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Library responds to a community’s natural crisis

11 Jun

In a time when so many libraries are trying to redefine themselves or rebrand their services, stories like the one of the Arlington Public Library in Texas, which is helping tornado victims find lost family photos, goes a long way to show how the request of one person can act as a catalyst for new service projects that have strong community appeal. I know unfortunately too many librarians who would react to this situation with “It’s not my job” instead of seeing the amazing opportunity to help preserve the community’s heritage and bring new people into the library.

I strongly salute the staff at the Arlington branch libraries who looked beyond the obvious hard work involved and are now viewed as community heroes to the people who are rediscovering their lost photos! Based on the comment on their Arlington Public Library website, people are extremely excited about the service the library is offering.

Visit the Eagle to read the whole article: Library helps tornado victims find lost photos.

Networking: jump in the pond or get on a bike

29 May

It seems that recently everyone has been talking about networking. When I attended NEL in February there was abig emphasis on networking and in the past few months I know a few people who have been very proactive about networking in order to find a job. Although I am not actively looking for a job, continuing to expand one’s network is always important. 

I found that reading the book Work the Pond by Darcy Rezac was extremely useful. It is a quick read and there are tons of tips that help us to understand how to be more effective in our networking attempts. Rezac uses the analogy that we are all frogs and when it comes to networking you need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. He takes the frog analogy much further (a bit too far at times) but the book remains extremely insightful in its description of networking misconceptions and how one can become a networking expert.

Another great analogy that I’ve seen that helps us better understand the act of networking is the article Breaking Away: Networking like a Cyclist, by Daniel Ransom on the library blog Letters to a Young Librarian. I am an avid cyclist and so I can really relate to these lessons about networking when compared to competitive cycling (a little shoutout to Ryder Hesjadel, the first Canadian to win the Giro d’Italia, Woohoo!).

People often do not realize that cycling is often played as a team sport and that there is a lot of strategy involved. I think that this blog post does a wonderful job of comparing the fine line between working together to move forward and the drive needed at the end of the race to leave the group behind and cross the finish line first. This strategy exists both in cycling and during a job hunt.

One thing that both Rezac and Ransom touch on that I completely agree with is that networking does not have to mean focusing your energy on talking only to the “big wigs” who you consider to be the most influential. Networking is often about making contacts (friends) who might be at the same level as you so that you can support each other as you both work your way up. Sometimes will you end up competing against your friends for a much coveted position but life goes on.

I highly recommend both this book and this blog post to gain easy and effective networking tips.

Happy networking!

A Hopeful Sign: a community of inspired bloggers

9 May

A few months ago, I was extremely flattered when I was asked to contribute to a new “magazine blog” called A Hopeful Sign that would feature inspirational articles on diverse subjects. The blog’s mantra is Living-Learning-Leading and its mission of promoting and providing hope completely fits into my overall optimistic world-view. As I’m sure you have all noticed my blog posts tend to be upbeat and positive. Without naming any names, librarians often use the web to vent about their various frustrations but I don’t see the point in projecting such a negative image of what I consider to be a wonderful profession. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I love life and I especially love being a librarian. Being positive on my Biblioblond blog is the natural result of my perspective on life and librarianship. This is why I am honoured that I was selected to contribute to a community of bloggers who all share a hopeful message. I will be contributing regularly to a column entitled “Inspired by Culture“. I encourage you to read my first post and check out the other posts as well. I’m extremely impressed by the diversity of interests that are represented! Good luck to A Hopeful Sign!

Shameless plug to win free books

22 Oct

Every day at my library tons of situations arise that I believe merit interesting discourse in the biblioblogosphere.  Unfortunately tonight is not the night that I’ll be writing about all of those situations. Tonight I’m writing to shamelessly plug a picture of mine that I’ve entered in a contest to win books from Harper Collins. The premise of the contest is to get “busted” reading one of Harper Collins’ latest hot titles. In my picture I’m reading Alice Kuiper’s YA book The Worst Thing She Ever Did while riding my bike and I gave it the caption “I just can’t put down Alice Kuiper’s book”. It’s corny but the person whose pictures get the most “likes” on the Wordfest 2010 Facebook page wins the free books from Harper Collins. Considering that my library’s collection budget is reliant on fund-raising, I am hoping that I can win these books to add them to my library’s collection. Please visit the Wordfest 2010 Facebook page and vote for my picture; I’m pretty sure that you need to be signed into your Facebook account.

Thanks and happy reading!

