Friday, July 31, 2009

New Addiction: Hamster Launch

I have piles of things on my to do list. I have the new Donna Andrews to read. I have Season 3 of Bones to watch. I have a paper to get a rough draft finished and to my coauthor. I'm working all weekend.

And I so just want to spend the rest of the day and weekend playing

Hamster Launch 2

This addictive game brought to my attention courtesy of AudioGirl's boyfriend, who keeps appearing here often enough, he might have to get his own blog name.

But Wait? There was Monday!!

Okay, so I didn't leave the ALA Conference Sunday afternoon and come flying back the La Crosse, I did see some of my friends from Chicago.

Sunday night, I hung out with the Brunette's brother. He and I have an amazing ability to miss each other's phone calls. It's kind of uncanny. He'd leave a message, I wouldn't get it until three hours later and too late to meet up. I'd let him know of plans, he'd call back the next day or sometime in the following week. Repeat for the entire 14 months I lived in Chicago.

But here, we managed to coordinate not only phone calls, but locations! Who knew? We wandered over to West Fest and then to Old Town, trading stories at ridiculous speeds. Yes, I even took a picture to prove the occasion actually happened. Well, I didn't take it, but I handed off the camera for appropriate snapping of pictures.

Monday, AudioGirl and I set off for breakfast and then her local branch. To our mutual surprise and dismay, her library won't allow you to place holds on materials if you have a fine on your card. Nor will they allow online payments so that if you want to place a hold and have a fine, you could discharge it from home. No, you have to go to the branch to pay. Her suggestion: "Make me pay when I pick up the book, hold THAT book hostage, at least you know I want it and will come for it!"*

Despite being a large and relatively new building, walking into AudioGirl's branch felt like running a gauntlet. Yes, I know putting a desk where you walk in directs people to staff but it felt unwelcoming--this HUGE expanse of desk and nowhere to go but down a corridor past it into the computer area and be judged if we were worthy of using the materials. I suppose it was relatively similar at my old branch but at least there one could see books and seating area. Here it was all computer desks and it felt cramped.

I failed in the "are you worthy to enter" category. I had a covered cup of iced tea with me. I hadn't slurped it at high speed because we weren't actually using the library, we were never going past the gauntlet. But I got asked to leave with it anyway while AudioGirl paid a 60 cent fine and forgot to place the hold. We finally did put it on hold back at her house.

The drink thing both amused and saddened me. I understand it, truly I do. It's an urban library, and there can certainly be a lot of food and drink issues. Our policy at my current POW is no "meals" and we do try to keep food to the "toddler snack" variety, which seems to go over with our patrons. What this means for me is that I don't have to be the drink police and saying no. And to be honest, the last two big spills I'm aware of--both were staff members, both were in staff work areas, and one of them was me. I was just glad it was on a part of the floor that was linoleum, I was drinking a latte.

Following the library, AudioGirl and adjourned to a used bookstore for new-to-us knitting books and then to a large city park to bask in sunshine and soak up a lovely summer day with a friend. It was amusing to see from the bookstore markings how short a time good knitting books last. Both of the books we purchased had come into the store less than two weeks before and while they had shelves upon shelves of cookbooks, there was only one wee half shelf of knitting books. I finally replaced my copy of Stitch and Bitch, my other copy having gone to live with the Brunette.

Tuesday morning was breakfast and then back to La Crosse. The day was overcast, which actually helped. Driving back during the day puts me directly in the sun's path and I didn't really need my left arm to get completely burnt. I've done that once already, it's not fun. I pulled into La Crosse just after 4 p.m. and was on desk by five.

*Note: Have since spoken to Madame Director about online payments and how it might be possible without the money disappearing into city coffers. We're getting credit/debit payments, which is a significant start.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

ALA: Sunday

Bedecked with french-braided pigtails (what I do with my hair when it's wet), it was off to the LITA Program Planning Committee Meeting. I felt undressed, being one of a few in the room without my laptop, but as I was headed to the exhibits, I hadn't been able to justify the weight of bringing it along. I did have to turn off notifications on my phone temporarily--Griffey was tweeting from the other end of the table and it kept setting my phone off. Oops.

We had a good, productive, short meeting about timelines, deadlines, and ideas for programs. The initial program suggestion form had already gone out, now we had to discuss timelines to get things done. Though I knew deadlines were awfully early, my head was spinning to realize they really thought we'd have all programs submitted by the end of this year's conference. I'm still planning things for fall programming at my library, let alone programs for an annual conference NEXT year.

