Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Bells
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1864)


I Heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Black Book of Secrets

The Black Book of Secrets, by first time author F.E. Higgins is a compelling study in human nature with an interesting bit of magic adding flair to the story telling. Young pickpocket Ludlow Fitch narrowly escapes his drunken parent's diabolical plan to sell his teeth for profit, fleeing the City on the back of a carriage. Arriving in the village of Pagus Parvus, Ludlow immediately looks for a way to make a living and realizes his former skills as a pickpocket, while well honed, will not serve him well here; the village is destitute and it's inhabitants poor, mostly due to the greed of landlord Jeremiah Ratchet.

As chance would have it, Ludlow arrives in Pagus Parvus the same day as prosperous stranger Joe Zabbidou. Joe is a pawnbroker who, with little ado, sets up shop in one of the village's rundown building. After inviting Ludlow to join him for dinner, Joe reveals he is in need of an assistant for his business. Inqurining as to the exact nature of his business, Ludlow learns that Joe is the Secret Pawnbroker. He listens to secrets and pays the owner cash for their trouble. Able to read and write, Ludlow's job is to record the secrets into the Black Book only writing on the clean pages and never reading what has been written prior.

One by one the villagers sell their secrets to Joe and leave the shop lighter in spirit. However, the secrets follow a pattern as the villager's difficulties forge a path directly to Jeremiah Ratchet. After each person sells their secret to Joe they inquire "what of Jeremiah?" and are told, "Be patient." Business flourishes, soon the villagers forget how miserable they were and become determined to take care of Jeremiah themselves regardless of potential for a dangerous outcome. As the story unfolds short vignettes, featuring tales within the story, present chapters from Ludlow's memoirs, as well as extracts from the Black Book of Secrets. Higgins weaves a chilling fantasy world that will leave readers enthralled.

"So wish me luck on my journey. I promise whatever I find I will bring it to you as quickly as I can. Until then, as Joe would have said, Vincit qui patitur." (p. 268)

Addenda to the book include information regarding facts included in several of the secrets such as a brief history on grave robbing and tooth pulling in the 1800s. The UK site Fantastic Fiction reports Higgins currently has a two book deal with the next title due out in 2008.

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Early lunch blogging: Collection development

Instructors at the university take advantage of the opportunity presented with library reserves, both electronic and book. One of the children's literature professors routinely places juvenile award book winners on reserve for class projects; included are Caldecott (10 years), Coretta Scott King, and in years past Children's Choice and Teacher's Choice from the International Reading Association. Each year in November, The Reading Teacher publishes an annotated list of these selections. This means each year in December I work with the reserves person, I search and pull the new titles and order additional selections as needed, she pulls the old titles and prepares the new titles for reserves. I also print out and bind hard copies of the award lists for the reserves student workers (saving wear and tear on our hard copy of the journal).

Though part of the IRA Choices booklist, the annotated copy of Young Adults' Choices is made available in the November issue of Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.


What I need to accomplish this afternoon is note what we have, do not have, and/or need to add to the juvenile collection from these booklists. While not traditional collection development, this is a quick way to make sure the juvenile section has books that will definitely be used by students this spring (2008) and next fall (2008). Before I hit the ground running with this project, ordering titles, I have contacted the professor who teaches the children's literature class to verify she is indeed going to use these books for her course.


Lunch is early today, so I am multi-tasking making good use of time left before Christmas break begins tomorrow at noon!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Spanking Shakespeare

Shakespeare Shapiro's name has been the bane of his seventeen years of existence, as has his somewhat avant-garde family; high octane parents and a younger brother Gandhi. Spanking Shakespeare, by Jake Wizner, is an irreverent look into the trials and tribulations of Shakespeare's senior year.

"I should warn you. Some of the material you're about to read is disturbing. Some of it will make you shake your head in disbelief. Some of it will make you cringe in disgust. Some of it might even make you rush out into the stormy night, rip your shirt from your body, and howl, 'WHY, GOD, WHY?'"

"Then again, maybe you'll just sit back and smile, secure in the knowledge that your name is not Shakespeare Shapiro, and this is not your life." (p.6-7).

Shakespeare's senior project, Spanking Shakespeare 17 Down, is cleverly interspersed and visually apparent with different fonts, between the months comprising his senior year. His class memoir provides bright insight to daily happenings in Shakespeare's life at home and in school. No one is exempt from his musings and, most telling of all, Shakespeare's self awareness is portrayed with the same truth and revealing the growing confusion felt by a teenage boy. The result is an unashamedly cheeky book sure to please readers.

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Bounce

Bounce, by Natasha Friend, features thirteen year old Evyn; her mother died when Evyn was young and for years it has been Evyn, her brother Mackey, and Birdie, her dad. One night at special dinner Evyn's father "drops the bomb" announcing he is getting married, moving the family from Maine to Massachusetts, and not only will they be gaining a step-mother, but also a plethora of step-siblings. Evyn is coping, barely, with the furious changes in family dynamics by talking to her dead mother "Stella" about her new school, lack of new friends, and a growing confusion regarding why her brother and father are flourishing in this new environment while she drowns in misery. Despite Stella's calm assurance that things will work out and she should just let things bounce, Evyn does not want things to change - she wants her life back.

Full of smart dialogue, complicated feelings, and a wealth of understanding how a thirteen-year-old girl’s brain works, Bounce charts a course through the turbulent sea; an adventure full of family and friends. Evyn's wry understanding of self, she knows discussions with Stella are a coping mechanism, and equally horrified reaction to her father's love life, are vivid reminders of how hard change can be at any age. For more information About Bounce, or any of the other previous books by Natasha Friend, check out the author's blog.


