Category Archives: Library

Reading Goals

I grew up the daughter to an avid reader and we spent a ton of time at the local library. We’d get a pile of books apiece, and the whole process is a memory I hold dearly. My sister and mom and I would spill out of the car and head into the library where we’d peruse the shelves for an hour or so. I’d spend time looking for picture books (and later chapter books) in the children’s area, then I’d play one of their two gaming computers if we had time, or I’d play with some of the toys and board games they had available. Sometimes I’d lay in the fiction shelves while my mom slowly shopped, not complaining, but rather enjoying the cavernous, dark secret feeling the shelves seemed to give me. We’d take our books to the front desk where we’d be checked out and I’d relax in the car while we drove the 15 minutes home, my only concern being the decision I had before me of which book to read first.

My mom would take my sister and I along with her to the school where she worked in the summers so she could set up her classroom and sometimes we’d be there in the mornings before school or afternoons after school. When she taught in a classroom I loved lounging in the reading area she had set up for her students, and I’d browse the shelves of books she had. The pickings got better when she became the librarian at the elementary school, and when she moved to become the librarian at the middle and high school I had even more to choose from.

When we’d run errands my mom, sister and I would always carry a book along with us. After the boring stuff was over my mom would sometimes treat us to lunch somewhere, and would ask if we’d rather have conversation or if we’d rather all read over our meals. We’d do both…. sometimes reading and sometimes talking about what we were reading.

In the summers any of us could be found around the yard or on the desk chilling out with a book, and in the winter we’d cuddle on the couches our on the floor with a blanket hovered over the registers in the floor, book in hand.

We’ve just always been readers. We were always reading, a book ever our sidekick. (cute, huh?)

When I got into college I just didn’t have as much time to read anymore, and after graduation I rediscovered the library when I applied for a position there again. I was living with Nate by then, and I’d bring home stacks of 8-10 books every few weeks. I applied for graduate school 6 months later and between that, planning our wedding, and buying and building our house, my reading tapered off. Then I started having kids and the reading tapered off even more.

In the past year or so I’ve picked up on my reading a little more, and it’s really satisfying. I’ve started participating in an online book club at work and have been taking advantage of my Goodreads list as well.

I do wish I read faster and had more time to read. It feels like I never finish a book in less than three weeks. I’ve been working on “A Game of Thrones” for the past three months. It is so good! I am listening to it on CD in my car, and I have the paperback on my nightstand and the eBook on my phone. I’m just about finish it… I’m 5 pages away from the end of the last chapter. Now I have to decide: do I start on book 2, knowing it will take me a long time to read it as well? Or do I take a break and focus on easier reads? I’m leaning towards starting it immediately, because I don’t know how I’d wait!

I think I’m going to make a reading goal next year to read 20 books. I’ll try to read each book club book and a few extras in between or overlapping. Wish me luck!

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A lot of nothing

I feel bad that I’m not writing as much lately. When I started this blog I feared it would be yet another thing that I get all gung-ho about and then abandon after awhile. I really don’t want that to happen.

Work has been kicking my butt lately. There are technology issues that even our IT support company are having problems solving. It feels like I’m failing in this position. When I don’t know how to fix something and the help can’t help… it comes back to me and my inability to get it done. It’s a real downer.

My house is pretty much a mess lately as well. Actually, it just is a mess. I don’t care to work on cleaning it. We did get lots of yard work done this weekend and that felt really good. We finally got the rest of our garden planted, and boy is it a doozy! I have 13 heirloom tomato plants, 16 pepper plants, a few varying cucumber plants, zucchini, cabbage, celery, dill, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, Greek oregano, 7 basil plants, corn, and I think a few other things. It was satisfying getting everything in the ground, finally. Hopefully things produce before the frost starts killing it all off.

The boys and I hit my parents strawberry patch last week for some of the first crop. I’ve offered Atticus strawberries before and he hadn’t cared to eat them, but he loved eating he ones he picked himself! Yesterday when I went to my parents’ to pick up some tomato starts my mom gave me some strawberries and both boys have been all over them.