Back to the conference center, because the Incredibly-Patient-Mother was coming up for an exhibit day! Yippee!!

This was an afternoon planned to simply stroll amongst the vendors, partake of food type offerings, grab a couple Advanced Readers Copies of fall books, identify things that I wanted to order, and make trouble.

Yes, I’m a problematic little hedgehog. I had very strong words for Overdrive, most of them not very polite. I still need to sit down and write a full out letter to the president of Overdrive, because the “oh, we’ve never heard anything like that before” and lame excuses for your "front line promotional team" told with wide eyes just doesn’t cut it. Other librarians have told me of similar problems, don't lie to me.

The audiobook vendors were gently put off again, no, I don’t use standing orders, yes, feel free to email me things. I don’t do face to face meetings with vendors outside of conferences and I don’t like phone calls either. Send me an email, if I have questions, I’ll get back to you.

I talked with the lady who acquired Tum-Tum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn for the American market and celebrated with her how wonderful it was. I told her my primary market for it was 10 year old home-schoolers. She hadn't considered the home-schooling kids. :)

I got a few Advanced Reader Copies. I had no hopes of weaseling my way into another copy of Catching Fire, but I did get a copy of Kristin Cashore's newest "Fire". If you haven't read my Graceling review, see link. I haven't gotten to it yet, but it's high on the "read now" pile.

I was pretty impressed with most of the vendors. They engaged me in conversation, not immediately my mother. I wondered, as I can pass for well under my normal age in pigtails, if I'd be written off as one of the teens running around the conference. I grabbed some catalogs, ate a few cookies, got some insight on new foreign language stuff coming from Recorded Books (actually kinda interested in that), and met Carman Agra Deedy. I know her from her beautiful cockroach story and The Library Dragon, done so well and with such beautiful illustrations. She had a new book with her, 14 Cows for America. It's a post-9/11 story and between the beautiful words and the artwork, I was a mess by the time I finished reading it. Deedy graciously gave the teary-eyed me a copy and signed it for me--along with some posters that I'm going inflict upon my office mates because they are cool!!!

The Incredibly-Patient-Mother and I lasted until the vendors closed at five and then she drove me home, taking pity on her daughter who would have otherwise had to carry four bags of stuff back on Blue Line Shuttle Buses (Blue Line was still down).

The exhibits were the last task for me. I spun from there out into the summer sun of Chicago, ready for a street fair, fun and adventure.

And with my brain overflowing....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

LSW Meet Up (ALA Saturday Part 2)

Saturday night was the time I was most excited for when I was making plans for ALA, for it was then I would get to have dinner with 25 of my nearest and dearest Library Society of the World cohorts. Steve was bringing copies of the zine, to which I had contributed, and by dint of being willing to nag, re-shove it up the LSW list on FF, and make a reservation for 30 (they wanted a credit card number), I'd kind of ended up in charge.

I arrived at Giordano's just after six p.m. and met up with Stevi, who is a branch manager at CPL. She had the new Julia Quinn, I the new Eloisa James. There was much to discuss. People started trickling in, with me doing my meercat impression peering around for people and all of us asking random passersby "Are you here for the LSW Meet up?" We adjourned to the table to find more people already waiting on us!

Giordano's did a tremendous job, our waitress was awesome and here was a chance to relax, kick back, and talk smack about libraries. Yah....uberdork. Sorry.

We had one colossal beverage spill, I'm still not quite sure how it happened. A bumped elbow into a jarred knee against a table, I think... The poor girl it landed on apparently had already spilled coffee on her other pair of pants. But we survived. And we had quite a good time.


Afterwards, and it was a long fun and raucous meal, with people dropping by and tweeting in greetings, we adjourned to the Billy Goat Tavern for the Facebook Librarian's Meet up...or LSW Meet up continued.

Finally, I headed back up to ground level and hopped in a cab. Back to the west side and planning another early morning for Day 3.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ALA: Saturday Part 1

I had every intention of making it to an eight a.m. session on Saturday. But when the alarm went off at 5:45, Dinah came in to snuggle, and who am I to turn down a small furry cat? So I made it down to the conference center around 9 a.m. I had surprisingly good bus karma, vaguely remembering where the Milwaukee bus went and where I needed to get off now that the Blue Line was down . After only being verbally assaulted by one loud guy who felt the need to share his opinion of the new Supreme Court Justice nominee and how I was evil because I'd stopped for coffee, I hopped on the conference bus and headed downtown.

