Monthly Archives: March 2014

Little things and one big thing

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I have little news – thoughts about policies, etc. and some neat links to share, but today is a little-known national holiday. A very important holiday. 

It’s Mama Bear’s birthday!

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No, not the Mama Bear pictured above. My Mama Bear! Who is just as nice, helpful, and lovely as the Mama Bear from the Berenstain Bears, except MUCH less hairy. Much less. 

I wouldn’t be reading if it weren’t for Mama Bear. She always had a book out from the library when I was younger, always, and to this day has a list of books to read and a holds list pages and pages long. Sister A and I were regular devotees of the library when we were little, because it was always part of our list of errands, as much as the bank, the cleaners, food shopping, the library was a given too. 

Under Mama Bear’s tutelage – she taught me to read before I could even speak, and I’ve been talking for many, many years – I learned to love to read, quite early, and I remember when we would read the Little House on the Prairie series out loud, chapter by chapter, in her and Daddio’s bed. We started The Diary of Anne Frank as a read-aloud, too. 

Now we share what we’re reading, compare lists, refer books to each other, and, as you know, my dear readers, she is the best link-sender ever. What I post here is a fraction of what she sends me (you all haven’t been exposed to my Benedict Cumberbatch or Doctor Who obsessions, which she so generously indulges). This blog is as much her doing as it is mine.

Thank you for everything, Mama Bear! I am the reader I am because of you. You are the best and I love you so much.

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Now we’re changing tacks quite abruptly because it’s time to actually talk about library things.

Our staff meetings are always intriguing to me, because we all don’t always have a chance to get together. Yesterday was a lot of minutae that had been brewing for a while. Should we have food at programs? Don’t forget to let Boss know about any summer vacation plans. Here’s how we’re going to start weeding YA. 

But one topic that was up for discussion was about a not-insignificant part of our clientele in children’s and in the library as a whole – developmentally-delayed adults. They are adults, but they probably get the most use out of our department rather than the popular or information services departments.  

I remember in one of my early posts talking about some blurred lines, and this topic certainly qualifies. They may check out our DVDs and books and ask to use some of our coloring pages, but, since they’re older than 12, they’re not allowed to use our computers. They may not use the children’s bathrooms, either. Can they sit in the children’s area and read? Should we have a separate area for them to hang out – even if they’re with a caregiver? What about our developmentally-delayed adults who are independent enough not to need caregivers?  Would they find useful resources in our adaptive services department, which services our patrons with physical disabilities? Can our one faithful friend who loves to hang out in Teen sign up for the teen programs, or hang out on the fringes when we have our Wii Wednesdays or movie nights? Should he be hanging out only in the adult sections?

I hate having rules for rules’ sake, because for as many that work, there are still others which I think are silly. I don’t think we’ll ever come to one mind about it as a department, but we are going to start upholding more of the rules. (I do have to admit that I feel like a hypocrite kicking 20-year-olds off the computer, but our faithful friend at 22 would be allowed to stick around. I’m surprised that no irritated patron has pointed that out yet, because I wouldn’t have any articulate reason as to why S/HE would have to leave, but Faithful Friend could stay.) So the only thing we’ve really resolved is that consistency is the name of the game.

Ok, links!

If you love words, you really should subscribe to the OED’s word of the day email. Coworker J sent me today’s: pavisand, to display an impressive or opulent array of clothing and ornament; to flaunt one’s appearance.

HILARIOUS!

Friend E, a transplanted Angeleno, sent me this neat story about library happenings in his part of the country.

History is always, always interesting.

One of the worst things about my online dating experiences – and they’re almost universally terrible full stop – is that when men see that I’m a librarian, I almost invariably get an email containing some form of “Oh, are you a SEXY librarian?” (Yawn. Get a new line.) And yes, once, a few years ago, I did dress up as a sexy librarian for Halloween. But it’s just a stupid stereotype, and this is a great blog post about it

From Friend P, husband to the also prolific link-sender Friend D, some underappreciated masterpieces

Some depressing news from Friend D about the plight of bookstores in NYC.

