Saturday, September 12, 2009

A dinosaur? Nah.....

It seems there is always somebody writing an article about how "traditional" brick and mortar libraries are going to be gone soon--replaced by banks of computers all using Google or similar search engines. And the mousy, shushing, meek librarians (even the new generation with tattoes and piercings and membership cards to the local roller derby team) will all be out of jobs or something.

Hear me, oh journalistic ones! Today I was helping a twenty-something man place a hold on a book. He asked me when he could expect to get the ASVAB book on which he had a hold, and I told him he was 6th on the list and so it depends on how quickly the people in front of him on the list return the book. But I was not done. As he turned to walk away, I asked him if he has Internet access at home. He doesn't, but he comes into the library a lot. So I showed him how to access practice tests from a database we subscribe to. He was amazed. I turned around, and another man asked me for the gardening section. Off we were to the 635s! After he found what he was looking for, a young lad approached me about placing holds on DVDs. After we achieved success there, his father informed me that the lad got his library card when his Boy Scout troop all got cards. Now the boy makes his dad bring him to the library every single week. When I congratulated them on this, I thought I might have the chance to sit down. Ha! No, one lady just got a puppy, and she needs to learn how to train it. Off to the 636s, and I even found her a Cesar Millan book since her friend recommended the "Dog Whisperer".

So, all you doom and gloom types, realize that the library may be changing, but it is not changing THAT much. As for me, I am glad to help all those people today...their smile is my reward.

And for those interested in a business opportunity...see :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Monsieur Freeman has written about reorganizing his blog, and I just switched my twitter background to one of the New Jersey Devils, thanks to a tip from another SPLer. Right now I mainly use my twitter account to follow other people instead of announcing whatever to the world at large (or the 5 people who are still following me). But it's nice to inject a little fun and personality into it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Last Thing...

The last thing on the list is to summarize my thoughts on doing the 27 Things. I started this blog on April 7th, and I just re-read all of my posts. About 3 years ago, my friend Stephanie told me about a blog she started that was written from the perspective of her son, who is 4 months older than my son. I loved reading it because I felt like I was participating in their lives even though we live so far away. I started a blog (on blogger) for my son for her to read, and I kept it up for a while. The most tech-savvy thing I did on that blog was choose a template, and that was it. I was a little hesitant when I started the 27 Things because I really did not want to look like an idiot. (Who does, really?) But I put one foot in front of the other like the Winter Warlock does in "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", and I jumped right in. As many other people have stated, I have enjoyed reading the blogs of other SPLers and learning lots about them as people, not just for what they do at work. I was also blown away at some of the stuff they were doing. For instance, I emailed Doris to ask her how to embed links like she was doing, and she was happy to help. I saw how cool her blog looked after she changed the colors and added a header, and I was determined to do that, too. I found a header I absolutely love while exploring task #6, and that really motivated me to keep going. I even told Chris Freeman that he might be sorry that he encouraged us all to do this because I was having too much fun! At one point, John and I were semi-competing with each other to find cool new things and feeling righteously superior when showing the other how we figured it out.

Overall, I learned a lot, and I am much more likely to try out new applications and what-not thanks to doing this program. I feel sorry for all the pooh-poohers who refused to participate or gave up quickly because it really was a lot of fun. Reading through my posts reminds me of how much I have learned. Also, I got to brag a little about my first cousin once removed, Elena Myers, and it was through her Facebook page that I found my cousin Mike (can you imagine how many people on Facebook have the name Mike Myers or Michael Myers so it would have been too frustrating to search for him just by name alone). I also made a cool magazine cover using a photo of my son. Natalie, with her eagle eyes, noticed that I changed the "About Me" part to say that I am expecting a baby. I'm sure she would have noticed at one of our monthly meetings anyway, but it was fun to see that somebody noticed it on the blog. I plan on continuing to post as I discover new ways to use technology, even if I am the only one who knows about it.

And now I find out that the deadline to finish has been extended, but that doesn't matter because......I'm done! Woo-hoo! I'm going to Disney World!! (not really, but wouldn't that be fun?)

Second to Last Thing

I realized this week that this is the last week to do this! Aack! Ok, so the task is downloading an audiobook. When I first looked at the instruction page on SPL's website, I got a little overwhelmed. But then I remembered that I felt like that with many of the tasks after starting this blog. So I just took it step by step and voila! Is this something I will do a lot? Probably not since I generally use my iPod only when going to the gym and I like hearing the rhythms of the songs while I let my mind wander instead of needing to follow a plot. But, I will be going on vacation next month to visit family and friends back East. I can see how having an audiobook on my iPod would give my mind something to do so it will seem like the flight takes somewhat less than forever. Of course, I usually bring a paper-and-ink book, but it's nice to have options. Watching "Go, Diego, Go" episodes on the portable dvd player with my son is not my preferred option. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some thoughts on Facebook

I know Facebook is not part of the 27 Things, but I wanted to write about it anyway. For a while, I had actively maintained a Myspace page, but I abandoned that about 2 years ago. I started a Facebook account, but I didn't do much with it until a few months ago. I did the usual joining some silly groups (I even started one--Powells for Powell's Books) and looking for classmates and so on. I friended my sisters and realized I could start "collecting" my cousins when I saw my sisters' friend lists. This is wonderful! My grandmother died in 1998, and so it has been harder to keep track of all the family's doings especially since they are mostly on the East Coast. I miss all the fun of being part of a large Irish Catholic family with regular get-togethers, and Facebook allows me to keep up with the Reilly bunch. For example, Bridget and her family went on a picnic at Lake George, and Erin is on her way to Cape Cod (I'm so jealous!).

