Monthly Archives: March 2013

Library Politics

business kitty

Before you start working in a library, you might believe that it is a work environment free of the all silly politics that private businesses have to deal with. It’s all idealistic librarians just looking for a way to bring the love of reading to all ages, right? … Right? Not exactly.

I work in a library system with five branches, and there is a LOT of politics going on. I am personally not a great political player. I’m terrible at mind games and easily manipulated (something I figured out after a long-term relationship that went on way beyond the amount of time it should have). I’m also really bad at general “chatting.” I don’t necessarily like to chat. I don’t mind that other people do it around me, but I don’t always want to be in on the conversation, even if it’s happening right behind me. I don’t listen when people are talking near me if I’m not specifically part of the conversation. Sometimes then they’ll say something to me as though I should know what they were talking about, and I’ll have no idea. But I’m digressing. Back to politics.

I had several meetings this week, so I could see all the players, and I know the way all of them work. Although I haven’t been in this position that long, I have been in the system for five years, so I know most of these people at least fairly well, and I definitely know their reputations. Even when we are collaborating on something, there is a definite feel of competition between the buildings sometimes. I myself am absolutely not a competitive person, so it doesn’t really bother me if someone is doing something that I’m not, but others don’t always feel that way.

There are alliances, and passive aggressive enemies. There are many different supervisors and managers with different styles and levels of directness you have to learn. There are very sensitive people which you have to learn walk on eggshells with, and then people that you can really dig into and will never be offended by anything… It’s kind of like high school. I guess everything is kind of like high school when it comes down to it. Everyone is either in the popular group, wants to be in the popular group, or doesn’t care at all and just complains all the time.

I’m still learning some of the personalities, and luckily I’m a major empath, so I can usually tell pretty quickly how far I can go with people. But especially the way all the responsibilities in the libraries are merging, the webs of communication are getting more and more complicated. Who needs to know what? Why hasn’t this person heard about that? You need to run that past her and her and him, etc. It can make a girl dizzy.

Thank goodness my direct supervisor is a very direct, honest person who does not easily take offense, so I feel like I can go to her with pretty much anything, and she can help me navigate the waters. Let me tell you, after knowing different styles of managers, it’s a breath of fresh air to have someone direct, flexible, honest, encouraging and trusting. I think trust is the best thing a manager can have. Trust me to do my job. Encouraging is great too, because wouldn’t you want your employees to learn and grow?

Anyway, this post is really just free flow thoughts, but I thought I’d share. If you’re thinking about being a librarian to get away from corporate politics, think again! I think the only way out of that is doing nothing!

Review: Animal Wise

animal wiseTitle: Animal Wise
Author: Virginia Morell
Publisher: Crown
Released: February 26, 2013
Pages: 267 (minus notes)
First Line: “Animals have minds.”

“Did you know that ants teach, earthworms make decisions, rats love to be tickled, and chimps grieve? Did you know that some dogs have thousand-word vocabularies and that birds practice songs in their sleep? That crows improvise tools, blue jays plan ahead, and moths remember living as caterpillars?

Noted science writer Virginia Morell explores the frontiers of research on animal cognition and emotion, offering a surprising and moving exploration into the hearts and minds of wild and domesticated animals.” – from goodreads.com

My Thoughts: As an animal lover and vegetarian, I might be a little biased on this subject, but I really enjoyed this book. I’m glad that researchers are actually putting time and resources into the study of animal cognition, because only by understanding them better can we make others realize the hurt they are causing through the terrible treatment of animals. They are not robots, and they deserve better.

Morell did put a lot of effort into telling the stories of the researchers as well. Some may think this takes away from the important subject at hand, but I liked getting to know the people who take this issue seriously enough to really study it, apparently most of time even though it’s not considered valid by other scientists. People are just as important as the animals themselves in the fight for animal rights.

I also learned a lot of cool stuff about different species, but of course, as a dog lover, the last chapter “Of Dogs and Wolves” was definitely the most relevant and interesting to me. In fact, I told my husband, even if he doesn’t read the whole thing, he should at least read that chapter. But the whole book is definitely worth it too, and Morell makes even the scientific stuff a smooth, easy read.

Ratings:
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Subject: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Kept me interested: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

Loved it!

 

Displays

So I have two pretty big displays that I am in charge of in the teen area of our library. One is a big bulletin board, which I’ve been doing okay coming up with ideas for. The other is a really big display case. This one I have a little more trouble with. It’s not like our children’s area display case where we can just put cute things and I Spy stuff in. And I don’t have a whole lot of “stuff” to put in there. Plus I don’t want to lock up a bunch of books so that no one can check them out or make my colleagues have to walk over there and open the case every time someone wants one of those books.

