Tag: AudioGirl

But Wait? There was Monday!!

Okay, so I didn’t leave the ALA Conference Sunday afternoon and come flying back the La Crosse, I did see some of my friends from Chicago.

Sunday night, I hung out with the Brunette’s brother. He and I have an amazing ability to miss each other’s phone calls. It’s kind of uncanny. He’d leave a message, I wouldn’t get it until three hours later and too late to meet up. I’d let him know of plans, he’d call back the next day or sometime in the following week. Repeat for the entire 14 months I lived in Chicago.

But here, we managed to coordinate not only phone calls, but locations! Who knew? We wandered over to West Fest and then to Old Town, trading stories at ridiculous speeds. Yes, I even took a picture to prove the occasion actually happened. Well, I didn’t take it, but I handed off the camera for appropriate snapping of pictures.

Monday, AudioGirl and I set off for breakfast and then her local branch. To our mutual surprise and dismay, her library won’t allow you to place holds on materials if you have a fine on your card. Nor will they allow online payments so that if you want to place a hold and have a fine, you could discharge it from home. No, you have to go to the branch to pay. Her suggestion: “Make me pay when I pick up the book, hold THAT book hostage, at least you know I want it and will come for it!”*

Despite being a large and relatively new building, walking into AudioGirl’s branch felt like running a gauntlet. Yes, I know putting a desk where you walk in directs people to staff but it felt unwelcoming–this HUGE expanse of desk and nowhere to go but down a corridor past it into the computer area and be judged if we were worthy of using the materials. I suppose it was relatively similar at my old branch but at least there one could see books and seating area. Here it was all computer desks and it felt cramped.

I failed in the “are you worthy to enter” category. I had a covered cup of iced tea with me. I hadn’t slurped it at high speed because we weren’t actually using the library, we were never going past the gauntlet. But I got asked to leave with it anyway while AudioGirl paid a 60 cent fine and forgot to place the hold. We finally did put it on hold back at her house.

The drink thing both amused and saddened me. I understand it, truly I do. It’s an urban library, and there can certainly be a lot of food and drink issues. Our policy at my current POW is no “meals” and we do try to keep food to the “toddler snack” variety, which seems to go over with our patrons. What this means for me is that I don’t have to be the drink police and saying no. And to be honest, the last two big spills I’m aware of–both were staff members, both were in staff work areas, and one of them was me. I was just glad it was on a part of the floor that was linoleum, I was drinking a latte.

Following the library, AudioGirl and adjourned to a used bookstore for new-to-us knitting books and then to a large city park to bask in sunshine and soak up a lovely summer day with a friend. It was amusing to see from the bookstore markings how short a time good knitting books last. Both of the books we purchased had come into the store less than two weeks before and while they had shelves upon shelves of cookbooks, there was only one wee half shelf of knitting books. I finally replaced my copy of Stitch and Bitch, my other copy having gone to live with the Brunette.

Tuesday morning was breakfast and then back to La Crosse. The day was overcast, which actually helped. Driving back during the day puts me directly in the sun’s path and I didn’t really need my left arm to get completely burnt. I’ve done that once already, it’s not fun. I pulled into La Crosse just after 4 p.m. and was on desk by five.

*Note: Have since spoken to Madame Director about online payments and how it might be possible without the money disappearing into city coffers. We’re getting credit/debit payments, which is a significant start.

ALA 2009: Thursday and Friday

Finally, it’s time for an ALA Recap. This might take a couple of posts, so I don’t completely overwhelm you–but won’t you come along for the review and ride?

Thursday, after a rousing day at work and an emergency appt at the orthodontist to stop one of the wires from slicing up my mouth, I headed out of LPL at 1 p.m. It was home to finish packing, take a meeting with New York, and clean several pounds of strawberries that were languishing in the refrigerator. I didn’t do the greatest cleaning job, nor freezing. The 4-H judges would have been stunned to see my flinging of the strawberries into Tupperware without flat freezing first. Sorry. I decided it was more important to get the berries frozen rather than meet Alton Brown’s standards of acceptably frozen fruit. They’ll still go well with champagne, pancakes, and smoothies.

I drove down, and it was a perfect day for the drive. I’d not been on a long drive on my own for some time and the sky, road and temperature were perfect. It was incredibly cathartic to relax back in my seat, turn up loud summer anthems, and try to keep the speedometer in an acceptable range. I pulled in to AudioGirl’s a little later than planned and spent far more time than usual finding parking. We agreed that I had bad parking karma. AudioGirl, her boyfriend, and I went for tapas and sangria and to discuss what young adults (not teens, people in their 20s) would use a library for and what types of programs would bring them into public libraries.

