Sunday, December 30, 2007

Final 2007 Post :)

I don't expect to be near a computer much tomorrow, Formerly-Known-as-Roomie and I have plans that will probably involve coffee, might involve yarn (if I whine), could possibly involve shoe shopping (again with the whining) and will definitely involve Dinah and Cheese!!

So I wish you a very safe and festive New Year's Eve. It's been a much busier blog year (293 posts compared to last year's 18) and I'm looking forward to what the next year will bring. But perhaps we could fly through 2008 at a slightly slower pace?

(I really have to take up drawing--I keep getting all these great ideas for signatures on a blog post)

Hedgehog with party hat, noisemaker, and a martini glass!!

Quiz on a Sunday: Weathering About...

If you were a weather, what would you be? Apparently I'm of the watery variety...

What kind of weather are you? (anime pics)

Rainy. To some people, your beautiful in all your sadness. To others, your annoying because you often ruin things for people. You often bottle up your emotions, but they get so bottled up sometimes you can't hold them in any longer. When you let them out, people know how your feeling. When your angry, your emotions may come out too strong and cause alot of people destruction. You just simply want people to understand you....
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Quiz Two: I scored "Light Showers"

You Are Lightning

Beautiful yet dangerous
People will stop and watch you when you appear
Even though you're capable of random violence

You are best known for: your power

Your dominant state: performing

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Review: Beowulf, Heaney Translation

Translated by: Seamus Heaney
Narrated by: George Guidall

I used the holiday drive to listen to Beowulf. This was not my first time through the epic poem--that came in my early English literature course during undergrad. But I felt like I was missing something and, now listening to it, I understand what.

Heaney did a marvelous job with the translation of the tale of a true hero--one who sails across the sea to defeat a monster barehanded and who rules "a good king" after the death of kindred he noble supports. This one hides no prizes from his overlord nor seems to have any flaws. And Heaney makes it easily accessible to modern audiences beginning with the word "So...."

The poem whips through 3 CDs quickly, with the tale of Grendel and his mother. I was surprised at the interesting mix between stark Christian references as well as mythical/pagan influences. It shows an attempt on the part of the original author to blend two cultures somewhat at odds with each other.

There is a fourth disc with a lecture by Heaney that I will admit that I skipped. *ducks under the table to avoid the onslaught of "But you're an English major!!!"* I know, bad hedgehog.

My only other comment about the listening? I kept waiting for the next line to begin "Koko and Yum Yum..." as Guidall is the narrator of all of Lilian Jackson Braun's books.

The distinct sound of winter............ the clomping of small children in snow boots. It's a combination of a shuffle and a thud.


On Stamps....and snail mail

One of my very favorite stores is Hallmark. I have spent fond shopping time wading through the cards offered and chuckling over their offerings. Friends can attest I tend to buy individual blank cards in bulk and keep them for just the right occasion--or no occasion at all other than I think you need something in the mailbox besides bills and junk mail. And I probably tried the patience of ladies who were working the day that I pretty much sat down on the floor in front of the non-romantic Valentine's cards and read thru everything they had to offer but at least I help keep them in business, one pile at a time.

But purchasing said cards usually then leads to sending of them and for that I do need the United States Post Office's assistance and postage. And while I'm doing more shopping online and less waiting in the inevitably long and slow moving lines at the post office (why are they ALWAYS long and slow moving?)--I still do try to get cute/pretty stamps. So it was exciting when Docuticker pointed me to the 2008 stamps previews last night (scroll waaaaaaay down).

I think I'll be getting a bunch that have the Lunar New Year or Old Blue Eyes. And it looks like next Christmas will be nutcrackers. I'm sure the Botticelli is lovely in person, but I just don't think it translates well to stamps and I'm not quite photogenic enough to want to put myself on stamps.

On a side note--I didn't like this year's Christmas stamps, even if they were supposed to invoke "knitting." There so much more to knitting than teddy bears and intarsia. There's obsessive compulsive mitt knitting. :)

Momentary Distraction: Fun Website

Take a moment to click here. Once the page loads you don't need to do anything but watch--it will automatically move the page as needed.

Very droll!

Thanks to Popgadget for the heads up!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Book Review: Ranger's Apprentice, Ruins of Gorlan

Ranger's Apprentice Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan
By: John Flanagan
Narrated by: John Keating

This is one of a very few books that proved good enough to listen to at home.

Shannon, wonder-librarian at CPL, presented this as her "what I'm reading now" during a monthly Children's staff meeting. Her presentation left us hanging on the edge of wondering what would come next and it was duly remembered when I needed something for a drive.

Flanagan presents the tale of an unknown orphan, Will, raised at the largess of the local Baron. Now fifteen, he and other orphans are to be apprenticed and he desperately wishes to become a warrior. Rejected on "Choosing Day" for his small size, he faces a lifetime of unadventurous drudgery in the fields until the local Ranger, a secretive man about whom little is known, hands the Baron a note. The Baron says he will consider what is written but leaves it at that. Will must break into the Baron's office to discover the contents of that note--but when he does, the Ranger is waiting. And what is on that piece of paper?

Flanagan's tale is well written and engaging. Not only does he include Will's story, he also presents a sub-story focusing on one of the other orphans who is selected for battle school--and the trials that young man undergoes. One empathizes with both young men, pleased to see them coming into their own in their own ways--very different paths that must intersect.