Sibling-the-Elder was up for the day in the exhibits and I tracked her down for a hug and hello. To my surprise, I saw Rachel Singer Gordon passing by and took the chance to introduce myself to the woman who has been trouncing me soundly at Scramble. Not bad for catching people on the fly!!

Then it was off to the AASL President's session. The room was already full when I got there, so I was in the next to last row with my coffee and donut. (There was a LOT of coffee and baked goods that weekend.) The presentation, once the official stuff was waded through, was "Literacy Leadership and Librarian Flair, engaging 21st -Century Readers with Three Award Winning Young Adult and Children's Authors." And I have to admit, I went because I wanted to see Laurie Halse Anderson in person. See the woman sitting in the middle with the red scarf?? That's her. That's as far as my camera would zoom in, sorry.

Anderson, Alan Sitomer, and Jacqueline Woodson spoke about inspiring students to read, as Sitomer said, in spite of school. In spite of the piles of textbooks we weigh them down with, in spite of the required reading, in spite of the multitude of other stimuli around them, kids continue to read, they continue to be engaged with books, they enjoy and want to read. Anderson was dynamic, capturing a huge audience, and Sitomer was no less so. My brain disengaged slightly with Woodson.

I might also have been distracted by the fact that our Branch Princess scored an advanced reader copy of Catching Fire, the Hunger Games sequel! I immediately tweeted it out so coworkers could put their names on the "I want to read it!!" We have six consortium wide copies on order so far (four here) and 32 holds. It's going to be big.

Then it was a cruise around the exhibits and lunch with Sibling-the-Elder. She likes to powerwalk the exhibits and, as it wasn't really my exhibit day, I was fine with that. The food left a lot to be desired, though there was a lot of it. The "slice" of pizza I got could have fed three people. We had a nice chat about which vendors we liked working with, who we were definitely trying to avoid, and her thoughts on the Evergreen migration that she and most of Indiana have undergone. She's a big fan.

I popped into a 2.0 session briefly, but I left after the focus appeared to be Second Life, which I haven't opened in months. I hear brief mentions of it being used here and there, but I don't think Second Life has taken off the way it was originally intended. I always got frustrated with a lack of anyone to talk to--no matter what time I was on Info Island.

Back to the exhibits then and the very nice people at HarperCollins gave me a copy of Eloisa James' newer than newest book! (The new book just came out in July, the one I got won't be on shelves til September) And she was there to SIGN it!! There might have been some hopping up and down. As I waited through perhaps three or four people I turned to watch the line for the person signing across the aisle.

I did not wait in Neil's line. As much as I would have enjoyed to, the line was a couple of hours long and I had a romance novel program to get to. My final program for the day was "Love is in the Air: Romance Writers Discuss Their Work."

We needed a bigger room. People were sitting on the floor. Debbie Macomber, Eloisa James, Laura Caldwell, and Cathie Linz talked about romance as a genre, their approaches, and what is coming next for them. It was refreshing to sit in a room and know we all read romances, we all enjoyed them, and there was method to the madness. The women were well spoken, well written, well received by their audience. Though of the four, James is really the only one I read with regularity, I could easily see myself picking up the work of the other four and enjoying it.

And then, with only one frantic call to EJ as I tried to figure out where exactly Franklin Street was in relation to the Palmer House Hilton, it was off to the LSW Meet up. But that's another post.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hedgehogs in the Garden

We interrupt this ALA review broadcast to bring you a hedgepig. Courtesy of Sibling-the-Elder

ALA 2009: Thursday and Friday

Finally, it's time for an ALA Recap. This might take a couple of posts, so I don't completely overwhelm you--but won't you come along for the review and ride?

Thursday, after a rousing day at work and an emergency appt at the orthodontist to stop one of the wires from slicing up my mouth, I headed out of LPL at 1 p.m. It was home to finish packing, take a meeting with New York, and clean several pounds of strawberries that were languishing in the refrigerator. I didn’t do the greatest cleaning job, nor freezing. The 4-H judges would have been stunned to see my flinging of the strawberries into Tupperware without flat freezing first. Sorry. I decided it was more important to get the berries frozen rather than meet Alton Brown's standards of acceptably frozen fruit. They'll still go well with champagne, pancakes, and smoothies.

