Tag 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!

Starting A Blog

I was recently asked to put together and deliver a presentation on “Blogging Basics” for the library where I work. I certainly don’t see myself as a blogging expert, but I do enjoy putting together and delivering presentations, and I would consider myself pretty knowledgeable in the field of social media endeavors, marketing, and web 2.0 and library 2.0 kinds of things. I agreed… then I forgot about it and procrastinated until the day before.

I think I did all right. #Nailedit

Without further ado, here is said presentation:

http://prezi.com/6755ts3bxpw8/so-you-want-to-be-a-blogger/

 

I really enjoyed this, though I had a small crowd. For one thing, I always enjoy presenting much more than I think I will. For another thing, organizing my thoughts this way helped me sort of review my own blog and renew my passion to write and share my stuff.

Getting Started

What will your blog be?

1. Pick a topic or niche for your blog. Ask yourself:

  • What do you want to write about?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What blogs do you enjoy reading?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What do you want your audience to know?

2. Pick a name or title for your blog. Ask yourself:

  • What describes your blog?
  • Is your potential name memorable and catchy?
  • What are similar blogs called?
  • What are keywords your audience might search for?
  • What does your potential name look like on screen and sound like aloud?

3. Pick a platform for your blog. Ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to pay for hosting?
  • How much flexibility, customization, plug-ins do you want?
  • Do you want to host, install, and configure on your own, or rely on a service to do that for you?
  • Do you want to monetize? (Keep in mind monetizing isn’t easy with some blogging platforms)

Some popular blogging platforms include…

WordPress: WordPress is available for free with limitations or pay for a full-on experience and tons more options. It is extremely customizable, plug-ins are available (if you pay for the service), there are more than 1,000 themes. WordPress is one of the most popular blog and website creation services.

Blogger: Blogger is a Google service and is available for free. Several templates and backgrounds are available. While there isn’t as much freedom as far as customization it is easier to monetize with Blogger, using Google’s AdSense service.

Tumblr: Tumblr is a free social network that allows users to share content and create original posts. Tumblr is sort of a mix between Twitter and Facebook, and could be considered a form of micro-blogging.

Medium: Medium is a free platform that allows users to focus on writing. There are no plug-ins, sidebars, ads, etc. The focus is truly on writing, and the idea is that users will share their own stories and ideas and read others’ as well.

Marketing Your Blog

Get the word (your words!) out there!

1. Write good content.

  • Use proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Write what you know and be confident in what you’re writing about.
  • Be original and interesting.
  • Use quality images, videos, and other sources. Many of your readers are visual consumers.
  • Let your readers get to know you.

2. Establish your blog.

  • Create a few good first posts. You want to have content (not an empty shell of a blog) when you start getting visitors.
  • Create an about page and determine how you will use your sidebars and menus.
  • Consider adding an email subscribe button or an RSS feed subscription button to your blog.
  • Consider creating a Facebook fan page and other social media network pages for your blog.
  • Always respond to questions and comments on your blog and emails you receive via your blog. You want to establish not just your writing, but also a relationship with your readers so they’ll keep coming back.

3. Share your blog.

  • Tell your friends and family you’ve started a blog. Ask for support.
  • Consider (again) creating fan pages or accounts through various social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.).
  • Share your content on both your fan pages and on your personal social media networks.
  • Tell people about your blog in-person if the opportunity arises naturally.
  • Don’t be annoying with any of the above. Don’t beg.

4. Take advantage of what’s popular.

  • Use popular hashtags and keywords when sharing content.
  • Blog about current events and other popular topics.
  • For blogging ideas Google “trending,” or check Twitter, Buzzfeed, and Yahoo for what topics are currently trending. Share these topical blog entries you’ve written soon, while that trending topic is still actually trending.
  • Consider being a devil’s advocate when blogging about what’s popular. It stirs the pot and gets attention.

5. Do some detective work.

  • Search for content creators and consumers that align with your blog’s niche.
  • Join Facebook groups, subreddits, and message boards that revolve around blogging and your blog’s nice.
  • Follow other bloggers and interact with them.
  • Search Google or other search engines for “[your blog’s topic] blogging groups.”

Maintain the Momentum

Don’t run out of gas!

