Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quick update

It's the end of April! One month until the CLA Annual Conference, then my next OPLA RA meeting, and a trip to Kitchener!

I've been furiously doing battle with a broken elevator at work (and, one might argue, some broken souls), but I'm still alive (the elevator might not be).

Later today, I am driving back to Montreal, for a week's rest. I will be walking on the mountain with my former boss, having dinner with two women priests I admire greatly, hamming it up with Caroline and her slide whistle at the ABQLA conference, and spending hours reading (hopefully). On that last point, here's what's under my wing-back chair at home ('cause I am off work for, you know, 9 days. I have to have some back-ups):

Here are some Saturday treasures for you to digest with your coffee:
  • A Letter to a New Branch Manager, by Tara Kressler - some sound advice here. #1 is absolutely crucial (I have heard other teams disparage new branch managers who didn't follow it) and #2 is probably my biggest take-away from the last two years of supervising. But oh hell no, I am not dressing up. So don't ask.
  • I am off to Battle Decks. Everything in that bio is true. Watch out.
This list would be longer but my ride's here. PS I hate the new Blogger interface screwing up my fonts..... Laters!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • Something by George. R. R. Martin (OPL Express Reads copy)
  • Macleans magazine
  • The Stars Shine Down by Sidney Sheldon
  • What Is the What by Dave Eggers
  • Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
  • Reported by a friend: story time on the bus, featuring The Monster At The End Of This Book and There's A Wocket In My Pocket, followed by a song.
  • Seen reading, STM segment: a book by Diana Gabaldon and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.
  • Me: I Do Not Think I Could Love a Human Being by Joanna Skibsrud, The Lady in the Looking Glass (Penguin Mini Modern Classic) by Virginia Woolf, and Brideshead Abbreviated by John Crace

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Excerpts from the March monthly report at Carlingwood

Man, I'm tired. Am I getting old or something? I find now that sometimes Fridays, capped off with a glass of wine, find me asleep before 10 pm. Other than that sad fact, things are percolating along over here, with plans for the CLA Conference becoming more concrete, and weekends full of wonderful walks and runs around in the sun, observing some very early tulips.

Here are some things I (and my amazing colleagues) have been up to at work these days:
  • We finished a gargantuan weeding and shifting project on the 2nd floor (adult non-fiction), making room for better homes for our Multilingual, language learning and graphica collections. In other building news (seriously, sometimes I think it's *all* building news... ain't nobody teaching this sh*t in library school!) we re-arranged elements of our lobby (based on some unfortunate customer feedback that turned into a happy story when I saw the amazing job my team did making improvements!), and I was finally able to realise my "accountability" vision of having a real conversation via the comment and suggestion box by installing a comment board (see at right). My plan may well come back and bite me though, as the comments have increased at least threefold since the board's installation. That's a lot of answering for me to do! I mean, hooray! Meanwhile, our building maintenance team was in fine form and framed and dry-walled our new 3rd floor shared office, prompting a musical chairs-style shuffle of the magazine shelving up there, and speculation about installing a jacuzzi.
  • My tremendous Adult Information team led a “How to Use the Library's Digital Media Collection” program on the 2nd floor in front of the Adult Information Desk. Over the course of the afternoon (primarily from 2 pm – 4 pm) all four of us helped about 15 people with digital media questions. Despite the presence of our OPL Toybox at this event, featuring different eReaders customers could try out, the vast majority of the people we helped were 55+ and had brought their own eReaders and tablets so that we could help them set up their devices to download from our collection. The rest of the participants stopped by to ask more general questions about devices, compatibility, and what would work best for their needs. A quick tally indicates that we worked in-depth with customers setting up: 2 Blackberry Playbooks, 2 iPod Touch(es?), 1 Kobo Vox, 1 Sony PRS505, and 1 Sony PR650. We also had three general questions, one customer with an iPad at home who wanted a bit of a demo, and 2 with laptops or PCs at home who also wanted to walk through the set-up steps. I am immensely proud of my colleagues for handling a pretty crazy afternoon with grace, professionalism, creativity, and humour!
  • 16 teens (and our own resident award-winning poet) created spine poetry for a poetry month display!
  • We had 153 adults, 66 teens and 1282 children at our programs this month.
  • I continued my ongoing meet-and-greets with local community partners. I was reading today in Vanity Fair about a movie director who meets with one person who is NOT in the entertainment business every two weeks: what an interesting goal. I might steal it. Anyway, I have been discussing potential future partnerships / common interests left, right and centre these days.... Not to mention I am shilling the planned Carlingwood Older Adults Advisory Committee to everyone. We are hoping to get that group off the ground in the fall.
  • News EMC West wrote a piece on the Carlingwood Branch, prompting a childhood friend to stop by. Turns out she lives a few blocks away now. Small world!
  • Stay tuned on April 16th for the announcement of the CLA Book of the Year for Children award winner, and some interesting cross-promotion between OPL and CLA this year.
  • Bonus image above: our Titanic display was picked over by one enthusiastic child almost immediately, forcing P and I to get all silly with it, sticking up some seafood titles and speculating about Leo DiCaprio bios or books about swimming technique. Note new location of pillar displaying DVDs - great team suggestion!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Last books purchased by The Husband and I from the Nicholas Hoare shops in Montreal and Ottawa.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Just outside, the river churns...
  • Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Something by or about L. M. Montgomery in Polish
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • National Geographic Traveler
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • The Abduction by John Grisham
  • Catching Fire (on an iPad)
  • The Quran
  • Me: the latest issue of Feliciter and Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Read recently: One-minute reviews