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Vitae this, vitae that

I have finally finished updating my personal page and have moved on to obsessing (nothing new there) about use of CV titles, tags, and format of the page. I Googled CV this afternoon and found various adaptable resources from colleges and universities; career service pages were promoting resumes and vitas. After awhile, they started to blur and one pithy tip stood out from the others - be to spell vitae correctly. I am somewhat disappointed by my alma mater, University of Pittsburgh, provided only linked information to other pages and did not provide samples of any sort; sad for a university that is touting itself in the newest magazine for being a top level facility for alumni. Be that as it may, here is some of what I found:

I have not read through everything I printed (thank heavens for duplex) as of yet. The next step will be determining if the headings I am currently using actually fit the information displayed. After the page is complete, I will take a serious look at the job openings that have caught my attention in the last weeks and determine where to go from here. There are questions to be answered. Use the vitae? Create new resumes? Submit electronically? Start working on updating that portfolio?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period

The first of three books I originally freed from the cataloging cart right before Thanksgiving, If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Gennifer Choldenko has traveled straight from the cart, to my office, to lunch, home, back to the cart for cataloging, to the circulation desk (officially checked out to me), and finally back to my home office. It has been sitting in Blogger draft format for several days patiently awaiting completion, only to be superceded by diatribes on journal articles, library statistics, resumes, vitaes, movies, and snow.

Kirsten McKenna and Walker Jones are returning to school after summer vacation. For Kirsten, it is a time of relief because summer was stressful, her parents have fought the entire time and her best friend was away at camp. Kirsten's only friend was her younger sister. Walker is returning to school as well, but he is a new student; a young African American in a prestigious white school. Resigned to making the best of the situation to please his mother, Walk is reserving judgment concerning the school and it's inhabitants. It does not take long for either student to realize things are going to be radically different this year. Told in dual voice, Kirsten and Walk each have their own chapter and point of view, the unlikely duo bond as friends before learning how close their lives intertwine beyond the confines of school.

Choldenko, also the author of Newbery Honor book Al Capone Does my Shirts, again provides a glimpse into the messy life of teenagers. Her characters are well developed, flawed as humans should be, and must deal with inevitable complications of life; parents and children included. Kirsten is fighting weight gain, a coping mechanism for her parents consistent fighting and low self-esteem. Walk is dealing with his single mother's fear for her child and subtle issues of race in school. Foreshadowing is subtle, but readers will not be overly surprised when the secret kept by Kirsten and Walk's parents for thirteen years is exposed by an unlikely source and the repercussions reverberate throughout both lives and school. How the character's move forward is realistic and rewarding.

Choldenko's web site is both teacher and reader friendly, there is a If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, Teacher questions section particularly useful for classroom discussion.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

HP5, dog food, & ice cream

Tuesday after work I rushed out to buy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; one for me (regular wide-screen) and one for my dad (2 DVD set) for Christmas. After dinner that evening I relaxed watching HP5 and was transported back to Hogwarts for year five. I have enjoyed each of the preceding HP movies, first in the theater then on DVD, and all have had a different "something" about them. However, HP5 is the first one that after leaving the theater I remarked to my dad that had I not read the book, it would have been confusing.

Like the book, the movie becomes not only a bridge between the beginning and end of the series, but also between HP as young boy and HP as a young man. It becomes obvious adults in the wizarding world while opting to protect the young, are in many ways inhibiting their growth. I spent time again this evening watching the end of the movie, attempting to catch some dialogue that was difficult to hear over the music accompanying the scenes; Ron really needs to speak up and Luna, though effectively childlike and wize, has a voice that could cut glass. Casting remains consistently on-target; the actress who plays Dolores Umbridge is a complex mixture of perky kindergarten teacher and evil personified ("I really hate children, you know") and Lucius Malfoy, my favorite bad guy, is the epitome of arrogant.

Though, I must admit Snapes has one of the best quotes (aside from Hermonie telling Ron he has the emotional depth of a teaspoon) in the movie, delivered in his customary droll tone: "However, if you do intend to poison Potter, I assure that I have the greatest sympathy."

After adjusting the audio (emphasis on less bass for the music) on my television, I watched the last hour of the movie (choosing scenes is much simpler than fast forward) a short while ago taking a break from baking and weather forecasts of gloom, doom, and blizzards. I still am unable to understand what Ron says to Harry and Hermoine when explaining how they escaped from Umbridge's office, but have learned the first wave of snow has passed through Northeastern Ohio and we are now bracing for the second batch of weather containing the ultimate "mixed bag" of precipitation. Approximately four inches of snow is laying on the ground and it sounds as if we have entered the freezing rain portion of the evening (it's pinging off of the existing snow).

In a brief moment of clarity, I remembered to purchase a snow shovel this morning so I will not have to use my small garden shovel to clear the path to the alley behind my garage. I also learned something new; we always discuss how predictions of snow storms drive the populace to the grocery store for milk and toilet paper. Today the cashier at the grocery store set me straight, what people buy when a snow storm is forecasted is - wait for it - ice cream and dog food. Yes, ice cream and dog food. Seems they kept an informal record at the store one winter and those were the results. I hated to disappoint her as I had neither in my cart, but she gave me a pass since I did have toilet paper.

I am kind of wishing I had some ice cream.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lunching on library stats

One of the perks accompanying my various 'duties as assigned later' projects is that while binding surveys and reports, I have opportunity to peruse the same. No, I am not overstepping bounds looking at the materials, I am more often than not asked to edit while compiling materials to be bound. Yesterday's project was binding the library year-end annual report for the president and provost. This year's library annual report, the same one that prompted me to update my vitae, is later than usual due to the inclusion of a survey. It is interesting reading and I am enough of a statistical information hog that I immediately searched for numbers on resource center holdings, cataloging activity, and circulation. Finding what I wanted, this morning I asked to read those stats at a more leisurely pace; a request that was immediately and happily granted (the boss knows I love this stuff). Actually, pertinent information was emailed to everyone after I babbled about wanting to review resource center statistics.

