Friday, September 30, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Outreach tip: Save on fuel by having the Bookmobile ride the bus.
  • Tough Guys Don't Dance by Norman Mailer
  • Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  • PM Network magazine, September 2011 issue
  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  • Heartwishes by Jude Devereaux
  • The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  • Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
  • In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
  • One Sony ereader
  • Me: The Beggar's Garden by Michael Christie, 10 myths about Afghanistan (Guardian), and Guerres by Charlotte Gingras (the latter recommended by the lovely and talented Marina via our internal Collection development newsletter)
  • Bonus STM read (thanks, Mum!): Detecting Lies and Deceit: Pitfalls and Opportunities by Aldert Vrij

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New-ish roles @ OPL: the past three months

So, again, not a monthly report, but more of a quarterly one. Previous here.
  1. I went on two ride-alongs with Homebound Services (third one was foiled by my recent stomach flu... and I am very annoyed)
  2. Bookmobile implemented our new communications procedure. Many thanks to staff in our Communications and Community Relations and Digital Services departments, who cooperated with us to implement this new procedure and helped with supporting resources, which included a cheat sheet for staff to follow, with templates for messages and tweets, a bilingual press release which was picked up by the Citizen and Ottawa East EMC, and a social media poster with OPL’s first-ever QR codes.
  3. Bookmobile did some healthy collection maintenance, including selecting some new magazines (look for Cooking Light, Family Handyman, Money Sense, Natural Health, National Geographic Kids and Mes premieres j’aime lire), re-organising teen material on the bus, and weeding.
  4. 395 children registered for the TD Summer Reading Club on the Bookmobile, thanks to excellent promotion by all, and festive SRC-themed decorations by one of our team! Bookmobile patrons read 2256 books this summer! We also visited 5 local schools to promote SRC, with 1150 children reached this way.
  5. Bookmobile started using a Smart Bin!
  6. We bought traction tape and sweeping compound to minimise slippery conditions and dust on the bus.
  7. We participated in the Capital Pride Parade!
  8. Three special guests went on ride-alongs: a University of Western Ontario FIMS student, an OPL Board member, and our boss.
  9. We're working on new publicity, including Bookmobile’s first-ever bookmarks (you may have seen branch bookmarks).
  10. We're working on moving some extensive Homebound files that are still kept on paper online, into some kind of database ....
  11. I did some massively boring file management on our Shared directories, giving more power to the peeps by allowing staff to see more files, documents, procedures, stats, training guides etc. for Bookmobile.
  12. I helped out in other areas of our large department: with Fall events for our Library Settlement Workers, preparing for the Mayor's Seniors Summit next week, answering questions about accessibility issues in branch libraries, and dealing with questions about newcomer homework help sessions at branch libraries.

Monday, September 26, 2011

News round-up

It's been awhile since I've written you a nice long post, but some are coming, promise! I've been swamped here at work. Last week involved teaching, a job interview*, two crises, leading part of a tour of Main (Diversity and Accessibility Services, obvs) for new employees, some time at Bookmobile, a 2 hour meeting on Wednesday, followed by outreach at a local school (promoting Bookmobile and children's services), followed by more outreach (class-by-class 20 min presentations!) on Thursday at another local school. All day Thursday I kept taking my jacket off ad putting it back on, like some perverse Mr. Rogers on fast-forward... And my copy of Taming Horrible Harry seemed impossibly heavy. Turns out I was not having premature hot flashes, or losing my outreach stamina, but about to get the stomach flu! Hooray!

While I hobble towards recovery on a bread-and-water diet, here are some juicy stories to sink your teeth into:

* yeah, you caught that, didn't you?.... I am staying in my current post (no longer acting) for a term of 6 months. That's me, Coordinator of Diversity and Accessibility Services!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Yes to buses!
  • Hotel California by Barney Hoskins
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  • The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles
  • Suite francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (lu en français)
  • Making Decentralization Work: Democracy, Development, and Security by Ed Connerley, Kent Eaton, and Paul Smoke (eds.)
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Demon King (A Seven Realms Novel) by Cinda Williams Chima

Friday, September 16, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My essay is up


"Pantsuits, pink and the power of the librarian by Alexandra Yarrow" on the Women Doing Literary Things blog.
"In an attempt to dispel one stereotype, we’re often simply constructing another, a cartoonish riotgrrrl librarian who can’t be taken any more seriously than Marian the Librarian."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Talking about The Cat's Table with Michael Ondaatje: It "blossomed like a flower outward"

Yesterday, I was all over the map. You know those days that the expression "well, she really got out of bed on the wrong side" were just made for? I had one of those. At work, I made it through a Herculean pile of tasks with (alternating) panic, mood swings, exhaustion, dark humour and cookies. After work, it was like a cranky, argumentative jerk took over my body, as all the unexpressed frustration at my day came seeping out onto the poor unfortunates who crossed my path.

