Monday, July 30, 2007

"On a Claire Day" View on Library Jobs

The comic strip "On a Claire Day," which follows the exploits of a young woman who has just moved out of her parents home, provides an interesting comment on working in a public library today. (Today being 7/30/07 if you're looking for the strip)

When suggesting to her friend that she thinks a public library job could be a good career choice her friend identifies it as a government job. Sammi says those jobs are "limiting, don't pay well, and don't come with stock options." and the only good point is job security.

There are obviously a few myths in this strip and I wonder if creators Carla Ventresca and Henry Beckett are speaking on government jobs in general or library jobs in specific.

I can't argue with the pay. It generally is higher in the private sector than it is in a public library, where raises are subject to taxpayers. And last I checked no one was proclaiming about being paid too much. :)

Limitations only exist where you make them. You can be at the top of your line in nearly any field at some point. I'm not sure what the limit would be for a public librarian? Director I suppose, but you could always move to a larger system and climb that chain. Yes, this assumes mobility, which I know is not always an option.

And yes, there are no stock options, but many public libraries have state pensions, which these days might be a little more reliable. I know there's a hefty chunk of change coming out of my paychecks every two weeks before I see the money. Even if I should chose to leave this system in a few years, I'll be able to take that money and invest it.

Job security? Well, if there's a union yes. But this assumes that most public libraries are civil service jobs, which only a few seem to be, and/or that there is a union in place. I work in a system that is unionized but neither of the other two librarians in my immediate family do. So while their funding is tied to the government, it's an employment-at-will workplace. Granted, they have to have documentation out the wazoo if they fire someone, but so does everyone in this litigious day and age.

I'm interested to see if they follow this over the next week or so.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

In the Club!!!

I'm into Ravelry. After not quite two months of patiently standing in line. I'm in! Woohoo. This might generate purchase of a digital camera so I can photograph my stash and maybe actually make something. Roomie would like that.

Off to see what everyone else is making these days.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Kongratz to Karen-- Wai Kuul

As Karen Schneider has duly noted on her blog: She's got a new job!

Congratulations Karen! I hope this one is a perfect fit for you.

Disclaimer: This post's vernacular is intended in the style of lolcats. It was deliberate and took a good minute and a half to come up with the proper incorrect spelling.

Summer Reading Book Review: Dark Celebration

This review gets off to a funny start. Two days ago I saw a new title by Christine Feehan as I was wandering through the stacks at my library and picked it up. Yesterday a patron came in and asked for assistance with the card catalog. On the way towards the computers 'reserved' for that purpose, I asked what she was looking for:

"Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan."

Ahhh..."That book isn't here, it's home on my bed." It probably wasn't the answer she was expecting but that's where the book was. I assured her it would probably only take me a day or two to read the book and that I'd put it on hold for her so that when I brought it in she would be the next to read it. With a deadline like that, I had a perfect excuse to curl up and read it last night.

For those familiar with Feehan's "Dark" series, this is a culminatory story, bringing together the pairs from her previous books for a Christmas celebration. For those unfamiliar, Feehan is the author of a series of paranormal romances that feature (primarily) psychic women and men who are a slightly different breed of human-like creatures known as Carpathians. They've super powers of sorts (shape shifting, flying, controlling nature) and when they go bad--they become vampires. Women must balance the men (light to darkness is a huge theme in her books) and there's power struggles and a lot of good vs evil.

The Carpathians have returned from across the globe for the first time in centuries. Whereas before one might meet only one or two Carpathians or at most see a group of five when the Dark Troubadors are traveling together, now we are expected to see everyone in the same room at the same time. The prospect of that many male egos all at once, slightly daunting. They're gathering for a Christmas celebration, at the request of the Prince's wife. For some reason Raven is never referred to as their Princess, but we won't go into that.

Over the course of the book, Prince Mikhail is visiting each couple at the home they are staying preparing for the Christmas dinner. Everyone has offered to cook and because the majority of the women were psychic humans who were converted, they're all "trying" to cook. I'm a little disappointed that NONE of them are capable of it. I can't imagine having completely lost the ability to make mashed potatoes but all of them are making a disaster of it and in attempts to help, the men are making it worse. Feehan finds the idea of these "big tough men trying to cook" ridiculous and attempts to convey that to her reader. It falls flat though. In about half of the scenes, also, she throws in the couple getting distracted by sex--the majority of which is really really unnecessary.