Friday morning brought an early start, I had to get across town and down to the Chicago Hilton (not the Palmer) for Unconference by 9 a.m. Armed with Starbucks, I hopped on the Blue Line. Have I mentioned how much I desperately miss regular public transportation? Once downtown I walked to Michigan, but the humidity was to a level that I found unacceptable–so it was onto the bus. And I spotted my first conference go-er (well, maybe not my first but my first painfully obvious one). If the purple hair hadn’t given it away, the yellow lanyard with name badge did.

When I finally figured out how to get downstairs at the Hilton, I walked into a busy room–of friends. There were about 80 of us in the room, and I knew a surprisingly large number of them. It was an unusual and amazing experience, one that I’d repeat over the weekend, of “meeting” people I already knew. Introductions weren’t really necessary and we went immediately from “Yes, of course I know who you are” to continuing conversations from days, weeks, and months before. The “longest-known-never-met” award went to Brian Gray, who I’ve known for the better part of five years.

And then, armed with coffee and muffin, we settled in for Unconference. Organized by Michelle Boule and Meredith Farkas, we charged into two sets of 15 minute presentations, interspersed with discussion sessions. It wasn’t quite what some would consider a “true” Unconference, in that we had chosen the presentations and discussion sessions in advance, but as most of us were traveling quite a distance, this preperatory planning was understandable and the ladies, despite both having newborns, did a magnificent job.

I won’t go into a detailed schedule of the presentations, you can find that here, including a number of the slide decks used. Matt Hamilton, I think, won the most awesome slide deck award of the day.

Things that really stood out for me:

* Jason Griffey pointed out that 2.3 sms messages were sent last year. And not all of them were teenagers saying “OMGWTFBBQ!” Cell phones, cell service, and texting is here and infiltrating our world. Some countries have more cell phones than people. If our local coffee shops can send us texts with offers for the week (though we wish they’d just send out the soup or donut list), why not libraries?

* Rachel Vacek talked about using mobile applications as a way to reach out to your users. Many of them are already using some kind of mobile app, how can you meet them? She mentioned asking your users to create an app for you–I wonder if we could get one of the local uni computer science profs interested in that as a practical application project? Hmmmmm.

The presentations moved quickly–only fifteen minutes was allowed, including a question period. It was the goal to get us thinking and we did. Questions flew fast and furious and there were obvious times we could have stopped and talked for hours–but our time keepers kept us going, which helped us keep things going without getting bogged down or into arguments.

We had discussion periods. I talked with several librarians about how we’re using social networks to reach our patrons and no one really had best practices. We discussed making sure it’s a Library presence rather than a specific librarian’s presence, how to pull users back to your site, concerns about patron privacy if they ask a reference question on a social networking site that’s going to retain that information, and how often to update the Twitter feed. I did feel that the word “widget” was overused in some cases, but that could be a personal hang up.

I had my discussion topic picked!! Granted, I mostly talked to people in passing about the subject, but there is definitely interest in how to get people back into libraries after they graduate from high school or college and how to continue to be relevant to our TAX BASE. More on that in another blog post.

By the end of the day my brain was full and I was wiped. Brimming with ideas and new/old friends and conversation, a small cluster of us swept out to walk to the Palmer for the LITA Happy Hour. And in some kind of odd musical theater way, we kept adding to the cluster. I think we left the Hilton with four people and arrived at the other Hilton with about ten. Here I got to “meet” Tombrarian, Iris, Dorothea, Walt, the girl who works with my former cohort Patrick at Yale (sorry, I can’t find your Moo card!!). Another round of “yes, I already know you!!”

Then it was back to AudioGirl’s, where we succumbed to humidity, long days and the ready availability of good snacks already at her house.

(Photo of Aaron, Iris and Tom at LITA Happy Hour)

In Defense of What I Read

I read romance novels.

This potentially embarrassing statement, which comes as little shock to anyone who has known me for more than six months, ever seen my bookshelves, or watched me check stuff out at work, puts me in a category that is about as stereotyped as my current profession.

Let’s see if I remember it right. I read romances therefore I

a) have unrealistic expectations about relationships
b) am waiting for my rich sheik to show up
c) am sexually repressed
d) have some odd fascination with sex scenes that are full of euphemisms
e) can’t find anyone willing to date poor pathetic little me
f) hate men
g) don’t ever read anything else (yes, AudioGirl’s boyfriend once said this to me when I was carrying around a copy of Everything is Miscellaneous)
h) spend my days dreaming about getting married and taken away from it all

To add insult to injury of the wounds of those “forced” to notice that yes, I have a 350 page paperback with a woman in a pretty dress or a half-dressed man on the front, I read historical/regency romances and paranormal, so obviously

i) I have huge issues with dealing with the real world
j) I’m waiting for a vampire to come and take me away from it all. Or werewolf, we won’t be too picky.