Without providing proprietary information, here are some general comments about my resource center and juvenile collection:
  • Overall library circulation has steadily increased over the last seven years. Items circulating are not limited to books (DVD, CD, Software, and other materials) however , I find this particularly interesting due to the consistent availability of online information in databases, the Internet, and other electronic resources.
  • Between July 2000 and July 2007 there has been a catalog holdings increase of 49% for the juvenile collection and 60% for the resource center. Much of this may be attributed to the resource center officially becoming part of the library in 1999 and taken over by a librarian in 2000; it is my understanding that funds accompanied the space. More funding = more stuff.
  • Cataloging activity for my two areas of interest are a bit fuzzy, while both areas have increased the resource center numbers do not gel for me. On the other hand, the increasing space issue for the juvenile collection is aptly documented illustrating a 67% increase in juvenile books cataloged in 2007 compared to 2000.
  • As to circulation by type; the resource center (11%) and juvenile collection (16%) together account for 27% of the total library circulation in 2007. That is a significant increase over the 2000 figures, 70% for resource center and 42% for juvenile.

An over abundance of contributing factors and intangibles could argue for and against the above generalizations. But generally speaking, is it heartening to know that college students are indeed making use of academic libraries for more than email and printing.

Now, lunch is over and I have to trek across campus for a meeting.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

He's baaaack, riding to the rescue

Just in time for a holiday chuckle, he's back; Too Much Information? Mr. Library rides to the rescue. Here are my two favorite question and answer excerpts from .... Mr. Library Man!

Q. Dear Library Man: Since you work in a public school, aren't you really a school media specialist or something?

A. The preferred title is biblio-hero.


and ...

Q. Dear Library Man: Is it your ambition to become the powerful Librarian of Congress?

A. You caught me. These 21 years at a junior high library in west Modesto have just been a stepping stone in my scheme to dominate the library universe.




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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Projects run away

Late last week an email arrived from the library director, it is time for his year end report. Each librarian was to send a quick list containing updates regarding our professional development pertaining to the 2006-2007 academic year. Suggested information included, but was not limited to campus committee involvement, professional affiliations (statewide and/or national), presentations, publishing, conference and workshop attendance, and anything else that would successfully speak to our professional development. After compiling the information, and yes I keep a monthly list routinely referred to when crafting my yearly evaluation document, I remarked this would be a great time to update my resume and vitae.

At the time I was merely making humorous email repartee with the boss, but in retrospect decided it would be a good time to update things. So, for the last several days I have been compiling my lists (and checking them twice)and working with my university web page and vitae. As with many universities, we have dedicated server space and it is recommended we personalize the page. My personal page is attached to the resource center web page and links to the library page. It also includes links to various presentations and course pages. While very few of the faculty librarians here have elected to provide this information to the campus community - and the web - I believe having a vitae in place is an important aspect to professional development. Furthermore, it is more often than not I overhear librarians bemoaning the fact we are not fully recognized as faculty by the faculty. Including your vitae with library liaison information is key to creating an awareness of their own professional involvement and growth.

Almost complete, I have a few workshops I unearthed this evening that I will add to the list tomorrow, it is time to take a critical look at the headings and document organization. Currently in place are education, experience, organizations, presentations, poster sessions, publications, workshops, program committees, university committees, grant reviewer and grant projects, library service, fundraising, web authoring, and blogs. Some of these should be combined while others would benefit from reconsideration. Naturally, as a librarian, I have various articles detailing aspects of vitaes and resumes. I also have references from books I have found to be useful. I will review these, find new, and progress.

All in all, it reflects well on both the library and me to have the information presented professionally and updated constantly. From a seriously selfish standpoint, this will be helpful should I decide to apply for one or both of the openings that have caught my interest as of late.

I did not finish all I planned with this project this evening. As noted in the title, a clever little word-play on my Wednesday night television show Project Runway, things got away from me.

Closed, not locked

It seems that though the door was symbolically closed, I neglected to verify my capability to lock it and walk away with a skip in my step. Twice in the last two days I received email (tagged priority) from the eternally patient and kind academic journal editor regarding necessary changes to my references, both in text and the 'bibliography.' I must admit to being embarrassed that my misuse of this citation style was causing such trouble for the editor.

For heavens sake, I'm a librarian! I was forced to use MLA, APA, and Chicago style for papers in a grad class (he was making us aware of the differences, uh-huh). A change in citation format should not cause issue and angst.

But, I digress. After an hour yesterday and a simple reference question today, I may .... she says hesitantly and with a vestige of hope ... be finished.

This morning I spent time looking for a book on using Harvard Style. I can not be the only person on campus utilizing this for articles. Faculty members here, sans librarians, are tenured and the academic cry of publish or perish is alive and well. I have been able to find two interesting titles in World Cat that looked promising; A guide to writing bibliographies : based on the Harvard style and Sweat-free referencing Harvard Style: source acknowledgement, paraphrasing and quoting, a student's guide. Interestingly enough, the first is in a library in New Zealand and the second in South Africa. Not surprisingly, neither titles are available in Amazon or Barnes and Noble, nor are they in Baker & Tayloror Gobi.

Well, fine. It's time for lunch anyway.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Closing the door

After spending several hours, so much for the changes not taking long, on the article revisions yesterday, this morning I emailed my article submission, author information, abstract with keywords, and publication permission to the journal editor and assistant editor. I've already received a reply from the assistant editor thanking me for the submission. It appears the second of two invited articles has passed the peer review process and will be published. What a whirlwind adventure that was. I checked the journal database this morning and the final edition for 2007 was published (yes, an obvious statement when we are less than three weeks from the end of the year). It follows that both of the article submission will be published in 2008. Works for me; I have two more things to add to next year's end of year report and this years evaluation. Good thing goals for this academic year included publishing and presentations. Closing that door and moving on, at least until I wax poetical about how fabulous these articles look in print during a future blog post, I need to think of something to submit for a poster session this summer.

