Saturday, January 31, 2009

Archived posts: OLA 2009

(only the fun stuff)

Session # 612: 8 R's Update
With Ken Roberts and Kelly Moore, this session focused on conveying and interpreting the results of the 8Rs study and relaying information about the Summit on Human Resources (held in Ottawa in Fall 2008 to discuss a national strategy and action plan). Tentative ideas from the summit:
  • A national pool of job exchange/internship opportunities, especially for mid-career librarians
  • Discussions about re-certification: Well, we don’t even have any formal “certification” process. Librarians don’t have to “pass the bar” or pass a standardised test to call themselves librarians. Re-certification, therefore, is just simply “maintaining your skills.”
  • More management courses are needed in library schools
  • This is problematic, because students aren’t interested in management courses in library schools, stating “it doesn’t jive with the reason they want to be a librarian.”
  • Should we be targeting BComm or MBA students to enter library school?
  • What about joint BComm or MBA / MLIS degrees?
  • Employers want future managers, and that’s the minority of students. Most students are attracted to the profession because of an expressed desire to help people, or because of the perceived work/life balance in the profession.
  • Students tend to want to work in the area they studied in – what implication does this have on streams in library schools? Attempts must be made to break down the “sectors.”
  • Managers at the Summit asked “how can we escape the feeling that people are saying, I take my number and I wait – seniority – and BOOM, I’ll be a manager!”
Session # 1822: Leadership 2009
I was somewhat disappointed by this session, as it was kind of more a booktalk of best-sellers in the business world relating to management/leadership.

A few quick points:
  • Don’t spend time on the “bottom-feeders” or the “stars” in your organisation: focus on those who, with a little help, could be nudged up to star level. These people can be helped and this help will pay off.
  • Qs to ask yourself about your organization: what can we be the best in the world at? What appeals to our stakeholders? What is our passion? Put these three answers together and that is your niche. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
  • Our output (“profit” but for non-profit sector) is the extent to which we have accomplished our mission. Our mission should thus be stated in measurable items – not just statistics, but stories.
  • Most people are most willing to support libraries as transformative (making a difference in the community), rather than informational (the information field is too crowded).
  • Librarians are particularly in a culture of niceness: this means we often don’t confront problems.
  • From The Tipping Point: there are 3 types of people. Mavens (know things! Suffer curse of knowledge, and can’t state what they know in 2 minutes!), connectors (the people who know those with influence), and salespeople (people who can make the pitch).
  • Our biggest donors will likely be people who don’t have library cards.
  • Top executives shouldn’t stay more than 6 years: studies show that school principals lose effectiveness in 7 years!
N.B. A recommended books list was handed out at this session. I have uploaded the books on the list to my LibraryThing account and they are tagged leadership_OLA (click here).

Justin Trudeau was the closing speaker, and, again, this will be an unpopular view, but I was underwhelmed! Why do librarians insist on being sucked in by charming popular figures who do nothing but get up there and pat us on the back for doing a great job? He said one lovely thing, though, that I jotted down: “To develop empathy, there is no better way than by reading fiction. In fiction, you project yourself into someone else’s experience.”

Fun stuff I picked up or saw:
  • What’s On @ Toronto Public Library (their program flyer): I especially like how they use icons to ID programs for adult literacy and for Francophones.
  • Oshawa Public Libraries (Jan/Feb 2009 programs): Great program ideas included MythBusters for kids (debunking myths like, can an egg bounce?), movie nights for movies based on books (City of Ember, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), an Anti-Valentine’s Day Party for teens (cranky crafts, moody music and spiteful snacks, wear black and red), teen travel flicks (docs about travel or different countries for travel-inclined 16-22 year old backpackers), Teen Book/Media swap, Literary Speed Dating (6 mins to talk about your fav books), Coffee and news / News and Views (discussion groups for local, national and international events, co-sponsored with a seniors centre),
  • TPL branch visits: I went to the Dufferin/St. Clair, Annette St. branches, as well as Toronto Reference Library. Blogged here!

