Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Meebo, who-go?

Today's late lunch was precipitated by an impromptu meeting with the librarian in charge of exploring IM and/or Chat for the new library web page. Yesterday morning I broached my reserves about using Pidgin as a multi-client IM server for the library web page. After reading the information and doing additional research (beyond my obviously whining Pidgin poop post), it became apparent using the product in the way we desired would take someone more skilled in technology than I. This has nothing to do with product quality and everything to do with ease of use.

During this meeting, we planned to discuss several points that would need to be raised at a late afternoon staff meeting. First and foremost, there are several librarians on staff who do not know what IM is and how it could be used for possible reference applications. Our recommendation to the director is that everyone download Yahoo! Messsenger to their computers, add each other as a work buddy, and set aside a time each week to work with the software. Secondly, we reported more time would be needed for us to determine the most effective way to utilize Meebo within the library web page. We need to understand more about the software, how we plan to recommend it be used (chat or IM?), and opportunity to develope a strategy of sorts for implementation.

To begin working with IM, and eventually Meebo, I downloaded Yahoo! Messenger to my work computer and added both a friend (library director at another university)and work "buddy" to my IM list. I spent a good hour chatting with them both while getting back in to the rhythm needed to work in an IM/chat environment. A nice feature I noticed immediately with Yahoo! Messengerwas the area directly below my open IM window that noted the other person was typing. Why was that important? Prior experience with library chat had it's quirks; among them lengthy pauses between chatters (librarian and patron) that sometimes led to the eiter party typing in, "hello, are you still there?" Capability to note that the other person is writing their response is an indication to wait for an answer before entering more information and ultimately saves time.

During the meeting our update was recieved with mixed reviews; those who are very interested in exploring the situation and those who feel there is no need to incorporate more than phone numbers and email on the library help page. This is a project we need to have everyone behind for it to be successful. Two or three librarians with interest will not be able to make enough of an impact. We now have two weeks to individually strong arm the other librarians (okay, gently convince) to try the general IM client. Our next meeting will be in an instruction classroom providing us the opportunity to demonstrate usage.

More about Meebo:
Meebo logo © Meebo

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hypothetical musings: post 500!

Blog post five-hundred is being written with crossed fingers as the weather front moving into north east Ohio, accompanied by high wind warnings and potential power outages, has the restless natives muttering "Auntie Em, Auntie Em" under their collective breaths. In preparation, I have a flashlight handy and my battery operated alarm clock poised to brighten my morning; both with brand new batteries. I have effectively guaranteed no loss of power.

I perused my blog post history and located entry number 400: "... After Labor Day," dated September 10, 2007. It is a lovely blathering post, in keeping with tradition, something this one may be as well, about the beginning of the fall 2007 school term. Instead, I grabbed a handy tablet (an ALA midwinter freebie from exhibiting vendor Plunkett Research, Ltd) and created a list of topics discussed during the last 100 posts (give or take considering my abysmal math skills).
  • Leading the list is book reviews, juvenile, YA, picture book & recreational (20)
  • Closely followed by discussion of book awards (14)
  • Librarian discourses (11)
  • Publishing and writing (8)
  • ALA and ALA Midwinter (6)
  • Humor, hypothetical musings, and CV's (5 each)
  • Web page, TV, blogs, and holidays tied (4 each)
  • End of term post topics (3)
  • Blogthings! and general books (2 each)
  • Technology, Who's Who, and resource centers (1 each)

Statcounter reveals the most popular pages (at five hits or more) in the recent 100 log to be:

Feedburner continues to overall match Statcounter in regard to raw numbers of page views and general hits, it also shows an increase consistent leveling off periods for feed statistics. My "popularity" with Technorati has fallen significantly in the last 100 posts. I have been putting tags on book review posts as opposed to every post. This may, or may not, be a contributing factor to my fall from low mediocrity to basement dweller. Lastly, what blog milestone reflection would be complete without mentioning the rising number of spam email generated by this blog! I had to remove it from the "about me" page before I succumbed to the temptation presented by winning a foreign lottery.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pidgin poop

Yes, I could have tried a little harder or possibly dug a bit deeper through my endless repertoire of charming post titles and found a more subtle and nuanced caption for this entry, but after trying on four different occasions this morning and afternoon to download FAQ's and support from the Pidgin web site, my creative wordsmithing was simply cranky. A quick refresher, we are hoping to utilize instant messaging and/or chat functions within the new library web page. One of the reference librarians has been researching different venues and after a discussion late last week the tentative decision was to use Pidgin, "a multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once," to facilitate the process.

