Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Library day in the life, Round 8, Tuesday

  • This week I seem to have lots of training going on. Today, I have Mental Health In The Workplace Management Training, at the bizarre time of 12:30 pm, at Nepean Centrepointe Branch. I can tell this is going to result in me eating my sandwich on the bus ride there (seriously? What's with the 12:30 start time? I guess it means we finish by 4, but still....). Given that I am wearing the Cursed Skirt (marked down from over $200 to $40, back when I worked at Ogilvy's, and has since managed to attract every spill in creation and paid for itself perhaps several times over in dry cleaning bills), this may not end well.
  • Every 2nd week, The Husband and I get to walk to Rideau Centre together to wait for our buses, but this is not one of those weeks. Alas. Instead, I strategise about a Freedom to read week event all through the walk. I had a partner in crime for this event, but he has backed out, so now I'm scrambling to get something together on short notice. I think I have decided what is feasible (versus what I really want, which involves a debating team and a Banned Bookmobile).
  • Read through Google Reader while waiting for the bus. Especially enjoy day one of #libday8 by amy.
  • Arrive at work. Discover maintenance staff have vacuumed (shoe collection is moved; it's a dead give-away). Hooray! Discover bird has pooped on my window. Merde (literally). Also discover sweater is backwards. Sigh.
  • Survey to-do lists made yesterday after the staff meeting. Decide that first order of business is to triage email, then hunt down said maintenance staff and ask him about steam-cleaning some repurposed chairs, washing windows, and dusting shelves. I know. I bet you NEVER thought the life of a branch coordinator was so glamourous. Jealous?
  • Email, email, more email.... including emailing all Rideau contacts (book clubbers, schools, daycares, and community partners) about the new Supervising Librarian they are getting soon! Here's a sad paragraph to write first thing in the AM, though: "It has been an absolute honour to work with all of you in the Lowertown and Sandy Hill communities for the past five years. Thank you for all your support of the Library, enthusiasm about our programs and services, and for graciously opening the doors of your organisation or group to me many times. Connecting with all of you make this profession meaningful for me." Good job done (and postponed several times)
  • OPLA Readers' Advisory Committee work, Freedom to read week, and CLA Local Arrangements Committee work, for a few minutes....
  • Travelled downstairs to visit Children's staff and maintenance staff. Wanted to also visit circ but realised we were open when I saw members of the public stream in, so beat a path back to Info before they worried about me. On the bright side, I am getting a lift to training because my colleague is also attending!
  • Reference question about Great Courses
  • Help with the stupid, ancient, effing photocopier
  • Re-open email at Info Desk - how the heck can I have 14 emails from the past 10 mins when I was downstairs? Argh!
  • Can I borrow some headphones?
  • I see Pidge has left...? (my predecessor)
  • Email, email.... including replying to a message forwarded via our Feedback account on the website. This one is from a patron who returned items in our book drop, but they still appear on his card. I check the account, and confer with our circulation supervisor.
  • Volunteer brings me a book with a very disgusting call # label (shudder)
  • The dreaded ebook reference question! I always feel terrible that the whole getting started process is so complicated.
  • I'm going away... If I want to renew this book while I am away, can I do that or are there other patrons waiting?
  • Working with casual employee, triage Spanish-language items that came up on a zero-circ list (items that haven't circulated in x years or more.... In our case, more than one year). Some we keep, some we give a last chance on our multilingual display, and some go off to greener pastures.
  • I would like to use a computer....
  • Dealt with a very difficult client who demanded the manager
  • Cross off seven items on the to-do list, easily solve-able via email.
  • Page inquiring if we want to keep these multiple copies of a title?
  • I need help finding a hold... (hypenated last name, so she wasn't sure where it was. Also, she was about 13, and her mum was in the background. Super cute to see parents letting their kids ask their own questions!)
  • Informal meeting with circulation supervisor. Also found out one of our managers talked about our Digital media program tonight on CBC Radio this morning, so we are going to have a full house! 51 people registered, and our room capacity is 60, so this means I need to tell staff how many chairs to set up, and let the people working at Info tonight know they will have to take attendance to only admit registrants if we get close to the fire regulation limits.
  • Do you have this book?
  • My complementary copy of OLA's Access magazine has arrived, with my article in it! Fame and fortune is mine!
  • Travel guides for Florida?
  • Reason to love my team #1,468: Because they put Sylvia Plath books on display.
  • 11:48 am: Srsly have to eat lunch before this workshop. Snarf this down, help colleague clean snow off car, depart.
  • 12:30-4:30: Mental Health In The Workplace Management Training. For supervisors, coordinators and managers, this excellent session focused on when and how to intervene if you feel someone on your team is dealing with a mental health issue, what to do in the case of an issue that affects workplace performance or one that doesn't, and what options are available to individuals dealing with an issue. Great training; sad topic.
  • Took the bus home with a former colleague from Rideau who I miss very much, and The Husband was waiting when I walked in the doors to Rideau Centre. Serendipity!
  • Managed to only check my email twice during the afternoon; 37 messages waiting for me tomorrow (some deleted already; some replied to during break at training).
  • Browsed through this great set of photos from Saturday's Human Library project in five of our branches.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Library day in the life, Round 8, Monday

