I still didn’t get eaten by zombies…

Wow, the last post for this blog is from November, of 2010. And the reference in the title is a post I wrote in 2009 before going to ALA in Chicago.

Since then, big things have happened!! Such as…I got published! My first piece is in a column called Balance Point in Serials Review, a journal for Serials Librarians. I wrote about children’s magazines, where they are and where they are going in this digital environment. I was thrilled to learn that magazines are still read and subscribed to, though they aren’t used in the same ways as when I was a girl. Information for papers is found online, either through databases, or just search engines. A far cry from The Readers to Periodical Literature, which I used in high school, college, and possibly into library school. Serials Review is hosted online by Elsivier, which is mostly used by academic libraries. I have yet to put my hot hands on a copy of the actual journal, but the editor of the column sent me a PDF of the article, which I immediately sent off to my parents. (Of course they loved it.)

AND, I’ll be presenting at PALA (the Pennsylvania Library Association) in the fall, using research from my article and more. I’ve expanded the subject matter to magazines for all ages. The presentation is called, “Not Dead Yet: Print Magazines in the Digital Era.”

The sunny side of all this magazine research (not that there was a cloudy side) is that wow, who knew, I am in love with magazines, and they are a viable thing to research in a library context.

Right now, I’m surviving the first week of Summer Reading. It’s crazy busy one minute, slow the next, and then people show up at the reference desk in clumps. We generally get around 2,000 kids signed up to our program each summer, so it’s all hands on deck, which often means two people at the Children’s Reference desk, plus a teen volunteer.

Other excitement:

  • My new favorite blog is Anita Silvey’s Book a Day Almanac.
  • I’m doing research (in my ha! spare time) on Virginia Kirkus, who not only started the Kirkus Reviews but also was Harper Collins’ first Children’s editor, from 1926 to 1932, back when the company was Harper & Bros. She also was the first editor to publish Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Little House in the Big Woods. (Not the first editor to accept the manuscript, but that’s a story for another day.)

Written after my morning (glory) walk…

While I moaned last Sunday about having lost two hours and six dollars when I was done watching “Morning Glory,” the latest movie starring Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford, and Rachel McAdams, there was one moment that was worth that expense.

It was the moment after Harrison Ford says, “you’ll know when to go live.” Ford’s character, a has-been news anchor turned reluctant breakfast television host, lured Rachel’s character upstate to the governor’s summer house on false pretenses (a sauerkraut festival? really? but we bought it, hook, line and sinker.) Back in the studio, you see the earnest weather man scrambling, carrying multiple weathervanes, preparing to do the story he’s pitched every day for a week, everyone scrambling to find some story, any story, to cover the gaping hole that was meant for a feature on the sauerkraut festival and then you see the story unfold at the governor’s summer house, majestically… (no, I’m not one of THOSE reviewers. You will have to go see the movie for this one majestic moment, or I’ll tell you in person if you are not a moviegoer. Put it on your Netflix queue, or go pay six dollars. Because even if the script paid too much attention to Rachel’s romantic foibles and not enough on the main relationship, the one between Rachel and Harrison, the acting in this movie was superb.)

I was reminded of this moment in the movie on my morning walk, because I walk past the Pittsburgh Seminary, which has a weather vane atop its clock tower. I don’t suppose it’s an actual working weather vane, but it is the kind of tower jewelery you see on a church building, either a cross or a rooster. And the reason a clock tower would have a rooster for its top? Because Jesus said to Peter, “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” (Matthew 26:34, KJV)

Indulge me for a minute, while I go down this unrelated stream of thoughts: why did I use the King James Version, with its dusty, archaic language? I’m so glad you asked! It is one of the few English versions that is in public domain, that is to say, there are no copyright violations for using it in a creative piece. (Although I used such a small piece that if I had quoted the New International Version, I would not be in copyright violation, but you’re indulging me, remember?)  I also used it because it is the version that uses the word cock in such a way that you might not giggle at it. As I started writing this piece, I was going to use the word cock where I put rooster, but in my mind Samantha Jones was giggling. Does everything come back to Sex and the City, in the end?

But back to the movie. Harrison Ford, ever the curmudgeon who goes a little soft, never disappoints. When I emailed her about this movie, one of my friends referred to a Christine Lavin song, which I haven’t heard. (What a treat to discover on YouTube, eh?) I don’t have time for it now, as I must run off to ready for work.