Trent was sick last week, feverish, sore throat and and upset stomach and headache. Also a rash. He says he’s been feeling better but he is just being whiny and kind of a jerk. He’s currently in his room because he can’t stand to be around Atticus. It breaks my heart to see him acting this way. He gets so upset but also so happy. He’s such a feeler. I am too… I’m crying right now as a matter of fact. I just want him to be a happy child. I don’t want him to deal with the difficulties of anxiety or depression.

Lately I’ve just been in a funk. I’ve talked about my anxiety and depression before here. I feel like I’m not succeeding in anything I’m doing, and I’m incredibly disappointed in myself. I can’t say why, other than how terrible I am at my job and how I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing as a parent. Oh, and I’m out of shape and I am an awful housekeeper. I just want to feel okay with things and not worry or be sad about it all. I promise I’ve been taking my prescription the right way lately but it just feels like it isn’t helping anymore. I don’t know. Maybe I just need to stop thinking about it. I just have so many feelings and I can’t sort them out. And I don’t want to. I’m too tired to deal with it lately; I just want to sleep all the time.

So, there’s my bloggity blog for today. Sorry it sucks, dear world. I promise I’ll find something positive and fun to read to blog about soon. Maybe I’ll sort out all the things I plan to do with my garden harvest.

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Innovative Technology in the Library

In the library and technology world David Lee King is a true mover and shaker (in fact Library Journal named him on of the Movers & Shakers in 2008). He is the Digital Services Director at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (one of my favorite libraries to keep up with) in Kansas. He knows what’s up when it comes to emerging trends in libraries, particularly when it comes to technology and the social web. I don’t frequent his blog as much as I intend to, but each time I do I pull something really cool from it.

Oh, and he’s nice to look at, too. *grin*

When I decided to redesign our website last year a lot of the ideas I had for it (some of which are yet to come) came from hearing him (and others) speak at the Internet Librarian conference in 2012. I’ve also tried other social web marketing ideas he’s written about on his blog or spoken about elsewhere. He’s definitely an idol of mine. I would love to be as successful at marketing my library and doing innovative things, but I’d also like to be better at speaking and invigorating others in the field.

Anyway, I read a post he wrote about a month ago about submitting a speaking proposal at the Internet Librarian 2014 conference and it just got me thinking about being successful in my job, encouraging and exciting others, and being more active. I was speaking there for a very few years, and even though I’m a totally shy and awkward introvert I have to admit I really enjoyed it. And… I think I was good at it. I think. I hope.

I feel like I used to be more innovative and on top of things in my field. I’ve always taken pride in being a jack of many technology-related trades. Web design, graphic design, social media, marketing, video editing, teaching… I like all of it, but it feels like I’m not as valuable anymore. I think I’m just overwhelmed with the responsibilities I picked up at the beginning of the year. And don’t get me wrong: I love my new position. I feel like I’m learning things every day, but I don’t feel like I have as much time to try new things and read up on what’s going on in the field. I have ideas and even things that *should* be getting done but I have a hard time keeping up. I would love to take David’s advice and just submit a proposal. But what would I do it on? I feel like I’m not on top of or even close to the trends anymore. I’m just hanging on to the technology-in-libraries life raft while the speed boat is jetting away ahead of me.

Anyway, I’m going to make a goal of investigating and implementing two new innovative technology things in my library over the course of the next five months. I will have been in this new position for 3/4 of a year, and I think that’s more than enough time to have gotten comfortable and regained my position as the driver of the aforementioned speed boat. I am, after all, the Innovative Technology Manager. It is time to better live up to that title.

Awkward.

When and why did being awkward become cool? I’ve been trying to figure that out for the past two years. And though I really don’t have an answer, I’m incredibly thankful. For once I now have an opportunity to be funny and cool. Because damn am I awkward. In fact, I’m so awkward that I might just be the not funny kind. Like, I think I’m the uncomfortable not just for myself but for everyone kind.

Here are two awful and awkward things that happened to me today in front of real people.