1. Create and work to achieve blogging goals. Some goal ideas:

  • Write ## blog posts per week.
  • Increase your email/RSS subscribers by ## each month.
  • Update your blog’s Facebook fan page or your Twitter feed ## times each week.
  • Comment on other blogs or message boards ## times each week.
  • Link to ## other blogs each week.
  • Spend ## hours each week marketing, sharing content, and networking with other bloggers.

2. Do something your readers will remember. Try these ideas:

  • Create a series of posts (part 1, 2, 3, etc.) or numbered lists (i.e. “top ten canning recipes”).
  • Run a contest and offer a prize.
  • Flatter your readers by writing about them.
  • Guest post on other blogs, and invite other accomplished bloggers in your subject area to guest post on your blog.
  • Write about something popular or even controversial. Playing devil’s advocate always attracts attention.
  • Refer to or link back to your existing content. Try reviving old posts by creating a post about previous posts.

 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed researching ways to make my blog better. A few resources I used are:

Starting Your Blog: http://startbloggingonline.com/, http://www.ehow.com/how_2045008_start-blog.html, http://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Blog, http://wordful.com/how-to-name-your-blog-what-makes-a-great-name/,

Blogging Platforms: http://mashable.com/2014/05/09/16-minimalist-blogging-platforms/, http://www.edudemic.com/minimalist-blogging-platforms/, https://blog.shareaholic.com/best-blogging-platform/, https://blog.shareaholic.com/best-blogging-platform/)

Marketing Your Blog: http://startbloggingonline.com/how-to-promote-your-blog-and-get-visitors/,

Blogging Goals: http://blog.osmosio.com/101-blogging-goals-grow-blog/, http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/blogging-goals-types-of-goals-to-set-for-your-blog/, http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/8-different-tips-for-promoting-your-blog/,

Monetize: http://www.comparebusinessproducts.com/fyi/101-ways-monetize-your-blog-without-irritating-your-readers

Just when you think you’ve had enough

Everyone has times when you think things are bad, and then they just get worse. It’s been like that for me lately. I hate to be a downer, but my job is hard. Being a full-time working mom is hard. Getting housework done is hard. Personal issues I’ve recently had are hard. Stuff’s just hard, man. But just when I thought I’d had enough things start to get better: stuff at work that wasn’t working for so long is… better. Just when I was feeling crappy, a coworker took the time to tell me I’m appreciated.

I know a woman named Jennifer. Jennifer is calm, hilarious, peaceful, sarcastic, smart, sympathetic, and thoughtful. I love working with her because she is always ready to listen, share empathetic stories, give her honest opinion, and take action in whatever way you need her to. Jennifer always has a funny story or humorous idea; some of my favorite work moments involve Jennifer’s humor. She purchased some bump-it’s once and tried them in my hair. Now, if you know my hair, you know why that’s funny. I probably had the highest, tangliest, bumpiest bump ever. Another time I brought in one of my wraps (my Dolcino, my first real woven) and she photographed me posing with some library babies. She’s such a great photographer… I can remember helping her get pictures off her digital camera a few times, so of course I got to check out her pictures. She’s amazing at taking pictures of anything! I’m lucky to be her Facebook friend, because I constantly get to read stories and see photos she’s taken while on nature walks.

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Before my 30th birthday last fall I started thinking a lot about what happens to us when we die. Morbid, I know, and yeah… I’ll save the details for another post. Jennifer is a co-pastor for a Quaker church with a lot of theology knowledge, an open mind, and a peaceful demeanor. I talked to her briefly about my concerns, and I’ll never forget how she responded when I told her my fears, and asked her, “what happens to us when we die?” Her response: “I don’t know.” She told me her thoughts and hopes, but she never made me feel stupid, or like I should be fearful, or like I was bad or wrong for not already having a firm belief. I still don’t know what I think, and I wonder about it a lot. But I’m not as lost anymore, and I know I can depend on her to talk it out any time.

Jennifer knows how hard work has been for me lately, and today as I headed back to my office to get my things ready to leave I was surprised to find her in there. “Hey, I was just writing you a note,” she said. “It says ‘I bought you some cookies. Of course I had to try one. Then I had another but I couldn’t finish it, so I only had half.'” Totally Jennifer. So giving, but so honest and funny at the same time. I told her she didn’t have to so that, and she said, “it’s just some cookies.”

