Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ALA Voting

So...just under the wire (polls close in about four hours) I cast my votes for ALA. I'm hoping, based on the "I've worked here and small snippet" biographies presented that I was able to make an informed decision.

My NMRT stuff was pretty much decided upon earlier---they'd had each candidate fill out questions and send it to the list. As I read those notes, I put their names and my feelings about each candidate after reading their responses in a Google Document. Today, I just popped that open, did a final review with their biographies again and tada---voting.

It's nice to see a few people I know via listservs running for Members at Large. It does make me feel like I know some people who are involved.

Have you cast your vote (if you're an ALA member--of course)??

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Making Them Take Responsibility

Today was probably my first real test as a children's librarian and I can honestly say it was probably harder on me than it was on the child.

One of my brighter middle school students, Z*, was in today, making use of the computer to play games and mouse around on the Internet. He's smart, interested, and generally respectful. He's also been using several library card numbers to make computer reservations, always telling me it's family members.

Z and I had a number of talks about identity theft and misuse of other people's cards, but it's often crazy enough that I haven't had the chance to check the identity of the user every time I see him in front of the computer.

Around my neck, along with my ID, is my library card. I'm not much of one for pants with pockets and this means it's available at any time if I need to test a dying computer or for another other miscellaneous reason.

Z had memorized my card number. I knew he'd been looking at the ID (the kids check it often to remember my name) but we'd had a talk about him not using other people's cards and I'd told him that there would be serious consequences if he tried to use it. Serious consequences came today--when he used my card number to make a computer reservation.

To his credit, when I called him out on it, he didn't try to accuse someone else of having booked the reservation. (I knew the reservation was open because I'd cancelled the slot and had mentioned it to him when he was asking about the computers.) His punishment came from a similar incident of earlier this week--a certain time period where he's not allowed on ANY of the computers at all. I also talked with him, bringing up the promise he'd made not to misuse my card number. It was painful--having to be hard on one of my "good kids" but I felt it was necessary.

What struck me crazy--Z and I spoke this morning about another kid being suspended from the computers for misuse of a staff member's card. I don't think he expected repercussion from his actions and I can only hope he'll take it as being responsible, rather than an adult picking on him.

*Z is not his real initial, I just needed something

Friday, April 20, 2007


Check out the Get Fuzzy strip today! It hits on the Wikipedia debate in a delightful way. (Check the April 20th strip)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Scrabble Pillows

Along with the Shakespeare stuff that haunts my wish lists, I've just found something else that appeals a little too well: Scrabble furniture (mostly pillows). Doesn't that sound like fun? Granted, I'd want a couple of hundred pillows so I could leave my roommate notes such as "we need to go for margaritas" and "Ill be home late tonight" and hope that the cat doesn't rearrange them as soon as I bustle out to work but still.

Hmmm....maybe just magnetic poetry instead.

Thanks to Fuse#8 for the link!

Mr. Rogers on YouTube....

Fuse #8 pointed me to this video a while back and I've been meaning to link to it. It was just so enjoyable. It's a Senate hearing where Mr. Rogers is arguing for funding to keep programs like his going, explaining how it is beneficial to children. His calm speech and mild manner seem completely out of place but he is persuasive and it's obviously heartfelt.

Check it out.

Reflection on Anonymity

There's been a rousing, slightly crabby conversation on NewLib this week, full of the usual irritations and annoyances. The topic du jour is the idea of using an alias on a listserv. People seem to feel very strongly about this--arguing for or against the usage of them.

On listservs I do use my real name. At this point, it's one of the ways that I'm developing a reputation in the library community. I'm also trying to crack the code on publishing at my POW, figuring out if I can attend any conferences this fall (summer is out...), and beating myself over the head about the article that really should be at least in rough draft format by now. It's a way to connect with other librarians across the country and globe (at least those who speak English) and many of them have become good friends and resources.

