rockinlibrarian: (sherlock)
The other day my place of employment suddenly followed me on Twitter. First I was confused, because I run our Facebook page, so who on earth had started a Twitter for us? (It was a new hire, in fact. So now I really am not the only social-media guru of the library). Then I started to reply in my typical Twitter voice... and it struck me how different my Twitter voice is from my Real Life voice. I was going to put a picture of the Awesome Thing I made for one of my programs next week on Twitter (except I messed up taking the picture so I don't actually have one yet), and thought of @-mentioning the library in it so she could retweet it and it would be an awesome teaser for the program, but then I was like, do I really want to advertize my Twitter as belonging to our library's children's librarian? I don't MIND if people know that's me, but it's not, you know, an OFFICIAL me. It's a place where I mostly talk and squee and RT library-related THINGS, in fact, but it's also where I whine about my kids and my health and FREQUENTLY TALK IN ALL-CAPS and indulge in my remorseless obsession-crush on Martin Freeman (WHO, by the way, is 42 years old today. IT'S ARTHUR DENT'S 42ND BIRTHDAY, WORLD! Appreciate the SIGNIFICANCE!). I'm not ASHAMED of my Twitter self, it's just... there's a DISCONNECT.

My professional self is ALL library-enthusiasm ALL the time (with patrons. With colleagues I'm more the real-life self described below). My Twitter self is an ongoing noisy pseudo-conversation with the Internet at large. My Facebook self is a more directed-at-people-I-sort-of-know, somewhat-more-restrained pseudo-conversation. My LiveJournal self, speaking now, is my philosophical-but-still-a-little-sarcastic-or-wry reaching-out-to-the-world outpouring-of-big-thoughts, usually. My private journal self is a mixture of that and the mundane and self-assessment and rambles about what I dreamt the night before. My real life social-and-familial-interaction self is scatterbrained, tongue-tied, seemingly powerless, blatantly Type-9.

So after this last reminder, I again found myself thinking, which is the Real Me?

Stupid, trick question. They ALL are.

People can keep saying "You don't really know a person online" as if to discount the real relationships we make with people through the Interwebz, but we don't really know ANYBODY we only know from one aspect of their lives. So does it matter? How do we think about people? How do we judge people? SHOULD we judge people, when we will never know the whole story?

Anyway, I think the healthier I get, the more I grow, the closer Live-and-in-Person Me will get to LiveJournal Me. I think THIS me is indeed close to my True Voice, whatever that is. My private paper journals are closer yet, but even if I'm totally emotionally healthy I'll still have a private side. But meanwhile, I've still got this shell to outgrow. Maybe to incorporate. Maybe I'll always be quiet, I'll just stop being so SHY.

I always thought that if people could read my journals, then they'd really know me. I still think that's a bit true. But only if they already have the context of another-kind-of me.

Anyway, so that's me. Meanwhile, have yourself a Very Happy Martin Day!
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
I am super busy at the library lately. Not only do I have my weekly programs starting up again in a month, but I'm also starting an outreach-at-daycares gig, AND I've officially been given ORDERING POWER for not just the YA but the ENTIRE Children's section as well: the WHOLE UPSTAIRS COLLECTION IS NOW SUBJECT TO MY WHIM, MWAH HAH HAH (once I'm given a budget. I still don't actually have a budget). The little old lady who used to rule over the children's section with an iron fist has at last retired. I say "at last" because she WAS quite old and had been starting to get overwhelmed by Change for quite awhile, but it sounds kind of good-riddance-y, like I couldn't wait for her to go. Which, I sheepishly admit, was often true. But when I hugged her goodbye, it felt like I was hugging my grandmother, and I got a little weepy. And ever since she left, it seems like the stacks are WAY more messed up than usual-- gah, was she on top of that.

But she wouldn't weed. [Non-librarian types, hang in there, I'll explain this to you more in a couple paragraphs. Just need to build background]. Oh, she was set against it. "History books are still good, because history doesn't change," she'd say, and "what's wrong with those books? They're good books. If somebody would try them they might like them." But it was getting embarrassing. Yes, we had the explorers book that ends with "Some day, people might go to the moon"-- IT IS NOT AN URBAN LEGEND, I HELD THAT BOOK IN MY VERY HANDS. AFTER PULLING IT OFF THE VERY LIBRARY SHELVES. IN 2010. Last year we hosted a continuing education workshop for children's services folks across several counties, and during the break the speaker went up and grabbed some books off our shelves, and came back raving. "LOOK how DISGUSTING these are!" she exclaimed. "You must NEVER let your collections look like this!" And the books she'd picked actually didn't look that bad compared to most of them. The three of us from our library that were there shrunk back in our seats, maybe ineffectively piping up "we know! It's not our fault! We really WANT to!" Occasionally we'd sneak the worst offenders out on Wednesdays when our little old lady didn't work.

But I'd started a project earlier in the summer, printing a report of all the books in the collection purchased before we'd come to the new building (to give new arrivals a chance to find an audience) that had never been checked out since the library had gotten automated (I'm not sure when that was, but I know it already was when I moved here ten years ago, at least). I wanted to highlight the "Lonely" titles to see if they would get read. I started going through the shelves, discovering that a large number of books were completely MISSING, and a nearly as large number hadn't been checked out because, ugh. I put many of the good-but-sadly-ignored books on display, and continued searching for missing books because really, we desperately needed to update our catalog if it had that many errors in it. But shortly after our former coworker's retirement, another coworker came up and announced, "We've officially been told that we can resume weeding up here," and I felt a SURGE OF EXCITEMENT. YES! PULL ALL THE BOOKS! OKAY NOT ALL OF THEM, JUST THE HORRIBLY OUT OF DATE ONES!

It is so strangely liberating. I am RUTHLESS. Or not completely because I did leave some terribly ratty looking ones that I felt were just too unique to lose (even though, yeah, nobody was checking it out. SO FAR). But otherwise, "Yes, you must go, so must you, okay basically any nonfiction book that is OLDER THAN I AM can go, though this one with a girl with crimped hair using an early-90s computer on the cover can go, too; fiction it depends how classic and irreplaceable it is, and this is a 'contemporary' realistic story about an ordinary kid in his ordinary-yet-oddly-1970s-ish school, so, no." Mark it on the list, drop it in the box, take it to the dumpster.

YES, THE DUMPSTER. I just made a few of you bibliophiles sick, didn't I. But what else can we do? There's too many to FIT in the book sale room, and nobody wants a literal ton of outdated books donated to them, unless they are an artist who uses them for crafting, and even THEY have limits.

But a lot of people misunderstand the concept of weeding. It's all "Oh, but books are wonderful things! How can you not TREASURE them?! Why can't you give them to someone who WANTS them?!" But the thing is, these ARE books nobody wants. They're outdated-- sometimes the information is wrong now-- sometimes it's even DANGEROUS. They're broken and dusty and musty. Your average kid will never even take it off the shelf (today I weeded the "trains" section. I live with a train obsessive. Trust me, if there's a book in the train section that has somehow never been taken out by the many young train obsessives I know, it NEVER WILL BE).

"BUT," you protest, "they could be GOOD BOOKS! What happened to Don't-Judge-a-Book-By-Its-Cover? What if someone NEEDS that information and that's the only place they can get it?" Relax. We don't weed books if we have nothing to replace them with. If it's the only book that's ever been written on a subject, we keep it. If it's a classic work of literature, we BUY A NEW COPY THAT DOESN'T SMELL LIKE MILDEW. I've been keeping a list of books I DO want to replace and subjects I need to find updated titles on. And as for the books we don't replace? That's what the Library of Congress is for. That's what Special Collections at universities are for. That's ARCHIVES. Not your typical public library. Your typical public library is there to serve the needs of THEIR OWN COMMUNITY, and face it, a book no kid will go near is NOT serving my community's needs. I need that shelf space for something they'll actually be excited to find.

But here's where the funny part comes in. Some of the books I weeded? I brought home with me. I gave a couple to my kids. I kept one for myself because it was by Kristi Holl and it tickled me to have an actual novel of hers instead of just books on writing tips. I have one that's by a woman from my absurdly tiny hometown that I plan to give to my parents so they can put it in THEIR small public library's collection, which seems weird, to weed something from one library just to give it to another, but that's what serving the needs of the community MEANS. MY community has no use for it, but THEIR community has local history ties to it.

The other week I was frowning at our book room's shelves (our house has a book room. I'm in it now. Technically it would be called a library in most people's houses, but that would just get confusing here. I WORK at the library. Not in my house), because I'd picked up a pile of books and now had no idea where to put them, and the hubby said, "We should probably weed." I looked at him like he'd just suggested we throw out all the food in the freezer, and said, "No-- you WEED PUBLIC libraries when you run out of shelf space. For PRIVATE libraries, you just get more shelves!"

The distinction makes perfect sense to me. Don't you think? Public libraries are for being USEFUL to a variety of people. Private libraries are for hoarding. Private libraries are for books that, yeah, you might not actually ever read again, but DANG, YOU HAVE THAT BOOK. You can draw all your books into a big pile and sit on top of it like it's a dragon treasure and you're going to roast anybody who touches any of it. Maybe you smile at the books and think, "I remember reading that one." Maybe you keep horribly outdated books so you can show them to your children and you can laugh at them together. Private libraries don't have to be useful. They can just Be.

So anyway, yeah, basically this all winds down to this Public Service Announcement: PLEASE don't donate junky books to the public library. SERIOUSLY, we do not need out of date medical references, old textbooks, your National Geographic collection, your kids' terrible dollar-store monstrosities, and for gosh sakes we have a whole BOOKCASE in the book sale room devoted to Danielle Steele, we don't need any more for the library's collection, either. Gently used newish books? We'll take those. Thanks. But otherwise? You want that book more than we do. And if you don't want that book, that should tell you how WE feel about it. Just so y'know.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I'm not allowed on Twitter any more at work (technically I probably never WAS allowed on Twitter at work, it's only recently come up in discussion)-- probably I'm not allowed to post blogs at work either BUT IT HAS TO EXPLODE OUT OF ME BECAUSE I'VE GONE WEEKS NOT TWEETING THIS EVERY TIME IT HAPPENS AND THIS IS THE FINAL STRAW besides, it's Reader's Advisory, and that's my job, and I DO try to say it to patrons when the issue comes up, though I also try to say it calmly and politely to them even when I want to cry out "THIS IS STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"READING LEVEL" IS A SHAM. THANK YOU.

As I've mentioned before, we're one of the only public libraries in the world that lets students take Accelerated Reader tests for school here at the public library. For awhile we had a stand-alone program, and the kids had to take printouts of their results to school to get credit. But this spring we officially connected into the school district's account. This is an online (though locked to outside access) service, and has access to EVERY test in the AR library-- whereas before we had to buy tests individually. This means only a VERY SMALL portion of our books that HAVE AR tests were MARKED as such. So our system has been that, every unmarked book that comes in, we check the AR database, and if there's a test there we mark it with the district's color-coded stickers to indicate the "reading level" (I used to generally refer to this as "lexile level," but it's technically not an official "LEXILE" number. But it works the same way).

So every day I'm scanning some more books, and at least once a day there's a mind-numbingly inappropriate "level." Like an Easy Reader-- published as such-- coming up as being on a 6th grade level. Probably because it has some nonsense words in it, or what appears to be a lot of run-on sentences. When you use math to determine readability, these things happen.

So today takes the cake. I'm just going to put it out here, and then I'm going to shut up about it.

Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises are both at a "fourth grade reading level."

Needless to say, something is wrong with this system.

Shall I leave you with that? I shall. The End. I promise to shut up now.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
showmetheawesome2
Artwork by John LeMasney, lemasney.com

When I first heard about Show Me the Awesome, the online librarian 30 Days of Self-Promotion party, I thought, "Well, that's just what I need. I need to learn to promote myself, because I've been doing some cool things and nobody really knows about it. But on the other hand, what do I really have to TELL OTHERS in a blog post on the subject?" So I dithered about it, and finally filled out the application to participate in a rush. THERE. That would FORCE me to find a way to write a brag-blog.

But it was SO spontaneous that all I remembered was the dithering part. I forgot I'd actually made a decision.* And so the month began and I read the first few posts and I thought, "Gee, I'M utterly unimpressive." So just to sort it out, I wrote this blog post, which turned into a #30awesome post in its own right. I could do it after all!

And then I got the official "Is the following week good for you to post for #30awesome?" email, and only then realized I DID have an OFFICIAL post to write.

I'm afraid I got all my heartfelt awesomeness out in that other post, but I can elaborate. The one thing I'm MOST proud about? Making reading look exciting.

At some point somebody decided that reading isn't cool.

Well, sure, to some people it isn't. But not to ALL people. And it's not going to keep me from trying to CONVINCE the doubters that there's something for them in books.

A lot of my coworkers, though? Not so much. My original director discouraged us from using words like "learning" and even "reading" in our program fliers: "We don't want to give the impression that the library is a BORING place," she said. And Summer Reading Club. OH DEAR. We use the abbreviation "SRC" whenever possible, because OUR Summer Reading Club is about FUN! Really, we have an amazing summer program, unique experiences at a minimal price. But we may have the only "Summer Reading Club" in the world that doesn't actually incorporate independent reading. No reading goals or time charts or book clubs or reviews. Our old director didn't like time charts and reading records because she figured people would cheat-- IF we were going to reward reading in the summer, we'd have to tie it to Accelerated Reader tests (our public library is linked to the school district's AR system, so students can take tests outside of school). But I have strong feelings about that.

