Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting a jump on spring

The end of this semester was brutal; filled with meeting after meeting after meeting, my relief last Friday at 5:00 pm was palpable. A week makes all the difference. Today finals are over, grades submitted, and students are gleefully on their way home for holiday break. Right before closing Wednesday evening, I asked my student worker to pull a list of recently acquired picture books in preparation for a spring Mock Caldecott session.
On an aside, check out this Amazon video of Mem Fox reading The Goblin and the Empty Chair.

I have four journals to peruse tomorrow for juvenile books, two Booklist (11/15 & 12/1) and two School Library Journal (Nov. & Dec.) issues. If I submit orders tomorrow, I should have a few more choices available for the spring session.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Revisiting the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is available on DVD; I rushed to the store for my copy. After a bit of internal dithering, I purchased the special edition with digital copy (even though I'm not sure what to do with it at this point). I watched it last evening, pausing several times to listen and increasing volume on quieter scenes. I have not changed my opinion significantly regarding the film, but will watch it again looking for nuance.

The two-disc DVD included deleted scenes, most less than two minutes, and while interesting it was easy to see why they were not included in the final film. However, one scene titled "In Noctem" that someone posted on YouTube, is stunning. It precedes Dumbledore's death and provides a glimpse of Snape's internal struggle to balance his unbreakable vow and promise to Dumbledore.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Storytime memories

A Halloween tradition, it was treat bag week for my student workers; a fun selection of sugar. As with other holiday's, it meant an increase in student teachers looking for appropriate picture books to share in the classroom this week. Almost every appropriate pumpkin, fall, Halloween, and slightly scary picture book is currently circulating. Helping students find story time holiday books always takes me back to my days in the public library as a children's librarian. Here are a few of my favorite read-alouds for Halloween, since I have been an academic librarian for over eight years, these titles are older (oldies but goodies).

And my favorite, Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman (drat). "They pulled and they tugged and they tugged and they pulled ..."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not my picks

As I've mentioned before, another librarian on staff purchases children's literature with funds from a small endowment (very small). A large cart arrived on Friday afternoon and I had a few minutes this afternoon to peruse a few of the selected titles. Here is what's new to me:

I took The Miles Between to lunch this afternoon, but did not finish it (I did read the end). Late last week I went through two issues of Booklist and the most recent School Library Journal. I should have another cart of juvenile books in B & T by the end of the week. I love doing collection development for juvenile and young adult books.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The more I learn ...

New to my Bloglines account this morning was an article from PW Children's Bookshelf, It's the End of the World as We Know it. It caught my attention for two reasons, first discussing the possible demise of the current "vampire fiction" trend. Not long ago readers were bemoaning the end of the Harry Potter series and wondering what was next. Stephanie Meyer and Twilight was next for legions of young adult and adult fans (though I must in all fairness note I am not a fan). The second reason? Identifying steampunk and post-apocalyptic fiction as possibilities for the next big thing is interesting.

This is the second time in as many months I have heard the term steampunk fiction and the more I learn, the less I understand. In theory I know steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features advanced technology in the victorian era. I have since learned there are sub-genres of steampunk that include the wild west -- think Wild, Wild West with Kevin Kline and Will Smith. The closest I could get for juvenile fiction was a reference to The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I dug a bit for more:
There was a reference to Dr. Who (OK, I get that) and now I wonder if the current SyFy hit Sanctuary could be steampunk. As to books, we just got a shipment of children's books yesterday ordered by a peer who very much enjoys fantasy. I think I'll take a look at what's arrived.

Completely new to me was the term "post-apocalyptic fiction;" the PW article and my searching highlighted Scott Westerfeld and his new title Leviathan. A quick search of the library catalog revealed we have four titles by Westerfeld, though subject headings were a bit more generic using dystopias, adventure, and science fiction. This particular genre is easier to grasp:
I think I'm ready to get back to reading. Where's my JAK novel?

Friday, October 09, 2009

1/2 way point

Midterm grades are due next Wednesday; this week marks the unofficial midway point for the fall semester. I graded for five hours this morning; submissions continued, the deadline drew near, and the atmosphere took an inevitable turn with hurried assignments lacking substance. At closing time the last group of students grudgingly left the library. Their unhappiness was palpable.

A blurb on ABC evening news tonight noted YouTube had reached a milestone of one billion viewers per day.

For some reason, these two unrelated items resulted in a vaguely baffling childhood memory; I don't care, Pierre. So, I searched YouTube and found cranky Pierre.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Angry Management

Mr. Nak has been hired by Global Community Health as a community counselor; charged with leading an anger management session populated by an eclectic group of students, Angry Management, by Chris Crutcher, tells their stories. Sarah and Angus have highly visible issues, Sarah was disfigured by abuse and Angus is a "big guy." Both slow to trust, their budding friendship evolves into a tentative relationship born during a deeply personal road trip west to help Sarah face her past. Montana writes for the school newspaper covering topics that are more often than not censored by the school board, lead by her adoptive father. Trey is a football star living with his grandmother, a down to earth woman battling cancer. Montana's article about the medicinal use of marijuana sparks controversy within their families and community. Matt and Marcus could not be more different; one deeply religious and the other openly gay, their paths cross when standing up to do the right thing ends in tragedy.