OK, I really want to do this, but I am totally swamped this week, so you are getting whatever I can throw up. Sorry, kids!
  • I was off this morning, so I read, drank coffee in PJs, and had a phone conversation regarding the upcoming CLA Conference, and my role as chair of the Local Arrangements Committee.
  • Today was a bit atypical at work as we were having the first (in a long time) branch staff meeting. Circulation (Borrower Services staff), several pages, and Information Services (Children's and Adult) staff all sat around a table for 2 hours! More on this below.
  • I arrived at work at 12:20ish, read and responded to some e-mail, checked in with the casual staff replacing my colleague and I so we could attend the meeting, and assigned some tasks.
  • I checked in with the circ and children's teams, and checked the room set-up for the staff meeting. I wanted to make some adjustments to make it look like more of a round-table, so several people who had arrived early helped me move things around.
  • 1 pm: I decided to open my first meeting as the new coordinator by asking everyone around the table to share something they had read or watched recently. We then moved on to discuss everything from new and revised policies (I'll spare you the details, but food and drink was a lively discussion, as was branch security/safety and difficult patrons), our new booksale area (prices increased and criteria for receiving donations tightened up a bit to be more in line with this), updates on ongoing projects (weeding, shifting the collections, expanding the Teen Zone), and items for discussion (shelftalkers coming soon to Carlingwood!).
  • P.S. Managing a team of 8 is very different than managing a team of 30+!
  • 3-4 pm: Honestly, I don't even know what I did. The meeting ended, I had a few one-on-one follow-up conversations, I snarfed a granola bar, I covered Info while my colleagues were on break, and answered a million emails.....
  • 4-4:45: Alone on the Info desk. Signed some timesheets, served some patrons. Went hunting for nonfiction DVDs that were all over the place.....
  • 5-6: Food!
  • 6 -8:30: On Info again, with a colleague. Checked in with circ and children's teams, replied to emails, did some scheduling for upcoming training of members of our team, finally faxed all those timesheets, etc. Also introduced and thanked our evening speaker, Dr Surjit Herr (speaking about "The 3 Secrets to Stress Management.") Don't know where the time went!
  • 8:31: Responded to a patron comment card regarding additional shelving for the DVDs.... Something I was thinking about, too (which I told the patron quite honestly). He appreciated my call, and said that the Library is the best value for tax dollars in the city. Great way to end the evening!
  • 8:32: Positive feedback from staff member re. meeting!
  • 8:35: Emailed manager for advice re. vague wording in the collective agreement
  • 8:45: Out the door!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mark your literary calendars for 2012....