Moral: if you think about a movie five days after you saw it, it was worth the six dollars and fifty cents and the two hours.

[Author’s note: it has been ages since I have wanted my walk to end just so I could get home, fire up the laptop, and write. Huzzah!]

Catalog race…19 problem books in 1 hr!

Saturdays have become (or always have been?) the day of the week when I deal with problem books. Last week it was catalog records. This week it was checking books that were either cataloged by other libraries, or needed to be imported because of one or another issue.

Stick a fork in me, I’m DONE!

So here are the five books I put aside to look at further:

Beyond the family tree: a book you can use to get the interview process going with relatives if you are trying to do an oral history…questions, forms, colorful typography, cool design…what more can you ask for? A bargain at $15.95.

The dragonfly effect: quick, effective, and powerful ways to use social media to drive social change. So this is how you leverage Facebook or Twitter or [your favorite social network] to start a blood drive, or something bigger. Bonus: I just found out Mark Z. (of Facebook) has a sister, Randi, who does PR for FB. There you go.

50 modern artists you should know. I am a sucker for any book of artists. For two seconds my freshman year of college, I considered being an art history major. Folks that are household names (Van Gogh, Monet, O’Keefe, Pollack) are in here, side by side with folks I’d never heard of (Moore, Twombly, Barney, Beuys.) This is not a book to give to your art history major, as the book is a QUICK intro, but if you’re a “wanna be” like me, it gives you enough that you’ll want more. And I learned in the glossary the actual meaning of “installation art”: installations are three-dimensional works of art. Well, I sort of knew that, but now I know the actual definition. YAY!

Deanna Favre (yes, Brett’s wife) wrote a book! With a guy whose last name is also the name of an Ivy League school, Shane Stanford. The Cure for the Chronic Life: overcoming the hopelessness that holds you back actually looks a lot less hokey than most of the books you find in the 248. 4’s (Christian life and practice) in most public libraries. Looks to be a 40 day guide, so maybe something good for Lent. Any book that uses a book called “Mad Church Disease” as an example of how we are screwed up about how we think about church can’t be bad. It looks like the sort of book Anne Lamott might like.

And this one, it was painful to not explore, as I am such a patient. The empowered patient: how to get the right diagnosis, buy the cheapest drugs, beat your insurance company, and get the best medical care every time. How can you not love a book where the first chapter is “How to be a ‘bad patient.'” (As in, question your doctor.) The second chapter is how to fire your bad doctor after you’ve found “Dr. Right.”

And the book that was the hardest to put aside, that I broke down and looked at a little bit: Masters: Collage. Collage is one of my favorite hobbies. ‘Nuff said.

And now, my dear ones, it is time to turn off the computers, head on out to enjoy the wonderful weather I understand we had all day. (Darn those windowless cataloging offices!)

#ALA10 advice for ALA conference 2010 (or, take it from me, DC is HUMID)

Another advice post? From a librarian who isn’t even attending this year’s conference? What does she think she is, a diva?

Well, no.  I had a once in a lifetime chance to see Carole King/James Taylor as the last concert at the Mellon Arena (fondly called the Igloo) here in Pittsburgh, and I’m recovering from a bout of Shingles. But I’ve attended at least 3 ALA conferences (Toronto, Chicago, Chicago) and 2 PLA conferences  (Boston, Minneapolis) so I have some conference experience…

…and I’ve spent at least 11 years of my life in and outside the Beltway, so I thought I’d give you some tips about DC and some thoughts garnered from last year’s conference.

  • 5 day forecast from wunderground. DC is hot and humid, but any librarian worth her (or his) salt knows that the cardigan fits nicely in one of those Demco/B&N/Brodart/your vendor’s name here bags. You will be going in and out of the conference center, hotels, Metro stations…so dress for the weather (hot, humid) but carry a cardigan.

Last year before the conference, I went all out and bought Mephisto sandals. Pricey, but so worth it. I did a lot of walking (Chicago’s ALAs are extremely spread out) and having that cloud under my feet was especially good for walking the blocks. One time, another librarian and I walked a mile side by side, not talking, just power-walking. We didn’t know each other, we didn’t talk. But the side by side walking kept both of us going to our final destination. I doubt I would have continued walking had it not been for the silent competition/comradery we had going.