Jennifer lied. It was more than cookies. First of all, the gift came with a hug. I’m not one to ask or offer hugs often, but each time I share one with someone I remember how great they are. Once I got to my car I opened the gift bag and shared some cookies with Atticus and Trent. I told Trent that Jennifer had given them to us. He knows Jennifer because he likes to share his crazy jokes with her and play shy with her. We went back in to thank her, then left. It wasn’t until later that I saw what else was in the bag: a delicious looking tea drink I can’t wait to enjoy. I love tea! And the best part… a Jennifer original photograph.

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I first saw this picture when Jennifer shared it on Facebook. I showed this to Trent and asked what he saw and he said “some trees.” Then his face lot up. “A heart, mommy!” He said that it was nice of Jennifer to give it to me.

Jennifer also included a note, which made me cry. She said something really important, something I want to remember and something I hope others take away from this.

I think people don’t realize that they are making an impact on others unless the ‘others’ tell them. So, I am telling you!

She’s right. And I bet she didn’t know how much her thoughtfulness meant to me, how hard things have been and how wonderful her words felt to read, and just how perfectly timed she was. Actually, I’m sure she knew. Jennifer’s too smart not to. She always notices the little things.

She is a good woman. I’m so glad to know her. Thanks, Jennifer.

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.

The Silver Star Gets A Gold Star From Me

I finished another book recently! I picked up Jeannette Walls’ book The Silver Star (though I was late to the game, as it was published nearly a year ago in June of 2013) because I’ve enjoyed her other books immensely. Despite the controversy that has surrounded The Glass Castle and the criticism it has received as potentially being a work of mostly fiction I frequently recommend it to people who come into the library looking for something different or entertaining. I enjoyed it and Half Broke Horses because they are just descriptive enough and have that unique element of balanced humor and seriousness.

Anyway, back to The Silver Star. The book takes place in the 1970s. Our narrator is 12 year old Bean (Jean) Holladay and the story centers mostly around her and her 15 year old half-sister Liz. At the beginning of the book the girls live with their easy come, easy go mother Charlotte Holladay, a singer/song-writer who conveniently abandons things that are tough or make her uncomfortable. Shortly into the story Charlotte does just that: she abandons the girls, promising to return after she’s had some solo time. When Charlotte hasn’t returned a few weeks later, the girls fear they’ll be found out and moved into foster care. Liz, always the problem-solver and definitely idolized by Bean, suggests they travel across the country to Byler, Virginia, where Uncle Tinsley still lives in the old Holladay mansion.

When the girls arrive in Byler things aren’t quite what they expected. They slowly, at first, form a relationship with Uncle Tinsley and then realize they’ll probably be staying in Byler for awhile. The girls make themselves at home, learning about the Holladay family’s history of owning the mill in Byler, meeting family, exploring, and going to the newly-integrated school. They decide to look for jobs and soon find it at a local family’s house, working for the mill’s foreman, Mr. Maddox. Though initially considered somewhat of an outcast, Bean embraces her new school and the friendships she makes there and with her father’s family. Liz, however, keeps her nose to the grindstone working for Mr. Maddox and begins withdrawing after being made fun of at school. Then something awful happens to her, and she becomes even more withdrawn, while Bean takes charge of the situation, at least as much as one can take charge.

The Silver Star is a coming of age story of two girls in a unique situation, in a classic southern town dealing with some classic issues and some unique ones. I absolutely adored some of the characters: Bean was, of course, my favorite, but Uncle Tinsley, Joe, Aunt Al, and Liz are all wonderful also. Bean’s innocent courage and curiosity remind me a lot of another famous literary character, Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird. Mr. Maddox also reminded me of a character from Harper Lee’s famous masterpiece, as did the atmosphere, storyline, and the storytelling. The Silver Star also many elements that were reminiscent of The Glass Castle, such as the abandonment, the strongman characters, the sibling relationships, and the coping skills, which isn’t surprising, consider they’re written by the same author.

I would probably give this book 4.5/5 stars; if I had just recently finished Jeannette Walls’ other books I might have been more disappointed, as I would definitely consider this book my least favorite (what a back-handed compliment). It was easy to read and possibly geared more toward young readers though it surely appeals to both a young adult and adult audience. While I wouldn’t say the book is fast-paced it does move along easily, but the first third of the book had some moments that were slow. The book has several miniature lessons and moments and characters that left me thinking. Though I didn’t like it as much as I liked either of Walls’ other books or To Kill A Mockingbird, it was a fantastic story that I may pick up again and have already suggested to others. I can’t wait to read more from Jeannette Walls, and am currently seeking a book that reads similarly.

