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Showing posts from 2011

Ebooks & Libraries

For a long time I've been frustrated with the way ebook publishers have been approaching library lending, but my rage has been overruling my sense and I haven't been able to get many coherent thoughts into print.

Luckily Bobbi Newman pretty much hit the nail on the head with her "9 Reasons Why Publishers Should Stop Acting Like Libraries Are the Enemy and Start Thanking Them". I could go through each of her reasons and expound on why each one makes so much sense and explains a piece of where my frustration is coming from, but I'm going to focus on the points that have been bugging me the most.

First from the consumer side, I know I'm not alone in the group of people who don't like to buy books until they're pretty sure they're going to love them. I simply read too much for buying every book I read to make any sort of financial sense. Often that means borrowing the first book in a series or by a new author to see if I want to spend money on the res…

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by Erin Chase

200 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, and Nourishing Meals That Are Easy on the Budget and a Snap to Prepare

With her website $5 Dinners, Erin Chase has cornered the market on a affordable family cooking. In her first cookbook, she seeks to put some of her most popular recipes into print. Unfortunately I was not in much of a cooking mood while I had this book checked out, so I only got to try a few recipes, but they were all tasty, cheap, and easy to make.

I'll admit I'm a little scared by all the extreme couponing going on right now, and Chase's website is heavy with it. Other than some explanations about couponing in the beginning sections, though, there's not much more said about it in the rest of the cookbook, thankfully. I love getting a good deal as much as the next person, but coupons and sales are such fleeting things that I don't want to read a budget cookbook where the only way you can make the meals cheaply is to hit the right sale/coupon window.


Everything Meals on a Budget Cookbook by Linda Larsen

About a month ago I decided to become an Independent Pampered Chef Consultant, and while that's separate from my library career, I can't help but notice ways that being a librarian can help me share quality kitchen tools with people. For one, I've already talked at length here about my recently discovered love of teaching. Luckily for me, Pampered Chef is more about teaching than selling. The products are so good they sell themselves, so my role as a consultant is to more to guide people to the products that will best meet their needs and facilitate discussions about how to make cooking fast and fun (the only way you can get me in the kitchen).

But this really isn't meant to be an entry about how great Pampered Chef is. It's really a way to introduce a series of cookbook reviews I'm going to be starting here. I have no pretensions to being a great chef, but now that I'm going to be getting paid to go into people's homes and demonstrate kitchen products…

Flagging Enthusiasm For Banned Books Week

How could I almost forget to blog about Banned Books Week? After National Library Week, it's probably the biggest holiday in Libraryland. I love Banned Books Week because it gives me a chance to talk about books I love because, let's face  it, some of the best books are the ones that cause controversy. As I used to do on my old book blog, here are the top 10 most challenged books from the last year according to the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom and the two I've actually gotten around to reading are in bold:

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age groupThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violenceBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicitCrank by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language,…

Fiction Is Good For You ... Oh Wait, Maybe It Isn't

I came across yet another study showing that reading fiction is good for developing empathy, and I love it.

First of all, I find it really humorous that the study they talk about was based on readers of Harry Potter and Twilight identifying themselves as wizards and vampires. Maybe not the best way to make your case to the people who need to hear it made, but I can see how you can easily extrapolate the results. If readers can identify with supernatural creatures just by reading a story about them, then it should be easy to identify with all sorts of real social outcasts and minorities by reading fiction.

Mostly I love it because I can feel how true this conclusion is in my own life. I've been a voracious fiction reader for as long as I've been able to read. While I occasionally enjoy narrative non-fiction and have found other non-fiction useful to me at various times throughout my life, I'm primarily a fiction reader. And the experiences I've read about in those books…

Speak Out With Your Geek Out

I've worn glasses since I was 4 1/2, so I've always been a bit of nerd, which led to me being okay with geeking out about things. Well, it turns out that last week was a great week to talk about all things geek. Unfortunately technically difficulties prevented me from posting this last week.

As a librarian, I get to interact with all kinds of geeks, and I have to say, it's wonderful being in a profession where I get to meet so many people who get so excited about their interests.
But I want to be selfish here and talk about the things that make me a geek. From my earliest years I could be identified as geek because of my passionate love of books and reading. Even before I could read, I loved being read to. Luckily I had parents willing to indulge (even if they were sometimes the ones to fall asleep while reading). One of my aunts is a librarian and every year for my birthday she would get me a new book and that book was always one of my favorite presents.
In high school I…

Stage Fright

I survived my first instruction session, and while it certainly wasn't perfect, I managed to cover everything in my outline and the students seemed to have kept up with me, so I'm going to call it a success.

