Monday, December 31, 2007

My favorite post written by me so far 2007

(With, as my colleague assures me, less than 11 hours to go)

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times...

The year in posts

So there's this meme going around libraryland - go back and post the headline of the first post you made for each month over the last year. So here goes

January: Stuff to Look Out For 01042007
Interesting stuff for the new 2.0 Reader’s Advisory/Librarian/Bookjunkie world
March: OK, this was actually a picture, not a headline. You'll have to go to Tuesday, March 20, 2007
April: And I'm back...
May: Library Heck
June: Brushes with the Newsworthy
July: Declaration by Gemma Malley, RA Copy, due out Oct 2007
August: PLAN IT DANG IT!!!!
September: When it's time to change the channel
October: Whuzzup at the 'ol Biblioteca
November: Laugh, cry, sigh, or run away?
December: Iowa Caucus Drinking Game - 1

Interesting. Just looking at the headlines you wouldn't know what kind of year I head (other than suspecting a slight hissy-fit in May and in August. You do notice a very definite slant away from libraryland. Which may be a good sign. It may be I'm getting a life!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

And the planet on which this is appropriate?

A Black T-Shirt BOLDLY proclaiming "F*** You, You F***ING F***" I don't care if it's a quote from Shakespeare, this is just Not Appropriate outside of...well, I'm sure there must be a place it's acceptable. It just escapes me now.

Some years back, I actually saw a variation of this phrase on a t-shirt worn to my stepson's Junior High Choir Concert? What kind of sense does that make? Is it the only shirt you own? You couldn't stroll over to Salvation Army or Goodwill and spend a buck for a better one? You couldn't put a "need" post on freecycle? HELLO?

Not that I'm saying the person doesn't have a right to wear such a thing. Just because I find their choice of free speech Inappropriate doesn't make it unspeakable.

It just makes me want to holler. "LOOKIT YOU, YOU LUGUBRIOUS LOUT!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Iowa Caucus Drinking Game - 1

But enough of this 6 steps for now. It's time to Get Serious. It's time to spend a few weeks preparing ourselves for that most wondrous of events, the glory of our hearts, the rock of our souls: The Iowa Caucus. And, more importantly, the Iowa Caucus Drinking game. Now I haven't thought this completely through and, being a non-drinker just now I may have to improvise on the usual game rules.

So let's start with the improvised NA rules - please feel free to play by the traditional rules as well:
1 sip = 1 point, etc.
1 shot = 10 points
2 shots = 20 points, etc
1 shot+1 sip = 11 points
Chug your drink = 1000 pts
Chug your drink, grab the bottle and slam it down = 5000 pts plus one trip to the hospital

In this modern day and age, I would suggest a random shuffling between "live coverage" stations for the evening. 5 minutes each, then switch. I'm sure some of you have remotes that allow you to go to 5-10 distinct stations without having to reprogram all your favorites? Or maybe just for the night, I dunno.

Hit a commercial? Everybody but the person with the remote loses the next turn. The person with the remote loses 2 turns. Best to circulate the remote, gentlemen.

Optional: Choose 3 or 4 newsfeeds or websites for ongoing coverage, switch and refresh every 5 minutes.

To begin:
Live remote from Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City: 1 sip
Live remote from Danish Immigrant Museum in Red Oak: 1 shot

Interview at the local Kiwanis, Elks, Moose, KofC, other fraternal lodge or non-educational, non-religious venue: 1 sip
Interview at a Flying J truckstop: 2 sips
Interview at a random truckstop and/or diner: 3 sips
Interview at my aunt and uncle's truckstop on Highway 1 near Cantril: 5 shots and some aspirin

Please feel free to contribute. Especially in the areas of mispronounciation and potatoes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Six Handy Steps, Step 1, Part 3

Sometimes it's hard to identify just what is happening that we need to accept. By golly, we know something's out of whack. Just what the hell is it? We're not drowning in a lake. We didn't just marry a stranger. We didn't just win the Nobel Prize. How can we accept where we are if we don't know where that is? And, worse, are we really where we think we are?

I suspect that's a problem more common than any of us realize. Who isn't familiar with the example of the person who comes home from work and gets angry with the dog when, really, deep inside, it's his or her boss who deserves the anger? It happens. And it's good for the moment. It's ok to hang out in unawareness for a while. You're only human.

Sooner or later, you're going to want to figure it out. Your dog is gonna have a nervous breakdown and then you're going to feel even worse. So get some tools and start digging. Your location will soon reveal itself.

Grab a pencil, paper, and an emergency box of tissue. This could get scary.

Across the top of the paper write the following words:
should, would, have to, has to, must, ought, but, could, need to.

Mentally go through a few conversations or situations you've been in within the past 24 hours. Number one could be the new project your boss handed you. Maybe number two is the rumors of a complete rearrangement of the organizational chart. Number three? Your daughter's new boyfriend. The health of your cat is number four (but don't tell that to the cat.) That tire on your car that's looking a bit less than round? Number 5.

Return now to number one. Think about it. Look at the words across the top of your page. For the next 5 minutes, place a mark by number 1 each time one of the words was mentioned in the conversation or you thought at the time or you think now. Don't worry about how many of each. Just mark 'em down. Then draw a box around everything related to number 1.

Do the same for numbers 2-5.

Now look at your boxes. Compare. Contrast. Are there a lot of marks for a short conversation or situation? Are there a lot of marks for a long conversation or situation? You might want to pause to look closely at those items. These items are clues to where you are.

Take a look at those items that just might be problematic. Are they calming, nurturing, stimulating, or creative? Or would you describe them as unfair, not fair, not right, uncomfortable, or unpeaceful. So be it. That is where you are for this very moment and wherever you are is ok for now.

If you describe it as any of those words, does the word BUT immediately spring to your lips? It's unfair BUT I have to do it? It's calming BUT it won't last?

Stop that.

Remove the BUT and everything after it. If you can, erase the word BUT from your entire vocabulary. It's getting in your way. BUT and everything after it negates what you said. It's silencing your voice. It isn't allowing you to see where you are. It's preventing you from saying where you are. It is not allowing you to accept that you are in a situation that is unfair, not right. Worse, it's deceiving you into thinking that where you are at this moment is Not Good.

Everything before the "but" is where you are. It may be unfair, uncomfortable, not right, and downright despicable. And it's where you are and it's ok for this moment.

The most destructive words in the English language are not those awful epithets thrown at you, they are not " (insert unsavory saying) You!" They are not the false accusations. They are not even "I love you but I'm not In Love with you."

Whether you are saying them to yourself or someone is saying them to you, should, would, "have to," "has to," must, ought, but, could, and "need to" are the most destructive of all phrases. They are harsh judgement whether from someone else or from yourself. They harm you faster than cigarettes and more deeply than fire.

In college I had a pal from Malaysia, Hadji. I was even more neurotic then than I am now. Hadji was a gentle and wise soul. He would listen to me blather about how unfair this was and how that should be done another way and it just wasn't right. For hours. He was also very patient. Eventually he would gently caress my hair and say "Oh Booktender, this world is not small."

And he was right, of course. Not just the physical, but the spiritual and mental world are much, much greater than we will ever know. When we should and could and ought and must we put ourselves into a box. And that box gets filled with more "need tos" and "have tos" and "has to" until we barely even have room for our "buts." Our world becomes very small. Light will not penetrate. We are jailed in one place. We come to think that this is the only place. And we think it is not a good place, not even just for now.

There is a way out of the box. Thank "should" for it's usefulness in a logical equation and loose it to join that use. Thank "could" for its usefulness in speculation and bless it on its way to that. Free "ought" to join "should." Leave "must" to those who write rules and regulations and laws and procedures. Bless "need to" and use it as a tool to help fill basic human needs for food, clothing, shelter, and water. Invite "have to" and "has to" to return to their rightful place in the laws of science. Free up "but" for silly jokes and sayings.

Let them go. As they go, the walls of the box will fade away. You will see where you truly are instead of where you thought you were. The illusion is gone. You are free to accept where you are for that moment. And you are free to accept that where you are is ok for that moment.