*clearing of throat*

Now, I won’t pretend that romance is not a lovely, brief escape from the every day. If it weren’t, I’m not sure I’d read it as much as I do and/or have in the past. But, as AudioGirl and I have discussed, it’s my television. Other than Bones, which I’m only watching one season at a time (I’m almost up for a glut of Season 3), my television watching is pretty much restricted to the occasional Alton Brown, What Not to Wear, Iron Chef and Clean House. Assuming that under all the dust there is still a television. These tales, mostly about relationships, capture me, take me away, and let me imagine a world where dukes or nice vampires trip down the street at every turn. (Seriously, where DO they find all these titled men?)

Romance has been described as a red-headed stepchild, something to be embarrased about, I’ve even called it a guilty pleasure. But I would consider it certainly nothing to be more upset about than an obsession with a television show. Same premise, right? Situation that needs to be handled and tied up, preferably in a punish bad guys, reward good guys way within a set period of time. TV can handle crimes, romances, friendships, and everything else in approximately 22 or 40 minute chunks, why assume books can do anything less in 100-350 pages?

And it’s interesting to see how romance–the most widely read genre in the world and the one area of publishing that seems to really be thriving and growing even in the current economy–is starting to get recognition. I was pleased to see an article featuring two authors I really enjoy: Eloisa James and Julia Quinn, both of whom are Ivy-League educated women as well as on the New York Times Best Sellers lists for their witty, funny and thoughtful novels.

I had the pleasure of hearing James speak at ALA. I think I’d really enjoy to have her as a professor (her “other life” as a tenured professor at Fordham). She has an interesting sense of humor and, as she described, she writes about couples who will end up in an ultimately healthy respectful relationship. Yes, there are problems, but, like sitcoms, they’re solved by the end of the book.

So I’ll keep on with my “sitcoms” which, nicely, don’t come with commercials, and need not be dvr’d.

Mending in Action

I was prepared this particular trip to New York: I packed five pair of shoes. That this meant that I came home with somewhere around 8 blisters per foot should mean nothing. Really, someday my feet will re-adapt to hiking around a concrete jungle.

Three weekends ago I had company, AudioGirl came up to spend a weekend, and then I dashed off for the Brunette’s 30th birthday. In between I hustled myself in to work, whisking through piles of paperwork as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t be behind at the end of May and my frolicking about elsewhere. My desk doesn’t look too bad.

My knee, on the other hand, has started turning shades of cranberry. We’re none of us really sure how I acquired this spectacular beauty, though popular theory is that I slammed into one of the tables at Kush.

Day After


Having AudioGirl here was delightful. We explored little restaurants, found a breakfast place no one had ever mentioned (a good one!!), and shopped. Somehow, between Sunday and Monday, it was decided I was buying a table we’d come across in the Antique Center downtown. I’d never considered “real” furniture an impulse buy, but when one finds such a fabulous wood table at half the cost of a similar laminate table at the nearby furniture store well….. The added bonus of someone to carry it up the stairs and wiggle it in and out of the car with me was there too.

And then a trip home. I spent a night out with the Blonde and ended up having a mini-college reunion while doing Karaoke. I blame my song choice of the evening on the pollen in the air, I didn’t have anything like my usual voice and talked my way through a piece by one of the current pop princesses.

We went out for the Brunette’s birthday and I spent the Memorial Day with Dee, reliving the last three years at high speed in front of a very confused and somewhat intrigued waiter. I don’t think he had previously fathomed that we could maintain the rapidity of speech we held up for the entire meal. Why yes, everything’s lovely and we’d adore another cup of tea…..

The only delay was coming home, Chicago was under heavy downpour, and I spent that portion of trip fully immersed in the only knitting project I’d taken with me.

In the course of the weekend I went through
2 mp3 players (forgot the battery charger, glad I took both!)
5 books (which meant I ran out of reading material on Monday)
1 journal (had to wait til I got home and dug out a new blank book)
2 editing projects (helps when you’re out of reading material)
Many bandaids

As I kept muttering to myself while sitting on the plane from CHI to LSE–had I run out of yarn, someone would have been in trouble.

Can you believe tomorrow is June?