I'M a novel reader. But I know not everyone is. And it's shocking how many people still insist that "reading" means "reading novels," and if you don't do that then it doesn't count. My old director wanted to change perceptions about the library, that it was more than JUST books. I wanted to change perceptions about the books themselves. Books aren't there just for the bookworms and the school-report-writers. There's a book for everyone!

I KNEW we had so much cool stuff that wasn't being discovered. The nonfiction section, in particular, has its popular spots: wild animals and pets and drawing books and sports. It has a few sections people might visit for school assignments: usually state books. But what about the stuff no one ever thinks to look for? The history of espionage! How to build your own camera! Studies of paranormal activity! Autobiographies of non-famous people who did jaw-dropping things! Magic tricks! How to upcycle your own clothes and bake dessert! Dessert cookbooks alone take the nonfiction section out of the "dry facts for boring school reports" pit.

So I started to subvert things: subtly, one family at a time, through readers' advisory, proving every mom who muttered "he doesn't like to read" under her breath wrong. I'd set up book displays on themes, with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels... anything we had to highlight the subject. Then I made subject posters-- not a basic Dewey "300s: Social Sciences" and "600s: Applied Technology" sort of thing, but "001.944: Monsters" and "743: Drawing Books." Suddenly we'd hear exclamations from the nonfiction section: "There are books about MONSTERS here?!"

Finally I got asked to set up a program for elementary students, and I created Library Explorers: each week we'd explore a completely new topic through hands-on activities and, yes, related books. At the end of each session, the books I'd pulled would get scooped up and checked out. The activities were booktalks in themselves. "How do you KNOW all this, Miss Amy?" a mother asked me after several months. "How do you keep coming up with all these ideas?"

"I don't know it all," I said. "Usually I just think of a topic that might be interesting. Then I go to the shelves to see what we have on it, and the ideas start flowing from there. You don't need to know everything, you just need to know where to find it!"

I hope my enthusiasm is catching. Maybe it doesn't ALWAYS work ("Word Games Week" bombed with my group), but the successes might be enough to carry it.

Want to catch up on ALL the official Show Me the Awesome posts?: Liz B. is rounding them all up: here's this week's, with links to all the past weeks, which means basically all of them. Unless there were other people who wrote Unofficial posts out there, too.

*It's a good bet that, if I'm not sure I made a decision, I probably didn't. But then again, I think I've been growing lately.
rockinlibrarian: (love)
Funny, I was way more enthusiastic to write this post this morning. Naturally, LIFE got in the way and I didn't get around to writing it (unless you count me gushing the basic details into my journal this morning) until now, when, LIFE having gotten in the way, I'm no longer floating on the bubbles of joy that I was.

No, I don't have any sort of huge good news. It was just the building up of little beautiful things. And THAT, in itself, is why I wanted to post about it!

Yesterday evening I wasn't in any particularly good mood. It was evening, which meant I was tired, and my husband was at work, so I had two whiny overstimulated kids I was trying to get settled down for bed by myself, which isn't exactly a party; but I wasn't feeling particularly bad, either. In fact, my son was doing all right. He'd earned, through chores and good behavior, some time to spend on something he wouldn't normally be allowed on-- in this case, my computer. He was drawing several variations of his usual "beach" picture in Paint (he draws a line down the middle, then paintbucket-fills one side with yellow, the other with blue, and that's his beach picture. He has at least five of these saved on my computer) while I struggled his sister into bed. But when I came back, he was saving a new picture to my computer. This was it:

I mean, let's stop right there. That alone could make anybody's day.

So I put him to bed (after thanking him thoroughly), grabbed my Nook and a bowl of corn chips, and flopped on the couch. (Okay, the title isn't accurate. Most of this was actually my NOOK exploding with beauty. But it was still the Internet, so it still fits). I set out to catch up with almost a week's worth of blog reading.

There was one post I was most anxious to see. Those of you who are already familiar with Hyperbole and a Half know what I mean. It was such a joy to see brilliant webcartoonist Allie Brosh back online after months of hiatus, particularly when we all knew she'd been very depressed last we heard from her (and by "we" I mean "a shocking variety of people. Like, everyone from all walks of life"). And she came back with the most perfect summary of her dark experience of the past couple years: seriously, if you HAVEN'T seen this yet, GO DO IT NOW. CLICK. Actually, do it again if you already have seen it because it's that wonderful. What she has done is given us the most dead-on heartbreakingly accurate description of depression that somehow also happens to be laugh out loud hilarious.

It's part of the "Clowns of God" concept again. When you mix happy and sad together, heartbreaking and hilarious together, it makes each of those emotions THAT MUCH STRONGER. And it's especially refreshing, to know so completely what she's talking about, but to be able to LAUGH at it... in the face of it... there is possibly no stronger force for battling the Darkness. I drew the connection between Allie Brosh and The Bloggess, how two of the absolute funniest people I've found on the internet are also two of the most broken. I don't think funny makes you depressed. I think being depressed forces you to find the funny. Humor is a gift given to those who need it most!

So now I'm buoyed up on that (that last picture and final sentence still do me in, even just now scrolling past to link to it), I continue reading through blogs-- or, to be honest, scanning them for the most interesting ones-- and I nearly skimmed right by this next one at Fuse #8 because, at first glance, it seemed to be a review of a picture book (which I don't get much say in ordering at our library) and I had a lot of other stuff to read, but then I noticed it was really an anecdote written by the author, about how, as a frustrated young immigrant, she found a library and a librarian who changed her life. OH LORD. A BEAUTIFUL IMPORTANCE-OF-LIBRARIES STORY. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time AGAIN.

So then I finished the blog-scanning and opened my Twitter app, where I immediately ended up retweeting the ever-so-wise Shannon Hale: "How can we build up instead of tear down? How can we make each day better for our presence? Our words are powerful. We can be superheroes." And even though, in context, she'd just been lamenting some cyberbullying her friend was going through, I was too high from the other things I'd read and seen this evening to get pulled down by those bullies. Instead, I saw we can be superheroes. YES! With wonderful, positive, sensible and sensitive people like Shannon Hale leading the way! All I saw was the light piercing THROUGH the darkness.

And close below that was another picture from Commander Hadfield aboard the International Space Station. If you haven't seen Commander Hadfield's pictures, please go, do it. Each picture of our troubled planet from far above is a quiet moment of Zen. It's like something I've always remembered from reading Joseph Campbell: that if you look at Creation stories from across cultures, they are almost always violent and traumatizing when told from the POV of the people of Earth, but when told from the POV of the gods, they suddenly become beautiful dances. That's what the pictures from the ISS are like, and last night's picture of the Alps in the clouds was no exception. Except I was already feeling lovely and positive, so it was that much more awesome.

Then I did something that might have dragged me back down into my own brain, my own self-conscious self-pity-- I went to YouTube to see if my particularly awesome if-I-do-say-so-myself but-that's-because-it's-about-one-of-my-favorite-topics vlog post of the week had got any more likes or comments. Eh, it had only been VIEWED four times, and I was pretty sure two of those views were me. So I was all set to start whining to myself how "NOBODY CARES WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!" (which we all know is a stupid thing to think and ones self-worth should absolutely not depend on how many people respond to your Internet postings, BUT YOU ARE STILL WELCOME TO COMMENT ON THIS POST! GO AHEAD! I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! IF YOU ARE EVER WAVERING BETWEEN RESPONDING OR NOT RESPONDING TO ANYTHING I POST, GO WITH THE RESPONDING! IT'S NOT ENABLING, I SWEAR!), but then I caught sight of YouTube's little "Recommended for You" column. You're going to laugh at me, after all these heartwarming philosophical transcendent things I've been talking about, but face it, this is me. And YouTube had found me an old interview with Martin Freeman I'd never seen before. SHUT UP. It totally does fit with the rest of these beautiful things. Look, I've never been able to truly explain (no matter how I've tried) exactly why I adore him so much, but I can't watch him without smiling. I am unable to even look at a friggin' Hobbit DVD cover without smiling. And he was SO utterly lovely here that I very soon found myself just bubbling away in a hot spring of joy.

And then I caught sight of my list of YouTube subscriptions on the side, saw a little "1" beside Collective Cadenza. I think I'm late to the game on the CDZA thing, and everyone else discovered them a long long time ago, but I only discovered them a week ago, and the fun they have with music is possibly the greatest thing ever. Even the videos that aren't so good are still the Greatest Thing Ever, just because Fun With Music is THAT AWESOME. So I watched their new video, where they took their "History of Wooing Women" routine (which I hadn't thought was a particularly great one) on the road. It was basically them serenading random people on the street. And the longer the video went on, the more wonderful it felt. The more I was LAUGHING AND CRYING AT THE SAME TIME again.

And that was it. I didn't read or watch or look at anything else. I just sat there with my Nook on my lap, FEELING JOY. I popped onto Twitter just because, somehow, I had to share this feeling: "I've been reading and watching one lovely, beautiful thing or person after another here this past hour. I'll go to bed now filled with joy." It was all I could fit into 140 characters. But the feeling was, basically, the exact opposite of Depression-as-Described-by-Allie-Brosh. I've been there. I'm all too familiar with the hopelessness, the wishing-I'd-just-die-so-it-would-all-go-away. But THIS feeling was... well, this is basically the thought that came with it: I am so glad to be alive in a world where such beautiful people doing so many beautiful small things exist.

And I woke up this morning determined to LIVE, to BE one of those people who make the world a better place just by our being here. I don't think the day went quite like I hoped. But there are more days. And every little bit of beauty helps.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
Liz Burns over at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Teacozy and a couple of her librarian friends I don't know as well put together this CELEBRATION OF THE AWESOME THINGS LIBRARIANS DO for the month of May, called, fittingly, "Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self Promotion."

I'm not as awesome as those librarians, though. I don't get huge turnouts at my programs. I don't win grants and invite speakers and create brilliant innovative things that I can teach other people to do. I'm not that special as far as librarians go.

But then, I feel that way about every part of my life. Unremarkable. Not bad, but nothing special. Pretty good, but not amazing. I'm terrible at selling myself. Frankly, I don't really believe in myself. It's something I've struggled with for years. And today*-- maybe it's because I've been feeling still knocked out from the mono, and the house was getting messy, and the kids were whining and the husband was yelling at them and complaining that the house was a mess-- I felt particularly useless.

But maybe that's why I NEED to find the Awesome in myself today, to make an effort to self-promote, whether as a librarian or as a person.

It's actually in my role as a librarian that I feel MOST confident. Even in the worst of my depression, someone would come to me with a reference or readers' advisory question and I'd find them even more than they thought they were looking for, and I'd, for a moment, FEEL AWESOME. I KNOW I'm good at that! I'm good at asking the questions to find out what someone is TRYING to say that they want. I'm good at thinking up many possible ways to find the answers, and many possible answers, too. It's not particularly fancy. It doesn't get attention. A lot of people don't even realize it's a skill, and think anyone off the street can work a library desk. But, one person at a time, I build the patrons' trust and satisfaction.

And I have coworkers who, when they get a tough reference question, will immediately send the patron to me-- even if they're not looking for information in the children's or YA sections.

Once at the grocery store a family I, admittedly, didn't even recognize ran up to me waving cheerfully and proclaiming that they were ALL reading their library books in the car RIGHT THEN and thanked me for recommending them, they were so awesome. And that wasn't bad at all. Nor was the line of schoolkids in my kids' preschool building who all started yelling "HI MISS AMY!" when I took my son to his first day of school.

And these weekly programs I've been running-- sure, they don't get a huge turnout, but everyone who DOES come raves, "Why aren't there more people here? Don't they know WHAT THEY'RE MISSING?" I've gone all out, making hobby horses from scratch because I felt the program NEEDED hobby horses.

We had a moviemaking program where kids wrote, performed, and directed (I wouldn't let them handle the camera themselves. Not THESE kids) their own movies. And there were wild programs I've done in the past, like my birthday party for A Wrinkle in Time, or my Read Across America Program with Three Cheese Trees.

I like to dress to the theme, sometimes in costume even-- "I have a feeling I may be turning into Ms. Frizzle," I said to a coworker the night I wore my pajamas to the bedtime-themed Family Night.

Ooo, and anybody remember the Teen Cooking Program I did a few years back?

And I know where to go for great ideas-- I do my research! A post at the ALSC blog inspired me to check out Squishy Circuits, which gave us quite an interesting program one week. And this week'sPenguin Day was an opportunity for me to go back to my One Book Every Young Child Activity Guide from 2009. Of course that WAS actually me who wrote those activities.

...hey. THAT WAS ME who WROTE THOSE ACTIVITIES.

You know the thing that I'm most proud about my programs? I've gotten people excited about BOOKS. A lot of my other coworkers who do programming don't even bother to booktalk related books during their programs, because no one's interested. BUT I'VE MADE THEM INTERESTED. And I still love thinking about the time I read A Tale Dark and Grimm to the Summer "Reading" Club.

And non-programming related-- once, ON MY DAY OFF, on a whim, I posted this to the library's Facebook page and it went viral! It was shared by the official @your library page! DANG!

...Okay. So. Maybe I do have something to brag about. But it seems to me that that's just what I'm SUPPOSED to do. That's what a youth services librarian is FOR. Nothing so out of the ordinary. But then, for someone who struggles daily to not feel like a failure as a mother or wife or writer or housekeeper, to actually feel like I'm doing all RIGHT at something? That's pretty Awesome indeed.