1. The Taco Bell Employee

I helped a young adult man at the desk today. But first let me backtrack and explain something. People smell. Often. Like all kinds of things. We deal with people who might not be in a situation where they can (or remember to) bathe often, and we deal with people who are stopping by quickly after work or a visit to the gym. We deal with all kinds of people. So this particular young man smelled sort of like… my husband. I couldn’t place what specifically the smell was but I liked it. I kept thinking of how I could bring it up. In assisting him and conversing with him he at one point mentioned having to work. I couldn’t hold back. “Where do you work?” I asked. He replied “At Taco Bell.” And do you want to know what my response was? Of course you do. After all, who doesn’t want to feel a little better about themselves in comparison?

“Oh, I thought you smelled like Taco Bell. I mean, I like how you smell, though. I like Taco Bell. I was just talking about fajitas.”

Wtf.

2. First Impressions

We hired a new teen assistant recently. Based on my coworkers’ (her managers) reactions of her, I am sure she is interesting and cool. So our teen manager was walking her around giving her the tour of the place. Let me set the atmosphere: I had just smelled a Taco Bell employee and was hurriedly escaping the scene. I looked up from my feet and see the new assistant and the teen manager standing in front of me in the lobby. The teen manager says, “Oh, this is Laura. She does all the technology stuff, basically.” I replied hilariously with “Well, I try anyway,” and just grinned at the teen assistant. The teen manager, who’s quite funny, moves on and says “I’m just giving her a tour. The worst tour ever. There’s a closet, there’s the elevator.” The assistant chuckled because it was funny, because yeah… first day tours are the worst. I’m really smooth and suave in my responses. Which this time was… are you ready for it?

“Yeah. Uh, now what?”

What did I even mean by that? What kind of introduction was that, and why didn’t I just say “nice to meet you” and move on, or laugh at the manager? At least the new chick knows how weird I am right away.

Why can’t I be the funny, cool, geeky kind of awkward? Instead of the painful kind of awkward that’s like nails on a chalkboard? Good grief.

Arts Gala, Technology, & the Maker Movement in Libraries

What an interesting weekend! The Arts Gala is officially over! What a successful event; there were so many wonderful artists and such a variety of art available. I purchased a new handmade mug (out of which I just drank a cup of tea, yum), a gift for my sister, a wooden kitchen tool for Nate, a handwoven mat to go under the Keurig I have at work, and a gorgeous polymer clay necklace pendant thing that matches the dress I bought for the event. It’s my reward for wearing the dress and for working so hard this week and weekend.

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I had a really interesting discussion with the artist that makes the wooden utensils. He talked about technology and how it seems to affect kids these days, and it morphed into how it also affects people his age, in their 50s and older. It used to be that kids spent more time outside, dreaming up things and entertaining themselves with their own creations. Now technology consumes kids and adults. I argue, though, that while it certainly can become consuming, kids are better at multitasking and can maintain a variety of interests.

This really gets me even more interested in the idea of implementing makerboxes in the library. Being able to integrate technology with other things (creating music, crafts, art, food, clothes, games, etc.) is vital right now, for kids and adults. For kids because, well, they’re our future, and technology is unarguably a part of the future. And for adults because they need to be able to get creative, learn new skills, and both fail and succeed at things, just like kids do. I would like our library to do several things with these makerboxes, but my thoughts are all too exciting and disjointed right now for them to be productive.

I want to create a few boxes with a handful of themed items within. Music, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), crafts/art.

I want to offer sporadic and unstructured library programs involving one makerbox at a time. For example, we set out the STEM makerbox and have a librarian start building a marble run or work on a Lego robotics kit. Kids, teens and even adults would see what’s happening and become interested and it would be an opportunity for them to try things out without having to stay for the duration of a program. Another idea is to set out a crafting makerbox with yarn, knitting needles, and a crochet hook. As people pass by they can contribute to an ongoing project that is set out for a week or so.

I love the idea of encouraging creativity and interaction that doesn’t have the boundaries of time or a set of expectations to go along with it. I can’t wait to get something started in my library. I think that, though it was stressful, having PLA and the Arts Gala back to back has really inspired me and renewed my passion for my job.

If only my office at work wasn’t a pigsty.