Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's time for a blog holiday. I will be traveling over the next few weeks to visit with family and friends.

Be sure to read a good book or two taking time to sit curled up in your easy chair with a cup of hot chocolate between the hustle and bustle of the season.

Memories To Treasure

May the days until Christmas be full of sweet pleasure, And your holidays create joyful memories to treasure. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! - Joanna Fuchs, Christmas Poems

Wishing everyone a blessed and safe holiday season with family and friends; Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday books and more

A planned lunchtime blog post was happily interrupted by an invitation to dine at a local pizza parlor; one pepperoni pizza with extra cheese later with library cheer and gossip later and my lunch hour had expired. The remainder of my afternoon consisted of what could be classified as the old gigo theory. Instead of garbage in, garbage out, I was effectively reminded when I order materials and supplies for the resource center I have to put them away when they arrive (especially when there are no student workers in residence). It takes time to put away boxes of poster board, construction paper, and cases of copy paper.

This evening's post is a welcome respite from laboring over my 125 word speaker bio for ACRL and a mad search for a recent photograph. While I find it odd to submit these things for a poster presentation (as opposed to a session speaker), I finished the bio and submitted it, along with my smiling digital self-portrait, just a few moments ago. Now all I have to do cross my fingers funding is granted and register for the conference after the holiday hustle and bustle.

I was adding catalog links for Christmas LC subject headings into a children's literature LibGuide this afternoon. In the spirit of the approaching holiday season, here are a few non-traditional - titles:

And, last but certainly not least, a few favorites:

Merry Christmas ... and happy reading!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Janes in Love

Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg is the second title featuring the P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods) Jane's. An art-loving high school girl "tribe" living in Metro City, the Janes are once again planning, practicing, and presenting artistic vandalism to the neighborhood. The girls grow weary, or possibly jaded, with the response from local authorities and face growing peer pressure as they try to balance growing social lives with their desire to remain non-conformist. As the girls struggle with issues of high school, friendship, and society, each takes steps to grow as individuals with diverse wants and needs; the central Jane determines to apply for an art grant.

Throughout the book more complicated familial issues are revealed, Jane's mother has become agoraphobic as a result of the terrorist attack in the first novel, and somewhat clutter the ensuing story line. Readers new to the series may not quite grasp the more subtle references to the terrorist attack in the previous novel. Regardless, this is cleanly illustrated and easy to read graphic novel that remains consistent in it's portrayal of adolescents. Those enjoying Janes in Love should treat themselves and read The Plain Janes.

Discussion guides are available for other titles, here's hoping one for Janes in Love is forthcoming. The first book in this series, The PLAIN Janes, was discussed here in May of 2007.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling, is a collection of wizarding tales brought to reader's attention in the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Transated by Hermonie Granger, the Beedle Bard collection provides Muggles with insight into traditional tales told to wizard children and includes stories of true love as well as those which are darker and dangerous ("Hairy Heart"). Accompanying each tale is insightful, and often pithy, commentary from Albus Dumbledore which provides readers with additional information regarding several series characters. Readers hoping for more Harry Potter adventure may be disappointed, but this is a nice collection that will undoubtedly find it's way in to many fan's personal libraries.

Scholastic is donating net proceeds of this book to the Children's High Level Group.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A picture's worth

A post this morning on LJ Insider reminded me that for some time now I have wanted to take a closer look at Wordle: Beautiful Word Clouds. Similar in nature to tag clouds, where the image is generated to illustrate the number of times a term is tagged in a blog or other application, Wordle creates a cloud from all of the words. They say it best:

"Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends."

I created two Wordle's. For the first, I entered this blog's URL and naturally played around with font, color, layout, and generally anything they would let me do because I could.

For the second Wordle I used yesterday's post with different results. When I used the persistent URL to the post it generated a picture almost identical to the whole blog. The second time I cut and pasted the text from the post and got this:

My guess is it was generating from the whole feed as opposed to a specific portion. Either way it is an interesting visual and could be an interesting tool for classroom use under controlled circumstance as they have a gallery freely accessible and no filters.

Below is one final image, because I have another ten minutes on my lunch break and wanted to play. This is the image of Wednesday's post with a little more color variation (I used mostly black on the others so it would show on the green blog background).
I found it interesting, or maybe telling is more appropriate, the words ACRL, accepted, conference, and national are very prominent (yes, yes, it works like tag clouds and the more a word is used the bigger it displays ... but still). Over all, it kind of looks like an acorn.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tidbits of interest to me

I spent time reading my Blogines feeds while finishing lunch (quesadillas, yum) and found two particular posts of interest. From the Wired Campus Blog is the article Consortium Releases New Guidelines for Web Accessibility; something I find ironic as just last month I finished updating the library web site to the university template. Luckily I worked with a webmaster who had understanding and respect for web standards and accessibility.

"The World Wide Web Consortium, an organization devoted to improving the interoperability of the Web, has released a new version of its Web-accessibility guidelines."