----
*Not really "today" anymore. I wrote the bulk of this yesterday. But then I had to go to sleep. Because, you know, mono.
rockinlibrarian: (sherlock)
  • Sat, 09:11: #BeforeiDieiWanna live. Which is just one of the reasons I refuse to "catch up" on all the Twitter I missed in the past two days.
  • Sat, 09:12: So if you didn't comment @ me and said something you think I ought to hear or know or like, let me know! By @ commenting me, just in case.


What you see above is the entirety of the automatic "My Tweets" post I just deleted (rather than friends-locked,* because it's not worth saving if I'm just going to recopy it all over here, no?). I've pasted it here because it sums up my feelings about the Internet this week. Too much time-suck. Not enough time. I've got other things to do.

I promised I'd write you a new post every Saturday at least, and here I am, fulfilling that promise, even with so many other things distracting me. And for once, those things are NOT "zoning out on the Internet." I feel a creeping dread when I think of my long-neglected blog-reader-- part of me WANTS to read what I've missed, part of me sighs and thinks "WHY? Why so much to read? I have too much to do! Give up, blogs. I won't let you take me alive." And as addictive as I've found Twitter in the past, lately I'm almost afraid to go there. I don't want to get sucked into the endless MUCH-CATCH-UP-ON-THINGS-THAT-ARE-ONLY-OF-PASSING-INTEREST-TO-ME vortex. And I find I don't PARTICULARLY miss it. I miss particular people when I think about it. But like I said, there's just TOO MUCH ELSE TO DO.

Today I did my first draft of taxes, for example-- first draft as we're still waiting on a couple of forms but I need to turn in my daughter's preschool registration/financial aid application next week, so I have to have SOMETHING. I did bills. I attempted to get my son to work on his homework while I was doing "MY homework," as I called this, but it only worked for a little while (WHY ARE KINDERGARTENERS GETTING HOMEWORK OF THIS SORT, ANYWAY? HOMEWORK FOR KINDERGARTENERS SHOULD BE FAMILY READ-ALOUDS AND OCCASIONAL EXPERIMENTS/OTHER ACTIVITIES. NOT WORKSHEET AFTER WORKSHEET. This will probably turn into a future blog post, if I get the time).

Okay, that's not a particularly exciting excuse. (Although I do kind of like doing taxes. The first time. If I have to go back and fix something and it changes whatever worksheets or schedules I used before, THEN it gets on my nerves). Neither is the laundry, which had to be done since son was out of underwear this morning. Then I have to get to the grocery-- well, that it turns out can wait until tomorrow, since my parents picked up the worst necessities yesterday while they were babysitting. Why am I using up YOUR valuable time to tell you this? Because I figured I'd have to mention all the chores before I got to all the FUN things I could be doing.

Let's talk library programming. I've been spending WAY less time just hanging out online at work lately mostly because I've got SO much more planning to work on, now (on top of everything I USED to do). On Monday afternoons I'm doing a "Library Explorers" program, a sort of non-fiction STEAM focus-on-a-topic activities day, and Thursday evenings I have a Family Night story-and-activities time. And I have fun. More fun than I really need to. More EFFORT than I really need to, too.

For example, so far I've done two Family Nights, and both times only two families came... one of them mine. But the first one (a valentine theme) involved decorating cookies, which my kids and I baked ourselves beforehand. This week was a cowboy/girl theme, and when I decided we'd need to have hobby horse races but I had no hobby-horses, I remembered an old kids'-craft book I'd had for years that had how to make a hobby horse out of an old pair of pants, and my sewing machine was out because I'd just fixed my daughter's blankie, and I said "I'M GOING TO MAKE THEM! TWO HOBBY HORSES!" And that REALLY wasn't necessary for the program, particularly a program barely anyone comes to, but I JUST FELT CRAFTY.

And I did wear the most cowgirly outfit I could find-- which isn't very: khaki overalls, collared shirt, red fabric scrap that served as a bandanna, brown snow boots, pigtails, and a leather (not cowboy) hat of J's. Maddie has tried to replicate that outfit today (to some extent. Instead of a collared shirt, she picked a Steelers sweatshirt. And her hair is chin-length, no pigtails. I decided she looks like Scout Finch more than anyone). See, the few of us who were there DID have fun....

Next week is just before Read Across America day, so we're celebrating that, which is easy to prep for since I've done it before, and since this time it's less of a one-time event I'm going MUCH less overboard. We're just having simple cupcakes instead of, you know, Cheese Trees. (I just read the beginning of that linked entry and noticed I said I was going to start Family Nights as soon as we moved to the new building. So okay, apparently not for another almost-two years instead, but oh well).

So far our Monday Library Explorers times have focused on Mardi Gras (where we ate King Cake, threw beads at each other, and listened to zydeco music while making masks), and a Lego party (which required much less planning but was still awesome). We're so doing these Squishy Circuits in a few weeks and I'm abnormally excited about it. And this Monday we're doing Movie Making in honor of the Oscars, a program which I am, honestly, mostly going to be winging (I've got SOME stuff prepared). But in prep for that, I ended up getting pulled into a book on Digital Filmmaking, which I then brought home for myself. It pairs nicely with the online class on Screenwriting I'm supposedly taking. (I apparently didn't mention that here. Our library got access to this Universal Class collection of free online continuing ed classes and we all were supposed to log in and try one so we'd know what to do, and I'm three lessons in to the Screenwriting one but haven't gotten around to going back there in awhile). What with those and my video blog outings, I could be making myself a new hobby.

Assuming I even have time to read that book (let alone do those things). I've actually become excited about reading fiction again. But I'm still only halfway through the awesome Code Name Verity, and when I took the kids to the Big Library in the next town earlier this week, I couldn't help myself, and got Hope Larson's graphic novel of A Wrinkle in Time and Libba Bray's Diviners, even though I haven't even finished my other book in the past, what's it been, two or three weeks. Let alone doing more lessons in the Screenwriting class. And fitting in the typical household family obligations in with all this stuff, too. Oh, and though I never fit drum lessons into our schedule as of yet, I did CALL that music store the other way to see if they'd let me trade in my guitar for a smaller one that I'd be able to play better, theoretically, or maybe I'd just be more likely to try. I haven't heard back from them about that yet. And maybe I'm just being manic and that won't really happen, but...

...I'm getting into things. I'm DOING. I'm being active in my life, and it's really quite lovely. So it's not like I will NEVER READ ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET AGAIN, but I'm managing to drag myself away from it. I'm finding actual things to DO, and those things actually excite me. I can live with that.

-----------------------------------
*If you were concerned: I try to friends-lock those automatic "My Tweets" posts ASAP NOT because I don't want you, lovely-person-I-just-haven't-LiveJournal-friended, to READ My Tweets, but because it cleans up the blog for people passing through, gets more CONTENT on the front page. I suppose I could also set them to "private" when all I want is to save them for the records, too. But I don't. I'm not sure why. Because they're more things for a few people to occasionally comment on, at least? I like comments. GO AHEAD AND COMMENT BELOW! Even if you're a total stranger who doesn't have anything exciting to add! I'm okay with that!
rockinlibrarian: (hi maddie)
Hi folks. It's been awhile, mostly because I had the flu last week and the week before and OH MY GOSH... wait, never mind. I keep forgetting it's only the beginning of February, because I'm planning library events for the end of February, and keep forgetting my events in the middle of February haven't happened yet. Even though it should be fresh in my mind, since I was forced to change my Hobbit movie calendar today, which was very sad, because Mr. January was Bilbo and now it's February, which should delight all the Thorin fangirls but just does NOT fill me with irrepressible smile bubbles every time I walk by the calendar the way Mr. January did. Even Maddie is disappointed in Mr. February in comparison. She said, "He's scary." You know what she said, unprompted, about Mr. January? "That's my favorite guy!" Good taste, that child.

SO ANYWAY, it hasn't been QUITE as long since my last entry as I feared, because I have NOT actually DONE my February library* programs-- WAIT, I NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT MY NEW LIBRARY PROGRAMS! I picked up some regular weekly program spots because we needed more programs aimed at elementary aged kids. So I'm doing what I call "Library Explorers" on Monday evenings, which is where I pick a fun topic and we find books and do activities and stuff around that topic. The first one is a Mardi Gras party. Elementary-kid-appropriate. Then Thursday evenings are Family Night Story Times, fun for all ages! Stop by!

So, I've been planning programs at work, recuperating at home-- until last weekend, when I started going on Cleaning Sprees. I'm typically blind to clutter, and ignore housework until it becomes Problematic (in my opinion, not the opinion of other people), but every so often I go into BERZERKER CLEANING FRENZIES and dive into thorough, day-long projects of it all (this is actually fairly typical of Type 9s. I AM NOT A FLUKE). That happened this past week. Oh, and I've been reading fiction, occasionally! I bought Terry Pratchett's latest, Dodger, on a whim on my Nook because it was on special, which I was enjoying right and dandy; but then yesterday a girl returned Code Name Verity (by Elizabeth Wein-- look at how "Wein" is just like "Weir" with an extra little line down the end! That's a good name for a writer) and I decided "I said I'd like to read this, but I think I want to read this NOW," so I checked it out and dove right in. Dodger is good, but it can wait. Both those books just won Printz Honors though. Good year for the Printz! Books I'm actually interested in!

But SPEAKING of the Youth Media Awards, that actually brings us to what I was going to tell you about all along. Sort of. See, I was going to get out of blogging by introducing you to my VLOG! but now I've already typed four full paragraphs so I suppose I haven't actually gotten out of anything.

Anyway, a month or so back a few of my Lycoris-Project friends decided to start a group video-blog, just to chat with each other. Or spew opinions at each other. I thought, that sounds crazy! Why would I ever do that? until I said Heck with it and did one. A video I mean. And I said "That was fun! And didn't take THAT much time! And is a new and exciting creative endeavor, and I need to START a new and exciting creative endeavor so as to remind myself that I can, indeed, create! And I am AWESOME when I can edit out my ums and terribly-long-pauses-when-I-can't-think-of-words! It's like WRITING, only out loud!" So I was added into the video rotation and have so far created four videos.

So getting back to speaking of the Youth Media Awards, that's what I did in this week's video. The topic of the week was supposed to be "Movie, Music, and Book Recommendations," but because that seemed like such an endlessly broad topic, I stuck to talking about the Youth Media Awards instead. And reading Elephant and Piggie books out loud:


Isn't that amazing, actually seeing ME in PERSON? YOU ARE DROOLING ALL OVER YOURSELVES WITH LOVE OF THE REAL ME, NOW, AREN'T YOU? Well, assuming you are, my other videos are here: in which I introduce myself, in which I blather about FANDOMS, and in which I respond to questions in what has been erroneously labeled a "Nerd Survey," even though the questions lean far more to "geek" than "nerd." You can also see the videos the others have made, assuming you would want to look at anyone who is not me after this.

So that's how I give you a blog without blogging! Although I blogged anyway! Thank you. Thank you very much.

---
*I keep spelling "February" wrong, and I only just realized that's because my fingers keep wanting to type "library." Well, February IS Library Lovers' Month. Probably due to spelling.
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
I’ve been nominated by [livejournal.com profile] vovat (but on his Wordpress blog) for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
Why, thank you, Nathan!
Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.


Right. But lots of my favorite bloggers have huge followings and professional formats that make them hardly likely to care about such a meme. So this is more a chance for me to share with YOU some awesome-- and versatile-- blogs I follow that YOU should check out, or even possibly follow, if you don't already. It's advertising for great blogs, which I think is the point in the first place.

1. The Bloggess is my new favorite. I can't stop talking about her, and I thank [livejournal.com profile] iamdamanda profusely for pointing her out to me. I am THANKFUL for the Bloggess, for being simultaneously a great advocate for folks with depression and anxiety, AND unbelievably freakin' hilarious. Seriously, funniest blog you will ever follow.

2. A Fuse #8 Production is my classic favorite blog. Granted, as far as "Versatility" goes, the subject IS strictly children's literature, but within that general topic, my #1 blogger girl-crush Betsy covers everything with gusto and humor. And of course THERE ARE THE COUNTDOWNS.

3. E Louise Bates -- shout-out to a smaller more-likely-to-get-an-Award-Meme blog (and it's not only both versatile AND likely-to-get-the-award, I'm pretty sure it already DID relatively recently), run by my dear virtual friend [livejournal.com profile] elouise82. Louise not only has excellent taste in both literature and television and an occasional tendency to post recipes, she writes about everything in a compelling way, encouraging responses and conversations, and coming up with fun lists.

4. Bookshelves of Doom is definitely versatile, covering pretty much whatever catches her fancy (or raises her ire). There is of course (with a name like "Bookshelves of Doom") a tendency to be about books, with frequent reviews, links to book-and-library-related news, and librarian jokes. But they'll be bits about movies and TV (it's her fault I started watching Sherlock-- also, she agrees that Martin Freeman is the most awesome person on that show so that makes her worth following right there) and musicals and her cats and random geeky funny junk that really can be appreciated best by geeky bookish girls of our generation.

5. Nine Kinds of Pie --if Betsy Bird is my #1 Blogger Girl-Crush, my Blogger Straight-up Crush is definitely Phil Nel. He's a children's literature professor/scholar (ie, geek) who takes the name of his blog from my (and his) favorite picture book. Any time he's not discussing children's lit on his blog, he's posting playlists and talking about music (loved this recent post about musical taste). Seriously, MY USERNAME IS ROCKIN. LIBRARIAN. How is it we're not married already? (Kidding. You know I'd never abandon Martin. ...Jason, I meant. I'm married to JASON).

