Monthly Archives: September 2014

Baby Lapsit, Friday, September 26

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Babytime babytime babytime yay!

We had lovely children today. Lots of babies. I had a few “volunteers” be my baby bouncers (not club/velvet rope/earpiece bouncers, I mean baby bounces) and my Pete’s a Pizza pizzas, which is so much better than using a doll, which I usually do.

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Other recent highlights of work:

* Having a big brother latecomer to storytime today being disappointed that he missed the Hokey Pokey, so we did our own, just the two of us, after storytime was over, and he was so happy. His dad was really happy too. It was fun, and made me feel good.

* Discussing the differences between Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” with two teenage boys. Granted, I had never seen the “Anaconda” video – I have since, and that’s now something that I can’t unsee. Dear chickadees, please spare yourselves and don’t watch it! – but we discussed how big of a role sampling should play in a song and how much of it should be original. It was a productive and interesting discussion. I did not, however, reveal to the boys that I knew all the words, because a) that would have scared them, and b) it would not have been appropriate library language.

How ’bout some links?

The number one spot goes to: R.L. Stine. Because FEAR STREET is back!

Number two has to go to these clever folks who wrote Shakespearean versions of modern songs. Brills.

Secrets from Hogwarts!

Wise words.

Because there aren’t enough. (Great title, by the way.)

I originally posted this with a boatload of expletives on FB. But Friend R, writer that she is, managed to express her befuddlement more gracefully: “Did she manage to do something worse than actually banning the book? Not that I am condoning book banning…but why rip it to shreds and tear out its heart and soul?”

Quick, someone teach me how to sew.

Are you a fast reader? I am, and I’m not sure whether I’m proud of that or not. (Extra points if you guess the text from which the sample text is excerpted.)

It may look like a random bit of wire, but….

So reading Harry Potter reduces prejudice. I coulda been a scientist. (I coulda been a contenda! I coulda been somebody instead of a bum.)

From Friend D:

Banned on the page? Take it to the screen.

Don’t forget that Lois Lowry gave us more than The Giver. She gave us Anastasia.

Doesn’t it seem appropriate that Wonder Woman was influenced by Margaret Sanger? It does indeed.

From Friend L:

I scored somewhere in the 60s, I think. (In other words, not scandalous enough.)

SNAPECHAT (there’s almost nothing better than mashing up Mean Girls and Harry Potter.

From Mama Bear:

These are amazing, and this is a real book. (Coworker W makes a chocolate cake that is honestly the best I’ve ever had. It’s soft and delicious and moist and chocolatey, and we call it her Bruce Bogtrotter cake. #Matilda)

If Neil Gaiman describes you as angry, run with it.

NSFW, but You Have to Fucking Eat.

Not sure how long these will last, but today’s the last day of Banned Books Week.

Gosh, I love my hometown.

I may have posted about these before, but now they’re a book!

More banned books. (Great timing, guys.)

Wouldn’t this be great?

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I mentioned a few posts ago how much I enjoyed Grasshopper Jungle. I just read another of Andrew Smith’s books, Winger and boy, does Smith seem to get adolescents. I can’t speak about what’s in boys’ heads, but it rang true and honest to me. I really enjoyed it, and want to read more. I also read a children’s book (mostly on my commute to work today) called Prisoner 88, and liked it for a completely different reason.  Oddly sweet.

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Happy Anniversary to MEEEEEEEE

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Today is my anniversary.

My one-year anniversary at the library.

I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it’s been a YEAR. A YEARRRRRRR.

This day, one year ago, I was beginning a week’s worth of orientation with my cohort of 150 other librarians, library assistants, techs, even security personnel, none of us knowing each other, wondering who we’d be placed with, what we’d be learning over the next week, and probably more than a few of us wondering what the hell we’d all gotten ourselves into.

I remember thinking, “What if this is just one big giant wrong gamble? What if I’ve left Old Job for this assumption that I think that being a librarian will be really cool? That I think this is what I want to do? And what if I’m wrong? How totally, completely, 100% screwed am I?” Then I worked myself into a rather unnecessary lather because, while these were all valid questions, I was already in too deep. Old Job had been quit, I was now a librarian, and it was just full steam ahead.