So, listening to Michael Ondaatje read from The Cat's Table at the Writers Festival last night was like a balm for the soul.

I am not really one to moon over authors (or anyone, for that matter). That being said, Ondaatje has always had a special place in my heart: those eyes! That voice! The sense that he is listening carefully to everything the audience says and actually cares about it! (Did I mention his eyes? Because those of you there last night didn't really get a chance to see them up close, but they are seriously intense).

A good friend of mine has a bit of a thing for Joseph Boyden, so the fact that he was interviewing Ondaatje was kind of oddly simpatico, in terms of dreamy authors, but alas my friend was unable to join me for the evening. I had actually never been to an event featuring Boyden. Apparently, Ondaatje had asked for him to be his interviewer, and I can see why: Boyden's questions were thoughtful and interesting, and were peppered with some humour and gentle ribbing ("So, another thing that pisses me off about you is....")

Some gems from the evening:
  • Boyden admitting he would be hesitant to set a novel on a boat (The characters would do "one lap around and then what?"). He then admitted that the enclosed setting of the novel didn't hinder Ondaatje's work: rather than becoming confined, it "blossomed like a flower outward."
  • Many reviews I have read have mentioned that this is Ondaatje's most accessible work, a choice of words that made me snort with derision a little, I must admit. Boyden touched on this, asking Ondaatje if he felt this was his most approachable work. Ondaatje hedged a bit, suggesting this word might be coming up simply by virtue of the fact that the novel has an 11 year-old protagonist. Boyden added that he has never seen Ondaatje's writing as unapproachable; he said that, as a poet, Ondaatje "grounds his language so specifically" that his words have a certain clarity.
  • Ondaatje on being a poet writing a (longer) novel: "Part of the book is, you know, how do I get out of it?"
  • Ondaatje on the structure of a novel: he described a novel as a sort of collage: this blue goes over here with this green, for instance, in the editing process. In his opinion, character "is the central machine in a book," followed by setting (location and time). I would say that's a good assessment of the two main appeal factors of his work.
As always, a pleasure just to hear Ondaatje's voice. He can read to me any evening.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bookmobile news round-up