So here’s what I have in the display case right now:

display case

It’s not a great picture, but you get the idea. I got this idea from one random picture I saw online of a black circle on a wall that said “Hole to another universe.” It’s a really simple display, but at least it’s eye-catching. It is double-sided, so there are a couple other holes to peek in on the other side. In the holes is just printed out book covers of books that take place in space.

Anyway, this has been up for a couple months, so now I’m working on something else, but it’s just so hard to completely fill! I search online quite a bit for ideas, but it doesn’t seem like most library teen areas have actual display cases.

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

toptentuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday list , brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish, is Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most:

1. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – I love the Patrick Ness and the Chaos Walking series, and I recommend it to anyone I think will listen.

2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Anytime I run into someone who hasn’t yet read Ender’s Game, I tell them to read it. I actually read the whole series, but Ender’s Game can stand on its own as well.

3. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony – I didn’t necessarily give this one a five star rating, but I still love recommending it because all the girls at work had different interpretations of what was really going on, so I like to hear other perspectives about it.

4. Happy Yoga by Steve Ross – This one I really just recommend to people I know well, but I have given it to a few people as gifts. It did a lot for me when I was going through a tough time and I love Steve Ross. I miss his show!

5. Tangles by Sarah Leavitt – I really only recommended this one to my mom, but I think it will be something that stays with me for a while. It’s a non-fiction graphic novel about dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s. I just found it to be a very honest depiction of what it’s like to try to respect someone’s dignity as their mental faculties decline. Leavitt doesn’t have the best drawings in the world, but I think they suit the story perfectly, illustrating the confusion and frustration that not only the Alzheimer’s patient has, but their loved ones as well. My mom, who dealt with her mother going through this horrible disease, really appreciated this book.

6. Every Day by David Levithan – Just the concept behind this book can keep people discussing and debating for days! Love it!

7. Y: The Last Man series by Brian K. Vaughan – This is my favorite graphic novel series. I’m not sure why, but I know I always love Brian K. Vaughan’s writing, and this series in particular I just loved.

8. Quiet by Susan Cain – As an introvert, I just really appreciate the defense and promotion of introverts. I wish every boss, coworker, and really just everyone would read it. I think both introverts and extroverts can gain a lot from understanding the strengths of the “quiet ones.”

9. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I always recommend this one as something I loved “even though I generally don’t like historical fiction.” I adored this book.

10. Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires – I just really LOVE Binky. ❤

Egg Storytime

This week’s theme for storytime is Eggs! I thought it might be a little hard to plan, but there are actually a lot of fun storytime books with eggs. So here’s the plan:

Books:
cowthatlaidanegg

The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill is a really silly story about some plotting chickens trying to help their cow friend feel better. It always gets them laughing!

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roly poly egg

I really like Roly-Poly Egg by Kali Stileman. The illustrations are funny, and there are lots of other animals to talk about too.

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perfect nest

The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend is especially fun if you like doing voices and accents.

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except if front cover_1

Except If by Jim Averbeck is a short, simple book, but it’s funny, and it has great illustrations.

Flannels:

Three Eggs in a Basket
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Seven Eggs

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Five Little Eggs

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Other Egg Books:
That’s Mine by Michael Van Zeveren
Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann
Eggday by Joyce Dunbar
The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett
Whose Chick Are You? by Nancy Tafuri
Hurry Hurry by Eve Bunting

Job Duties

librarian hellThat comic has nothing to do with this post, I just like it. 🙂 Anyway, I just wanted to talk about some of my current job duties and why I might be a little overwhelmed at times.

Obviously, I work the reference desk at least a few hours a day. We recently combined the children’s information desk and the circulation desk at the library I work at, so when I’m there, I end up doing mostly circulation. In a way, it’s a bummer, because it seems like I don’t get to answer as many reference questions. But I also feel like I’m interacting with more people sitting there and helping with circulation, so that part I like. Sometimes I work on the adult desk as well, but I’m not quite as comfortable there.

I’m involved in a lot of the library system’s social media. I’m the “leader/organizer” of our Facebook committee, I write for the teen blog, I’m involved in the Pinterest team, and a coworker and I also create a puppet picture book review show for our kids blog. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do, especially since we have really good chemistry together.