Evaluating Passion

It’s one of those things that strikes you while spending an hour working on an incredibly simple scarf or staring out the window at the grey winter sky. You wonder at the passion in your life: for your work, for your craft, for life and what you’re doing. Is it enough? Are you living or just existing? If the former, are you making the most of your living? If the latter, then what’s wrong with you that you’re not living?

Winter brings on a lot of reflection, especially when faced with my solitude and my own company for more than 24 hours. I’m a nocturnal creature but these days where the light lasts a scant nine hours (at least that I’m conscious) are draining. Without the foliage to think upon as I stare somewhat blankly out my balcony, instead I look at my own internal branches and shrubberies. Am I doing enough in my profession? Am I happy in my chosen career? Am I creative enough in my craft? Should I be reaching out to other crafts and projects? Am I missing something for lack of experimentation?

A million questions, all swirling through my head as I work row after row of knitting. It’s not a project that is probably the most valuable use of my limited knitting time, but it is just enough to keep my hands busy. And perhaps that is the problem–I don’t really have to think about my knitting and so my mind takes off.

I’m sure we all question our chosen career paths at times. Was it the right decision? Was it the best use of our talents and skills? Could we make a different decision five, ten, or twenty years before (although–making career decisions in 2nd grade might have been a bad idea), would we have made better one? In the past year I’ve really seen an expansion of my use of social networking technology to coordinate with other like minds and this is both encouraging and depressing. I’m caught somewhere beyond the veriest beginner and the expert. I’m capable of figuring out new tools, able to see their applications, and have moved through blogs, wikis, chat formats and Twitter.

I’ve written a couple of articles, gotten rejections for a few more, and wondered why it is I just can’t bring myself to hop up and down with glee at the idea of submitting dry research for peer reviewed journals that don’t seem to be read very often except in limited academic circles. Those authors writing for tenure, I beg your indulgence, I’ve not yet faced the prospect of tenure and considering the current trend of libraries and the open condescension I’ve encountered from a few hiring academic libraries, it seems it may be a while yet before someone is willing to take a risk on a current children’s librarian who might not want to be one her entire career. Baffling idea, no? Add to that the recent kerfuffle over at the Journal of Access Services (an entire issue written by an unnamed acerbic blogger) and one wonders the efficacy of article proposals.

I’ve not yet presented at conferences, mostly for financial reasons as well as trying to figure out what it is I’d present two years in the future. By then I expect to have new tools and tricks–and you’d ask me to speak on what I’m doing now in early 2009? Now is two years old by then and heaven help us in this fast paced online world if those coming for their spray of knowledge (single spray versus steady trickle or stream idea of learning) are only catching up to two years ago.

It’s not only professional, it’s personal too. Listening to podcasts, reading blogs and participating in social networks for knitters, I often wonder if I’m stunted in some way. I knit. End of story. I don’t spin, dye, weave, do much more than the basics of crochet, paint, blend perfumes, bake, art journal…any of those things. I can sew, and do on occasion but mostly the sewing machine the Incredibly-Patient-Mother got me for my birthday has been waiting for me these past few months. My last project was altering a hoodie-lined jacket for a friend of mine Christmas 2008. I need to hem a tablecloth for my kitchen table, repair a bag, hem some jeans and make some new flannel/satin pajama pants. All of these combined would take one afternoon, two at the most. Instead, garter stitch squares and one row scarves get turned out. To listen to the creative minds on the intertubes, I’m a major slacker. I should be balancing at least three crafts, two of which I sell on at least an etsy store level, as well as a full time job, three children, two pets, one husband and moving houses.

But here there’s just me, and my stash. Simple projects that Audio Girl teases I should be moving on from but it’s nice to have control over the little things. The one row scarf that doesn’t require checking a pattern every ten minutes would definitely be a nice little thing.

Do I then lack the correct passion? Should I be doing three times what I am now? Obviously I’m feeling a bit of stagnation or it wouldn’t bother me to the degree that I keep returning to this blog post. Looking ahead to the new year, facing two freelance contracts finishing and not really sure what comes next I’m wondering what 2009 will bring. Renewed enthusiasm? Continued stagnation? More vague confusion?

I will continue to reach out professionally–it’s what one does to advance in this field and it provides variety. If I can get my resume fluffed, I need to volunteer to wile away the hours reading books it’s likely I’d not have picked up otherwise and about which I may/may not care very much. One of the articles that was rejected needs to still be written. I don’t know whether or not it’ll get submitted but the LSW seems to be a nice venue for such things. And ALA Annual is coming up fast. Maybe this time I won’t feel like such an outsider. After all, I do have “librarian” in my job title this time.

As for the crafting? Well, I’ve resolved to knit for myself this year. So at least maybe I’ll get some warm woolly things out of it.