The bigger deal to me was that I was barely nervous before or during the presentation. Many of my elementary and middle school teachers would be shocked at that statement because I was pretty well known for having nasty stage fright as a kid. I was also a cryer back in those days, so not only was I not able to do public speaking, I would generally end up a sobbing mess about it.

So how in the world did I become a teacher? I think it has something to do with my desire to help people being stronger than my fear of public speaking. Growing up, I was the oldest child and one of the oldest cousins, so I got used to explaining things to the younger ones. In school I tended to catch on quickly, so there too I ended up helping others. Helping people became second nature to me.


Preparing To Teach

As I prepare to teach my first class next week, I'm finding myself reading everything I can find on teaching styles and the state of information literacy instruction for inspiration. But instead of posting link spam to more articles than I could possibly give my two cents on and still keep you all interested, I'll just talk about my experiences a little bit.

After doing my first dry run in the classroom, I realize there is a lot left to figure out before I'll be confident teaching this presentation. For the first time I'll be using a smart board and clickers. While both pieces of technology seem to work well, it's still a new layer I'm getting used to. Then there are the issues of working off a script I have to stick to so that the instruction remains uniform across all the different sections. I still don't get how to make my point with some of the activities we're supposed to do. My transitions are still clunky, largely because I'm still having tro…

My Own Worst Enemy

While cleaning out my drafts folder I found this piece from when my job search wasn't going so well. While it seemed too self-defeating to post at the time, I think there's a little truth in this nugget. The longer you search for a job, the more you think the problem has to be you, even if you've landed wonderful jobs in the past and done amazing things in your previous jobs that would make anyone lucky to hire you.

Thing #1001 That Sucks About Job Hunting:

You tend to focus on everything you need to fix: "I didn't get this job because of X, so I need to fix X."

This is instead of focusing on the things that already make you a strong candidate: "I've done all these wonderful things in my career and I can't wait to join another organization to do even more wonderful things."

Reflections of a New Community College Librarian

After months of searching I finally found found a job and I have to say that I'm really surprised with both where I landed and how much I'm loving it.

After focusing primarily on the public library reference jobs that were similar to my most recent position, I stumbled onto a couple openings at nearby community colleges. When I'd first graduated from library school I heard somewhere that people who worked in community college libraries claimed they were this magical land where public meets academic, where you don't have to deal with spoiled rich kids and people are looking for things more stimulating than the latest James Patterson novel. But I went to library school so I could become a public librarian and I loved the public library job I eventually got, so I never really thought about that statement.

While I loved my public library job, one of things I discovered I loved most about it was teaching public computer classes. Eventually it clicked with me that academic l…

Library Day in the Life Round 7 - Day 2

Today's day in the library is pretty brief. I applied for more library jobs. This afternoon I visited my local public library to pick up some books I had on hold. When I got back I discovered I'd received an ARC in the mail. If any of these books end up being notable, you'll be hearing about them in Friday Reads.

Library Day in the Life Round 7 - Day 1

I learned some things today.

#1: I tend to forget that I'm allowed to not love things.

I've always been a hardworking, willing-to-pitch-in-wherever-I'm-needed type of person, so it's nearly impossible for me to admit that I don't want to do something. But the truth of the matter is, there are parts of librarianship that I do not want to make the center of my career.

For example, I love helping kids whenever they cross my path, but I knew early on that I don't love them enough to pursue a career in youth services. Rather than working with just kids, I prefer the variety of helping all ages at the reference desk.

This is something I've been able to admit I don't love, but there are plenty of examples of things I haven't simply because I haven't stopped to realize that I don't really love them enough.

#2: I still care far too much about what other people think.

I spent today preparing for an interview I didn't want to go to, but everyone ke…

My Least Favorite Interview Question

I've alluded to the fact that I've been interviewing for librarian positions near my new home and someday when I'm not feeling so discouraged maybe I'll write more about the challenges of searching for a job in my particular area in this economy, etc., but for now I have to tell you all about my least favorite interview question.

I realize that I'm probably being a little oversensitive here and I fully admit that this is my particular pet peeve and probably not shared by the general population. Still, I just have to get it off my chest.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

I know this is a pretty standard question and as easy to prepare for as "What's your biggest weakness?", so I always have a prepared answer for it, but I wouldn't be surprised if I often bomb it because it's so hard to keep my hatred of this question under wraps.

