Friday, January 29, 2010


Librarians help people. It's our job. Usually, we're quite happy to help out. You ask questions; we answer. You can't find a book; we track it down. You greet us with a smile and a pile of books to check out; we scan your card and offer you a "have a nice day."

What we don't do is cater to your every whim. I wish some patrons could understand that.

There is one breed of patron that assumes we are there for them. Just them. No one else. More than once I've felt like a cupcake being fought over by a pack of fifth graders. Once, a person I helped argued that I could not help the second patron because she had me first - even though we had completed our transaction. I was frightened that she was going to scent mark me to scare the other patrons away. 

Along with these patrons are the patrons who think you can magically get anything. And I mean anything. That copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Totally available for circulation. You swear it. It says so right here in Google books. While I'm glad you recognize my awesome skillz there are, believe it or not, some things librarians cannot offer. A copy of a rare, history-making bible for example.

What I dislike the most is the patrons with absolutely no boundaries or sense of propriety. There is just something about being trapped behind a desk that causes certain members of the public to assume, "Oh look, I can come onto you creepily and try to pet your hair." More than once I've had to delicately say "No touchies!"

I'm sure other service oriented professions experience the same sort of problems. (Starbucks baristas, I feel for you.) Librarians, however, have evolved to handle these kinds of situations. Have you ever wondered why we keep sharpened pencils in our hair buns? It's so we can stab at you when we feel threatened. Don't corner the wild librarians, it makes them cranky.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Variations on a Theme: Library Marketing

In honor of my class next semester, this Variations on a Theme is devoted to library marketing. In other words, books about why we need to tell everyone libraries are awesome. Huzzah!

Librarians as Community Outreach Partners
Carol Smallwood (editor)

-- Too often librarians are considered the gatekeepers of their book warehouses. Some may even call us hoarders. This book encourages librarians to reach out into the community, form partnerships, and create services their patrons need.

Building a Buzz: Libraries & Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace

-- This book is sitting on my desk at home right now. The best marketing strategy is one where others help disperse your message. In fact, when someone not connected (financially or otherwise) with your service hypes it, the message is all the more powerful. This book tells you have to start a buzz about your library and services, keep it rolling, and encourage others to spread it around.

Bite-Sized Marketing: Realistic Solutions for the Overworked Librarian 
Nancy Dowd, Mary Evangeliste, and Jonathan Silberman

-- This book is also waiting for me at home and I can't wait to start reading- the fact that there is chocolate on the cover helps. Most libraries, sadly, cannot afford to have a full-time PR person or marketer on staff. Along with all their other duties, some overworked librarian(s) are asked to also market their wares. This book tells you how to do it in manageable ways.

Building Bridges: Connecting Faculty, Students, and the College Library 
Monty L. McAdoo

-- I work at an academic library and getting students to come in (particularly freshman) is like trying to lose that last five pounds. You try and try and try and, dagnabit, nothing seems to work... until that magical moment. Building Bridges helps academic librarians understand how to work with the university community at large to help increase library use and project participation.

The Library PR Handbook
Mark Gould (editor)

-- Hear ye, hear ye! The library rocks. This book offers a crash course in how to become a master of Public Relations. That includes everyone from creating a PR plan to actually making a podcast.

Library Marketing that Works!
Suzanne Collins

-- We used the book as our main text this semester. It's part workbook, part crash course in how to market from start to finish. This title is slightly outdated, but the basic message is still highly relevant to today. Besides, it offers actually worksheet pages which I always have a good time with.

