Friday, October 31, 2014

This Does Not Define You

 This does not define you. You are more than the grade on a civil service exam. You are a strong, talented, highly educated librarian. You work hard to stay on top of your profession while going to school, working two jobs, raising a family, or maybe still living at home. Every day at the desk adds to the sum total of your experience and knowledge.  Each and every day you become a better, more experienced professional.
You may be an expert in technology, reader’s advisory, or story time. You may struggle to keep up with Live-brary’s never-ending updates. But that does not define you. Your willingness, your dedication, and your determination to succeed will help you leave a mark in the library world regardless of your place on the list or your annual salary.
Wherever you are in your career, you are a valuable member of this profession. We all want to grab that brass ring, to score a 100 and snag a full-time job. Don’t make it your whole world. You’re doing good work. And if no one else has told you that lately, they should have, because it’s true.
So when you sit down to take that test tomorrow, take a deep breath and relax. Do your best and leave the rest to the universe (however you define it). You are more than a grade. You are more than a library professional. You are a valuable, capable, loveable, worthwhile individual.
Good luck, my dear colleagues.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't hate me because I'm weeding

Weeding ... deselection ... taking out the trash ... whatever you want to call it, some love it, some hate it, but it's a necessary function in the library.  Sometimes we get rid of materials because they're damaged, old, or falling apart.  Sometimes we get rid of things because they've become outdated.  And sometimes we get rid of materials because the shelves are full and we need to make room for new things.

A library is not a warehouse.  We can't keep everything.  Even the Library of Congress is having trouble keeping "everything." It just can't be done.  Careful weeding and maintenance of a library's collection keeps it current and relevant for the community it serves.  So librarians use their training, their experience, and their knowledge of their collections and their communities to keep the stacks filled with things that will be used.  There's no room on the shelves for books, movies, or music that just don't circulate.

So don't hate me because I'm weeding the collection, I'm making room for the good things to come.  And hey, I'm just doing my job.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Too Funny

I found this link care of Becky at RA for AllFake Library Stats is the funniest thing I've seen in ages.  I wish I'd thought of it, but baring that, I'm glad someone did.  'Cause this is what life is like at the library and we could all use a good laugh.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Continuing Education for Librarians

I saw a conversation on LinkedIn ... someone was asking for info on MOOCs and other continuing ed opportunities for librarians.  Continuously  trying to rack up CEUs and stay relevant/on top of things while working and having a life can be exhausting. So here is a link to a library science list of free on-line course for librarians.  They cover everything from cataloging to Web 2.0.  I'm sure there's more stuff out there. I'll post them on my libraries & librarians page as I find them.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review Friday: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

What happened to April?
          I haven't got the foggiest notion.  It went by in a blur, didn't it?

But, back to business....

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is the latest Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley.   At the end of the last book, Speaking from Among the Bones, Flavia and her family received some shocking news.  In this book the family tries to cope with the results of that revelation. But there is still a mystery to solve, who was the mysterious man at the train station who was pushed under the train and killed?  And why did he tell Flavia to warn her father that "the Gamekeeper is in jeopardy" just before he was killed? 

The mystery is a little less important here than the overall changes happening to Flavia and her family.  Flavia is growing up and momentous things are obviously in store for her, and sometimes the mystery seems to take a back seat.  But Flavia is still her precocious, brilliant, poison-loving self and the story is well-worth your time.

Full disclosure, I began by listening to the audio book and it nearly drove me insane.  During the course of the story, the author introduces us to Undine, Flavia's six-year-old cousin.  The whiny, obnoxious voice reader, Jayne Entwhiste uses for Undine got under my skin from the very first line she uttered and kept me from enjoying the story.  Once I set aside the audio and picked up the print I was in love with Flavia once more. 

To truly enjoy this series you must start at the beginning with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  For my review of that book click here.  Although the main character is an eleven-year-old girl, you'll find these books on the adult side of the library, not in the children's department.  The stories are well-plotted cozy mysteries with quirky friends, neighbors, and victims.  While the overarching story arcs regarding Flavia's missing mother and what will happen to the family's ancestral home are finally resolved in The Dead in their Vaulted Arches, there are still questions Flavia wants answered, and Bradley has four more books under contract with his publisher.