"....all is well, and all is well, and all manner of things shall be well. " - Julian of Norwich

Monday, November 19, 2007

And sometimes they really are funny

The kids. Sometimes ya wanna kill 'em and sometimes they just slay ya.

He looked to be about 9 years old. Kinda wound up. Like Mom and Dad had dropped him off after he'd had a large cola with a whole lotta sugar. They'd asked the older brother to stay with him but that lasted 5 minutes.

So the kids walking with his legs wide apart, rocking side to side and he says "Hey! Wanna know why I'm walkin' this way?"

Dummy that I am, I said "OK, why are you walking that way?"

"'Cause my brother just gave me a big wedgie and I'm even wearing two pairs of underwear under my shorts!"

Stifling a giggle I told him that was too much information. He then wandered away, taking huge sideways steps. Really, I think he was having a good time. Perhaps this is brotherly bonding.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Reading, Listening, Viewing

Finished reading Suzanne Brockmann's Force of nature : a novel. Ripping good fun as always with a Seal Team 16/Troubleshooters novel. Lots of action. New and old characters. I'm surprised I've stuck with the series this long. I have to give Ms. Brockmann props for her inclusion of the blossoming, ok, now blooming, love affair between two gay characters, Jules and Robin. Her inclusion of this take on love in a mainstream guy/girl romance series is really well done. Maybe this will help let homophobes know that there really is nothing to be scared of and (gasp) gay people are just like heterosexuals when it comes to emotions. Rock On Ms. Brockmann!

I'm taking a break from audiobooks for a little while. I need the ride home for head-clearing time.

Musical Motif
I must sing. When I'm angry, when I'm happy, when something needs to change, I must sing. I can post and blog all I want but my best communication is my voice. I want to audition again. I want a folk/rock acoustic kind of social justice anti-war kind of group of kindred spirits.

No idea how I'll find them. Female vocalists are a dime a dozen. Must tap into my ultra-secret top-notch pinko-commie liberal-hippie network.

Buzz Girl: Penguin Press, Spring 2008

Buzz Girl: Penguin Press, Spring 2008

Monday, November 05, 2007

Laugh, cry, sigh, or run away?

Sometimes at the reference desk you just do not know what to do with your own emotions. And they are undoubtedly Yours because it has nothing to do with a user's question.

Some of our users are absolutely brilliant. Perhaps they read a number of foreign languages or are interested in obscure mathematical theories. And they know it. They really do know what they're talking about. It's just the interface that prompts a difficult-to-contain emotion.

Take a gentleman in a safari hat. Not so unusual here. They don't call us the Valley of the Sun for nothing. A safari hat is a good call. Why he has it reinforced with layers and layers and layers of wide masking tape is unknown, but it's his fashion choice and I can respect that.

His entire ensemble of layers and layers of clothing topped off with said hat and a towel draped around his neck is not unusual. When your body is the only way to carry your belongings you have to layer.

The fake nose, however, has always brought a thousand questions to mind. You can see that he at least has nostrils and his nose attached to his face. It's just a fake overly-mauve vaguely flesh-covered fake nose stuck over his nose. It doesn't cover his whole nose, just the bridge and tip. You can't help but wonder why. It's curiosity-inspiring.

Does he have a deformity of the top and tip of his nose? Perhaps part is missing due to some horrible cancer or tragedy? Is it extra protection from the sun? Does it in some way improve his protection from germs? How does it stay stuck on there with no band around his head? More masking tape? Can a man of his apparent means afford spirit gum or other adhesive to keep it firmly attached? Do people have nicknames for him? The schnoz? Noseboy? Could this be the result of years of bullying?

I'll never ask and I'll probably never know. The best I can hope for is that he recovers quickly from that runny nose he had this morning.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yeah...That Thing

You know that thing where everybody just seems to irritate you? Nice people. Helpful people. And just for that day, that hour, everybody can just go kiss yer a...?

Yeah, it's one of those. They're all: "Oh, let me get that for you" and you're thinking "Oh, bite me, whadda ya think? I'm a cripple?" Or, say the store clerk checks you out and says the standard thank you or whatever and you think "Oh eat dirt" but you say "Thank You!"

For no reason! Outta the blue. This urge. This monster inside you has decided This Is It. Today is the day. Today you are evil. Today you're the nasty customer, the "speak-my-mind-and-the-hell-with-you" jerk.

You just wanna be nasty. Try mean on for size. See if you like it. Practice "No NO NO NO." Get in touch with the inner toddler, the inner adolescent. Be rough. Be tough.

Oh why can't there be more days like this?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Library Cafe

11.5 years we've been in our new library building. 11.5 years we've waited for someone, anyone, to take space set aside for a coffee shop/cafe and fill our mouths with some sort of edible lunchtime food. Anything. We're not picky. In fact, we're desperate.

At long last, after many stops and starts, the cafe has an "owner" and will open, allegedly, in November. Me? I'm holding my breath.

Naturally, we had to have a libraryland name-off to name the cafe. The winner "The Open Book" was a good name. I applaud my colleague who sent it. Not as good as "Bobcat Buffet," but quite suitable.

Here follows, in my estimation, the ten worst names we could have chosen.

10. Deaccessioned

9. The Book Worm

8. 616.895

7. Sweetbreads Unlimited

6. Unattended Juveniles

5. Cheeseweed's

4. Guttercat's Meow

3. Burton's Barr

2. Pigeon's Drop-Inn

1. Mystery Munch

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reading, Listening, Viewing

What I'm Reading
I just finished The kill : a novel by Allison Brennan. Nice mix of romance and suspense, easy on the long, torrid, and somehow boring sex scenes. The only problem I had was why there was no contact with the woman in the first installment of the trilogy. I think it would have been even better that way.

Last night I started on Dee Davis' Endgame . Only 25 pages in so we'll see how that goes.

What I'm Listening to
Gone by Lisa Gardner. Lots of characters in this one. It's a little confusing to listen to. Maybe this one is better of read. That being said, it is a good tale, is very suspenseful, and very police procedural-ish. There is a device used to slow down the heroine's response time that I find annoying but it does create more suspense so it works.

What I'm Watching
Oh good heavens, is there anything good on tv this fall? I don't know if it's me or if the shows are just missing my particular skewed demographic. Even Survivor seems pale this year. I hope they step it up a bit.

Fortunately I do have Survivor, Heroes, 30 Rock, My Name is Earl, Ugly Betty, and ER. Thanks to Chuck for just being...Chuck. Nerd Herd RULZ. It's the one bright spot I've personally found this autumn.

Speaking of bright spots, Pushing Daisies is a lovely exercise in color and style. Gorgeous to watch. Unfortunately, the tension is too much for me. Yeah, I can watch 24 but Pushing Daisies is too much. I think it's the dog.

Musical motif du jour

"Beatus Vir" from an older CD I don't happen to have handy right now. It's a cool arrangement. Reminiscent of a drinking song with it's regal and faintly boisterous first "beatus vir" from the choir.

The Rising Shore : Roanoke. The fate of the colony has always fascinated me. It's a mystery I'd love to solve.

F5 : devastation, survival, and the most violent tornado outbreak of the twentieth century. Yes, I love a good disaster. As long as I'm not in it. I have a good memory of this outbreak and believe-you-me it was Not Pretty. Ha! I do read stuff other than romances. So there.

Whirlpool by Elizabeth Lowell. I have no idea how I missed this one. I love her books.

Darkfever by Karen Moning. Sounds like this may be less vampire/werewolf and more psychic stuff. I like psychic powers stuff.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And this is what it leads to


But Only MST3K Could do it right

and now...really...I'm done...
Let's Put a Finish to the Show

C'mon, you didn't think that was all, did you?

Oh no, no, no....

Why, look at this lovely Youtube video of the 1982E Up with People Cast torturing the Boston Pops!

And what a sucinct summary of the 60s!

I think they did this one in the 60s when I first saw them! Or was that Hootenanny?

Oh wow! And here they talk about pregnant women in sign-language!

And now...the ultimate homage...