Other Library Marketing Related Titles:

Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan: A Guide to Help You Survive and Thrive - Patricia H. Fisher and Marseille M. Pride
Boomers and Beyond: Reconsidering the Role of Libraries - Pauline Rothstein and Diantha Dow Schull (eds.)
Collaboration 2.0 - Robin Hastings
Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons - Elisabeth Doucett
Inside, Outside, and Online: Building Your Library Community - Chrystie Hill
Libraries, Mission, and Marketing: Writing Mission Statements That Work - Linda K. Wallace 
Marketing Today's Academic Library: A Bold New Approach to Communicating with Students - Brian Matthews
On the Move with the Mobile Web: Libraries and Mobile Technologies - Ellyssa Kroski

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book 1: A Plague on Both Your Houses

TITLE: A Plague on Both Your Houses

AUTHOR: Susanna Gregory
STARTED: December 28, 2009
FINISHED: January 9, 2010
PAGES: 408
GENRE: Mystery

FIRST SENTENCE: The scholar waited in the black shadows of the churchyard trees for the Sheriff's night patrol to pass by, trying to control his breathing.

SUMMARY: [From] A Plague on Both Your Houses introduces physician Matthew Bartholomew, whose unorthodox but effective treatment of his patients frequently draws accusations of heresy from his more traditional colleagues. Besides his practice, Bartholomew teaches medicine at Michaelhouse, part of the fledgling University of Cambridge. In 1348, the inhabitants of Cambridge live under the shadow of a terrible pestilence that has ravaged Europe and is traveling relentlessly towards England. Bartholomew, however, is distracted by the sudden and inexplicable death of the Master of Michaelhouse, a death University authorities do not want investigated. His pursuit of the truth leads him into a complex tangle of lies and intrigue that forces him to question the innocence of his closest friends, even his family. And then the Black Death finally arrives.

THOUGHTS: Too. Many. Names. I don't know why, but I had a rather hard time keeping track of who was who in this book. Interestingly, that did not make me loath this work. In fact, I enjoyed spending time with all of the characters - enough so that I would be open to reading the next book in this series.

What I loved most about this book was the setting. Hello, middle ages! Collins gets the imagery right. Everything is grimy, sticky, stinky, and full of all manner of activity and grossness that would make us wretch today. Beyond the "elements" of the time, Collins does a rather fine job of making her characters seem real. They are not over written, nor are they perfectly good or perfectly bad. I love gray. Bartholomew is admirable without being an angel - the characters he encounters clearly have their own, full backgrounds and are not simple, throw away characters. Even figures who are only mentioned in passing seem fully realized.

If this book has an Achilles heel, its because the whole mystery felt overly complicated and forced. Granted, all the confusion is explained well in the end, but it still felt as if the author was trying a tad bit too hard to impress her readers.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

YouTube Tuesday: Them Apples

Ladies, any guy who drops the phrase "at the public library" in witty repartee, deserves your number. Well, as long as he is Matt Damon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Useful Things: I'm Converted!

Have you ever wanted to halve a recipe but can't remember how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup?

What about ordering clothing from a European store?

Time again I find myself using Google to tell me what converts to what. No more! I found an even better website. Online Conversion lists just about every type of conversion in existence. They've got simple websites that convert measurements all the up to high-techie-scientific pressure, speed, and volume converters.

The next time you want to know light years translate miles, check it out.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I need a reading buddy

When I lived at home, I had a reading buddy. My reading buddy was either one of my two cats - they seemed to rotate depending on the warmth level of the room. My reading buddies use to curl up next to me, on me, beside me, and, in some cases, between me and my book. I was okay with this as long as they didn't bite my hand as I turned a page.

Ever since I left for college (many many moons ago), I've had no reading buddy and, sometimes, I miss it. There's something calming about petting a cat while reading a book.

I guess you could count The Boyfriend as my current reading buddy. He is sometimes around when I'm sunk into a book, but I don't think he'd enjoy me scratching him behind the ears.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 Reading / Bookish Resolutions

For the umpteenth year in a row, I will once again attempt to reduce Mt. TBR. Ergo, most of my reading and bookish resolutions again fall into the "Clean off your bookshelves" category.

Repeats From Previous Years
1. When I go the library, I will not walk out with a gazillion books.
-- After all, they will be there when I come back.