Each story is told in the distinctly different voice of the featured pair and tied together with short transcribed notes by the counselor. And while there are no clichéd happy endings, neither are there any real surprises. This is one of those novels where the end is not as important as getting there. It's about the journey.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

If the Witness Lied

If the Witness Lied, by Caroline B. Cooney. The Fountain family children have survived unimaginable tragedy; their father a victim of a horrific car accident and the youngest member of the family "blamed." To complicate matters, when expecting Tris, their mother was diagnosed with cancer and elected to forgo treatment in favor of a healthy baby. The family is scattered, Jack with Aunt Cheryl to care for Tris and sisters Smithy and Madison at boarding school and with Godparents. When Aunt Cheryl decides they should participate in a reality television series for closure, the siblings form a tenuous bond to protect Tris and in the process learn about themselves, and the lone witness to their father's accident.

Witness has a significantly disturbed character in Aunt Cheryl, moves along at a quick pace, and features teenage siblings that are surviving to the best of their ability, yet at the same time believably self absorbed. Once the siblings reunite and decide to take action things fall too quickly into place' final scenes are tidy and almost anti-climactic as they confirm the title and premise.

out of the habit

I am chagrined to admit it has been eight months (yikes) since my last children's literature book review (A Penguin Story, 2/11/09); or, for that matter, a book review of any kind. Once a pleasurable past-time, even an ingrained habit of sorts, writing a review has become a hurdle to overcome. I have put aside several books in the last month with good intentions. Each of those titles has been returned to the library, more than one overdue.

This evening I have a book in hand (actually on the end table) and forty-five minutes until NCIS.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Tim McGraw & Terrible Towels

The new Tim McGaw song/video features live footage from the nfl kickoff game; check out the Steeler fan's with their terrible towels and a "got six" t-shirt. It almost makes me forget Tim's a Titan's fan. Well, no one's perfect.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


You Are 60% Addicted to Blogthings

You're a Blogthings fiend - addicted but not totally dependent.

So what if you know your personality type by heart?

And while you may feel like Blogthings is crack...

There are people much worse off than you!

Friday, September 25, 2009

SG1 fan favorites

In preparation of the Stargate Universe premier next week, Syfy is having a Stargate Fan Favorite marathon. Arguably the best two episodes ever are on at 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm, 1969 and Window of Opportunity (better known as fan favorite groundhog day).

Both of them are available on!

I really miss Stargate, with Colonel Jack O'Neill(two l's). Luckily I have the series on DVD ... and it's on

day late, image short

Ironically, Wordle crashed my computer last evening (the blue screen of death on my new laptop, I was no happy) while attempting to create a new project for the post. I made the above image at lunch this afternoon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

nu jurnL nu toys

Or, in English, new journal new toys.

I picked up the September issue of School Library Journal late this morning while taking a break from web work before lunch. My plan was to take a few minutes to begin perusing the book reviews and place a few juvenile books in a cart for purchase. I didn't get very far; an impromptu visit from the boss took time, but did see their site of the month. Or, in this case, sites of the month. Two of them caught my attention.

"transl8it! (trans-late-it) is simple to use. Just type in your SMS, text, emoticon, smiley, slang or chat room lingo and let transL8it! convert it to plain english -- OR -- type in your phrase in english and convert it to SMS TXT lingo slang!"

"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."

I experimented with Wordle before (see A Picture's Worth) using blog posts to create word art. I included it as an emerging technology option for students to investigate for classroom use in a course this summer, some of the resulting posts were very interesting. Earlier this month I read a blog post that lead me to another interesting visual, 100 Days of Twitter Turned Into Pictures. Now I am wondering how a compilation of Twitter posts would appear as a Wordle.

As for transL8tit, I used it to create this post title.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Presenting Ideas

It's that time of year, time to try and enhance my portfolio/vita by submitting presentation abstracts for conferences. I presented three times during the last academic year, once locally at an interest group, once at a state level conference and once nationally. Late this summer, I declined an invitation to present for the first time. Why? I re-wrote the project on which I had based my abstract making the presentation irrelevant (oops).

I met with a COE professor earlier this week to discuss submitting for a spring conference. I have presented with her before and she quite simply hates PowerPoint. We have something planned, so all is well, but I was intrigued after reading a post on Argh Ink this morning featuring Ignite (check out the comments for more discussion).

"If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers." - Ignite

After searching a bit, the story telling element seems to be key. As with any other presentations it relies on preparation, quality information, and visual elements are key. I have been on the short end of a panel presentation on more than one occasion, forced to significantly whittle away my prepared discussion, and wonder if this might be one way to eliminate that problem.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This time, it's global

"It is my pleasure to inform you that on August 30th, 2009 your information was reviewed and accepted for inclusion in the 2009/2010 edition of our registry.

The Global Directory of Who's Who each year, recognizes and selects key executives, professionals and organizations in all disciplines and industries for outstanding business and professional achievements. This recognition is shared by those who have reached a distinguished level of success in their chosen profession.

Please take a moment to complete the invitation by clicking on the link below. We ask that you complete it carefully, as it will be reviewed by our editorial department.

** Please complete the online link by September 30th.

The Global Directory of Who's Who is pleased to inform you that there are no fees or dues to be included in the publication. On behalf of the publishing department and our esteemed staff, we wish you continued success."