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Inherit the Dead: a Decent Book for a Great Cause

About a month ago I was chilling at the desk at work when an older gentleman handed me an audiobook and said “My wife said this book was really good. I’d like to get the print version of it, if it’s in, so I can read it please.” I found it for him and told my long-time mentor/friend/coworker/first boss what the guy had said. We both decided to take the book home; she took home another copy of the book and I took the audiobook, since it’s pretty much the closest I can come to guaranteeing to finish a book these days. The book was Inherit the Dead, and on the cover it said “Twenty thrilling writers, one chilling mystery.” Normally I steer clear of books by multiple authors; I feel like these stories tend to be disjointed and just not very entertaining to me. I can’t stay interested, but then I typically struggle with adult mysteries anyway, unless they lean on the thriller/horror side of things. I ended up taking home and finishing and enjoying Inherit the Dead, however, much to my surprise.

Inherit the Dead, edited by Jonathan Santlofer, was crime writer Linda Fairchild’s idea. She endeavored to call attention to Safe Horizon through the combined talent of other crime/legal/mystery bestselling authors Mark Billingham, Lawrence Block, CJ Box, Ken Bruen, Alafair Burke, Stephen L. Carter, Mary Higgins Clark, Marcia Clark, Max Allan Collins, John Connolly, James Grady, Heather Graham, Bryan Gruley, Charlaine Harris, Val McDermid, SJ Rozan, Jonathan Santlofer, Dana Stabenow, Lisa Unger, and Sarah Weinman. In 1978 Safe Horizon was founded in New York to “provide support, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.” The organization helps over 250,000 victims of crime every year and is the largest provider of services for victims of domestic violence in America. If the book is to support a cause like this I decided I had to read it and review it. And if you know me, you know a few things: (1) I don’t have much time to read, and therefore don’t do much of it these days, (2) I haven’t reviewed a book in a long, long time, but (3) I love reviewing books. So this has to mean something, right?

The book is about Perry (Pericles) Christo, former cop, current private investigator, and his newest case. Perry has been hired by the wealthy and well-known Julia Drusilla, whose adult daughter Angelina Loki is missing. But things aren’t as clear-cut as they seem at the surface. Angelina is about to inherit a fortune, but only if she is around to claim it on her birthday, and Julia doesn’t hide the fact that she and Angelina have had a bad relationship for awhile. Angelina’s father, Norman Loki, is a stoner, drunk, and former/non-practicing lawyer who lives large and isn’t much help, changing his demeanor and his claims like Jekyll and Hyde. Angelina’s boyfriends, a player mechanic and a politician hiding his relationship with Angelina, offer some insight and lead Perry to new information in his hunt for the missing girl, while Angelina’s debutante friend merely tries to seduce the private investigator. The book follows PI Perry back and forth from dreary Manhattan to the Hamptons as he tries to find out why Angel is missing and whether or not it’s by her own will. Eventually the story peaks and Perry -and the reader- find out what really happened.

What this novel has going for it is unfortunately also working against it. Each author adds his or her own flavor to the smorgasbord. Heather Graham’s chapter fittingly revolves around Angelina’s sultry seductress friend, while Charlaine Harris’s portion involves a humorous confrontation between Perry and another character that totally reminds me of Harris’s well-known Sookie Stackhouse character. Each author’s chapter is uniquely them, and while they managed to seamlessly move from chapter to chapter there are some characterizations that just don’t sit right with me. Norman Loki, for example, seems to be all over the place, and not really in a good way. The difference in descriptive language and pace is interesting and works for the story, though. Each author definitely had their time to shine and make the story their own; at times I wondered if the book was ever going to end… It probably could’ve been trimmed down a bit. It was fun looking forward to each new chapter, not necessarily due to any of the story’s suspense, but because I couldn’t wait to see how the next author would play off those previous.

Overall I enjoyed Inherit the Dead. I love multi-author books that have a cause, and the superstar writers do a decent job of making this books a good one. While I won’t read it again I will likely suggest it to many of the library customers that come in. I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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.