To be fair, I had no problems locating the web site, following the download process, or opening the IM client. But in order to use this for the library web site, I need to be able to locate the FAQ's and developer's page with instructions on how to incorporate the widget. I admit to being a bit Monday-brain-dead and understand the software in question has many people using it and accessing the FAQ's, it was frustrating to continually be bumped off the site before a simple wiki page loaded (sorry, a bit carried away with the italics option this evening).

The boss was taking both the Pidgin and Meebo to an IT meeting this afternoon for input regarding our tentative decision for a multi-tasking IM client. Tomorrow might bring a different software selection.

On another note, logging in this evening I noticed this is post number 499! Good thing I didn't title post number 500 with poop.

Note: Pigeon logo ©

Friday, January 25, 2008

Peanut butter @ lunch

Yes, this week has featured a set of lunchtime posts; today is no exception. While having macaroni & cheese and a sloppy joe (not much nutrition, but plenty of comfort) I have been updating my very first wiki. My main reason for attending ALA midwinter was fulfilling obligations to committees. Members of one committee were discussing creation of a web site. With this end product in mind, topics for inclusion were bandied about, as well as someone to edit our documents before placing them as a web page. I'm new to this committee and tend to spend a lot of time nodding my head in contribution, but I admit to having the not so fleeting thought; why aren't we using a wiki? It would allow for collaboration and eliminate the need for email attachments and a single editor. If we wiki, everyone sees the work; hesitantly I put forth the option to the group. Merits were debated and I found myself volunteering to create a private wiki for the group collaborative effort.

I chose PB Wiki, they have a free version for business and educators. It was a breeze to create and utilizes a point and click environment and simple wysiwyg editor. Forget basic coding and trying to interpret how the links are managed, PBwiki's desktop environment is similar to that of blogs. Within a half hour I had a main wiki page, complete with text (purpose, links, committee member contact), seven secondary topical pages, a sidebar with quick links to each wiki page and outside links, emailed the committee members with wiki invites, had chosen to make the project private (assigned a password), and signed up to receive email notices when it was updated. Overall, a great beginner's experience.

Today I decided to add links, along with short bibliographic information, to the section I was charged with compiling. Here is where I had some issue. When going to the main PB Wiki page, users are presented with "Create a wiki," "take a video tour," and at the top right corner of the page, a login prompt. Since I already had a wiki, I attempted to login. Attempt is the key word as PB wiki continually told me I did not have an email address on file. Huh, odd. I pulled up my email notice, went directly to the wiki, and was able to log in and begin working. Still confused, I sent an email to their support staff questioning the circumstance.

Believe it or not, I had an answer from a live person addressing my actual question within a half hour. Support Guru Rachel responded:

Logging into PBwiki is actually a different registration. You can go to and sign up for a PBwiki Identity which will allow you to connect any wikis you might use under one login. You can read our FAQ for more information.

Go figure. I have faculty learning community obligations later this afternoon, so creating an identity will have to wait for another day. Thanks for the quick response Support Guru Rachel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hats off ... and on

Today was the type of day that exemplifies the difference between working in a smaller institution, specifically the charge of having broad based responsibilities and wearing many hats; it also showcases opportunity presented that may not exist for librarians in larger academic venues. My "to do" list was for naught as I moved from one job to the next, beginning with a morning appointment with a class in the resource center.

Thursday mornings are my mornings in the resource center, no student worker, no graduate assistant, only me, myself, and I working with the patrons. In all fairness Thursday mornings are also the slowest morning of the week, but be that as it may, I was the lone ranger on the second floor. I began the morning as the curriculum librarian and updated the Young Adult book bulletin board. This task was interrupted sporadically by database server issues, EBSCO had a power failure, but I was able to print, laminate, and feature eight new selections complete with titles, call numbers, cover art, and book reviews.

At ten o'clock I slipped on my adjunct faculty for the college of education hat and introduced a class to the resource center and the course I teach. It is a wonderful opportunity to get freshman education students into the library and resource center. The session rarely lasts more than fifteen minutes and then there are inevitable questions; all of which are good things. Invariably we see a nice little burst of class participation after one of these sessions as students log into the course management system and complete at least one of the assignments.

In between the bulletin board and class session I said farewell to my work laptop as a technician from information technology retrieved it - purportedly for only an hour - to finish fixing what ailed it; in this case refusal to utilize the wireless network upon login. Even though I had several students tell me not to let her take it (all in good fun), I assured them if anyone could sooth the savage beast, it was this particular technician. Sure enough, two hours later I was ready to go. However, losing my computer put a serious crimp in my workload since it has many programs the regular resource center computers do not. While waiting, I grabbed another hat, that of team player with the reference staff.