Using one's name on professional listservs almost inevitably ensures that a search engine query on my name will return something I've posted. Certainly I've done it to others who annoy me. I like to see if they are complainers on only a solitary listserv---rare do I find this to be the case. I think, in this hyper connected day and age, it might strike me as a little odd if someone didn't show up on listservs after a few professional jobs. As long as one is seeking and sharing information and not engaging in flame wars or unprofessional insults, I think listservs are a fabulous way to build a reputation.

Ah--you say, but you (me) hide behind the pseudonym of the blog. True...I do. But not with any great depth. You could probably link it to my real name without any particularly hard search and I've given out my blog name on several listservs. I did pull it down from a wiki but that had more to do with trying to figure out WHAT I was blogging about and not wishing to provide misinformation.

I agree with those who dislike when conversation participants strongly hide behind pseudonyms that then give them the "freedom" to say whatever they want without repercussion. Participants who laud their opinions but, from experience, don't seem to actually want to listen to the other participants. I've encountered some who are so top lofty, occasionally stupid, and annoying that they could be categorized as trolls.

On the other hand, I know some who just seem to be another name for that person and it doesn't even bear consideration. I have a friend I refer to as "M" so it isn't a stretch for me to think of someone else as "L".

So that's a blog post of the moment. I have to go finish knitting a birthday gift.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Starting at the Beginning

Having grown up with a computer (yes, we had a Commodore 64 when I was under the age of ten), I learned early how to type and learned about the web when it was exploding in the mid-nineties. In college I had my own desktop computer and was in chat rooms, looking up information, researching, and trying to figure out how to cite web pages.

My computer only became more necessary over time--and at the moment I have two: a laptop that is on semi-permanent loan and a desktop that was custom built for me by some very cool guys in Flushing, NY. (Seriously---my ex fried my motherboard and within a few days I had an essentially brand new computer with lots of cool extras.)

Coming from this background, it's a challenge I have to try and remember how to explain computer basics to people. It's a hurdle I'm going to need to improve on, especially if I'm working with the public. Add to that the difficulty in that we don't offer any sort of computer classes and a lot of my time is spent creatively explaining to people.

Many of the patrons I get are familiar with the idea of online--they just don't know how to navigate it. Sometimes they have a website to look up but most frequently it seems that they've just typed what they are searching for into the address bar and are trying to go from there. So I end up starting with Yahoo!, Google, Ask and Dogpile to show them a search engine. I believe in using them for known item searches (I need the website for X Company in Y location).

I've had mouse lessons, tried to explain the anatomy of the screen that opens when you click on the E (we only have IE....grrrr), and tried to help with generalized searches. It's a high hurdle though...

Fun fact: My kids think it is incredibly amazing to watch me type. Very few touch type and watching me do so at 70 wpm while I'm still listening and answering their questions fascinates them. It's fun.

You Have to Start Somewhere...

So I'm almost through my first month at "new place of work." I think I'm allowed to call it still, though I'm slowly beginning to settle into a complete lack of routine.

My schedule is still very tumultuous, though I've asked for more shifts that end in the 7 p.m. range. It doesn't make sense to have me come into the branch at 9 a.m. when the vast majority of children using the branch don't arrive until 3 p.m. I left at 5:30 tonight in the middle of a lot of chaos that would have settled by seven (and had last night). If I can swing a couple of those plus a regular closing night...I think it would be a good thing.

Tuesdays seem to be my day for meetings and away from the branch. Lots of meetings and running about. Today was two school visits and a trip to the district office--valuable time spent but it did take me out of my four walls. There's a lot of organization that needs to be done still but I'm starting to make a dent in things that I think will be important. Did I mention that my trunk is full of tubs and baskets? I haven't started taking those in yet--it's going to be organization by stealth. Pay no attention to the Children's Librarian with the baskets....