Keating provides a phenomenal reading. Adding a slight accent to the tale, various voices are easily recognized and draw the listener further into the story. Though I didn't feel utterly compelled to listen to one CD right after the other, I truly wanted to finish this book and looked forward to hearing it over several evenings.

While written for boys and a book I highly recommend for boys, it's is also accessible for girls. I strongly recommend the audio version.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The hedgehog has the hiccups**. Nasty violent ones that involve full body shudders and mistyped words with each one. It's a good thing I type fast and use spell check.

What a lovely holiday! My only traffic snafu was fog on the way to Chicago and drivers on the bumper who thought I should be exceeding the speed limit by far more than I was. There were moments of doubting the sanity of other drivers as we drove through patches of pea soup. Other than that though, I missed the snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow on La Crosse and instead spent a few days in Indiana--where we had a 40 degree Christmas.

It was awfully nice to be home, curl up with the family and find things to laugh about to the point of inability to breathe. Few people can make me laugh that hard anymore, but Sibling-the-Elder, Sibling-the-Younger, and the Incredibly-Patient-Mother do it every time. I also had a chance to prove my ability to still do a pretty decent job with trivia games.

With a full car, I returned yesterday (nine hours and a numb posterior later). I'm now the proud owner of a purple elephant massage toy with heating/ice pack. If you can say that one three times fast, you're doing much better than I am. (Hiccups, you know) The Incredibly-Patient-Mother outdid herself yet again, I could never possibly have expected that. Just for clarification--that is NOT my elephant on Ebay, that's just the only picture I could find.

I've nearly finished a pair of fingerless mitts for a chum. They're toasty and as soon as I can figure out how I screwed up the thumb on one of them (I didn't but I have to redo it anyway), they'll be off. Off course, all of this holiday knitting has rendered me utterly unable to just sit. I don't--I can't. I took knitting to a holiday gathering and finished an old project of said mother's because I needed SOMETHING to do with my hands. So much for sitting quietly and looking demure. Fortunately, my Godfather didn't judge and IPM just handed over the needles and yarn and watched as I turned out my 29th washcloth of 2007.

Well...I recommend the comments posted to my Christmas Wishes post. Jennie left me chuckling for quite an extended period as well as possibly discovering a new need for more bath stuff. Did you get any "you smell, have dry skin, and need better lighting gifts?" I admit to giving soap, a blow dryer (at request), and many washcloths.

More library stuff soon, lots of things coming in 2008. Just enjoying the midweek, still unpacking and holiday cheer.

Happy Week Between Christmas and New Years!! (Hic)

**These hiccups are sponsored by an out of sync breathing pattern and having nothing to do with beverages of an alcoholic nature. Please remember to breathe responsibly.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Wishes

Just a moment to reflect gratefully upon a year with many changes, blessings and a wonderful family and friends. May you have a safe and happy Christmas and, for those of you traveling, honk if you see me speeding-- and get home safely.

(Alternative Christmas Title du Jour: "Oh Tannenbaum" --> "Yo, Pine")

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Quiz on a Sunday: Are You Geeky Enough?

Courtesy of Random Musings from the Desert, who needs to come visit and enjoy real cold:

Are You Geeky Enough to be a Librarian?

I scored a 13. "10-15 = I’ve got some library school applications under my desk you big dork"

For those curious, I have safely navigated the first half of the holiday travel. May you all have a Merry Christmas with your families and be safe on the roads!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Annoying Crafty Person... is me.

I realized that I've become the annoying crafty person. You know, the one who shows up before Christmas with handmade gifts and 98% of their Christmas shopping done (except a small purchase that I have to do for Member-of-the-Family-Who-Shall-Be-Unnamed-in-this-Post).

I knitted washcloths for a dozen coworkers, paired with a scented goat's milk soap. This is not to be taken as a suggestion about said coworkers--which occurred to me at one point. (Can't you just see me--eight washcloths into this going "What if someone takes offense and thinks I mean they don't wash often enough?")

In my defense, M finished her Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, I cast on a late Christmas idea that definitely won't be done before I see the recipient and a lot of my holiday "shopping" involved some quality time between me and the Amazon site. And then there's my apartment: which might look like a small crafting tornado erupted in it.

There was also some stress-induced creative language at my apartment when I announced I would never try various washcloth patterns again and when I was faced with yet another evening of cotton yarn. There was also washcloth knitting right up until last night as I procrastinated until the very last day that I would see the majority of my coworkers before Christmas.

So I can't do it all but I did at least get the washcloths done.

I'm going back to wool now until July. And next year I may try to avoid knitting for people. Maybe.

A Brief Moment of Customer Service Frustration

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a fabric store. While once rather popular, this chain has in recent years closed most of its stores and is generally thought to be on its way out. I've been known to say such things as "you still have those?"

But their website is still up and running and they churn out weekly sales, so when I saw homespun and fleece on sale for about half of what I would pay normally as well as free shipping--I hopped over to take advantage.