C'mon, you didn't think that was all, did you?

Oh no, no, no....

Why, look at this lovely Youtube video of the 1982E Up with People Cast torturing the Boston Pops!

And what a sucinct summary of the 60s!

I think they did this one in the 60s when I first saw them! Or was that Hootenanny?

Oh wow! And here they talk about pregnant women in sign-language!

Things that should have Gone Away Long Ago

Doggone it! Somebody brought up Up With People!

Surely you remember them? How many of us were held hostage in our schools by this nefarious group back in the 1960s and 1970s???? Oh, how many of us were forced to learn that infernal song...

Up, up with people
You meet 'em wherever you go
Up, up, with people
They're the best kinda folks we know
If more people
Were for people
Yes, people everywhere
There'd be a lot less people to worry about
and a lot more people who care!
There'd be a lot less people to worry about
and a lot more people who care!

Yes, I saw them in, what? 1969? And that damnable song is still stuck in my head! And, worst of all, they don't have the NERVE to post it on their website. Not a smidge, no sir. You can Download a Video Tour but no, not that song!!!!

The truly, really awfully scary thing? These were my coworkers who were discussing this. Kind, good, library employees who never intentionally harmed a fly. Or if they did they came to their senses quickly and never forgave themselves.

The youngest, who saw them in the 90s couldn't remember what they were all about. Weren't they kind of a cult of some kind? Any maybe they are...maybe so...

After all, that song never leaves you. Perhaps we've all been indoctrinated. We could be "Manchurian Candidates" waiting for the big moment to arrive when we rise up!

Or it could explain the Religious Right and the Republican world-domination theory.

The horror, the horror...

Monday, October 08, 2007

The October Horror Display

May I just share with you how difficult it is for me not to put out anything about certain government administrations or political happenings on this display?

Too bad. I just did.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Libraryland Roundup????

Who is this young, fresh-faced, bright young newcomer? And why anonymous? ...curiouser and curiouser...

Libraryland Roundup

Today's Picture 10/6/07

The weather had cooled and, not quite clean, not completely disshelved, he faithfully returned to his post. He had carefully crafted a sign on the smoothest piece of lined paper he could find. A fine ballpoint pen completed his message. The exact message would be seen. It would be understood by those chosen. He stood erect. Clutching the homemade sign in his left hand he placed it squarely in front of him. Time to spread the news.

"Final Judgement. Final Judgement"

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Whuzzup at the 'ol Biblioteca

Books Under 200 Words!
From Library Stuff blog: see Still in need of a better search interface, this is a list of books that many of our less-than-enthusiastic readers might enjoy.

Books to Watch For
John Grisham’s Playing for pizza

Peter Hoeg, The quiet girl. This is Peter Hoeg’s first new novel in 10 years. You may remember him as the author of Smilla's sense of snow . No word about the setting. Or if it’s another freezing sleuth novel.

Ken Follet has written the sequel to Pillars of the earth. The new title, World without end, takes place in the same town but 200 years later. While Pillars was critically acclaimed and well received by the public, some Follet purists did not like him straying from the thriller path. Be ready for some surprised readers.

Fun Fact:
25% of Romance Readers who want new titles use the Library to read them. “Big Box” stores like Costco or Target have a larger percentage. Everything else is lower, including: chain bookstores, online, and independent bookstores (Publisher’s Weekly)

Lesa's Book Critiques
Bestseller Guesses for October

Vince Flynn: Protect and Defend : A Thriller

Ken Follett: World without end

Charlaine Harris: An ice cold grave

Iris Johansen: Pandora's Daughter

Jan Karon – Home to Holly Springs (new series)

Robert B Parker: Now and Then

Patricia Cornwell: Book of the Dead

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What I'm Reading

A meeting at Corvallis by Stirling, S. M.
The final piece in the trilogy starting with Dies the Fire. I like it and I'm surprised that I like it. Well, partly. I do love a good disaster. And if we suddenly lost all electricity or combustion possibilities other than what it takes to make a small fire wouldn't we all be in a good disaster? Dies the Fire explored that very well. It also brought up the problem of how one rebuilds a society once it has been rocked too far.

It is at that point I thought I'd have trouble with the series. I love the SCA. Adore those guys. If I had the time I'd probably hang out with them. And the superiority complex the SCA would get at a time like this would be disasterous. Fortunately, the superiority complex of a former SCA member is given to the bad guy. So I can live with that.

The persistance of Elvish and other fantasy elements is annoying but it's ok for this type of genre. What the heck, if we can use Navajo to confuse the Japanese during WWII, why not use Elvish if you have it? And the second novel Protector's War shows how well those mythical elements can be used to reinforce or even re-create a culture. And it does allow for suspension of belief when an unexpected group arrives from Tasmania via Great ship...

The final piece, Meeting at Corvallis seems to explore not only what makes a culture but the positive and negative elements that must be present to allow the culture to survive. I haven't quite finished it yet and, while I know the ending will be heroic and hopeful for the future, I suspect there will be sacrifices I won't like.

Overall a fast-moving and enjoyable series.

What I'm Listening to
Full blast by Evanovich, Janet. What a hoot that woman is. Just the thing to keep a gal smiling while cursing her way through traffic.

Current Musical Motif
Dang it! I woke up early yesterday and couldn't go back to sleep. I was flipping around tv channels and came upon "Come On, Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story" (1999) (TV). I got sucked in. I couldn't stop it. It was a vortex of unimaginable power. And it leaves me wondering: Why is it we know more about what happened to Jeremy Gelbwaks, the one year wonder who couldn't play drums than we do about little Suzanne Crough who bravely and silently beat herself black and blue with that tamborine for all those years?

I feel some kind of MTV/VH1 Where are they now? thing coming on.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Addendum: Important things to remember about relationships and/or marriage

My gosh, this must be so engrained in my being that I can't believe I left it out.

Develop your own interests outside the relationship. That's right. You want things to share. Lots of things. And not just the kids. Activities, Deep Thoughts, stuff like that. And you also want a place where you are separate.

My Daddy always said "just because you're married don't mean you're joined at the hip." My father's study of automotive history was his time. My mothers trips with her sister and with her mother are her time. The time she spent doing crewel-work and crochet and knitting? Her time. The time Dad spent at his metal machining in the basement? His time.

You can be in the same house or room. You can go visiting. You can become engrossed in your stamp collection while your spouse is an avid bridge-player.

Balance. It's all about the balance. It's important. Marriage is a commitment including two Individuals. Rejoice in what you share and honor what makes each of you so very special.

Monday, September 03, 2007

When it's time to change the channel

If you're watching the film "Beckett" starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. British accents, drama, funny hats and tights. When you find yourself wondering when the Pythonesque punchline is's time to change the channel.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Booktender's Six Handy Steps #1, Part 2

See What Needs to be Done

Now you've been working through seeing what's up in your life. You're looking at how career and "real life" intersect and diverge. Now it is time to embrace it.

"If you are poor, you first must accept you are poor." I wish I could remember who said it. It could have been Mother Theresa, it could have been Oprah, heck, it could have been me on a good day. Either way, you must accept where you are. Stop the "shoulds," and erase the word "but" from your language, set aside frustration and anger for a few minutes.

Just Be.
Be the person with a new car
Be the person whose kid is on the honor roll
Be the person whose brother-in-law is an alcoholic
Be the person who just had a divorce
Be the person who was just promoted
Be the person who keeps accidentally kicking the tangle of wires underneath the reference desk and unplugging everything.
Just Be.
Just Be Who You Are.

This is where you are right now in your life. And right now it is the perfect place. It may not be a comfortable place. It may not be an ideal place. It is a place of self-awareness. A place where there is no need to avoid or excuse any action or inaction. From this place you can begin to take stock of what is and is not working around you and what is and is not in your power to change.

Anywhere you are is good for this moment.

If you were to tumble into a hole and needed to get out right away you would be in a very uncomfortable place. Fortuantely, you wouldn't waste your time berating yourself for stepping into the hole, the person who put the hole there, or your higher power for cursing you into the hole. If it's important to get out of there fast, you very quickly accept that you are in a hole and immediately make plans to evacuate said hole.

