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Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!!!

Today begins a four-day holiday for me, so I doubt that I will post anything until Tuesday next week. I hope you have a really nice weekend with your family and friends, and that you come back, whether next week or after New Year's Day refreshed, renewed, and ready to make 2017 the absolute best ever. Thank you for reading my silly little blog!


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Getting Involved with Your Community

When I started my position as a public librarian in January, I learned after a couple of months that the Daughters of the American Revolution met once a month at my library. I've always wanted to join DAR because I love American history and researching my family. I knew that I have quite a few patriots up in my tree, but had yet to really do the leg work to find indisputable proof. Knowing that the local chapter of the DAR met at my library, I felt like I no longer had an excuse to put off doing the research. The registrar, Patti, was such a great help. The first application, using a patriot by the name of John Craighead didn't really work. Apparently the evidence was considered a bit flimsy. So, we tried a different ancestor, Joseph Ellis, and that worked just fine. I've been a member now since August.

In my chapter, I'm now known as the librarian who can help if there are questions about the A/V equipment in the room, or booking rooms, or using Ancestry on our library computers. It's really opened me up to a whole new set of ladies who may have only ever come into the library one Saturday a month for the chapter monthly meeting. Today, I spent a couple of hours wrapping gifts at the local Barnes & Noble with other ladies from the DAR to raise money for veterans. We had a lot of fun and we were not only able to talk about what the DAR does, but I was able to represent my library well.

Does your library host a lot of meetings of clubs, associations, and organizations? If possible, try to join one. Besides the DAR, we also have knitting, cross stitch, and crocheting clubs, book clubs, non-profit organizations, charities, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and a lot more. By spending a bit of time just socializing and working with groups that meet at your library, you are getting to know your community and helping to spread the word about all the great services your library provides.

P.S. The DAR has a bad rap lately, thanks for the TV show, The Gilmore Girls. Don't believe it. Not only are we welcoming to ALL ladies who can prove descent from a patriot (either someone who fought in the Revolution, or someone who gave towards the cause, or in my case, suffered depredation under the British). The application process is easy and doesn't include undergoing a snooty panel interview like you see here.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The #LibFaves16 Complete Countdown

Hi folks!

As promised, here are the ten tweets that I sent out for the #libfaves16 hashtag, where librarians posted their top ten favorite books published in 2016. EarlyWord, a great website if you want to know more about up and coming books, posted Monday the books that were in the lead so far. I have yet to read either of them.











Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Review: The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

Tomorrow you will see that I have picked as my #1 favorite book published in 2016 is The Last One by Alexandra Oliva. I will also post all of my tweets from the past 10 days of #libfaves16 and I hope, if you are a librarian, that you will join us next year for #libfaves17.

I devoured this book in less than 48 hours, it was so good. I really enjoyed this debut novel by Alexandra Oliva and thought she did a tremendous job with a very original concept. 

A married lady who has had a lot of adventures in travel before setting down to get married decides to do one last crazy thing before trying to get pregnant with her husband. She is cast on a reality survival type show with 11 others and put in a wilderness to do all kinds of crazy, strenuous challenges. Two weeks into filming, she and the contestants who are left are sent on a solo challenge, but the fatigue and hunger has altered her judgment abilities and what she thinks is fake might be real. All of the contestants have nicknames based on their occupation (sometimes even their race). So, the married lady is named Zoo because she works with animals

I don't want to give too much away, but the book does shift between Zoo's present and when the reality show first began, giving you an idea just why Zoo may think that everything she sees around her isn't real despite the overwhelming evidence. My only complaint is that when the book mentions the 12 contestants, they are always referred to by their nickname, but when Zoo is thinking specifically about them, she refers to them by their first name, which can be really confusing. Otherwise, the book is spectacular, definitely a thriller, slightly dystopian, and all around a fun read.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Why Naomi Schaefer Riley Needs to Shut Up About Librarians