It was difficult to actually purchase things--mostly because while they show all of the colors of fleece and Homespun, they aren't actually stocking about 60% of what they display. I'd settle for lesser displays if it meant I could actually find what was available. But I duly waded through, changing choices on plans for the Homespun (a baby blanket) and deciding what color I could live with in my living room until it gets warm. (Fleece curtains anyone? Don't knock them 'til you've tried them)

The order was placed and confirmed and ....nothing. For over a week. Did I mention it's the holiday season and they're promoting things as holiday gifts in their weekly emails?

So I sent off an email to their customer service department--asking when I could expect shipment of my order. While I still haven't received a response to that email, I did finally get a shipping confirmation, which I apparently didn't read as closely as I should have. I saw fleece, homespun and size 50 needles but because the format of the email was screwy, I paid more attention to the tracking number.

The order arrived last night and there was fleece, homespun and needles--only, I'd ordered 2 colors of homespun. I only received one. I checked the printed packing slip, which carefully lists everything that was in the box and notably does NOT have the Deco Homespun. This company only has phone customer service from 9-5, M-F and obviously doesn't do timely email responses, so I brought it to work with me this morning.

I will say I did promptly reach a customer service representative who couldn't explain why I wasn't contacted when part of my order wasn't available. I checked the site while on the phone with her and Deco Homespun is listed as available. I pointed this out to her and was given a vague "their programmers are working on it." This website has been around for how long and your programmers are just now working on a part of it that lists something as unavailable? Riiiiiight.

What about my email from Saturday? "Oh, my supervisor answers those and I'm sure there was a glitch." A did my email not get through? Her supervisor is just ignoring it? I have trouble believing "it's a glitch" when she says in a confused tone "I don't know because someone would have had to take it off the order before it went downstairs"--which means a person saw the order, made the modification and didn't email me.

I tried to be polite but I did take a moment to advise her that it was really poor customer service to a) ignore customers seeking their packages when it's been over a week since order date and b) even worse to cut things off an order that are even now currently listed as in stock on the website and not even have the common courtesy to email and say--by the way, we ran out? She agreed but I could tell that it wouldn't make a difference and I would be written off as a difficult customer.

This was a company once where someone filling an order called me to say they only had three skeins of a yarn I'd ordered left and they happened to be two different dye lots and was that okay? The current disconnect is amazingly frustrating.

Off to pig out on the 12 kinds of Christmas cookies my coworker's mother just dropped off. Who wants to take a break and go out for some eggnog?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I moderate a listserv that is part of a Google Group.

When a new member sends their first few messages, one of a half dozen of us must review and approve said message. This prevents spam and inappropriate material. Considering some of the sexually charged advertisements I've seen--this is probably a good thing.

So... it's an automated part of Google Groups that triggers these automated emails to my Google email account.

Where they end up in the Spam Folder.

Does anyone else find this odd? Google doesn't have some kind of setting to prevent emails THEY send from ending up in their own spam filter?

Attempting to wrap my brain around this before coffee was probably a bad idea.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quiz on a Tuesday

Look at me shamelessly borrow this week--can we tell it's getting close to the end of the year and the hedgehog brain is full of things other than amazingly indepth and original blog posts?

David gets all the credit for finding this one. FUN! - The Disease Test

Book Review: Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair

Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair
by Laurie Perry aka Crazy Aunt Purl

I started reading this book yesterday at lunch. Within fifteen minutes I was suppressing so much laughter that my coworkers stopped to ask what I was reading.

Perry takes a blunt and honest walk through the months following her divorce. Seemingly without censoring herself she describes the random tears, feeling alone, and trying to cope when the life vision she had for herself suddenly fell apart. Honest about drinking too much, eating too much and having four cats, Perry doesn't pull the punches but lays out the raw emotions.

And she's incredibly funny.

The book is a bit like watching a train wreck--but it gets better, she doesn't just stay drunk and depressed and watching her pull herself back together and find some meaning to her life-- and coming to knitting :) helps. It's not just hanging the dirty laundry out like some books I've read--there's something that nearly anyone who has had a broken heart can relate to and enjoy as they contemplate getting back into the dating scene and realizing that it changed when you were a "couple." (Dating via text message anyone?)

A quick and enjoyable read.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Year in Sentences

Ladies and gentlemen I'm getting this not-a-meme from Walt Crawford. That's right--you heard it here.


So according to Walt, I'm supposed to take the first sentence from the first post of each month for the year. Reviewing from being a freelancing girl who kept the rest of the bills paid by ushing, getting a library job that was quite the challenge and then relocating, yet again. It's been busy!

January: Happy 2007! Another year gone and I'm going to be misdating my checks for a while.

February: This sounds very easy and a good way to nominate a public librarian who has had a big influence in your life.

March:I was directed via one of my listservs to a new social network: Library 2.0 as created by Bill Drew.

April: A couple of weeks back I sent a note to Lynn Johnston, the creator of For Better or For Worse.

May: There will hopefully be a few new eyeballs on the blog this week due to an inservice that I attended today.

June: As I sit here and try to write about my last job hunt (relocating from NYC to CHI) and the evil world of cover letters, a friend reminded me of this outrageous college application.

July: 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.

August: So technically I have two more days of wrap up and then a month of cleaning up and out and filing paperwork on every book that every child ever read ever.

September: Sorry I'm running a day behind.

If you happened to be on Clark Street this evening the little hedgehog flying north on the back of the shiny new motorcycle was me.

November: It's November 1--somehow, amazingly, and it's time for NaNoWriMo.