Before Christmas the boss requested I work with our newest reference librarian who was being put in charge of the library instant messaging project. As luck would have it, someone posted a question about libraries using Meebo to the EBSS listserv this morning and I was able to compile the responses and pass them along. It was an interesting coincidence, an email from a friend and library director earlier in the week included questions about IM and the fact that her university technology department was requiring them to use Pidgin instead of Meebo as a "multi-protocol" IM client. Much discussion ensued at the reference desk, especially as a student library worker also works at our IT department and mentioned Pidgin is what they use as well. Long and the short of it, we are going to load some software on our personal work laptops and play (oops, run experiments).

While I was being a good team player, and email arrived from the university web master answering my inquiry yesterday as to the status of our new library template. Attached to the email were three jpegs depicting possiblilites discussed at our meeting before the holidays. Before responding with a plethora of questions, I went to see the boss for input. He said, "you're in charge" as long as you understand the process, go ahead and ask. So ... I did. I also forwarded the proposed pages to the rest of the librarians along with the questions I was posing. We need to get this project to a place where work can be done. The template is great, we have university branding and library specifics, but lets go. I am now waiting for an answer and with luck will have something positive to report at the librarian meeting next week.

On my way out of the directors office he stopped me with a "by the way" concerning reconfiguring the electronic reserves worksheets for circulation. Back to being a circulation team player as well! Two years ago when we started using electronic reserves, I was on the committee making the initial recommendation for the product ultimately selected. As the "techie," I learned to use the system and then did some train the trainer. It was a simple process and the circulation staff caught on immediately. Now, I am only asked to do the odd task and update the library eres page once a semester. The request to update the form was a simple matter of finding the original in my files and making the changes. Ater all, circulation is using the form, they need to have the autonomy to change it as needed.

As the day ended two resource center patrons stopped me, they wanted to know if I did not love them anymore! Moving the printer out from behind the center doors and working several hours in my office meant I was not around for chatter, okay gossip, and reference. Guess it's good to know my hats and I were missed. Even better news, when I left shortly after five this evening it was still light outside. Really. Yes it is to be a generous 4 degrees overnight with chance of lake effect snow in the major and secondary snow belts, but spring is coming.

Lunch with who? Not Cindy Lou

Earlier this month I received another Who's Who email notification; this time from Marquis Who's Who (not Cambridge). Since it arrived over the holiday break and was part of the huge message list marked "to be read," I glanced and ignored it. Still not sure how it survived the mass email deletion, I took another look at it today and did a bit of "research" on the product. Here is the email notice:

It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion in the upcoming 2008-2009 Edition of Who's Who of American Women®. This special edition, scheduled for publication in September 2008, marks our 50th year of publishing this historic reference volume.

Since the publication of the first edition in 1958, Who's Who of American Women has remained the premier biographical publication chronicling the lives of the country's most innovative and accomplished women. Who's Who of American Women is found in the collections of many of the country's leading public, academic and corporate libraries, where it is a universal reference tool for business people, historians, educators, students and researchers of all kinds.

To be considered for inclusion in this prestigious publication, you need only provide the requested information by completing our secure and easy-to-use online Biographical Data Form by January 31, 2008. Through this link you will also find more information about the edition of Who's Who of American Women currently in print.

The information you provide will be evaluated according to the selection standards Marquis Who's Who has developed over 110 years as the world's premier biographical publisher. If you are selected for inclusion in the new, commemorative edition, we will contact you prior to the book's publication in September.

I congratulate you on the achievements that have brought your name to the attention of our editorial committee. We look forward to hearing from you.

An interesting post script revealed:

P.S. Inclusion of your biography in Who's Who of American Women, of course, carries neither cost nor obligation to you of any kind. Our goal with each new edition is to have full representation of noteworthy and accomplished women across all fields and industries including business, education, medicine and healthcare, science and engineering, and more.

And, there was a link in this email regarding their privacy policy.

I started with my library catalog and found we have various dated editions covering two topics related to this particular Who's Who (again, Marquis) in the reference collection; sixteen volumes, dated from 1958 to 1990, Who's who of American women; a biographical dictionary of notable living American women; and two volumes, first and third, of Who's Who in Government. Moving on to the state-wide academic library consortium catalog there are twenty-four libraries with copies of Who's Who of American Women, but none of them offer editions newer than 2000. I took a cursory look at WorldCat, but lack the patience to search deeper.

The jury seems to be out regarding any "scam" potential. I found a bit more after venturing out of the stacks:

And, on the plus side:

One article, I do not recall where, surmized that Marquis Who's Who sent a lot of invitations out to librarians to entice them to buy the volume for their collections; interesting marketing tactic. Be that as it may, I now have one week remaining on my invitation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Picasa @ lunch, part deux

Today's lunchtime post focus is Historical Philadelphia. Though not able to carve out a large chunk of time to do the "tourist" thing while at midwinter, I had promised my sister (a third grade teacher) to try and get a few history and social studies photos of the area.