I "released" the above email from my spam/quarantine folder out of sheer curiosity late last week. Undoubtedly my previous experience with Cambridge Who's Who predisposed me to read it with a definitively jaundiced eye, but a few things caught my interest; if my information has already been "reviewed and accepted for inclusion," why do I need to bother with the link; if I will already be included, why is the information going to be "reviewed by our (their) editorial department;" and how interesting that they are "pleased to inform" me that "there are not fees or dues to be included in the publication."

A catalog search revealed my library does not have the title, it is not part of any academic library in the state, and World Cat does not have a record of any library having the title as part of their collection. I moved my research to the web and, not surprisingly, found dissatisfied customers.
Curiosity satisfied, I deleted the email. It will be interesting to see if there is a follow-up; too bad it will not get beyond my spam folder.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

But I work Thursday night ...

"Tim McGraw will perform an hour long set beginning at 5:30 p.m., followed by an hour long set by The Black Eyed Peas at 6:40 p.m."

"At 8 p.m., Mr. McGraw and The Peas will perform again as part of a live show being televised on NBC and the NFL Network." - NFL Announces Kickoff Concert Schedule

Sure the actual free concert is in the 'burgh on Thursday evening, but they are going to televise some of it before I get home from work. I might have to see if my VCR still works! It's Tim McGraw, for heavens sake.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Shameful follow-up

Monday, I posted about gleefully working my way through six back issues (or three months) of Booklist and School Library Journal. Before I was able to feel too smug about the accomplishment, even with the fine sheen of shame, the September issue of Booklist appeared in my mail box. Since I was in the mood and this issue had a few Thanksgiving titles, it was a simple matter to peruse and purchase another 22 titles for the juvenile collection. Here are a few of my selections:
Purchasing holiday books is often a bit of a conundrum; student teachers are in the classroom for the fall season, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, yet finished the first week of December. The juvenile collection does include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year (to name a few), but they are not as extensively used during the traditional down times between the fall and spring academic year. With luck on my side, the Halloween and Thanksgiving titles on this list will be shelf ready in time for classroom use.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

So, I'm curious

My personal library contains hardcover and paperback titles I read, read, and read again. There are very few books in the collection with only a single read to their credit. Case in point, after galloping through the most recent Jayne Castle book, Obsidian Prey, I proceeded to read and enjoy it a second and third time. A rough estimate of the pile of new books on my nightstand is upwards of five; yet, I am currently reading and enjoying my collection of J.D. Robb titles.

Today's title is Witness in Death, by my count the tenth book in the series. Not quite half through the book, Lt. Eve Dallas has made her first trip to the chief medical examiner's office meeting with Dr. Morse (p. 130) regarding a suspicious death. I will digress for a minute; the latest book in this series is Promises in Death. Though I happily admit the book I am reading is usually my favorite, Promises is one of the best entries in the series. It features one of my favorite secondary characters, chief medical examiner Dr. Morris and the murder of his lover.

It has been some time since I perused the paperbacks in the series, so as I was reading Witness, I initially thought the introduction of Dr. Morse was a typo. Continuing through the chapter, he continues to be Dr. Morse - not Dr. Morris. Now I am curious. Are there two medical examiners in the series? If not, when did Dr. Morse become Morris? Guess I will have to move through the next few and solve the mystery.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Slightly shameful

The most recent additions to "my" juvenile collection are titles reviewed and selected to finish empty budget lines for the 2008-2009 academic year (ending June 30th). After noting release dates, titles pending publication after May 31st were placed in a B & T folder; on hold for purchase at the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year (beginning July 1st). With permission given to the acquisitions librarian to begin purchasing, they have since become the only books added to the collection over the summer. Even experiencing back-up in cataloging, this is not a good way to begin a new school year ... my new book shelves are empty sans ten titles. Most of the new books have already begun circulating, the patrons expect and peruse the new books on a regular basis.

For weeks I have been dragging three months worth of Booklist and School Library Journal, not to mention print lists of Horn Book newsletters and Publisher's Weekly feeds, back and forth between my office and the resource center hoping for a few minutes to begin the review process. Today, I had an opportunity to spend the afternoon selecting children's books. It was very enjoyable, except for the short window of purchasing due to availability and print runs of juvenile literature. Titles from the July and August journal issues were sold out, out of stock, and awaiting restocking with our jobber. Chances are I will still get many of them, but after repeated instances of OS, I did something I rarely do; something frowned upon from a collection development perspective. I went through the June titles and looked at the stars for purchase.

I did not automatically choose a starred review, but they did get a significant amount of my attention. I am feeling slightly shameful ... but, I will persevere. ;-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back to school, me too

Weekend shopping meant sharing stores with parents and children in varying degrees of joy and frustration as they located clothes and shoes for the new school year. While the bulk of my purchases were for the house, I determined a few new items for myself were not remiss. Though shoes were not among my primary purchase (scary looking in some stores), I did get several blouses, sweaters, and/or tops. As is the case with any first-grader, I have something new to wear tomorrow to greet incoming and returning students. Welcome back!

I think I may be spending just a bit too much time with YouTube ...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ready or not

Freshman arrived on campus today and were unloading cars, picking up pre-ordered text books by the box, and traveling in somewhat happy packs. Several students and their parents were in the library and resource center after lunch. They were excited and asking questions about the collection - and the Ellison dies! I found it both interesting and reassuring; this is the first time I remember seeing students and their parents beyond the library main floor.