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Nothing to do up there all winter but make trouble:" book banning in North Dakota

John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was recently challenged in a North Dakota school, says the Beulah High School librarian is a hero and that "it's beneficial for communities to talk about the topic of banning books." Indeed it is, which is why I keep posting about it! Plus, Berendt's books are all checked out from the Bismarck Public Library... :)

P.S. The quote in my title is from Berendt's friend Esther Shaver, owner of Shavers Book Store in Savannah.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ask not for whom the belll tolls, Washington Post books section...

.... it tolls for thee. Bookninja said it best.

Sigh, One less newspaper book section to talk about in my session @ OLA tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ALA's Core Competences of Librarianship: notes about lifelong learning

The final version of this is dated August 2008, but, perhaps due to the anarchy of the new ALA website (one more page not found note and I'm going to give up...) I somehow missed it. ALA has released its Core Competences of Librarianship. Warning: that link points to a Word doc. Seriously? How 1.0 of you, ALA! Of course, I suppose our continued use of PDF for the ABQLA bulletin is not much better (we're working on it).

The document includes a section relating to continuing ed. and lifelong learning, which underlines:

  • "The necessity of continuing professional development of practitioners in libraries and other information agencies.

  • The role of the library in the lifelong learning of patrons, including an understanding of lifelong learning in the provision of quality service and the use of lifelong learning in the promotion of library services.
  • Learning theories, instructional methods, and achievement measures; and their application in libraries and other information agencies.

  • The principles related to the teaching and learning of concepts, processes and skills used in seeking, evaluating, and using recorded knowledge and information."

Totally obvious, but interesting. There's also a whole section about management. Ha. "The principles of effective personnel practices and human resource development" - really? If only.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shout out to Anne Jarvis!

... And she is who, exactly? Why, she's Cambridge University (my dad's alma mater) *new* university librarian. First. Woman. Ever.

Masses of thanks to my dearest friend, and rezling, Steph for the heads-up on this important news!

Congrats, Sebastian Barry!

On winning the Costa today, that is! Flawed, my ass. I really loved The Secret Scripture.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Favourite teen books of 2008

  • Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

  • The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci

  • The Dead of Night by John Marsden (plus all his others in that series)

  • Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy

  • The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (embarrassed)

  • The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

  • The Apprentice's Masterpiece by Melanie Little

  • Keturah And Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

  • Finding Violet Park by Jenny Valentine

  • What I Was by Meg Rosoff (creeptastic)

  • The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett

  • Bad Blood by Rhiannon Lassiter (dolls, man, dolls...*shiver*)

  • Converting Kate by Beckie Weinheimer

  • Enter Three Witches: A Story of Macbeth by Caroline B. Cooney

  • The Poison Apples by Lily Archer

  • Skim by Mariko Tamaki

  • Laika by Nick Abadzis

  • Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems by John Grandits

  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

  • No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure by Susan Hughes

Favourite children's books of 2008

OK, someone asked. I deliver. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel

  • Blue Goose by Nancy Tafuri

  • The Crow by Alison Paul

  • The Boy Sherlock Holmes series by Shane Peacock

  • First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

  • How Underwear Got Under There by Kathy Shaskan

  • Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

  • Three Little Ghosties by Pippa Goodhart

  • The Feathered Cloak by Sean Dixon

  • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz

  • The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

  • Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson (I went in steeling myself but it turned out OK...)

  • Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

  • Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

  • Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox

  • Who's Hiding? by Satoru Onishi

  • All 3 volumes (thus far) in the Enola Holmes Mystery series by Nancy Springer

  • Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

  • Medusa Jones by Ross Collins (I love that it works with both boys and girls once you show the illustrations, esp. the one where Medusa gets a haircut. That'll get their attention!)