And it really was full steam ahead. I learned a long time ago that I learn best when I just jump in and go. I started my storytimes, I crafted displays, I began planning programs, and it wasn’t long before I felt like one of the team. And what a team! I must’ve asked the same questions over and over again, and not once did anyone grow impatient with me. (Well, not to my face, at least.)

TL; DR: It’s been a fast and fabulous year, and I am very happy, and very lucky. And to you, my dear readers, thank you for sticking through it with me. We’ve grown together, and we’re all still learning.

Actually, here’s a perfect story to illustrate that “still learning” part. When I was in teens before, the school group in the studio was having trouble with a piece of software on the computer; it just wouldn’t open. I’m not an expert, but I do know that the best way to resolve problems in the studio is to turn every piece of equipment off in the proper order, and then restart them all in the proper order. This works the majority of the time. So I did, and I tried opening the one piece of software.

Then I started talking to it. I petted the keyboard and crooned softly to the software. And in a room full of high school boys who probably thought I was nuts to boot.

Let me explain something: 1) Talking to inanimate objects is not considered weird at my library. We do it all the time to the stuffed animals in children’s. It’s probably not considered weird among librarians in general, but I haven’t done an exhaustive survey.  2) I still don’t feel 100% comfortable with all the equipment, as I mentioned, so I am not above a little bit of self-humiliation to get it working.

So there I am, petting the keyboard, and saying things like, “Who’s a nice ProTools? You are. Will you cooperate for me? That would be so nice of you. Come on.” And there are 5 15-year-old boys snickering behind me.

I bet you can guess what happened next. Yup, ProTools opened like a champ. And I turned around to those boys, and I was like, “Have no shame petting the equipment, boys. If it makes it work, who cares.” And they laughed, but I think it was with me more than at me.

That is how I conquered ProTools. Mama Bear always says that you catch more flies with honey, so…!

Links for today:

In the top spot: From Mama Bear: why YA fiction speaks to everyone.

Slightly NSFW: What Forever taught us about sex. (Everything.)

The people at The Toast are too, too clever. (Stolen from Friend J’s Facebook wall.)

I got Nicolas Flamel!

Tropic of Cancer! (Mama Bear got that too.)

From Friend D:

Women don’t get enough credit in the comic-slash-graphic novel world. Here are some who should. A fascinating read.

From Mama Bear:

I don’t lend out books anymore. Period. 

So pretty.

In What’s Annabelle Reading: I tried reading The Luminaries, but it was like slogging through concrete. Now I understand why some people just don’t like Austen. It won the Man Booker prize for a reason, but I suppose it’s just not my cup of tea. I also read Chris Bohjalian’s Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, and it’s grossly miscategorized by not being labeled YA. Have tissues handy.

Outdoor storytime Thursday, September 18

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I’ve mentioned this, probably numerous times, but outdoor storytime is an age crapshoot. I never know what ages are going to be there. I had a good mix of guessing game books. Who Says Woof is best for younger kids (and it has fabulous pictures), and Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do was rhyming fun for all. Lastly, I had Guess Again! by Mac Barnett, which had worked really well with a kindergarten outreach group on Monday, but these preschoolers were just a little too young. The adults liked it, so at least that was something.  It was my last outdoor one for the year, since we only do our outdoor storytimes through the end of September, which is practically next week.

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And on that note, when you bring out the Rosh Hashanah display, you know what that means: fall is here. When the Rosh Hashanah books are accompanied by the Halloween books, you know that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. Hard to believe, huh?

I put together the display along with our hard-working teen B, who was instrumental in cutting out the honeypots and Accu-cutting all those Apples.

Have a sweet new year!

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Links, yeah?

In the top spot: MacArthur Geniuses, and one of ’em is the immensely talented Alison Bechdel!

Who wants to go in on this with me?

From Friend D:

Worlds collide, eh?

A Q&A with Outlander author Diana Gabaldon.

I’d really love for my library to offer a dog-book-read-aloud… thing.