If you win the lottery you don't just sit around staring at the Great Big Check. You accept that you have a responsibility to deposit the check and make other arrangements for the use of the money. You don't sit around wondering what you would do if you won the lottery anymore. You accept it and get on with it! At least I hope you do!

So it is with our careers and home. Only when we admit that we are in a situation, good or bad, can we make appropriate decisions about our next steps. Only then can we truly free our minds to See What Needs To Be Done.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Currently on the Cubicle Clips

American Library Association Code of Ethics

A list of prospective displays

LED flashlight in case of power outage in a room with no windows

2 pictures of the cats

1 list of Ragathan's rules of librarianship with three postits attached:
a. the words Context and Purpose
b. Shock of the New (as idea, not art) and the word Framework
c. Confrontational -> Conversational

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Important things to remember about relationships and/or marriage

My father passed away in June. My parents had been married 51 years. In the past few years I've really begun to realize how wise they were. I also realized I hadn't passed on that wisdom to some very important young people in my life. So here is what I have, so far:

Your spiritual relationship with God/a higher power/miraculous scientific principal comes first. Then marriage maintenance. Then any kids. If your marriage is strong you have energy left over for the kids. And my parents always pointed out that marriage maintenance was something you had to really work at. Every day.

Never, ever call each other a name. I'm not talking about sweet-talk. I mean name calling and labeling. Don't do it. Say "I'm not understanding you!" instead. "Even, I feel mad because of "

Always plan ahead with your finances. What will your upcoming expenses be in the next 5 years? A car? A baby? College for the kids? Make a plan to set aside for that plus set aside x amount each month for emergencies (handy tip: I still have $50 each month automatically moved from checking to savings. It really helps. Especially in this economy where you can't get a good percentage rate on anything)

Yes, still have 3 months living expenses squirreled away in case a job goes south. (I don't know if I'll ever reacy that! ARgh!)

Find something to do together that enriches you both. For my folks it was the ministry of music in my growing-up church. And regular attendance at the symphony. For Dad it was the history of the automobile (and Mom enjoyed the outings to the car shows so it worked out)

You have a right to all the money you earn, inherit, or win. With that right comes the responsibility to use that money wisely.

Keep your sense of humor - even if you're dying inside.

Rejoice each day. Feel any other feelings that day, too. Mostly, rejoice in the day.

The only secrets you should keep are presents and any thoughts you might have about ever calling your spouse a name - or worse! ;-)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Six Handy Steps: See What Needs to Be Done - Step 1 part 1

The first planning step is See What Needs To Be Done. Pretty obvious, right?

Don't be so sure. To truly see what needs to be done you must be aware of what's going on inside you, around you, and what's just around the corner. It's easy to be lulled into complacent acceptance of our routines. Go to work, do your public service hours, order books, reboot computers, chase toddlers, punch out, repeat.

You can live that way. And if you're living that way for long, you're probably making yourself nuts. If you work full-time for 5 days a week, the majority of your waking hours are spent getting ready for work, going to work, working, driving home, and decompressing after work.

A person could get into a real grind. Grinding only lasts for so long before you start feeling a little antsy, maybe a bit crabby, overworked, underappreciated, and downright mad. You feel like your life and your Self is controlled by your work.

Here's the good news. Your life and Self are not controlled by your job. You have control over how you do your job, within safety and sanity limits, of course. The antsy/crabby/mad feelings are important clues. They're clues to a life out of balance. And since our job is part of our life, it's likely to be a big part of that imbalance.

Begin by really questioning how you're feeling right now. Work isn't the only thing that might make a person feel crabby, overworked, and mad. There are lots of other reasons. Your kids, the love of your life, your famly, the weather, your physical abilities...the list is very long. Look at it all.

If the problem's at home you have to take care of what's at home. And sometimes it bleeds over into work time. Welcome to the human race. If the problem's at work you may find it bleeds over into home time. Again, a big 'ol welcome to the human race. And sometimes the problems are in both areas.

I think you know what I'm going to say about that.

So grab your pencil and paper. Think about your home. Think about specific family members and tasks. Write down your feelings about them right now. Joyful? Depressed? Overwhelmed? Bored? No need to write names, just start listing the feelings.

Now do it for work. Pinpoint which tasks make you feel best, which make you feel angry. And be sure to rate your annoyance and boredom levels. You'll find it revealing.

Next: Your feelings and how you think.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What I'm Reading


Keeping the world away : a novel by Margaret Forster
I kind of like this one but I couldn't say why. It's about a painting that affects the lives of women throughout the 20th century. Apparently all the women, in the words of Greta Garbo "Want to Be Alone." And they're not just talking about a room of their own. These women are bothered by the world. It seems to be keeping my attention, but I can't figure out why. The first character is a ninny but it's interesting how she falls apart.

Cradle and all by James Patterson
My first foray into Patterson-land. I say, that guy does have a hook, doesn't he? No wonder the kids all dig him.

AAAAARRRRGH! I confess. I've been watching Big Brother 8 on CBS. I think I finally figured out why I like these stupid last-person-standing reality shows. It's the strategy. I suck at strategy. I couldn't live my life always strategizing how to use someone or get ahead. But I appear to enjoy watching other do it. Man, what a voyeur I am!

Obscure musical numbers from little-known musicals in which I performed. "All I want is a room in Bloomsbury..." lalala

Chain reaction by Dee Davis
Yipee! Nuclear disasters! Secret government Agencies! IDAHO!!!! Does it get any better?

Monday, August 06, 2007


Drake Sisters books by Christine Feehan
I'm not into vampires but this sounds ok. Witchcraft I can deal with. Although the series apparently starts with a short story, I'll just dive right in with The twilight before Christmas. Christmas? meh, not my holiday. But c'mon, California climate, witchcraft, seven sisters, an earthquake that releases horrors? And a hero with the name MATT GRANITE??? This will be a must-investigate for me!

The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose
M.J. Rose is mega-hot right now so I guess it's time for me to read one of hers. And it sounds very close to some of the apocalyptic SF I enjoy. But with a romantic twist. A time-travel evil vs. good twist. Works for me. Onto the list she goes. Bonus: I can't find a mention of vampires in the reviews.

Category 7 by Bill Evans
Sounds iffy on the writing but I do love an apocalyptic thriller. And I've now learned I have a new way to describe myself: "Apocalyptic Thriller Weather Nerd."

Thanks Publisher's Weekly!

The highly sensitive person's survival guide : essential skills for living well in an overstimulating world by Ted Zeff
Recommended by a coworker. Probably a good companion to other books I've read recently about emotional sensitivity, disease management, sleep, etc.

Rejected for the Reading List
Eat, pray, love : one woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
I think I'm just tired of this stuff

Quandry du Jour

Being a librarian you sometimes find yourself stuck with burning questions that you don't have time to research. Here are my current ones:

Why is Middlesex (by Jeffrey Eugenides) still one of the bestselling and most-checked out library books? It seems to be on the reading list of everybody and their dogs. I confess, when it first came out I put it on my reading list. And there it has sat for years.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just burned out with the endless debate about GBLTQ/Heterosexual, Religious/Personal sexuality good/evil/neither, nature/nurture, and what kind of activist stance should one take about any of it. Or maybe the Smyrna genocide attacks in 1922 are just too, too sad for me to even think about. Or my boredom with coming-of-age novels anyway for the most part.

I suspect it truly is a great piece of literature. And I think it's good that people are thinking about all of the topics above, even coming-of-age novels. It's just with the current political and religious climate I find this book an unusual choice.

Any maybe that's it. Maybe I'm underestimating my public. Maybe the religious and political climate isn't as far to the right as I think. More to ponder, more to ponder...

Jodi Picoult
I tried to listen to Vanishing Acts. I really did. Maybe it's not the time for me to listen to poignant tales about a girl's relationship with her Dad and family secrets. Or maybe she's just too sad for me. Maybe I'll revisit her in the future because my readers sure like her.