  • Get a Metro pass. My sister, who is a true Washingtonian, recommends that tourists (that’s you) use a daily pass. That way you don’t have to worry about adding money every time you go somewhere.  They cost $9, which is a bargain if you think about how much cabs cost.  Here’s the link to purchase one online. Scroll down a bit. They are good after 9:30 on weekdays (like today and Monday and Tuesday) but work all day on weekends (Saturday, Sunday)

I was staying with my friends in a darling Chicago neighborhood called Lincoln Square. I got lost a couple of times, but by the end of my short time in Chicago, I knew my way (at least back to their apartment.)

  • Are you staying with family/friends? (Congrats on your networking skills, it’s a great way to attend conferences on the cheap.) Tell them about the exhibits only passes. Any Jim or Jane off the street can pay $25 at the registration booth inside the conference center for a one day exhibits-only pass. Link here for what’s in the exhibits…lots of great stuff! Even better,  offer to pay for their pass–it’s a great host/hostess gift for any book lover.  (What’s $25? You could be paying for a hotel room, remember?)

The friends I stayed with had just gotten married, so I got them something off their wedding registry. And I gave them a lot of my vendor swag…my friend is considering becoming a librarian someday, so she loved hearing about what I’d done each day.

  • Network. And I don’t just mean in your meetings. Are you waiting in the taxi line because the shuttles are all gone and you have to get back to your hotel? Ask the folks waiting if they are going to your hotel or nearby. Sharing cabs cuts the cost. Or, if you have an internet enabled phone (you lucky dog!) you can try out a new service in DC, called CabCorner, which creates an instant cab-pool.

One hot Chicago afternoon, going from the conference center into downtown, my fare got paid for by some ladies who were at the other conference in the conference center. When they found out I was a librarian, they paid my way. While at first I found it a little ego-bruising, I decided in the end that it was really sweet of them, and graciously thanked them.

I seem to remember it was a day when I was exhausted and just needed to get OUT of the conference area. Which brings me to…

  • Don’t just go to the exhibits and meetings and presentations…especially if you are paying your own way. Take a diversionary trip. The Metro is very easy to navigate, and a lot of the museums are right on the Metro line. Go to a Smithsonian or two. And hey, they are FREE.

It was the ONLY day I’d have a chance to go to the Art Institute…so I went. I stood in front of my favorite painting for almost a half hour. Yes, it meant I missed hearing Cokie Roberts, but it’s not every day I’m in Chicago.

  • Always read people’s name tags. You never know who you’ll meet. Do you know someone from their state? This is a great way to meet the person you’ll eat lunch with today. Are there empty seats at a table in the crowded caf? Don’t be afraid to ask if you can sit with people–they may become your new best friends!

I’ve met Robert Munsch’s brother (Toronto, ’02), Richard Peck (same), and last year, darn it, a really great children’s poet. (Write this stuff down!!) We were on the escalator and I read her name tag and said, are you x, the poet ? And she was!

  • Do you twitter? follow the hashtags #ala10, #aladanceparty, and for fun, @alatotebag, who tweets such gems as this:

Who had the bright idea to hold #ALA10 in a 100 degree swamp? Librarians don’t keep well in the heat. Cardigans will spontaneously combust.

A few other librarians have written GREAT conference advice posts:

Librarian by Day: ALA Conference Survival Tips #ala10

Free Range Librarian: ALA Conference Survival Tips — 35 Conferences Later

Elizabeth Bird at SLJ: Remembering what I’ve forgotten

project re-shelve, busted!


I’m planning to pursue a Ph.D in Children’s Lit next year. So what better time to start reading more kids books and hey, writing about it, since that’s my new direction?

I’ll start with two (no, three) I pulled off the re-shelve cart. Books that I was supposed to, um, re-shelve.

The first one is the size of a Beatrice Potter book.  It is 15 cm. in height, according to our catalog, and is about a mouse, which seems to fit its diminutive size.

Mouse Letters: a very first alphabet book by Jim Arnosky.

Arnosky, whose website is titled “Jim Arnosky’s Wildlife Journal,” is a “renowned naturalist, as well as author and illustrator of many books for children about animals and nature. He wrote Mouse Letters and its companion book Mouse Numbers, twenty years ago as a gift for his young daughter, who now has a child of his own” (from the back jacket-flap of Mouse Letters.)

This book depicts a mouse trying to make the letters of the alphabet by arranging and sometimes manipulating twigs. The U, which is made as the mouse falls onto a twig bridging a small gap, is followed by the harrowing image of the mouse holding on for dear life at the middle of the now letter V. Wordless, it takes me back to its watercolor pictures again and again.