Other committees I’m on are the teen committee, the puppet committee, and the new Suburban Dare committee. The teen committee has one member from each branch that plans all the teen/tween programming for that branch. Our puppet committee honestly hasn’t met in a year and a half and don’t do much right now. Suburban Dare is our new experiment in summer reading this year, basically also tying in other city departments and community activities to summer reading, so we are working on planning all the details on that.

I also do a few storytimes a week and I’m involved in our current LEGO Robotics club that we started this spring, which is a lot of fun, but does take some training and extra Saturday work. I organize outreach with the schools in our area, working with the school librarians (who are open to it) to find times for us to go visit the students at school.

Aside from all that, I’m in charge of the two teen displays we have, one a giant display case and the other a giant bulletin board. And I do some weeding and process donations.

All in all, I can’t say I find myself bored at work very often. And despite having all these things to think about, I don’t usually feel like I’m drowning. I think what I’m the most stressed about right now is the actual teen/tween programming. For the summer, we’re really focusing on tweens, so I’m planning a Minecraft party as well as a veggie derby, where the kids will make cars out of raw vegetables. I’m just in my self-conscious brain afraid that I won’t be able to pull these programs together into something good, or that I’ll be overrun with tweens after only planning for so many. I’m hoping after my first few programs, I will worry less about how everything will turn out and trust myself to know what I’m doing. But right now, I don’t!

 

Review: Reached

Reached_final-cover-image  Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Series: Matched (#3)
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 11/13/2012
Pages: 512
First Line: “Every morning, the sun comes up and turns the earth red, and I think: This could be the day when everything changes.”

Reached is the third book in the Matched series. In this book, Cassia, Ky and Xander are all playing different roles in The Rising, waiting for them to come in and take over the Society. The Plague is their cue. At first, everything seems to be going as planned, but then the Plague starts to mutate, and even The Rising starts to run out of answers. Cassia, Ky and Xander are then asked to play key roles in the discovery of a cure.

My Thoughts: To be honest, I’m not even sure why I decided to read this one. I like Matched okay, but I was not at all a fan of Crossed. While the story in Reached was at least a little less disappointing than Crossed, I still found myself not really caring what happened to the characters, and mostly just waiting for it to be over. I think there is a lot that could have been taken out. In fact, I think Crossed and Reached could have been combined into one book. It seemed like not a lot really happened. The love triangle wasn’t really working for me in the last two books either. Maybe because I didn’t particularly like any of them all that much, so I didn’t understand why they loved each other so much. After the first book being pretty much all romance, there wasn’t much in this book at all.

Ratings:
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Plot: 2/5
Originality: 3/5
Kept me Interested: 2/5
Overall Rating: 2/5

Top Ten Books I Just Had to Buy but Still Haven’t Read

toptentuesday

I really want to participate in this Top Ten Tuesdays meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish for a couple of reasons. One is because I love lists. I love making lists. I love crossing things off of lists. It is a daily habit of mine to make all different kinds of lists. So there is no way I can resist a weekly list-making opportunity like this. The other reason is to feel like I’m part of a community. Even if no one ever reads this blog, I’m still participating in something with like-minded people that inspire me.

This week’s list is “Top Ten Books I HAD to Buy… But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread.” For me, this list is going to be mostly adult books, some pretty heavy, that I definitely wanted, but I haven’t gotten around to reading because of my fiendish addiction to YA. I pretty consistently have a stack of 4 or 5 books checked out from the library, and since those have a due date, they end up getting top priority. Which means the books I buy (or I’ll admit, in some cases, are given as gifts) sit on my shelves for months, if not years, waiting for their turn.

1. Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution by Holly Tucker: I’m really into science and medical history for some reason, but I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet.

2. The Book on Fire by Keith Miller: I loved Miller’s The Book of Flying so much that I’d be excited about reading anything by him, but somehow this one is still sitting on the shelf.

3. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe: Not even really a whole book really, but I have just this story and still haven’t managed to read it yet.

4. The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes: Did I mention I like history? I hated history in school, it was my least favorite subject. Once I realized there were much better-written stories than I read in text books, I realized how interesting history can be. Unfortunately I still haven’t read this one though.

5. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: This is one of those old titles that I’ve always wanted to read, and finally got, but the length is so intimidating! I have a couple of these on this list.

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: My husband loves Neil Gaiman, so I thought a YA book would be a nice introduction for me, but it’s still sitting on my nightstand un-started.

7. Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson: My dad was a big Harley guy. He wasn’t in any gangs or anything, but he heard about them. The biker life intrigues me, I just haven’t read it yet.