Within a span of a few hours, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much happens. Mikhail visits all of the couples that have been a part of the series, two men find lifemates, one woman gets attacked and put through the healing process (which usually Feehan does in much more described chapter), and, oh yes, there's the possibility of a mage popping in and oh yes, Gary, who has been human for a long time, now is suddenly reveal ed as a "pure blooded" jaguar. There are too many coincidences even as Feehan tries to introduce a couple of new plots and answer some questions from previous books. She leaves story lines unfinished for Skyler, Mary Anne, and Gary and has the most unsatisfactory party ever. I couldn't even get a good chuckle out of her having Gregory dress up as Santa Claus, but then I've never understood the intimidation he holds over everyone else either.

As the story wraps up too quickly, Feehan filled the rest of the book with "Dark Desserts"--recipes submitted by readers. Considering the one that I opened to involved "Cranberries, walnuts, and Chocolate chips" for a reading snack, I don't think it's a cookbook I'll be using regularly. It was very out of place for a paranormal series where they make a point of noting that Carpathians do not eat food.

I enjoy Feehan's more outlandish explanations of vampires and enjoy her idea of alternate beings. This book was not her best though and certainly one only to read if one has already read ALL of the others she's written.

Another Provocative NYT Article

Now the New York Times is taking on Junie B Jones (apparently they're bored now that HP7 is out and in the hands of the readers).

The article seems to be primarily in defense of the series, which is vastly popular amongst those between the ages of 5 and 12 (at least at my library). While I find some exaggeration that seems to be par for the course from the NYT these days (a comparison to breastfeeding vs formula??)-- it is certainly a hot topic. Barbara Parks is a highly challenged author and her books are best sellers and in tattered shreds at a library near you.

Personally, I dislike the series. The young Miss Jones doesn't strike me as an exuberant child, she strikes me as a brat who is receiving discipline neither at home nor at school. Her parents "deeply sigh" and her teacher is seen to head for the Tylenol bottle, but consequences for actions seem few and far between. The language is choppy, poorly spelled and I have a difficult time reading anything with that much in ALL CAPS--as the child spends half of the day shouting.

I usually try to feed the JBJ kids into Beverly Clearly (famous for another bratty child I could never get into when young), Magic Treehouse, Time Warp Trio and other, slightly less insipid texts.

I suppose this puts me in the camp of those who believe children's literature should be of better grammar. If something isn't being deliberately written in vernacular, you bet. The JBJ series doesn't strike me as vernacular, it strikes me as deliberate ignorance.

And considering how much of that I deal with on a daily basis, I don't need it in the books I'm handing to the kids too.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Can I Throw Away $600 Too??

Have you seen this news story about a library's Trustees wearing Star Shaped Badges proclaiming their status? Okay...maybe I grew up in a bizarre small town but I don't remember the trustees getting to wear sheriff badges and sharing them with friends who "flash them to get a better parking space." Is anyone else thinking what I am? Oh look, a toy sheriff badge, why are they flashing that at me while trying to steal my parking spot?

Library Trustees are important, valuable people. I hold a firm belief in this. I know of one specific woman, the mom of a friend of mine, who is going to be an amazing advocate as a trustee. I've seen trustees do great and horrible things for libraries.

But sheriff badges?

By the way--you should at least read the last line of the news story. It's a nice chuckle.

Thanks Blake at LisNews for the heads up!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hedgehog Librarian Blog Birthday!!!

A year ago today I began this blog, living in a different state, working a very different job. I undertook the attempt to catch up with my 2.0 friends. Last year I posted 18 times--this year I average that and more per month.

It's been a challenging and difficult year, personally and professionally. I'm still not feeling 100% stable where I am but hopefully the next six months will provide more direction and answers.

Thank you to all who've joined for the ride, offering comments, encouragement (David...) and letting me know that you're actually still tuning in for a little dose of Hedgie.

Hedgehog blows out a candle on top of banana bread mini-muffin (homemade last night--I have a killer recipe).