2. I will not buy any books.
--I know I can do this, I've been successful at it for several years now.

3. I will purge.
--I know there are still books in my apartment that I will never get around to or want to read.

New Resolutions
1. I will read more non-fiction.
-- I have a bunch on my shelves waiting to be leafed through... not to mention the hundred or so on my digital list I want to get to

2. I will update this blog once a week.
-- I'm probably backing myself into a corner here, but I have so much stuff saved in my "To Blog" folder that there is no reason for me to not update more often. I've also started a ton of features that I should follow through on. So, gosh darn it, there is no reason I cannot update this blog once a week.

The Year in Review (Much Delayed Edition)

My 2009 Year in Review entry is a much delayed edition this year. I would try to give reasons for why it's so late, but it comes down to one thing: I was epically lazy.

Oh well - on to the reviewage!

Reading Goals v. Reading Reality
The only true reading goal I set for myself was to read what I wanted. Seeing as how the bulk of my reading were books assigned in my Juvenile literature class, I would say I only partially reached that goal.

I did, however, set some bookish goals and resolutions for myself. To see the annontated list from 2009, please see this entry from January. As for how I did this year, I think I did well.

1. I will not set a number of books to read this year.
-- Check.

2. I will read for me.
-- Half check: I was assigned way to much reading in my classes.

3. When I go the Library, I will not walk out with a gazillion books.
--Check. The most I walked out with was 2.

4. I will NOT BUY any books (again)
--Check... as far as I can recall. I don't notice any new books other than the ones I received for Christmas.

5. I will purge!
-- I did okay on this one. I ran through my shelves a few times and pulled out a couple titles here and there that I knew I would never get around to.

The Year in Genres
This year was the year of juvenile literature. I have my children's lit class to thank for that. At least I liked most of them - then again, I'll always find an excuse to read works meant for children and young adults.

Memoir = 3
Poetry = 2
Juvenile = 42
Non-Fiction = 4
Graphic Novels = 6
Romance = 16
Fiction = 17

The Year in Ratings
The ratings skewed toward the 6s and 7s this year. Much better than last year. I'll take it.

10 = 1
9 = 8
8 = 14
7 = 21
6 = 22
5 = 14
4 = 1
3 = 10
2 = 1
1 = 0

The 10 Best Books of 2009
Most of these are interchangeable. But I think this list displays why 2009 was the year of Juvenile literature.

10. Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas - John Baxter
9. The Book Thief - Mark Zusak
8. Make Way for Ducklings - Robert McCloskey
7. King Bidgood's in the Bathtub - Audrey Wood
6. The Ordinary Princess - M.M. Kaye
5. French Women Don't Get Fat - Mireille Guiliano
4. The Ominvore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan
3. Rules - Cynthia Lord
2. Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Judi Barret

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Book 92: Daughter of Troy

TITLE: Daughter of Troy
AUTHOR: Sarah B. Franklin
STARTED: December 24, 2009
FINISHED: December 28, 2009
PAGES: 530
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Nothing remained of the day except a red wound between earth and sky.

SUMMARY: [From] The rightful-born queen of Lyrnessos, Briseis watched helplessly from the battlements as her husband and brothers were crushed by the invincible army of King Agamemnon. Taken into slavery, the proud, beautiful seer became the prize of Prince Achilles, the conquering Greeks' mightiest hero. But passion forged chains stronger than any iron, binding the hearts of captive and captor with a love that knew no equal, and when Troy fell, great Achilles promised his beloved Briseis would reign at his side as queen of Thessaly. Yet the jealousy of a ruthless king and the whims of the capricious deities would deny the lovers their happiness. As the flames of war rose higher around them, the prophetess vowed to save the beloved warrior for whom her dark gift foretold doom — even if it meant defying the gods themselves.

THOUGHTS: If you wanted to read the romance side of Troy (the Brad Pitt) movie, this is a book for you. In fact, I think that may be the reason why I tracked it down. It seemed like it took forever for me to read this book, which is weird because I liked it. I think I'm going to place the blame on the fact that the text in my copy was really really tiny.