I drove down, and it was a perfect day for the drive. I'd not been on a long drive on my own for some time and the sky, road and temperature were perfect. It was incredibly cathartic to relax back in my seat, turn up loud summer anthems, and try to keep the speedometer in an acceptable range. I pulled in to AudioGirl's a little later than planned and spent far more time than usual finding parking. We agreed that I had bad parking karma. AudioGirl, her boyfriend, and I went for tapas and sangria and to discuss what young adults (not teens, people in their 20s) would use a library for and what types of programs would bring them into public libraries.

Friday morning brought an early start, I had to get across town and down to the Chicago Hilton (not the Palmer) for Unconference by 9 a.m. Armed with Starbucks, I hopped on the Blue Line. Have I mentioned how much I desperately miss regular public transportation? Once downtown I walked to Michigan, but the humidity was to a level that I found unacceptable--so it was onto the bus. And I spotted my first conference go-er (well, maybe not my first but my first painfully obvious one). If the purple hair hadn't given it away, the yellow lanyard with name badge did.

When I finally figured out how to get downstairs at the Hilton, I walked into a busy room--of friends. There were about 80 of us in the room, and I knew a surprisingly large number of them. It was an unusual and amazing experience, one that I'd repeat over the weekend, of "meeting" people I already knew. Introductions weren't really necessary and we went immediately from "Yes, of course I know who you are" to continuing conversations from days, weeks, and months before. The "longest-known-never-met" award went to Brian Gray, who I've known for the better part of five years.

And then, armed with coffee and muffin, we settled in for Unconference. Organized by Michelle Boule and Meredith Farkas, we charged into two sets of 15 minute presentations, interspersed with discussion sessions. It wasn't quite what some would consider a "true" Unconference, in that we had chosen the presentations and discussion sessions in advance, but as most of us were traveling quite a distance, this preperatory planning was understandable and the ladies, despite both having newborns, did a magnificent job.

I won't go into a detailed schedule of the presentations, you can find that here, including a number of the slide decks used. Matt Hamilton, I think, won the most awesome slide deck award of the day.

Things that really stood out for me:

* Jason Griffey pointed out that 2.3 sms messages were sent last year. And not all of them were teenagers saying "OMGWTFBBQ!" Cell phones, cell service, and texting is here and infiltrating our world. Some countries have more cell phones than people. If our local coffee shops can send us texts with offers for the week (though we wish they'd just send out the soup or donut list), why not libraries?

* Rachel Vacek talked about using mobile applications as a way to reach out to your users. Many of them are already using some kind of mobile app, how can you meet them? She mentioned asking your users to create an app for you--I wonder if we could get one of the local uni computer science profs interested in that as a practical application project? Hmmmmm.

The presentations moved quickly--only fifteen minutes was allowed, including a question period. It was the goal to get us thinking and we did. Questions flew fast and furious and there were obvious times we could have stopped and talked for hours--but our time keepers kept us going, which helped us keep things going without getting bogged down or into arguments.

We had discussion periods. I talked with several librarians about how we're using social networks to reach our patrons and no one really had best practices. We discussed making sure it's a Library presence rather than a specific librarian's presence, how to pull users back to your site, concerns about patron privacy if they ask a reference question on a social networking site that's going to retain that information, and how often to update the Twitter feed. I did feel that the word "widget" was overused in some cases, but that could be a personal hang up.

I had my discussion topic picked!! Granted, I mostly talked to people in passing about the subject, but there is definitely interest in how to get people back into libraries after they graduate from high school or college and how to continue to be relevant to our TAX BASE. More on that in another blog post.

By the end of the day my brain was full and I was wiped. Brimming with ideas and new/old friends and conversation, a small cluster of us swept out to walk to the Palmer for the LITA Happy Hour. And in some kind of odd musical theater way, we kept adding to the cluster. I think we left the Hilton with four people and arrived at the other Hilton with about ten. Here I got to "meet" Tombrarian, Iris, Dorothea, Walt, the girl who works with my former cohort Patrick at Yale (sorry, I can't find your Moo card!!). Another round of "yes, I already know you!!"

Then it was back to AudioGirl's, where we succumbed to humidity, long days and the ready availability of good snacks already at her house.