Here are some things I am looking forward to in 2012, inspired by (and stealing several items from) the Guardian's amazing list:
  • The Coriolanus movie in January. It better not suck. Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave, I'm looking at you!). This is violent Shakespeare, but it's a good play. One of my favourites (Measure to Measure is my favourite, if you're wondering).
  • Cairo: My Country, My Revolution by Ahdaf Soueif (release date: March 27 2012) - I discovered her two novels, The Map of Love and In The Eye Of The Sun when I was working at Nicholas Hoare in Ogilvy's, in 2000. She's amazing.
  • No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer (release date: sometime in March 2012)
  • James Bartleman is visiting one of Carlingwood Branch's book clubs, hopefully in April 2012! I plan on sneaking in to this one....
  • Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif (release date: May 29, 2012). Seen via this excellent recent article in the Globe about Pakistani literature. Due to (in spite of?) a complete cad of an ex-boyfriend from this country, I have a great deal of esteem for Pakistan's cultural scene (and my heart breaks for the state of the country as a whole).
  • Not sure if I will enjoy this, but I often enjoy her columns: Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad (release date: May 29, 2012)
  • I would be remiss not to mention to major life events sandwiched in here: one being the Ottawa Race Weekend, May 26-27, 2012, and the other being CLA 2012 in Ottawa, May 30 – June 2, 2012. I am going to be the Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for CLA (members of my team are responsible for public relations, library tours and hospitality, donations and charities, and general local stuff relating to the conference). So, should I do the half-marathon (3rd time!) the weekend before? Talk about a busy month.....
  • Shout-out to my peeps, a.k.a Bookninja: Whiteout: Poems by George Murray (release date: April 2012). Hey, George, did you notice that right below your mention in Q&Q, the next book of poetry was Glickman's, entitled Yarrow? Caught my eye!
  • The Red House by Mark Haddon (release date: June 19, 2012)
  • File under: "apprehensive about"? The August release of Amis's new nove, Lionel Asbo: State of England. The Guardian says that "Amis promised that this satire about a violent criminal who wins the lottery will be the "final insult" to the England he's left for the US. The novel will be his revenge on celebrity culture, X Factor vacuity and the decline of England in all its "rage, dissatisfaction, bitterness". " Eeek. I forsee a new "DARTS, KEEF! DARTS!" quotable moment.
  • Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie (a memoir, appearing in Fall 2012 - I do always love Rushdie's nonfic better...)
  • Two other novels I am really looking forward to, but can't see a Canadian release date for, are Toby's Room by Pat Barker (into WW1? Watching Downton Abbey right now? Drop everything and read her Regeneration trilogy) and NW by Zadie Smith (White Teeth remains one of my two favourite books of all time. The premise of NW makes me think it might be somewhat similar, or more similar than her previous two novels. We shall see!).
  • Footnote: I could add more films, such as the Gatsby or Life of Pi adaptations, but frankly, again those would be more File under: Apprehensive about. Although Mira Nair’s adaptation of The Reluctant Fundamentalist sounds promising.....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Favourite teen books of 2011

The twin's daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted - Seen via. The scene: Victorian London, the home of the prosperous Sexton family, with father Frederick, mother Aliese, and daughter Lucy. The action: Aliese's twin, the strange and somewhat mysterious Helen, who Lucy had never heard of, appears on the scene, and is taken in by the Sextons. The drama: Several years later, Lucy opens a door and finds one woman dead, the other collapsed. The surviving twin, supposedly Aliese, is acting strangely, prompting the question of whether her behaviour is due to shock and trauma, or guilt, or the fact that she might not be who she says she is. Chilling right through the whole book.

Strings attached by Judy Blundell - Not quite as good as 2009's What I saw and how I lied, but still great, in a spooky, suspenseful kind of way. Kit Corrigan leaves her boisterous Irish family, and her first love, in Providence, RI, to move to New York City, where she hopes to make it big as a star. New York in the 1940s has a hard shell that Kit soon finds difficult to crack; that is, until her boyfriend's father, Nate, turns up and offers to help her out. Nate's shady business dealings soon implicate Kit, who feels beholden to Nate for his help finding work. Meanwhile, her boyfriend has enlisted to go to Korea, and a violent crime is committed. Kit begins to uncover links between her family and Nate's that she might not really want to know about...