And JCK--if you're reading this--Happy Birthday to you too!

Discrepancy in Numbers

The recent NYT article of uproar quoted a very healthy average salary for librarians. I noted that said salary was much higher than the average.

ALA JobList had BPL postings today with the starting salary: $39,295. Quite the $10K difference.

And I like the WSJ article much better. At least there the writer seemed more thoughtful.

Two words for you

Ghetto Chipmunks...


Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Washington Library Mating Video

Because one mating season just isn't enough...librarians have to do it twice a year

Thanks to Michael for the heads up!

Quizzes on a Sunday

A couple of new quizzes for you: An Animal Quiz and a Book Quiz

Apparently I get to also identify with a ladybug :)

You're a Ladybug!

Most people assume you're female upon seeing you, even though you
might very well be male. Don't let this gender-bending get you bent out of shape,
though... you just happen to exhibit the quiet dignity and soft demeanor that
people associate with the feminine side of things. Your favorite fruit is the
watermelon. For some reason, people think it's fun to sing about horrible things
happening to you and your family.

Take the Animal Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


You're A Prayer for Owen Meany!

by John Irving

Despite humble and perhaps literally small beginnings, you inspire
faith in almost everyone you know. You are an agent of higher powers, and you manifest
this fact in mysterious and loud ways. A sense of destiny pervades your every waking
moment, and you prepare with great detail for destiny fulfilled. When you speak, IT

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Hmmmm...okay :)

What are you?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


One two three....

having some rss issues

Friday, July 20, 2007

Waiting in talk about yarn

So, those of you who don't already know, I have this minor addiction to yarn. If this doesn't make any sense to you--please, skip this post and I'll return to more librarian style stuff soon.

It's minor, really, just involving two large shopping bags in the past month and some surreptitious sneaking of rust colored yarn that my roommate was NOT to know about until the scarf is done for the-boy-who-just-got-engaged's fiance. (Fiance not fiancee--and we won't go into the weirdness at the yarn store when that came up) [Of course, Roomie found out but since I was already working on the scarf it was okay.]

I'm waiting patiently at present though to join a new online knitting social network: Ravelry. The site is currently in Beta. Just slightly similar to LibraryThing, it allows you to catalog your stash (reserve of yarn that is currently inhabiting a large chest in my living room and a couple of plastic tubs in my get the idea), show off finished projects, show off what you're working on currently, find new patterns, find new yarns.

Ravelry has exploded in popularity amongst the online knitting community, thanks in at least some small part to bloggers like fyberduck and The Yarn Harlot. It's become some popular that they couldn't allow everyone in at once who wanted to participate and so put us all on a list and are doling out invitations by a computer. Then they got swamped with people wanting to know where they are on the list. So they created a page that just allows you to find out where you are in line. See here. I think it's brilliant (and a great marketing strategy for them)! I've dragged other knitters and crocheters I know onto the line. I check my status all the time. Currently I'm

  • You signed up on June 5, 2007
  • You are #6957 on the list.
  • 857 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 11939 people are behind you in line.
  • 31% of the list has been invited so far
That is 100 people closer than I was yesterday! They're adding a good 300-500 a week (amazing fast I think) so in another two weeks perhaps. Soooo excited.

Okay, back to being a librarian.

Almost there,,,,,

I am seriously looking forward to tomorrow. Finally, the Harry Potter saga will be (at least in book form) complete. The last book will be out, we'll know if Harry survives or not, all the questions you hoped will be answered, I hope they are.

I can't get into the Harry Potter series. I read the first book mostly to make sure I understood the pop culture references (these days one does need to know the definition of Muggle and Quidditch). I didn't find it in a style that I enjoyed and would happily have moved on forever--but for some very determined college friends. I was giving up too soon, they pleaded, as they beat me over the head with hard cover texts. So I duly got through Books 2 and 3. I remember a Thanksgiving early evening, looking at the third tome with the same enthusiasm as I looked at my political science required readings and being told that "really" it got better.

After the third tome I set Ms Rowling's works down and moved on to other things. I only have so much life on this earth and I can't read everything. And while Heaven may have the largest library of all for me to pour over, until then I should at least be somewhat discriminating in my choice of reading material.