December: It’s taking a lot of yarn these days to keep me going. least October sounded like a good month :)
Don't make me ush you....I will require that you remain in your seat until all actors have left the stage and you are not in danger of being run over by a tall Canadian (or New Yorker--depends on the aisle) with a sword.

About the YH comment....

I see a lot of people wandering over here from the Yarn Harlot's comment section. I assume that means y'all want to know where/when this library knitting thing will be.

Approximately first week of April
Probably some charitable component: we'll be working on a project and accepting donations
I'm in La Crosse, Wisconsin

I'm reaching out to a number of people, so if anyone has the Panopticon's phone number or Jayme-the-Wonder-Publicist's so I can find out what it would cost to get him or Stephanie here...I'd be grateful.

Update: I just heard from Jayme via email! She's not yet working on the 2008 schedule but if SPM ends up here, I'll let you know well in advance. YAY!

Book Review: 101 Pep-Up Games for Children

This is the book review for the long neglected book I got as part of my LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I moved, I was unpacking, I had holiday knitting....yeah, I don't really have a foot to stand on. So without further excuses:

101 Pep-Up Games for Children: Refreshing Recharging, Refocusing by Allison Bartl
Hunter House Publishers

Bartl presents simple activities designed to break up the monotony of a school day. A key at the beginning explains how to determine the size of group applicable (pairs, any size group, small group) and if something needs a prop, music, etc. While the keys are useful, I would have liked to see the activities then grouped by the number of children needed. If I'm searching for a last minute pairs activity--I would prefer a "pairs" section. There is an alphabetic list of games and games by requirements (needs props) but not by group size.

The activities range from two or three minutes to games that could probably last 10 minutes. Though an age group is only given in very small letters at the top of the cover (4 and up), I probably wouldn't undertake most of them with not yet in school--several of the games involve having a child step out of a room. Sequencing and memory are also needed for a number of the games--as well as a fair amount of turn taking.

The majority of the games are familiar variations on traditional themes: following the leader, going on a bear hunt, mimicry, trying to keep a straight face. While simple ideas, they are presented in an engaging fashion that is a quick reminder of a good idea rather than reinventing the wheel. This would make it useful to pull out on a sleepy afternoon when the teacher themselves needs a pick me up.

"Pick Me Up Tips" are sprinkled throughout the book--the majority of which, while interesting, are not useful for a classroom setting. Few teachers can control the types of light bulbs used and burning peppermint candles isn't often an option. Opening windows may also not be an option. The tips look more appropriate for a private day care setting (e.g. feeding the kids chunks of frozen banana)--which is out of sync with the rest of the book.

Jokes are also sprinkled through the book but didn't strike me as particularly funny or useful. They may not makes sense to children and are distracting to adults.

Overall I could see this as a useful addition to a school library collection as a resource for early primary teachers (K-2). I hope they will consider reorganizing it to make it more useful, or cutting out some of the pictures and making it smaller. No game should be more than one page long.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Distractions on a Sunday quiz this week. Sorry-- I'm just not feeling particularly imaginative. So instead...a couple light amusements:

Courtesy of M who asked And how exactly does one assess the mental state of a worm?

And a great a capella piece--give it 30 seconds for the funny part to kick in (shamelessly borrowed from Mason Dixon Knitting)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Small Request....

Someone come over and help me stop buying yarn.

Way too much woolly goodness and soy and corn and silk and cotton.....

So much yarn to knit, so many books to read...and they expect me to go work too?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Children's Books by Celebrities List

My very dedicated aide who loves nothing better than creating displays that would make your senses overload asked me the other day for a list of all the books we owned that had been written by celebrities. How to get me on a tangent, right?

I have now compiled a list of 147 children's books by celebrities (not 147 different authors, just 147 titles). I'd put it on here but I don't want to abuse any non children's library people who might be reading this. (At least, not today) My library owns 53 of them. (English Roses by Madonna is not one of them)

Email me if you'd like a copy of the spreadsheet for display ideas--more than happy to share.

(List creation assistance came from Amazon, Nancy Keane, and Mid-Continent Public Library)

Where Do I Go to Job Hunt?

Recently, I volunteered to share the plethora of places where I grab job information. This is not an "I'm job hunting" announcement. I'm happy at my current POW. But it's often been pointed out to me that you never know when that ideal job will come and you certainly don't know the state of the job market unless you keep a casual eye on these things. In this day and age of RSS aggregation and incredibly detailed job search agents--it's a lot easier than it seems. If I don't have time to read it--select all and trash. If I see something interesting, I read through the job ad and wonder if they'd consider my resume. If not, it's a good way to figure out what I need to be doing next.

General Job Sites--Use the Search Agents!:

Yahoo! HotJobs

I use these with a grain of salt but you can hone the search agents pretty finely. Then when it kicks something to you, you know it will be worth your while. You can also put your resume on these sites.