Also from Friend D, here are teens trying to describe Divergent to old folks. 

Finally, from Friend D, these are just freakin’ creepy

The following are from the Birthday Bear herself:

How would you rank the Roald Dahl books? Spoiler alert, of course Matilda is #1.

More Buzzfeed interestingness, about language quirks.

The word “dystopia” gets thrown around a lot, because YA dystopias are the it thing. Here’s a primer.

Every so often I borrow a library book on my iPhone’s Kindle app. I do, as you know, also own a Kindle. Here are some great eReading apps. 

Literary podcasts!

The estate of Margaret Mitchell has approved a prequel to GWTW – this one about Mammy, who will finally get a real name. 

In What’s Annabelle Reading, nothing completed since my last post. So there.

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March Madness is Over

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Nope, I’m not talking about basketball. That’s still well and truly mad. What I am talking about is my March programming. I had a LOT in the past month. April, though, seems to be a lot quieter for me, which is both good – it’ll be calmer – but bad – I really like doing programs – so we’ll see how that goes. This week, strangely, I have no programs at all; no storytimes, no STEAMs, no nothing. A few meetings, but nothing to prepare for. It’s a strange feeling!

So here are some links. 

Sister A is a Gilmore Girls fan. I haven’t watched it (yet; I’ll borrow her series on DVD at some point), but I do know that books are a big part of it. Here are all 339 books referenced throughout the show. 

The beginning of my professional interest in libraries started about 13 years ago, when I moved to the city where I’m living now, and I joined the volunteers group of one of the branches. I worked in the sorting section of the used books on weekends, and twice a year we would have book sales. We still do (last weekend was one of the sales, but I couldn’t go because I was working), and we manage to raise money for the branch: baskets to carry books, a Wii for the branch, changing tables for the bathrooms, little things. I think we did well, but how about this group in Alaska who raised $1m?!?

From friend E, if the Game of Thrones characters were Muppets.

From Mama Bear; of COURSE Jane Austen would be Gryffindor. I mean, please.

Also from Mama Bear, aren’t these cool-looking? I love the ones where the back part is painted a different color; it really pops.

Great news, John Green fans! The same team that adapted The Fault in Our Stars into a movie will be adapting Paper Towns.

I have to admit, I’m going to read this, purely out of curiosity. And I state here and now that my reading it does not equal my condoning it. 

This is fascinating! How brilliant.

I’m proud to say I’ve noticed the card catalog in the background of the The Big Bang Theory set. I do want one, but not for the kind of money they’re going for

Finally, from Mama Bear: words are fun! Aglet! Punt! Gynecomastia! And if I ever got a tattoo, it would be an interrobang.

In our latest installment of What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished Divergent! I liked it much better than I thought I would. And I think I’m going to go see the movie this weekend, I think. I also finished Gillian Flynn’s Dark Placesand I very much liked it, more than Gone GIrl, and it’s odd for me to like a book in which the characters are unlikeable, which I think I mentioned when I read Gone Girl. But the plotting and pacing are so good that it makes it hard to put down.

Anniversary News – and Family Fun Time

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Today is my six-month anniversary at the library. I can’t even believe it. I have no idea how that happened. All of a sudden, it went from September to March. Crazy. 

Yesterday was my first Family Fun Time, and I chose the theme of sports. I had a disappointingly small turnout – only 6, 2 adults and 4 children, but everyone (including the adults) were great participants, and it went really well. We started off with some stretching and jumping jacks, and then I read Soccer Beatwhich was fun. We played Simon Says and sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and then I read Hooray, Jose!  Then we watched the 1946 Disney “Casey at the Bat,” which I loved as a kid, but I think it went over the kids’ heads. The adults liked it, though!

Finally, I read them Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully, (written by actress Julianne Moore, don’t you know), and then we played Wonderball, which the adults knew, and, I learned through an informal survey of my coworkers, is a generational thing. 