(I’m excited that there is a companion title. More on that later, maybe.)

The second book I couldn’t shelve was a bigger tome, One Frog Sang, by Shirley Parenteau. The cover shows a happy green frog with the onomatopoeia, “Ka-blu-urp!”

Parenteau’s website is based on her second book, Bears on Chairs, and you need Flash installed to run it. Apparently One Frog Sang was inspired by hearing frogs singing by the road. They stopped singing when cars drove by. Parenteau is not new to writing, but as books go in and out of print, her other titles aren’t listed on her website. I dug a little and found one in our catalog: A space age cookbook for kids, from 1979. Call me a librarian, but I think a book is still interesting if it is no longer in bookstores and I think all books an author wrote should be listed on their websites. (Surely at the very least they own a copy, and could be photographed holding it, if nothing else.)

Ah, but you want to know about the book. Well, I haven’t even opened it yet. I’ve been helping patrons put holds on the latest Harlan Coban book, or renew their library card registration, and find the third book in the Percy Jackson series.

The end papers are blotches of green on yellow, so that’s kind of fun. The story is a kind of circle (one frog starts, then two, then more, until a car drives by and they are silent. Until…and it starts again as the book ends.) I’m not crazy about the pictures, maybe because in my mind, frogs are from Tuesday and very realistically drawn/painted. I’m not crazy about the onomatopoeia, which seem to be made-up words, not just the “Ribbit Ribbit” that I’m used to. But I do not have a wriggling child in my lap and I am not reading this book out loud. I am reading it to myself as mothers ferry their children over to the circulation desk and out the door, as children and grandmothers peer into the hamster’s cage and watch him take a drink. And taking a closer look, I know that part of my not-love for this book is that I’m not familiar with the frog sounds of the country. I’m a city girl, always was, always will be. But the critic in me says, frogs deserve to be drawn well. Some in this book are, but others are not, and that bugs me.

The last book is one that I found at the second re-shelve cart, and again, I almost re-shelved it but couldn’t. I think this book will go home with me, since I can’t read it all sitting here at my desk.

(Just walked over to paperbacks to get the Island trilogy off the shelf, Gordan Korman.)

DK is a favorite publisher of mine, so already they have my attention when the subtitle of this Anne Frank biography is “a photographic story of a life.” The first photograph in the book is of the actual diary–who knew that she wrote in a book that was red and gray plaid? Inside, as a quick leaf through (who knows when the next youth will come in clamoring for Harry Potter 7?) I discover treasures such as a picture of Anne sunbathing (keep your mind out of the gutter), a picture of an actual ration book, and a little sidebar about Montessori schools, because (who knew?) Anne attended one. When I was in college, I wrote a paper on Anne Frank, using Miep Gies book Anne Frank Remembered as my main source. I remember it for the information, but more than that how clear the writing was. In that book, I learned that Otto Frank loved meeting new people and that he had a gathering at his house every week of all sorts of people (before the war, of course.) I think I will pore over this book tonight, at home.

It’s time to try to shelve some more books, as a young child screams bloody murder over the fact that he will soon have to leave the library.

A library camel? That twitters? YES!

So…where to begin?

Well, our library has a camel. Her name is Rama. We have very creative staff members that decorate her monthly with seasonal themes. (Not sure when that started, but now it’s a really fun thing that a lot of us look forward to.)

Last month, I was at a Children’s District Meeting (which was essentially a Christmas party) and afterwards, I had coffee with two librarians. We were talking about Twitter (one of my favorite subjects…) and one of them suggested that the camel should have a Twitter account. Hmmm…

I ran it by a few people, and announced that I’d be the voice of Rama, starting in January. Well, it’s January, and today was the first day that I could devote some semi-uninterrupted time to creating an account. I spent some time researching and gave myself a deadline of 2 p.m. to create the account.

So, without further ado, here she is, Rama, the twittering camel!

Some great* accounts I found while researching:

Finksburg Library in Carroll County, MD

Grand Rapids Public Library in Grand Rapids Public Library

Topeka Public Library (is this David Lee King’s library? Yes, yes it is!)

Some great articles I found:

Twittering Libraries (created by an LIS student, highlights some great twittering libraries along with pros and cons for starting twitter.