Beauty queens by Libba Bray - A plane full of aspiring beauty queens crashes on a desert island. The surviving girls rally to build shelter, find food, and if they are lucky, retrieve their make-up bags. They soon find, however, that the accidental crash may not be so accidental ... and someone may want to ensure that the crash doesn't have any survivors after all. A wonderful romp of a novel, full of humour and a spot-on analysis of feminine ideals and the beauty and modelling industries.

by Marthe Jocelyn - Ooooh, more delicious Victorian London! This novel by Canadian author Jocelyn (of picture book fame) features 15-year-old Mary, sent into service as a scullery maid by her wicked stepmother. Naive Mary soon falls for a young man, and it doesn't end well. Meanwhile, a young orphan struggles to find out where he comes from. Jocelyn is great setting the tone and atmosphere of dirty, desperate Londoners (um, if you're into that sort of thing).

Half brother
by Kenneth Oppel - Thirteen-year-old Ben is at first reluctant when his scientist parents explain that they are bringing home a baby chimpanzee for an experiment. They intend to raise Xan as a human, hoping to teach him to speak via sign language. At first, the experiment is a great successs, and Ben and Xan develop a strong rapport. Soon, though, discord runs through the family, with Ben and his mother both disagreeing with the stringent confines of the scientific methods employed by Ben's father. When Xan misbehaves one too many times, and the scientific community becomes uncomfortable, the project loses its funding and Xan’s place in the family is threatened. Oppel convincingly explores questions about scientific ethics, animal welfare, and what it means to be human in this incredibly complicated, and deeply moving, book.

Crossover appeal titles:
Book Of lies by Mary Horlock - Girl pushes her caustic best friend off a cliff - or does she? On the tiny island of Guernsey, everyone has a secret, and not everything is as it seems.

Previous lists: 2010, 2009, 2008.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sticky patrons

No, no, it's not that bad (well, it probably is, but I generally don't touch) - I mean metaphorically! And I'm using the term to avoid saying "difficult patrons" which, to me, always makes me think of recalcitrant children.

This article came out awhile ago. It's about having a library "rescue plan" to deal with difficult patrons in the library: the ones who stick around for conversation and can't be dislodged, the ones who like to complain or antagonise, or the genuinely angry ones.

The author Steven, expresses dismay about an academic library conference session he attended where the speaker was suggesting staff deal with these situations by employing "white lies" to extract themselves. The methods suggested were to have a signal among staff for when they need rescuing, to set up a fictional scenario with a colleague to extract yourself, or to interrupt the patron to tell them that you're sorry, but XYZ is happening and you have to go.

Steven suggested a "more honest and forthright" way to deal with these sticky patrons, perhaps having "a designated person take the patron aside for a private conversation" or "referring the patron to the library user’s code of conduct and indicating that failure to comply could result in being banned from the library."

Let's face it: I think I can safely assume that I deal with sticky patrons more often than the average academic librarian, and I think that both responses are valid, but everything depends on who you are dealing with (this from someone who once tried to reason with a stalker: needless to say, that naive attempt didn't end well, and put my in needless danger).

I tend to employ the rule of "three strikes and you're out" with practically everything in the library, from teenaged hoodlums to well-intentioned sticky adults. On the first two occasions, I will try to reason with someone (or politely excuse myself with a nebulous excuse, in the case of sticky patrons). If I find myself in the same situation a third time, I will remind the person of previous conversations, and outline the reasons why their behaviour is not acceptable.

While I have a lot of empathy for people who are lonely and might want to chat, or who have problems of their own, I also think it's important to set boundaries for both staff and patrons, in order to respect the roles and responsibilities of both parties.

What do you do with sticky patrons?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Favourite adult books of 2011

The Meagre Tarmac: Stories by Clark Blaise - This was my year to read short stories, apparently; see Selecky, below.... Blaise has been on my must-read list for years, now, thanks to Professor Dorsinville at McGill. I was intrigued especially by this recent book when I read that some characters in it made appearances in a novel by Blaise's wife (novelist Bharati Mukherjee). A review in the Globe, including the following excerpt from a previous work, clinched it:

"E.M. Forster, you ruined everything,” laments the narrator of a story from Clark Blaise’s first collection of short fiction, published almost 40 years ago. “Why must every visitor to India, every well-read tourist, expect a sudden transformation?”