I've never read the Iliad or any of the other famous Greek works, but my guess is that the history covered in this book is rather fudged and/or made up. I'm sure I would be going nuts if I actually knew the works this text spins out of. Luckily, I knew only the vaguest of details so I could enjoy the romance of the story. Perhaps the reason I didn't mind this book going on and on and on is because I love the era. Ancient setting? I am so there. Romance focus? Huzzah! Hints of war and strife? Yeah, I like that too.

The Trojan war takes a backseat the to back-story and romance of Briseis and Achilles. What's interesting is that said romance takes a backseat to the politics of the romance. The love is doomed, we all know it from the start, but that does not make the book any less enjoyable. It's fun to see how the two came together, struggled to stay together, and how Everything Else acted on their relationship.

There was nothing to make this book OMG fantastic or even a keeper, but it was just right for my holiday vacation. I could cozy up in the big chair next the fire and settle into a story about a long ago era with people I wanted to read about.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Book 91: Voices of the Night

TITLE: Voices of the Night

AUTHOR: Lydia Joyce
STARTED: December 23, 2009
FINISHED: December 24, 2009
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: Maggie shivered, wrapping the sooty shawl tighter around her thin shoulders as she hunched behind the brute hulk of Johnny.

SUMMARY: [From] Desperate to escape the underworld's treacherous grasp, Maggie of King Street finds a patron in Charles Crossham, Lord Edgington, who must transform a street girl into a lady to win a high stakes wager. Charles has never met anyone like the fierce and ardent Maggie, and Maggie's defenses are useless against the seduction of the jaded lord.Their association quickly ignites into a consuming obsession. But both passion and the bet are threatened by a ruthless villain from Maggie's dark past, who has plans for her that imperil everything she's ever cared for-and her very life.

THOUGHTS: Classic. If you're in the mood to read a classic romance novel plot of "Lorded hero plucks penniless, charming, beautiful heroine from the streets," then this book will hit the spot. Joyce has a way of taking such a timeless romance and bringing out the actual nitty-gritty that would appear in reality. She also makes sure her characters have jump off the page chemistry.

Joyce's writing is visually stunning. I know exactly what she wants me to see, but she does not over-write. There is no purple prose or extensive description. Joyce writes just enough to clearly state her scene and characters, but not enough to leave me wishing the book was 100 pages shorter. And, thank goodness, Joyce writes about dirt - I mean actual soil-type dirt. So many romances set in this era forget that Regency era London was not a clean place (either in cleanliness or morality). Joyce does not shy away from writing about that and it tickles me pink.

Maggie and Charles work well together. Sure there are some sappy scenes and contrived moments, but it does not detract from the fact that these characters work together. You get the lust, but you also get why they would fall in love (a fact that is, sadly, missing from many romance novels). The reader is also able to see how the secondary characters play into the main romance. Said secondary characters are also well-written. They are more than set-pieces and plot devices. They have enough backstory to hold up their end of the story without so much that you just know there is a spin-off novel coming.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Book 90: Sunrise on the Mediterranean

TITLE: Sunrise on the Mediterranean

AUTHOR: Suzanne Frank
STARTED: December 9, 2009
FINISHED: December 23, 2009
PAGES: 572
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: History is known, illuminated.

SUMMARY: [From] Time-traveler Chloe Kingsley wakes up in the Mediterranean, dressed in 1990s party clothes. Mistaken for a mermaid goddess, Chloe soon realizes she is in biblical Canaan. She and Cheftu are reunited, only to become vassals to David, the Israelite king.

THOUGHTS: I liked this book but was bored by it at the same time. I am all for a time-traveling romance series (Hello, Outlander), but something about this book just left me feeling blase. The writing was fine, the plot was fine, the characters were the same as they've been in the past books, but this book just did not hit the spot. I think, because the book relies heavily on historical characters, it felt a bit to forced. Things worked out too well. There were also spots of the book where I was completely lost - the visual I was supposed to see in my head did not work at all.

Overall, not a bad read just there.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]