A late entrant to the ALA affiliated hotels was a Holiday Inn Express located two blocks from Independence Mall. I had and hour and a half break in the middle of Saturday and took the bus from the Convention Center to the aforementioned hotel. Once there, I was able to take a brisk walk and see the Independence Hall Visitors Center, The Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall (I did not get to go inside), and Carpenters' Hall before catching the bus back. It was a chilly, sunny, nice afternoon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cliché for a reason

A cliché, or perhaps and American proverb, often attributed to Will Rogers; "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." I found this to be particularly applicable when presenting myself for the first time via email to a prospective employer. Yesterday, after carefully crafting my application package, complete with graphic cover, application letter, resume, references, and accompanying transcripts, I sent them as a PDF attachment via email to the search committee chairs. This morning I was thrilled, insert sarcasm here, to note that both email had been bounced back to me because they exceeded the mailbox size.

A message was sent that was returned to the sender(bounced) because it would have caused the mailbox quota to be exceeded. If the size of the message is too big, contact the sender to reduce the size of the message and resend the message.

Yippee! Even better, one message arrived sans attachment. The search committee co-chair was both gracious and kind; she contacted me about the attachment. I was able to re-create the pdf package, stripping down the scanned grad and undergrad transcripts for smaller KB's, and resend without much issue. However, I am now left with the sinking feeling my technology skills were obviously not displayed with much depth.

I have given myself today to obsess about the glitch (it's what I do).

While it is true I will not get a second chance to make a good first email impression, it is also true there is nothing I can do about it now. All water under the bridge. If I do have an opportunity to present my portfolio, it could make an interesting icebreaker for the technology aspect of the interview.

Picasa @ Lunch

The weather kept me from venturing too far from the library today at lunch. A quick trip to our campus eatery provided me with a chicken popper salad and an opportunity to play with Picasa Web albums for some of my 2008 ALA Midwinter Meeting photos. Below is an embeded slide show of photos from in and around the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Featured in this slide show:

The Reading Terminal Market
Termini Brother's Bakery
Rick's Philly Steak
YALSA at the 2008 ALA Midwinter Meetings
List of Exhibitors: ALA Midwinter Meetings 2008
Official Wiki: 2008 Midwinter Meetings

Monday, January 21, 2008

Decision resume

A three-day weekend, even a freezing three day weekend, was the perfect antidote to conference exhaustion and first day of classes overload. Rest, relaxation, and shopping therapy, revived me and I felt capable of putting together coherent documents; specifically a cover letter and accompanying resume to apply for an academic librarian job opening. After my angst concerning choosing resume or CV, I determined it would be most beneficial to supply the form of reference asked for by the job opening; in this case a resume was requested.

It was challenging to create a sharp, focused resume out of my lengthy CV. The existing document was compiled at the request of my boss for our library's academic review at the beginning of the year. Since then, I had worked steadily to update the online version for my personal benefit and because of various accreditation processes ongoing at work. Creating a new resume including the most pertinent of the current CV information and that fulfilled the announcement requirements took longer than I thought it would. While CV's have no specific length, resumes should generally be confined to two pages. This means my cover letter/letter of application needed to address current project and information not specified in the resume itself; always a delicate balancing act.

I enjoyed creating the application materials packet as a PDF and emailing it to the co-chairs of the search committee. What a nice change from mail and printing and lapsed time between submission and receipt. There were a few dicey moments when the size of the pdf (seven pages including package cover courtesy of Word 07, application letter, resume (2), references, and undergrad and grad transcripts) was swallowed by my first my gmail account and then my personal ISP email account, but alls well that ends well. The second job I am considering requires completing the universities online form. Technology is saving me a ton of money in postage (oops, should I say that out loud?). I know I possess the qualifications for the job. However, if I was able to successfully present myself to the search committee remains to be seen.

On another note, I did extract conference photos from my camera to my computer(s) this afternoon and will be sharing Philly soon. I'm toying with uploading them to Picasa and creating short photo vignettes for the blog ...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What controversy?

Surviving a hectic first week of classes filled with signing course "add" slips and my first evening shift, following busy ALA midwinter meeting travel, has kept me from posting about the meetings let alone talk about the ALA book awards. I spoke with several children's literature professors who were relishing the opportunity of controversy surrounding the Caldecott Award; but it has been minimal to non-existent. There has been discussion concerning the size of Hugo and YA appeal/readership, it was on the YALSA best books short/long list, but the worthiness of the illustrations for Caldecott recognition is wondrously absent (with good reason, have you seen the illustrations in this book? STUNNING!) Unless there is undue talk after the dust has settled, seems it was much ado about nothing.