Library Jobs via Email:

HigherEdJobs (search agent)
Jinfo (Uk Jobs Mostly)

Library Jobs via RSS:

Combined Library Job Postings (from the amazing Sarah at Library Job Postings and incredible Rachel at LisJobs)
ALA Job List (can also do an RSS search agent)
Chronicle for Higher Education
SLIS Career Feed
Metro Magnet Career Center (NY region)
ACRL/NY Events and Jobs (Boston region)

Other recommended places to look--but may not have a feed/email:

Local Consortia in Chicago Region (NSLS, PALS, MLS )
State Public Library Listservs (e.g. WisPubLib (general emails but also job ads)) (random stuff pops up here) (Not a job site but has much useful information)
Specialized Libraries Lists/Sites (e.g. Medical Library Association Site ; SLA )
Employment Resources for Librarians (haven't used this much)
Association of Research Libraries
Library Associates (Job Placement Firm)
LJ Classified
C Berger (Job Placement Firm)
News Jobs

Finally--I recommend you read the recent post by the Well Dressed Librarian, whose just undertaken a full time job hunt. He's got some great points and tips.

That Sticky "Filtering" Issue

Frustrating post over at CrazyAuntPearl's (warning--knit blog).

I feel for her as a patron--it sucks that people are this creepy. You don't want to have to filter for the lowest common denominator and no filter is ever going to be perfect.

I feel for the person she spoke to-- who may very well have been told that patrons are allowed to do whatever they want. I've been in situations like that.

I hope someone will compose an acceptable use policy for that library or find some extra funding for privacy screens that patrons can't remove or break (issues we had at CPL ALL the time).

*sigh*... grrr

So many good patrons and yet there are always a few who just royally torque one off.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Midweek Break

I know...I've not been giving you deep and meaningful things to enjoy. Instead...a YouTube video.

Try wrapping your tongue around this one:

Fun fact du jour: When the TV show Garfield and Friends started airing, it had a different theme song. Reason I know this? I checked out the entire first season. Excellent.

A Weekend Without Databases?

I might, just might, have a guilt free weekend this weekend. I will be able to go to knitting guilt free tomorrow. I'm kind of caught up on my databases.

Holy popsicle sticks Batman!

I'm perennially behind, often because I don't want to open the databases and stare at a computer screen after a day of staring at a computer screen. I meet deadlines, I get things done and truly, I enjoy the work that I do but my is it hard some days to get things done. I'd like to learn more about database design if it didn't always involve sitting in front of a computer and trying to make myself learn (a) and (b) I need someone to beat me over the head about it. My IT head has rather pledged himself in the role of taskmaster but I'm going to have to chase him down and really get started on this stuff.

It's interesting doing freelance work. From an emergency money perspective--it's awesome! I've been living on my paycheck and having the money from my freelance money for fun and crazy things as well as emergencies that crop up out of nowhere (like the car dying at 3 a.m. while I was over at a friend's house). I need to get to where I'm budgeting better for that but now that I'm not planning another major move in the next twelve months that should be a little more reasonable. From a working with cool people perspective--it's totally there. I work for people I like and with whom I can have phenomenal conversations. We squeeze in the work too but between Sweeney Todd with California and insane extended families with New York... it just makes for a much needed variety to the every day. From a tax perspective, it kind of sucks. I automatically deduct 30% of every freelance check I get and put it into a savings account that is then used for quarterly taxes. There's a relatively large sum of money still in there that I was hoping could go for interesting things but running a preliminary federal estimate, it looks like it will be going to the federal government instead. They don't warn you about the self-employment tax, which really gets a hedgehog. It's a lot.

But all in all some extra cash to buy more yarn and fix the little green car when it has issues. So while I'll enjoy this weekend, I'm glad to keep doing what I do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Meaningful Quote of the Day:

Courtesy initially of Life As I Know It -- Musings on Library Education
(a post well worth reading also)

this quote comes from Gather No Dust --What I Learned in Library School.

"Technology cannot always be taught, those who see its value will learn on their own, and those who don't will not be dragged to a computer class."

Thanks Jeff and Jennifer!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

An Amusing Library Link

Library Principles for Students, from the Old Testament

Laughed myself almost to tears. Enjoy!

Quiz on a Sunday: Y'all's Dialect

Hmmm...I've been given away. I'm a midwest girl

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The South
The West
The Northeast
The Inland North
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Thanks to Confessions of a Real Librarian for this week's quiz!

Sunday Levity

A little hedgehog silliness...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Playaway, Playaway....

Playaway if you want to survive... (it's time to break free...woooooaohh...)

Due to a little extra end of the year money in the audiobook budget (betcha I'll never say that phrase again)--I was given the opportunity to develop a starter Playaway collection for the children and young adult portions of the library. For anyone not familiar-- a Playaway is a small media player (deck of card size) that contains an audiobook on it in entirety. It requires only headphones and a AAA battery to operate.

I compiled my initial shopping list based on the titles available in comparison with our audiobook catalog. What did we already have? What did we not have? What could I buy that would supplement popular titles such as Golden Compass and where demand might be high? The Rowling books aren't yet available but if they release those, I would be highly interested in getting all of those to replace dying cd copies.

The primary vendors are
Playaway/Findaway sells the P/F catalog a little more cheaply.
Follett Library Resources
Recorded Books Inc.
They can also be purchased through

Because RB alone publishes their stuff--you won't see too much crossover between the two primary catalogs of available materials. Both Playaway and Recorded Books have audio versions of Bridge to Terabithia (RB) (P/F) but that's a rare example. The catalogs aren't enormous and one issue that may arise is that included series are not complete yet--the Redwall Series was an example of this, though they did have the most recent: Eulalia!. That being said, the publishers/vendors are rolling out a lot of new titles and adding to the list of things available.