6. Screwy Decimal is a snarky public librarian in Brooklyn. You may just need to follow her on Twitter for the full effect, but even if you only follow the blog, you'll encounter stories from the trenches that are simultaneously hilarious, heartbreaking, uplifting, and ridiculous.

7. Kiersten Writes... speaking of people who are hilarious on Twitter. But author Kiersten White is hilarious across the board. Her posts range from purely silly, to realistic with a lot of humor in the execution, to quite serious on occasion (but even those are leavened by her unique outlook).

8. [livejournal.com profile] sarahtales is someone whose hilarious Livejournal I discovered even before she'd published a book, but now that Sarah Rees Brennan has a whole popular trilogy under her belt, she STILL writes a hilarious Livejournal (though a little less frequently). Lately, in anticipation of the "new Gothic" novel she has coming out in the fall, she's been writing laugh-out-loud retellings of classic Gothic novels monthly. Check them out!

9. Writer's First Aid is a writing blog NOT for people who want tips on getting published or landing an agent or doing school visits, but for writers who are STUCK. Kristi Holl has written books on the topic (I have one-- occasionally I remember to use it), and here she keeps up a steady stream of encouragement, advice on boosting creativity or managing time or just getting your writing head on straight. What's sad is I've been so blocked in the past few years that even THIS advice feels beyond me-- but I'm getting there, and every so often I make progress.

10. Book Aunt for book reviews, and sometimes poetry, and sometimes ruminations on literature or authors or whatnot. [livejournal.com profile] katecoombs is a genuine author friend and I like her. Also I gave her new picture book of poetry, Water Sings Blue, to my mom. Anyway, her reviews give you a true flavor of the books in question (she's won me over to books I hadn't thought I wanted to read before that way), and she's open about the good, the bad, what things certain people might like about it, what things might bother others. And she has good taste.

11. Slow By Little --another small one that could use an audience. My college roommate keeps this picture-filled blog of homelife and travel. See and read about her adventures in Germany last December, and if you scroll down a few posts-- you see that swimming pool? I spent all last Saturday afternoon in that pool. Personal trivia!

12. Happy Opu, in the Whodathunkit category: Canadian actress Jewel Staite is best known for playing one of my favorite TV characters ever, Kaylee Frye. When I found her on Twitter, I was delighted to discover that she also keeps a blog-- one that is not only funny and well-written, but is also almost entirely ABOUT FOOD. Not just any food. Fancy unbelievable Foodie-type food. She describes it in luscious detail, and yes, there are lots of pictures. It's food porn, really.

13. A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy: what's great about Liz Burns' reviews/takes-on-things is that she can be critical but never judgmental. Her book reviews have a section called "The Good," but not a section called "The Bad": she tells you WHY someone MIGHT like something... although when SHE loves it, she does let you know! But she also covers current events in the publishing/library/blogging worlds, movies, TV shows, and ALA policies. Okay, so the ALA policies part may not be roping you non-librarian-types in. But MOVIES and TV SHOWS!

14.squeetusblog: Author Shannon Hale is a wise, well-spoken (okay, WRITTEN) woman. She ponders questions about the elements of story (in any format) and stereotypes and life... and occasionally is just plain silly. She also does this while raising 4 small children including toddler twins. Besides, you know, the whole writing career thing.

15.Memoranda, a blog which once hadan ode to my awesomeness on it (actually, there may have been more to the post than just that). Naturally, I had to keep following Michelle Cooper and the fascinating glimpses into her mind-- historical, geographic, and scientific facts she's discovered, books she's been reading, thoughts she's been having, important things like when the next FitzOsbornes book is coming out... you know.

Honorable Mention to GeekMom, which is one of my very favorite-- and incredibly Versatile-- blogs, but as it's a group blog with many different bloggers, it doesn't quite qualify.

Happy reading! Like you can keep up with any more blogs.

So then, seven things about myself... that I assume you don't already know?

1. Last weekend I had a reunion with college friends that ROCKED MY SOCKS. Even though not much actually HAPPENED, but that's NICE when you're a grownup. The most eventful thing that happened was a night out eating crab cakes and singing karaoke. I did a pretty good Carole King and a not-nearly-warmed-up-enough Ann Wilson. Also, in the "nothing happening in a good way" portion of the weekend, we had to rescue a frog that had jumped in the chlorinated pool. Almost immediately, guess what song started playing on the stereo*? "The Rainbow Connection." Go Kermit.

2. I have gotten involved, over the Internet, in an international project that is so WRITTEN FOR ME that I'm pretty sure it's fate. An actual spiritual Calling. Here's the Tumblr for it (I know, Tumblr. Insanity. I just pretend it's a regular blog). First she offered to write a real handwritten letter to anyone who asked for one. Of course, hundreds of people (including myself) asked for one, so she recruited helpers. We had to apply for the job... but I wasn't really surprised to get it, because, like I said, FATE.

3. I finally, after weeks of protesting that it was much too hot to attempt, weeded the garden today. We thinned the carrots and the kids had the baby carrots at lunch, which thrilled them. Discovered my sprinkler sucks and has been missing whole swatches of garden. All my basil dried up and died off. Tried to buy more, but the hardware store was out. No fresh basil this year. :(

4. My Windows Media Player has randomly downloaded a whole bunch of SONGS I DIDN'T PUT THERE. It's kind of cool, because so far all the ones I've heard have been kind of awesome. But is this a nifty new feature of Windows Media Player-- picking new artists for me it thinks I might like judging by the rest of my collection?-- or have I been HACKED? It's kind of like the coolest computer virus ever if it is.

5. It's Summer Reading Club time! After creating and data-filling a spreadsheet of all participants and what programs they're coming to, I am... not as involved as I used to be. I'm just there on Wednesdays, reading stories and doing booktalks. We've got an awesome set-up though-- one of the small meeting rooms has been turned into a campsite, with a light-up campfire and everything. Then I believe I'm chaperoning the field trip, but we're only doing one this year, at the end of the summer. So... less with the stress.

6. I'm wearing this skirt I made when I first got my sewing machine. It's an awesome blue batik print with bright yellow and pink highlights, which is so awesome I keep wearing it even though I made it lopsided.

7. Sometimes I like to wander down the office supplies aisle at the grocery store and JUST STARE.

*Technically, it wasn't a stereo. It was a playlist on an iPod hooked up to speakers. But that takes too long to say.

PS-- I also can't remember if I mentioned my determination to take drum lessons as soon as Jason's new schedule gets straightened out/paychecks start flowing in. I bought myself a set of 5-dollar drumsticks as a promise to myself. LOVELY RITA AND THE METER MAIDS COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN. In theory. A vague, unsubstantial theory.
rockinlibrarian: (hi maddie)
Dear, dear neglected blogreaders. It's been a fascinating few weeks. I just haven't had the time to sit and type up a proper blog entry. Sure, I've been READING blogs-- or skimming-- but I can do that on my Nook. I've been Tweeting and occasionally Facebooking, but those are those in-between short-attention-span things you can do while, say, manning a reference desk or parenting small children. Within reason. At least much more than typing a proper blog entry is. So let me catch you up on the past, um, month. Ish.

In Which I Give You a Real-Life Update

First, the personal news: Jason has a new job, finally-- if you know anything about him, you've probably figured out that this has been something he's been looking for for a LONG, LONG TIME. It's still just machine operation, but the pay, benefits, working conditions, and apparently management is SO much better that we can't even fault it (much) for being 2nd shift. I'm working out a new work schedule-- since mine is based around him being DAY shift-- and if the 5-year-old goes to afternoon kindergarten in the fall (likely), we'll have mornings as our family time and lunchtime as our Dinner. At least until first grade.

In MY workplace, on the other hand, we have a new director coming in. I met her last week, and we pretty much laughed the entire time, so... that's possibly a good sign.

The bad personal news is I've had a mysterious and horrendously painful sore throat for the past week and a half, which two different doctors have looked at and determined that I, well, don't have any DISEASE that they can see, and the strep test was negative. The second doctor decided I probably just have something STUCK IN MY TONSILS which is being irritating, and I'm just supposed to gargle a lot and take painkillers when needed. This is NOT SOLVING ANYTHING. If it's still a problem by Monday I'm calling for a referral to an actual ear-nose-and-throat specialist. Jason said, "I hope you don't have tonsillitis," and I said, "I hope I DO have tonsillitis, so they can just take those tonsils out and BE RID OF THEM." Better than "gargle a lot and hope it goes away soon."

...in good personal health news, my antidepressants are back to being Straightened Out. Actually I'm not even sure I mentioned to you (on any of my social media outlets) about the week I got a dosage increase and started having anxiety attacks. Yeah, fun stuff. Told you, it's been an interesting few weeks.

In Which We Wander Into the Bizarre Depths of My Imagination

I had this great nightmare last night about a satanic cult posing as a church (of a completely different sort) camp, and there were exploding snakes and bloody demons and people who appeared to be nice who WEREN'T and undercover sabotage-of-their-facilities and rescue missions and dramatic escapes by boat and antique car and a secret meeting posing as a premature labor. It was really scary! But it was so very plot-filled that I really didn't mind, once I woke up.

See, my brain chemicals are balancing out, but I haven't quite rid myself of the Negative Thought Processes. I SEE, logically, that I can make up stories, that my subconscious mind is CONSTANTLY making up stories, but then real life intrudes and I can't justify it. There's always so much else I SHOULD be doing, and none of my story ideas is calling to me SO much that I can make myself sit still and focus. My husband, frankly, doesn't understand. He's not an artist, so can't believe that writing is anything more than a hobby, and why should I write when there are so many other things not getting done? His mother is even worse. And I just don't believe in myself anymore, period. I'm too scared to start again. I can't devote the time and energy to it because nobody really wants me to be a writer. That's one of those negative and probably wrong thoughts, but I have lots more concrete evidence to support my No One Needs Me To Be a Writer stance than I do concrete evidence that Anyone Cares For My Point of View, or even that Anyone In My Real Life Understands. But at least I can see where the problem is, now. Maybe that's a start.

In Which I Go Off on Librarianish Topics

On the other hand, I've been oddly aware of an actual skill I DO have, lately-- I'm a dang good reference librarian. I still feel awkward and like I ought to be coming up with more programs and that I'm just not AMBITIOUS enough (I've got a younger coworker, just starting library school, who is SUPER ambitious and is always starting projects and I always feel like she's looking at me thinking "Why aren't YOU doing all this?"). But someone needs help finding something? I am good. Not just talking a quick catalog search and a call number lookup. I'm saying, for nonfiction or topic-based searching, coming up with lots of different ideas of where to search and what to use. For fiction, excellently helpful readers advisory-- I find stuff people LOVE. In general, giving people a little more help-- and a lot of friendly respect-- than they're expecting (it's one of those times I'm actually good with people-- because I know what I'm doing). One thing about my new work schedule coming up-- I hope to still get to work some evenings, some after-school time, because that's when people really need help with the Finding Stuff... and dang, it feels good to have something I know I'm good with, when the rest of my life is a long hopeless process of convincing myself that I don't Suck.

In Which I Get On The Topic of My TRUE Self, Which Is General Fangirl

Of course, in real life, all these serious real life things take up most of my, well, real life. This is why I often distract myself by thinking about and caring about things that Technically Aren't Important In The Grand Scheme of Things, but Nonetheless Interest and Amuse Me. Take, for example, the subject of my last real post, The Fuse #8 Children's Book Poll Countdown. I am still obsessed with it, but possibly a little disappointed. I should have seen that coming, because I DID change my votes around from last time, and the WAY I changed them around was by adding MORE OBSCURE stuff I'd discovered, and stubbornly still voting for Ghosts I Have Been even though I was the only person who voted for it last time. But we're up in the 30s now, and there are a LOT of my votes I know I'm going to have to give up on showing up by this point. Now, there are votes I KNOW are going to show up later, way at the top of the polls-- I suspect about half my ten novels will end up in the top ten of that list (Wrinkle, Secret Garden, Anne, Holes, and Harry Potter, specifically. They were all in the top ten LAST time, at least), but so far not only have I only gotten ONE of my votes on that list (at #31... which still seems low to me. How is Alice not Top Ten for EVERYONE? This may be my own brain issues), and even my Almost-votes have been few and far between. Though, there's also been more titles I've never read... which may mean more exciting discoveries!

Anyway, I've had much more luck with the Picture Book list: I've had at least three votes make it already, and lots more I love. Though I know by now I probably need to give up on seeing my biggest new pick, Barbara Lehman's The Red Book, make it, and though I was shocked to see Daniel Pinkwater's Big Orange Splot actually make the list last time, there's no way it's getting past #30 this time. But that's only two of the picture books. The others I suspect I'll be seeing eventually.

...of stuff I've read lately...

But speaking of good books, I've had good fortune in the reading department lately, after my long dry spell of being burnt out. The LAST FOUR BOOKS I'VE READ have all been getting-caught-up-in, not-wanting-to-put-down, attempting-to-get-away-with-reading-at-more-times-of-day-than-just-before-bed books. It's been awhile since I've encountered even ONE of those in a row. Granted, it's still taken me an entire month to get THROUGH these four books, and actually I'm still not done with two of them (one's nonfiction, one's fiction, one's on my Nook, one's a real book from the library-- so they're two completely different reading experiences. That's how I can read them both at the same time).