For me, today was a day for finishing big tasks, little tasks, and all manner of tasks in-between. Oddly enough, finishing the little tasks that kept piling up made the biggest difference. Starting happily with the little things, I was able to post a dozen entries on the resource center blog featuring children's books, education books, activity books, and educational technology specific books. Moving on to the big things I completed all my scheduling for graduate assistants and student workers for the fall term! Once finished, the in-between things were a challenging way to finish my day. It took close to half an hour to search my email for a password, but I prevailed and the new GA's will be able to access their course email and blog outside of the course management system.

It is another Ghostbusters movie night on AMC, while waiting for Eureka to start I watched the opening scene in the library and ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Offers or not

As the 2008-2009 Academic year drew to a close, I had a throng of student workers and graduate assistants leave the academy for greener pastures. Beginning in early May and continuing through last week, I have written letters, answered email inquiries, and given references via the phone to prospective employers. It is something I enjoy doing. Blessed with a continuously capable and talented group of student workers I am glad to have a small part in helping them gain employment. The only downside to this scenario is the ultimate necessity of evaluating applicants, conduct interviews, and choose to hire, or pass on hiring, the next group of workers.

This week I had opportunity to speak with a well-qualified group of interested prospective employees for two graduate assistant positions. Each of them brought something unique to the table and my choice, limited to two, was inherently difficult. After careful deliberation I offered the job to my top two and both accepted within an hour of the email notification. I am extremely pleased. I am now in the position of having to write "rejection" letters to the other applicants, not a task that I embrace. When the person is unqualified, the letter often writes itself. In this instance, that is not the case.

I spent some researching samples of candidate "rejection" letters. Though I found more geared to the candidate rejecting an offer, there were a few viable resources:
They are a good starting point. I hope to craft a letter that successfully conveys my respect for the applicants resume and qualifications. It is never enjoyable to receive this type of communication, but I am learning today it is not easy to write one either.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just a few ARCs

I determined this would be the year where I did not pick up an overabundance of freebies and fripperies from The Stacks. It is a pledge I make yearly, but was actually able to stick with in Chicago. To my eyes there seemed to be fewer exhibitors; I had lunch with an exhibitor who mentioned this was the first time in ten years they were roaming the hall sans exhibit area. Those in attendance brought less free stuff, a good move in my opinion. Do not misunderstand, there were attendees leaving with bags overflowing with marketing toys. I merely found it simpler to resist what was displayed.

But what about books? What about the children's literature ARCs? I picked up only five ... yes, five.
One was a boredom saver, my flight was delayed three times leaving Chicago and at the last minute I put Front and Center in my purse. The third in Catherine Gilbert Murdock's series Dairy Queen and The Off Season, it was a welcome respite from crossword puzzles and CNN.

Late ALA Photos

One more area/topic I have been remiss in posting about is the recent 2009 ALA Annual conference in Chicago. A first time visitor, I found many things to enjoy and gawk at during my stay. On Sunday morning I escaped, had a nice breakfast at a nearby bakery, and walked from The Palmer House Hilton uptown (I think it was up) to the Inter Continental Hotel for an ERIC session. A nice walk along Michigan Avenue, one of the places I passed was a sporting goods shop next to one of a plethora of coffee shops.

With the Stanley Cup playoffs recently over (Go, Pens!), the above window display caught my eye and brought forth a chuckle.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's almost that time

Between grading final projects, submitting final grades, and setting up graduate assistant interviews, this has not been the most restful of vacation. Earlier this evening I saw one of the best back-to-school commercials ever; it's heeereee. "Everyone's favorite Staples commercial, back after 15 years!"

Though they have since graduated from high school, and probably college and/or grad school for that matter, I adore the expressions on the faces of those two children. I find myself oddly empathetic of their plight as the school year approaches and my things-to-do-before-school-starts list lengthens and casts a shadow over remaining vacation days.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blogging with regularity

This is something I can not claim as of late. Truth be told, and obviously observed, posts have been sporadic since the beginning of the year. I feel a bit hypocritical telling my technology students how much more meaningful blogging is when you do so with regularity.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Movie Reflections

I'm enjoying The Prisoner of Azkaban on ABC Family this evening, vaguely wondering why I wait to watch when I have the DVD collection, and reflecting a bit on the differences between previous HP movies and the most recent. I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last weekend and like everyone else, have an opinion.

The movie was visually stunning and a bit dark in parts, as was the book. It focused a great deal on a few basic elements of the overall story such as Dumbledore's hunt for memories, Harry befriending the troubled and smug Professor Slughorn, provided glimpses of Tom Riddle as child (great casting, he was perfectly eerie and befitting the character), had some wonderful comedic moments with Ron, and allowed for the characters to grow into their destiny. There was a lot to like about the movie.