Publisher's Weekly, specifically The Children's Book Shelf, posted interviews with Selznick and Schlitz regarding their wins; Selznick and Schlitz Discuss Their Award-Winning Books. Additionally, PW has an interesting piece from the book store prospective; Booksellers React to Top Children's Prizes.

I have yet to read the Newbery winner, our copy is out and a second copy on order, my thoughts regarding it are moot.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Caldecott blog notes

Lunchtime blogging provided me an opportunity to peruse my bloglines account and tag check what some of them are saying about the Caldecott award announcement. I am a bit surprised, and definitely pleased, to see very little significantly negative chatter regarding Hugo (even within some of the comments).

ALSC Blog: 2008 Youth Media Awards
Likely Stories - Booklist
Buried in the Slushpile: And the award goes to ... ALA Award Announcements
The Winners: Read Roger
Eyes Behind the Prize: Shelftalker (PW)

Our copy of The Invention of Hugo Cabret has been placed on reserves for a children's literature class and a second copy has been ordered (as per our library policy regarding Caldecott and Newbery award books). This same class will be arriving next week to do a short Mock Caldecott session. In preparation for possible questions regarding the length of Hugo and age of intended audience as they apply to this title, I printed the Caldecott Terms & Criteria page that states, in part, three very pertinent things about the Caldecott:

1. A "picture book for children" as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.

2. A "picture book for children" is one for which children are a potential audience. The book displays respect for children's understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are to be considered.

3. "Distinguished" is defined as: marked by eminence and distinction: noted for significant achievement; marked by excellence in quality; marked by conspicuous excellence or eminence; individually distinct - ALA/ALSC Caldecott Terms

The second criteria is one of note, "childrens are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are to be considered." This criteria definitively opened the door for Hugo.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Let the discussion begin

This morning the biggies were announced, ALA children's book awards that is; Caldecott, Newbery,Printz, Coretta Scott King, and Geisel. I was not able to make the announcement ceremony at the convention center, time to pack and head to the airport. Even on the way to the airport, many librarians were part of the Monday mass exodus from Philadelphia, buzz centered around Caldecott Award winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

"From an opening shot of the full moon setting over an awakening Paris in 1931, this tale casts a new light on the picture book form. Hugo is a young orphan secretly living in the walls of a train station where he labors to complete a mysterious invention left by his father. In a work of more than 500 pages, the suspenseful text and wordless double-page spreads narrate the tale in turns. Neither words nor pictures alone tell this story, which is filled with cinematic intrigue. Black & white pencil illustrations evoke the flickering images of the silent films to which the book pays homage." - ALSC, Caldecott Medal Page 1/14/08

A personal favorite, I even bought the audio book and accompanying author DVD for the library, I feel the book is simply spectacular. Much of the discussion I overheard concerned it's hefty size and the break from traditional picture book (32 pages) stature. Some felt this would have been a better selection for the Newbery award, but when you take into consideration the illustrations in Hugo are an integral part of the story, removal of them would make it difficult for the text to stand alone. Regardless, I am anxious to see what various children's literature blogs have to say about this year's selection. It could be interesting.

Read the Press Release: ALA Announces Literary Award Winnersand view the Caldecott Medal Page.

Midwinter Exhibits: Book greed

With each ALA conference I attend it gets harder and harder to curb my insatiable book greed regarding ARC's available from publishers in the exhibits area. I need to work on balancing what I want with what I am able to easily carry from to my hotel and schlep through the airport - or - I need to expand upon my inherent stinginess regarding paying to have my loot shipped home (probably the better recourse). I was actually at the opening ceremonies and witnessed the ribbon cutting to open the exhibits. There seemed a large amount of books and information available to attendees.

I have added a complete listing of my ARC's from ALA 08 Midwinter to the sidebar. I have not yet decided if the list will remain (homage to my greed), or if I will remove books from the list as I read and discuss them here. Of course, I could always link the sidebar list to the blog posting and start another LibraryThing account just for ARC's.

Coming soon: Midwinter meeting pictures and conference postings.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A post live from Midwinter

It feels rather odd to be sitting in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia at the Internet kiosk area and listening to Pat Benetar singing "Hit me with your best shot" from the nearby gaming booth. But somehow it is interestingly appropriate. I have just come from both the best and most disappointing open sessions of the weekend.

The best? A YALSA program for the YA Best Books listing that featured young adults presenting their opinions of the titles being considered. As others are waiting for computers, more on that later.

The most disappointing? I just left the presidents program featuring Kareem Abdul Jabbar and there was not enough seating for everyone in attendance. Even those hoping to be wallflowers were dismayed as convention security prohibited the action and we were being asked to move.

It is closing in on 4:00 pm I am going to take a last turn around the exhibit area and head to the hotel for a quick dinner and packing. Naturally, I will be obsessing about the weather as the impending snowfall has dominated local weather for the last 24 hours.