There was, of course, The Dark Lord of Derkholm, which neatly encompassed everything that is so great about Diana Wynne Jones, and I have a bit of a new literary crush on Derk. Which is funny because my other DWJ crush is Chrestomanci, who, aside from being a magic user and a father, is UTTERLY COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. But Derk reminded me a bit of a character of my own that I've had brewing-- for that possibly turning The Pipeweed Mafia Saga into something Useful-- and in general that whole idea felt oddly DWJ-ish-- so as usual, she sparks my imagination. I LOVE THAT WOMAN. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE HER.

There was Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, an upper-middle-grade fantasy that REALLY needs more attention, because it's so delightfully unique-- actually, speaking of which, it was blurbed by Diana Wynne Jones, and you can see why. It's thoroughly CREEPY (the bad guy is a serial killer, and there's something so REALISTIC about that in the middle of a fantasy that it makes it a thousand times scarier than some fantastic monster would be) and yet laugh out loud funny at times, full of unique magical twists. Also, it takes place in Nigeria. The only other SFF I've read set in Africa and incorporating African mythology (not counting Egypt-- Egypt gets done) is another of my favorites, The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, which as I've said also makes me say "Why on earth is there not more SFF set in Africa?! It's so rich with possibility!"

The two books I'm in the middle of reading are actually adult books, because that happens sometimes. The one on the Nook-- which I try to confine myself to little bits of off and on, to make it last longer-- is the ever-delightful, unbelievably hilarious, kindredly (and vocally-supportively) mentally ill Bloggess's memoir Let's Pretend This Never Happened. And look, people, I was never AGAINST eReading-- using the Internet is, after all, eReading, and I do a lot of that-- but after only the INTRODUCTION I regretted not having the book in hard copy, if only because a hard copy is much easier to throw at Jason (maybe not literally) and say "READ THIS. Just this chapter at least. And the next chapter." Not so easy to share on a Nook. Unless the other person has a Nook. So somehow actually OWNING an eReader has made me MORE of a luddite about paper books. (Though I do love it for Internet reading, and interesting apps. I got a thesaurus app. It's pretty awesome).

The other book is kind of ironic because it's by Shannon Hale, who mostly writes YA, but somehow I've NEVER read any of her actual YA books (except the graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge which is debatably Middle Grade anyway), but I've now, counting this one, read ALL her ADULT books. WEIRD. And this one is probably my favorite of said adult books, even over her Austen-themed ones: The Actor and the Housewife, which is, *ahem,* frighteningly similar to, uh, some of my own fantasies, only involving very different characters. Actually, just recently Hale blogged that the main character was probably her "most controversial character" and that lots of people didn't like her because she was "hard to relate to" or something. As I started READING the book just a few days later, I thought "WHAT?!" I friggin' LOVE Becky Jack! Granted, she might be a little much to take in person in real life (I would feel utterly inadequate in her presense), but as a book character she is hilarious and unique and I love her SO THERE, WORLD.

...and of film and such lately

Speaking of *muttering* inappropriatefantasiesinvolvingactorsandhousewives */endmuttering,* you do realize what television thing happened in this past month, right? I'M AFRAID MAYBE YOU DON'T. Sherlock series 2 finally made it to PBS! And now it's over again! It zipped by in three weeks with entirely not enough fanfare. Where WAS fandom? Oh, right, they'd all already pirated the show or bought UK DVDs for their Region-Free players. :P I felt utterly lonely-- once more, it was like nobody cared but me. BUT, somehow, I managed to get Jason hooked too. He probably STARTED watching just to poke fun of Martin Freeman whenever possible (he never stopped with that)-- also he claimed he was there to keep me from licking the TV-- but after very little time he was actually enjoying it properly, laughing in the right places, exclaiming about plot twists, and NOT BEING DISTRACTED BY ANYTHING ELSE, which in itself is amazing for Mr. ADHD. And no matter what Jason says, MARTIN WAS AWESOME. He was SO UTTERLY PERFECTLY WONDERFUL. That's how I review things, all balanced and objective, like. Anyway, I don't know why Jason was so offended when I burst out how desperately I wanted to hug John Watson at the end. WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO HUG HIM? I'm just saying. Anyway, so if you, once again, MISSED IT, I'm pretty sure PBS is still streaming it on their website. SERIOUSLY I'M NOT KIDDING, GO BASK IN MY IMAGINARY HUSBAND BEING AWESOME. And everyone else being pretty much awesome, too, but that's just a bonus.

Okay, right, in other TV news, sort of, did you know The A.V. Club is now retroactively reviewing Animaniacs? It is even MORE AWESOME THAN I EXPECTED, bringing back so many laughs I'd forgotten about. Like this one somebody brought up in the comments: "Okay one time, see one time, Randy Beaman's aunt was sitting on her porch, and she felt her dog licking her feet, only it wasn't her dog, it was some crazy guy who liked doing that. Okay, bye." I'D COMPLETELY forgot about the Randy Beaman bits, PERIOD, and THAT one was like my FAVORITE LINE EVER. I laughed so hard reading that comment that I was forced to de-lurk myself just to comment how excited I was about it. Seriously. Best cartoon ever. NO ARGUING.

In Which I Try To Wrap Things Up

So, is that it? Is that the past month, or at least, everything you need to know about it? Kids are all right. So's everybody. We's getting on at least. And now I'll go make sure the kids aren't destroying anything or each other. Maybe, MAYBE, I'll post more often after this.
rockinlibrarian: (Default)
So, I know I'm dreadfully behind with the Year of the Tesseract posts. I'm dreadfully behind with posting at all. I know every so often Twitter or LiveJournal or both of them in some sort of bizarre pact will decide to publish my Tweets for the day as a post, but it happens so randomly and, besides, clutters up the blog so when it does, that I'm hardly going to count that as me posting. Last week I STARTED to write three different posts at three different times, but felt like continuing with NONE of them once I had started. And none of the three was another Year of the Tesseract post. Is it possible I've lost steam now that my party is over? Not sure.

Well, I have the excuse of having had a bit of emotional upheaval the past two weeks. Emphasis on the UP. I started a new antidepressant, and by George, THIS ONE WORKS. There's a bit of brain fog and headache still, but not much else in the way of side effects compared to my last two attempts at medication. And wow, it's such a RELIEF to be out of the abyss that was my brain just a few weeks ago. It drives home how much this is physical, chemical, and not something I could overcome if I just tried harder to overcome it after all.

Several days after the meds kicked in, I came down with a horrible cold. So I REMAINED sluggish and unproductive, but at least this time I was HAPPY about it!

So while I was being sluggish, I was spending all my kids-are-sleeping time watching season one of Community, which has got to be one of the most insane TV shows ever broadcast on network television. When I finished season one (which I had gotten from the Big Library), I sat around for a couple days until I got too antsy that season two wasn't available at any local library, and signed up for Hulu Plus JUST to watch season two, which I've continued to do during all my kids-are-napping time even though I am no longer sluggish, just so I can finish before my free trial week runs out. I'm not entirely sure this is going to happen. But this may give me the excuse of not having TIME to have posted anything these two weeks. If you accept the theory that my time is better used watching marathons of ridiculous TV shows than posting about stuff my heart isn't quite into.

At work I've been busy attempting to come up with a list of core magazines the teen room can subscribe to, because currently all that's in there is Seventeen, which doesn't even fit the interests of most of the kids who hang out in the teen room anyway (this has been shockingly difficult-- it seems like every teen magazine I look at has gone to web-only or out of print entirely); and relabeling half the AR books, which didn't get labelled properly to begin with. Also helping people. But today the weather is gorgeous, so there's not a soul here to help. I'm now making copies of Summer Reading Club brochures, which takes an eternity and a forest of paper, but mostly just involves jumping up to push Start on the copier again every 50 copies, so, rather boring here today. Hence the traditional Ramble Post.

And now I'm done copying because I'm out of paper.

But anyhoo, you may wonder if I have anything to say about The Hunger Games movie opening today. But I don't! I'm going next Saturday for my birthday with 3 of my college girlfriends who all happen to live in this general area still and have read the books. It will be a PARTY, ya'll, one of those cool Social things that I haven't actually done in a very long time. I figure this is like a waiting period, this week to just chill and say "What's the hurry? It's just a movie," so I will NOT get overexcited and inflate my expectations, right?

What else do I have to write about? This is one of those moments, which always seem to happen when I write posts like this, where I ask you what YOU'D like me to write about next. And "Whatever YOU want to write about!" is not an answer! I'm much more inclined to write something if I can believe people are genuinely waiting for it. Maybe that's why I don't get ANYTHING written. Maybe I need people telling me what to write. But I HAVE FAITH now that I'm not at the bottom of the emotional abyss. I MAY start actually WRITING again, eventually, as I make some order in my life!

So here I am again, still around if you missed me. I'd love to hear from you, because that motivates me to actually blog more often, so even if you never usually comment and don't have anything to say, just pop by and say Hi! It will make me feel all validated.
rockinlibrarian: (tesseract)
Series Intro: to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my FAVORITE BOOK EVER, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, I am filling 2012 with BLOG POSTS EXPLORING EVERY POSSIBLE ASPECT OF THIS BOOK IN GREAT DEPTH. I call it the Year of the Tesseract, and you can see what I've written already by clicking the year of the tesseract tag. There WILL be spoilers for Wrinkle and possibly other books throughout. So just go read it, already. Moving on:

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT: pictures under cut, for people who still read this on a friends page and can see this cut )
I APOLOGIZE THAT I CAN'T GET THE PICTURES TO DISPLAY CORRECTLY. Turn your monitor sideways when necessary.
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
This is going to be one of those posts where I just ramble a lot, because that's pretty much all I have the brain capacity for doing right now and I'm out of things to read (says I, in a library, with Internet access)-- actually maybe I lack the brain capacity for reading and that's why I'm writing, but it's rambly writing because I lack the brain capacity to make sense.

See I was GOING to write you my belated Valentine's Day post on the romantic elements of A Wrinkle In Time-- YES, THEY EXIST, just ask the billions of Calvin fangirls who are all apparently coming out of the woodwork for this 50th Anniversary thing. While plotting THAT out in my paper journal, though, I started thinking about a DIFFERENT love story-- the one between ME and THE BOOK. And I decided to write an ADDITIONAL post about the experience of Falling In Love With Ones Geekdoms. But could I write EITHER of these when I actually sat down at the computer this afternoon? No, I could not.

I never know exactly how honest to be, emotionally, online, because on one hand I feel there's an inherent NEED TO BE MODERATELY ENTERTAINING in my online presence, because why else are perfect strangers reading what I have to say unless there is something moderately entertaining about it? And if you're going to be depressing, you ought to at least be a bit snarky or ironic or at least beautifully poetic about it. But sometimes you don't have the energy for that, and you realize that you talk to all your friends, whether Real Life OR Strictly Online, through social media, and when you want to say Hey, HELP ME, I'm dysfunctional, to your friends-- or SOMEBODY, just in case somebody CAN help you, or maybe just so you have that CONNECTION, that SUPPORT SYSTEM that everyone's supposed to have-- what else are you going to DO but post something online? If you're the kind of person who is deathly phobic of the telephone, that is, and has no friends in your actual town.

So then I get hung up, torn between the need to make a connection and the need to Not Be Whiny. And end up not typing anything.

But it's later now-- quieter here-- and I've napped and private-journaled a bit since this afternoon, so it could be safe for me to talk in public again. Keyboard-talking. Actual verbal talking is hindered by me being REALLY FREAKISHLY THIRSTY AND I LEFT MY WATER-BOTTLE AT HOME. But keyboard talking is easy enough because there's not much I have to do except keep signing off on this girl's AR quizzes. Sixth grade, reading a pile of picture books just to rack up points by the half point. Oh, AR, how I still loathe thee. I haven't complained enough about AR in awhile.

But at the moment I'm still mostly preoccupied by how freakishly thirsty I still am. There IS a water fountain. Way at the other end of the hall. By the time you get back, you're thirsty again. AND THERE IS PIZZA WAFTING FROM THE TEEN PROGRAM ROOM. WAVES OF GREASY, SALTY, NITRATE-LADEN NON-THIRST-QUENCHING AIR. And Maureen Johnson and Kiersten White keep talking about milkshakes on Twitter. I should stop looking at Twitter. Until it comes with a milkshake dispenser. I did mention this library is named after a man who made his fortune selling chocolate and ice cream? Which includes milkshakes? They're good milkshakes. We don't actually sell them at the library though. I got a spontaneous Frosty with my Wednesday Wendy's Lunch Stop yesterday. It was just one of those days where you say, "You know? Today I just REALLY WANT A FROSTY." So I did.

Now that I've gone off on my stream of consciousness posting, I'm obviously required to tell you what I dreamed about last night at some point now. EXCEPT I CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT I DREAMED ABOUT LAST NIGHT BECAUSE I FORGOT TO WRITE IT DOWN FIRST THING. AND SO NOW IT'S GONE. Also it probably wasn't as interesting as usual. Oh, that reminds me, does anybody remember the name of the Indian professor/scientist from Heroes? Because he was in my dream the night BEFORE last, and the fact that I CAN'T REMEMBER HIS NAME has been bugging me ever since. I kept bumping into him and accidentally kicking his jacket which had fallen on the floor, because I was stuck in a time loop that kept having me run down the stairs that he happened to be walking up, and it always seemed to loop back to just that spot. I was stuck in a time loop in order to prevent some revolutionaries from detonating some weird little bomb in this shopping mall, except every time time relooped it turned out a DIFFERENT revolutionary had the bomb, and it was all very confusing, and I kept kicking Dr. Whatshisface's jacket, who by the way didn't have anything to do with the revolutionaries, he was just there. Before that they'd let the giraffes out of the zoo to rescue people who'd been stuck in an avalanche. They cleared the snow with the heads on their long necks, much like backhoes.