Grades will be submitted later this week; after evaluating this morning there remain only two outstanding projects to be completed and a rousing 91% completion rate for the course. The I.T. department created, or rather recreated, my course materials into WebCT. After meeting with the GA tomorrow I will make a few minute adjustments to the course in preparation for spring 2008. Things ran smoothly, especially considering the loss of GA six weeks into the fall term. The remaining GA and my student workers helped make the term run smoothly by picking up extra hours and making an effort to work closely with the students. I even got my paycheck for teaching the course last Friday! By the end of this week I should have the spring course ready, know if I have a second GA for the term, and will have effectively closed the door on fall 2007.

Now I only need to survive the library web site meeting(s), a strategy meeting with my boss and the actual meeting with the web page committee. This almost two month lull in the process has effectively stopped progress that had been made. A new site ready for summer is looming on the horizon. It is always possible, but as of now I feel it improbable. We - actually I - have to know if using the university template is the final decision so we can close the door on that portion of the design discussion and move on to content. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Overheard

The grocery stores today were overflowing with customers. There were those stocking up before the "mixed bag" of precipitation due this evening (have enough milk and toilet paper?), some obviously stocking up on baking items, and many who were just doing their weekly grocery shopping routine. Personally, I was braving the madness of this particular store because I have recently developed a taste for chicken salad. Odd, but there you have it.

Leading into the bakery area, a smiling, pleasant employee was stationed offering cookies to customers. With a fresh cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing in my future, I declined. But while perusing the display I overheard the following between the employee and a two male customers:

Store employee: "Hello, would you like to sample a cookie?"

Male customer: "No, thank you. I just put in a fresh chew and don't want to waste it."

In the frozen food aisle of this same store I heard a woman offer to kiss her husbands ass. I moved quickly to pick up a package of Phidelphia cream cheese and was equally pleased not to be privvy to either what instigated the offer or her husbands charming response.

Really, you can't make this stuff up.

Channeling the scarecrow

The last day of classes is survivable, even when large contingencies of procrastinating freshman wait to finish a lab project. With an hour to spare, last evening at 5 pm 90% of the students had successfully finished their coursework; smiles were big, relief was palpable, and there was joyful skipping from the building. Even better, the number who would need to make corrections was basically infinitesimal. Next week is finals and it is a denouement of sorts for the resource center. With the course completed, traffic will return to normal and "the regulars," students who routinely use the space and avoid it during course due dates, migrate to their favorite computer and library space to settle in and study for finals. The relative return to normalcy is accompanied by its friend, blatant finals panic; often characterized by lack of sleep and mainlining caffeinated beverages.

As for me, though the frantic pace is energizing my brain is pleased to be able to not only focus, but also prove itself known and capable of stringing together a few coherent thoughts, words, sentences, and possibly paragraphs. I will complete final editing of my journal article this weekend and send of the information Monday as requested. Of course, Monday is also the traditional library holiday luncheon and I have a learning community meeting on Friday, and ....

Good thing the pace is so much slower when finals are over.

Friday, December 07, 2007

View from my window ...

The last day of class and we are enjoying the second winter snowfall to hit in three days. It is really a lovely view of the snow covered campus from my office window, but scraping my car has already gotten old.





Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Procrastinating with purpose

I have a deadline of December 10th for editing my journal article. However, my problem remains having sufficient brainpower to make sure said edits are better than the original submitted work; something I have serious doubts about during this time of year.

Quality time is at a premium during the next two days. As of this morning, 57 of 150 students (38%)were finished with their portfolio projects, leaving a significant number to troupe their way through the resource center before six o'clock Friday afternoon. I estimate checking multiple assignments for twenty plus students today and know at least ten finished (45%). I have faith we will have close to a 90% completion rate and the remainder will take the course during another term. But during this time the pace is frantic and my brain is mush. I am less than brilliant, bordering on embarrassing myself. With that in mind, I am currently procrastinating with purpose. Enter the books added to the new book shelf yesterday afternoon.

I will accomplish things needed at the beginning of spring term. This is critical since I will be in Philadelphia at the midwinter meetings during the first two days of classes for spring 2008. Today I started pulling books and compiling a list of juvenile picture book titles for the spring semester Mock Caldecott panel. My current list/handout features thirteen books and I am hoping to add three or four additional titles from recently ordered picture books due to arrive in the next couple of weeks.

Here are the thirteen books I selected, list even includes non-fiction titles:

Recent winners of the Caldecott award have been an eclectic group showcasing different artists and styles:

With this in mind, I selected a mix of new and well-known illustrators including previous award winners (Dillon's, Small, Demi, Lewin, Polacco, Hawkes), artists known for work in different media's (Breathed, Feiffer), a personal favorite (Smith), and an illustrator new to the children's book market (Paul). The next step was to find books featuring different mediums used to present the illustrations. The following information was garnered from individual books (some did not specify):
  • Demi - "Paint and ink with Chinese silk brocade"
  • Feiffer - "Charcoal pencil and watercolor"
  • Freedman - "Pencil with watercolors, magic markers, and digital coloring"
  • Johnson - "Hand lettered text and mixed media illustrations"
  • Breathed - "Virtual acrylics and watercolor on 100% rag archival virtual illustration board"
  • Small - "Watercolor and ink"
  • Paul - "Collages of hand-dyed cut out and torn paper"
  • Polacco - "Pencils and markers"

Lastly, even though this post is rife with lists I would be remiss not to include links to Caldecott medal information:

Time will tell if I have made any pertinent selections; regardless, it is a class session the students enjoy and it gets them into the library again. Tomorrow is another busy day. In addition to the continuing mayhem in the resource center, it is the library open house.

On another note, I did get a chance to start reading Spanking Shakespeare today at lunch.


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Monday, December 03, 2007

Missing, lost & paid, or under the bed

Approximately twice a year the technical services/cataloging assistant brings me a listing of juvenile books that are missing, lost and paid, or gathering dust living under beds in the dorms until the end of the year. I go through the list and determine what titles and their corresponding records can, and should, be deleted from the catalog. The multi-page document has been sitting on top of my growing "to do" pile (yes, I did mean to write pile and not list) beckoning me for attention. The end of last week I determined what could be deleted and what I wanted to re-order. And, because I am greedy about my book buying budget, I asked the acquisitions librarian if the replacement copies should be ordered from a specific line. If money was collected for "lost and paid," that same money should be used to purchase replacements.