Want.

AS YOU WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISH

From Friend J: Sent with the subject line “Relevant to your interests.”

From Friend P: Hear Neil Gaiman talk about The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

From Mama Bear:

Matilda FTW.

For the love of libraries.

That is, indeed, a long list.

Not applicable to fast readers like me.

Isn’t Sendakiana a great word? (And doesn’t he look like Mr. Bean in that picture?)

1) We are all made of books and 2) Roxane Gay is the bomb.

A quick piece on Rebecca and shyness.

From Sister A:

More on Rebecca, this time on its relationship with Gone Girl.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I was 50 pages into this and gave myself a pass to quit, because I didn’t care a rat’s fart what happened to Victoria.

Things I think are interesting

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because I am a librarian. You may not think they are interesting, my dear readers, but you continue to read my random musings, and for that I am grateful.

Here is a heartwarming little tale for you. At my library we have a program for teen aides, but it’s more than just shelving and helping out 20 hours a week. The teens must apply, provide their transcripts and two recommendations, and after being hired, they attend workshops on applying to and financing for college, and make a little more than just  minimum wage. On the whole, they take it seriously. We just said goodbye to one of our teens in August, who was heading off to an Ivy League college.

So last week I was helping one of the teens in the Teen Space with his application, and when he was finished he asked where to turn it in. I told him, but before he left, I asked, “May I offer you some friendly advice?” He said yes, and I continued with what I hope was not a trace of snarkiness, because I really was serious, “You may want to consider turning in your application after you’ve changed out of your pot leaf t-shirt.” He thanked me and went on his way, and I figured that my advice went in one ear and out the other, like almost anything I say to teens.

Imagine my surprise, shock, and incredulousness when he came in the next morning in a neatly-pressed button-down shirt and tie and told me that he had just turned in his application. WOW! I was extremely impressed.

I mean, come on, who actually listens to ME?

This weekend was a madhouse. It was our early literacy festival, with musical acts, giveaways, food, face painting, representatives from the local PBS affiliate (including Clifford, and I got to hug Clifford, which was the highlight of my day), a caricaturist, and all kinds of great stuff. So naturally, we were mobbed. I was in teen for one wonderful hour, because it was quiet as the grave, and I got to gather my wits about me before I went back to the craziness of children’s.

Don’t forget that it’s Banned Books month. It is my favorite themed month of the year. Not because books are banned, but because of the awareness of the silly, silly reasons that books are banned. Here, for instance, are some of the books we have on display in Teen Space.

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And here’s a photo of some art that’s actually adhered to the front of my library right now. I love it. (You may know Laurie Halse Anderson as the author of many notable YA books, including Speak for which she is forever in Annabelle’s YA Hall of Fame).

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September is also National Library Card Sign-Up Month! I added my own reason to the ones in the non-fiction section.

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Here are links.

In our top spot today: If we’re going to talk about banned books, let’s look at some actual ones that were banned, and why.

A good idea.

Stolen from Coworker M’s tumblr: some thoughtful words on books and reading.

Phew.

Boy, do I wish I could put this up sometimes…

Neil Gaiman’s Hansel and Gretel is full speed ahead….

I love that a 14-year-old wrote this.

THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! (In all seriousness, did I ever mention I studied abroad in Bath? That’s my hood.)

The full Mockingjay trailer.

From Coworker J:

How do you keep librarians entertained?

From Friend D:

I won’t be seeing the movie, but I have a special place in my heart for Judith Viorst. I own all of her books. Autographed. #braggy

“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”

The Fitzgeralds are buried in my home state, didja know?

To which we both freaked out that there were books we’d never get to read.

From Friend E:

A mind-blowing statistic.

From Mama Bear:

All of these, please.

Not in my experience, but okay.

Librarians are bad-ass.

This article scared me, no joke…

From Sister A:

YAY!

In What’s Annabelle reading, I finally made it to Grasshopper Jungle, which I LOOOOOOVEDbecause it was a book about the end of the world by way of mutant bugs, but it was also a touching coming-of-age story, about being a teen in a small town, confused about puberty and longing and feelings and LGBTQ feelings and all those kinds of things. I felt like I was in the brain of a teenage boy, and with all due respect, I never want to feel that way again. If that’s how teenage boys feel every single second, I have no idea how they make it through each day.