If you enjoy the Flavia de Luce Mystery series, you might like:

The Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny
The Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King
The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
The Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review Friday: Assisted


Assisted: An Autobiography by John Stockton with Kerry L. Pickett
Foreword by Karl Malone
From an intensely private person comes the remarkable story of a life well lived.
At 6'1" John Stockton was an unlikely choice for an NBA star, but looks can be deceiving.  In this autobiography Stockton describes the choices he made and the assistance he received as he used determination and hard work to become a world-class athlete.
Stockton tells his whole story, covering the entirety of his life including his parents and heritage, his school years, his siblings, early sports training, his romance with college sweetheart and now wife of over 25 years, Nada Stepovich, their family of 6, and his 19 year career as a guard for the Utah Jazz.  His personal insights reveal a remarkably humble and grateful man who was able to keep his head and his humility as he rose to the top of his profession by focusing on family, faith, hard work, and giving back.
Stockton's co-writer is his friend, coach, and business partner Kerry L. "Coach" Pickett.  Pickett coached Stockton's 6th grade basketball team in 1973.  Later he directed the basketball camps that Stockton established, now he is director of the Warehouse, a community sports facility in Spokane, Washington also established by Stockton as a way of giving back to his home town.
John Stockton was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 in Springfield, Massachusetts the same year as C. Vivian Stringer, David Robinson, Michael Jordan, and Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
An excellent choice for sports fans or someone looking for an inspirational well-written biography with no tell-all scandals required.  Of special interest to basketball fans and anyone interested in the Olympic Gold winning dream teams in 1992 and 1996. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review Friday: Destiny of the Republic

I have a confession to make.  This may be the first book I have finished this year.  I've started several, but this is the first one that's held my interest long enough to make me want to finish it.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, an the Murder of a President by Candice Millard is a riveting account of the assassination of the United States' 20th president, James A. Garfield.  Millard uses primary sources including letters, newspaper articles, and medical records to reconstruct what happened that fateful summer of 1881.  She uses an engaging narrative style that makes the history come alive as she describes Garfield's early life as well as the life of is assassin Charles Guiteau and leads the reader along the path as Garfield served in the civil war, rising to the rank of general and then came out of nowhere to win the Republican nomination in 1880.  Interwoven through the story of the assassination are vivid descriptions of the politics and politicians of the time and curiously, the story of Alexander Graham Bell, who's obsession with invention and innovation led him to try to create a device that might have saved President Garfield's life.

I listened to the audio book, narrated by Paul Michael.  Michael has an excellent voice and the narration is excellent, although I found some of the "voices" he used for the various characters distracting, the overall presentation of the materials was good.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Favorite Things: Purdue OWL

One of my favorite go-to resources is the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.  The Purdue OWL site has info on general writing, research and citations, ESL, subject specific writing issues, and much more.  Have a student with a writing question?  Check out OWL.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I May be Allergic to Snow

I've gotten nothing done lately from a blogging point of view ... I'll blame the weather ... It's a convenient sort of catchall.  I haven't actually broken out in hives yet, but it may happen the next time the weatherman says that four-letter-word. 

We're all sick of snow.  Even the guys who drive the snow plows are about ready to call it quits. 

I think it's time to start looking up some summer themed books.  Maybe that will shake me out of these winter blahs. 

In the meantime, out back in the herb garden box:  the chives have started to sprout!  Hooray for spring!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Review Friday: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Yes, I know it's Saturday.

Lately, most of Neil Gaiman's books end up in the Children's Department of the library.  Though The Ocean at the End of the Lane tells the story of a man remembering his childhood this is a story for grown ups.  At 178 pages long, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is really a novella.  But each page is packed with Gaiman's magic touch.  The narrator is a middle-aged man returning to his home town for a funeral.  He finds himself driving through the old neighborhood somewhat aimlessly, until he arrives at the end of the lane and the Hempstock's farm and he starts to remember.   What he remembers is a fantastic, magical, impossible experience he had when he was seven years old and first met eleven year old Lettie Hempstock and her mother and grandmother.