..... a Forster reference?... how could I ignore Blaise any longer?

This collection of stories focuses on immigrants arriving in North America from the Indian subcontinent. There are family secrets, schisms, skeletons in the closet, and a fair bit of humour mixed in here as well. To quote the Globe again, Blaise's greatest strength here is his "ingenious use of this hybrid form (in which the reader knows characters through other stories in a way the characters themselves do not) to mirror the experience of the people he writes about: the Indian immigrants who are often entangled in several stories – several histories – simultaneously."

Half-blood Blues by Esi Edugyan - Reading this made me miss reading James Baldwin; it made me want to dig out Go Tell It On The Mountain or "Sonny's blues." I'm not saying it's that good, but it has definite promise. The novel itself interweaves two storylines, as well as the drama of World War II in Europe, the jazz age, and even includes a passing reference to Montreal. In the core storyline, jazz bassist Sidney “Sid” Griffiths reflects back on life as a good, not great, musician, and discovers some surprising news about a wartime colleague, the young mixed-race trumpeter Hieronymus “Hiero” Falk. The second strand of the narrative is set in Berlin and Paris in 1940, and finds Hiero, Sid and their friends making (what later becomes) musical history to the backdrop of increasing racism and the rise of the Third Reich in Paris and Berlin. Compelling reading.

Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt - Scroll down to the last entry in this blog post for a full review.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan - This is my 2011 un-put-down-able title!!! Seriously, thanks a lot Sharron (said sarcastically) - I couldn't concentrate at work all day one day because I was halfway through this and couldn't stop thinking about it! This is a re-writing of The Scarlet Letter, set in a dystopian future. The southern United States have devolved into a radically conservative society, in which criminals are punished not by jail time, but by having their skin dyed a certain colour (based on the seriousness of their crime). Our narrator, Hannah Payne, is a murderer (of her unborn child, the product of a relationship she refuses to tell the authorities about), and is therefore a Red when she wakes up from "surgery." Forced to live on society's fringes, desperate to re-connect with her family and her lover, Hannah has to make some tough choices about her past, her religious beliefs, and her future. Extra credit to the author for planting a sympathetic, progressive woman minister near the end of the book.

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz - You might know Lisa Lutz from the funny and dark Spellman mysteries; Heads you lose is also a mystery, this time co-authored by her ex-boyfriend, David Hayward. Lutz and Hayward have a history of, shall we say, disagreeing .... They begin to co-author with the intent to alternate chapters, offering feedback on the previous chapter at the same time. The book is ostensibly about siblings Paul and Lacey Hansen, a pot-growing pair of 20somethings. When they find a headless corpse on their property, they decide to move the body to avoid having the police discover their grow-up. One thing, and one body, leads to another.... Meanwhile, authors David and Lisa are busy dragging their old baggage out of the closet. Before long, they are arguing in the footnotes and killing off one another’s favourite characters. It's hard to decide which plot was more interesting – or absurd! This one is NOT for readers who want their stories tied up with tidy bows.

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai - A 20something children's librarian, unsure what to do with her adult life, embarks on an impromptu roadtrip (or is it a kidnapping?) with one of her young patrons, a boy with an unhappy home life. Who is leading who in this adventure....? And why are they being followed? A funny, strange, and oddly warm and fuzzy read. Bonus points for chapter headings based on classic children's novels.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - I totally didn't want to read this, because I read A Moveable Feast in my mid-teens and was highly influenced by it. I was afraid that this novel would ruin the picture I had in my head of the time that Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, spent in Paris in the 1920s. I shouldn't have been worried - the novel captures Hadley's voice wonderfully, and presents a nuanced, complicated, and ultimately somehow uplifting portraits of the early days of a highly influential woman ... and her husband.