Is Erotica being mainstream really a good thing (see Publisher's Weekly 7/9/07?) What's the point of erotica if it isn't just a little...forbidden? Big surprise that it sells and sells. Duh.

Most importantly, what does this mean to me, Ms. Fiction Librarian???

There, those are my quandries du jour.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

On Time Management and Planning

"I’ve learned that task management is its own overhead, and the task you no longer have to manage reduces that overhead to an absolute minimum."
Karen Schneider, Free Range Librarian, Getting Things Done Sat, Jun 9 2007 7:59 AM

This has stuck with me for two months now. I think, as usual, she got it right. Librarians have all kinds of conflicting priorities. We rush from user to user to task to user again. And then the ILS goes down. How do we get anything done?

By planning. Taking time to plan. Spend a whole day planning if you must. Just plan.

You are in control of You. You decide how you will handle tasks. You decide which methods work for you. You investigate new ways of handling tasks. You even look at situations or projects and realize that you can do the most important stuff and do it well. You may even find out that the less important stuff just doesn't need to be done at all.

It takes time to do that kind of studying of the situation and your methods. Take that time. Use tons of paper. Type until your fingers go numb. Use your research skills and learn about all kinds of methods. Try whatever looks good until you find what works for you.

And when you do find a good method, revisit it regularly. Never let a month go by without revisiting your plan at least once. Things change priority. You may stumble upon a new way of doing things. What you thought was important may not be that important after all.

Below are Booktender's Six Handy Steps for keeping control of your work and keeping your sanity in libraryland:
  1. See what needs to be done
  2. Release pre-conceived notions about who should do it or how it should be done
  3. Make a plan for doing what needs to be done
  4. Share your plan
  5. Follow your plan
  6. Repeat

If you hit a roadblock along the way you've just been given important information. Look at the roadblock, look at the plan. Use the important new information to start again at step one.

If you don't hit a roadblock, you were right! You win!

I'm going to try to look more closely at Booktender's Six Handy Steps in upcoming posts. Unless I have to revise my plan. I'll keep you posted

Thursday, August 02, 2007


This goes out to all you folks in libraryland. Other professions may use or ignore this at their discretion.

and it annoys the heck outta me.

Thanks, I feel better now.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Great resource!

For those of you reading this because you just know I'm a librarian and have the inside scoop on what's coming out and what's good I have news.

First off - I totally have you fooled! If it isn't the latest romance or bestseller in the genre in which I usually read, or if it hasn't been drummed into my consciousness by repeated advertisements and glowing reviews (Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box), I am just not going to remember it.

Second - There is a better alternative!!!!

Buzz Girl advertises herself as "A publishing insider [who] gets the skinny on tomorrow's bestsellers." She gives the highlights of new publications coming out from the major houses. Not the midlist, not many new authors, just the highlights. Very useful for my profession and quite possibly useful for your reading pleasure.

But please, all three of you, please continue to read. I need to feel important.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times...

I mean it fellas. It's a fanny pack, not a cod piece. When you reach down there to whip out your library card I'm not sure what you're actually gonna whip out - know what I mean? So please, from the bottom of my heart


Mixed Bag

Things that make the day go faster
After a week of weird smells we gave up and called the pest control dudes. The former rat decaying in the ceiling has been removed and, well, removed.

What book I'm listening to
Had to give up on Vanishing acts by Jodi Picoult. Just not the thing for me to listen to while still grieving the loss of my father. That and it just seemed to be a downer. I dunno.

Current dominant thought: film and music
Finally saw Evita. Thanks to DVR and "digital" cable. Nope, wasn't as good as it could have been. In fact, I'll bet the stage show, which I haven't seen, did a lot more impressive job with the pagentry, riot, and other scenes. Nope. Director made some choices that kind of flattened it out. It didn't even showcase Madonna so much. Odd. But the music is still with me. The music is as moving as ever.

I watch too much reality tv. Big Brother, Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef and So You Think You Can Dance. So shoot me. We all know I'm just killing time until Project Runway starts again. Make it work, people!

Keeping the World Away by Margaret Forster, Release date: August 2007. Could be of interest to Da Vinci Code enthusiasts

Acacia by David Anthony Durham. Might have been released in June. I do not like Fantasy but I will try this. It has had a lot of blog-buzz.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sure way to make teen patrons laugh

Tell them you saw saw kids krumping on TV and you thought it was cool. Then follow up with your appreciation of Dave Chappelle.

Slays 'em every time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George

I've been meaning to read this one for some time. It has been on all the "If You Liked the Da Vinci Code Read This..." lists so I've been passing it along to my readers also. Judging by circulation, I guess they like it. Now I'm also going to pass the title along to those who liked The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

Women of the Bible, the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, life around the sea of Galilee? It's all there. I've only gotten to the third chapter and I also suspect some sort of mystical mystery will be afoot as well.

Don't know how far I'll get before leaving my mother's house but I hope to snag a copy at the library when I get back so I can finish reading it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Declaration by Gemma Malley, RA Copy, due out Oct 2007

Set in a dystopian future, this book will be a good read for the YA crowd. In fact, my niece took my copy back to college with her for a light read. Well, non-course-related read.

The book does a nice job of exploring what might happen if one could live forever. If everyone could live forever. Overcrowding, limited resources, and who gets access to resources and who does not. Those born without permission are warehoused in orphanages and taught that their only goal in life is to be Useful. Few are born without permission.

It has a lot of Britishisms but should still be accessible to the US YA reader. It's also good for the adult reader who wants a quick read.

What I'm Reading Now
The Hunt by Allison Brennan. As in The Prey, Brennan has a fast-paced story with good characters and a mystery.

What I'm Hearing Now
Nothing. I still have Cornwell in the car but the car is in Arizona and I'm not

Musical Motif du jour
Pie Jesu and Alleluia have now left my mind. I guess I was mentally singing my father to heaven. His service was also all about the music. I'm gonna miss him a lot. At the moment, the sounds of robins, mourning doves, cedar waxwings, and owls seem to be my music.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New to the TBR List

My library has this really cool feature in its website: My Bookshelf . I read reviews weekly and am usually a month or so behind. This actually works out to my advantage because by the time I read the review the item or its order note is already in the catalog.

I just sign in to My Account, look for the title, and save it to my bookshelf. Bingo! No more lost lists. No more typing even. I love my bookshelf.

New TBR this week:
The Book of Names By Gregory, Jill and Tintori, Karen
The Garden of Ruth By Etzioni Halevy, Eva

Today's Musical Motif
"Pie Jesu" from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Requiem as sung by Cathy Bixby, Carol Paul and the First Congregational Church Chancel Choir. (Bender Anthem Series: Cedar Rapids, IA. 2004)

Still Reading

OK, so it has been a weird week yesterday's read was not by T.D. Jakes but by Shannon Holmes and called Dirty Game. It has left me with a big 'ol case of...cogitation. I've gone halfway through and that's as far as I'm going to go.

The first half isn't bad. It works for what it is. A good story set in a dark urban street environment. About halfway through the story ends...and then repeats itself in a minor key. When I realized that I gave up and skipped to the end.

Destiny's destiny is predictable although I'm sure how she gets there is filled with precarious turns and street language and other stereotyped behaviors. Questions of value to any young person at any time in history are raised throughout. The characters rarely voice these questions but their actions will lead the prudent reader to ask these questions.

It's a nicely woven tale and it fills the bill as a genre. It uses Soap Opera techniques to bring up questions and that's a valid approach. Soaps are not all bad. In the 1980s, General Hospital raised many a college-student's debate skills as the Luke and Laura rape scene was debated, rehashed, and debated again. Consciousness was raised. So be it.

To some it's dull. To some it's tedious. To others it's an effective way to tell a tale and raise questions. I get now why the kids dig the Urban Lit and its value in my library. I have accomplished my goal. Fair enough!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reading/Listening Update

What I'm Reading
I'm still reading the Jakes novel. I think I'm getting why there are so many enthusiastic readers this kind of literature. The story draws you in, so that's a point in its favor. Yes, it uses soap-opera-like technique. So what? The novel is not pretending to be Great Literature. The novel is telling a tale with a hidden moral and using the most expedient method to capture our attention.