Customer service contact at Playaway comes in the form of a seemingly lone agent, who appears to be best reached by phone. Be prepared to explain that yes, you have already read the FAQ page but that you still have questions about things which may not be clear or aren't covered despite his assurances that they are (e.g. warranty). I had to explain that twice in a ten minute phone call. However, said agent was very forthcoming with information about discounts for my library system and helpful in setting up our shopping account.

Once my teen librarian had blessed the titles, and pointed out which titles were in the wrong section (it's hard because we may put something in teen that the vendors put in childrens)-- I ordered around 95 titles. The playaways are averaging around $50 a title--which isn't too far off buying them on CD and just think--no missing pieces! The highest price I saw was $65 and that was for a Christopher Paolini. Highest library discount for Playaway I've heard of was 20%, 10-15% seems average. Not sure with RB, we already had an account so I didn't follow up.

But what about batteries and headphones?

This question has been the one most oft repeated when I've seen it up for discussions on PubLib and the like. The almost overwhelming response: library provides the first battery and patrons provide the headphones--with cheap headphones for sale at the circulation desk. Sharing earbuds, while all romantic with your significant other on the train--is not something I'd want to do with library materials. We will be checking the battery level when each one is returned and changing out batteries accordingly. My library is not using rechargeable batteries--some are going this route--but I do expect we'll recycle. Most children's books are 3-5 hours, so we have potential to get two circulations out of an item before replacing the batteries.

All responses I have received from other libraries using them is that patrons really enjoy them and would like more titles. I'm not sure if I'm only hearing from adult librarians/patrons. I've not heard huge response to teen/childrens. PubLib archives shows some enthusiasm from School media specialists. My adult audiobook selector will be developing an adult playaway collection for the new year--I just happened to have the money now.

So that's Playaways for me.

Further information about Playaways can be found via:
PubLib Archives
The Intuitive Life Business Blog (see comments for an interesting response from President of Findaway)
Library Technology Reports January/February 2007 (available in EBSCO and ProQuest)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Not Reinventing the Wheel (aka Ripping Each Other Off)

I'm taking on one of the preschool story times in January here at LPL. Because I have a little more latitude with my time right now, I'm trying to pull together 3-4 months of story time lesson plans, so that when I get to a given week I know if I need a craft, a specific hand puppet, or the perfect music CD. Obviously I'm not pulling books just yet, but I'm putting together a list of titles and authors (from our catalog) so that I don't even have to search the catalog. The goal is that I can print these and put them in a folder on my desk so should I wake up deathly ill one morning someone could walk in, grab my lesson plan and do my story time with little effort needed on their part. Also so that I don't spend every Tuesday frantically wondering what I'm going to do the next day. I got VERY good at that at CPL but I'm trying to be slightly more pulled together.

As I waded through my resources, it struck me-- children's librarians really rip each other off. A lot. It's all done with the best of intentions, it's all excellent sharing and it makes for better story times but wow.

What do you mean? I hear from those who've not been tasked with story times.

I borrow themes and songs and ideas from anyone and everyone who will begin to share. I have great story times that colleagues at CPL wrote up that have gone into my file of "ideas to carry along." I have the song/fingerplay handouts that my branch colleague had developed. I've called the Incredibly-Patient-Mother and begged for ideas when I got stuck. And then there are the books that no children's librarian can live without--many of them devoted to circle time, story time themes, craft ideas, and endless lists of fingerplays.

All of this conglomeration goes into my brain and somehow gets spit out into a story time. It is doubtful I'll ever use an "exact" story time again unless I've compiled it--mostly because other people use different books than I have available or I don't find a fingerplay compelling etc etc.

But isn't it amazing how we all collaborate? We beg, borrow and steal ideas and bring forward early literacy, literature enthusiasm and lots of cuteness as much as we can. And it's encouraged. Excellent.....

For anyone wishing to see me in Story Time Mode-- 10:15; Wednesdays at the main branch.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Great Cover Art on a Picture book

I will admit, I've not yet read this book. But after seeing the cover art and the KidLit Review--I think I might put it on a "please buy" wishlist for my picture book selector.

*Chuckle* Yes, I have a warped sense of cute.

Taking a Chance...

An unusual (to me) question arose during the interview for my latest POW-- "What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?"

My immediate answer was my then most recent move. I packed everything I owned into a 16' truck and moved half way across the country. Without a job.

Now, it's true I had freelance work to help pay the bills and certainly I would not wish to ignore that-- having freelance income meant I wasn't frantic for work immediately upon arrival. Also, I had an apartment lined up and a couple of good friends waiting in the Windy City. But giving up a stable job where I was appreciated and leaving a ton of my nearest and dearest? I did it and occasionally I still wonder if I was completely and utterly insane.

I wouldn't describe myself as an enormous risk taker. While enthused about new technology, I'm not the first person on my street to buy it. My Chi-town Roomie never managed to drag me sky diving with her (although she valiantly tried). And I'll hold onto Windows XP as long as humanly possible--I think I'd rather go Ubuntu w/ Wine than Vista. But an adventure I had, involving a long move, a post move seven month job search, and working for a theater where I met very close friends and pretty much memorized Hamlet.