(Stop giggling--just because I might have sneaked a hurried read of Julia Quinn's latest while our clerk was prepping it to go on the shelf...)

To each his own enjoyment of whatever fiction or non fiction appeals but having survived the "Welcome Back Harry Potter" program that I did with another children's librarian (a much bigger fan) on Thursday and just needing to get through the program tomorrow at her library will be enough for me.

Would whoever finishes reading it first tell me who dies? I skimmed the NYT review and I couldn't figure it out.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Giving Back to Alma Maters...

It has come to the attention of colleges that the large student loans required to attain coveted degrees are equalling less giving when graduates finally matriculate.

The Boston Globe had an interesting story on this subject Colleges fear debt puts damper on donations.

Hmmm...I have to hope this isn't coming as a surprise.

With a sibling just ahead of me in the undergraduate and graduate pursuits as well as my own pile of student loans, it amazed me that while I was still an undergrad they were already hitting my mother and I up to donate to alumni stuff. It accelerated once said sibling and I had gotten the undergraduate degrees. I think my graduate school can't keep close enough tabs on me, certainly they don't have my current phone number.

I think it is becoming a more common trend amongst newer graduates to think "I still owe them more money than I am going to make in the next year, five years, etc etc---I have student loan payments that are crushing me financially--why am I going to shell out MORE money to my college?" While realistically we know we're paying a loan company and not the university--it's a bill for school still.

Everyday we are encouraged to participate in many types of charitable giving--for diseases, natural disasters, all manner of school and after-school activity fundraisers, religious efforts, and more things than I can come up with at the moment. As we still perceive ourselves to be paying for school--it's hard to come up with a wish to donate more of our hard earned money in that same direction.

One other point I will mention, many people are very interested in how their money will be used, myself included. I can more easily see myself going back past the costume shop that was my haven for four years and getting a list of "We really need..." from my former supervisor and buying those things rather than sending money into an ambiguous alumni fund or showing up and offering to donate a water cooker and a case of tea (and cups) to the honors lounge for those relaxing times. Those were special and important places for me--I worked in the former (and reigned holy organization over our costume stock) and I tutored, studied, and slept in the latter. In that I could give back to a part of the school I felt benefited me. While I understand this isn't necessarily the best way to raise funds--it may be a different way to reach alumni who are still burdened with student debt.

Other than that though--as my mother has been telling the people calling for donations since 1998 (my sib started undergrad in 97)--once we're done paying for school, we'll consider donating to the school. I'm chipping away at that debt though.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Online Summer Reading Program

Being rather dissatisfied with local adult summer reading program-- I'm hopping heading first into the Online Summer Reading Program that the Weird Librarian set up for us!

My goal for the remainder of the summer--WL when's that end date?--is to get through and review at least 10 books. Granted, this probably means you'll all be subjected to my reviews of a couple of cozy mysteries and some romance novels (ducking the pie that just got flung at the screen...) but there should be some good stuff in there too. I'm just about to start the Biography of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell. If my laptop makes it safely home from New York software updates I'm going to listen to a couple of other Gaskell books also. Having some issues with the desktop computer at the moment but that's mostly between me and Microsoft....

If you can, consider joining! It's good book reviewing practice and at least here we get to pick what we're reading.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rose is Rose on libraries and Kids

Rose is Rose on Libraries and Children
If it's another day see the July 10, 2007 strip.

Apparently a Summer Reading Program has never occurred to the artist (despite the fact that Pasquale is an uber student). :( And obviously they've never met the kids at my library, who pile in the door around 11 a.m. to huddle about the computers and "tag" each other.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Blog Thoughts...

I think this a lot

Think Before You Blog

Filling the Spare Moments

A nice story from the BBC points out that as lives become busier and more fragmented, people are reading more. While this initially sounds like a putting two contradictory facts together, it makes sense. The journalist explains that as people find themselves rushing more places, and waiting more places, they are finding gaps to fill where reading time sneaks in.