My hatred of this question is very specific to librarianship. I got into this field in part because…

Friday Reads - The Crazy Christian Edition

I'm currently working my way through three books.

With all the personal challenges facing my family over the last year, I've revived my faith and reexamined it as we've gone through these trials and tribulations. So I've read a lot of books relating to Christianity.

Last year I received an ARC of Brian Liftin's The Sword, which is the first book in a post-apocalyptic Christian fantasy series. Hundreds of years after a plague and nuclear apocalypse knocks out 90% of the human population, the world is reset to medieval times. What happens when a scholar discovers religious writings from the people who came before? With the intriguing premise, I was especially disappointed that I couldn't get into it when I first received it. The second title in the series, The Gift, showed up in the mail this spring and I decided to give the series another try. I'm still on the fence. Liftin is another one of those theologians trying to write fiction and connect Christianity …

I Did Break Up With Cable (Again)

Awhile ago, I wrote about how I would break up with cable if it weren't for sports. Well, my husband and I decided that we could live without live sports available in our living room, only to stumble across an interesting partial solution: ESPN on XBox Live. Thanks to this, whenever the Cubs are on ESPN we can watch the game live. Of course considering the Cubs season this is probably going to be a less common occurrence.

And while I'm on the subject of saying goodbye to cable, this article sums up some of the non-cable options for watching TV and movies available online.

Dystopian Series for Teens

Talking about dystopian novels last time, this week I'm back with more, this time with teenage protagonists. It's interesting how the adult novels tend to focus on the society at large and then you start to identify with the main character. These novels for teens start with the hero's story and then progress to illuminate how their story affects the larger world. Also because I happened to find so many, I'm sticking with only series.
The Giver Trilogy by Lois Lowry - a loose trilogy following three teens through a world where each community limits the lives of their people in different ways.The Giver (1993) - 12-year-old Jonas is assigned the occupation of "Receiver of Memory". It is his job to take on the memories of their community before it was wiped clean of the strong emotions of love and hate and things like colors. As he begins to learn more about the way life used to be, he finds it harder to stay in the community. My seventh grade English teacher read…

Why I Want To Break Up With Cable But Can't ...

... Live Sporting Events

Thanks to Hulu, Netflix, and a handful of other websites I'm able to find the majority of TV shows I care about streaming online mostly for free, or a few for a small monthly fee. My husband and I even gave up cable for awhile and got along great, except we kept finding excuses to go to a local bar to watch baseball and football games. For as much as we spent on beer, we might as well have kept our cable subscription.

Now I know there are torrenty ways to download anything I could ever want to watch for free, but I'm at the age where that kind of hackery doesn't hold the same thrill it used to. I just want to watch my shows quickly, easily, and reliably and if I have to pay a small fee to do so, it's not the end of the world. I also think that media providers who don't realize that they could grow their audience (and make more money) if they played nicely with providers like Hulu and Netflix *cough* CBS *cough* CW *cough* premium cable *cou…

Classic Dystopias

A few years ago I stumbled across the website Reading Trails. I got really excited because it plays to what I think is one of my strengths as a readers advisor. I may not have read everything out there, but I'm really good at talking to other readers, reading reviews and just generally keeping track of what's out there to read and why people are reading it. I liked Reading Trails because I could group together titles on similar topics, settings, etc. whether or not I'd read them, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Unfortunately Reading Trails is looking pretty broken, so I think I'm going to bring my own Reading Paths to this blog on Mondays.

For some reason I keep finding my way to dystopian novels. They satisfy my need for thought-provoking fiction with a touch of sci-fi. Here are a few classic dystopian novels I've read, along with one I haven't, but might as well have for as much as I've heard about it.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - A classic of high sch…

Finding Reliable Health Information Online

While going through an old blog of mine, I found this summary of a presentation I gave in late 2006 on finding reliable health information online. Surprisingly most of it is at least somewhat relevant today. Since I'm trying to relive the days when I used to research medical information for a living, this wasn't a bad way to jog my memory.
Finding Reliable Health Information Online
MedlinePlus: This site is put together by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) as a comprehensive consumer health resource. It is relatively easy to use and requires little or no knowledge of medical terminology. Use it like a search engine and simply type your term into the search box, or explore one of MedlinePlus’ specific resources, including drug information, dictionary, and medical encyclopedia.
Quackwatch: A great site for checking out “too good to be true” medical claims. This non-profit corporation is dedicated to combating “health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies…

Why Hiding Information Grinds My Gears

I know this is old news, but I was flabbergasted by yet another attempt to limit the availability of information. The Tennessee legislature has introduced a bill to ban discussions of homosexuality in elementary and middle schools. The claim is that talk of homosexuality is not age-appropriate. Of course lengthy discussion of sex acts either homosexual or heterosexual is not age-appropriate for elementary school students. But banning the words "gay," "lesbian," and "homosexual" from classrooms also means that we can't explain why some kids have two moms, two dads, or a mom and a dad, which is an age appropriate discussion of sexuality.