Much was missing in this movie, a natural occurrence for a 600+ page book edited to a two and one-half hour movie. It felt a bit hodge-podge, a rough stitching of several book vignettes put together as a bridge readying us for the next movie. Very little discussion of the half-blood-prince, we didn't learn Lupin was engaged, Hagrid was missing throughout most of the film, and the end felt contrived as opposed to meaningful. I disliked the added scenes that were really not necessary to the movie; specifically the Weasly's house and race through the swamp. I suppose that is why the movie is based on the book.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

But mine is green

After a bit of research, I finally decided to buy a new digital camera. Prices seemed to be the same across the board (Target, Walmart, Best Buy) and since I was looking for a simple upgrade, that was a purchase factor. I looked at the Kodak M320 and the Kodak M340; both significantly increased the 4.2 mega pixel of my current digital. On one hand, there was only a $30 price difference between the two models and an increase of 1.0 mega pixel. On the other hand, there was a price difference of $30 with only a 1.0 mega pixel increase.

I dithered a bit in the store and finally made my decision, even now it's charging the battery, the M320. Why? Well, it was available in green after all!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Going to Chicago

It's that time again; actually it's a bit later than usual for that time. This year ALA Annual is July 9 - 15th in Chicago, IL. I waited to register, dragging my feet and the decision to attend until mid-June, and missed the opportunity to participate with Libraries Build Communities. I am disappointed, but did need to limit my time in Chicago for financial reasons; this year the 2009 and 2010 Annual Conferences will be in the same academic fiscal years and Chicago is completely on my dime. Hence, I will be leaving Friday and returning on Monday.

I have a reasonable morning departure time on Friday, a reservation at the Palmer House Hilton on the Gale Shuttle Route, and my return flight on Monday gets me home before the evening rush! I spent a bit of time shopping this holiday weekend, attending ALA is always a good reason to get a new summer outfit, and am now dithering about a new camera. I have determined not to take my computer, I can always use the Internet Cafe, so a new camera would be a treat. I still need to get a few essentials and to that point will be taking my Kohl's coupon on a ride tomorrow after work for new sneakers. So, even though I dithered, things are on coming along.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

All the words

Like every other holiday, the Fourth of July holiday weekend has a few family traditions. They changed and evolved somewhat through the years and more recently have included watching Independence Day and the PBS special A Capitol Fourth. My mom was a big fan of the National Symphony Orchestra and the fireworks.

The year A Capitol Fourth featured, Barry Manilow! He just finished his set and I am not sure if it's a good thing I still know all the words to his songs.

Now I just need to find Independence Day on TV.

Happy July 4th

It's Pittsburgh fireworks from the 250 Celebration in October 2008, lovely enough to make me a bit home sick this beautiful Independence Day weekend.

Thanks to Lifehacker for the fireworks link (it's photo #6) and the original photo posted on Flickr by acharness.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

@ the library, summer reading

It has been a number of years since my last venture into a library for summer reading. Sadly, summer reading at an academic library is nothing like summer reading in a public library (though under the right circumstances it could be). This morning I took my niece to her scheduled summer reading program at the local public library. There was a group story time for second and third graders, two different craft tables, and naturally, time to choose books to read.

The best part was watching the children interact with each other; all of the girls sat at one table and the boys another. Their story time leader did not specify seating, nor did the craft/activity, the children segregated themselves with little thought or planning. It was a definite study in eight-year-olds; the boys gossiped like a group of little old ladies discussing movies, Wii, and playstation, while the girls worked quietly finishing the task at hand. I am still wondering what the "B" word in the movie was, but all-in-all found my morning very educational.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins!

Goal calls and post-game celebration featuring Hall of Fame announcer Mike Lange.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Somthing to read

Today was my Saturday shift for the summer term (and now it's over!). There was a newly cataloged cart of children's books awaiting delivery to the new book shelves in the juvenile collection. It is never enough to just rearrange and shelve the books, there is always time to review new additions; as I was shelving I could not resist selecting one or two or six to check-out.

"What do you do if you can deadlift a car, and you spend your nights flying to get away from it all? If you’re fifteen-year-old Avery Pirzwick, you keep that information to yourself. When you’re a former jock turned freak, you can’t afford to let the secret slip. "

"But then Avery makes some friends who are as extraordinary as he is. He realizes they’re more than just freaks—together, maybe they have a chance to be heroes. First, though, they have to decide whether to trust the mysterious Cherchette, a powerful wouldbe mentor whose remarkable generosity may come at a terrible price." -- Dull Boy,
Amazon product description

"Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren't just from the wrong side of the tracks--they're from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, no one at their high school takes them seriously. Haberman calls them "gentlemen," but everyone else ignores them--or, in Bones's case, is dead afraid of them. When one of their close-knit group goes missing, the clues all seem to point in one direction: to Mr. Haberman." -- Gentlemen, Amazon product description

Two were destined for home this afternoon, Gentlemen and Dull Boy, and are resting comfortabley on the sofa as I listen to the hockey game on Pens radio and try to ignore the ten second delay between radio and television because of the fickle announcers on NBC (they are very pro-Redwing, the Pens have not yet won a game, it's the Wings losing). I'll soon have to decide listen or watch, doing both is very disconcerting.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Boston Globe - Horn Book Awards 2009

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were announced. "Presented annually since 1967, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards reward excellence in children’s and young adult literature and are given in three categories: Fiction and Poetry, Nonfiction, and Picture Book."