I like how the characters struggle with right and wrong - or don't struggle as the case may be. I feel the anger the characters experience when faced with a cold, hard look at their living situation. I can see why the writer feels that racism is keeping the neighborhood depicted down. I think he's wrong, but I definitely understand how that conclusion could be drawn. And who knows? Maybe he's right. I haven't finished it yet. Those are my first impressions.

Something about it also vaguely resembles parts of Richard Wright's Native Son. I expect this novel will end with a more optimistic outlook. Are we destined to a hard life, lawlessness, and questionable morals because of our place of birth and color? Or is it something we can put aside in favor of another outcome? The struggle of Destiny, Jake's main character, as she works through these questions is food for thought.

No, it is not a masterpiece of Literature. Yes, the use of idiomatic speech is slow going and a bit scandalizing to someone who, like myself, is an outsider to that culture. And yet it succeeds. This book and others in the Urban Lit genre are providing one group of African-Americans a place to safely explore the challenges they face - whether living down-and-out or not. It will be interesting to see if this book heads in the direction I believe it will.

Current Audio-Book
Still listening to the Cornwell. I could live without the gore but that's how it was I expect. Cornwell's research is always good. And the viking outlook on life is well-contrasted to the English. The English come off as downright idiotic prudes while the vikings come off as practical, if violent, raiders. T. Coraghessan Boyle's short story "We Are Norsemen" springs to mind. Viking humor - you gotta love it. "We are Norsemen, we are bold..."

Current Musical Motif
By the grace of God my brain has moved on from Randall Thompson's "Alleluia" to "Every Mountain" whose composer's name I have forgotten. It might have been Dunn. I'll update when I find it. All the songs I sang in the church choir with my father are wandering through my brain nowdays. I already miss my father.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Triangle by Katherine Weber

For this musician and history lover this book was ideal. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire has always stuck in my mind not only because of its tragedy but for its place in industrialization, labor history, and women's history. This book takes those threads and interweaves them with genetics and music and ends up creating family and community.

Rest assured that protein-strands as music and mathematical concepts as form are explored thoroughly here. And it is done in a way that is neither dull nor didactic. The ending combines those concepts and family and secrets in a musical composition that is presented effectively in words.

It sounds heavy. It isn't. It's a fast and fascinating read. The interconnectivity of each person, each family, and each community is explored, dissected, and arranged for a satisfying end.

What I'm Reading Next:
I've not read much Urban Lit so it's time. I have an RA copy of Dirty Game by Shannon Holmes. I'm looking forward to seeing how this type of literature has increased the diversity of my clientele and seek clues about how to continue to make these new users comfortable in the library.

What I'm Listening to:
Still have Cornwell in the car

What I'm Watching:
Hell's Kitchen. I don't know why. I just like it

Musical Motif du jour:
This continues to be Randall Thompson's "Alleluia." Why? Because it's something I can almost sing from memory even though I haven't sung it in 20 years. Because I sang it at school choir and at church choir. Because Dad always chuckled when he got my old church choir copy which was copiously annotated. I had to separate the way my HS director directed the piece from how our church choir directed the piece. My notations are very Booktender-specific. And because Dad has stage 4 cancer just now and we are heading to a finale. There are worse musical motifs to be stuck on.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The TBR list continues...

When I read reviews I always have a notepad at the ready. In fact, I carry a padfolio with me wherever I go in libraryland. Most precisely, I carry the Crocodile-Trim Padfolio by Buxton, in red. Not surprisingly, my opposite number in International Languages carries the same item but in a manly black. Which is nice. Because he's a man.

As I wander through the day I jot down what I need to or want to remember. Anything from a grocery item to a website to an overstimulated-library-user-inspired haiku. Most frequently I jot things I need to remember to order, authors I need to check our holdings for, and books to add to my reading list. Books to be read or, in library-lingo: TBR.

A lot of times I write something down, stick it in my to-be-ordered/checked file (tbo/cf) and don't see it again for weeks. When my tbo/cf gets large enough or the budget is large enough, I go through and review my possibilities. In the process, I come across titles with the word: READ beside them. Sometimes I know why. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes the moment is past. Mostly, it's an archeological dig.

Today, I came across this cryptic note: Read Klasky, Mindy Girls Guide to Witchcraft. Sounds like chick-lit. I don't really enjoy chick-lit. It's really more for the younger crowd and good on 'em, right?

So, let's check the catalog:
Red Dress Inc. Publishes chick-lit but...AHA! It's a Romance. One point in its favor right off the bat. Let's look at the annotation..."a librarian who finds a world-class collection on witchcraft." A librarian romance? This keeps getting better and better!

A click on the review button and I discover the BookList, October 15, 2006 review..."fashion-challenged librarian..." budget, salary, and hours cut...(this sounds familiar)...Ah...sympathetic soul lets her live rent-free in a cottage (ooooh...this could get...gothic).

And in the cottage? "...she discovers a hidden key that unlocks the door to the basement, which is filled with a wide array of witchcraft books. Jane is even more surprised when she recites a spell and it works, calling forth a familiar in the form of a handsome, cheeky gay man and bringing a stern but sexy warder, David, to her door"

OK, 'nuff said. It's a little off the beaten track for me but a librarian, a romance, a cheeky gay pal and a sexy warder? What the heck, put it on the TBR electronic bookshelf in my personalized chunk of the catalog.

Underneath my notation for this prospective gem, I see a more ominous note: Charles Bukowski Women. Why would I jot that down? Did I mean to read it? Once again we go to the catalog for clarification. ...ok...looks like he wrote this around 1978. All we have in the catalog is an excerpt from the Sparrow Press edition. We don't even have the edition anymore. Vaporized

Not What I Was Looking For. Nope, that must have been a note to order as we no longer have copies. Which is a mega-bummer because those Sparrow Press editions are good stuff, straddling the line(s) between art, quality materials, and practicality.

Next up: Karen Rose Don't Tell...catalog check...Hey! I read this in the publisher's proof! It was pretty good. But no TBR for you!

OK, so only Girl's Guide to Witchcraft made my "bookshelf" feature on the catalog. It will wait there until I read it.

Then there are the things we "should" ourselves into reading. I'm a professional Booktender, so it's not too much to expect me to read outside my beloved romance genre and, I confess, I have not read much Inspirational/Christian Fiction.

It's a good idea for me to delve in there once in a while. After all, I serve that population too. Fortune smiled in the shape of a Reader's Advance (RA) copy of Linda Windsor's Piper Cove Chronicles novel Wedding Bell Blues. I grabbed a Reader's Advance (RA) copy so, unlike those I have to wait for, I can take it home and put it on the TBR pile (not to be confused with the TBR bookshelf on our catalog.)

Over at LibraryThing photographic TBR piles has become a minor artform. Someday I'll have to indulge.

I also happened across an RA of Shannon Holmes' Dirty Game. This is a novel of the Urban/hip-hop/bling lit genre. Definitely another world for me. But wow, what a world.

I'm getting a lot of 18-24 yo african-american women (and a few males) coming in for this type of book. That's impressive. That's really unusual for this neck of the woods. I'm trying to keep that genre well-stocked as I want this demographic to feel welcome to libraryland. Might as well give this book a good skim to see what's really shakin'.

So, today's TBR bookshelf/pile had 5 candidates. 1 made the bookshelf and 2 made the pile. 1 had been read previously and 1 was a red herring.

Congratulations to our winners and thanks everybody for playing our game!

What I'm Reading Now: Triangle b Katherine Weber

What I'm Listening to Now: Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

What I'm watching on TV: It's summer reality time. So You Think You Can Dance? Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef, and Pirate Master. I confess I'm looking forward to Big Brother. I'm enjoying Traveler this summer but hope it picks up the pace a little. Props to CBS for Doing the Right Thing and picking up Jericho for another season.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What I'm Reading Now

Reading: Triangle: A Novel
Almost a beach read but slightly heavier. Perhaps a rainy-day beach read. I'm not far into it yet. The descriptions of character's thoughts and emotions seem good. The use of mathematics and music is thought-provoking. I'm interested to see how this ends up.