While the cataloging librarian was a bit taken aback that I asked, she almost speechless to learn the answer to my question was yes (hah!). The answer I wanted, as opposed to the answer I was expecting, did not change the number of titles I had slotted for replacement; but it does mean I can spend that money elsewhere. Many of the missing books were dated with the topics better served by newer titles and others were unavailable due to the short publication life of non-award-winning and/or classic children's literature. However, some of titles were award winners and purchasing replacements was easy. Here are a few of the books being replaced:


As the end of term nears, Friday is the last day of classes, it is also time to clean up things around the resource center. Bulletin boards were updated before Thanksgiving, and today the new book shelves were emptied and sent to the circulation desk for shelving. Even with constant use by the students, there were six shelves of books to be returned to the collection. I no sooner finished loading books on to a cart than the technical services assistant brought me a full cart of new titles! Here are a few of the juvenile and young adult books that caught my interest and have been added to my personal cache of reading materials in my office:

Whether or not I actually read all of these books is still to be decided. But, as of today they are mine for a month. Plenty of time for some lunchtime reading and even to take home over the holiday.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Accepted with editing

Blogger is cooperating this evening so I have time for one more quick post. I received notice this afternoon that my second article has also been accepted for publication; accepted pending revisions. I am really excited about the prospect, especially because the journal is peer reviewed and international. I now have ten days to make the required revisions and re-submit to the journal editor. The assistant editor will follow-up with the required forms before publication actually happens.

I did not have the nerve to say I had saved the paperwork from the previously accepted article last month and could easily edit them to work. I am not quite sure they remember I was invited to submit two articles. I will be working on revisions during the busiest week of the semester - and in between making fudge all weekend.

I'm having an article published in an international professional library journal.

It soooooooo works for me.

Click, clack

With apologies to Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, I was tempted to finish this post's title with "moo," especially when I could have begun the post with "cows that type." I managed to restrain myself somewhat (Click, Clack, Moo). The clicking, and clacking, mentioned refer to the desperation gripping students in the library this week. Next Friday is the last day of classes for the fall 2007 term and it is crunch time. Every computer inside and outside of the resource center was in use today (after 10:00 am, naturally). It is eerily quiet. Instead of happy and consistent chatter, the only sound that carries is the sound of frantic typing on computer keyboards.

Have you ever noticed how annoying, almost disquieting, that persistent sound can be? It is almost easier to work in noise than quiet clacking.

Due to the course we facilitate, the next eight days are arguably the busiest in the resource center. All but two of my student workers have experience with this phenomenon, so they are rather blase about the prospect of panicked freshman. Out of the one hundred fifty students taking the online lab course, as of this afternoon approximately one third of them had finished. Many are in various stages of completion and some, there are always some, have yet to begin. This makes for an interesting time for the GA's and my student workers. We will all survive with a healthy dose of patience and a sense of humor. Plus, next week is the library open house - there will be refreshments - and I will be making fudge for the student workers. Chocolate and cookies, that oft mentioned sugar rush not withstanding, make the week go by more pleasantly.

I already have three meetings planned for after the last day of classes. One with the library director to plot our strategy regarding the use of the university template on the new library web page. That process has stalled somewhat and I am hoping the subsequent meeting with the university web team will move the decision making process forward. I can not start until I know if we are designing our own or working within the university template parameters. The third meeting is the previously scheduled faculty learning community session; it features powerpoint and I do not have to present.

Now, if I could only decide what kind of cookies to take to the open house ...

Guilty TV pleasure

Now that Dancing with the Stars is over, my guilty television pleasure is, Project Runway on Bravo. I admit when the first run episodes are on Wednesday evenings I generally fall asleep before the runway show and elimination. Luckily, Bravo shows the episodes two or three times during the week and I get the opportunity to see what I missed. Tonight, for instance, last nights episode repeated 8:00 pm and I got to see Tiki Barber judge the runway show (and laughed out loud when he mentioned not liking a contestants project because everyone would be looking at his butt).

This episode was the first time I have seen male models and a menswear design challenge. It was a unique twist and really caused quite a bit of angst among the contestants. Some of the designs were, to my plebeian taste, quite horrible; a serious case of what were they thinking. Through the whole thing Tim Gunn (now at Liz Claiborne!) remains, providing a constant touch of class.


We are well into another season of "making it work!"

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The last dance

Woo-hooo, Helio and Julianne! My votes count after all. I admit to being one of the millions who voted via phone and online for my favorites in the finale. I voted every week throughout the season and was glad to see Helio and Mel B (she really started to grow on me, great personality and serious dance talent) in the final two. I enjoyed Marie, but her performance was not as polished. I especially liked Helio because he had little or no previous dance experience. It didn't take long for the dust to settle and rumors and comments to start. Here's some of what I found this evening:

No, I am not going to burst out in song ala Donna Summer(Let's dance, the last dance, tonight!), but now that Dancing with the Stars is done for another season I will have to find something else to watch on Monday night.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blog Holiday: Thanksgiving

As mentioned in the previous post, tomorrow is the start of my Thanksgiving holiday break. Time to travel over the river and through the woods to see family and friends, cook and eat a traditional Thanksgiving feast, and begin the holiday shopping season. I have already begun to choose my shopping and cooking wardrobe for these events and it will include comfortable walking shoes, washable fabrics, and at least one outfit with an elastic waistband.

I have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season. This upcoming week marks a somewhat ominous anniversary for my family; the day after Thanksgiving last year my mother was hospitalized, the beginning of an eight month ordeal and journey of faith. After several life-saving procedures and surgeries, stays in six different hospitals, and months physical and occupational therapy, she is back home eager to partake of the upcoming holiday season. I have orders to make the chocolate pie everyone raved about last year; she wants her share! Don't get me started on the holiday fudge she missed ...