I have an article due in June but now I have to hop through a bunch of hoops--so that needs to get started NOW so it's into the hoops in May and to the editor by June. I'm also hoping to get information about doing book reviews...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Trying to Publish....if I could just find POLICY

One little complaint I have about my new job is that I keep getting shuttled to different people for information without actually getting information. It's a matter of holding on until I can badger the correct person and find out what I want to know but still, mildly frustrating.

I've volunteered to write an article. It has nothing to do with my current place of work but will be appearing in a librarian newsletter. Because this is a new job and a library, I've been trying to find out the policy of the library on their professionals publishing. The librarians I initially spoke to didn't know but recommended one of the department heads. He, in turn, referred me to my district chief. Her comment was "we like them to publish." Great! And she wants to see the article...okay....

But I still don't know the policy. Do I have to run everything past them? Can I do book reviews etc and use my affiliation without running it through committee? What kind of edits should I be expecting other than "don't make the library look bad"?


Trying to Settle in...and Thinking About Their Health

I've started week three at "the job" and I think so far it's going pretty well. I made it through spring break without running out screaming, and that says a lot for a new librarian.

My branch has an unexpectedly high number of middle school aged young men. My oh my what a challenging bunch they are. Old enough to be mouthy, but young enough that there is still some respect for authority figures. Old enough to understand the big words, but short enough that in heels I'm still taller. They're bright, they're bored, and they don't really like to read. I've noticed, though, if I leave something out on a table...they'll page through it. So I just have to figure out what to leave casually "lying around" open to a juicy scene.

They do love games though. We had a huge group join us for Uno last week and we seem to be on a high spurt of playing checkers and chess again. We have two boards and a set of chess and checkers pieces that are just stored on a shelf. The kids can come and get them at any time and I just ask them to put it away when they are done. I only found two pieces on the floor this morning (and I left at six last night---mid game) so that's pretty good! They're not so hot on crafts, I think it's perceived as a little too girly. I'd love to start a knitting group--but I'm hesitant to take foot long metal needles in and hand them to rowdy middle school students. Wish I could crochet with dexterity. Maybe my long suffering roommate will sit through it again with me.

One concern I do have is for their health. The neighborhood I'm in is politely described as middle class/lower income, with an emphasis on the latter. Call it whiplash from my daily overdoses of medical news--I look at these kids and I see health problems. When a child is the better part of a foot shorter than I am and weighs over half again as much as I do...I see a child who will probably continue on this overweight/obese trend and who could be a poster child for pre-diabetes.

Is that something a librarian should try to educate about? A children's librarian no less? Perhaps a "healthy" bulletin board or something but I'd really like to do something where I highlight three major diseases--something like: Heart Disease, Diabetes and Fill in the blank.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Packages at Work...

I have a question for my general readership. When I was working in publishing (as in, up until I moved from NYC), it was perfectly normal for my coworkers and I to receive personal packages at work. We worked 9-6 (ish)-M-F and so couldn't usually be on hand for our postal, USPS, UPS, and Fed-Ex delivery persons. I was also living in apartments that didn't have particularly good options for package delivery.

I've moved to a public setting now and while I've gotten approval to receive "occasional" packages at work--I still find myself in the same situation. Am I really that wrong to want the packages to come to where I am the majority of my waking delivery hours? Surely it's easier on my UPS lady (we're almost on a first name basis and this holiday season I'll NEED to do something for her) than having to try and deliver two or three times without my being at home.

I really enjoy having things shipped--it's just easier and costs less than the gas it would take for the same trip.

Do your companies let you have things shipped there? Why or why not?

New Postal Charges: shapes and pricing

Have you seen the upcoming changes for postage from the USPS? Not only are stamps going up (as my friend M said--no one has managed to use up their 2 cent stamps from last time yet) but now they are changing to "shape" based pricing.

They sent out an email at work about it--reminding people not use interoffice style envelopes for mailing etc etc.

Why is the post office making life more difficult? I'm never going to be able to remember what shape goes with what...

What Kind of Poem are You?