Fiction and Poetry
Nation, by Terry Pratchett
Check out the Terry Pratchett video on

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, by Candace Fleming

Picture Book
Bubble Trouble, by Margaret Mahy

All three of the winning authors are widely renowned. Mr. Pratchett, perhaps best known for his raucous comic fantasies for children and adults, displays a philosophical bent with Nation, a young adult novel about two nineteenth-century children who create a new society from the ground up. Candace Fleming’s dual biography of the President and Mrs. Lincoln employs the intricate scrapbook format that distinguished her earlier Ben Franklin’s Almanac and Our Eleanor. Margaret Mahy, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award and a two-time recipient of Boston Globe–Horn Book Award honor book citations, has written scores of novels, easy readers, and picture books. Bubble Trouble, a tongue-twisting tale about an airborne baby, marks the New Zealander’s second collaboration with English illustrator Polly Dunbar.

Judges also selected two honor books for each category as well. In the fiction and poetry category; The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume Two: The Kingdom on the Waves, by M.T. Anderson and The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman; in the nonfiction category The Way We Work, by David Macaulay and Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, by Tanya Lee Stone; and in the picture book category, Old Bear by Kevin Henkes, and Higher, Higher, by Leslie Patricelli.

I was happy, and a bit smug, to find all of the books honored are part of the library juvenile collection (whew). If you are interested in more information about these awards, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards includes links to past and present award winners, audio and video of acceptance speeches, and criteria and submission guidelines.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last of the budget

This has been one of the oddest academic years I have had; with seemingly unending emphasis on technology and web design little time has been available to read the juvenile books purchased. These last few weeks I have made a concentrated effort to rectify that situation, but find myself with the attention span of a cranky 3-year old. Books accompanied me to lunch and, more often than not, returned to the library unfinished. In some cases I did not even bother to read the end (I'm famous for that, it drives co-workers crazy), never a good sign. As luck would have it, one of my resource center budget lines had a bit of money remaining; the line I use to buy juvenile books.

A few of the titles I selected are detailed below. I hope one of them, or one of the two books I chose to take out of town with me, Absolutely Maybe and The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow, break my book ennui.

Time will tell, but in the meantime I am enjoying the freedom of better Internet connection with my new laptop and recently purchased wireless mouse (with usb connection). It's nice to be able to post without dropping the dial-up connection.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

oh, joy

It is that time again; yearly performance reviews are due soon. We have been using the same self-evaluation format for the last decade or so; new goals are set and accompanied by statements of goals fulfilled from the previous year. Though I find them increasingly mind-numbing and stressful, it is a yearly wake-up call. I use my yearly reviews as a time to update my resume/CV, a golden, if not forced, opportunity to take a critical look at my professional development.

This year a change in administrative faculty status was accompanied by a new evaluation process, a form. Thrilled not to have the multiple page document looming, a heartfelt sigh of relief was heard throughout the library. That is, until we looked at the new form this morning and realized it was comprised of setting goals and included statements of goals fulfilled.

Soon I will be digging through my computer files in search of last year's evaluation. Normally I would have a list highlighting monthly duties/accomplishments/tasks, I am incredibly anal in that regard, however be it good or bad, this year most of my time was consumed by the library web site and its accompanying committees, design, and creation. Instead of writing, this was the year of presentations with a state technology presentation, an ACRL poster session, and this Friday a workshop presentation.

Just goes to show, the more things change the more they stay the same, even evaluations.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Be careful what you wish for

Today was the first day of summer classes; there really is no rest for the wicked. Horrifically spoiled by graduate assistants and student workers providing uninterrupted service during the term, there is always a period of adjustment regarding summer hours and availability for the resource center. I have to get used to being the only person on duty and closing for lunch. Patrons have to get used to fewer hours during the work day, no evening or weekend hours, and no hours when I have vacation. It takes some time, but soon enough we will all adjust to the summer term groove.

Was it only last week that I was wishing for just a few minutes of peace and quiet? This morning, my wish was granted when there was not a soul on the second floor between 8 and 11 am ... it was spooky. The quiet was broken before lunch by a slightly cranky faculty member searching for videos and things picked up as students wandered into the library to try their course management software for the first time and print (and print and print).

This evening I am suffering from a bit of sensory overload; watching Dancing With the Stars, listening to game five Pens-Caps playoff hockey, talking on the phone to my sister, and blogging somewhat aimlessly here, all while trying to filter out the consistent drone of my dishwasher.

I'm outta here.

These are goal calls!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Enjoying YouTube

Now that I have my new toy and it's accompanying Internet connection, I am not as dependent upon YouTube for Penguins hockey highlights. I can listen LIVE to Mike Lange (thank you very much) on Pens radio and actually enjoy the game. However, I find I still can not help myself and do spend some time looking through available videos; this is especially true after the last three playoff games. Tomorrow evening I will be multi-tasking as I listen to the hockey game, watch Dancing with the Stars, and probably work on a presentation for Friday.

Yeah, technology.

Let's Go Pens!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Stop and smell the roses

Due to a course deadline countdown on the resource center door, for the last month we have been almost preternaturally aware of time remaining in the semester. As the countdown progresses, we know on a daily basis there are "x" number of days until the last day of class. While an exciting rite of passage, once the sign goes up its very existence makes the last month stretch ... on ... for ... ever. A bit of a conundrum.

Focused on getting us all through the course with minimum of fuss, it is easy to lose sight that with the end of the term excitement is finals and graduation. With graduation comes the yearly loss of great student workers who move on with their academic lives and careers. Both of my graduate assistants and two student workers are anticipating graduation on Saturday. One of my student workers has been with me for three years. A sweet young woman who has already secured a teaching position out of state, she has been joyfully anticipating her walk across stage. She also stopped in my office on Monday with a bouquet of flowers; a thank you and wonderful lift to my spirits.