Then I read Outlander, which was full of historical bits and sexy kilty Scottish sexy sex. And accents! Did I mention kilts? Kilts! Lots of plaid! Kilts!

Random comments and observations

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I’ll be doing Preschool Storytime later today, but I thought I’d blog now to put up some links and make some general observations.

1) Boss is meeting with some Ukrainian librarians today to talk about American libraries and how kids and teens use them. Pretty cool, huh?

2) Our info services team (a fancy way of saying “the people who manage our non-fiction section”) have been hosting Wednesday night movie musical sing-alongs all summer. Tonight’s offering is one of my favorite movies from childhood (shut up, I love it) and the tagline on the website and the adverts is “Microphones for the brave. Snacks for all.” Hee! They’re also having trivia before it starts, and prizes afterward for the “most spirited performance.” (Coworker K tested out the trivia on me yesterday and I answered so fast she must have thought I was a savant.) I’m definitely going – after I get out of work, I’ll grab some dinner and then come back to work. It is, as Sister A would call it, a busman’s holiday

3) Now that it’s back to school time, I’ve got to get back into the grind with our Teen Space rules – before 2:30 p.m., no one under 18 can be in Teen Space because of truancy rules, and if you’re in an alternative school or home-schooled, we need to see proof of that, thank you – and it’s amazing, truly amazing, how cranky some of the teens get when we politely, nay, pleasantly, ask for some ID or proof of age. I was just talking with a coworker about how some teens are so… and it took us a few minutes to come up with this word…. entitled. How angry they get when they find out that they’ve forfeited their studio session because they’re 45 minutes late. How they shouldn’t have to give us an ID to borrow some headphones. 

4) Coworker C put up a terrific bulletin board for Banned Books Month (September, booya, which reminds me, I should wear my bracelets all month), and it’s really quite clever:

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Damn, why can’t I come up with stuff like that? (Zoom in if you can and look at the background of the board.) When I remember, I’ll take a picture of our Teen Space banned books display.

Now, links:

Starting in each blog, I’ll give my favorite link, whether from me or anyone else, the top spot. The one that’s the funniest, most thought-provoking, strangest, etc. This one: would kids be too young to have a thoughtful conversation about this?

Never was a fan of the books, but here are some fun facts about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I’m looking forward to reading this

Thank goodness Hilary Mantel’s having an off year…

Forgotten Dr. Seuss stories are coming out (VIDEO).

Because libraries are so much more than books…

AGAIN…. we’re more than just books….

Authors throwing shade.

Skeptical, but if it’s true, then… well… okay.

I wish we could put this up in our library.

Lois Lane deserves more than being a background character, and she’s about to hit center stage.

Too pretty to eat.

Just saying….

This is brilliant all around, but the fact that Matilda herself posted this makes it better. And you should read her stuff too – she’s a good writer.

From Friend D:

More gorgeous book cakes!

A floating library (not a cruise ship library)!

From Friend L:

Seriously, I could NOT STOP laughing at this. And the link for the 29 more had me in hysterics. (NSFW for language)

From Mama Bear:

Remember a few weeks ago when I read the biography of Baltimorean Betsy Bonaparte? A writer from Baltimore (and a graduate of my alma mater) wrote a book about her best friend.

Well, duh. 

In What’s Annabelle Reading, I love fish-out-of-water books, where people are adjusting to new situations. That’s why I really liked this. An Englishman on an American aircraft carrier? Where do I sign up? I also read The Heat of the Sun, which I’ve already forgotten about and don’t even know why I finished it, I hated it so much.

Storytime with Toddlers and Babies, September 3 and 5

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This has been a tough week for me physically. I’m on a new medicine that’s making me sleepy, so I’ve been on the verge of conking out at my desk, during storytime, over my food, in front of my computer… strangely enough, the only time I got a second wind over the past few days was IN BED (preparing to watch my new Netflix obsession). So it’s been tough to keep my brain alert, and that’s been affecting me at the library.