Last weekend, New York Post columnist Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote a piece entitled "Why quiet-loving librarians can’t shut up about politics." In it, Ms. Riley describes what it seen as a new role for librarians, that of a social justice warrior, or as some of my colleagues like to say, an "information freedom fighter." Ms. Riley points out an issue that recently came up in the American Library Association, the fight over the wording in statements released describing how we will help the new administration by "support[ing] efforts to abolish intolerance and cultural invisibility. However, even that wording wasn't enough to ease the worries that many librarians have over the incoming administration. The lady is certainly entitled to her opinion and I can understand the frustration Ms. Riley may have over what she considers to be knee-jerk reactions to our election and new administration. However, she made the fatal mistake of writing the last two paragraphs in her published essay. Here is what Ms. Riley wrote:
Now that we can buy cheap used books on Amazon, look at resources online through       Google Books or other databases and access periodicals in the comfort of our own home, the role of librarians has shrunk considerably and many seem adrift.
As one recently told The Wall Street Journal: “If I didn’t spend my time helping people look for lost keys, wallets, jackets, sweaters, gloves, backpacks, cellphones and laptops, I’m not sure I’d even have a job.” Maybe the culprit behind all of these silly press releases is obvious: too much free time.
That just deserves all of the scorn. Every little bit of it. First of all, if it wasn't for the library, I wouldn't even have access to the Wall Street Journal article Ms. Riley cites, since I don't have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Google can't grant me access to it. Amazon can't either. Guess what? The Library does!

Here's another guess what for you - most people don't know how to access these resources that are freely available through their public library's website. Even if they did know that the library offered the Wall Street Journal for free online, they wouldn't know how to search for what they wanted. They don't understand filters, boolean searches, and keywords. That's where live human beings come into play, ones who have been educated and trained to answer these questions. I would direct Ms. Riley to a group of letters to the editor of the Wall Street Journal that was published on January 19, 2016, in response to the article that she cited. They directly contradict her cited article and were all written by degree holding professional librarians.

Ms. Riley would benefit greatly from actually shadowing a public librarian for a day. My typical day includes helping our patrons with questions they have on how to use the computer, print, fax, and copy. They call and come in with questions concerning how to borrow and download free eAudio books from Overdrive. They ask me for reading recommendations, or what is the next book in Debbie Macomber's Rose Harbor series? I also spend part of my day creating new book displays and new programming ideas. This past year I have taught classes on Scherenschnitte (German paper cutting), how to start a bullet journal to stay organized, how to write basic HTML for personal websites, and the basics of the new Windows 10. I've also organized fun things for the family to do like a Doctor Who Day at the Library. Once a month, I host a book club that typically pulls in about 15-20 people. Lest anyone forgets, all of those things are already bought and paid for by your tax dollars.

I also sit in on committee meetings. My library is implementing a texting and chat function, so patrons have MORE ways to contact us with their questions. I am one of a few working on training materials for the rest of my district's staff. Another committee I am on is working on making library cards easier to get, especially for kids.
My days are full and I don't deal with Lost and Found. If by some rare chance Ms. Riley reads this, I hope that she contacts me. I would love to give her an education about what librarians are doing in the 21st century and how many we serve on an annual basis.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Book Review: The Autobiography of Santa Claus, edited by Jeff Guinn



I desperately needed this book though I had no idea at the time I started it. It has truly gotten me into the Christmas spirit. I have no good reason not to be in the spirit of Christmas, it just wasn't hitting me for some reason. The Autobiography of Santa Claus is just that, it is Santa Claus himself writing down his 1735 year history. Like most people know, Santa Claus was born in 280 AD in a small town in what is now Turkey. His name was Nicholas (most people didn't have surnames back then). He grew up to be the Bishop of Myra. History says that Nicholas died when he was 63 years old in the year 343, but the true story is that he left his life in Myra and ended up becoming the most renown gift giver of all time. Years later, he married, and has made many famous friends who have become his helpers. Over the years, he ended up acquiring flying reindeer and a home at the North Pole.

The story is divided into 24 chapters, so one could start on December 1st, reading only one chapter a day, and finish on Christmas Eve. The story is also written with children in mind, so the language is pretty simple, although Santa does talk about topics like slavery and war, and how those things keep him from giving gifts to all the kids he would like. I highly recommend reading it yourself to learn more about what life was like for St. Nicholas and how different traditions about Santa Claus came to be, but I also think it ought to be read to kids as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book Review: Settle for More by Megyn Kelly


I have been dying to read this book ever since I heard that it was coming out. I've been a long time fan of Megyn Kelly's because I perceived her as being one of the most independent journalists on the FOX News Channel. I've seen her interview tons of people on various shows she has been on, and she doesn't suffer fools gladly. When Donald Trump started going after her last year, I was impressed on how she handled herself. At the same time, I was curious as to her actual political views since the liberals like to accuse her of being conservative and many conservatives like to accuse her of being liberal. To me, that seemed to mark someone who was really good at staying independent.