Now my friends, I have passed enough time with idle banter. I have to start closing up shop. So I'll leave you with this: which post do you eventually want to get first: the Actual Romance IN A Wrinkle In Time, or the Romance I Have With Things I Love In General, which will include discussion of the Hierarchy of Geekitude? Or, would you like me to ever rant about Technology vs. Ecology, which I intended to possibly a month ago? Or, some other post I said I might type but never did? What would you, dear friends, ACTUALLY READ?
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
The past three days I have had SO much stuff that I wanted to write posts about-- well, specifically, there was one issue on Sunday I wanted to post about but didn't have time to (I still might, it's a meaty topic), and then MONDAY hit, which was ALA YOUTH MEDIA AWARDS DAY, which as everyone knows is the most exciting awards show of the year, take that, movie stars. Which meant I had something ELSE I NEEDED to post about, except that my personal opinions are not as important as, say, me creating a display for all the Award-winning books and their announcements thereof at the library. That used up the rest of my Monday. So let's try to get it in on Tuesday again before it becomes Very Old News and boring.

First of all, the most NEGATIVE part of this day, as someone who works in a library, is when you compare the list of winners to your catalog and there are HUGE DISCREPANCIES. Okay, maybe not so negative for libraries with book budgets. We acually did all right with the Caldecotts: we own 3 of the 4 winner-and-honorees. We got the two Coretta Scott King author honorees, both middle-school Schneiders, ONE Alex, two Silbert honors, the Stonewall winner, two of the Geisels, two of the Nonfiction for Young Adults (somebody put their name on that award already). But, most heartachingly for me, NONE of the Newberies, Printzes, and Morris-shortlisters-- the last two, especially, I am distraught about, because THAT'S MY SECTION. BUT TECHNICALLY IT'S NOT MY FAULT: several of those books were on my list of BOOKS I TRIED TO ORDER BEFORE WE RAN OUT OF MONEY. THIS, this is why I don't want my budget money used up on book vendors instead of proper ordering-through-reviews. When we have a budget for even that....

But I'm being bitter and whiny! We must move on. Let me tell you my thoughts on yesterday's results.

By far the Caldecott results were most pleasing to me, because, well, I'D ACTUALLY READ ALL THE BOOKS. I ran a Mock Caldecott program last week at the library-- the same night the news kept trumpeting SLICK ICY ROAD CONDITIONS, so we got two families and a girl whose teenaged brother had dragged her to the library so he could hang out in the teen room. But those eight people had a lovely time, and more importantly, they had pretty good taste in picture book art. The real Caldecott winner, A Ball for Daisy, was one of their Honor books (their winner was Swirl By Swirl and their other Honor was Queen of the Falls, neither of which actually won anything, but what). One grandmother TRIED to make a case for Blackout but nobody else would be swayed. And NOBODY there showed any interest in Grandpa Green, so what have you. Me...Jane is the one we don't own, but I'd seen it at another library or a bookstore... or, you know what, it might have even been a book vendor. BUT I'M NOT IN CHARGE OF PICTURE BOOKS SO IT WASN'T MY CALL. UGHHHHH!... anyway, but I'd loved it, wherever it was I'd seen it, though I wasn't sure looking at the Caldecott criteria (for ALL ORIGINAL work) that it would make the cut. Nice that it did!

Also, I should mention that my parents' dog is named Daisy and looks a bit like the one in the book. I bought them A Ball for Daisy for Christmas just for fun. Glad to pass on the news that it's also now award-winning!

Newbery: Well, I'd given up trying to read the Newbery ahead of time. None of the much-buzzed books seemed interesting enough to me, at the rate I was not-getting-reading-done-- though I was leaning to maybe trying Inside Out and Back Again. But Dead End In Norvelt must have not been available, or not buzzed enough, because now that I look at it I can't figure out WHY I wouldn't have been interested? Funny AND morbid? YES PLEASE. I was kind of tickled to see Breaking Stalin's Nose's honor, only because the only place I ever heard ANYTHING about it, ANYWHERE, was Roger Sutton going on about it and wondering why nobody had noticed its awesomeness but him. I was kind of hoping he'd let out more of a triumphant Told-Ya-So over it.

Printz and Morris: Congratulations to John Corey Whaley for sweeping the YA fiction awards-- wow, I can't imagine the pressure and pure SURREALNESS for a first-time author to get that all dumped on him at once. But mostly I just feel like being pouty about the SORRY INCOMPLETE STATE OF MY YA COLLECTION. *pouts* I also haven't READ any of these except Girl of Fire and Thorns which I am actually in the middle of RIGHT NOW and enjoying quite a lot, but there's a lot on these lists, as usual, that I wouldn't be interested in ANYWAY. Though I've already, as I said, TRIED to order quite a few of them for the collection.

Other YA awards: Thank heavens for Junior Library Guild-- that IS where most of the award-winners we DO have came from. Both the Silbert Honors we own-- Drawing from Memory and Witches! -- are both actually shelved in our YA nonfiction section, along with Wheels of Change from the YALSA Nonfiction shortlist-- and Bootleg is actually in our Adult collection. Maybe because it involves alcohol? Like I've said, I don't catalog 'em. Anyway. Junior Library Guild was also the source of Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, whereas the Stonewall honor books I've never even HEARD of. Is that saying something ominous about the coverage of GLBT books in book-buzz-land? Glad we've got the Schneider Family "Middle School" books (for some reason, one is in our Intermediate Fiction section and one is in the Teen Fiction section. I have NO IDEA why they put Wonderstruck in Teen instead of Intermediate. LIKE I SAID, I DON'T DO THE CATALOGING! ...Can you tell I may have a bit of a recurring issue with this?), but never heard of the Teen book. But anyhoo, speaking of Schneiders...

Other Awards I have something to say about: As for the Geisels-- GEE, I love the Geisels. Easy Readers are so hard to do awesomely, and it's lovely to see them get lauded. I adore Mo Willems and I Broke My Trunk was probably my favorite of the Elephant and Piggie books released last year (though my kids didn't find it as funny as I did. They prefered Happy Pig Day, which I didn't like nearly so much). And I Want My Hat Back is fun. I don't know the third honor book. But the winner? I just get a kick out of that because of the author's name. I went to college with a Josh Schneider. He totally does not write children's books. I think I may, when I first discovered the existence of children's-book-writer-Josh-Schneider, have pointed out said existence to college-friend-Josh-Schneider on Facebook... I have not yet informed him that his namesake just won a major award. I should probably do that. That's just awesome.

And the only other thing I have anything to say about is Susan Cooper won the Edwards lifetime achievement bit-- yay! Although for some reason Sunday-Monday night I kept dreaming about Jane Yolen-- all night long! She just kept turning up! --so I fully expected her to win the Edwards or maybe the Arbuthnot Lecture or something. Not that I have anything against Cooper winning, because she's awesome. I just don't know why Jane Yolen insisted on spending so much time in my subconscious the night before.

So the kids have decided naptime is over and they might go play in the sink, so I definitely can't write any more today. I might get to my Fascinating Issue About Environmental Activism and Economics But Mostly About How I'm Mad At My Printer eventually. I actually have my next Year of the Tesseract post all written, just not typed, but I have to spread those out a bit. It's a long year after all.
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
Blerg.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I'll elaborate:

Blerg. No, apparently I can't think of anything better to say than that.

Guess what. We've been informed by the library board that we don't have any money in the budget for new books. I've still got a list of a hundred-some titles I wanted -- one could say NEEDED-- to get LAST year that were not purchased. Now I'm looking at all my usual book review blogs and I want to say WHAT. WHAT IS THE POINT. YOU ARE ALL SO MANY INTERESTING TITLES IN A THEORETICAL WAY, BUT YOU ARE NOW MEANINGLESS TO ME. TOO MANY BOOKS. TOO MANY BOOKS I HAVE NO PRACTICAL APPLICATION FOR.

Because of course I'm still having my weird aversion to reading-- this phase I'm going through (I can only assume)-- when I just look at books which previously I would have been all "I can't wait to dive into that!" over and say "eh." (Although, Mark Flowers, you will be pleased to hear that the first Bartimaeus book came up in a return pile this morning and I immediately checked it right back out to myself). So I can't even read book reviews for my OWN interests. Because all of a sudden they're not my own interests.

Though I think I might want to go on a nonfiction binge. Rereading A Briefer History of Time inspired me. It seems to be just narrative fiction that I'm suddenly burnt out on-- facts and history may be a refreshing switch. Anyone want to recommend some good, readable nonfiction? Note that this can be for any age level-- while I do mostly read young people's fiction, I also tend toward adult NONfiction, so you don't have to feel limited in any way. Normally as a librarian doing Readers Advisory I would not remotely settle for a request such as that without asking follow-up questions, like, "Well, what subjects are you INTERESTED IN?" But I honestly don't care about the subject: I'm a well-rounded nerd. I just like learning things. If it's presented in an engaging way, I'm interested. THAT'S what I'm looking for.

But talking about half-my-favorite-blogs-feeling-inapplicable-to-me-all-of-a-sudden, I had a similar thought yesterday morning. WRITING blogs seem to be all about PUBLICATION. Finding agents, editors, Getting A Break, marketing, so on so forth. Five years ago that was all interesting to me. Now, well, you've written a book? Good for you. YOU'RE ALREADY AWESOME. I wrote a book or two before. None of them are anywhere close to publishable. They need work. And I'm not sure they DESERVE the work. I could write something NEW. But what?

I think I have no ideas. But my morning journal tells me I have LOADS of ideas, crazy wonderful things that come to me in my sleep, and obviously they'd need quite a lot of work to be at all useful, but there's HUNDREDS of them, nonetheless. Why, last night there was this thing about smuggling people across some kind of checkpoint in a forced-hybernation state in the luggage compartments of tour buses, and I was afraid somebody would forget they were there and just leave those poor people asleep with the luggage FOREVER-- and that? That's got STORY potential, right there and obvious. Also, there was this traveling saleslady, and she had this poster-thingy divided into bulls-eye-like sections with FABULOUS PRIZES in each, and you were supposed to chuck these cardboard tokens at it to see what FABULOUS PRIZE you could win, and I suspected it of somehow involving magnets so that nobody ACTUALLY ever won the cruise or the king-sized air mattress and everyone ended up with the devotional bookmark. That, also, has story potential. Also also, I actually-instead-of-imaginarily married Martin Freeman, and somebody sent us John Green's new book as a wedding present, even though said book is about terminally-ill teenagers, which isn't exactly wedding present material, though if I was marrying Martin Freeman I don't think I'd care. I am not sure that one has as much story potential, though perhaps book-about-terminally-ill-teenagers-as-wedding-present has potential as symbolism in some obscure potential story I can't think of at the moment. Also also also, I was weeding and watering African violets with flat ginger ale, and that doesn't really have any story potential at all, but my point is, this was all just ONE NIGHT of dreaming for me, and not a particularly eventful night, at that!

When I started writing, as a child, EVERY one of my stories was based on a dream. It's possible that therein lies the start of overcoming my writer's block: going back to my roots, you might say. When I feel BRAVE enough to take writing seriously again, I will pull out my morning journals, grab a few dreams, and just SEE WHERE THEY TAKE ME.

Because the other thing, I was thinking about yesterday morning, is I'm too hung up on getting the right answer. I'd pulled a writing prompt out of my box for the first time in months, and I noticed it was one I had skipped once before (it was, if you're curious, "What song best expresses the concept of love?" or something worded slightly differently, and I wasn't able to answer it until I split it into at least six different KINDS of "love," and even then... well, let me get out of this parenthesis)-- AND I'D SKIPPED IT BECAUSE I WASN'T SURE I KNEW THE RIGHT ANSWER. In my personal journal which no one will ever see, until I die and become famous and people care about its existence. So after I had rambled about possible songs that MIGHT answer the question in ALL six-or-so connotations of Love, it occurred to me that even though I STILL didn't know if I'd actually picked the best answers, THAT WASN'T THE POINT. The point was WRITING about it.

And that's one of my major blockers. I feel like I must write the RIGHT thing, instead of just writing and writing tons of crap until I discover something wonderful. I don't NEED to decide what to write, I just need to keep writing and pick out what clicks.

Still, I'm still not ready to take that step. First I need to get my life sorted out and organized and calm a bit where I can DEVOTE time to writing crap. I've promised myself that, when Maddie starts preschool two mornings a week in the fall, I will use those mornings for writing. NOTHING ELSE. No errands, no Internet, no housework, NOTHING I could be doing NOW without that child-free time. That's quite a few months away. But if I can't manage anything before then, I at least know I have something to look forward to.
rockinlibrarian: (Default)
[Note: I started writing this yesterday, so the dates don't line up. So you should think of this paragraph beginning as "YESTERDAY morning." I'm not going to change it because I'm just like that]

This morning, just before I woke, I was having what seemed at first glance to be a remarkably realistic dream: I sat down to write for you all a yearly-retrospective blog post,* and the date was even today's date-- how often do dreams actually get the date right, let alone remember that this is also the birthdate of one of my best college friends and J.R.R. Tolkien, which it also acknowledged? Good calendar-following, subconscious. "I am sitting in a lovely new house," I typed-- it was, it was gorgeous, and there was a game room and a Jacuzzi and the kitchen was large and warm and homey-- "and I've just discovered an extra bag of Sarris' pretzels I had no idea we had. That about sums it up: 2011 was a pretty good year."