So on a lighter note,here are the results of yet one more blogthings quiz:

You Are 87% Thankful

You're an incredibly thankful person, and everyone around you feels very appreciated.

You inspire people to be more optimistic, forgiving, and grateful.




Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving break musings

Thanksgiving break begins, technically speaking, after the last night class this evening. With that in mind I was prepared to stave off the onset of boredom while covering the resource center sans students and student workers today. I had a new Booklist magazine to begin selecting juvenile books, notes from the conference I attended at the end of last month to transcribe into Word, and several interesting little projects, such as updating the juvenile blog bulletin board, in place. Oddly enough it was busy throughout the day, enough so that I was left to voice the query; whatever happened to the age old tradition of skipping class and going home early the day before break?

I am ready to go home, even though the beginning of my day tomorrow will be sloughing my way through traffic on the turnpike into Pennsylvania. I made brownies last night and that will help tremendously. But, as usual, I digress.

Students who were in the library were working, not busy work or playing on the Internet, actual school related work and tasks. They laminated (menu's and assorted education projects), they looked for journal articles in databases, they printed lesson plans (did they ever print), they gleefully cut out letters using the Ellison Machine, and they searched the catalog for juvenile books and videos. I actually had two students complete their course portfolio work! It was all very exciting.

Now, however, things are eerily quiet as the last of them trundle off to their night classes. A few quiet souls remain, most of them international students, and the library will be a lonely place this evening for my student worker (I offered to close at six and give her the evening off ... she declined the offer), the reference librarian on duty, and a circulation student or staff member. All of which are now dreading the next five hours until closing time. It is always tempting to close early, but the one time that decision is made someone comes to the library five minutes before the previously scheduled closing, is in desparate need of something, and is cranky the place is closed. Last minute holiday shoppers.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Good as Lily

As Good As Lily, by Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm opens; Grace Kwon is celebrating her 18th birthday at the park with friends. Reflecting on what she has accomplished thus far in her life and enjoying the day complete with presents and teasing, Grace decides to treat her friends to an ice cream cone from a park vendor. After waiting her turn, the elderly woman tells Grace she is out of ice cream; "But hey, what's a birthday party without a piñata?" The teens enjoy themselves trying to break the piñata, only to have Grace suffer the ultimate indignity of having it land ignominiously on her head, resulting in a brief blackout.

At this point, all of the characters are in place for a nice coming of age story featuring a bright young girl who has been accepted to Stanford University, has a part in the school play, a crush on her drama teacher, and is working feverishly with her friends to save the spring play from school budget cuts with various fund raisers. Additionally, Grace is oblivious to a boy with a crush on her, has an encounter with a school bully, and learns to swim. What makes this novel different is the intriguing story line twist the evening following Grace's party, and piñata incident.

Grace realizes she has forgotten a special birthday gift at the park and goes back hoping to find it. While in the park she encounters a scared lost toddler, and with the help of the elderly ice cream vendor, helps save a thirty-year-old woman (she's 29!). As the unlikely group traverses their way through the park, the bickering is escalates and at her wits end, Grace yells for quiet. The startled compliance begs Grace take a closer look at her companions, "Wait, you look awfully familiar .... What .... what's your name?" Each one answers the same, Grace Kwon. Now, Grace must not only explain "herselves" to her friends, but she must learn find a way to return herself home.

This graphic novel has clean black and white illustrations, with distinguishing shades of gray highlighting mood and atmosphere. Panel sizes vary within the pages of story, character close-ups are wonderfully depicted, and there is a nice multicultural character presentatio throughout. Pay close attention to the lessons learned by Grace at each age; the title of the book becomes clear when 18 year-old Grace talks to her parents. A very entertaining read.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hypothetically, not a genius

My bloglines account ultimately led me to this fun little blog toy, The Blog Readability Test. Yes, by simply submitting my blog URL it is possible to find out "what level of education is required to understand your blog." Obviously made for curious souls such as my self (re: those willing to play with the goofy blog toy); hey, I check out my Pirate name courtesy of Blogthings on Talk like a pirate day, I was game for the test. Not including this particularly intellectually stellar post, my blog readability appears to be:



I am not sure how long this lovely readability image will remain, there was a cheesy advertisement link attached to the end of the image URL and I removed it before posting. I checked another blog I write, the collaborative library project, and learned it has a genius rating. Obviously the other contributors are taking up the slack for my college level writing skills (at least it was post grad). Thank heavens for smart peers and collaborative partners.

Anyway, thanks to Walt at Randomfor his post about Readability.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Graphic novels, bulletin boards, & tyrants

Compiling the graphic novel information yesterday, it occurred to me that it had been some time since I updated three book review bulletin boards in the resource center; two of which support graphic novels in the juvenile and regular library circulating collection, and the third supports young adult titles. Each graphic novel board highlights eight new books by presenting details on cover art, book title, call number and location, and a book review with accompanying citation information. They are easily updated displays that give students something to read while looking for materials kits, waiting for the computers to login, and when they are gazing about daydreaming. While compiling the updates (color print, laminate, display) I found something to read, Tiny Tyrant, by Lewis Trondheim and Fabrice Parme.

The cover art caught my eye featuring King Ethelbert himself standing on top of the world, scepter in hand and crown perched on the back of his head, surrounded by his loyal subjects. If that was not enough, the back cover features a wonderful tagline: "What if the most powerful person in your nation was a spoiled brat?"

Tiny Tyrant is a collection of twelve short stories featuring King Ethelbert, his prime minister, loyal staff, and other wonderful assorted characters. Each individual vignette reveals another charming side of the lovely little despot and readers will laugh out loud at his trials, tribulations, and contrariness. In "The Magic of Christmas," Ethelbert is spreading his own brand of cheer demanding only desserts served for his holiday meal. When the palace chef refuses, stating even Santa eats a balanced meal, the Kind determines to visit the North Pole and ask the jolly old elf himself. During the nine hour plane ride to "the north pole," Ethelbert is bored wondering what he is supposed to do.