Her autobiography details her life growing up, her time in college, life as a lawyer, her two marriages, and learning to be a mommy. The language at first seemed stilted, like someone who is more used to writing legal reports than personal narratives, but it seemed to improve as she went along. In her book, Ms. Kelly explains that she was bullied in middle school, but as fickle kids' cliques go, she quickly went from being ostracized by classmates to becoming popular. She applied that lesson when Trump started bullying her last year. Besides talking about Trump, she addresses the issues with Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson. At times she names names, but often she doesn't, likely because she still works with the people on FOX, and doesn't want to embarrass them or herself.

I recommend the book for those who are fans of Megyn Kelly or would like to know more about what she calls "The Year of Trump."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai


All Our Wrong Todays won't be published until February, but I was lucky enough to get an advanced
reader copy and devoured it in two days. I have a lot of feelings about this book, not all negative, not all positive. It's like one of those pieces of art that is supposed to evoke a lot of emotion from you, and that's the whole point of it. It matters not if the feelings are 100% positive or 100% negative, or somewhere in between, so long as you FEEL SOMETHING.

The book tells the story of Tom, a man in his early 30's who lives in 2016. He has a total "failure to launch" vibe about him. He's the kind of guy who uses his grief over the death of his beloved mom to score with three ex-girlfriends and one of his closest female friends. His inventor dad treats him like a kid (maybe rightly so). In short, he's not your typical protagonist. However, his world is something like all the futuristic sci-fi movies you ever saw or books you ever read. Moving sidewalks, flying cars, clothes that can be recycled overnight into a completely different outfit the next day, big tall buildings in huge cities, food that is automatically made once you made your meal wish known to the machine that makes it. It's pretty cool, but for Tom, it's lonely.

But Tom's dad has made a time machine and wants to send six people back to the day, July 11, 1965, when the invention that made this futuristic world possible was first turned on. Hijinks ensue, mistakes are made by Tom, and next thing you know, he has woken up in a world where his name is John, his mom is still alive, he has a sister, and it's the 2016 you and I both know. For Tom/John, however, it's a total dystopia. How can Tom make it right, and will he want to after he discovers his family isn't dysfunctional, and the love of his life loves him back?

The world-building in the first third of the book was a lot of fun to read, but it did get bogged down in the middle a bit, enough to start to bore me. Then the last third of the book really ramps up and gets good again. My other complaint is that it did get pretty confusing with all of the time lines converging and diverging. Lots of time-wimey stuff that was pretty hard to keep up with at times, but I still recommend it as a fun read for those who love time travel and paradoxes.

#LibFaves16 on Twitter

Today began a 10 day long stretch of tweeting by librarians around the world as they count down their favorite books that were published in 2016. Click here to see the latest tweets with that hashtag. This is a great way to get book recommendations and to get caught up on books you would have liked to read this year, but didn't get the chance. Here's my tweet from today:


I'll post the entire ten tweets on December 21st.


Monday, December 12, 2016

2017 Reading Challenges

This year, I joined three reading challenges, the first time I had ever done reading challenges, and they were a lot of fun for the most part. The first reading challenge was PopSugar's Reading Challenge. They had 40 books on that challenge, but I finished them by October. For 2017, the challenge has added 12 more books for the Advanced challenge, for a grand total of 52. PopSugar does not offer anything other than bragging rights for completing the challenge, but I still recommend it! The categories are a lot of fun.

The second challenge I did was BookRiot's #ReadHarder challenge. This challenge of 24 books really gets you to read outside of your comfort zone. The 2017 challenge categories will likely not be announced until December 15th, but if you want to check out what the categories were this year, click on the link here. Once your challenge if finished, send in the complete list to get a 30% coupon to use in their store. At my library, I am starting a club for those who want to go through the #ReadHarder Challenge together in 2017. If you live in the St. Louis area, check out the registration page.

The third challenge I did was on a blog called The Girly Geek. She does a Bingo challenge, but in order to entice people to come back to her blog, she had some mystery categories she would only release once every two months. She did not keep up with that this year, so I'm not looking to do it again this year.

If you would like to see more reading challenges that will be occuring in 2017, check out the link to another blogger, GirlXOXO.

For 2017, I have joined Book Dragon's Audiobook challenge, BookDate's Full House Reading Challenge, GirlXOXO's Monthly Motif Challenge, and My Soul Called Life's Dystopian Challenge

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Book Review: I'm Thinking About Ending Things by Iain Reid


This book was ridiculous. It was crazy. It was completely off-the-wall nuts! I can't even. I JUST CAN'T EVEN!!

And yet, if I am to write a book review, I suppose I must. Let's put it this way. This book is just over 200 pages long, pretty short when you get down to it. The last couple lines of the book pretty much tell you in a sly sort of way that now that you've got a bit of an idea of what the heck just happened, you ought to read it again. Just to see the not-so-obvious big twisty reveal unfold before you. Just to get a handle on what was going on the entire time that was staring you in the face, but you just didn't allow your head to go there while reading it.