  • One Hen - How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway (*insert teaching opportunity here!!!*)

  • To Go Singing Through the World: The Childhood of Pablo Neruda by Deborah Kogan Ray

  • Uncle Andys by James Warhola

  • The Diamond Of Drury Lane by Julia Golding

  • The Unwritten Girl by James Bow

  • Ducks Don't Wear Socks by John Nedwidek

  • Fartiste by Kathleen Krull

  • Madam President by Lane Smith

  • Mazes Around the World by Mary D. Lankford

  • Poor Puppy by Nick Bruel

  • Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen

  • Wild Ride: A Graphic Guide Adventure by Liam O'Donnell

  • Bookweird by Paul Glennon

  • The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer (trippy)

  • Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper

  • One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge

  • Sugar Cane: A Caribbean Rapunzel by Patricia Storace

  • The Witch's Children by Ursula Jones

Disclaimer: this list is more comprehensive than this list, but without summaries. Deal.

Also, I have not hyperlinked anywhere ( or others) because (yes, it's true) I'm lazy. Count your lucky stars you got a bullet-point list. Also, unless Amazon adds me to the payroll, I'm disinclined to be so helpful...

Gaiman wins Newbery medal for The Graveyard Book!

Hooray! Congratulations! I haven't read The Graveyard Book yet, but soon!

What would James Baldwin think about President Obama?

Usually, I find these types of speculations idiotic, and, at the very least, it's a lazy interviewing question, but I must admit that Toni Morrison's answer when the WP asked her made me tear up. She said, "I think he would be desperately, desperately in love."

I am a very big Baldwin fan, and I concur.

Comparisons of social networking tools for readers

If you're goin' all 2.0 these days and debating about which one of those online book cataloguing tools to use (I use LibraryThing, but don't let that sway you!), here are a few good comparison articles:

The Dear Author blog mentioned one tool I was not even aware of (gasp!): Readerville. Warning: today's featured book has a very scary cover image. Rather a little too Hannibal Lecter.

Libraries = recession sanctuary

According to this, TPL visits were up 8% in the last half of 2008. There are the usual "shh" references and an aim-low-why-don't-you quote from Jane Pyper, ""The place is just more appealing." I shouldn't be so critical, though: they do mention other formats we lend (CDs, DVDs, downloads), free wireless, and job workshops.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A children's picture book creator talks about Caravaggio, Velázquez, Bacon and Eric Carle; The Book of Negroes gets mixed reviews

Two excellent articles in today's Guardian: the first is an interview with Oliver Jeffers, author of How to Catch a Star and Lost and Found. Joanna Carey finds him to be intense, which doesn't surprise me: his books are so simple and so well-crafted that it's evident he is a master at balancing the text and the art in the picture book format. Lost and Found was undeniably one of my favourite winter books for storytime last year.

The second fabulous Guardian article is a review of Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes by a senior lecturer at UEA, where my uncle teaches. Sarah Churchwell says Hill's book loses credibility, in part because of some of the unaddressed coincidences in the narrative that keep Aminata from coming to real, lasting harm throughout her turbulent life. Churchwell's right, especially when she remarks upon the particularly convenient coincidence at the end of the novel, where Aminata is reunited with someone she has lost many years ago. I agree with Churchwell, though, that readers are likely relieved at how Aminata emerges from many crises unbroken: I would add that it is a testament to the human spirit, and to the spirit of men and women who did survive the Middle Passage and build meaningful lives for themselves in Canada and the U.S. I also agree with Churchwell's high praise of Hill's writing: he is absolutely brilliant here, and this in part explains how I devoured the book in three evenings this week, when I really should have been doing other reading.

In related news, those of you attending the Ontario Library Association's Superconference next week may have noticed that Hill's book is the selection for One Book, One Conference (click here and read session 1201 - why can't OLA make internal links on each page of the Superconference schedule? I digress...). Some of you may also know that I've been asked to make a reading map for The Book of Negroes, which will be available at the conference. In fact, I'm folding the maps right now...

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'd be an idiot if it weren't for newsreaders

There. I've said it.

I was an early convert to RSS and newsfeeds. I realised it was a great way to keep track of book news: publishing, literary prizes, events, authors' blogs, etc. In some ways, I entered the professional world right on the cusp of things like RSS: in my first job, we kept track of literary prizes on a (physical, not online, even!) calendar. In my second job, I set this up. In my third job, everything was through newsfeeds and Delicious.