(Photo of Aaron, Iris and Tom at LITA Happy Hour)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blogiversary: Year 3

Happy Blog Day to Me...Happy Blog Day to Me

I'm actually still in the same geographic state I was last year. For a while it did seem I'd have moved every anniversary of the blog. Of course, the people with whom I exchange Christmas cards know to expect mine early and send mine late, just in case. When you change addresses at least once a year for over a decade....

State of the Blog:

Everything is in "Draft"

There are definitely things I want to say and think should be said. I just have to write it into something more coherent than my brain after three shots of espresso.

So I'm still here, pouring out my mind. Thanks for coming along on the ride.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Clinical Reader: A Example of Social Media Fail

I'm passing this on not so much because it has an effect on my immediate library but it shows how people are using new social media tools and how companies can badly screw up.

The short version: A new "medical" website Clinical Reader claimed to have endorsement from NLM and had some nice graphics. Problem 1) National Library of Medicine doesn't endorse commercial ventures and Problem 2) Misused copyrighted images. A medical blogger called them out on it--politely, but firmly. Clinical Reader, via Twitter, threatened Nikki with legal action. And that's just where the drama started.

It's interesting to review, even if only to be aware of the drama-llama grandstanding, they really didn't do that, did they? Nothing new to the libs who've been following but for others who might now have caught the drama:

The blog post that started it all:

Two really good summaries of the insanity (the latter one is LONG but worth wading through):

Nikki's open letter to Clinical Reader:

In Defense of What I Read

I read romance novels.

This potentially embarrassing statement, which comes as little shock to anyone who has known me for more than six months, ever seen my bookshelves, or watched me check stuff out at work, puts me in a category that is about as stereotyped as my current profession.

Let's see if I remember it right. I read romances therefore I

a) have unrealistic expectations about relationships
b) am waiting for my rich sheik to show up
c) am sexually repressed
d) have some odd fascination with sex scenes that are full of euphemisms
e) can't find anyone willing to date poor pathetic little me
f) hate men
g) don't ever read anything else (yes, AudioGirl's boyfriend once said this to me when I was carrying around a copy of Everything is Miscellaneous)
h) spend my days dreaming about getting married and taken away from it all

To add insult to injury of the wounds of those "forced" to notice that yes, I have a 350 page paperback with a woman in a pretty dress or a half-dressed man on the front, I read historical/regency romances and paranormal, so obviously

i) I have huge issues with dealing with the real world
j) I'm waiting for a vampire to come and take me away from it all. Or werewolf, we won't be too picky.

*clearing of throat*

Now, I won't pretend that romance is not a lovely, brief escape from the every day. If it weren't, I'm not sure I'd read it as much as I do and/or have in the past. But, as AudioGirl and I have discussed, it's my television. Other than Bones, which I'm only watching one season at a time (I'm almost up for a glut of Season 3), my television watching is pretty much restricted to the occasional Alton Brown, What Not to Wear, Iron Chef and Clean House. Assuming that under all the dust there is still a television. These tales, mostly about relationships, capture me, take me away, and let me imagine a world where dukes or nice vampires trip down the street at every turn. (Seriously, where DO they find all these titled men?)

Romance has been described as a red-headed stepchild, something to be embarrased about, I've even called it a guilty pleasure. But I would consider it certainly nothing to be more upset about than an obsession with a television show. Same premise, right? Situation that needs to be handled and tied up, preferably in a punish bad guys, reward good guys way within a set period of time. TV can handle crimes, romances, friendships, and everything else in approximately 22 or 40 minute chunks, why assume books can do anything less in 100-350 pages?

And it's interesting to see how romance--the most widely read genre in the world and the one area of publishing that seems to really be thriving and growing even in the current economy--is starting to get recognition. I was pleased to see an article featuring two authors I really enjoy: Eloisa James and Julia Quinn, both of whom are Ivy-League educated women as well as on the New York Times Best Sellers lists for their witty, funny and thoughtful novels.

I had the pleasure of hearing James speak at ALA. I think I'd really enjoy to have her as a professor (her "other life" as a tenured professor at Fordham). She has an interesting sense of humor and, as she described, she writes about couples who will end up in an ultimately healthy respectful relationship. Yes, there are problems, but, like sitcoms, they're solved by the end of the book.

So I'll keep on with my "sitcoms" which, nicely, don't come with commercials, and need not be dvr'd.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Book Review: 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You

10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job)
Rev. Oliver "Buzz" Thomas

I picked this one up on a whim, stumbling across it somewhere now long forgotten. It's short, pointed, and thoughtful and written in an approachable tone.

