nontraditional: a list.

  1. During one of my twitter frolics recently I found the effing librarian, whose blog I am completely and utterly smitten with. He talks about many of the hot issues in the library world, as well as advocacy and news, but in a completely bitchy and steely way. Love, love, love.
  2. Here is an expansive  booklist of nontraditional gender roles represented in books for children, courtesy of the Allen County Public Library.
  3. This article lists a ton of nontraditional materials that libraries circulate, including cake pans, CPR dummies, and–gasp!–video games (the April 1 date worries me, but as far as I can tell, it is a genuine article; if you discover otherwise, let me know, okay?).
  4. I must mention one more nontraditional library event that is coming up: Nontraditional Nonfiction Monday, coming up on May 24th, to be hosted over at 100 Scope Notes. I’ve never participated in Nonfiction Monday* before, but my first foray is certainly going to be a doozy, since I co-wrote a review in song form with Travis from Scope Notes. Please do check it out, and participate if you have a mind to.

*Here’s the source of Nonfiction Monday, in case you were wondering (which I was, which was why I did some sleuthing and figured it out. Is there anything that Anastasia Suen can’t do? She has a kajillion blogs, all of them terrifically informative, and she put together this Nonfiction Monday meme happening event thingy. I stand in awe. Actually, I sit in awe, but that just sounds weird. Have you realized yet that reading my parentheticals is oftentimes a foolish undertaking? No? It’s okay, we all learn at our own pace.).

summer reading.

I have a complex relationship with the institution of summer reading. I never participated in summer reading as a child, which may explain my lack of zealous enthusiasm for it. I do see its value, and I do love that it gets kids into the library, but there is something about the entire exercise that ultimately leaves me feeling a bit letdown.

I’m trying to make the summer reading program experience a bit more worthwhile for our youngest patrons. What does that mean? Well, it means I created a summer reading log for pre-readers (at my library, four months – Kindergarten and by request*) that demands a bit more from the people who use it: summerpreread3

Previous logs for pre-readers involved little more than listing titles read. With this log (based in part on a version the Bartlett Public Library produced) I’ve asked that the parent or adult reading to the child take the time to incorporate activities that will help their child master the six early literacy skills.

I don’t think asking parents to interact with their children while they read will place an undue stress on them. In fact, I might just be giving them a more precise vocabulary and concise description for things they are already doing with their children. But for the parent that is unaware of how much these simple activities and interactions can help their child, I think that this simple little summer reading log could provide valuable information and service.

I have high expectations of myself as a librarian, and I also have high expectations of the parents of the children that I serve. I believe that if people are shown that a summer reading program can be more than getting free toys and a free book, they will find more value in it. I want my summer reading program to be more about the process rather than the prize. I do not think that this is a philosophy that other librarians share. If they do, I surely would like to hear about it. I feel like the cheese, standing alone,  starting to stink.

What are your thoughts about summer reading? Is it all about the number of people you get in the door, or is it about the experience itself? Or somewhere in the middle?

*By request means that if there is a person of any age who feels that the pre-reader program best meets their needs, they are welcome to sign up for it. I mostly think that this will apply to older children/adults with developmental delays.

Miss Julie

inevitable?

I often ask whomever is around me–usually fellow librarians–whether or not, as I age, becoming a bitter, stick-in-the-mud, clueless librarian is inevitable.

I worry about this. I worry about this every time I turn in a lackluster story-time performance, every time I get another idea shot down, every time I sit through another boring, same old same old presentation or workshop. In thirty years, will I be railing against the dad gummed toucher screeners, bemoaning the loss of my keyboard and mouse? Will I be passing off any tech or pop culture related questions to my savvier coworkers? Will I be constantly afraid of anything new and different?

I don’t want this to happen to me. I feel like I do a pretty good job of keeping up with new trends and tools. Yeah, it took me a while to figure out twitter, but eventually I made it work for me, and even though this blog isn’t that old, I’ve been reading library blogs since 2006. With the wealth of professional journals, books and blogs that exist for librarians it is pretty hard to remain ignorant of changes in technology, media and practices these days.

A colleague of mine, who is a generation apart from myself, read this article in School Library Journal and promptly (well…after awhile) began talking about creating her own personal learning network:

[…] How many of your colleagues graduated from library school more than 20 years ago? Remember what the landscape looked like in 1989? How do we stay one step ahead of our staff and students in information accessing, evaluation, use, and communication in order to be seen as experts and collaborators? […]  Librarians must be able to retool and stay ahead of teachers and students. We believe that librarians cannot adequately retool if they do not develop PLNs (personal or professional learning networks).

Suddenly she was asking me about gmail and google and twitter and all sorts of those gooey 2.0 resources. Our department had recently started using g-cal to schedule programs and meetings, so becoming more familiar with the googleplex of google products was definitely a savvy and timely professional move

I was filled with renewed hope that in twenty years, I could be more like her and less like…well…we’ve all seen them, those long-time professionals who have lost touch. I worked with a librarian once whose computer starting ritual involved banging the mouse against the desk with the force of someone banging a Victorian door knocker.

If you’re reading this, most likely you’re not the one with currency issues. Rather, you’re working with a librarian who passes off the hard questions and never seems to know what is going on. What can you do about it? Not much, really. As Dorothy Parker wrote, “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” You can offer to help out of touch coworkers, but if they don’t want to learn something, you can’t make them. You can do what you can to make sure that your supervisor is aware that this person isn’t fulfilling some of their essential job functions, but you have to be careful–if you do it in the wrong way, you’ll come off as a bitter complainer even if the issues you bring up are valid.