"We have several novels, plays, philosophical treatises, and autobiographies on board if you wish."

"Whoa, whoa. Next you'll be recommending I read a book." p. 38.


Resplendent in full color, the novel is presented in comic panel format without traditional panel demarcation. Readers are able to follow along easily, characters have different color text balloon, while readily enjoying the many nuances within each panel details. This book has a lot to offer for kids and kids at heart.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Collections: Graphic novels

Today's collection question? What good graphic novels have I read lately that would be appropriate for grades 7 - 9, have both a compelling storyline and great graphical elements, and are readable? I must admit both embracing and dreading questions of this nature from faculty members. It is wonderful to be able to recommend great new books for classroom use, especially ones that will fulfill the curriculum needs. However, it is inherently stressful as I am apt to ponder -- what if a book I like and recommend is a dud for them? I have learned to utilize the never-fail reference interview option via phone and find out their concept of "great new book" and proceed.

The resource center collection development blog served it's purpose during the conversation; I was able to direct the faculty member to the blog, point out the graphic novel labels (it has 48 posts), and mention each post linked directly to the catalog. Finding one book he liked would lead to others as the cataloger created a "graphic novel" subject heading when I first began with this collection. Since then, a genre category of graphic novels has been officially established, but knowing it was possible to locate all the graphic novel (91) entries is useful to all concerned.

And, because when you give me an opening of this nature I tend to run with it, I also found issues of School Library Journal where graphic novels are reviewed (by grade level!) and a Booklist issue featuring graphic novels, and made copies to give to this faculty member. I am hoping to get his input on purchasing additional items and subtly remind him to come to me with book suggestions.

Unfortunately, Booklist does not have a great deal of free information on their website, but the March 15th issue, volume 103 number 14, highlights graphic novels.


A secondary inquiry during this conversation, more important from a resource center and/or library as a place standpoint, was a request to use resource center for class time. A definite - yes - to that question. I do not have a classroom space for faculty to use when they want to do instruction here, but there are groupings of tables I am able to reserve (lovely tent signs, laminated and ready to go) the area for use. This is a great opportunity to get the students IN THE LIBRARY. Two sessions are planned for tomorrow, I am looking forward to discussing the books with this professor.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Resumes & CV's, what to do?

Today in my inbox was an e-newsletter from eWeek; I really should put it on my bloglines account and get rid of one more e-newsletter, but as usual, I digress. What was the headline topic of today's careers eWeek newsletter? Resumes. Yes, resumes. Is it karma, is it fate, is it coincidence? (Does it matter?) I found it interesting after posting about possibilities of a career move, and wondering if I should send a resume (their request) or my somewhat lengthy vitae (did I mention they requested a resume?) to the institution in question.

Whither the Resume?, by Deb Perelman, poses the following:

"The paper resume went the way of the caveman nearly a decade ago. Web 1.0 recruiting technologies, such as big job boards and vendor-powered ATS, ATS (application tracking systems) on corporate career sites effectively killed the need for a paper resume on 24-pound ivory stationary stock."

I am not sure I completely agree with her premise, but there is no doubt how potential job candidates send resumes to employers has changed in the last several years. Submitting documents via email, resumes being scanned, applications accepted - even preferred - via web site forms, are in some cases the norm. But a resume continues to be a viable way for employees to highlight their qualifications for job openings. It is not, however, the only way. I think job seekers, especially librarians, need to have particular skills sets that include a basic understanding of "web 2.0" technologies. This should at the very least include a simple CV on their personal university/library web page and an electronic portfolio.

The blog article generated a number of reader comments, one that doubled between the time I first read the post before lunch and two hours later when I checked the link for this post. Check out the comments, they are as interesting as the concept put forth by the author. I did a couple of quick Googles and found sites with information pertaining to CV's and resumes. I was curious regarding the thought and definitions behind both documents, as well as what might be preferred.
I also found an interesting article in Chronicle Careers, From CV to Resume, by Kim Thompson and Terren Ilana Wein:

"While both documents represent you as a professional, they differ on many counts. A résumé is designed to sell your relevant skill set and experiences to a particular employer. The goal of a CV is to present a complete picture of the breadth and depth of academic experiences you have accumulated."

I am far from convinced resumes are passe, especially in academics and academic librarianship. It will behoove a job seeker to provide the required information and include links for additional resources. For example, a resume if requested, and inclusion of web links to a CV in the cover letter and supporting documentation. What would not be in my, or any job seeker's, best interest would to ignore what is required/requested.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My bloglines account ...

A check of my Bloglines account just now noted a modest number of blogs updated since lunch, 12 of them, and an astounding number of feeds ... get this ... 1406! Half of them, give or take since math never was my strong suit, indicated 200 post updates.

I don't think so. Guess there is glitch somewhere.

Quick update: Checking back after posting this the bloglines "plumber" left a message saying there was something wrong with the pipes.

photograph c. Bloglines.com

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why

Another offering from the rapidly expanding number of first books by new authors that I have added to the library collection this term is Thirteen Reasons Why, byJay Asher. Clay Jensen arives home from school one afternoon and finds a box addressed to him, a box that contains thirteen cassette tapes. After locating an old stereo capable of playing this audio format, he learns it is, essentially, the story of a class mates life. Only, this school mate has recently committed suicide.

"I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why." (p.6)

Compelled by a lingering sense of guilt, he liked Hannah and was hesitant to approach her with more than friendship because of her reputation and popularity, Clay begins listening to Hannah's last days and learns more than he bargained for; secrets, lies, cruelty, and rumors led to the ultimate decision regarding life and death. This is a thoughtful and compelling work that intersperces Hannah's increasingly despairing voice with that of Clay's questioning and guilt, providing readers a glimpse into each teens perception and understanding of the truth. The teen voice in this novel rings true and makes it all the more gripping.

I would have liked more links to suidide hotlines and information at the end of the book and accompanying web site, Thirteen Reasons Why. The web site has an interactive map that accompanies the book and a message and podcast interview with the author.