In the light of morning-- or the twilight of near-morning in January, when before the sun had even risen I'd already had my morning journaling interrupted by a small girl wailing about an ear infection and a call from the husband warning me that the roads were awful and I'd need to plan ahead to make sure the driveway was clear before attempting to take small girl to the doctors'-- this dream was utterly puzzling. 2011 a good year? Really? Off the top of my head I would have called 2011 a pretty Sucky year, seeing that I spent over half of it in various degrees of depression and pretty much nothing got accomplished. For the most part, listing what was great about 2011 seems primarily listing the stuff that at least didn't go wrong. We have water. We're all relatively healthy. We're not starving. We're not living in a war zone. No one I cared about died tragically... except Diana Wynne Jones and the unborn child I only knew about for three days... but that tips us precariously toward the "things that outright Sucked about 2011" side of the issue, and certainly isn't helping me figure out what my subconscious was thinking by "pretty good."

So how was what, at first glance, was a pretty crappy year pretty GOOD instead? THIS IS AN IMPORTANT EXERCISE IN POSITIVE THINKING. We'll start with a biggie: the Beautiful New Library. The Beautiful New Library for which I now work COMPLETELY in the children's and young adults departments, my specialty. For which I am now IN CHARGE of the YA collection! Why, this summer I ran delicious teen cooking programs and introduced elementary-school kids to the joys of gory fairy tale retellings! If we ignore the stresses from confused job duties, and the juggling of child care, and juvenile delinquents on my watch, that's a pretty good thing, is it not?

On the homefront, my son started preschool and appears to be thriving. My daughter got herself potty-trained which means I NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT DIAPERS AGAIN.

And while I'm inclined to put my writer's block on this year's list of Suckiness, the objective truth is I've actually written more THIS year than I did LAST year. Granted, most of that was journaling, and most of that journaling was whining about how I'm too tired to journal. But I did have a bit of fun writing to prompts for awhile, and actually, the twenty-some pages of Pipeweed Mafia Saga I managed to squeeze out (while completely useless and Utterly Wrong in an able-to-share-with-the-world sense, and I've had TWO separate episodes halfway done for months without finishing) were SO much fun to write and in the end brought me so much insane joy-- and I honestly think I MAY be able to turn them into something useful, someday, if I can figure out a way to not tie them so closely to real people, movies, and books (though SOMEHOW I have to keep the Aslan-in-a-Bucket. I MADE MYSELF A DATABASE OF CONTEXTLESS ASLAN QUOTES just to help me write the Aslan-in-a-Bucket. That's dedication for a story that only one other person has ever read), I think that may be one of the highlights of the whole year. It made Andy Serkis admitting his pipeweed problem in the latest Hobbit production video THAT MUCH MORE HILARIOUS (Oh, I have done such horrible fictional things to Andy Serkis. This is why the Saga is not fit for public consumption). Speaking of, HOBBIT TRAILER! Definitely among the year's Awesomeness. Also all the trailers and clips released for Sherlock Series 2! Okay, basically anything I saw this year starring Martin Freeman. Or, just him, period. Definitely part of the Awesomeness of the year, and the Awesomeness of the universe in general for his existence, though the universe is not so Awesome for refusing to acknowledge that we are Soul Mates. Stupid universe. (It's debatable whether having the World's Hugest Stupidest Crush on a movie star is Awesome or Sucky in and of itself, though). *AHEM*

Speaking of Awesomeness Achieved Through Movie Trailers, we'd be amiss not to mention OMG THE HUNGER GAMES TRAILER, which is impossible to refer to without tagging that "OMG" onto the front. Perhaps I'm setting myself up for a Sucky Birthday 2012 (I've decided to celebrate my birthday a week early by going to the movies. Who wants to go with me? We'll make it a PARTY) by getting my EXPECTATIONS SO TOTALLY BLOWN OUT OF PROPORTION, but as far as 2011 was concerned... dude. Did I mention I COULDN'T GET MY HEARTRATE DOWN FOR FOUR HOURS AFTER WATCHING THAT TRAILER?! And yes, that's evidence of "Awesomeness" not "Suckiness" in this case.

Though that brings us back to the subject of books, which has been a freakishly Sucky subject for me this past year. Not that the books were Sucky, just my ability to enjoy them was. But there were SOME moments of glorious book-loving, so we'll be sure to mention Those Good Times here, too.

Of course the Awesomest book-related event of the year was probably Michelle Cooper sending me an autographed, personalized book. From Australia. For no reason other than she thinks I'm Awesome. This actually has been a fun year for interacting with authors, period. Partly this is the result of Twitter. Hmm, Twitter. Where can I put you on the Awesome-to-Sucky continuum? On the one hand, you are so dang addictive. On the other hand... you are so dang addictive. *AHEM AGAIN*

But this reminds me that I have made a lot of very nice online friends-or-at-least-acquaintances this past year-- particularly [livejournal.com profile] elouise82, @easyqueenie, and @beckiezra. The Internet is nice in the Virtual Friendship department, and it has been very nice indeed this past year.

Finally... I got awesome Christmas presents. Is this worth listing? Probably. Whatever it takes to highlight the Pretty Goodness of 2011.

So in the end, this is a rather long list of decent-to-Awesomeness found in 2011. And whatever the true Awesomeness value of the past year, it's this NEXT year that matters, anyway. And we all know that, at least on this blog, 2012 will be a VERY GOOD YEAR INDEED, because it's THE YEAR OF THE TESSERACT!!!!! I'm halfway done with next week's post, and I do believe it rocks. At least, I think it rocks. And if I am the only person who actually enjoys The Year of the Tesseract, well... I WILL HAVE THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MY YEAR.

So all is well. Have a Virtual Sarris' pretzel.

--
*(Do you remember when every year people would post a survey that was supposed to be your yearly retrospective post? I miss surveys, but looking at this one it's clear what I have done here is a much more interesting and productive retrospective. Who really needs me to waste space on how I continued to not hate people and have no one-night stands?)
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
Hi, librarian types (and anyone else with an opinion. Actually, maybe EVERYONE). I'm here posting a general brainstorming request to the world.

Often around the holidays and less-specific times during the summer, people come in to the library looking for a good audiobook for the WHOLE FAMILY to listen to on a long car trip. We've got loads of adult books on audio. We've got lots of childrens and YA books on Playaway. But the only books on CD (and though maybe YOU have the car/equipment to play a Playaway over your car speakers, that's not something you typically find among our patrons) we have that fit this description-- fun for the WHOLE FAMILY!-- are the Narnia books, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (and the latter is pushing it, whole-family-wise), and the Harry Potters (the Jim Dale ones, which were definitely a staple of MY family's road trips for awhile there. I HATED--HATED-- his Hermione voice, but otherwise, definitely good reads. Er, listens). Three series. All fantasy. All excellent, but not much of a selection.

SO, I'm opening it up to the floor. If I were to develop a CORE COLLECTION of THE most NECESSARY audiobooks for family car trips, what would you recommend? If you know of particular recordings/narrators that are awesome, name them-- maybe the book is okay but the performance is NOT TO BE MISSED, I'll go for that!-- but if you think of a book that fits the bill and you don't even KNOW if it's on audio? Name it anyway. I'll do the hard stuff. I'm just looking for general suggestions!
rockinlibrarian: (love)
It's that time of year again: time to realize that you probably should have been giving thanks all year long, but since you forgot to, you might as well hurry up and do it all now.

So let me say Thank you to all my readers, for taking time out of your busy Internet browsing addictions to slog through all my ramblings here. I offer particular thanks to: [livejournal.com profile] elouise82, [livejournal.com profile] vovat, [livejournal.com profile] iamdamanda, Mark Flowers, [livejournal.com profile] riki_kiki_taco, [livejournal.com profile] ozma914, Charlotte from her Library, easyqueenie, [livejournal.com profile] punterschlagen, [livejournal.com profile] katecoombs, DawnStarlight, [livejournal.com profile] magnolia___, [livejournal.com profile] grrlpup, and [livejournal.com profile] rockonliz127, who have all left comments in the past month, which is awesome a) because that means I know you READ this stuff!, and b) I love continuing the discussion-- so THANKS for discussing! It means a lot to me to have this connection, that other people are reading this stuff that comes out of my head and thinking about it long enough to even RESPOND. THANK YOU.

So let me give thanks to other stuff now. Thank you to Shop and Save and BIC for supplying me with my wonderful ergonomic journaling pens which I have stocked up on just because I am afraid they might disappear and I will be stuck using pens MUCH INFERIOR FOR JOURNALING, and thank you also to my journaling pens, who are sentient and reading this, for being so awesome to begin with.

Thanks to my lovely dream last night, which was about me going to Fairyland and becoming a proper denizen thereof and being assigned to a Legacy which turned out to be about the Legacy of my grandfather who died a year ago today, so apparently I'm under a geas from Fairyland to carry on the Blankenship Legacy of being a Good Person who Speaks for the Trees, so thanks also to the fates of heredity for allowing me to be born into a family of Good People Who Speak for the Trees in the first place. And thanks for Trees for being Awesome and making oxygen and creating shade and slowing erosion and smelling nice and looking really pretty against a blue sky and eerie against a gray one, and for climbing and for wood and fruit and paper, and also just being Awesome.

Thanks to my parents and inlaws, who, speaking of grandparents, have been so Awesome at providing lots of childcare. And in my parents' case, also have done much to help keep my house from turning into a complete and utter disaster area. Now it stays pretty safely in the realm of minor disaster area instead.

Thank you Velma Jeffries, RIP: I have no idea who you were, but you left a bunch of money to the Children of this town, which they used to build a playground, which sometimes I think is my children's own personal playground, and WHAT kind of kids get a personal playground that is QUITE THAT AWESOME, all to themselves, although when other kids show up, that is also fun. Thank you other kids for showing up to play with my kids. And thank you Ms. Jones for being my son's teacher and helping him to have made GREAT STRIDES SOCIALLY in the past few months. It always makes me slightly giddy to see him so enthusiastically making friends with other kids at the playground.

And speaking of dead people who've given things to the community, thank you, Frank Sarris, for that lovely big new library, even though you probably should have sprung for us to get an ejection button for the teen room, where whenever someone's being too obnoxious you just push the button and the trap door opens and they slide right down out the side of the building into the dumpster, but perhaps we would have just spent that money on getting the back lot paved anyway, so we'll forgive you for that; and anyway thank you for having made your fortune on chocolate and ice cream in the first place, because I LIKE being able to say my benefactors made their fortune on chocolate and ice cream (and possibly pipeweed, though only [livejournal.com profile] punterschlagen would know about that), and I like that our library can claim, beyond all the other awesome things all libraries claim, SELLING HIGH-QUALITY CHOCOLATE BARS at the desk, because DOESN'T EVERY AWESOME PLACE NEED TO DO SO?

Thank you, songwriters who aren't satisfied with Good Enough, who take the time and thought and artistry to take your music and lyrics just that LITTLE BIT FARTHER into Completely Awesome, because when such a song comes on the radio amid the jumble of Good Enough, Rather Dull, and Outright Annoying songs, it JUMPS OUT and makes one want to shout with joy, or whatever that Rock and Roll feeling is, which is possibly more anti-authoritarian than joy is, but positive shouting has taken place whatever you call it. Thank you particularly to the Beatles (who are HALF-dead), for doing this ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME, AND INSPIRING OTHERS TO DO IT; I had Abbey Road on the other day and was SO STRUCK with this feeling that I HAD to go grab my paper journal and awesome ergonomic journaling pen and write about it (possibly also the pen may have been whispering seductively "WRITE WITH ME!" at the same time, so I was being pushed into it from two directions), although I had to keep stopping writing so as to zone out into the Awesomeness completely for awhile; and let me send out a special thank you to Mr. Richard "Ringo Starr" Starkey, because you totally don't get enough credit as a musician, because every drum lick of that album is so EMBEDDED IN MY MUSCLE MEMORY that I can't even listen without playing air drums the whole time, and I decided that Playing Drums In a Beatles Tribute Band need NOT necessarily be one of my UNATTAINABLE Life Goals, because who SAYS all Beatles Tribute Bands have to be impersonators, and I'm totally going to start an All-Girl Beatles Tribute Band, Lovely Rita and the Meter Maids, once I, you know, actually learn to play the drums.

Thank you to whoever invented the word "awesome," because I don't know how I could possibly express my love and admiration for most of the world without it. Am I overusing it? NO! Because if you think that, then you DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT AWESOME IS!

