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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.

Busy days!  I had a duct tape program yesterday and projects the kids made were just amazing.  We used Stick It for inspiration, which has some great projects and lays everything out in an easy to see way.  I also made a powerpoint with videos from YouTube on the history of duct Tape and how to make a duct tape sheet.  Some day I will remember to try out Prezi for this sort of thing.  As it was, I couldn’t get the sound to come on until I pressed a button on the top of the keyboard (user error).  Oh, and I made this:

What have I been reading?

Hellbent by Cherie Priest  This is the second book in the Cheshire Red Reports series (first book is Bloodshot), which features Raylene, a century old vampire.  She’s a thief for hire but has a soft spot for those who win her over.  So far she has collected a navy seal drag queen, two orphaned children and a blind vampire.  They all live in a brick warehouse in a Pioneer Square area of Seattle.  This episode (because I think this would make an awesome TV series) or perhaps I should say season, has Raylene splitting her attention between finding some magical artifacts and helping her misbegotten family.

This I love about the series:

How well Cherie Priest talks about Seattle.  I didn’t put the book down once to try to figure out how a person got from place A to place B without falling in a large hole.  Usually books set in Seattle bother me with holes in the geography (how does one walk from Wallingford to Capitol Hill in less than an hour?), but I know that’s just me.

Raylene is awesome with her OCD and constant chatter.  She’s a great character and I have come to realize that I am a character person.  Her chatter is all relevant and interesting and helps build the story.  Other characters are less developed because of her dominance, but you get just enough of them keep the flow.

The travel–while the home base is in Seattle, Priest isn’t afraid to take her characters all over the US.  How does a vampire travel?  By car and airplane of course–at night!  That timing can be a little tricky when you have to be in a dark room by the time the sun rises.  There isn’t a lot of sight seeing in some of these trips, but you do get a feel for the location, and certain places are more fleshed out.

There’s a lot of action and adventure in this series.  It won’t let pleasure readers down.  I’ll be recommending this book to adults and teens.  Officially out August 30th.  Bloodshot is available now!

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’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.

Well, my anxiety wasn’t mislaid.  We only had a handful of people at Holly’s event, but they were good engaged participants.  The TAG kids did such a great job welcoming Holly and decorating–we sent her home with a 3′ x 10′ poster they made.  I could tell she was tickled by the whole thing.  We also got to hear a couple of pages from her next book, which will be coming out next year and it sounded awesome.  I can’t wait to read it.  The teens just love her.

We also got an interview for podcast out of the whole thing.  I will link to it when it finally goes up–have to have some editing first.  It actually sounds pretty good right now, but my friends downtown will make it more listenable.  I still have to record an introduction.  Which brings me to the public speaking portion.  I am getting so much better at announcements.  For a while I had to read them (before that, I just sucked even when reading), but now I seem to be able to do it off the cuff.  I think I used to get nervous which made my brain go too fast and stop all together (at the same time), which led me to get all blabbered up.  I keep making myself do it though, and it seems to be paying off.  Today I picked up the phone/intercom and had the flyer in my hand, but instead I just said what came to mind and it flowed.  Same thing happened when I introduced Holly.  Yay, touchdown ME!

As for voting, I did my part.  All those other slobs, well, I don’t know why they can’t fill out some bubbles on the paper, slap a stamp and a signature on it and drop it in the mail, but it sure seems like a small percentage of registered voters actually voted.  I guess we will see in the next couple of days.  It being election day, maybe this is why hardly anyone came to our event…hmmm.

What am I reading? Behemoth!!!!!  Love it so far!

Tomorrow’s the big day.  Budget announcements.  I probably won’t find out about my specific job for a couple more weeks after that, but we will have a much better idea of where we stand tomorrow.  The City Librarian told us on Thursday that the cuts have decreased to 8% and managers tell us that at their meeting on Friday, they were told 7%.  That is certainly good news, but still a lot more than the budget cuts we have faced over the last couple of years.  Most of those were 1.5% and could be answered by eliminating empty positions and a week long furlough.  This is definitely not that.