Listening: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell. Not even through the first disk yet. Could be good driving words. Cornwell does a lot of research so that may be useful in keeping my interest.

Added to the TBR list:
Blood Brothers and High Noon By Roberts, Nora

Force of Nature By Brockmann, Suzanne

(The Roberts and Brockmann titles are too new to have descriptions yet)

INNOCENT AS SIN By Lowell, Elizabeth

The Execution Channel By MacLeod, Ken

Oh Mr. Gorman...

Making Friends and Influencing People as usual:
I've listened to these three librarians for the past 18 years. Mr. Gorman, you really shouldn't tick them off.
Now I have to go out and figure out a way to label my blog so no one will ever mistake it for a printed resource that is More Valuable than anything else on earth.

Monday, June 11, 2007

On reviews and Essay Reviews

The NBCC is having a major hissy about large newspapers jettisoning their reviewers. OK, I can understand that. Librarians got kind of nervous when the internet started stomping on our toes, too.

Here's the deal. I don't like long essay-style in-depth academic essay reviews. I prefer brief book-talk reviews. Tell me what's hot about the book and what's not. Convince me to read or not to read it. I prefer the lower-case review. The book-talk review.

There are many people who enjoy the longer essay-reviews. I have two colleagues who absolutely wallow in them. English majors would be lost without them. They are valuable to intellectual inquiry and literature studies. I found them very helpful when studying for my English Lit. degree. Bravo!

Here's the problem. Do they belong in to a newspaper that is actually catering to the average Joe and Jill? Sadly, probably not. (I'm leaving the New York Times and Washington Post out of this discussion. They're Different.)

Review essays are literature. Let's treat them as such. I mean some of this is good stuff. Really insightful and, darn it, incredible reasoning. Well-written, even. It is literature. Publish it in academic literature or literary magazines where the audience that appreciates it will find it.

For the rest of us, just give us the book-talk review. Adapt. If librarians can do it, so can book reviewers.

Best Wishes!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pesthouse by Jim Crace

Whoa...this book is a trip. I never know what to think when someone says some else's prose is "lyrical" or "hallucinogenic." I only know that this guy is a darn good writer. I'm surprised and not surprised that this book received mixed reviews.

First off, there's that whole "how can a Brit write about America" thing. Well pish-tosh, what Mr. Crace has written isn't just about America. It could have been set in England. Or Germany. Substitute any technologically advanced culture. It works. Eco-disaster? Could happen. Ancient collapsed highways? Already happened in Britain.

Then there's the "it isn't as good as his previous works" argument. I'm just going to brush that one aside. Yes. Blatantly. What is Good? Incredibly dense prose that leads to a morally ambiguous or, preferably, dismal conclusion? Message to Big Newspaper Reviewers: a happy ending can be Good too. And you wonder why the Big Newspapers are jettisoning Book Reviewers?

And now the truth can be known. It isn't as "good" as his previous works because it ends happily and it follows a somewhat predictable path. ...hmmm...happy ending...form-based...Holy Cow! It's Genre!!!!! Oh Mr. Crace, how far you have fallen! You have written a somewhat romantic post-apocalyptic adventure tale!

Out! Out of the Academic Halls of Those Who Know Best!

As you can see, I find most of the negative reviews to be bull-crap. Read the work for its own merits. Apply your own standards. Here are mine:
Does it hold my interest?
Are the characters well-developed?
When scenery must be described is it done vividly?
Does the prose plod away or does it spring to life?
Would a 17 year-old male or female with age-appropriate reading skills be able to read it, be challenged by it, and understand it?

I'm sure I have more standards, but those are 5 of the ones I can think of. A book that a) holds my interest and b)meets 2 of the other standards above is something I might read. The Pesthouse meets all five and then some.

I was pulled into the dystopia and enjoyed it. You may, too.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Brushes with the Newsworthy

Hats off to Gov. Richardson of NM! He is the first presidential candidate this year to make use of our graciously-appointed building. Can Kucinich be far behind?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today's Picture

He hunched down with his back to the concrete wall and ripped open his small sack of Cheetos. Eating them one by one, he'd sometimes pause to toss one to the crowd of pigeons shuffling anxiously nearby. The pop when the Cheeto was speared by a beak was pleasing. The resulting disintegration of the treat into useless dust made him chuckle. The desperate flapping of wings as each bird angled for a micro-bit reminded him that, at least for today, he was more civilized than they were. He lifted his backpack off the ground and left as the bird's beaks turned day-glo orange.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chrysalis by Heather Terrell

Read the Reader's Advance copy of this last week. This one has a lot of buzz going for it. Fortunately, the buzz doesn't entirely rely on the Da Vinci-Codeness of the book. While it has the same art-as-clue premise, the action takes place in 1600s Holland, Nazi Germany, and the present day. The search for the provenance of The Chrysalis, a painting, has fun twists and turns. The historical viewpoint of 1600s Holland and the difficulties of being a Catholic at that time is nicely presented as is the Nazi lust for artwork and its consequences.

A tidy little piece and pretty darn good for a first-time author. Worthy of all the buzz and advertising?'ll do.

It's a great read for young adults and for those adults who want a beach read or something beyond Da Vinci. And that isn't a bad thing at all. It is accessible to the average Joe or Jill and that can only be a good thing if you're encouraging reading. It is also a nice little romp for those more accustomed to heavier fare.

Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist find it to be perfectly suited to public library collections and I agree. The June 2007 Romantic Times gave it 4.5 stars - their highest rating. If you're looking for a bit of fun, I say read it.

What I'm listening to this week: Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag

What I'm reading this week: Reader's Advance Copy of Pesthouse by Jim Crace. I'm about half way through it and let me just say it is magnificent. No wonder Mr. Crace keeps getting those awards.

Creepy moment du jour

User dressed all in olive drab non-military uniform with long sleeves in 90+ degree heat wearing dark sunglasses, lounging in a chair for 3 hours using the building's wireless to watch heaven-knows-what on his cell phone

Thanks Phoenix!

Friday, May 25, 2007


Author John Scalzi has a witty way of putting things into perspective: Bacon Cat and the Motivational Poster.

They Need a Person from the Feel-good Librarian filling in at Tame The Web: Libraries and Technology

I love my co-workers from See Also…Hey! I love your coworkers too!

Reader's Advisory

Bookgasm has pointed out a great title for readers who like the outdoors, adventure, and horror: Jack London’s Tales of Cannibals and Headhunters. It’s University of New Mexico publication from 2006. It’s unclear whether it’s still in print.

Reader Resources for Romance Readers

40 Free eBooks/Books Sites from LibrarianInBlack

Librarianship: The Profession

lolbrarians provides us with a much-needed grin. Loosen up people! (I am not responsible for language or offensiveness of the site. I’m just sayin’ we all have really great senses of humor and we ought to show them.)

LibrarianInBlack once again comes up with the goods. At last someone has figured out how to Create a more lighthearted 404 message

I wish the Better Know Your Association quiz was around when I was in Library School at the University of Iowa. They told us on the first day of the program that we needed to memorize the acronyms and fun facts about the association because we’d be asked about them in our oral comps. Did any of us remember? Only the guy with the highest GPA. …

And don’t let anyone tell you we don’t like the classics: Conan The Librarian

Awards in May

Yeah, I know, some of these are not libraryland-specific. Deal with it

Romantic Times Book Reviews Awards for 2006.
Nebula Award Winners
Quill Awards To Continue For Third Unexciting Year
2006 Darwin Awards

Wow! You can now easily subscribe!

Thanks to feedburner I've finally figured out how to put one of those sexy little subscribe buttons at the bottom right. I'm just like the big kids now!

Note to Self

Redo labels on posts. Don't be such a librarian about it.