Then – the best part – I handed out medals! I have a photo of some of the remaining ones below, but there were no “Winner of Wonderball” or “Best Simon Says player” – I didn’t want any like that. All storytime related or praising their efforts or enthusiasm. I gave myself “Most Positive Attitude,” to remind myself on days when my attitude is not so positive that it can be!

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All my coworkers got medals, too. It felt nice to give them. 

I wish I’d had more of a turnout, and I think I’ll do this one again in the summer, because I really liked it, and I would think it would get a lot of attendees. Yay!

Now, links:

What we find in children’s lit – with a special visit from LeVar Burton!

The more I reread this post, the more the Giver trailer pisses me off.

From Mama Bear, the following:

Neil Gaiman on why scary stories speak to us.

A candid look at lunch at the American Girl Cafe.

New YA books to put on your reading list!

Why are YA heroines all petite?

From Housemate A: American libraries don’t read teenagers like they should.

From Friend L: Why teens love dystopias (spoiler: they’re living in one).

Two from Coworker W: 

SHUT UP, I’M HAPPY IN MY DENIAL.

Some of these might blow your mind.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I took a break from a book to read another book, and now I took a break from THAT book to read the copy of Divergent that just came in for me (!!!). I think I’ll go through it quickly, and let you know what I think. So far, I’m not writing home about it. 

Prep work

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Prepping for a program is great, but time-consuming, and it’s nice to feel things coming together. But at the same time, I’m never sure that the program will be what I want it to be – will people attend? Will they like it? Will they have fun?

I’m doing a lot of prepping for my Saturday “family fun time,” which I don’t know if I’ve mentioned yet. We started this in January, and it’s like a storytime plus – maybe crafts, or something extra beyond just stories. So I’m doing a sports one, and I’ve had my plans come together nicely. I can’t wait till Saturday morning to actually have the program, and then report on it.

Now just for some links.

First, and foremost, the trailer for The Giver. What the actual what? Shouldn’t it be in black and white? I am not thrilled about it.

The amazing Walter Dean Myers – a former Ambassador of Children’s Literature, like Kate DiCamillo is now – wrote about characters of color in children’s books (and the lack thereof) for The New York Times.

None of these are from my library. A few could be (not the one about the bats, though).

Mama Bear officially gave me permission to have any one of these 33 tattooed on my forehead.

I don’t think I ever read the Pippi Longstocking books. But when I was a kid, we had a Swedish movie version – really badly dubbed, if I remember correctly – on VHS. And Pippi was BAD. ASS. She did whatever she wanted, had a monkey, and refused to conform to social convention. How I wished at the time I were Tommy or Annika, to play with her – and even more to be her.

Shailene Woodley seems great. I’m looking forward to reading and seeing Divergent (guess who’s #1 on the waiting list for the next available system copy???). I’m not sure how I feel about this, though.

Speaking of amazing female characters, Sister A sent me this with the subject line “This may be my favorite Buzzfeed yet.” And I did honestly tear up a little bit though, reading the list.

Most libraries are very forgiving. These are some bananas fines – and some decades-late books.

I did like Hard Times when I just read it. And I think Great Expectations is Dickens’ masterpiece. Here’s some Dickens swag I’d be into having.

After I read The Interestings, I’ll read this.

In our latest installment of What’s Annabelle Reading, after Dickens, I wanted something a bit, well, lighter. And what’s lighter than a murder mystery set in late 1880s Colorado? Am I right? It was quite good. I love historical fiction.

Baby storytime and STEAM: Pi Day, Friday, March 14

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What a busy day. Note to self: two programs in one day is a bit much. But it was all fabulous.

The neat thing that I really liked about my babytime is that I had a lot of new parents and babies. I also tried to do a few new things.

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The books we read were all baby-related, and with simple rhymes and actions for the parents to do with the kids, or model for the kids – bouncing, or playing peek-a-boo, or lifting them up high – they worked really well. I recommend any of them, and will use all of them again in future storytimes. (One Hungry Baby, How Do You Make a Baby Smile, and Baby Talk.)

I brought out the shakers during our rhymes, when we did Hickory Dickory Dock and Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The kids were good at shaking in rhythm, and then loved shaking them for fun. It was a great storytime – I was really pleased.