Surprisingly, many people I've met seem also to consider my most recent move very risky because I knew no one in this town. I find it a little riskier that I took my apartment sight unseen personally but both have turned out well so...

Our Lady Director is hopefully somewhere on a plane (we got a lot of snow last night) so I can't ask her the complete motivation behind this question but it does show an unusual side to a candidate. You have a chance to hear about what they consider risky. In my case, my risk had nothing to do with library work but demonstrated that I had moved once before and would be willing to again for this job. I did hear after taking the job that one candidate had completely shot the question down--"I don't take risks." I can only imagine that that person lives in an extremely controlled environment.

My latest and greatest risk: I got in the car after all the snow on top of all the remaining leftover ice that's frozen on the road and drove to work.

What about you?

P.S. I'm still gloating about parallel parking a 16' truck in Queens (Yellowstone and 76th) without anyone to spot me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Unshelved Announcement!

I was catching up on my Unshelved today and saw Bill's announcement! Quitting his job to devote himself to a library cartoon that has great amusement to me and many of my friends. Brava, congratulations, and what amazing chutzpah!

Bill and Gene also remind us that we can still get stuff from the store--in case anyone needs any brilliant last minute gift ideas for me. I only have the first book.

So....Who Are All of You???

I posted one really long stream of conscious about ALA and BOOM, the number of people looking at this blog exploded.

Who are all of you--where do you come from-- and dear heavens do I have to be that prolific all the time? (Moment of Hyperventilation for the Hedgehog)

If you're dropping by for the first time, welcome. At a recent request I have included an email address on the blog so if you can decipher the "hope the robots won't pick up" code, please feel free to drop me a line. I can't promise such regularly lengthy posts but hopefully my ridiculousness will carry the day. I usually put up a silly quiz near the beginning of the week and I read a lot of Regency/Historical romance novels. So if those are breaking points, mi dispiace.

Otherwise, cheers!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Realizing Where Time Has Gone

My weekend wandered away pretty quickly--a good thing because it was rather frustrating. But I did realize something as I started packing my bag for work Monday. I read 8 books this weekend--only 1 of which was under 100 pages. No wonder it's Monday!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Quiz on a Sunday: Nail Polish

Wow...should I apologize for all of those long posts the past few days? I did mention I haven't been writing much so apparently I needed to catch up. Hopefully back to short and snarky in the next few days.

But for now--I desperately need a manicure, maybe I can go tomorrow between morning meeting and evening shift.

Your Nail Polish Color is Pink

How you're unique: You're girly without being high maintenance

Why your style rocks: You're the perfect blend of stylish, preppy, and cute

What this color says about you: "I am secure enough not to follow every trend"

Certification Confusion (LONG post)

Houston, we have failure to understand.

Birdie, over at LisNews, posted an interesting story about a director in a near locale who is on a bit of probationary status while trying to get her MLS degree. I knew one of the consortia people had mentioned to me that there were various requirements for directors but, since I'm not one and I'm not expecting to be one in the next few months, I'll admit that I hadn't particularly paid a lot of attention to it.

I was reminded, though, of hearing about proposed changes to the Indiana requirements for librarians and I headed over to their state site to see what was going on. The document that I find with its "final recommendations" leaves a lot of questions and to me, seems really restrictive. I'll give you my spin on it and then maybe someone can explain the parts to me that don't make sense.

According to the recommendations, if I'm reading correctly, everyone except the circulation clerks, some office personnel and the pages would be affected by this change. All full time, part time, professional and paraprofessionals are listed as required to have certain educational requirements to get hired—many of them involving required library science education—and really strong continuing education requirements.

Now, I'm all for continuing education. I got a flyer from one of the local colleges today in the mail and I'm going to check out their spring offerings. But that's a "my time, my dime" kind of thing. Continuing education is also highly encouraged by my POW—which rocks—and comes with some potential financial support instead of merely spouted platitudes about life long learning. I'm all for encouraging professional development in the workplace—but this document seems to shove it down one's throat.

There are a lot of library science education requirements for a state with one library school and there doesn't seem to be any provisions for hiring a person willing to come in and then get required education either at IU or online. That, to me, seems like it would put a serious cramp on hiring people. Many people come to libraries as a second career or maybe after college but before they really have determined their vocation. I was searching for an example in my mind and this is what came up:

A position opens for a part-time youth services associate at a public library that serves 45,000 people. A teacher with three years of elementary education experience who has decided she doesn't want to teach and able to take part time work, applies for the position. She knows about libraries but hasn't determined if she's really interested in going back for her MLS. She couldn't even be considered because she hasn't already put in time getting mandatory library education. You couldn't even hire her and say, okay, great but now we'd like you to get this education in the next year.

So there's no provision to grow your own capable people—which looks like a turn off to me.