Photos, lists of arcs, commentary, and overall impressions of ALA midwinter will be posted soon. Full of Philly cheesesteak and hording a gourmet chocolate covered chocolate chip cookie for during the football game ... good-bye from midwinter.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Air mail

I received official notice today, via air mail no less, that both my article and conference report will be published in April!

Please pause here for a moment of exuberance followed closely by Cheshire cat grinning - a bit of jumping up and down, and finished with a newsy email to my boss.

... to continue ...

I had email confirmation from the editor and assistant editor before the holidays that the works had been accepted, but it is very nice bonus to have a congratulatory letter, printed on official journal stationary, capable of being scanned and used in my portfolio (both electric and paper).

Time to move the articles from "publication pending" to "published - peer reviewed" on my online vitae/personal page.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Midwinter is when?

For the last ten days I have been muttering to myself, get things ready for the first day of classes, midwinter is next Friday. Along with this mantra is the pep talk; there is plenty of opportunity to create schedules, update WebCT, move furniture to facilitate extended library hours (better left not discussed), update web pages, create the Mock Caldecott listings, contact potential new hires for the resource center, prepare the graduate assistants (new and existing) for the first week, update book reserves for professors, schedule resource center tours, post information to the blogs, make signs reflecting hours changes, and do the weekly resource center update for the student workers and GA's. Really, plenty of time. I can do this.

Now, midwinter is the day after tomorrow and though I did find my travel reservations and itinerary (Orbitz, cheaper then the roaming gnome), know when my flight leaves (mid-morning on Friday), and with what airline I will be flying the friendly skies (US Airways, sigh), I was chagrined to note that I had not investigated getting from the airport in Philly to my hotel - OR - looked at any of the meeting information beyond my obligations. I spent a bit of time this morning viciously printing from the ALA conference site and 2008 Midwinter Meetings wiki. I wasted the opportunity to take a new book on the flight by reading my Stephanie Plum novel Tuesday evening (and it was just a little baby book), at least now I may have something to read.

I am excited to be participating in the Midwinter meetings, and I am thrilled the weather is going to be early-spring-like, but my to-do list for tomorrow is expanding as I blog. Once the to-do list is toast and all is prepared, I can clear my mind and focus on the meetings. What's that song chorus; "Free your mind, and the rest will follow."

Don't get me started on packing.

Remembering Raquel

"It's amazing how much dying can do for a girl's popularity."

The opening lines to Remembering Raquel, by Vivian Vande Velde, could be easily interpreted as a cold and calculating statement made by a classmate. Quite the contrary, these words begin an insightful and often refreshingly honest collection of thoughts presented by the classmates of Raquel Falcone. On the way home from a movie one evening, fourteen year old Raquel steps off a curb into the path of an ongoing car and is killed. Told in first person by teachers, classmates, friends, family, and blogging buddies; Raquel is remembered, sometimes with cruel disregard, by each. As the story progresses, we learn not only more about Raquel, her hopes and dreams, but also how a single person is often intertwined with and an integral part of the whole of a school or community.

The most intriguing aspect of this novel is how Vande Velde presents her characters in each chapter. She does not fall into the insipid trap of using this young girls death as a life changing occurrence to those left behind. Instead, she chooses to focus on individuality and paints a true picture of how Raquel, someone who "was practically invisible," lived her life. In doing so, readers gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of Raquel, her friends and family, as well as those who did not know her or, while feeling badly she is gone, do not particularly mourn her. This novel does not sugar-coat the popular students, labeling them as evil. It does not automatically place Raquel on a pedestal alone, or with her friends. What this novel does is present a snapshot of real life affected by tragic death. Things change, things stay the same, time marches on with respect to a young girl gone too soon.

Vande Velde notes on the cover flap that she was "inspired to write this book by the roadside memorials she sometimes sees near her home." She has paid a thoughtful homage to those memorials. More about this book, including links to some of the crusader projects discussed, may be found on Vande Velde's web site.

Tags: , ,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A new book!

A new Stephanie Plum book, Plum Lucky, by Janet Evanovich is due in the stores today! I usually read the newest Plum adventure on the plane to the ALA annual conference. Too bad I won't be able to save this one to read on the plane to midwinter.

Here's a book description from
"Looking to get lucky?

Stephanie Plum is back between-the-numbers and she’s looking to get lucky in an Atlantic City hotel room, in a Winnebago, and with a brown-eyed stud who has stolen her heart.