It works!

The ten-year-old dinosaur running windows 98 with dial-up Internet connection has finally been relegated to bill paying and other internetless functions. My shiny new HP laptop arrived approximately ten days ago and after dithering relentlessly over an ISP, this evening I successfully connected my Verizon DSL account and am surfing at five bars of connectivity.

Just in time to catch-up with the Penguins, I would be a lot happier listening to fabulous Mike Lange announce the games if they could manage to win one against the Caps.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Three Year Anniversary

I missed it again, yesterday was my blog anniversary. I started this venture on April 17, 2006 without any goal or purpose. I simply wanted to play with new technology. After attending an ALA session on writing, I used the format as a way to write every day with hope that it would make me more comfortable when the time came to try and make the challenge of publishing articles in my field a reality. It helped! I have had several articles published in peer reviewed journals and even two chapters in a book.

More blogging? I started a collaborative library blog with friends and we work together on discussing library related topics at our leisure. I have two work blogs for my resource center and also started a library news blog to go with the new library web site. Continued opportunity to teach technology as an adjunct incorporates blogs into one course as an announcement board and another class where students are writing their own reflection blogs. All in all, blogging and reading blogs has become a very commonplace part of my daily professional development and pleasure reading.

The most commented upon post? Without a doubt the post that garners the most comments has been Who's Who? Who am I, What? - discussing my naiveté, trials, and tribulations with the publisher.

With a new computer and better internet connection pending, as well as the end of an academic school year that included a new library web site during the fall and back to back presentations along side teaching two classes , I hope to get back to discussing children's books in the near future. There are CARTS of books in technical services just waiting.

Irony, computer style

Joyous email news on Thursday alerted me my laptop had shipped and would arrive in five to seven days (choose free shipping = longer wait).Yipee! I received my printer and extended warranty package earlier this week ; a bit odd, but not without merit.

This morning I turned on the reliable dinosaur to pay bills and back up a few files (photos, etc.) and discovered my monitor was toast. Just in case, I turned everything off, walked away for an hour, and tried again. Zip, zilch,nada , just an unblinking black screen that appeared to be metaphorically sticking out it's tongue. Fine. Too annoyed to go on an extended shopping spree, I went to the local devil store and located an HP monitor for my budget analysis price of $150.

It's really lovely, a well designed 20 inch flat screen that takes up significantly less room on my desktop than the previous monitor. It set up easily and is compatible with the dinosaur, but as is the case with mixing new with ten year old technology the end result is not perfect. The old computer does not have available settings for the recommended 1600 x 900 display; everything is stretched oddly across the screen. I can live with it and will be able to back up the desktop on CD. In fact, I planned on keeping the desktop anyway.

Now it's time to begin researching a new Internet service provider.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stanley Cup Playoffs

It hasn't really been a blog holiday, it just seems like one. Computer issues (my 10-year old dinosaur with win 98 and dial-up), life, and work (teaching 2 classes, preparing 2 presentations, and general craziness) have interfered with time to read let alone post reviews. The end of the term looms, a new computer is being built ... and ... it's time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Beware the Penguins

I won't get to see the Pens vs. Flyers tonight, but predict I will become a Columbus Blue Jacket fan as they plan the Redwings in the first round.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ACRL 2009: An Overview

It's hard to believe the ACRL conference has come and gone; I spent so much time preparing that the actuality was almost anticlimactic. I took a vacation day and designated Wednesday a travel day for two reasons (1) it was cheaper to pay an extra night in the hotel than fly out Thursday, and (2) I wanted to take one of the Seattle tours before the conference officially opened. It worked well, I was able to have a bit of time to acclimate myself to the new time zone and see a few sights on an unusually sunny Seattle day. I took over 300 photos, got yummy chocolate covered cherries at Pike Place Market and our tour bus hit a parked car ... but that's another thing.

I enjoyed this conference a great deal more than the ACRL conference in Minnesota, not because of the venue or location, but because the programs offered were a bit more diverse. My particular favorite was the Cyber Zed Shed; a series of twenty minute technology presentations offered near the poster session pavilion. There are only so many instruction and research sessions a body can take, these were great windows of opportunity. I gleefully attended six or seven of these mini-sessions (more on them later) and brought back some very usable tips, tricks, and technology.

ACRL's opening keynote speaker was Rushworth Kidder, replacing author Naomi Klein. Kidder presented an intriguing discussion on ethics and "Moral Courage." I also had opportunity to hear young adult author, poet, and screenwriter Sherman Alexie, known to me because of his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, as a keynote speaker Friday evening. The conference reception on Saturday evening was at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Hall of Fame, definitely a unique location with interesting exhibits and plenty to eat.

Sunday brought snow to the Seattle area, a weather phenom as odd as the sunshine it seems. Though the shuttle bus drive had to stop three times on the way to the airport to clean the windshield, we arrived in plenty of time. Someday I'll understand why it takes four hours to fly from Houston to Seattle and only three hours to fly from Seattle to Houston, but not today. Someday I'll understand why pilots have to say "mechanical" problem when we are waiting for maintenance to bring a stopper for the bathroom before take-off, but my lunch hour is over and I do not have time to ponder this either.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Chewing on Technology for Lunch

Contrary to popular belief, especially considering the last post here was the 16th of February, I have not abandoned my blogging roots. Honest.