PLA Wrap-Up & John Green part 2

What a conference! I haven’t been to PLA since 2010 so this was a real treat. The programs, the exhibit hall, the people, the time with my coworkers… It makes the whole experience electric and renewed my excitement for my job.

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This year has been difficult (though also exciting) for me so far because my position changed. It’s been really stressful and to be honest I constantly feel like I have to prove my worth and prove that I’m capable. I get a lot of reassurance, but I still doubt myself. This conference was timed perfectly. Next week is the Arts Gala, which will be exciting itself, but after that I’ll hopefully have a bit of a renewed outlook on my position and be able to enjoy my profession a little more.

Anyway, I participated in some exciting programs about makerspaces and makerboxes, summer reading programs, creating an exciting brand, and technology in libraries, among other things. I’m super-excited to implement some of these ideas in our library. Two of my coworkers and I brainstormed ideas via text while sitting in the summer reading session, and I think we will be able to really grow the participation from students. I’m lucky to have a pretty cool director who likes to try new things; she saw the makerboxes program and immediately said she will give us a budget for implementing something like this in our library. I can’t wait to get to work on this stuff.

The exhibits were decent this time. Being in Indianapolis meant I didn’t have to worry about checking overloaded baggage, so I loaded up on the free books. I got a few signed books from authors I am not too familiar with, plus a signed copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris!!

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When I spoke with Laurie Halse Anderson I kept trying to think of how to tell her that I wrote a few 5 star reviews of her books… I never managed to squeeze it in. She was so cool and relaxed so I don’t know what my problem was. Anyway, I tweeted her and told her later…. and she tweeted back at me!

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The John Green luncheon was so amazing. Our table was right next to his, and we were definitely the creepiest most dedicated. We kept taking selfies in which he was included.

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When he got to the podium to talk he first took a picture of the group and Instagrammed it. I’m in the picture! With my phone up taking pictures, of course.

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He talked about libraries, writing for Booklist, and his dedicated Nerdfighter following. He talked about writing his books, when he will start writing again (June 10th!) and why amazon will never really know what books he would enjoy.

David Sedaris was hilarious. I’m embarrassed to admit I’m not very familiar with his books or even with him. But after our brief conversation about coffee and Japan I feel he really likes me and we will probably be friends forever. Also, hearing him read his writing aloud makes me want to go pick up some of his books on cd. Which I will the next time I’m at work.

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What a rewarding conference. I have been so exhausted I haven’t been able to post. But, here’s this. And more to come soon!

#LibrarianOverload

PLA today! It was just as golden and glittery and electric as I knew it would be. Of course the best start possible was courtesy of OverDrive, my favorite library vendor. The people at OverDrive know how to party and the company has the most upbeat, friendly, and helpful staff. Steve Potash must be amazing to work for. The combination of PLA, the OverDrive party, and being around some of my favorite coworkers and peers last night and today makes me excited about tomorrow and eager also for Digipalooza. Why’s it gotta be so far away?

The best program I went to today was on implementing maker spaces in the library. My friend/coworker Courtney and I have been interested in this for awhile now and this program, presented by a few Illinois librarians, gave me tons of ideas. These libraries essentially used boxes and filled them with maker stuff to fit a theme. For example, a music themed maker box would have a variety of tools for people to create music; a STEM themed maker box would have all kinda of things to promote science, technology, engineering, and math learning (build-your-own cardboard marble run!). I love this idea because it would allow us to start small and then go bigger. We could swap things in and out of the different boxes to keep them fresh, and offer both scheduled and impromptu programs. I can picture is setting up a science-themed maker box on the sidewalk outside the building during this summer to also promote summer reading. The possibilities! So exciting. I’m stoked about this.

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The exhibit hall was so overwhelming I didn’t make it through the whole thing. But I met Laurie Halse Anderson and she signed a copy of speak for me! Tons of freebies, as usual.

The hardest part of the day was being away from the boys. I spent the night downtown so I could go all out at the OverDrive party (and, um, after) so I didn’t see them all night or day. Not a huge deal but hangover emotions are always more intense.

Tomorrow I’m attending the John Green lunch! Will report back soon. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I’m tired. PLA is phenomenal but I’m dealing with an abundance of librarians. I’m going to bed now.

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Check out how I make the most of conferences here.