One of the fear making issues during this budget cut time is the secrecy that the Mayor’s office puts around the decision making process.  I am not sure what the reasoning is behind this, but McGinn is not the only one.  Nickels really started the whole thing.  I found out recently that not only do the plans have to be secret, but our library council is not even allowed to talk to each other about it.  What?  Really?  These are the people who have to approve a final budget.  Is the Mayor hoping that by keeping them from talking to one another…trying hard to pull this out…that they will make better choices?  Or won’t have time to be informed enough to make different choices than the Mayor laid in front of them?  Can he really care that much about what cuts the library makes?  His comments up to now show he really doesn’t care about the library much at all, although he does like to use it himself occasionally.

In Libraryland, I keep on trucking.  Teen Advisory went great and we are well underway planning our first event.  I hosted Danger: Books at the middle school in my area recently and as usual, it totally rocked and inspired me.  The actors are so great and I love hearing my favorite books acted out.  I taught my first computer class in over a month and it went really well, with a full house.

What am I reading? I finally finished The Broken Teaglass a few days ago and found it a nice change in scenery.   The writing is dry and the characters are shallowly defined.  The only person you really get to know is the main character and at first he is one of the biggest mysteries of all.  Billy is new to Samuelson, a company that compiles dictionaries.  He feels lucky to have a job, being a newly graduated, but isn’t sure that being a lexicographer is for him.  He is also a reluctant mystery solver when a strange citation falls into his lap and it appears that someone has been murdered, but his new friend Mona talks him into taking the plunge.

I am almost done with The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller.  I was looking forward to this because I really liked both Kiki Strike books.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like this book…mostly.  I like the strong female protagonist, I like the story line: people who are born again and again because something is drawing them back, I liked the characters.  Sigh, I don’t like that the main character, Haven, can’t seem to tell when the others are lying to her.  Ever.  She is tricked time and time again by the same people.  Haven needs a big gong rung that says “trick me once, shame on you, trick me twice, shame on me.”

I was right, last week was great and this week is going to be too.  Work is going well.  We have a small but robust start to our computer classes, my volunteers are so efficient I have to find more things for them to do and tomorrow I have a school visit with 2 fellow teen services librarians.  This morning I helped interview for my friend‘s position.  He got a temp job at another branch as a librarian, so we need someone who can do his job for a few months (because nobody can really fill his shoes…).  Participating on the interview team showed me how awful I looked when I was interviewing.  I was always terribly nervous and couldn’t put two thoughts together to save my life.  There was only a little of that with these two, but they still reminded me of my trembling self and I cringed a bit.  I’ve had a few interviews in the last year or two that have gone much better, but I think it really helped that I was miserably sick when I interviewed for the first temp position I got as a librarian.

I worked all weekend but still got out to (the same) friend’s housewarming party.  I really just went to see his table, which he made.  I am always in awe of people who can make useful things that are also pleasant looking.  I also went so I could spill lemonade on his wife’s shoes.  Because that is what you do at a housewarming party, sort of like a christening.  Would anyone else like me to provide this service?  It is free as long as you provide the lemonade.  Oh, and there were lot’s of good people there that I enjoy hanging out with.  That might also have been a motivation.

Wednesday I get to see my WAL peeps.  I miss them all so much.  Some force is trying to keep us apart–we all work different schedules and far across town now.  I am really looking forward to seeing them, I can barely wait (I might even bring my own lemonade … you know, for funsies).

What am I reading? I finished Incarceron.  It was decent, but not phenomenal.  It is a good book to give a teen who has liked Maze Runner or Hunger Games and I have a feeling there will be at least a second book if not a series.

I just started I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Lee Wilson and it is the most uncorrected proof I have ever read.  I think they rushed it to get it out at PLA.  It will be a nice addition to the historical fiction category, set in the 1200’s during Kublai Kahn’s rule, the story follows the adventures of a young girl who was maimed by a horse in infancy and found her fate entwined with theirs.  The story is not that different from a native american one (I feel like you could substitute a few words, names and landmarks and it wouldn’t be distinguishable), but does include vocabulary and cultural references from Mongol history.

Last night I became the treasurer for our system’s union.   I don’t know what duties the position entails yet, although my predecessor’s speech gave me some idea of what is to be expected.  I am looking forward to finding out more, and to representing my coworkers.  My speech was short and sweet, detailing some of my experience and my enthusiasm.  I was a bit light headed and shaky afterwards, but I was good in the moment.