Thomas addresses ten familiar points/questions that are items we often see brought up in the news, from pulpits, and hotly contested among Christians.

1. How did it all begin?
2. Why are we here?
3. What is the Bible?
4. Is there really such a thing as a miracle?
5. How do I please God?
6. What about women?
7. What about homosexuality?
8. What about other faiths?
9. What happens after we die?
10. How will it all end?

Each question is thoughtfully explored, given some historical context and, where he can, Thomas points to translation of the Greek texts as we have them. (BTW--there's the new "oldest Bible" online--if the hits haven't crashed the server again) It's practically written to--not attempting to revolutionize one's opinions but answer, in the friendly pastoral way, questions that you might have.

I was intrigued by some of the points made and wish Thomas had included a) footnotes and b) a reading list. I think this will spark discussion and could spark research interest. Certainly it'd be nice to know where he got some of his information. An interesting read.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Where Will the Hedgehog Be?: The ALA 2009 Edition

I'm in Chicago for the ALA Annual Conference and Unconference and the seeing of AudioGirl...well, I'm crashing at her place anyways....

The tentative schedule:


ALA Unconference (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) **Lead Discussion from 3:20-4:10 on Libraries and Young "Adults" (not teens)
LITA Happy Hour (5:30-8 p.m.): Potter's Lounge Palmer House Hilton


8:00-10:00 a.m.
Technology and the Developing World
(MPW W-179)

10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Literacy Leadership (I wanna see Laurie Halse Anderson)
(MPW W-184)

1:30-3 p.m.
Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled It's Promise
(MPW W-181)


Life After 2.0
(MPW W-190b)

3:30-5:30 p.m.
Love is in the Air
(MPW W-194a)

6 p.m.--whenever
Library Society of the World Meetup
Giordano's on Jackson


7:30- 9:00 a.m.
Scholastic Library Publishing Breakfast
Shertaon Chicago Hotel Ballrooms

10:30-12 p.m.
LITA Program Planning Meeting
Palmer House: La Salle 2

12:00 - 5 p.m.
Exhibits with the Incredibly-Patient-Mother

I am best reached by cell phone...interwebs will be sporadic this weekend. Catch me if you can!!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hedgehog Crossing

No...not my ALA schedule yet. I'm working on that. This is courtesy of Laura B :)

Mixed Management...

Jenica has a very thoughtful post about management, and the general attitude of library professionals towards management and managers. The attitude is skepticism, fear, mistrust, anger, and general frustration and she makes some excellent points about the comments that have been made to her since taking on a directorship for one of the SUNY schools.

The comment that best struck me was the "don't forget where you came from." Her answer is somewhat indignant and rightly so. And while I don't expect her to overnight turn into someone completely incapable of remember how to answer a reference question, it pointed out something that I have witnessed with managers and educators within the library profession. When moving into management or education, it seems to become beneath many to actually perform the everyday tasks called upon by the majority of your staff or students.

I have had the unfortunate experience of watching a reference librarian I respected advance to the directorship of a library. The power went to her head and I've watched her not only find the work of the library beneath her, including the work that falls into her job responsibilities, but also run off the good people who worked for her. It's become a toxic environment where the focus seems to have become building her legacy, as it certainly doesn't seem to be patrons, materials, staff or anything else. I've met managers who were firmly of the belief they should only ever work bank hours and certainly never on a public service desk (not because they were needed elsewhere--but because it was beneath them, keep that in mind). But then, I worked for a system that adamantly argued that I as a professional wasn't to shelve but conversely the pages who only shelved weren't allowed to do a "shelf check" for an item for someone from another location. If that isn't convoluted and setting people up with a "beneath me" mindset, I'm not sure what is...

And then there's the story that hit a week ago from Tulsa--where the Library CEO has had her position restructured so that she has no day-to-day responsibilities in the building and gets to work from home two days a week--with the same pay. They say it's having an effect on employee morale. Without day to day responsibilities in the building, or even having a presence in the space, it's rather unclear how the CEO is planning on staying aware of what is going on and what the needs of her staff are.

But for the ones that scare me to pieces, there are managers I have to point out my admiration for.

At present, I have the pleasure of working both with Madame Storyteller and Madame Director--neither of whom despite their lofty titles and extended experience--find shelving and checking out books beneath them. Granted, shelving isn't the everyday task of these two women, who have a lot of other things on their plate, but Madame Director takes a shift on the circulation desk nearly every week. It's one of the best places to catch her when I need something signed, because for those two hours, I can guarantee she'll be pretty much in one spot. But it also shows to our aides and the other managers that she values that work just as highly as any other professional work, and it's noticed and appreciated.