Stephanie Plum has a way of attracting danger, lunatics, oddballs, bad luck . . . and mystery men. And no one is more mysterious than the unmentionable Diesel. He’s back and hot on the trail of a little man in green pants who’s lost a giant bag of money. Problem is, the money isn’t exactly lost. Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur has found it, and like any good Jersey senior citizen, she’s hightailed it in a Winnebago to Atlantic City and hit the slots. With Lula and Connie in tow, Stephanie attempts to bring Grandma home, but the luck of the Irish is rubbing off on everyone: Lula’s found a job modeling plus-size lingerie. Connie’s found a guy. Diesel’s found Stephanie. And Stephanie has found herself in over her head with a caper involving thrice-stolen money, a racehorse, a car chase, and a bad case of hives.

Plum Lucky is an all-you-can-eat buffet of thrills, chills, shrimp cocktail, plus-size underwear, and scorching hot men. It’s a between-the-numbers treat no Evanovich fan will want to miss!"

There better be a copy at the hated store; I am there right after work.

ALA Award webcast

This sounds interesting, too bad I'll be either on the plane or headed to the airport when the announcement is made. I really should look at my travel plans soon.

ALA to provide live Webcast of top children/teen literary awards announcement January 14

"(CHICAGO) The American Library Association (ALA) will provide a free live Webcast of its national announcement of the top books, video and audiobooks for children and young adults - including the Caldecott, King, Newbery and Printz awards - on January 14 at 7:45 a.m. EST. The award announcements are made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which will bring together more than 10,000 librarians, publishers, authors and guests in Philadelphia from January 11 to 16."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kindergartners crossing the road

I admit to weeding my bloglines account more frequently, and yes even rigidly, than I investigate and add new blogs to the list. Checking our library web page link to the Chronicle of Higher Education this afternoon, I noticed a new blog being advertised; Brainstorm: Lives of the Mind. Since I subscribe to The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, this seemed like another interesting resource to consider. The first post catching my attention was Crossing Over, by Gina Barreca, a professor of English at the University of Connecticut. Tempting me with the byte "Why did the college student cross the road?", I read further.

"I don’t want to be alarming, but college students face an unspoken and serious danger. Arising in equal parts from inexperience, self-absorption, and laziness, it imperils the next generation.

I hope by recognizing the situation, we can begin to alter it. On the UConn campus for example, even as I witness this hazard, I am left wondering what I can do to make a difference.

What worries me?

The fact that our students don’t know how to cross the damn street."

I admit to inappropriate library laughter at this point (thank heavens there was no one here at the time) because not only do I see the same thing on a daily basis, I have alternately been both student and driver in this instance. Students definitely appear oblivious to their surroundings while talking on their cells, chatting to their friends, and wandering aimlessly with their tunes. (I am often reminded at the warnings given when the Sony Walkman was first popular, my parents were sure I would be deaf before thirty - I'm not). The road directly in front of the library is a main traffic thoroughfair ending at a stoplight and harboring a posted speed of 25mph that no one obeys. Technology has become both a convenience and a distraction.

Barreca's posting reminded me of Robert Fulghum's book,All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten and the following excerpt:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don't hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don't take things that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup --they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned the biggest word of all -- LOOK.

© Robert Fulghum, 1990.

This is something I will definitely make time to remember as I am crossing a busy Philadelphia street while trudging along to the tunes in my MP3 player on the way to the conference center later this week at ALA Midwinter.

At least I'll try.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

What's in a name

Each time I succumb to one more Blogthings personality test I am reminded of my college freshman psychology course. The professor instructed several (I do not recall how many ... long, long, loooong time ago) people to write a paragraph about what we did over the summer and he would then analyze our handwriting. Next class period students were given a personalized analysis and we were asked to determine its possible validity. Everyone was able to make some judgments and a few were outright surprised at how close the analysis was to their perception of personality; only thing was, each of us was given the exact same paragraph.

Today's tantalizing Blogthings quiz was "What's Your Name's Hidden Meaning?" I could not pass up the opportunity to test my first name against my middle name (used here for blogging). Interestingly enough the first name was more accurate, but given the millions of people who share a name and a broad based interpretation there of, it was bound to hit on at least one aspect correctly. Now it's time to share:

My Name Means:

You are balanced, orderly, and organized.
You like your ducks in a row.
You are powerful and competent,
especially in the workplace.
People can see you as stubborn and headstrong.
You definitely have a dominant personality.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound.
It's easy to get you excited...
which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm,
but it fades rather quickly.
You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.
Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are usually the best at everything ...
you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are very intuitive and wise.
You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination.
You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy.
You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are friendly, charming, and warm.
You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat.
Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible.
But for the important things, you pull it together.

I take a bit of umbrage at the thought I "can be a little flaky and irresponsible" but feel since it balances out with being "very intuitive and wise" I will not complain!