I identify strongly with the story. I went to the bank today to deposit a check--with a book. I take a book to get my oil changed, when I ride the train, long lines for government anything, just about any activity outside of grocery shopping. And it wears off on other people-- my former roommate accused me of luring his girlfriend irretrievably into J.D. Robbs' books (I don't even read her stuff), from which he's still been unable to get her attention (except for their wedding).

I wonder if they included or considered audiobooks in "reading" for that's also a way to drive those numbers up. My-friend-the-lawyer is an avid subscriber to Audible and is often telling me of a new book he heard. I go for the classics aloud, personally. Overdrive technology, tied to the library system I left a year ago and the one I currently work for, provides many of them at the type of a library card. So if I sound like I'm on Austen overload--blame Overdrive.

I wonder where all Americans take their reading materials.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The New 7 Wonders of the World

The New 7 Wonders of the World List is out:

The New List of Seven:
1. Chichén Itzá, Mexico
2. Christ Redeemer, Brazil
3. The Great Wall, China
4. Machu Picchu, Peru
5. Petra, Jordan
6. The Roman Colloseum, Italy
7. The Taj Mahal, India

Interestingly, all are stone of some sort and none are in Australia or Africa. I've been to the Colosseum (very cool!) and I'd like to go to Petra and the Taj Mahal. Field trip anyone?

Thank you Docuticker

The NYT article....

So, as Meredith and Karen and others have pointed out, the NYT posted an article about how hip and trendy it is to be a librarian.

Okay, we've been beaten over the head with the stick. We're trendy and not "your grandmother's librarian." We're apparently still supposed to be uber-nerdy and only able to socialize with other librarians but we're young, hip and adding men to the rosters.

Except, apparently for me. I have hair long enough to be put into a bun (where it's often wadded with chopsticks through it so I don't have to think about it) and I've been known to don *gasp* comfortable shoes. Not often--I still seem to end up doing story time in three inch heels (and yes, grown ups, if I can do Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes in those shoes--you can do it in your sneakers, let's go!). I've even (choke) been known to shush. I work with children, the majority of whom come in unsupervised and who would otherwise turn my building into a rap concert/dance party/"Tagged" and MySpace free-for-all. I don't demand silence but a little indoctrinating of volume control as a virtue is not a bad thing in my opinion.

It's nice that they quote the statistic on salaries from ALA-APA but it's not realistic for the New York area. I just recently saw a full time job ad at one of the Manhattan universities for a librarian that was paying $32K. That's a far cry from $50K and it's a lot closer to the norm for that area, even though housing out there is $800-$1000 a bedroom/month, if you can find a cheap place. How one is supposed to eat on that was a little beyond me. Last I knew (2005), NYPL and Queens were paying about $35K to first years--I can only hope it's gone up.

I've met computer geeks who didn't have to be geeky, I've met models who didn't have to be rail thin. Can't I just be a librarian without having to be a prissy old maid or extremely edgy and trendy?

And why didn't they include Ruth and her fabulous site in all of this?

(PS...if you would like to consider me edgy and trendy, that compliment would be accepted most gratefully because I hope you know there's more than just trendiness.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Random Tidbits of My Brain = Reference Answers

For me, working in a public library means every random scrap of knowledge that I have will be called upon at some point.

Recently one of my clerks called me to the front desk for what she considered an odd reference question. Had I heard of a coral crocheting thing? I'm probably the only one in the building that regularly knits, but they won't let me have needles and yarn on the floor (can't imagine why not....). The staff knows this though (the yarn still sneaks into the staff lunchroom sometimes) so I got the phone call. Coral reef crochet project? You bet--there was an event regarding it taking place at one of the yarn stores I frequent. While I couldn't get all of the detailed information in that moment, I could at least direct her to the store (15 miles from here--quite the trek on the train)--which she acknowledged gratefully was farther than anyone else had been able to get her to.

And then this morning I had a woman come to ask me about "finding new authors that are like ones she's read." I blanched for a moment when she mentioned a couple of authors I hadn't heard of and then remembered we have Novelist. (Whew--saved by the subscription database) As I'm pulling it up to show it to her, I ask her what type of books they are. Paranormal romances. Ahh, now here's something I can speak on with authority. Five author suggestions later, Novelist came up and I was able to show her how to search for a similar author to one we'd already discussed.