It goes without saying that I’m an English major – that math was never my strong point. Ever. even now. And I figured, if I’m going to celebrate Pi Day, I’m going to do it as right, as clearly as possible. I mean, I have a problem still explaining and understanding Pi (don’t judge me), but I wanted to make it clear and enjoyable for the kids.

I made a flyer and set up a table, with Pi winding all around it, and a few math-related books.

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The day of, I didn’t have a great turnout – but I had some regulars, woo! – but I really liked what I had planned. I discussed Pi (I had a sheet of vocabulary that we’d be using – diameter, circumference, radius), and read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi .

We watched a few YouTube videos:

Explaining just what Pi is

Just how long Pi goes for (over a trillion digits!)…

And how Pi can even translate to music

I showed the music one last,  because that’s what our craft was about: I sorted beads into different colors, and gave each a number:

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Then we took the beads and strung them together in Pi. 3.14159….color-coded, if you will. We all had the same bracelet, which we agreed was like having a secret code that only we understood. Here’s mine, once it was done. (Of course, a pi bracelet can never be finished, but this was about 30 minutes’ work.)

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Links!

These were the illustrations in my (and Sister A’s) childhood copy!

This surprises me. I’m not complaining, though.

From Friend P (an actual Ph.D. reads my blog!): this is GORGEOUS.

From Friend E, John Steinbeck on love. Thoughtful (and universally good) advice.

There really is a science to opening books.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I’ve satisfied my Dickens craving by reading one I hadn’t read before – Hard TImes. It’s not as thick as, nor as epic as the “name” books (David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist), but a good read. There really isn’t a bad Dickens book, frankly.

School Visits and other Miscellany

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Tomorrow (or Saturday, whenever I get around to it – will definitely be a post about my baby storytime and my supercool program I’m putting on tomorrow. (Hint: what day is tomorrow?) But I have a few things I wanted to share before then so that I didn’t put up a megapost.

On Tuesday I hosted my first class visit – a bunch of 6th graders from a local private school needed to learn about researching. It was fun, first, because I got to see one of my grad school buddies, their librarian (Hi, K!) and, second, because these were neat kids. They were working on year-long projects, and were asking some great research questions: comparing Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the Ivies, exploring the Shakespeare authorship myth, or delving (metaphorically) into black holes. 

My coworker B really was a lifesaver. I can’t thank him enough. He knew just where to find our research pathfinders, how to plug in the laptop to project it, and discussed the databases before I demonstrated how to use the catalog. 

(Note: our catalog is really cool. When you’re looking up a title, you can text it to yourself, put it on hold, share it on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads, and other options. The kids thought it was great.)

I was nervous presenting to the kids – which my coworkers later said they could tell because I was talking a mile a minute – but the kids seemed to find it useful. I helped them to find books they’d looked up, and one gal – the one doing the Shakespeare authorship question – found about 20 books that would be useful for her. I’m not exaggerating. She was really excited. So was I, to see all of HER excitement!

The students had varying degrees of success with their research, but they have lots of online database resources that they’ll be able to use. A great group and a successful event. Now I feel much more ready to host a class visit by myself. 

In unrelated news, here’s a very strange, very depressing, yet slightly touching book we’ve recently added to our collection. 

Also, there must be something going around with our teenage boys. I trained two of them (separately) in the studio today, and each of them insisted on holding the doors open for me, and one of them, at the end of the training, looked me straight in the eye and shook my hand and thanked me. Whaaa? If this is a trend, I’m fine with it.

Links!

I love epistolary novels and diaries; I completely agree with this Buzzfeed post.

There is something rather fabulous about knowing which Jane Austen hero is right for you. I did always like the sense and slight haughtiness of George Knightley.

SIster A and I are rereaders. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read certain books (my personal record is Gone With the Wind, which I read 6 times over a 5-week trip to Israel when I was 16). There’s just something really comforting about going back to something you love. 

Thanks to Friend D for this one about actually USING the library.

Also from Friend D, this is just really freakin’ cool.