I realize a lot with my toddler and preschool storytimes (not so much my baby and ones) that the line between the two is really thin. What will work for one won’t necessarily work for the other. 

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(Sorry, the picture is a little blurry.)

As much as I love books by Doreen Cronin, much of Stretch worked, but it would have worked even better with the preschoolers. The toddlers just weren’t there yet. 

Today’s baby time was filled with tried-and-true books, and boy, are they fun. So much fun. And it was a big group, too – over 30. 

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All winners. I even had a little boy – maybe 2 or 3? – who told me he was too old and didn’t want to be there, especially after I gave him a baby doll to rock/hold/bounce for our baby bounces, and guess who had the most fun? Of course. I love my baby time. I wish I could do it every week.

A funny story – I was chatting with one of my book club friends earlier this week, a music teacher, who teaches group music classes. It was funny how so many of the problems of my storytimes and her music classes mirrored each other: late arrivals, parents who won’t put down their iPhones or stop having side conversations, or bringing kids who are patently out of the advertised age group. It’s so nice to be able to moan about the issues I have and know that people outside the library system understand.

Oh, and an addendum to my last post, by the way.

I was walking down the hall today and saw one of our fourth-floorers (it’s easier to type “administrator,” but they are our fourth-floorers, which is how I refer to them,) and saw her signing briefly with a deaf patron. I didn’t know she could sign, and remarked that to her. She laughed, and said she really didn’t know how, but like “library Spanish,” she also knew “library signing” – a few basic words like “help,” “bathroom,” “where,” and other terms to assist the patrons. We could all use a basic course in library signing AND Spanish!

Just a few links today:

It hurts!!

Book masking tape, particularly.

More awesome gifts – and Sister A has #10.

A neat piece on mother-daughter book clubs.

From Mama Bear:

Good Omens is becoming a radio play (like everything else Neil Gaiman does)

From Sister A: A really cool read about children’s lit.

Working with Differently-Abled Adults

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One constituency that I haven’t had much of a chance to work with has been differently-abled adults. There is an Adaptive Services section at our branch, so they’re often over there in programs, using the computers or in meetings. But the times that I have been able to work with them, I’m fascinated.

Last night, a school counselor (who happened to be blind) asked for help in finding middle-grade books about friendship. But so that she could follow along with her student, I only pulled books that we had accompanying books-on-CD for. (Sadly, none of them were available on Overdrive for download.) When I went to give her the books, she was participating in a class in Adaptive Services on how to make your iPhones voice-responsive. It was fascinating. Luckily I was off desk, so I could sit and observe. 

This morning and the other day I worked with some deaf patrons. Often we communicate through writing and even a little bit of sign and gesturing. There were some lovely teens who were so grateful for the help I gave them – that’s a first, huh? – that they insisted on writing their thanks at the bottom of the page rather than mouthing it or signing it. It was great. 

But it also made me quite aware of just how lucky I am – how much I take for granted. How easy my life is. 

Anyway, links.

Is this art?

They’re on to us!

Tastes change, I suppose.

OR A SEA CAPTAIN.

Peeking into real lives.

True.

Yes please!

Whoa, dude, that’s, like, totally off the chain.

Back to school better book titles. (I particularly love the grammar one…)

From Coworker W:

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

From Friend D:

Sad, but true. And if Ira Glass says it, people will listen. 

From Mama Bear:

This is an absolutely outrageous overreaction that should make you really, really mad. 

How do young ones think?

Language history is cool.

What a wonderful idea!

I’m not a great Pinterest user, but these people are!

It’s probably best they left this out. It’s a little dark (chocolate, heh).

I had completely forgotten about But No Elephants! This is a great list.

In What’s Annabelle Reading, while camping, I first read a book that was better than I’d expected – a historical novel called The Shadow QueenThen I read The Victorian Underworld. I love that kind of stuff. Then I read an advanced reader’s copy of Juliet’s Nurse, which blah blah blah Romeo and Juliet. I bite my thumb at it.