsend. The weather was beautiful. I can’t talk about what they do in the conference, but it was very helpful and I feel so much gratitude towards my group and mentors for their help.  Here’s a few pictures to distract you. The second picture is of my folding bike. Chris and I sailed to Port Townsend and I rode my bike down to the Ferry to Edmonds, which was a grand adventure.

Many deer ran around the park

So sunny for October!

My library has also undergone a small remodel over the last couple of months. The children’s area has been expanded to reflect our usage (so 50% bigger) with lots of seating both desk style and comfy reading style. It’s much brighter and more welcoming. One of the changes that were made though was a combined reference and circulation desk. This has had some mixed results.  My feeling is that this is the future, but also that our practices of staffing the desk will change also. I can see that it would be best to have a basic librarian position at the desk, then have the advanced librarian staff doing more specialized work–outreach, reference, etc somewhere they can easily come to the aid of those on desk. Right now I’m helping with fines and finding holds an awful lot. I like giving good service, but I don’t want to get to the point where they’re wondering why they’re paying me so much to do clerical work. More pics:

New children’s area after school

One view of our fancy new desks–fab models, no?

Straight on. The desks go up and down–very space age.

Hopefully I will continue to find interesting things to say here. Thanks for reading.

 

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.

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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.

imageAlso 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.

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.

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.

I am officially going to ALA.  I was pretty sure a month ago when I bought my registration and said I would facilitate a panel.  I bought my plane tickets this week though, after realizing I missed the inexpensive window.  I should say less expensive, because when does flying ever feel inexpensive?

But I am excited to see New Orleans, and the Mister will be joining me, at least for a bit.  I am doing a day of volunteering, although I don’t know what my work will be, yet.  It could be anything from construction to cataloging.  The conference sessions sound good–hopefully that pans out.  Sometimes they sound useful and then you get in there and realize that it just isn’t, or that you’ve taken something really similar in the past.

Even more exciting than a bunch of librarians in a convention center? I have a camping trip with the Boy and dad-family the week before.  We have a couple spots out at Kalaloch, a place I love.  I hope the weather cooperates, but honestly, this spot I will go to in the pouring rain.

Which is what I got to ride home in tonight.  I went to the middle school and saw their a production of The Wizard of Oz.  It was amazing!  Not every note was on key but it was well executed, the acting was top notch and so was the orchestra and singing.  It was easy to see that the kids had put their all into the show.

And then I rode my bike home and got soaked.  It was so nice earlier today.  So far I am meeting my goal of riding every day.

It’s too late (I am too cold and tired) to add what I am reading.  Actually, I can just say that I am still reading The Scar by China Mieville.  It is a frickin’ long book, but worth every minute.  I don’t think I am going to finish during the check out time.

We have a new city librarian.  He doesn’t start until mid-August, but he comes with good references.

New Year resolutions should really start in Spring.  Spring is when you have the time and energy to take on change and challenge.  If you start in January, you are just setting yourself up for failure with those long dark, cold nights.

I have run around Green Lake with not one, but two running partners.  I can actually make it all the way around now without stopping or walking.  A few years ago I could have rolled out of bed, not having run for months, and done that.  But the years are catching up to me and now I have to work up to 3 miles.  But I am there and ready to go further.

Also, May is bike to work month and I am team captain of the Paperback Riders!  I am riding out early today to go get our identifiers from Cascade.  Last year it was a spoke card, the year before a luggage tag.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year.  In preparation for May, I am riding every day that I can now, even when I am not working.  By the end of May I should be in great physical shape.

In libraryland, we are interviewing new City Librarian candidates.  This week it will be narrowed down to three, then next week all staff are invited to go interview those 3.  The session will be facilitated by our interim CL, who is also head of HR.  I think she will do a great job.  She has proven to be a good listener and I think she will convey what she has heard from staff into her questions.  The union also gets to have a couple of facilitated questions thrown in before the general Q and A starts.

I’ll be taking notes, because I am going to facilitate a zine panel at the ALA conference in New Orleans this year.  And I think that the Mister is going to be able to come to the conference as well.  I am looking forward to seeing the city with him. And just seeing him in general.

What am I reading?  Books are letting me down, one way or another, lately.  I did like Red Glove by Holly Black, but I was a little appalled at Cassel’s friends.  I didn’t really know why they were his friends if they didn’t trust him, and there were scenes where it showed that they didn’t.  They were scared of him, but were not the type of characters to stay friends because of fear.  It bugged me all the way through the book.

I abandoned Glass Houses because the reader drove me a little crazy.  She read like everything was sexy–washing dishes, taking juice out of the fridge, sitting on the couch.

Anna and the French Kiss was ok.  I liked most of it, but I hate the clichéd cheating but everything turns out ok in the end.  In real life people don’t just forgive that and let you live happily ever after.  It is complicated and messy and a lot of the time the new relationship doesn’t work out.

Currently reading Brain Jack by Brian Faulkner.  I’d like it better if it didn’t read just like Little Brother… Yes, I know I am hard to please right now.  All of these books will be great for someone.

On Newberry Street in Boston.  El Jope would like this one.

The subway, where I spent a lot of time being unsure if I was heading the right way.

Fenway Park where we saw the Red Sox trounced by Tampa Bay

Boston from the Harbor.