In honor of April being National Poetry Month :)

I'm terza rima, and I talk and smile.
Where others lock their rhymes and thoughts away
I let mine out, and chatter all the while.

I'm rarely on my own - a wasted day
Is any day that's spent without a friend,
With nothing much to do or hear or say.

I like to be with people, and depend
On company for being entertained;
Which seems a good solution, in the end.
What Poetry Form Are You?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

An Evening's Mental Refreshment

After work today (threw my first kid out for the day around 4 p.m.) I had the chance to wander over to the Chicago-area book talk given by the very successful Yarn Harlot --Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. For those with a yarn addiction, she's an incredibly funny woman who understands the knitting mindset, the need to knit, and the need to buy more yarn. Everyone else--she's the published author of four best-selling books and she has a WICKED sense of humor.

It was refreshing to sit through her chat--I won't call it a lecture. Stephanie is witty, funny, and obviously a ball of nerves when she gets up to speak. Stage fright makes for a better speaker though and we ended up with a lot of laughter.

There is something slightly underground and subversive about being a knitter. Though knitting has gained a lot in popularity, especially with the advent of Debbie Stoller's incredibly popular groups, there are almost as many misconceptions about knitters as there are about librarians.

Misconception: All knitters are either grandmothers or "hip" yuppies
Reality: Knitters are all shapes and sizes and ages-youngest tonight was 7, and I'd say the average was between late twenties to early forties.

Misconception: Knitting is dull and tedious
Reality as I know it: Knitting is something to do with my hands--I may never be an amazing knitter but I love doing it. Most of the people I know who knit find it somewhat addicting. You focus, you create and the joy of giving someone something that you have personally created and spent time on--it's amazing

Misconception: Only women and gay men knit
Reality: One of the sexiest actors I know, who is married to one of the most gorgeous women I've met, knits and asked me for a pattern I was working on. He's perfect--so of course he's married--and she's wonderful. *sigh*...they're going to have beautiful/amazing children.

It was nice to go out and enjoy a book lecture and I'd recommend it. It's nice to connect with an author whose blog I enjoy...

I'd rather play phone "Tag"

The uber-popular site among my nine-eleven year olds is apparently 'Tagged'--a social networking site for teens and those who wish to advertise to them. According to the local expert who was on hand today (I think he's actually twelve, maybe) it's to exchange messages with friends and meet people but if you bother strangers you can get thrown off of the site.

It looks like another version of myspace--at least from the screenshots I've inadvertently caught whilst strolling behind the screens to ensure some level of quiet computer usage. The kids like to be vulgar in their messages and are amazingly shy about an adult seeing the curses on screen that would get them removed from the building for the day if used out loud.

The site doesn't appear to be extremely restrictive or careful about those who sign up to use it. They list a requirement that participants be 13 to use the site but doesn't list a top age--it didn't kick me out when I went through the registration process using my actual date of birth and I'm well past the teenage years. Parents who discover their children using the site with a false age can request that the account be shut down.

If it's focused on being a teen site--which it purports to be--why can someone over 21 sign up? It doesn't seem to have the marketshare of MySpace or FaceBook. A part of me is trying to figure out how to introduce these kids to the idea of safer online presences and the rest of me is trying not to chuckle when they attempt to get each other into trouble by saying "Miss Hedgie--Stephen (or Frank or Juan or Shaquell) just sent me a message and he used a curse word..."


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lynn Johnston is tres cool!

A couple of weeks back I sent a note to Lynn Johnston, the creator of For Better or For Worse. Having read her strip my entire life, I was somewhat saddened to see that she would be starting a partial retirement in September of this year. I can't blame her--she's been in syndication since before I was born-- but it's the end of an age. Anyway, I wanted to send a note just saying congratulations on all of her hard work and that I would miss the regular stories.

I got a really nice note from her today! She signed and drew Elly on it! How cool is that?

The generous gesture of responding--when I'm sure she probably gets tons of fan mail--really touched me. So that was my happy moment for today.