"With the release of the new version of the guidelines, W3C also released a suite of quick-reference documents — sort of guides to the guidelines. They include an overview, a guide on how to meet the new requirements, and a guide to understanding the new guidelines." -- Scott Carlson, 12/11/08.

The second item is from the Boston Globe, Recession? Not for College Presidents by Derrick Z Jackson. This article is an intriguing comparison between college presidents and corporation CEO's on Capitol Hill looking for funding.

"Having spent many years as a part-time college professor, I have often advocated for resources for these institutions that are complex villages and cities unto themselves. But too many universities are more the Roman empire than the laboratory for the 21st century, throwing scholarships at athletic specimens while bankrupting lunch-pail geniuses, spending lavishly at the administrative level while slashing the library." -- Jackson, Boston Globe, 12/6/08

As an academic librarian with full understanding of library budget cuts and reduction of salary, I admit it made interesting reading, as did the accompanying comments. Money, and who it is used in any business entity, is something people will never agree on.

On a lighter note, seems Time Magazine has posted "The Top 10 Everything of 2008." There is a lot of everything and I particularly enjoyed the #10 Buzzword, Topless Meeting:

"A finalist for Oxford University Press' Word of the Year, this phrase refers to gatherings where laptops (as well as other mobile devices like iPhones) are banned. Coined in Silicon Valley, where meeting participants were often distracted by their handhelds, the term is attributed to author and web developer Dan Saffer." - Top 10 Buzzwords, Time Magazine

And in keeping with the theme of things, I also enjoyed (in no particular order):
  1. Top 10 Children's Books
  2. Top 10 Editorial Cartoons
  3. Top 10 Fashion Faux Pas
  4. Top 10 Movies
  5. Top 10 Olympic Moments
  6. Top 10 TV Series
  7. Top 10 Viral Videos
  8. Top 10 TV Ads
  9. Top 10 Scientific Discoveries
  10. Top 10 Awkward Moments

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ACRL, batting .500

I submitted two poster session abstracts to ACRL for the upcoming conference in Seattle; one with a friend and a second with co-workers. Today I learned that one was accepted and one rejected. I'm used to rejection from ACRL, it's a smaller conference than ALA and there are a fewer amount of posters accepted. Acceptance and rejection are all part of professional development, something which should be understood by anyone submitting articles, posters and/or presentations. That said, I found the content of each email interesting.

First, the acceptance. After the "congratulations your proposal has been accepted" and further information pertaining to particulars was:

"Thank you for submitting your proposal for the ACRL 14th National Conference. It is through the efforts of individuals such as yourself that ACRL is able to meet its strategic goal of being a national and international leader in creating, expanding, and transferring the body of knowledge of academic librarianship. "

Very nice. A bit PR heavy, but nice none the less (and I don't mean that in a snarky way, it is nice to be appreciated).

The non-acceptance message was twice as long:

"The Poster Session Committee has completed the review and selection process. It is with regret that let you know your proposal ... was not chosen for presentation. The selection process was an exceptionally difficult one this year. We received more than 300 proposal submissions for the 150 available slots and many fine proposals could not be accepted."

"Thank you for submitting your work to ACRL and your interest in the National Conference. Although you may be understandably disappointed that your proposal was not accepted for the conference, please do not consider this a negative evaluation of the quality of your work, but rather an indication of the volume and quality of the proposals submitted. We look forward to seeing your work published or presented in another forum and hope that you will still join us at the ACRL 14th National Conference in Seattle."

Wow! Again, as with the acceptance, this was a very nice email and I appreciated the prompt notification. I know there is often a great deal of vocal unhappiness when presentations are not accepted, but is it really necessary to have such a carefully worded rejection? I would have been satisfied with simple notice that my poster had not been selected. I am not unhappy with the longer message, but wonder why so much?

Now it's time to start saving money ...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Janet Evanovich

I recently received the latest edition of The Plum News and was thrilled to learn a new Stephanie Plum between-the-numbers novel, Plum Spooky, will be on sale January 6th. Janet Evanovich's web site has three excerpts and Amazon has the first two chapters available in pdf.

Good news, looks like Plum Spooky features the return of Diesel! Below is the product description:

"The First Full Length Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novel from #1 Bestselling Author Janet Evanovich.Turn on all the lights and check under your bed. Things are about to get spooky in Trenton, New Jersey. According to legend, the Jersey Devil prowls the Pine Barrens and soars above the treetops in the dark of night. As eerie as this might seem, there are things in the Barrens that are even more frightening and dangerous. And there are monkeys. Lots of monkeys. Wulf Grimoire is a world wanderer and an opportunist who can kill without remorse and disappear like smoke. He’s chosen Martin Munch, boy genius, as his new business partner, and he’s chosen the Barrens as his new playground. Munch received his doctorate degree in quantum physics when he was twenty-two. He’s now twenty-four, and while his brain is large, his body hasn’t made it out of the boys’ department at Macy’s. Anyone who says good things come in small packages hasn’t met Munch. Wulf Grimoire is looking for world domination. Martin Munch would be happy if he could just get a woman naked and tied to a tree. Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has Munch on her most-wanted list for failure to appear in court. Plum is the all-American girl stuck in an uncomfortable job, succeeding on luck and tenacity. Usually she gets her man. This time she gets a monkey. She also gets a big guy named Diesel. Diesel pops in and out of Plum’s life like birthday cake – delicious to look at and taste, not especially healthy as a steady diet, gone by the end of the week if not sooner. He’s an ├╝ber bounty hunter with special skills when it comes to tracking men and pleasing women. He’s after Grimoire, and now he’s also after Munch. And if truth were told, he wouldn’t mind setting Stephanie Plum in his crosshairs. Diesel and Plum hunt down Munch and Grimoire, following them into the Barrens, surviving cranberry bogs, the Jersey Devil, a hair-raising experience, sand in their underwear, and, of course . . . monkeys." - Amazon Product Description

I think there is just enough time remaining on my lunch hour to read the excerpt. And the new numbers title? Finger Lickin Fifteen.

The difference a day, or two, makes

Friday was the last day of classes. The library and resource center were hives of activity with students finishing assignments, putting final touches on presentations, attending virtual class meetings (we have speakers and requisite headphones) and printing like there was no tomorrow. As an area that encourages group work, we don't enforce quiet (there are study rooms available elsewhere) and the sounds were an interesting cacophony of music, laughter, and conversation with overtones of quiet desperation that permeate each semesters end. It was equal parts exhilarating and exhausting.

Today is the second day of finals week. Outside the weather is overcast, cold, windy and raining (the meteorologist who said it would reach 50 degrees was mistaken). Inside, every computer is taken and study tables accommodate single students viciously claiming their spots with a variety of paraphernalia scattered over the surface; the almost deafening quiet is broken only by furious typing on keyboards and stray cell phone ring tones. There will be fewer students on campus tomorrow and residence halls close on Friday morning for winter break. The term has officially come to a close. For the first time I can honestly say, "Wow, that went fast."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Newbery Committee

I've been catching up with bloglines and found an interesting post on the ALSC Blog (Association for Library Services to Children): Have Suggestions for the 2009 Newbery Committee? It reads in part:

"2008 has been a great year filled with excellent books for youth and I’m sure you must have spent part of your Thanksgiving holiday reading. The 2009 Newbery Award Committee would like to hear from you. Please send suggestions to and I’ll share suggestions with the committee."

"The 2009 Newbery Committee will review books with a 2008 copyright. Thanks in advance for any suggestions sent!" - ALSC Blog

I don't recall any open call for suggestions before (yes, I know there are online forms). Not much has been added ... but it's an interesting way to garner more input.

Friday, December 05, 2008


It's that time of year; new children's literature book lists are being unveiled. One of the children's literature professors uses Choice lists, both Teacher and Children's, on reserves; I have already been through those tow lists pulling what exists in our collection and am considering ordering additional titles to flush out the collection. This morning I found the Horn Book Fanfare List 2008 and School Library Journal's Best Books of 2008 (not as worried about Booklist's best books list since it is often comprised of the past year's starred review titles). I will be spending some time checking my purchases against the Horn Book and SLJ 2008 lists and if necessary adding them to my current book cart.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A head start on spring

While finishing my lunch, a not especially nutritional chili-dog, I decided to start compiling my list of titles for the spring Mock Caldecott session. Recent library budgetary issues have narrowed the selection field somewhat (yes, less money = fewer books) so I have been tagging picture book possibilities fresh out of the box and still on the cart in technical services. It's an interesting group with old, new, and personal favorites:

The list does reflect collection efforts to increase folk tale titles, but there are a few interesting selections such as a picture book written by Karen Hesse and the mixed media illustrations done by Carin Berger (I'm waiting for a second look). I currently have sixteen titles and will undoubtedly need more; I like to have one book per student so everyone has something to look at during the session. With the December issue of Booklist awaiting my perusal, that should not be much of a problem.

Time to finish my mandarin oranges and get back to work.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lincoln books

With the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birthday approaching, the number of books available on the topic is staggering. I have been carefully picking and choosing (aka practicing responsible collection development) for several months now trying to get a mix of fiction and non-fiction juvenile titles that will be useful for the collection and the classroom. Here are a few recent selections:

This morning the December edition of Booklist was in my mailbox and I selected general titles for the circulating collection that will be of use to education majors student teaching in high school history and social studies, as well as students taking history courses at the college.

I have not finished juvenile selections, but there may be one or two to enhance what has already been added. So far, my personal favorites of the group are Lincoln Shot! A Presidents Life Remembered, it has a unique presentation, and Lincoln Through the Lens. As a result of casual book-talking in the library, both are currently checked out through the end of the term