8. Insomniac by Gayle Green: I don’t have any issues with insomnia; this book just sounded interesting to me, so now I have it.

9. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: Again with the history! I really do like biographies too though. I definitely must read this one… eventually.

10. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: I have read a couple other Tolstoy books. They take some time to get into, but they’re always worth it. I thought I’d read this one after I was done with my graduate degree, but it still sits there waiting for the day I feel like I have enough time to get into it… hopefully that will happen.

Thus concludes this weeks Top Ten Tuesday! Sorry adult books!

Spring Storytime

If there’s one thing I do at work that I do have confidence in, it’s storytime. I love storytime, and my Monday night family storytime is my favorite. Even though I’m definitely an introvert, I can somehow overcome that during this special half hour where all eyes are on me expecting entertainment. I can handle holding their attention, and even manage to make the parents laugh. I’m in my zone during storytime. So I’m going to share some of the themes we use for storytime, and my favorite books for them.

This week our theme was Spring. We always start with an envelope addressed to storytime with the letter of the day (“S”), and couple pictures of clues for them to figure out the clue. Then puppet and the 10 Little Fingers opening rhyme.

muncha_muncha_muncha2 (2)I started out with Muncha Muncha Muncha by Candace Fleming, a great story about some pretty persistent rabbits. This one is fun because the kids can “muncha muncha muncha” with you. I learned from two masters in my previous job that anything you can make interactive is good in family storytime, because you have so many different ages, it can be hard to keep all of them interested.

We did a really nice flannel. It’s called Raindrops, and it’s usually a crowd pleaser because it kind of transforms:IMG_4028[1]

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Pretty cool! Here’s the rhyme:
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So then we read Spring is Herespring is here (2) by Will Hillenbrand. This one is fun because you can do some snoring. Normally, I’d have the kids snore with me in this one, but I have a few that got a little too carried away last time we had some snoring, so I didn’t encourage them. Still a cute story though.

Then we did The Five Fat Peas fingerplay, which is one of my favorites. It always goes over well.

The music we use is Hot Potato. The kids and parents love it and can’t get enough. We do it every week.

bear wants more (2)Then we read Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson. Her books generally always go over well for me. This one is pretty similar to Spring is Here, so I talked to them a little bit about how they were similar, and what made them different.

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Next came our little watering can hand puppet. We just use a little song that goes to the tune of The Saints Go Marching In as the little bugs pop up. Things popping up are always good.

frans flower (2)
We ended with Fran’s Flower by Lisa Bruce, wherein Fran feeds things like pizza and ice cream to a flower. Kids get a kick out of that one.

We use a Two Little Hands fingerplay for our closing rhyme, and then the kids can say goodbye to my host puppet, Charlotte! They normally feed her french fries or strawberries for some reason.

I do have one older 7-year-old boy that usually comes to my storytime. He’s not with anyone, I think his dad is using the computers and just tells him to go in there. He can be pretty tough to please, and he likes to spoil the story if he can figure out the ending ahead of time, so I’ve been trying to make some progress with him. This week I had to really make eye contact and tell him to listen. He’s also one of those that likes to hit the host puppet at the end, so I have to tell him to be careful and be gentle. It’s a little uncomfortable. But all in all, spring was a pretty fun storytime!

What It’s All About

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Two years after graduating with my MLS, I got my first real live librarian job. I didn’t study to be a youth librarian, but I knew that was what I wanted to do before I finished school. I worked as a Youth Services Assistant for two years, and learned a lot from many people in that position. Then I got promoted. And now I’m scared.

I’ve been in my new job for almost four months now, and I’m still not feeling very confident. It’s not that I think I can’t do my job fine, it’s just that it’s the first job I’ve had where I’m not sure I can be exceptional. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed, and I miss my really good friend that I worked with as an assistant in another library branch.

I’m starting this blog as a place to vent about work. I do plan on reviewing the YA books I’m reading and talking about my programs/displays/whatever else I have going on that’s hopefully going well. But I will also be using this as a place to talk about the times I’m not sure about something or when I feel like I made a wrong decision or am in over my head. I read a lot of librarian blogs, mostly by veteran librarians with recipes for successful programming and excellent review writing that can only come from experience. I’m hoping this blog will give hope to other new librarians. Not everyone knows what they’re doing 100% of the time! I really like my job, and I want to be great at it. For now I will feign confidence and then talk about all my insecurities here until I actually feel it!