This is just another one of those news events that confirms my belief that freedom of information is essential for free societies like ours. No matter what my beliefs on homosexuality or any other hot button issue are, the way to support and defend those beliefs is not doing everything I can to hide all information to t…

Friday Reads Uncut

Ever since my friends got together for our very long delayed Christmas celebration I've been powering through Karen Marie Moning's Fever series. Basically our hot young heroine goes to Dublin to discover who killed her sister, only she finds out that fairies are real and on the verge of destroying our world. Definitely better than your average paranormal romance/urban fantasy. I generally don't read the genre because it's either too sleazy or too twilight-y. In this one the heroine is believable despite the fact that she's a 22-year-old blonde who's lived a charmed life right up until her sister's murder. She ends being surprisingly gritty and resilient and while there does end up being a lot of sex, it's not what you think. Definitely on the dark side, but worth the read. Right now I'm on #4 of a the 5 book series. Hopefully I'll finish it all this weekend because it's been impossible to focus on much other than reading these books.

I had t…

The Biggest Hurdle In Researching Health Issues ...

... is kind of obvious. Sick people are sick. They want to spend their time in bed, not feverishly researching strange medical terms or wrangling with complicated insurance guidelines. When you're sick you just want to trust that your doctors will get you better and that insurance will cover the costs. Unfortunately when you're really sick or have ongoing issues, or, as in my case, have these health problems occur away from your regular doctor, you have to work harder to make sure that your treatment is accomplished in an efficient and effective manner.

The key to handling the overwhelming nature of a major medical event is getting organized. First of all, make sure you have the contact information for all of your doctors and health insurance carriers somewhere easy to find. That way when questions come up you don't have the excuse of needing to look up the doctor's phone number to keep you from taking care of this issue quickly. When my husband broke his ankle a few m…

Librarians Make the Worst Patrons

Have you ever heard the saying "doctors make the worst patients"? Well, something similar can be said for librarians. For two years I worked in a medical library in a position where I had ample time to play with the expensive and extensive medical databases we subscribed to. I would browse the drug database in AccessMedicine to discover the funky side effects of drugs I'd never heard of. I felt like a ninja learning the intricacies of MeSH to effectively search PubMed for hard to find research articles. But did I bother researching conditions I personally suffer from or anything relevant to me?

Part of the reason I've been trying to get into posting here more often is because I've been dealing with some nagging health issues and blogging can be done whenever I happen to feel less yucky, so I can feel involved in librarianship even if working a 9 to 5 job has been a little challenging. I've been trying to avoid bringing it up here, but I've realized that p…

Loose Ends

I feel terrible that I, yet again, started but didn't finish a Library Day In the Life week. So I'm going to get back to the latest one and sum things up a little.

Health issues were still affecting both my husband and me, so I did more reading while sitting in waiting rooms, mainly G. Kim Dority's Rethinking Information Work, plus catching up on some blogs. I really do want to be a public library person until they drag me kicking and screaming from the library, but I've done a variety of things with my library education and so there's no reason to not keep my options open while job hunting. Sometimes I forget just how many skills I have and if nothing else, it's like getting a little pep talk.

I also checked out a couple webinars. Because it was Anti-Bullying Week, School Library Journal sponsored a Battling Bullying Webinar with popular children's author James Howe as the keynote. I was really surprised to hear about his fight against bullying on behalf o…

Library Day in the Life Round 6 - Day 1

For the first time since this whole Library Day In the Life thing started, I am not employed by a library. In fact, I'm not employed at all. Thanks to a perfect storm of circumstances, I've found myself stranded in a new city with my husband and I both getting the short end of the health stick. Some other time it might be worth going into the long story behind that last sentence, but right now, suffice it to say that job hunting hasn't been able to be my main concern lately.

It's been a few years since I've been actively looking for a job and while I'm excited to have more of that experience I lacked last time around, it doesn't mean that job hunting is any easier. The tech skills that I so carefully cultivated in library school have really faded while working in a position where those skills were less important than other day to day responsibilities. I'm searching in a much bigger market, which means more jobs to apply for, but also much stiffer compet…