Probably most importantly though, I can't figure out where the funding for all of the continuing education is supposed to come from. Every single person but your circ clerks has to be certified every five years and then also a minimum of 50 hours of continuing education units? Just the certification would be expensive—and I can't imagine a library being willing to pay for everyone's certification. Similarly with continuing education: Even if you are only covering their time and not paying for the courses (which seems impossible to require—can you make a 10/hr per week copy cataloging person pay for 10 hours a year of continuing education?) how will that mess up your scheduling? Covering vacations is a challenge for some places—can you imagine adding everyone rotating out for continuing ed? This isn't a school where everyone is potentially off for the summer with the chance to take classes in June and July. Where can people find job relevant courses affordably? Or if the library does pay for all of that continuing education—does that mean then that for every CEU, a library worker "owes" the library a certain amount of time—as can happen when a library puts a person through library school? [And why is my laptop beeping so much this evening for no apparently reason?] Many part time people are hired to work what are considered undesirable shifts—evenings and weekends. Asking a 15-hour a week paraprofessional who is making just slightly more than minimum wage to pay for their certification and continuing education themselves seems less than thought through. Asking them to do it on their own time seems quite above and beyond. Indiana State Library's site lists mostly out of state suggestions for continuing education—so I'm not sure where these relevant courses are supposed to be coming from.

Finally, Indiana, as Jessamyn pointed out to us recently, is trying to get the libraries to spend less through consolidation. So, let's assume the consolidation passed. Now all the libraries serve 40,000 or more. Which, if the certification document was then applied, would mean that no one could be hired in the state of Indiana to do anything in a library other than check people out and shelve books unless he/she not only had an associates degree but also has 9 credit hours of library science education under their belt? Is that undergrad or graduate level hours? Am I reading this correctly? Has anyone warned IU about this so they can offer an obscene amount of "intro to LIS" classes to meet this?

I'm originally from Indiana, so I have some vested concern in seeing what happens with the recommendation. It has not yet been passed and if it does, it looks like it will cause a lot of long range shake up. But overall it just doesn't make sense to me. Can someone out there explain it better?

Another Cute Hedgehog

Just a cute hedgehog print.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thoughts about Membership Renewal

It’s taking a lot of yarn these days to keep me going. So it’s probably a good thing that it’s the holidays and I’m on a holiday knitting deadline that’s less than four weeks away. I’m needing a lot of heavy doses of knitting needles and yarn to remain calm and I’m still calling up people and ranting excessively about things.

Right now, one of the things taxing my brain is ALA. If their customer service ever bothers to get back to me, I have to decide whether or not I want to re-up my participation when it expires. It’s a topic that I’ve seen other librarians go through and certainly I’ve sat down with a couple of people wiser than I to try and figure this out but so far—still very murky.

Jim Rettig, our President-Elect, who ran a fantastic campaign via YouTube recently posed a question to the New Members Round Table Listserv. He wanted to know what our most positive experience with ALA had been and how we could share that with others. I tried to consider what I had done with ALA and what I could consider to be a wonderfully positive experience that I could share with others. Truly, I was racking my brain looking for something. Some spoke about the joy of conferences. That wasn’t something I could really contribute to based on the one conference I attended. Others spoke of the welcoming nature of committees. Because I haven’t had institutional support in terms of funding and/or time to attend conferences nor a very strong desire to haul myself to wherever twice annually on my own dime/vacation time—I haven’t participated in any committees.

So instead of having an answer for Jim I find I’m a confused member, interested in being involved but not really sure where someone like me could fit in. I was recently relieved reading the thoughtful posts by Meredith and Rachel—it helped remove the guilt of not seriously ever having considered attending midwinter. And there was Josh’s post—which also reiterated many feelings I currently have. This year I don’t even have the option to consider either conference: I don’t get vacation until midsummer and do you really think they are going to let a Children’s Librarian go anywhere that isn’t a dire emergency during summer reading? Come on…who is kidding who here?

There’s been a recent spate of blog posts about virtual participation and restructuring of ALA. It’s kind of scary when KS can devote an entire post to just how many places ALA restricts virtual participation. Cost of travel is only going to rise. On the flip side high speed internet is becoming incredibly affordable—even for this little hedgehog who is paying all the bills by herself. But virtual participation is restricted and penalized. That’s assuming one can FIND virtual participation. I went to the ALA site and selected “Our Association—Membership—Get Involved” thinking that perhaps this would show the way. It leads to a dead site (available here 12/1/07). That doesn’t make me just want to hop into involvement—when I can’t find a way.

Eventually—via a comment on KS’s post about VP—I did locate a not very fleshed out wiki on the subject. Honestly, I’d never have found that without that direct link. I just went back to the ALA main page and you have to click on a not-obvious hyperlink to get to the wiki section and I just scrolled the index 3 times—and I can’t find the title of the wiki. Am I blind? Can you get to the Get Involved page from here?

It’s been recommended to join divisions. That seems to shove us into specialization whether we like it or not. Currently I’m a public librarian but I may at some point in my career go into something else—academic, corporate, special, archives. If I only join PLA—what then? That seems to keep me from cross specialization unless I cough up another 50-100 dollars to join another division where I'm not sure I'll be particularly welcome because I'm not currently an academic/special/etc etc. And the only benefit I seem to get then is another journal to clutter up my desk at work or my living room at home. I don’t even make it through my monthly National Geographic.

I know professional development and participation is important. I recognize that, I’m there with you. I just can’t seem to make the current system work for me. I’m willing to give it a stronger shot—but ALA needs to do some reaching out other than that glossy magazine that shows up on my doorstep every now and again. So while I haven’t decided on that renewal yet, I’ll probably hold onto at least general participation for another year. What else I’ll send money off to remains to be seen. Anybody in the Wisconsin Library Association want to rope in an enthusiastic but currently rather disgruntled hedgehog?