Without revealing where I live, we are waaaaaaaaaaay ahead of San Fran. And, sadly, a lot of these rules are broken, and bannings are issued, at my library and some local systems I know. We have a sophisticated system of warnings and bannings and a Code of Conduct that’s been around for I don’t know how many years.

Libraries + Kid input = some really neat designs.

Coworker J and I were talking about this the other day, when Mama Bear sent me the link right after. What an amazing opportunity.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I finished Carry Me Down (I love books about Ireland), which was well-written and quite sticky. Having read Dodger, now I’m on a Dickens kick, and it’s going better than I thought. Details, as always, once I’ve finished.

2s and 3s Storytime, Thursday, March 6

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I’m normally pretty big on themed storytimes – it keeps the storytime in order and helps reinforce whatever the kids are learning about – hands, the alphabet, farm animals, whatever. But lately I’ve been just looking for books that I think will work well with the age group, theme be damned. Yesterday was a lot of fun with a medium-sized group.

After our hello songs, I started off with Denise Fleming’s Shout! Shout It Out! , really encouraging the kids to say the alphabet, the numbers, colors, farm animals, and methods of transportation with me. They liked it – though there was also a lot of participation from the adults (which is always welcome).

After a few fingerplays, we went on to Sue Williams’ I Went Walking. I thought it would make a great flannel, and hoped we had one. We didn’t, and, undeterred, I made my own. I would have preferred to make color copies of the animals in the book, but there weren’t good ones to copy. So I found black cats, green ducks, etc., online, and made flannels from those. (The red cow was not a huge success.)

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Finally, after another song, we finished up with Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, by the hilarious Mo Willems, which I wish the kids had loved more. It’s a great storytime book, and kids love nudity and underpants, so maybe it would work better with preschoolers instead.

And it lasted 30 minutes, too!

In unrelated news, we have lots of great families who come to the library, who we’re getting to know, who really appreciate it and all that we offer, but there are some families who I feel like have never been in a library before. Who just open up food and stare at me when I tell them politely that eating is restricted to the first level. Who take their kids’ shoes off or let the kids take them off. (Why oh why would you let your children run around in bare feet or socks on a “foreign” carpet when you don’t know what’s been embedded in it? And believe me, you wouldn’t want to know.) I can tell you that if I’d ever tried taking my shoes off anywhere other than a pool or beach, Mama Bear would have had those shoes back on my feet in a red hot second.

Anyway.

Links!

Some fascinating facts about children’s literature.

Did you miss National Grammar Day on Wednesday? If you did, fear not, here are some shirts to get to prepare for next year.

The Anne Hathaway one really nailed it!

You all know what a Grammar Jerk I am. Some of these have driven me crazy – others, surprisingly, make sense.

Paddington! Paddington! Paddington! And the cast! (Also, did you know, there’s a Paddington sculpture in the station. I have a picture of it, but I can’t find it. Here’s a link; scroll down to the bottom.)

Did you ever make a book diorama as a kid? I wonder if Mama Bear remembers the one I made of Ramona Quimby, putting her doll (Chevrolet) into the oven. These are phenomenal.

I didn’t do very well on this.

Margaret Wise Brown is one of the grande dames of children’s literature. Goodnight Moon (I’m not linking to it, you all should own it) is the cornerstone of every baby’s library, or at least should be, and will be, when I am Queen. Now new poems of hers are being published.

From Sister A., about being an American girl, looking at Scout Finch and Harriet M. Welsch.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I delved into the world of Terry Pratchett for the first time, and really enjoyed the YA book Dodger, a book that combined Victorian England and real people, a good mystery, and mudlarks. A lot of fun. (I even got Mama Bear to download it and read it!)

Next I picked up a really terrible, really awful, just bad book, Cemetery Girl, which had a good premise – what happens when a missing child suddenly returns? – but bad writing and unrealistic characters.

Finally, I went over to non-fiction, and really enjoyed film critic Molly Haskell’s Frankly, My Dear, a look at both the book and movie of GWTW, and I learned a lot about Margaret Mitchell. A good time.