I'm sure there are lots of other people I can thank, but I'd be going on forever, and I still need to make deviled eggs for tonight. Thank you to my aunt for assigning me deviled eggs, which I totally can make, and not turkey, although that would be dumb anyway because I don't have enough ovens to make turkey for 45 people, nor enough room in my house anyhow, so also thank you to my aunt for inviting everyone to her much larger house on days like this.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
[Note: this was written over the course of several days, so the meaning of words like "last night" and "today" and so forth varies as you go, and it's not really worth keeping track of which days refer to what. Just roll with the general concepts]

Mostly I pay attention to/keep track of my dreams (the kind you have while you're sleeping rather than the kind you make while awake and not paying attention) just because they're so dang entertaining. Maybe it comes from being a life-long bookworm, maybe just from having an overactive imagination, but my dreams have always been (excepting some rare dull periods usually involving antidepressants) colorful, plot-filled, and twisted, and have been the inspiration for many an actual written story. Other people will say, "I had such a strange dream," and then describe something so utterly run-of-the-mill that I must force myself to smile and say, "Yes. Strange. Right," and wonder if I should mention that I had a similar dream myself the other night, but didn't bother to write it down because the one about the vampire hunters flying kites outside the funeral home was just that much more interesting.

But I'm aware that many people who keep track of dreams do it for the psychoanalytical aspect, to study the symbolism and see what it says about their life and anxieties and dreams (of the daytime wishes variety) at the moment. Personally, I enjoy dream analysis, if it's used properly. It bugs me when people talk about it like it's something New Age-y and mystical, when all it really is is a game of Word Association ("flowers make me think of blooming make me think of growing so this dream about flowers is about something coming to fruition," etc). It's a matter of figuring out the connections your brain is making. But usually my dreams are so complicated and interesting in their own right that I don't CARE what they symbolize, though occasionally I do discover weird meanings in bizarrely complicated dreams (ask me what battling a giant demonic chicken with an umbrella has to do with September 11 sometime. Go ahead, ask). But sometimes the symbolism is just so blatantly obvious that I don't even have to think about it. Which brings us to last night.

In the dream, my Teen Fiction section (which, granted, is not in a library in this dream, but in a large multipurpose sortof-cafeteria-without-food room at what is probably a busy university, judging by most of the people swarming around and by all the tables and by everyone talking about my radio show and by the fact that some guy who was apparently the guy I was madly in love with in high school even though he looked absolutely nothing like him just told me that he liked listening to my radio show. "REALLY? You listen to it?!" "Well, I admit you lost me when you started talking about your kids' experiments with electrical circuitry." Which was how I knew he really had listened to it, because I apparently had done that, although I had no kids in college) anyway, though, so it was MY Teen Fiction section, wherever it was, looking rather exactly like my Teen Fiction section; BUT, I discovered, half the books were MISSING, and somebody apparently couldn't figure out whether to alphabetize by author or title, and the missing books had been replaced by toys and games -- although THEY were, politely enough, alphabetized.

So here is this CHAOS in the section I thought I had organized so nicely! The good books have disappeared and been replaced by games! And nobody told me before making these changes!

Is this not obviously an expression of my anxiety over WHAT MY ACTUAL JOB DUTIES ARE?

At first I saw it in a general light, about the changing landscape of public librarianship: how we're expected to be community centers offering programs and activities that may not have anything to do with books. I could stand back and be philosophical about it: where do we draw the lines? When does focusing on one aspect of public librarianship cause other aspects to suffer?

But tonight I was definitely looking at it from the specific situation at my library.

Our director had a dream (of the daytime variety). A dream about teenagers HANGING OUT AT THE LIBRARY. Imagine, they'd be off the streets and in somewhere INTELLECTUALLY AND CULTURALLY STIMULATING INSTEAD! Brilliant plan! We have this huge new library with, not one, but TWO ROOMS FOR TEENAGERS-- one for the collection and the computers, one --strategically positioned in a corner above the tech offices and blocked from the rest of the library by restrooms and empty board rooms, so noise wouldn't disturb the other patrons-- for programming and hanging out.

Except it didn't quite work that way. We got the teenagers off the streets and into the library to hang out-- it's just the ones we got? Are only using us for a place to get off the streets. And check Facebook. But mostly just to congregate. They have no interest in the books or the programs. But they repeatedly RUN RAMPANT, running, fighting, vandalizing, intimidating other patrons. When the fighting and vandalism isn't happening and it's just rowdy instead, we try to herd them into the Teen Programming room. But then the staff working downstairs in the offices complain of the noise.

And then there's today. Today we had this large but really nice group of teens playing some kind of card-collecting game in the Teen Program room-- exactly the sort of thing we WANTED to see happen at the library. The usual swarm of rowdy kids shows up, so we go with our usual rule, that if you're not going to be sitting and relatively quiet (ie we shouldn't hear you on the other side of the building), you need to keep it in the Teen Programming room. But that OTHER group of kids is already there, minding their own business, and these rowdy kids pile in and start being obnoxious to them. So what the heck? The kids who are being respectful obviously should have the priority-- they were there first, and they're behaving properly. But what are we going to do with the rowdy ones now-- send them to any other room in the building, it's going to bother other people. And yes, we have kicked kids out entirely before. But not for general obnoxiousness. General obnoxiousness we just try to contain to the Teen Program room. When there aren't already other non-obnoxious people there. Can you MAKE a rule against General Obnoxiousness? Can you make a rule like that that can be consistently ENFORCED? Can we kick them out for that? Our director has PRIDED herself in our being a No-Shushing Library, but this rowdiness is going a little too far. It's keeping the people who WOULD actually USE the library resources AWAY.

The actual desk for library workers upstairs here is in the children's room next door to the teen room-- the two rooms are separated by huge windows but the desk faces away from the teen room. But when the rowdy teens are a-swarming, we're supposed to be In There, instead. Doing what? (WHERE, exactly, is another question, on busy nights like these when every spare seat-- and several laps-- is taken, and there's nowhere really useful to stand, either). I am a small woman with a quiet voice and the kind of face that people either ignore entirely or just assume belongs to the ineffectual non-authority that I am. My presence is of no consequence to teenagers who don't give a crap and two-thirds of whom are also, incidentally, taller than me.

Which is exactly why I gave up working in schools.

PUBLIC library, I said! AH! One-on-ONE interaction! People who are there of their own free will! NO CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT SKILLS NEEDED!

But somebody's gone and messed up my properly organized shelves. Figuratively. I thought I was in the position I was made for. But nobody's interested in my deep and broad knowledge of YA literature (hence all those titles that have mysteriously disappeared); I'm supposed to be offering games and entertainments instead, and not only is everything OUT OF ORDER, but there seems to be some kind of mix-up regarding WHAT that order is supposed to be in the FIRST place.

Now I feel lost, wondering what I'm supposed to be doing, wondering if I can really use the excuse "I'm just no GOOD at this sort of thing, and it's why I left that higher-paying career-path in the first place!" (Which, incidentally, says something about the pay rates of public librarians, when teaching is considered the HIGHER paying career-path) (not that they don't TOTALLY DESERVE EVERY PENNY OF IT AND A LOT MORE, mind you). It's not that I expect to be an old-fashioned sit-behind-the-desk-putting-books-in-order-and-never-talking-to-anybody-but-to-say-Shh librarian. I like doing programs. And I really like interacting with patrons when it means I'm helping them to find something. But I don't like being a disciplinarian, and I don't like being forced to cater to people who aren't interested in anything we have to offer beyond a building and a place to access Facebook.

And there are all these teens who WOULD hang out at the library, and would USE it-- would be interested in programs, would check out books, would start clubs based around their interests (like the card-gamers we get on Thursdays), if they weren't SCARED AWAY by the gang that's in here all the time doing next to nothing but bothering people! I want to see teen writers' groups gathering here, and more gamers of various types, and people working on projects, and reading clubs, and people ACTUALLY USING THE RESOURCES WE HAVE HERE! But instead we're supposed to babysit the troublemakers whose very presence is keeping THOSE kind of kids out.

Soooo... this is where I need to write some kind of concluding paragraph to this thing, except I can't think how to conclude it. It just sort of peters out here, inconclusive and unanswered. Obviously, figuring out what my job is actually supposed to entail is something that bothers me even in my sleep. There are always general arguments in the library world over What the purpose and mission of a library ought to be in a community, and those who want to de-emphasize books in favor of programming, and those who think it's about archiving information, and those who think it's about giving people what they want, and those who think it's, well, whatever. Personally, I think the role of the public library is offering Enrichment and Education. Whether that's through books, movies, games, programs, computers, whatever. But if the kids who have taken over the Teen section even WANT Enrichment, they're certainly not interested in any Enrichment I can give them. So what am I actually supposed to do?
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
My computer time has been taken up by all sorts of interesting projects lately, which is why I haven't posted anything in a week and a half for you Friends-locked types and even longer for you average reader types (who I think are more likely to be reading than the Friends-locked types are anyway).

At home I've again begun the Activity Guide for One Book, Every Young Child, the actual professional writing gig of my life, until I get my head screwed on long enough to write real fiction again. This year's One Book, secret sneak peak, involves SNORING OTTERS. Therefore I've spent the past week working through my traditional prewriting strategy for One Book, which if I was [livejournal.com profile] lisayee I would illustrate with pictures of every step but I'm too lazy:

1. Open last year's Guide file and find and replace the old title with the new title, the old author with the new author, and "2011" with "2012." Save As "2012 manual." Feel productive.

2. Copy all of my notes onto a large sheet of art paper into wavy columns by type of activity and in different colored markers by primary standards subject.

3. Immediately copy THOSE notes onto separate sheets of paper per activity. Somehow in this process though the notes have become organized and make sense.

4. Look up otters on the Internet.

5. Watch videos of otters on YouTube.

And this is how far I've gotten in the process. Curiously, this process makes me feel an awful lot like a real author.

Meanwhile, at work I took it upon myself to compile a calendar of Fictional Character Birthdays. I found quite a few, but surprisingly less than I know must exist. SOMEHOW, no one has done this properly yet. There are plenty of links of birthdays to even the more minor characters in the Harry Potter and Twilight universes, but books without recent Internet-based fandoms? Honestly, there hasn't been SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE geeky enough to compile something like this before? Obviously, I am that person. I'm just a bit too busy for rereading every book in the world on the off-chance that a character's birthdate might be mentioned. I KNOW, for example, that Anne Shirley's birthday is in mid-March, but I can't remember quite when (I keep thinking of a date that I know is the birthday of the guy I was madly in love with in high school, which I doubt is actually it). And I COULD very well go look it up myself, but I know I'd get sucked into the book, and I am STILL only two-thirds of the way through Fly Trap, and it's now overdue at the Other-Library-Meaning-I-Can't-Waive-My-Own-Fees-Myself-On-It... so I won't. Go look it up myself.

So after awhile I started collecting author birthdays instead.

But there I was minding my own business when another literary birthday I'd been searching for about half the past year suddenly fell into my lap. Or, Facebook feed. Yes, I have officially found the original publication date for A Wrinkle in Time: March 9, 1962.

I had about given up, but giving up gave me a brilliant idea: I have hereby dubbed 2012 "The Year of the Tesseract" at Amy's Library of ROCK. I will devote the whole YEAR to celebrating the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time! I have plans for a whole long series of posts, possibly to go up every week or every other week or whenever I don't have anything better to post! I may have to create a special userpic to use! I am so excited about these potential posts-- I already have a list of about fifteen topics and will always be open to more-- that I want to start writing them RIGHT NOW, only I still have four months before we even get to the Year of the Tesseract, and also I'm supposed to be working on One Book.

BUT, the discovery of an ACTUAL PROPER BIRTHDAY means-- PARTY AT THE LIBRARY! With refreshments like hot cocoa obviously (I might skip the liverwurst sandwiches), and maybe a cake, but a wrinkled cake (if you push the sides of the cake together, the bug on the ONE side is now ALREADY ON THE OTHER SIDE! ALSO YOUR CAKE IS MESSY!), and possibly a Jello mold in the shape of IT, because that would just be appetizing. The thing is I don't think I could pull it off if I advertised it as STRICTLY devoted to A Wrinkle in Time, so I think what it will really be about is celebrating ones Very Favorite Books, the books you adore passionately-- and this is my example hence me throwing a birthday party for it. But everyone else could participate by sharing reviews and stories about THEIR Ultimate Favorite Books, and everyone could come in costume dressed as someone from their favorite book. I could so totally pull off Mrs Whatsit. It would be early March, so I wouldn't have to worry about being overheated. I'd do Mrs Who but the optometrist actually refuses to sell me glasses like that.

One thing I need to start doing, now that I have my literary calendar, is planning my monthly-or-perhaps-more-than-that Family Night parties here for the REST of the year besides March 9. This is the only thing available for elementary kids during the school year. The tricky part is finding a day for these things that ACTUALLY DOESN'T CONFLICT with everything ELSE all the elementary kids are doing in the evenings.

Speaking of school, because I feel I have to include this somewhere in this week's post, I am now the mother of an official preschooler. A child who gets DROPPED OFF three times a week to spend 2 1/2 hours AWAY FROM ME WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT HIS BLOOD RELATIONS. It's an odder sensation than I expected it to be. But I can't tell you much how HE'S handling it because he tends to answer every question about it with "I don't know." But while he is not bubbling over with excitement, he's not frightened and traumatized either, so it seems to be going okay.

First day of school, we got to come in and hang out for awhile. But this preschool is in the local K-8 Catholic school, so it's under your typical elementary school lockdown, and we all had to wear "visitor" badges and be escorted at all times. So there I was being escorted and feeling like the newbie parent I was, when suddenly a chorus of excited "HI, MISS AMY!!"s erupted from the line of second graders across the hall.

Because of course I'm not just a strange visitor to the school after all. I'm also the public librarian. And this makes me... FAMOUS.

Rock.

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