  • Paul au parc by Michel Rabagliati - Like all the Paul books, filled with nostalgia and a love of the simple things in life (in this case, camp friends, sleeping outdoors, family bickering, and first love). This one, about Paul's experience in Boy Scouts in Montreal during the FLQ crisis, has some unexpected trauma three-quarters of the way through. Dear Drawn and Quarterly, Hurry up with translations!
  • Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif - Speaking of trauma.... I almost had to put this down (the trauma is right at the end, but the characters were beginning to drive me a bit around the bend mid-way through). Nonetheless, this is an interesting exploration of contemorary Pakistani culture, albeit through the lens of the Christian minority.
  • The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen - Family mourns the death of a baby; secrets hiding all over the place. Older half-sister shows up and shakes the boat. For readers who enjoy Joyce Carol Oates, Kim Edwards (ha! See below), or Julia Glass.
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - I am just going to plain stop referring to this book by its North American title, Midnight Riot, which is not descriptive at all and panders to allegedly simple-minded Americans. So there. Imagine an adult Harry Potter: young Peter, of a mixed background and raised on the mean streets of London by a lovingly normal family, joins the Filth and is assigned to a secret department charged with magic law enforcement.
  • The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst - Yes, I am late to the game reading this. I somehow thought I wouldn't like it, but I LOVED it. It made me yearn to sit my uncle down and ask him about his school days. It also totally made me collect all of these pics into an album. Anyway, this multi-generational saga loosely follows the middle-class Sawles and upper-class Valence families throughout the 20th century, starting with a love triangle between George Sawles, his sister Daphne, and the fictional WW1 poet Cecil Valence. Very Brideshead, but also has similarities to The Children's Book by Byatt.
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - Unreliable memory, 101: The school days edition. Tony Webster looks back on his schoolfriends, including the enigmatic Adrian Finn, who became involved with Tony's girlfriend and then killed himself. Does Tony have the full story? Is he capable of seeing beyond his own perspective? Sort of atmospheric like The Portrait by Iain Pears, only with less tension - in a good way.
  • The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards - Alex is late to the game, part 2. Woman's husband, a doctor, delivers his own twins in a snowstorm in mid-century America. When one of the babies is discovered to have Downs Syndrome, the husband tells his wife the child has died and sends it away. The repurcutions of this secret are felt throughout the family's life, and the lives of those complicit in the act. Dramatic, character-driven.
  • A World Elsewhere by Wayne Johnston - Oddly likeable story of university friends separated by geography (America / Newfoundland) and social status (filthy rich / destitute and estranged from family) who re-connect over their two children, neither father being the biological parent of the one in their care. This sounds like a backwards way to describe this book, for those who have read it, but it's oddly what sticked with me. That, and the theme of control: control over others, and control over an environment.
  • Touch by Alexi Zentner - Weird. That is all. If you like your magic realism set in freezing cold Northern Ontario, go for it!
  • Currently reading: The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood - so far, also a latter-day Brideshead Revisited. Delish.

Monday, April 2, 2012

For sale: fresh news, never read

  • Interesting Meg Wolitzer article: "The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women"
    "If The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides, had been written by a woman yet still had the same title and wedding ring on its cover, would it have received a great deal of serious literary attention? Or would this novel (which I loved) have been relegated to “Women’s Fiction,” that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated?"
  • A film version of Zadie Smith's On Beauty is in the works
  • I was getting all enthusiastic about this recap of a meeting in England until I read this: "it seemed like all the participants, with the possible exception of Ciara Eastell of Devon, did not really have their heart in this one and saw the delivery of books as, well, tedious and somewhat old-fashioned. This was summed up by one panel member who said "we're going to get savvier than offering just books." A saying about babies and bathwater comes to mind.... Also, the definition of what a librarian should do needs to change, and this should come from educational institutions as much as from culture: "We're no longer recruiting librarians, just people working in libraries. We recruit youth workers, events managers, experts in partnership relations and in commercial opportunities. These are core skills for running a library now, not "librarian" as such. We're looking to 'broker relationship.'" Well, yes, but.... Nonetheless, some great ideas here. I especially love the one about not needing librarians to train volunteers, but that could just be me....!