I love the immediacy of newsfeeds, and also the sense of being released from the labour of remembering to check various blogs, websites, or newspapers periodically. I appreciate the one-stop-shopping-ness of it all. I also have a terrible memory (there, you have two confessions in one blog entry: I'm an idiot and I have a bad memory. This is why I stayed away from blogging!!! All my secrets are out now!!!)

I think libraries in general absolutely do not make enough use of RSS technology. My employer has newsfeeds for new and on order items, library podcasts, events, and PSAs, which is pretty impressive (check them out here). We (libraries in general) could be making more use of blogging for short news items or hot book-related stuff, like Ann Arbor does. I like that their blog covers everything, from events to collection items - I think that's smart. In some ways, if people choose only an events feed or an "on order" items feed, they miss other news that might interest them, and we miss opportunities for cross-marketing.

I was just checking my feedreader and AADL is the only other public library feed I subscribe to, which is perhaps rather telling. Despite the fact that many entries are community-specific, I still get a lot out of it. In my children's work, for instance, I appreciate seeing what they do for children's events and storytimes.

In the non-library world, I find feeds for certain blogs have been lifesavers. As some of you know, I am still often doubled over with homesickness for Montreal, so get all my hometown news here now, and it helps.

I've wandered so far off the beaten track here I don't quite know how to conclude. Suffice it to say I think I truly would be intellectually crippled without Google Reader. I do still read the papers and follow other media (I swear)! I would, however, be lost (and utterly buried in newsprint) without newsreaders.

Veronica Mars: the movie

There is indeed hope - Veronica is coming to the big screen! Thanks to my mom for noticing the VM movie news!

And you may want to note this down as the only time I link to E! Online. Seriously, though, VM was a well-crafted, well-written show, and it should not have been cancelled in the first place. Especially not to make room for the drivel they show on TV most of the time. I do think creator Rob Thomas was awfully nice about that, considering...

VM, by the way, is a great show for people who loved the book, The Spellman Files.

See, you know I couldn't let you go without a read-alike, right?

Ooooh, my cup runneth over. Just now, checking that Lisa Lutz website link, I noticed there is a third Spellmans book coming out in March 2009. Hooray!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Did you know Slumdog Millionaire is based on a book?

Yup, it's true. In fact, when I first saw the trailer, I thought, "what a rip-off of Q&A!!" only to realise, happily, that Swarup did get credit. Read more about Q&A here.

Thoughts on lifelong learning: attitude is everything

As the presentation our Learning 2.0 class just listened to says, lifelong learning is attitudinal. "Learners believe," the presentation states, "that one can and should be open to new ideas." I'm a new librarian, and thus not too far away from my formalised learning years in school and university. I still remember starting my first real professional job (well, I should hope so! It was only 5 years ago!) and thinking, this is it? This is all I need to do, technically? I suddenly had tons of free time, unblemished by worry about essays I should be writing, and even some downtime at work (I guess I shouldn't say that. It's not always like that in every job). I figured I might as well do something with this time, so I always had projects on the go, or I signed up for online courses through work. To me, it was natural to continue to incorporate learning into my life, and it was natural to continue a semi-formal set of learning goals.

What I really liked about the presentation we just watched was the mention of creating a learning toolbox or toolkit, a metaphor for the books, technology, classes, websites, mentors, and friends who support your learning processes. I think the lifelong learners who succeed certainly have these supports and are comfortable using them. Sometimes, that makes all the difference.

One final, hokey, note: In our day jobs, don't we all support lifelong learning? We are, after all, the people's university! In fact, that's Cleveland Public Library's motto. So we should be well acquainted with lifelong learning and the means to support it!

"A culture of offendedness" is intimidating us, says Sir Salman

I confess to loving Rushdie, despite his sometimes bombastic nature, and his evident pomposity. His non-fiction writing is absolutely brilliant. And he's right, he was the first crow.

Image at left courtesy of The Sidney Morning Herald and AFP Photo.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hello and welcome

So, this blog came into being to fulfill criteria for a learning 2.0 workshop I am taking. Stay tuned for some required posts and some just-for-fun posts. I'll try not to bore you all too much!