And there is a branch manager at CPL that I would have stayed for, had they let me work for her. She has the management of a west side branch and works, works with and for her staff, and is pretty awesome. As a result, people really want to work at her branch.

We do need a shift in our view of management, on that I agree with Jenica. But we need to find a way to highlight the managers who are doing it right, doing it well, and training other good leaders--as opposed to those who are most concerned with getting things out of it only for themselves, such as those banking hours and relief from the ref desk. Myself, though management wasn't my initial goal on entering the field, I see it as somewhere I'd like to go. I've managed people before and it's one of the few promotional paths available to me. I just have to remember what the Incredibly Patient Mother taught me about management long ago: one leads by example and a good manager won't ask you to do something he or she won't do*.

*with the caveat of course for things one physically can't do or don't have the appropriate training to do

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Book Review: Graceling

Kristin Cashore

I kept hearing that this book was good. And it duly followed me home and sat in my library basket. And sat. And sat. Finally, when TeenLibrarian said "super awesome must read!" I cracked the cover.

In the kingdoms people are born with Graces, which come apparent when their eyes change to be two different colors, usually during childhood. Some Graces are very helpful (healing horses), some worrying (mind reading) and some odd (climbing trees). Those that are useful are put into the service of the King, others are left with their family, outsiders not fully accepted because of their difference.

And among the Graced is Katsa, who has the Grace of killing. Now required by the King, her uncle, to be his enforcer, Katsa is not especially pleased with her role in life. When she meets another Graced fighter, though, life takes an unexpected change. There are battles, cruelty, survival tests, love, and murder.

It's one of the best written books I've read in quite a while. There's a lyrical epic-poem quality to the writing, you're easily absorbed into the story and the emotions of the characters. You feel for Katsa, a young woman required by her king to kill or maim despite she often sees that the king's actions are wrong. Supporting characters are well defined, allowing for loving family relationships, new friends, and realistic insights into how even good people at times have only their own best interests at heart.

Well done, I'm looking forward to the sequel due out this fall.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

It comes as little secret that Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I have Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice quite nearly memorized (I'm close on Sense and Sensibility), mostly from having listened to Nadia May's readings of them while working on my databases or driving. I have no doubt my next door neighbors were relieved when the last round of data entry was complete last fall and the calm female voice no longer hummed on for three to four hours at a time.

Keeping this in mind, I wasn't overly excited to see this title come out. Certainly many authors have taken the characters and continued one of the stories or borrowed them. The Dashwoods show up in Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair for example. But I've not made it a big practice to read continuations and the whole zombie thing just doesn't appeal to me. I'm okay with vampires and werewolves, but not so much with zombies outside of MJ's "Thriller."

It sounded funny and tongue in cheek, though, so I grabbed it--ahead of Oprah mentioning it and causing the library hold lists to explode.

It started out well enough, the girls transformed from mere husband hunters into zombie warriors who have trained in China. And the majority of the text was lifted from the original, with zombie scenes added in discreet places in between Miss Austen's. But then Mr. Grahame-Smith started altering the attribution of dialogue. While I knew it shouldn't bother me, and it wasn't done in such a fashion to make dialogue not work...I knew immediately when he'd changed something. (As I told the Incredibly Patient Mother, my brain wouldn't stop shrieking "But he doesn't apologize to Mary....")

He threw in odd, sharper dialogue between the characters--particularly coming from Darcy and Mr. Bennett. These two men, for their faults of pride and lacsidasicle raising of daughters, are supposed to be gentlemen. Odd references to the sexual definition of the word "balls" (as opposed to the dancing) and rude responses jarred me out of the text. And, for me at least, it didn't add. Fighting scenes, visually descriptive enough scenes of people being eaten by zombies that I wouldn't want to read this and eat spaghetti at the same time--those worked and were interesting. While most of the characters needed to survive (won't work if Darcy is the living dead), Mr. Grahame-Smith found a way to kill one of the characters off who survives the original.

Overall--mixed feelings. It was interesting and made the girls a little more active than just five young ladies seeking husbands but I definitely found elements of the change distracting and contextually jarring (moreso than the dead crawling out of their graves and eating people's brains even).