If you get a chance to listen to the audio book narrated by Gaiman himself, I highly recommend the experience.  But not necessarily while you're driving.  I found the story and Gaiman's narration so engrossing that I became a hazard on the highways and, for the safety of myself and my fellow commuters, I opted to read instead of listen.

For more by Neil Gaiman try:

Fragile Things
Anansi Boys
American Gods
Smoke and Mirrors
Good Omens

The Graveyard Book
M is for Magic
Odd and the Frost Giants
Crazy Hair
Blueberry Girl
The Dangerous Alphabet
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
The Wolves in the Walls

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Favorite Things: Fantastic Fiction

Life at the Reference/Adult Services Desk can get hectic.  And sometimes we just need a little help finding the right answers. When it comes to answering: "Can you tell me if this is the first book in the series?"  Or "What else has this author written?"  Fantastic Fiction is one of my go-to resources.  With listings for over 30,000 authors and 350,000 books and counting, if it's in the library catalog, it's probably in here, too.

Search by author to find a list of everything they've published listed in series order.  It's easy to print out a list for a fan.  Search by book title and click on the link for a synopsis and Amazon purchasing info (of course).  At the bottom of an author page there may be recommendations from the author and you'll find a list of "people who searched for this author also searched for ..."  a great way to find readalikes for that "Oh, I've read all of those" patron.

You can also browse authors alphabetically or by genre or search for new listings in hardback, paperback, audio, or Kindle.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review Friday: Darkwalker


 "Vengeance never forgets a debt ...."

Darkwalker by E. L. Tettensor is a paranormal mystery set in a Victorianesque world where magic, mystery, and the supernatural collide.
Nicolas Lenoir is a police inspector.  Once the best and the brightest he is now jaded and apathetic.  Investigating a case of grave robbing Lenoir is just going through the motions and earning the disdain of his protege, Sergeant Bran Kody.  When Lenoir's nine-year-old informant, Zach goes missing it looks like the two cases might have something in common and Lenoir finally has something to live for.  but that might not be easy, he has reason to believe that the green-eyed man who haunts his memories and his nightmares is involved, too.  Lenoir escaped the Darkwalker once, but he would be a fool to think he could do it again, but to save Zach's life he's going to have to try.
Dark and atmospheric with just a hint of magic.  Add a supernatural spirit who relentlessly stalks his prey and a kidnapping/murder mystery.  Toss in some well-turned phrases and a fast-paced, page-turning narrative,  Mix in a brooding anti-hero that you'll learn to like in spite of yourself and a few well-drawn secondary characters you'll want to know better.   Darkwalker has it all and ends with the promises of sequels to come. 
Darkwalker is E. L. Tettensor's first novel.

I'm at a loss to provide readalikes for this book.  I haven't read anything else quite like it.

Here's a list of Best Supernatural Mysteries from GoodReads.

Other books with a Victorian atmospheric flavor include:

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Drood by Dan Simmons
The Yard by Alex Grecian

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Goals

Well, 2013 was a wild ride!  The cats are exhausted.  Time to strap in for the new year and set a few goals down in writing ... just to keep me honest.  So for 2014 I'd like to ...

Read 50 books cover to cover, according to Shelfari I made it 36 this year.  I know there were a few I didn't post there, so for 2013 I'll give myself 40. Fifty should be doable.

Create a file of annotations to use for Reader's Advisory and bibliographies. 

Be more consistent about posting book reviews on the blog every Friday.

Post something every Tuesday: tech tips, interesting articles, observations, who knows.  And yes, I realize today is Wednesday, this is a goal to strive for, and I've got some work to do in the organization department, too.

Read more industry literature: Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, books from our professional development collection, etc.  I've been a little sporadic about that sort of thing.  The only thing I read consistently every month is AudioFile, but then I do order the audio books for the adult department at my library.

Rack up at least 20 hours of professional development: Webinars, MOOCs, conferences, in-service training, etc.  I've recorded 29.5 for 2013.

Keep working on the ARRT Popular Fiction List.  I've found it is a valuable tool for helping me become more familiar with authors and genres I don't always read.  Reading something from the list every month gets me out of my comfort zone and makes me a better reader's adviser.  

So that's the plan for 2014.  We'll see how it goes.
Happy New Year!