Man, this book is chilling! It's spooky to the Nth degree. DO NOT read this if you get nightmares. Or, at least, don't read it late at night if you get nightmares. It's not gory. It's not gross. It's just plain spooky. Everyone acts super weird, totally abnormal, and you're wondering while you are reading this, "How is anything that is going on even remotely normal? Why doesn't this girl just get out and run away? What the heck is going on?"

All this said: 10/10 would read again and I am definitely looking forward to the next Iain Reid book.

Friday, December 9, 2016

My First Year in Library Programming

At the end of the month, I'll also be closing out my first year as a public services librarian. As part of my job, I've had to come up with a lot of different programming ideas. The majority of my ideas went very well, but a few were total flops. Here's a lot of the different ideas I had. If you'd like to know more about any of these programs, send me an e-mail at rsplain@stchlibrary.org

1. How to Start an Etsy Business - This program went really well. It was my first program and I did it with the Business Resources Librarian who also works at my library branch. My part of the class dealt with how to start the business, write up your sales policies, take good pictures, and get your items promoted on social media. Trevor, the Business Librarian, talked more about the legal aspects of having a start-up home-based business in Missouri. Despite the horrible weather we had that day, with hail and strong winds, we still had 11 attendees.

2. Roaming Readers Walking Club - The idea was to have a group walk around the neighborhood near my library and talk about reading. It was to be a 7 week program on Thursday mornings during May and June. I had one person come 2 out of the 7 weeks. It was horrible! The weather got way too hot way too quick. The subdivision nearby decided to spend those weeks repaving the streets, causing anyone who walked by to breathe in all the fumes and choke.

3. Fast Friends: Speed Dating Style for Folks 50 and Up - This was also a bit of a bummer because the point was just to make friends and meet new people, but a lot of people left when they found out it wasn't necessarily to find romantic relationships and only two men came. The description of the event, I thought, made it clear, but I guess not.

4. Doctor Who Day At the Library - I drew around 75 people for this 4 hour event dedicated to all things Doctor Who. We had a cosplay contest, a trivia contest, and watched our favorite Doctor Who clips. We also had games, puzzles, and coloring pages on hand.

5. Introduction to Scherenschnitte - Scherenschnitte is the art of German paper cutting to make all kinds of intricate designs. The class was so popular when I taught it in October, I held a second class in November, and have a third one lined up in January! All classes fill up with a max of 12 people in each class.

6. Mason Jar Terrariums - This was a fast class, barely lasting 45 minutes. It just takes some jars, potting soil, dry and live moss, some rocks, and plastic animals to make a fun growing terrarium that lives in a mason jar. It brings some green indoors during the cold winter months. I had 19 come to this class.

7. Nerdy Cross Stitching - This is a monthly club I've started for people who want to learn cross stitch, or just want to socialize while they cross stitch. I saw a lot of knitting, crocheting, and sewing clubs that meet at the library, but nothing for those of us who like to cross stitch. I provide free nerdy patterns, often with pop culture references. So far, I've been averaging about 7 people per club session. It's only been going on since October.

8. Learn How to Bullet Journal - I just taught this class last week. If you don't know what a bullet journal is, just google it, or search for it on Pinterest, Buzzfeed, Instagram, or Facebook. This class had an attendance of 10, although 18 had originally signed up.

9. Introduction to HTML with Codecademy - I taught this two session class to about 10 people. We used the free website, Codecademy, to go through the 4 HTML lessons together. Even though I specified that anyone who registers ought to be have basic computer knowledge, I still had a couple attend who barely knew how to use a mouse.

Book Review: Sarah's Scribbles by Sarah Andersen = My Life As An Adult

    


Sarah's Scribbles are just that, a lot of fun, funny, and so-true-it-hurts scribbles about her daily challenges is a young adult. The main character, who I assume is Sarah, is introverted, and painfully self-aware. She is me. I'm only sad that my favorite of Sarah Andersen's strips did not make it into this book, but I hope it makes it into the next one. If you'd like to see more of Sarah's Scribbles, click here

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Welcome to a New Blog

Hi folks!

I'm starting a new blog! I must be nuts! I did have a blog on Tumblr for a while, but I think I like the ability to customize on Blogger far more. Like the subtitle of the blog says, this will be a blog of book reviews, library programming tips, funny reference question stories, and more library-related stuff. Thanks for joining me!