Where Children Sleep by James Mollison - A photo essay book consisting of portraits of children and their "bedrooms;" at left, Ahkohxet from Brazil, and his sleeping quarters. Mollison intended the book to be an exploration of children's rights from a different perspective. Deeply, deeply moving, and surprising in both wonderful and appalling ways.

This Cake Is for the Party: Stories by Sarah Selecky - I'm very proud of myself for reading two short story collections this year. Read my full review of Selecky's book here.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - The titular Major lives in a cozy English town and has lef a fairly traditional, straight life, in keeping with his military training and his organised nature. His well-ordered life goes a bit off the rails, however, when he befriends Ms. Ali, a local shopkeeper. Before long, he is mixed up in all kinds of domestic drama, and the other townspeople are flummoxed by the new Major, with new friends and new opinions (or, frankly, any opinions). Adorable romance for the literate type who enjoyed Old Filth, with less of an edge.

(Favourite adult books of 2010 list here).

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • Hulk vs Hercules: When Titans Clash by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
  • something by Frederic Beigbeder
  • Eona by Alison Goodman
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
  • Escape by Carolyn Jessop
  • The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq by Joshua Key and Lawrence Hill
  • An issue of the New Yorker
  • One Kobo (unknown book)
  • Me: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan and Infrared by Nancy Huston

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Upcoming programs at Carlingwood Branch of OPL

I'm still just getting settled in my new home, and dealing with a flurry of projects and nice juicy situations to sink my teeth into. Here's a run-down of what we have on the agenda, in terms of programs, in the near future.

Carlingwood has two book clubs, one on the first Wednesday of the month from 2 - 3:30 pm (reading Colm Toibin's Brooklyn this month - I just met them today!), and one on the second Wednesday of the month at the same time (reading The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre this month).

We're also hosting one of the visits by our fabulous Digital Services staff, who will present what I call the Digital Media Petting Zoo (stolen from Lora), but is technically called Digital Media: Downloading Audiobooks , E-books and Music from the library. This session focuses on how to find and download our e-books, audio books, digital music collection, exploring supported devices and OPL policies. The session will be on Tuesday Jan 31, 2012 (6:30 pm - 8:30 pm )

Other fun programs:
  • Monday Jan 23, 2012 from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm - Protecting your computer: It only takes about 15 minutes for an unprotected computer to be compromised after connecting to the Internet. Don't let it be yours. Chris Tayler, from the Ottawa PC Users' Group, will give you tips to prevent hacking on your computer.
  • Monday Feb 27, 2012 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm - Have you been diagnosed with fibromyalgia?: Dr. Joseph Lawrence, a chiropractic neurologist, gives a lecture on one of the most controversial topics in chronic pain. He will discuss lab values, contributing causes, innovative approaches to give results - and much more.
  • Wednesday Feb 22, 2012 from 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm - Knowledge is Power: Ovarian Cancer Canada representatives will discuss the signs, symptoms and risk factors of the disease.
  • Monday Jan 30, 2012 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm - The 3 Secrets to Stress Management: Is stress having an overwheming impact on your life? Dr. Surbjit Herr offers safe and effective ways to manage the 3 diffent types of stress, so that they don't take over your body and overall health.
  • Monday Jan 16, 2012 from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm - Cuba - beyond the beaches and resorts: Join traveller and photographer Alex Bissett on a journey through Cuba, visiting colonial cities, beautiful countryside, revolutionary headquarters and the hideouts of Castro and Che Guevara.
  • Wednesday Feb 15, 2012 from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm - Memoir Writing Workshop with Alan Cumyn (MASC): Alan Cumyn’s books include the Giller Prize finalist, Burridge Unbound, and the acclaimed Great War novels The Sojourn and The Famished Lover. Join him for this workshop on memoir writing. Offered in partnership with MASC. For Adults 50+.
Find a full list of Carlingwood's programs for all ages (we have fabulous children's programs, too, and more exciting adult programs in future months, including sessions on decorating, dog training, and Latin American Percussion!) here.