It was a happy reference moment...even if now the circulation staff is questioning my reading intelligence because I've piles of paranormal romance novels at home and might have judged a paranormal romance novel contest. If it answers the question....

Monday, July 02, 2007

Trial by Snakes

It was a quiet and peaceful Monday afternoon, the trouble makers had gone home (courtesy of the substitute security guard for today), and I was sitting with some of my tween helpers getting ready for Tuesday's preschool story time.

"Miss Hedgie, there's a snake..." This from a young man (9) who doesn't normally joke about totally crazy things. Apparently I shot him a look that implied insanity because his older brother confirmed "No really, there's a snake over here." (Older brother is 13).

I leisurely head over to where they are pointing, waiting to see a rubber snake and have the 9 year old burst into giggles. Indeed there's a snake and when about I'm about three feet from it...ah, yes, there would be a tongue and a moving head. I squat down to look at Snake and manage not to fall over backwards when Snake wiggles. It's not that I'm incredibly squeamish but it was only a couple feet from me and it just moved.

Our specimen was black with vertical stripes of several colors, one of which was yellow. S/he was about 18-20 inches long and about as big around as my index finger in the fat parts. (I wear a size 7 ring on that finger--for size reference or Valentine's Day gifts.) No one within immediate earshot is sure the exact type of snake but the boys thought it was a garter snake. Snake probably either was carried in by someone wanting to have a great time (let's scare the librarians!) or might have come in the back door, which leads to a patio.

Stationing the brothers who had alerted me to this little problem to "watch the snake and make sure no one messes with it" it was off to the children's dept office for a large clear Tupperware with a lid. Armed with this and a piece of paper, back to Snake, who is watching the younger sibling nervously.

But Snake doesn't want to just wiggle into Tupperware. No, No, we have to go around the corner of the bookshelf that we're squished up against and keep slithering while I'm trying to get it pinned in the Tupperware. After about two minutes of angling and box and paper, I won. Somebody handed me the lid and Snake was turned over to the 13 year old with instructions to "take him outside, don't scare anybody else with him, don't hurt him, just let him go in the grass."

Yet this was not the end of Snake saga.

Here comes 13 year old with box and snake. "This kid" (Random 13-14 year old who witnessed snake capture) "wants to take him home." Ooooookay. Since I'm not one to turn down a budding herpetologist and since said young teen assures me that he doesn't plan any bizarre science experiments with said snake, we need to transfer snake out of my Tupperware. Now what does a children's librarian have to toss a snake into--ah ha! Oatmeal canisters from last week's "Let's Make Instruments" program. Snake got rather unceremoniously dumped into a small canister and once we popped the lid back on, I poked some air holes in the top. Snake was probably happier in that dark, small and secure place than he had been for the previous 20 minutes. "This kid" (when you're dealing with a wiggly things, one forgets to get names) was instructed not to scare people with the snake or torture the snake and to take it home now.

So Miss Hedgie has a little more street cred. I can capture garter snakes without being totally grossed out--which is more than I can say for some of my 13 year old boys.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

My CueKitten :)

If it weren't enough to be totally in love with LibraryThing (see my sidebar on my blog if you usually just read via RSS), I also recently bought a CueCat.

I just upgraded this evening to a lifetime membership for LT. Probably the best investment I'll make this year, because it gives me the opportunity to go through all of my books and evaluate them while I'm scanning them in for posterity, insurance, etc etc etc. It also means that I can point my mother to it and she and my sister can scheme for what they'd like to add to my collection for any upcoming birthdays. That is, of course, if my 13 page Amazon list doesn't give them enough ideas.

I plugged my CueCat in for the first time this evening and immediately thought there was something wrong with it. It wasn't behaving like the scanners I have at work. to the CueCat Help Forum that Tim so thoughtfully put together. Ah-ha! Under a posting duly entitled "Duh!" I find a link to a tutorial on how to use your CueCat and suffer a moment of feeling like an idiot when I realize it works like a scanner pen--you have to move it across the bar code on the paper. I was waving the cat over the bar code and getting frustrated.

So now, I can scan all of my books in and maybe wreak a little bit of order to my bookshelves.