I am currently reaping the rewards of an overachiever multitasking; presenting at a local conference last week, preparing to present a poster at ACRL next week, surviving midterms for two classes (one completely online graduate level), finessing a plethora of web page updates, and - let's not forget - actually performing my librarian duties. While updating my vitae this morning, I spent time convincing myself it would all be worth it in the end. Right now it's a hard sell.

I haven't ordered a juvenile book in weeks! I have four journals awaiting my perusal and subsequent selection (aka collection development). On the plus side:
  • The recent slow down on ordering allowed invoices to clear. The acquisitions librarian will have an easier time processing my records of spending against her records.
  • After the ACRL conference, I'll have a clear picture of remaining budget lines and be able to to allocate remaining funds where they will do the most good.
  • I have another presentation to add to my vitae.
  • I have another poster session to add to my vitae (a first with ACRL).
  • I have another grad class to add to my vitae, along with the lab class.
  • I refreshed skills with PowerPoint and Publisher.
  • I learned how to use Google sites and created a web site to supplement the online course, using Google sites to teach about Google sites.
  • I learned about all sorts of cool new web 2.0 technology at the recent conference including Pageflakes, VoiceThread, Voki, Animoto, Jing, Photofeedd, Photobucket, and Prezi.
  • I had technology refreshers in Flickr, Picasa, and TeacherTube.

Now, if only I had time to read a book. I miss my lunchtime children's literature reading hour.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New J.D. Robb!

Saturday's trip to a not-so-local Target bagged not only a new Linda Fairsten book, but also alerted me that I'd missed the latest J.D. Robb ... In Death title announcement. Due out next Tuesday, February 24th - my birthday no less, is Promises in Death.
Here's the publisher's description from Amazon:

A Amarylis Coltraine may have recently transferred to the New York City police force from Atlanta, but she’s been a cop long enough to know how to defend herself against an assailant. When she’s taken down just steps away from her apartment, killed with her own weapon, for Eve the victim isn’t just “one of us.”

Dallas’s friend Chief Medical Examiner Morris and Coltraine had started a serious relationship, and from all accounts the two were headed for a happy future together. But someone has put an end to all that. After breaking the news to Morris, Eve starts questioning everyone from Coltraine’s squad, informants, and neighbors, while Eve’s husband, Roarke, digs into computer data on Coltraine’s life back in Atlanta. To their shock, they discover a connection between this case and their own painful, shadowy pasts.

The truth will need to be uncovered one layer at a time, starting with the box that arrives at Cop Central addressed to Eve containing Coltraine’s guns, badge, and a note from her killer: “You can have them back. Maybe someday soon, I’ll be sending yours to somebody else.”

But Eve Dallas doesn’t take too kindly to personal threats, and she is going to break this case, whatever it takes. And that’s a promise.

Morris is one of my favorites and I'll admit to a bad feeling about the blonde ... Anyway, read an excerpt from Nora's web site: Promises in Death.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Abe!

I'm listening/watching the History Channel's live teach-in at the National Archives in Washington, DC, part of a mini-site of Abraham Lincoln resources currently available. Teacher resources are available and include handouts, lesson starters, hyperlinks, and video clips:

Don't forget the American Presidents page on Abraham Lincoln. Lunch is over, but I can listen as I work!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Penguin Story

A Penguin Story, is the latest book by Antoinette Portis author/creator of Not a Box. Edna the penguin's life is snow white, dark nights, and blue water and sky. Craving color and something different, she ventures out into the world and finds ... orange! Eager to share her discovery, Edna rushes home and leads the others to a camp of scientists living in vivid orange tents with matching coats and gloves. The two communities become friends and when the scientists depart, Edna is given an orange glove as a reminder of their adventure. Portis cleverly uses a limited color palette of white, black, blue, and orange juxtaposed against the penguins for maximum effect; even the text is presented in black and white. Readers are left wondering what color Edna will find next on her next adventure, "What else could there be?"

Eagle-eyed readers will spot the low flying orange air plane foreshadowing color to come and might enjoy guessing what Edna will find during her journey through the frozen tundra. Children who have seen some of the recent penguin movies, such as Happy Feet, may have added questions concerning the scientists. However, this adventure will please anyone who has ever craved something different.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pete & Pickles

Pete & Pickles, by Berkeley Breathed is a delightful story of unlikely friendship, acceptance and love between a "perfectly, predictable, pig" named Pete and a wonderfully exuberant circus elephant named Pickles. The pair meet during a stormy night when Pickles, an escapee from the circus, attempts to hide under Pete's couch. Found and returned to the circus by a tired clown, Pickles leaves behind a gift of bright, yellow dandelions. Pete's walk the next day takes him to the circus where he helps Pickles escape; soon the two friends are sharing Pete's home and wonderful adventures directed by the free-spirited elephant. Friendship hits a snag when Pickles begins "getting into things she shouldn't have been in" and Pete asks her to leave. The resulting fiasco causes mayhem and puts the pair in danger. Told with vibrant and lush digitally mastered artwork, Pete & Pickles is an appealing tale perfect for sharing.