Book Expo America: Disneyworld for BookNerds

I once likened ALA as to being summer camp for book nerds (because at camp, you’re sort of supposed to WORK and edumacate yourself and stuff). Now I shall assert that Book Expo America is like Disneyland for book nerds.

I wasn’t able to attend BEA this year * but my most excellent coworker Stephanie did, and here’s her summation of the wonderfulness:

 Though the audience is more diverse, Book Expo is really like any other library conference: it is like going to an amusement park.  The day is mostly standing in lines, but instead of waiting for a ride, it is waiting for an author.  In both cases, the main goal only lasts seconds long, with a thrilling high that is quickly lost once it is realized that another line a waits.  The cycle then repeats itself until you find yourself leaned up against a wall with a heavy bag and aching feet in the late afternoon (not that I speak from experience).  My first time at BEA occurred weeks ago, and here are some interesting things I learned:
1. Food is optional.  This is new for me, since I live to eat.  I found myself not caring for food, at least while I was at the Javits, unless it was to get a whoopee pie from Sarah Dessen.  It was all about waiting in lines and chatting up fellow book lovers.

2.  A strong bag is a must.  Though shuttles to hotels were offered, traffic in New York City is horrible and by foot seemed to be the best (since no subway lines run that close to the Javits Convention Center).  Not only were books received in autograph lines, but also when visiting the publishers’ booths.  Which brings me to my next point . . . .

3.  The power of asking.  I hate asking for things; I don’t know why, I just do.  So, when a kind blogger told me all I had to do was ask for a book, and I might get it, it was nerve wracking.  So, I had to do the thing I hate the most, initiate conversation with the purpose of getting something; this then had to happen over and over again throughout the day.  The worse thing that happened, and it did, was being told that the book was gone or not available.  The best, receiving books that I would never get, like Fateful by Claudia Gray, featuring…wait for it . . . .werewolves on the Titanic (yes, I did just let out a squeal).

4.  Maureen Johnson is awesome.  Granted, if you followed her twitter page, you would know this.  But, she actually takes time to talk to her readers, no matter how long the line is.  Granted, all the authors I met were awesome, but only Maureen discussed the right time to squeak a toy horn with me.

5.  I am addicted.  Granted, on the first day, I was feeling down about the conference.  New York City was hard to navigate, and I did not know how the conference worked.  By Thursday, not only did my friend and I figure out the subway system, we became autograph line pros.  Now, I cannot wait to go back next year.  We met great people, whether they were book fans, book sellers, authors, or bloggers, and could not get over how much New York City had to offer.

So, if you ever get the chance to check out any author event, I would recommend that you do.  Be sure to wear your nerdfighter gear, jump and down, and do not worry about saying something foolish . . . because you will (I did tell once Sara Rees Brennan that my twitter icon was Leslie Knope eating a pancake; I still don’t know why).  Happy reading!

*So even though I wasn’t able attend in 2011, I will definitely be attending in 2012, since I just learned I’ve been chosen as the Official BEA Librarian Blogger for 2012!

Book Review: Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet, by R.J. Anderson.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.
This is not her story.
Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori — the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

Read this book immediately if:

  • You like unreliable narrators, like Liar by Justine Larbalestier
  • You loved Girl, Interrupted, either the movie or the book.
  • You loved One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, either the movie or the book.
  • You loved the book A Wrinkle in Time
  • You like tall, gangly, awkward boys/young men. Faraday, a young scientist who begins working with Alison, the main character, is like Calvin O’Keefe to the nth degree: super smart, super sensitive, and super sexy. Also, he has (at least when Alison looks into them) violet eyes.
  • You were ever jealous of that perfect girl in your class that always got everything you ever wanted
  • You’re interested in rare diseases. Alison, the main character, has (among other issues) a condition known as synesthesia, which is a disorder which can cause a person to strongly associate numbers with colors, or perceive sounds as having colors (hence Faraday’s violet eyes).
  • You loved Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlen.
  • You love a wrenchingly romantic final line (which I will not give away here, but damn, that was a good ending).

I was sent a complimentary copy of this book from the great folks at Lerner Books/Carolrhoda lab in return for identifying a reference to a review of Lolita and I am so glad they sent it to me; it’s totally one of my favorite books of the summer.

staff in-services

The beginning of any good staff in-service should include a way of breaking up departmental cliques, much like the way the “Dance at the Gym” from West Side Story begins with the MC trying to integrate the Sharks and the Jets, with about just as much success. These vain attempts at integration also remind me of another classic musical number, The Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends. You could insert any two library departments and have a pretty apt parallel.

Are there any managers out there reading this who can explain to me the once a year integration phenomenon? Why isn’t interdepartmental cooperation and communication a constant goal? Or is it?

you might not be doing it wrong, but you could certainly do it better.

Part One: Education

I’ve been reading Steve’s posts over at Go Librarians about the changing role of reference librarians and degree relevance and I actually started leaving a comment on one of them when I realized it was going to be a huge chunk of text, and decided it deserved to be it’s own blog post instead.

It was this line that sent me off the deep end: “The MLIS is the minimal requirement and should be regarded as such. Its sustained relevance and its value to developing librarian positions is the onus of library school administrators. They’re smart people. I trust them.” (Emphasis mine).

Oh, lucky people who had a rigorous, edifying library school experience. I was not so lucky. Sure, some of my classes and professors were great; but when you’re paying as much as I did for my degree, I think every single class should be above and beyond excellent. My intro class in library school was taught by a last minute hire who’d never taught a class before. We spent the entire time looking at awkward power point presentations and joke websites– I remember there was one about the danger of water or oxygen or something, and it was supposed to be an example of how we need to tell valid information from invalid. Which is fine, I guess, except in every subsequent class, when a professor said “As you learned in your intro course….” I often had no idea what s/he was referring to.