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nose to the grindstone

You've got mail! The first day back at work and truer words, truer words; I had email, snail mail, blog mail, and intercampus mail patiently waiting for my arrival at work today. Some day I will learn, maybe remember is more accurate, to sign off on email list serv's before leaving for extended periods of time. Not this time, I had over 250 email messages gracing my inbox. After weeding (hey, that's what librarians do!) I had less than four-dozen that actually needed attention. Work snail mail held a nice surprise, my ALA Midwinter meeting badge. The blogmail, email accounts for specific blogs, was ridiculous for my collaborative librarian blog project; there were 125 spam messages, most of which had subject matter I am too embarrassed to mention here (puh-lease). However, it is a shame I was too late for that British lottery ticket. Praise be, the intercampus mail held hiring and contract information for my new GA. I was thrilled to sign and returned it promptly to the Dean's suite. After wading through the mail waters I spent most of the day playing catch up.

Preparations made before leaving provided me with a definite advantage, see Early Lunch Blogging, Procrastinating with Purpose, and Missing, Lost & Paid. The 2007 Teacher's and Children's Choice books currently in the juvenile collection have been pulled for the circulation/reserves person to process, the books ordered before the holiday break have arrived and are awaiting cataloging with pretty little orange post-it notes declaring they should go on reserve when processed, and the award book listings are bound with yellow highlighting titles on reserve and orange highlighting titles ordered that have not yet arrived. I found three additional titles to add to my mock Caldecott session (as of yet unscheduled) that received the same post-it note treatment. I even had a chance to add titles to the collection development blog, moving the holiday hours post further down the page in favor of resource center reference and booktalk titles.

Updates made to the online course were the focus of my afternoon. With the university switching course management systems, the distance-learning page was updated. Now existing tutorials are no longer valid and changes had to be made to the course web page and introductory handout. On the plus side, I made a simple one-minute Camtasia screen movie showing students how to maneuver to the new location. It was fun. I obsessed. I will probably edit it and/or start over tomorrow. Regardless, there will be time to send out email to each student taking the course for Spring 2008 - and - since I will be in Philadelphia the first day of class, everything is set for the GA's to hit the ground running.

Well, it will be as soon as I do the schedule.

Cappping off my day was a visit from the boss. Seems he has assigned a project to our new reference librarian regarding instant messaging for the library. She is going to research and "play" with different systems (here's hoping for Meebo) and I am to work in tandem to prepare the library web page for the finished product. This has a possible start date of after Easter and/or spring break. I am all for the IM process and think it would be a definite plus for our library web site to provide patrons with this customer service platform. It would be simpler to let me build the new library page without having to continue to update the old. I admit to a bit of crankiness, as it appears someone else's new project has become my new project. But to be fair it is something that can, and should, be done and I am the most logical person to supplement the proposed project. This is where I step back and look at the big picture; maybe I can turn the library web page project, along with adding new web technologies, into a poster session submission. See, finding that silver lining in crankiness.

Is it wrong to be thinking TGIF for tomorrow when I only work a two-day week? As always, handling the first day back after break with style, grace, and sarcasm.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Thank-you Opus

I found this entry in the Sunday comics; it features an old favorite Opus, formerly of Bloom County, by Berkeley Breathed. Opus has been given an e-book for Christmas ... "Welcome to literary salvation, pal" ... and is using it for a significant purpose, to light a traditional book while he's curled up in a comfy chair, in front of the fire, munching from a bowl of popcorn.


I saved the comic section and this will be hanging in my office (still not old) as soon as I find a frame.

Two quick notes to this post. First, the title links to The Seattle Times Sunday comics. If the link address is to be believed, it will show the most recent offering from Breathed and this particular strip was published on 12/30/07. Second, there is an official Berkeley Breathed website, but when searching for additional information the results were tagged by Google as "this site may harm your computer." Therefore, I chose not to add it here. (My computer has enough trouble without adding suspicion of malware and sypware.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Happy New Year complete with snow and hockey

Winter weather warnings, advisories, and suggestions of snow accumulation upwards of six inches possibly enhancing my holiday return trip resulted in a quick exit from the home front late this morning. Driving through rain, snow, fog, and mist was a joyous way to begin the New Year, but I was able to arrive here in time to see most of Hockey's Winter classic played this afternoon featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, New York. Both teams wore “retro” team jerseys, the Pen’s donned baby blue ones I had never actually seen worn in a game before today (I’m a Lemieux era fan). The game itself was vastly entertaining; especially ending in a shoot-out. I, for one, was just happy to see the Pen’s play hockey!

I have one day of vacation remaining that will allow me to unpack at my leisure and relax tomorrow ... and shovel snow if necessary. If the forecasted snow is not realized, I will be highly irritated (okay, pissed) at missing prime shopping opportunities (with coupons), a nice lunch of requisite sauerkraut and kielbasa (pork for New Years), and an undoubtedly wonderful nap. Happy New Year!

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