Do you ever feel like you’re out of touch? What do you do to keep up with the changes in the profession? Do you know any librarians who have given up? How do you deal with them?

backlist beauties: One for the Morning Glory

One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes.

It was 1996 or 1997  and I was in the Hallmark Waldenbooks in Clinton, Ia, with my mother and most likely my sister. Even though our small family farm never brought in a sizeable or steady income, one thing my mother always allowed us to buy was books. I was scanning the paperbacks in the science fiction section when this cover caught my eye:

I was still deeply in love with The Phantom of the Opera ( the Leroux novel, and the musical, and Susan Kay’s “sequel” Phantom) at the time, so I was first drawn to the Twisted Man, up in the corner. He was so…brooding. And creepy. I also loved the rest of the cover, with its classic fairy-tale illustration style. My mom bought it for me, and I was ready to read.

I loved this book when I first read it, and I love it still. It’s been added to my bedside reading pile, because it is due for a re-reading soon. Does anyone else do that? Re-read books? It’s like visiting an old friend, and if the book is good enough, deep enough, and rich enough, you find new things to uncover with every reading. Also, you’re coming at it from a different age, a different physical and mental space, so different elements will jump out at you than before.

This book is a fairy-tale in the vein of A Princess Bride, and has been compared to that title often. The tale is very self-aware, and plays on fairy-tale conceits with skill. As a child, Prince Amatus drank some of the wine of the Gods, and thereafter was only half a man–literally*: half of his body suddenly disappears. A “year and a day” later, the Prince is joined by four mysterious companions who will prove to be the key to his fate and the restoration of his missing half. Before he can be restored, he and his companions will have to save innocent maidens, befriend mythical beasts, and uncover frightening truths that might better stay uncovered.

Enough with my crap-tastic summary. I can’t say enough good things about this book. Barnes is an author known for his hard science fiction, or so the internet tells me–I haven’t actually read any of it–and recently his book Tales from the Madman Underground was selected as a Printz honor book, which goes to show you that he is a versatile and well-respected author.

But I don’t really care about those books (although Tales is definitely on my tbr list as well); I completely agree with the writer over at Steely Pips, who wrote, “A [..] mystery […] I’d badly like to see solved, is “how can we get John Barnes to write more books like this one?” I’m not wild about his other books, but this is really good stuff.”

If you’re a fantasy fan, or a fan of sly humor and malapropisms (there’s a character named Pell Grant for f’s sake!), or a fan of rich, lovely books, please do yourself a favor and find a copy of One for The Morning Glory by John Barnes.

Recommended if you like: The Prydain Chronicles, The Princess Bride, the Narnia books.

*I mean, really literally, not literally in the way that everyone seems to be misusing it these days

related links:

It was reviewed on a Fantasy Friday Review over at Literary Transgressions.

Review of the book and a little bio of Barnes from SFSite.

Steely Pips wrote about it on his book log.

who’re you calling an oxymoron?

I love this post  by Ryan Deschamps because it expresses so many things that I have thought or felt but haven’t been able to express about librarianship.

Let us look at point number eight:

8.   Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work

The process for creating ‘professional’ librarians has long been criticized for its lack of relevance to real life library work.    It’s like saying we are great espresso-making experts because we understand the secrets of tea bag design.

It would be pretty easy for anyone to figure out where I went to library school, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say this: my library school experience was sub-par. The librarian who taught my intro course was pulled in at the last minute and spent the semester showing us websites and terrible power-point presentations. In all my following classes,  professors would say, “As you remember from your intro course…” and I would sit there, having absolutely NO CLUE what they were talking about. Out of all the courses I took, only three or four required effort beyond the minimum, and only two felt like actual graduate level coursework.

I must add that I think this is probably true of most graduate schools these days and even most colleges. A bachelor’s degree has really become the new high school diploma, in my opinion. Colleges are strapped for cash and have begun enrolling anyone who can pay the tuition or bring in the federal loan money. I mean, when I think of some of the people I went to college with…hoo doggies.

I think my master’s degree prepared me adequately for many aspects of being a librarian, but I don’t know if it gave me the tools to be an exceptional one. If I were less self-motivated and vainglorious, I think I’d be a pretty mediocre librarian. Frankly, without my background in preschool teaching, it probably would have been harder for me to get my foot in the door at many libraries, since my degree really isn’t all that special in and of itself . Especially since it feels like tons of people who went to my school are staying in the area, inundating the job market to a frightening degree. Couple that with all of the swarms of retiring librarians who got spooked by the economy and decided to not retire, and you’re left with a bunch of graduates with essentially the same credentials all vying for a dwindling number of positions.

We’ve sort of segued nicely into another topic that is dear to my heart–the job search. Specifically, the library world job search. How does one find a job in their chosen profession? What about ye old cover letter and resume? The interview! I’m no expert, but I’ve done quite a few searches in my short career, and I think have some good tips to pass on.  We’ll talk about that tomorrow*.

fondly yours,

Miss Julie

*and by tomorrow I mean, when I get around to it. I will aim for “soon”.

vacation hodge podge post.

I went on vacation and visited two libraries, which is,  you know, mandatory for vacationing librarians. I visited a branch of the JoCo library system and picked out some lovely board books and an Ella Jenkins CD for my nephew. I also walked up a steeeeeeep hill to visit the Seattle Public Central Library, which reminded me of an Ikea crossed with a space station.

I’ll talk more about these when I don’t have a lot of, you know, WORK work to do (presentations on Bookflix & Novelist k-8 for area teachers, if you must know).

* * *

Link dump

10 Reasons Why “Professional Librarian” is an oxymoron

1992 Librarian Sex Survey results finally released

Overheard at the Library