Archive for March, 2012

I read a short post by Miss Information this morning, basically it’s a short snippy comment to everyone who must have a copy of the Hunger Games – RIGHT NOW!!!!! because the movie is out.  This happens whenever any movie comes out and while I’m certainly guilty of wanting to read the book when I hear about a movie I’ve long since learned how to use a holds list. [BTW, if you haven’t seen the Hunger Games yet, it is excellent and I highly recommend it.  Also, when you get a chance take a look at Hunger is Not a Game initiative with Hunger Games fans and the Harry Potter Alliance]

Since I work in ILL though, I tend to get grumpy when the fortieth or fiftieth or umpteenth request comes through for a book that 1) I know we probably will not get because they will be in use and 2) even if we do get it – it will be either a) recalled the instant we’ve finished processing it or b) come no renewals and we will have to send several renewal denied requests to the patron in an effort to get the book back.  I understand the value of reading for pleasure, and I’m not above using the ILL system to get books for that purpose from time to time through work.

However, for popular fiction I truly believe that the public library is a better choice than an academic library (see Dos and Don’ts of Interlibrary Loan for more on that).  As it is we send the request out to a string of 10 lenders or so (most of whom have already noticed this book is a very popular item and have stopped lending it outside the library for a time) and cancel the request.  Cancelled requests leave everyone unhappy.  Does anyone know of a partnership between a university and a nearby public library to encourage patrons to use the public library for pleasure reading sources?  Should academic libraries carry a greater number of high demand books or just buy them on demand for patrons? I would love to hear more about how your library handles ILLs or referrals for popular fiction titles.


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I’m never quite sure how to present grad school work.  When I’m at work, my MLIS classes are considered professional development.  But when I become a fully fledged librarian I’ll no longer have the graduate classes to fall back on in terms of professional development.  I had webinars on my radar in the past, but mostly as an alternative to a conference I could not attend (my previous library provided support in the way of time and expertise but we did not have hard funds for professional development for staff) or as a way to catch up on a new piece of software.  It wasn’t until this year (note all years for me are school years so “this year” for the blog started in September) that I began to truly make use of the offerings of some of the professional organizations that offer student rates and discounts.  My favorite in this so far has been SLA – they offer a large variety of webinars on everything from new technology to copyright workshops.  The webinars are available in a synched format at a specific day and time and a good number of them are recorded and posted online for review later.  The live webinar experience is great because I can listen and interact at work while I’m on a break and when I cannot watch all of it I can watch it later.

I attended a great webinar this week on open source technology presented by ByWater Solutions, the slides can be found here.  This presentation was an excellent overview of what open source technology means (the code is shared so you can update it but it is not necessarily free technology) and what it means for libraries.  The presenter moved through the material at a good pace and allowed plenty of time for questions.  She is  giving another presentation of the open source presentation in April, refer to the link above for times and how to sign up.

Webinars and taped meetings are a big part of working in libraries today.  I go to class online, interact with student groups online and work with meetings similar to the webinar software for presentations.  If you have access to an ALA, SLA, CLA or other library association membership look for information on their websites on what they offer.  Some webinars are free, some are more expensive than others.  ACRL provides scholarship opportunities (which reminds me I need to use that before it expires!) throughout the year and other professional groups do as well.  The one thing I don’t know yet is what the rules are for having a small group “attend” one one projector (ie. one computer but three or four attendees) does that work like an individual rate or do you use a different form?

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Between the time I spent working at the UCLA Lab School, volunteering with Reading to Kids and taking my Materials for Children course, I have developed a love of and respect for biographies for younger readers.  I’ve learned about Jackie Mitchell, the girl who struck out Babe Ruth, the Mercury 13, Elizabeth Keckley, and about a group of women in rural India in the 1970s who saved trees from over development.  These books are a few of my suggestions for readers of any age.  I’ve tried to match my favorite children’s biography with the adult version.  If you see an unmatched book or can suggested another one please let me know in the comments.

Almost Astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream by Tanya Lee Stone

I picked this one up from the LAPL a few years ago as an audiobook and enjoyed it very much.  When I was younger I was fascinated by space, NASA, astronomy and anything vaguely related to the topic.  I’d never heard of the Mercury 13 before reading this book and I had a hard time putting it down.  I had the opportunity to read this book again (this time in hard copy) for my materials for children class last year.  The pictures are amazing, not to be missed.

The Mercury 13: the untold story of thirteen American women and the dream of space flight by Martha Ackmann

This is an adult version of Almost Astronauts.  I have not had the chance to read it yet but it is on my to read list as soon as I have time to walk over to the science library and pick it up. 🙂

Mighty Jackie: the strike out queen by Marissa Moss

Prior to working at the UCLA Lab School I had never heard of Jackie Mitchell, a 17 year old girl who struck out Babe Ruth in a minor league exhibition game.  My dad is a big baseball fan and I while I have missed my shot at baseball I’m great at wiffle ball!  This would be a great read for anyone who’s playing T-ball or has a favorite team

I haven’t been able to find an adult audience biography for Jackie Mitchell, please let me know if you can recommend one.

Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker by Becky Rutberg

I was first introduced to this book when I was pulling books for a black history month display.  I think it’s fascinating to read about historical figures, particularly when there is enough information about them to make an entire book from their story.  We learn about Mary Lincoln but I can’t believe I did not learn about Elizabeth Keckley until I was an adult.

Behind the scenes, or 30 years a slave by Elizabeth Keckley

A chance to learn more about an amazing woman from her own pen.

Aani and the tree huggers by Jeannine Atkins

Okay, I picked this up for the pictures but the story about a small community of women banding together to save their homes is a wonderful one.  The pictures are vibrant and it is a great story to read if your child is interested in learning more about what a small group of caring individuals can do to save something they believe in.  This book is based on true events of a 1970s Indian village.  Sadly I couldn’t find the adult counterpart book for this group of women.

The librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter

The true story of librarian Alia Muhammad Baker in Basra, Iraq who saved much of her library by smuggling home a handful of books at a time.  There is another version of her story by Mark Alan Stamaty which is in graphic novel format.  Another woman I could not find an adult biography of, does anyone know if there is one in the works?

I will leave you with my top 5 (and available counterparts) I have enough recommendations for another list at a different date.  I hope you will share your favorite biographies in either juvenile or adult literature in the comments section.

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Oh the joys of being a part time graduate student.  Some weeks working full time is as much as I can handle.  I’m one of those people who can usually handle several balls in the air at one time and manage to pull everything off, if not exactly gracefully, at least making it look deliberate.  But for some reason the past week and a half has been a little more than I can easily chew.  My husband and I adopted some tropical fish from the local pet store – we have a new 3 gallon freshwater tank and had three fish (they were named Mary, Edith and Sybil after the three daughters in Downton Abbey) and a snail (so far the snail has just been snail.   Last Friday we came home to find two of our fish of two weeks dead in the tank.  Saddened, we packed them up – put the sluggishly moving third in a glass and took them to the pet store to find out what was wrong.   The store employee tested the water and told us that it could just be new tank syndrome, sold us some treatment to correct the chemical balance of the water and sent us home.   The new fish lasted until Wednesday, when they began behaving oddly and developed some white spots.  The problem with a sick pet, even fairly sturdy fish, is when they get sick you have to deal with them fairly quickly.  So we packed up our fish, took them to the pet store where we were told that they had ich, and chances were so did the snail.  Now we brought the sick fish home, treated them for ich and they still passed away Saturday morning.  We’re now concerned about introducing new fish because the snail may still have ich, but as she’s seemed happy and healthy this whole time I don’t know how to tell when she’s better.

In addition to home-front fish problems, normally I do a certain amount of homework while on my lunch break at work.  Well this week was oddly busy for the late end of the quarter.  I don’t know if VDX was just trying to spite me, or if I really do just receive too fast but on two separate days some of the records ended up in the wrong stack.  Which confused the student workers while I was trying to straighten out what happened I suddenly had more help on my hands than I could effectively use.  In addition to this I had an appointment with a librarian helping me with my management project, a meeting to take a look at the new article tutorial, a training session and two webinars.  So there was no place for me to catch my breath and do my homework.   I will be able to finish my homework on time this weekend (barely, and rushed) but I had to shelve several quasi-self imposed deadlines.  Namely my weekly blog post here and writing draft for a scholarship application.

Phew… it’s been a very long week.  TGI Spring Break next week.  I will try to get something of more substance up during the week.

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I am the webmaster for the Rutgers Association of School Librarians and we recently decided to create a shared Google calendar to highlight some of our upcoming events.  Part of what is tricky about being an officer for a student group, at least in my case, is I live and work in California and Rutgers is located in New Jersey.  This means that I am constantly working in two different time zones when I’m trying to make schedules for things: EST for official meeting announcements and PST for my own calendar to try to tune in or re-arrange my lunches at work to virtually attend a meeting.  One way to make this easier on myself was to install FoxClocks to my Firefox browser.  The other is to set my Google calendar to PST but when I put a meeting in to place the meeting’s time in EST and let Google do the translating for me.

However, when I was updating the RASL site last month I managed to scare myself with the time zone confusion.  I uploaded the new pages at home and went to work.  Once at work I decided to take a look at the website to see how everything was working, and when I went to look at our calendar the 7 pm EST meeting for February 29th was showing up as 4pm.   I frantically logged into the calendar and checked my settings, everything was listed in EST but when I went back to the website I still saw 4pm.  After looking back and forth several times I must have gotten frustrated and logged out of my Google account.  I then looked at the calendar in the next window.  It said 7pm.  So the moral of the story is: if you are working in multiple time zones, make sure you log out of everything when updating to save yourself some gray hairs.  I hope this cautionary tale will help you, or provide a good laugh for the programmers who are more skilled than I and would have caught this right away.

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