Sticking With Blogger

Wordpress is a very nice option, no doubt. I'll just stick here and play with the look of this until I get it to my satisfaction. I'm sure my myriad readers out there are excited as all get-out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm checking out Wordpress

It would be nice to have my newsfeeds and my blog in the same place. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Library Thrills

First evening fire drill of the dry summer season.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Library Heck

Some days I could just smack Melvil Dewey (aka: Melvil Dui) up one side and down the other. Why oh why did the man not take format into account when creating his System? Granted, there were only three formats at the time of his invention, but Puhleeeeez!

Could he not have said to himself: "OK, if it's a book, I'll put a 1 in front of my number, for periodicals a 2, and for musical scores I'll put 3." Bingo! A Cookbook in Book format would be 1.641.5. Simple, yes? We could put new formats together in an infinite way and shelve them so that users can find them: NUMERICALLY. Number the shelves. Yessir.

We'll arbitrarily use DVD, Downloadable Audio Book, and Maps as our example. DVDs will be format 21, Downloadable Audio Books will be format 36, and Maps will be format 8.

So you're going to Italy?
8.914.5 (assuming the person is visiting present-day Italy)
The user knows to go to the 21 section of the library. Or the 8. 36 would lead to a bank of computers with a helpful assistant. None of this " this a DVD or VHS?" "I can see the cassettes but not the CDs"

It even lets the user save face when confronted with the fact that 914.5 is 914.5 despite its format or reading level. After all, 21, 36, and 8 are different numbers.

What? your building doesn't have infinitely reconfigurable shelving to quickly adapt to larger and smaller sections of format? You're remodeling? You want to separate out LANGUAGE?

OK, I just made myself dizzy. I'm going to go crawl back into my library-cave now and order lovely fiction books. Books that only have to be divided by last name. Except that mysteries are pulled out all together and romances and...oh forget it. A tip of my hat to cataloging and classification workers everywhere.

And I still want to smack Melvil Dewey.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reader's Advisory Plus

Here are some things I’ve found using my newsreader to receive newsfeeds. These feeds are right up a librarian’s alley! Some items give information that can be used directly for Reader’s Advisory. Others help a librarian stay informed.

Free Government Information (FGI) blogs
Besides fighting the good fight to keep access to government information free, this blog often has some links to great resources such as

SF Signal
This is only one of the newsfeeds I use to keep myself caught up on SF. And sometimes I get cool links to retro sites like these pictures of
Hovercrafts from 1960

SF Signal has also given me ideas for Reader’s Advisory outreach. Current Hot idea? Reader Challenge #6 - The Harry Potter Outreach Program

And finally, books that won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards

Tame The Web: Libraries and Technology
By Michael Stephens is a Libraryland “must skim” It gives a god overview of what’s happening right now. Particularly interesting this week was a summary of Pew Report on Wikipedia and Reference Sites.

Stephens notes that is a frequently used web resource. I join him in wondering how many librarians monitor and answer questions there. Do we identify ourselves? How? I’ve contributed to this resource and find it useful not only in keeping my reference skills up to date but also as a way to take the pulse of the online crowd.

Michael Stephens is also an LIS instructor. Michael Stephens is also an LIS instructor. I found the summary of things his students want to take into their careers, Book Discussion: Traits for the 21st century Librarian , to be thought provoking

Monday, April 23, 2007

You People Just Never Give UP!!!

More of The Heart Shaped Box

Science Fiction Book Club mentions a review of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box at Infinity Plus. As I've mentioned before, I have no problem with Joe Hill having a book. Good for 'em! Make Dad proud! I'm pleased to see the family tradition carrying on.

Fortunately, Infinity Plus is a British Publication so they did have the good sense to not go on and on about Papa. OK, and since they're across the pond I can forgive them for being late on the review.

But still...was my warning not strong enough???

Saturday, April 21, 2007

And I'm back...

Apparently the Powers That Be out in the "let's fawn over Joe Hill" universe have Very Great Powers Indeed. Fortunately, the Power Of The Librarian prevailed and, after a long struggle I am back at the PC and ready to both once again spew my thoughts into the blogosphere and post clips to Good Stuff.

I'm one lucky gal.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I mean it people.

Stop it.

Stop it now.

Leave the Lad Alone.

His Dad's great. I hope junior does as well.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Interesting stuff for the new 2.0 Reader’s Advisory/Librarian/Bookjunkie world

and yes, someday I’ll find a way cool title for this kind of post

And they said librarianship was a safe career. Consider yourself warned.
Shelving Units Attempt to Kill Gavin Grant, Are Unsuccessful

Philip Roth wins a third PEN/Faulkner - Kudos Mr. Roth! This is a first for the award.

The best place for finding what the big presses are both publishing and promoting: Buzz Girl

SF Site's Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2006 (Editors' Choice)

Westerns - It’s good to know they do circulate A La L’Amour

Congratulations to Sharon Stone on her Razzie! 'Instinct 2' named worst in 2006

She put it so well I’ll just post her post: (from LibrarianInBlack)

EconoFix: auto repair site
By Sarah Houghton-Jan
EconoFix is an auto repair site created by an auto repair store in Florida, Econo Mechanix. Their website, however, has some excellent free articles on common repair issues like how your car works, "car killers," engines, tires, transmission--almost anything you can think of.
My favorite part is the Noise Library, where short .wav files of problems help you diagnose the weird sounds you're hearing in your own car. You can even record the noise your car is making, e-mail it to the site owners, and they'll try to help diagnose it then post it on the site for others to listen to for help. How cool is that?

A big Woo-Hoo! to the Maricopa Library District for its new position: Maricopa County Library Seeks Virtual Branch Manager

Words of encouragement for those of us on the front line: How to Deal with Abusive Customers

Have Effective Meetings It’s so simple and yet we just can’t handle it.

Things that make the day go faster

Two words: Toner Explosion

OK, that and helping 3 year-olds put on their nametags for storytime. Yes it is so fun! Everybody should have the opportunity to do this. I'm dead serious.

Here's an interesting observation - I sometimes see Dads coming in for daytime storytime nowdays. And they're not unemployed. Could it be that NextGen really is getting flexible hours and putting family first? What a refreshing change!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

2.0 endeca and our new OPAC

MPOW has not yet sorted out the blogging do's and don'ts so we do not blog on work time. We don't have a blog. We can, however, blog all we want on our own time.


MPOW just brought up its new 2.0-like interface to its catalog. I love it. I'm waiting to see what others think. In interacting with users, I've found that this interface is easily understood by the users. We *could* be on to something here!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Science Fiction and Fantasy Editor Wiki
Librarians' Booklist Search
Best Free Reference Web Sites 2006

Oprah's Book Club is Back
Digital Disruption::Music Industry Losing Control Over Album Sales
Black Artists Plot Diverse Themes for Graphic Novels
Oscar catches up with world culture
Writers Find New Fiction Source in Economic Genre

2006 NBCC finalists announcement:
Newberry Winners named for children's book prizes
NOMINEES: 2007 Arthur C. Clarke Award
Producers Guild gives nod to 'Sunshine'
Golden Globe winners
2006 BSFA Awards Shortlist (British Science Fiction Association)
Edgar Award Nominees
Yet Another Awards Show

Beautiful Lies
Overclocked by Cory Doctorow
The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen
'Sacred Games:' An Epic of Mumbai's Underworld

'Instinct,' 'Little Man' lead Razzies
'Lost boys' speak eloquently
The Movie Industry in 2006: Money Makers

The sweet relief of good writing.
Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties by Walter Kim

Looking Beyond Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue'
George Gershwin: His Life and Howard Pollack NPR

Conflict, Difficulties Marked Life in 'Biosphere II'
Jane Poynter

Once in a Promised Land by Laila Halaby

“The New Atheism: Inside the Crusade Against Religion,” by Gary Wolf.

Library Journal on Self-Help Books Help me help you

Love and Community in 'Don't Make Me Stop Now'

The Top 10 Shows Hosted by SF Actors We'd Like to Forget

EW's 25 Most Shameless Paycheck-Grabbing Roles in History

EWs' Top 20 Dystopian Movies

Carter calls his Mideast book 'accurate'