I just went through the course catalogs of four of the top library schools (according to US News) and the school where I got my degree, and I was unimpressed. One school offered a class on making mobile apps. I think that, and a class about access and advocacy in youth services, were the most interesting classes that I saw. The top curricula still rely heavily on the old standbys of cataloging, reference, reader’s advisory, and materials for children and young adults. Which–don’t get me wrong–is fine. Like the title of the post indicates, you might not be doing it wrong–but you certainly could be doing it better.

Children and teen librarians need to take courses in Child Development. The one class period spent during a materials class is not sufficient. In addition to Child Development courses, we need courses on using music with children, using art with children, and working with special needs kids. Children’s librarians need to know that forty-five minutes is generally too long for a preschool story time, that 100 kids in any storytime is too many (yeah, way to be popular, but that’s not developmentally appropriate), that four year olds should be able to cut with scissors and that three year olds should be able to follow two step directions (pick up your bean bag and put it on your foot). We need to know how children learn to read, how they learn to write, and how to disperse this information to parents and caregivers. When a parent has a concern or question about their child’s development, we would be much better equipped to help them find resources and refer them to social agencies if we knew about child development ourselves.

All librarians should have the option to take theater courses so we’ll have the ability to improvise, think on our feet, and shed our inhibitions. The library world needs performers and teachers, and not just in the children’s department. Wouldn’t booktalks be all the more exciting if you could really act the parts?

And maybe, just maybe, we should suck it up and instead of hiring social workers, librarians should be able to have a specialization in social work. It’s happening anyway– we’re helping people look for jobs, apply for jobs, search for government assistance and apply for that assistance, why not take the next step and be experts in finding what they need and how to get it?

While I’m at it, I’d like to see more library school professors who are actually still working in a library, so that they’re better able to have their curriculum address the realities of working in a library.

If I had my way, people would get a master’s degree with the option of adding a certificate of library and information sciences. So, you’d have someone with a Master’s Degree in Child Development, or Film Studies, or Social Work, with an LIS certificate; perhaps the LIS certificate would be broken out into Public, Children’s/Teens, Academic, and Special. But the MLIS as it stands today? Boring, borderline irrelevant, and doing a pretty mediocre job at preparing people for actual library work.

But that’s just my opinion….what do you think?

hark! an arc!

I’ve come into possession of several ARCs recently, and normally I don’t give a frak about that kind of thing, and book-bragging fills me with an inexplicable rage, but I really have liked these books so Imma gonna tell you about ’em. However, I don’t do synopses because they bore me, that’s what we have goodreads and amazon.com for.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, due September 2011.

My lovely coworker Miss Stephanie nabbed this at BEA, and Maureen Johnson signed it, along with the poignant inscription of Pizza. Judging by the cover, I thought a red haired girl went back in time and met Jack the Ripper, who ended up being sexy like Chuck Bass, and I was hella excited. While the book was nothing like that, I still enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of Torchwood, in the best way. A++ would read again.

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, by Kenneth Oppel, due August 2011.

I got this by filling out a form through a website that I can’t even remember now, but I am glad I went into a fugue state and did so, because this novel is pretty well written, and it allows me to imagine young Victor and Konrad Frankenstein as played by Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve only read the first quarter or so thus far but I am enjoying it immensely because, hello,”it’s my Cumberbatch imagination, running away with me…

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, due August 2011

I was introduced to Jonathan Auxier at the Newbery/Wilder/Caldecott banquet at ALA 2011 while I was traipsing about with James Kennedy. And by introduced I mean that James suddenly froze, sniffed the air, yelled “SCOP!” and bolted in the direction of a tall hairy man in the distance. When I finally caught up to the both of them, Jonathan (I discovered his name by reading his name-tag, because, unlike most librarians, I am thoroughly and utterly LITERATE),  was deftly juggling James’ collection of pocket kittens while James took painstaking and quite intimate measurements of the depth, width, and color of Jonathan’s beard. James dictated these measurements to me and I copied them down, because 1) his handwriting is atrocious and 2) like I mentioned before, I am a literate librarian and must show off at every opportunity. After this auspicious meeting, I sent Mr. Auxier a message on twitter asking for an autographed beard photo and was sent a copy of his book instead, which in the grand scheme of things is a-okay with me.

If you’re a fan of James Kennedy’s writing (which I am) I have a hunch you’ll enjoy Auxier’s book (an excerpt of which you can read here, and a Fuse#8 review of which you can read here). I myself have not yet begun to read, because once I begin I am sure I will quickly read it through until the end, whereupon I am sure I shall be sad, because you can never have the first read of a book again once you’ve done it, and there’s nothing quite like that first breathless romp through a truly wonderful book. Which is what I believe Peter Nimble to be, for a little Betsy Bird has told me that there will be Peter Pan references abound, and the only thing I love more than Peter Pan references are Alice in Wonderland references, and since Auxier’s line drawings are strongly reminiscent of Tenniel’s work (as well as a little Gorey and a little Blake for good measure), I am quite confident I will be satisfied on all counts.

The other reason I haven’t read it yet is because James told me that every tenth copy is infused with fairy dust, and since I will be ever so happy while reading this book, once the fairy dust hits me I will most assuredly begin flying about, and since I am in the middle of summer reading right now and don’t really have the time to go flying about, I must postpone my reading until I am sure I will have flying time to spare, which will be soon, I hope.