I am not always good at knowing my own mind about policies and situations when they are still hot.  I have to think about things before I can speak, and when I do rush into a statement, I usually regret it or wish I had said more or less.  My biggest goal in being a part of the Union is to get more in touch with my opinions (weird statement–know my mind better?) and get better at thinking on my feet.  Ok, that is my second biggest goal, because first is being the representative that my coworkers need and want, being their voice.

Um, end public service message.  Yes, I realize what I sound like.

What am I reading? Still The Passage, but also now listening to Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jackie Faber by LA Meyer.  Still love this story as Jackie returns to England from more adventures at Sea aboard a whaling ship.  Quite a lovely diversion.

Today was a surprisingly good training.  It gave me more confidence in my skills and some good pointers for fleshing out our regular curriculum.  I had to fight off my inner teen, though.  The presenter used a lot of tools to get us warmed up and at first it was really annoying (making us stand up if we’d ever had a really boring meeting, etc., ringing a bell at the end of each timed task, and she kept calling my manager by the wrong name) I was holding back the eye-rolls.  By the end we were all enjoying ourselves and got through a 5 minute presentation to a small group for critique.  It was a 7 hour training, which is a long time to be in one room listening mostly to one person.  We made it through and I have some really nice pipe cleaner art to show for it.

The Mister has gotten his residency assignment.  He will be in Las Vegas for a year for prelim surgery, starting in June.  Since it is only a year, I am staying here and going to visit when I can.  He will be really busy though.  My first visit will be in August during the furlough and I thank the airline gods that Vegas has cheap flights and hotel packages.  I am going to miss having him around so much.  Oh, my best friend has also gotten her residency in Sacramento, so my boyfriend and my best friend are moving away at the same time.  It hasn’t really hit me yet, but I can tell that June is going to suck.

What am I reading? My new iPod doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that there is an audio book on it right now, so I haven’t finished The Curse of the Blue Tattoo yet, but I was really enjoying it before that.  If I Stay was stellar and set in Oregon, so I recognized a lot of places described.  The story itself was engaging and beautiful.  The emotions felt very real to me.  Links and a little more info later.

I have been a flurry of activity the last few weeks.  Work has been hella busy, with the added responsibilities of being a Teaching Center Lead.  Things are finally falling into place though, and we are finding that we can do more than we thought possible.  I will be teaching a couple of times a month, and that ought to help me get over the big bad jitters I get whenever I speak in front of a group.

Finding out that I would be the instruction Lead at my branch, I decided to look again at my PLA schedule and see if there were any instruction related topics I could go to.  My best effort didn’t turn anything up, though.  I am already attending a few “management” sessions–things like how to deal with difficult situations and people and strategic planning–and I suppose those will have to do.

I saw a bit of the news today and it really worried me to see that some states are withholding tax refunds in order to keep money in their own accounts.  Not forever, but from anywhere to a week, to months.  California did that last year, but promise not to this year.  This made me think about the budget here and how we are already in the hole $10 million (5 from last year and 5 from this year) and how much worse 2011 is probably going to be.  There was another news program that told of schools cutting budgets already, taking money from sports, libraries and academic programs.  It makes me sad.

I learned about the city’s budget numbers last night at the union meeting I attended.  It was the nomination meeting for our next union executive board and I was nominated for treasurer to run against a long time position holder.  There is a lot of change coming to our union and I think it is seriously a good thing.  If nothing else has come from this bad budget and all the changes, it has forced us all to be more involved.

What am I reading? I am listening to The Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady by L.A. Meyers. It is a wonderful story that kind of reminds me of The Little Princess, in that Mary “Jacky” Faber is sent to a high falutin’ girls school to receive an education, she is demoted to downstairs help while her money is kept in “safe keeping” by the mistress of the house. She even sleeps in the attic! That is where the resemblence ends. Jacky Faber has so much life to her, everything is an adventure. This is the second book in the series. I listened to Bloody Jack with the boys during our trip to Cali a couple of months ago. I can’t wait for the third one.

What happened to The Man Who Ate the World? Well, I forgot it in the car for a couple of days and I plan to get back to it. I will let you know.  I also picked up If I Stay by Gayle Forman and am enjoying it quite a bit so far.