No, seriously, that's your boss? She looks so young! *

  • "Mobile Library Festival, Turku 2011" (video)
    The International Mobile Library festival was held in Turku, Findland, last month. Buses from several (Nordic) countries were parked on the banks of Aurajoki River, near a Finnish library boat (gotta watch until the end to see that!)
  • "Graying of the gay community - building new kind of library" via
    "The Out Books On Wheels, a Northampton-based mobile library created to help LGBT elders “continue enjoying life outside of the closet,” according to its mission statement."
  • "Putting literacy on the road" via The Media Online
    Six new bookmobiles are on the road in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, serving as "multi-purpose mobile libraries that also offer computer and internet access, photocopying facilities, DVDs, CDs and toys. They will also provide a space for storytellers or speakers." In SA, UNESCO estimates that "7.4 and 8.5 million adults are functionally illiterate; between 2.9 and 4.2 million people have never attended school. One million children in South Africa live in a household where no adult can read, [and] just over 50% of South African families own no books for recreational or leisure time reading."
  • "Bookmobile return overdue?" via the Worcester Telegram
    "Today, in an age when people are a mouse click away from gathering information from the Internet or are reading the latest bestseller on a portable electronic reader, bookmobiles are going the way of the trucks once used to make daily milk deliveries. That might not be the case in Worcester, however, where local book lovers and some city councilors are looking to buck the trend [....] Bookmobile service would be valuable because it is very difficult for many people to get to the library's three branches."
  • ..... Is it creepy that there is another Ottawa with another Bookmobile? Discuss. "West Ottawa Bookmobile ends 2011 summer season" via The Holland Sentinel
    "“This is as good as it gets. It’s the bomb,” bus driver Robin Veenhoven said. “I get to drive a big bus around with Clifford and ‘Charlotte’s Web’ on it.”"
  • Whaddya mean, improving on the bookmobile? "Almost a bookmobile, not quite a library" via Out of the Jungle
    "The Uni Project is a "portable reading room" designed for urban spaces [....] Davol's idea is to improve on the venerable bookmobile by adding features like furniture that encourages community members to hangout and enjoy the books and each other."
  • "Volunteer on a Mobile Library in Malawi" via
    The Book Bus mobile library in Malawi visits schools in which "children learn to read by simply repeating what the teachers say, the memorise it, and repeat it again. As you can imagine, not a very insipring way to learn.The book Bus aims to provide children with the resources (fun, colourful storybooks) and the inclination to continue to read. We do this by working with small groups of children in Malawian schools, and practising reading. We also plan fun activities and games around the books to encourage them continue to use the books and persuade them that reading is fun and enjoyable."
  • "Book bike will take library for a ride" via Tuscon Velo
    "The Pima County Library is putting a new spin on the book mobile. The newest vehicle in its fleet has one less wheel and a giant sunroof. The library’s new book bike will make its debut this winter."
  • "San Francisco Public Library’s Green Bookmobile Visits the Exploratorium’s Front Parking Lot" via the Exploratorium
    Discover "the San Francisco Public Library’s new Green Bookmobile," which "runs on 20 percent biodiesel with a hybrid generator, [is] equipped with 4 solar panels, has skylights for natural light and it is made from sustainably forested wood with recycled content carpet."

* (But she did turn 31 last week)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Thursday, September 8, 2011

OPL @ the Power of Words breakfast

This morning, I attended the Power of Words breakfast organised by the amazing People, Words & Change. We met and spoke with many of the 90+ people attending the event, including literacy tutors, adult students, PWC staff and Board members, Mayor Watson (at left*), Councillor Fleury, and Councillor Hobbs.

The line for food snaked by our Ottawa Public Library display table (at right), which was a great strategic advantage; I was able to call out “While you’re waiting, have a free bookmark ... And can we interest you in some information about the library?” We had a nice chat with Mayor Watson when he was waiting in line, and he mentioned OPL in his speech. He said that he is proud of the work the library does, of its “dynamic staff,” and our “passionate” Board Chair (the always-spectacular Jan Harder). He also alluded to Toronto (“unlike that city down the road, we know the importance of the library...”).

I answered one or two reference questions, promoted our collections (some lists: Golden Oak Award Finalists, Quick Reads series, Good Reads series, and the Open Door series) and services. We brought material from our collections to display, membership forms, information about programs, some OPL swag (bookmarks, pencils, magnets), branch and location information, and we also raffled off two free books!

The speeches given by the students themselves were hands-down the best part of the morning: one student mentioned every tutor he had at PWC - and many of the administrative staff - by name and thanked them; another mentioned how, now that she was more comfortable using her English, she went out more and was more sociable because she wasn’t embarrassed to speak to people... and she could negotiate a better rate on her travel insurance! Another stressed the importance of reading, specifically, and said that she never realised how important it was to read a lot until she began working with her tutor to improve her grammar. A few made some pretty cute jokes about idiosyncrasies of the English language: one remarked how important it was for him to learn the difference between "affect" and "effect." Another described her trouble with the complex uses of the word "up:" you can say "it's clouding up," or "it's clearing up," but really, she should be "finishing up" her speech and she should really "shut up." There were some really moving stories of people overcoming great adversity; two students who spoke are now Carleton students; one student said that he and his wife agree that calling PWC was the best thing he ever did.

It was a really rewarding experience to be there. FYI, though, networking at 7 am is pretty exhausting.

*Photo at top left: David Barbour,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • An original Penguin Classic with a green border
  • Jacques Cartier by Yves Jacob
  • An unknown Patricia Cornwell mystery - seen in Montreal (so, an STM read not OC!)