Response to article “How to Raise Boys that Read”

26 Sep

The following blog post is my response to the article How to Raise Boys who Read by Thomas Spence published in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section. In this article, Spence comments on the tendency of publishers to promote “gross-out” books in an effort to get boys to read more. He argues against this current trend to “meet boys where they are” stating that these books do not support a valuable education of manners and taste and that ultimately “if you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn’t go very far”.

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my huge passion for Children’s Literature. Before returning to McGill’s School of Information Studies, I was the educational representative for the only English bookstore in eastern Quebec and was often invited to give presentations to teachers on how to integrate literature into the ESL classroom. It was my job to know all the new titles from different publishing companies and anticipate which books would be

a) able to capture a student’s interest

b) appropriate for a wide range of different ESL reading levels

Through my meetings with teachers across the province of Quebec, I encountered all sorts of opinions on what kids should be reading. The challenge of getting certain kids to read book is doubled when that book is written in the child’s second language. Most educators were of the opinion that if a student could read a particular book in English then he/she should be reading that book. Popular titles were Captain Underpants, Garfield comics and the high interest/low reading level Stone Arch books from Capstone Publishing.

Once I even had a high school teacher ask me to recommend a book for hersecondary 3 (grade 10) class that had sex in it. This teacher told me that the year before for individual reading one girl’s book with a sex scene chapter had been passed around because everyone was so curious to read that particular chapter. She thought if they were interested in reading about sex, then that would be what she would give them. I recommended Noughts and Crosses by Marjorie Blackman, an extremely well-written story of passion using the typical literary motif of star-crossed lovers. In this case, I guess I was sharing Thomas Spence’s perspective in that I was careful not to recommend just any book with a sex scene. I felt Noughts and Crosses would contribute to the students’ education because in addition to having the hot and steamy forbidden sex it also touches on interesting themes for high school students such as loyalty, racism, and terrorism.

Now that I am the director of a public library, I am truly happy to see young people checking out whatever books will make them happy. One series of comics that is extremely popular at my library is Kidpaddle, the latest title in this collection is “Le retour de la momie qui pue  qui tue” (The Return of the mummy who stinks and kills), definitely the type of book that Spence would categorize as a “gross-out book” but the other day a boy around 10 years old came into the library and was so incredibly excited when I showed him that there was a new Kidpaddle book. His face lit up into a huge smile and he exclaimed to his mom “I haven’t read this one yet, I want to borrow this book!” The boy’s excitement to read this comic was the most wonderful reaction to a book I’d ever seen. It completely made my day!

So in conclusion, I’m still on the fence about Thomas Spence’s article. I understand and respect his opinion but at the same time, I really do not think that reading always has to be about learning. I am not convinced that boys would be better off if they were all reading Treasure Island as he suggests. I am an advocate of reading and books and so I will continue to be happy to provide boys with whatever reading they might want.

Library Revolutions Video

25 Sep

I am totally a sucker for cheesy library-related videos. This promotional video for the University of Kansas’ library is a spoof of the Matrix and definitely has a professional quality to it! I’m not quite sure who its target audience is though because it seems a bit too long to hold the attention of busy students. Nonetheless it is really well done and it would be cool if McGill had a video like this! The director of this video is Emmy-winner Chris Martin who was a film student at the University of Kansas. He has also produced another pretty awesome library spoof video called Lord of the Libraries.

Very cool stuff!

Librarian doppelgänger

11 Jul

Yesterday, a librarian friend sent me the link to a blog post asking me what the story was behind my photograph being posted on an author/poet’s blog. I immediately went to the blog post which was entitled “The Irrepressible Miss Halfpenny“. Surprised yet flattered that someone would be writing a post about me without my knowledge, when I saw the post and the photograph I was in shock.  I read the post describing a librarian Miss Halfpenny and when I looked at the picture it was me, but it wasn’t me. In fact, the only way that I was certain it was not me was because I knew that I had never worn a dress resembling the one the photographed girl was wearing. So I have found my doppelgänger who also happens to be a librarian and has the same name as me!  The universe is such a crazy place. What are the odds of there being another young, blond, librarian with the very unusual last name of Halfpenny? I emailed the author of the blog who unfortunately was unable to provide me with much information on the Miss Halfpenny in question. He had come upon her in the park and she was reading a book of poems that he had written so he felt the need to take her photograph. The author of the blog is from Southey, Saskatchewan, so if anyone in the biblioblogosphere knows the identity of this other librarian Miss Halfpenny please let me know! I would love to correspond with her!