The ALA Annual Tweet Report by Michael Stephens, of Tame the Web. It’s from the ALA that was in California, so not like “annual” as in, this will be updated annually, but annual as to a report about the Annual Conference. Really attests to the fact that librarians have just sunk their teeth into Twitter.

Lindy Brown’s list of Libraries on Twitter (with strike-throughs for libraries no longer twittering.)

The Twitter page at the Library Success Wiki.

Update on Friday (started this post Wednesday): I am now following 132 tweeps, mostly Pittsburgh related organizations, and have made lots of lists of resources, and have 17 followers, YAY!


*great is always subjective. The question I asked was, “does this twitter feed have a personality?” Since I’m blogging from the mouth of a camel, I’m looking for a particular “voice.” So lists of the new books, while a great service to patrons, was not what I was looking for today.

…And nothing, nothing is going right*: a librarian reacts/grieves a suicide

I never knew @gideony.  But my twitter feed this afternoon is full of people who did. And I can’t help but feel the weight of their grief. Travis Lee “Gideon” Addington was 30. And Friday, he took his own life.

It was only this morning that I was telling my supervisor about a suicide attempt by a man I was dating, almost exactly sixteen years ago to the day.

My hands are like lead on the keyboard.

So, since it’s the only thing I can clumsily think to do, here are some resources. I’ve rearranged them so that the musical ones are at the top and the informational ones are at the bottom

Gideon worked with this Tulsa non-profit, Neighbors along the line, which has a food pantry, GED training, and senior outreach, among other thing.

A liturgy by Gideon, posted by @BrianMerritt on his blog, Shekinah Glory.

When I’m in pain, when I can’t think straight, I turn to songs that I listened to in high school, when I was heavy into 70’s singer/songwriters.

Here’s a bit of Carole King:

When you’re down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

And a bit of Simon and Garfunkel:

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you

Turn up the music. Go for a walk. Journal. Do whatever it is that you do to get a little bit normal.

If you are one of the ones grieving, read this. It talks about self-care, which is so important. You can’t do anything for the person who is gone, but you have to take care of yourself. Grieve, but stay grounded. Journal, if that helps. Go for coffee with a friend, if that helps. “Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either.” Grief is at once universal and individual.

If you are helping someone who is grieving a suicide, read this. That’s me, right now. I don’t know most of the people who are grieving, you are all either virtual friends, virtual strangers, or someone I may have met once. I am afraid of saying the wrong thing, I feel helpless, awkward. In this new world, we do feel grief for people we’ve never met, and compassion towards people we’ve only talked to online.

If you are contemplating suicide, read this. It’s a long letter, but it talks you through some of the things you might be thinking about.

I hope that what ever your circumstances or your connection to Gideon, you have someone you can talk to, someone that will catch you when you are muddled, tired, and not sure where to turn with the feelings all twisted inside.

Please send memorial donations to Transition House.

Update on 12/19: Please send memorial donations to Iron Gate. (Info from Dustyn Addington‘s tweets) A few tweets from Dustyn:

#gideony …Iron Gate is a charity that was close to Gideon’s heart. They serve food to the homeless 365 days of the year, every morning.

#gideony For those who have asked, here is the charity we would like his memorial donations sent to: http://tinyurl.com/ya6fjuy

#gideony In about a month, I will close Gideon’s twitter and facebook accounts. I will likely leave his websites and blogs up until their…

#gideony …until his subscriptions lapse. If you would like to save any of his tweets/posts/anything of the sort, be sure to do it soon


Any errors of omission or commission or incorrect information are mine. Please correct me in the comment box and I’ll update this post with information as it comes in.

This post was put together using your tweets mostly, so thank you. A special thanks to Brian Merritt.


*from “You’ve Got a Friend,” by Carole King

Added later:

A memorial post by Jonathan Brink, The Loss of a Virtual Friend.

Some Faith Based Suicide Prevention Resources

Fierce Goodbye: A faith based perspective on suicide: a documentary on suicide with insights from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Greek Orthodox theologians, and scholars and people working in the mental health field.

What does the Bible say about suicide? by Dr. James T. Clemons. From a review by Paul Quinnett: “For those of us hoping to fully understand suicidal behavior in the largely Judeo-Christian world here in North America, knowing that the Bible does not condemn suicide is critical to helping break down the stigma, fear and ignorance that surrounds and impedes our efforts to prevent suicide.”