Felt Friday Special edition: Owls

This is a special Felt Friday because it is dedicated to Baby Girl G. Our second rezling baby is due next month, and her parents are decorating with owls in mind. Above is the gift bag that contained my present for the lovely Baby G; I made the felt owls (one on each side) myself, and they are sewn loosely on so they can be snipped off and incorporated into Baby's room.*

Owls! Owls and I go way back: back to Westmount Public Library days, in fact. Being the connoisseur of random WPL tour-guide-themed facts (seriously. Ask me about the flowers in the frieze in the Findlay Rooms. I dare you!), I can even tell you how the owl ended up in the centennial bookmark at right. You might think it is there because of the association of owls with wisdom (via the goddess Athena), and that's a good guess. There is, however, a real-life story about owls at WPL: during the 1995 renovations, the wonderful team behind the work discovered an owl living in a tree in what is now the reading garden; although his habitat was certainly displaced, shall we say, he coped, and he became an unwitting mascot. In the mid-2000s, a children's department logo was designed, using an owl as the central image.

The owl became a beloved symbol for staff, as well. I have wonderful memories of Ann's owl collection in her office, a tradition which the current director, Julie-Anne, has happily continued; I like that her owls are keeping an eye on things in the library (at left). Whenever I see owls, I think of my Westmount friends; I always want to buy owls for them!

The fabulous Lora (my fellow Digestive Librarians' Digest blogger) also has an impressive owl collection in her office at Westmount, to which I have contributed via the fabulous Workshop Boutique here in town). Look at them all chillaxin' there on top of her cabinet! I just want to hang out with them every time I visit, although that little dude at the bottom of the group there looks like he's too cool for me.

My bestie Caroline also has some impressive owls, including the felt one at left inherited from her grandpa (it used to live on his fridge).

Yeah, so, if this is a Felt Friday, I should offer some reading and singing recommendations... Here we go!

Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton (the author and illustrator is was named one of Time Magazine’s DESIGN 100 for his work for Fair Trade in 2007): Houghton blogs about the making of this book here (a fascinating look at owls in art!)

Over in the Hollow by Rebecca Dickinson: I love the somewhat complex melody of the song "Over in the meadow;" when you've mastered it, you can graduate to this Halloween-themed picture book featuring an owl family on a double-page spread, as well as a host of other Halloween characters...

WOW! said the Owl by Tim Hopgood: all about colours, as seen by yonder wide-eyed owl. Deliciously vibrant.

There is also the old favourite (and slightly scary for little folk) Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, and the classic Good Night, Owl! by Pat Hutchins.

To sing and rhyme:

There’s A Wide-Eyed Owl
There’s a wide-eyed owl
With a pointed nose,
He has pointed ears
And claws for toes.
He sits in a tree
And looks at you,
Then flaps his wings and says,
"Who... who... whooo!"

Little Owl (tune: This Old Man)
Little Owl, in the tree,
He is winking down at me.
With a wink, wink, wink, wink,
All through the night,
Little Owl is quite a sight!

Little Owl, in the tree,
He is hooting down at me.
With a hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot,
All through the night,
Little Owl is quite a sight!

Owls Are Sleeping (tune: Frère Jacques)
Owls are sleeping
Owls are sleeping
In their trees
In their trees
Soon it will be nighttime
Soon it will be nighttime
Wake up, owls (clap)
Wake up, owls (clap)

If you’re an owl and you know it
If you’re an owl and you know it, BLINK your eyes,
If you’re an owl and you know it, BLINK your eyes,
If you’re an owl and your know it ,
Than you really ought to show it
If you’re an owl and you know it, BLINK your eyes.

If you’re an owl and you know it, FLAP your wings....
If you’re an owl and you know it, Shout WHOO– HOO....

A final fun fact via The book of general ignorance (accurately skewered by the always-pithy John Crace, but nevertheless interesting... as Crace says, to geeks, anyway....):

"William Shakespeare first used the phrase 'tu-whit, tu-whoo' in his song, 'Winter,' from Love's Labour's Lost [...]. No single owl has ever gone 'tu-whit, tu-whoo.'Barn owls screech. Short-eared owls are largely silent. A long-eared owl makes an extended low pitched 'oo-oo-oo' noise. The owl noise that most resembles 'tu-whit, tu-whoo' is made by Tawny owls. Two of them. The male Tawny - also known as a Brown Owl - calls with a hooting 'hooo-hoo-hooo,' and the female replies with a hoarser 'kew-wick.'

Try that at storytime.

* Can I just say... really hard to take a pic of a hot pink bag with an orange felt. Yeah. That's all.