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Random hypothetical musings

I was able to watch the Steelers football game this afternoon with a choice of channels since two local CBS stations were carrying the game. As is my habit, I napped through the third quarter and awoke to see the second kick-off returned for a field goal.

Nice job on special teams today coach ... but I digress (sigh).

While watching the game I had reason to consider how much I miss seeing my favorite sport teams on television and began to ponder a job opening I recently read for an opening near my hometown and closer to family. Naturally, sports teams are not reason to make a significant career change; but I made a promise to myself several years ago never to send in a resume for a job on a whim (bad, bad, idea) and now am at the point where I am deciding if this is a good time for a change

Nine days out of ten I like my job. I would guess that is the case for most people. I am challenged by the work, enjoy the environment, earned the respect of my peers, and have had opportunity to grow professionally with state and national presentations, several published articles, the chance to sit on a state level organization board and work on conference planning with the same. Additionally, I am an adjunct instructor with our college of education and enjoy working with pre-service teachers both in the library and when asked to provide instruction in the classroom. On the other hand, I am not in a tenured position, there is no promotion, I do not have an opportunity to so significant research, and am often stretched so very far beyond my actual librarian job description (those challenging "duties as named later") it has become difficult to continue keeping all the balls in the air. While the grass is always greener, I do wonder if it is time for a change.

The deadline for applications is several weeks away, so I will give the idea more thought and determine what is best for me. I owe it to myself, as well as the job I have and the one I am considering, to consider the application with much thought and proceed for the right reasons

Right now, I am missing the end of Desperate Housewives and the chance to see the local ten o'clock news where there will be much made of the Steeler's win (insert sarcasm here).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What I'm reading ... really

I have always had an interest in the Civil War era and the history surrounding the assassination of President Lincoln. To this day I remember the chills from visiting Ford's Theater first with family, and secondly with a seventh grade field trip. One of my favorite Gore Vidal books is Lincoln. So, it should come as no surprise that a Booklist review of Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President, by Edward Steers, Jr. caught my attention ... and a bit of my general library money as well. Here's the review in question:


"Much that has been written about Lincoln, claims Steers, is mythmaking. It began early, at the Republican State Convention in May 1860. For 20 years, Steers has worked to correct the legend and tell the truth about the conspiracy that ended Lincoln's life and the complicity of the doctor who treated the president's murderer after the assassination. The myths include Lincoln's alleged romance with Ann Rutledge, rumors about his illegitimacy, his born-again Christian conversion and baptism, and his appearance before a congressional committee to defend his controversial wife. Chapters deal with such subjects as his birthplace cabin; his father; his speeches and writings; the myth that he was gay; missing pages from John Wilkes Booth's diary; and the identity of Peanut John Burroughs, the man who held Booth's horse. Steers, author of Blood on the Moon, has written a prodigiously researched history of a provocative subject." - (Cohen, G. (2007). Lincoln legends: Myths, hoaxes, and confabulations associated with our greatest president, Booklist, 104(1), 43.)


I started taking this book to lunch with me on Monday afternoon and since then have read several chapters. So far I have read about Lincoln's birthplace (been there, done that, did not realize as a child it was not particularly authentic), his romance with Ann Rutledge, and an interesting section regarding a hoax perpetuated on Atlantic Monthly regarding love letters. There are many well place photographs, some part of the author's own collection and other from the Library of Congress and other special library collections. Though not part of the research per say, they are welcome visuals within the text. I find images from this time period oddly compelling and spooky (yes, spooky). All in all, I am finding this a very readable accounting of research done my Mr. Steers.

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It's there, praise be

Confirmation came yesterday via email; my article submission did indeed arrive at its destination. The assistant editor, a very pleasant and helpful email correspondent, assured me she was passing it to the editor who would in turn be in touch as needed.

At this point, just knowing it arrived and will be considered is good enough for me. It will be upwards of six weeks until I hear anything. Luckily we are drawing near to Thanksgiving break and the end of this fall 2007 term, read the last day of classes, is one month from tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

And now, JAK News!

The latest edition of the JAK newsletter arrived in my inbox prior to lunch and it included the news an Arcane Society novel featuring more of those Jones men, Sizzle and Burn, is due out in January (Amazon says 1/15/08 ).

More from the Jayne Ann Krentz site:

More about Sizzle and Burn:


"When Raine Tallentyre made the mistake of revealing her paranormal abilities, her most recent romantic relationship came to a hasty end. Her Aunt Vella, a gifted but troubled soul, had told her years ago to keep her talents a secret. And now that poor Aunt Vella—her last blood relative—has died, Raine has resigned herself to a lonely life.


But when she journeys to Shelbyville, Washington, to clear out Aunt Vella's house, Raine's highly developed sensitivity leads her to a horrifying discovery: a young woman bound and terrified in a basement storage locker. The victim has survived, but the culprit is still on the loose. Without warning, a new man enters Raine's life—investigator Zack Jones. Surprisingly, Zack isn't repelled by her powers: in fact, he has them himself. While Raine hears voices, Zack sees visions and within hours of their meeting, Raine experiences an intense, thrilling intimacy—mental, emotional, and physical—she never dared to expect.


There's one complication, however: Zack Jones is working for the Arcane Society. This secret organization, dedicated to the study of paranormal phenomena, shattered Raine's family with an act of betrayal long ago, and she's not about to trust them now. But as a killer makes her his target, and a cabal of psychic criminals known as Nightshade operates in the shadows surrounding them, Raine and Zack must rely not only on their powerful abilities but on each other. . ." ( JAK website, upcoming releases)


Hmmmm, wonder how "Dumb Ass" Fallon Jones is doing these days? Though January will indeed be here soon, it seems so very far away when waiting for a great read.


Good thing I have a collection of JAK titles (Jayne Castle, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Amanda Quick) to tide me over; I am currently re-reading Falling Awake for the fourth of fifth time (who counts?).


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