I just recently decided to actively look for my cousins on my father's side, and so far, I found and friended my cousin Mike. (That is right--I am related to Michael Myers. What do you expect of Rosemary's baby??) Mike wrote that he is excited to stay in contact with someone from the Myers side of the family and that his brothers are not on Facebook but maybe we can convince them.

I am also friends with some of my grad school buddies. John is probably very relieved I can get some of my passion for the FSU Seminoles out with Erich so he doesn't have to listen to it. He'll tell me that his grad school's football team is undefeated, but that is because they don't have one.

Lastly, I went to a very small Catholic high school for girls, which, like Loretto this year, closed in 1990. My class had only 42 students, and we have never had a reunion. Thanks to one very sweet person, a group for our school was created and I joined it soon after. My mother always said you'd be surprised who you do and who you don't keep in touch with after high school. The girl that I would describe as my best friend during high school blew me off soon after graduation, and the last time I saw her was 16 years ago. Thanks to Facebook, we caught up on our lives and now keep in touch. She even posted photos of us at graduation and with our "gang" at her house that summer. Recently, 3 more of our class joined the group, and I have friended all of them with the hopes that we will get a 25th reunion after all. I also friended a girl in the class ahead of me that rode the same school bus. We traded a lot of "remember the time when?" messages about riding the bus with the Christian Brothers Academy boys and snowball fights with the public school kids when we got to certain red lights. She rightly said that it was hilarious to us, but she would be horrified if her kids experienced bus rides like we did. Still hilarious, though.
Overall, Facebook can be a time suck, but it has greatly reduced the sense of isolation I feel from people back home and for that I am grateful.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The SPL website

This post relates to thing #23: to peruse the SPL website. First off, hats off to all who have worked on the site during the past year in whatever capacity. Creating and maintaining a functional and "user-friendly" website is a huge (and largely thankless) task.

I, unlike my friend akajill, tried the exercise of placing a hold on "Twilight" while at work, and I clicked the mouse 3 times. Yea, me! I did do some health research after getting some bloodwork results. They (Sutter) should make the notifications of results a little more user-friendly because I did not quite understand what some of the abbreviations were. I did find some money saving advice. I could add one: potty train your kid as soon as possible! I did not need to peruse our site for job resources. It seems I am using that information all the time. I just hope I don't need to use it for myself any time soon! :)

I will have to double check, but I think I have one more "thing" after this. But I am sure I will find things to post until the end (and maybe after!) just to keep from getting rusty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What is that Thingfo?

Apparently nothing. I signed up for Thingfo just like I dutifully signed up for other things on the 27 Things list. Thingfo does not like me. I took a tour of the site and read the FAQs before doing anything else. So far, so good. But then it all fell apart. Every time I tried to sign in, it would not recognize my password. So I would reset my password (to the same one it was the first time) several times over. Then I would try to get started and it would give me the 404 message, which is something like "What are you trying to do? Get out of here!" Cute, but not very friendly. So I'd try again only to be kicked off the site. Honestly, I suppose having your twitter feed on your blog could be useful for some, but I don't find it quite necessary for my blog. Perhaps the people at Thingfo know this, and so I am not allowed to move past the home page. Oh, well. I am not going to lose any sleep over it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chirp! I mean, tweet!

I am skipping ahead to Twitter because my cousin Danny posted on Facebook that he surprisingly updates Twitter more than Facebook. Ever curious, I signed up for a Twitter account and promptly started following him and Eddie Izzard and a few other people. One person even started following me (thanks, Marjorie!) Danny is a writer for television, so it is interesting to read about some of the things he does on a regular basis. He hasn't lost that East Coast mentality even though he lives in L.A.

John introduced me to Eddie Izzard's comedy, and that guy (Eddie, well, John, too) can be just hilarious. Makes me glad I took French when he slides into that language during his stand-up routines. Anyway, he seems to really like tweeting about the weather in England. You just never know when that info will come in handy on the reference desk! Plus I learned a new bit of slang, which, unlike the slang John recently learned, is socially acceptable. Apparently to label something "pants" (Eddie tweeted that he heard the weather in LA is pants) is to say it is bad. I don't know how that meaning came about, but I'm looking forward to working the term into a conversation soon.

Several articles I read about Twitter said it is best to not use the web interface, and it seems I will have a lot to learn before I stop looking like the newbie I am. However, because I cannot access the web on my phone--I have enough bills as it is without upgrading to a more expensive cell phone plan although John and I have about a billion rollover minutes so why can't we trade those in for text messaging credits or something--I am not sure how convenient this will be for me. I'll keep working with it, though, just to try to stay current and hip. Especially since Valley Girl talk went out ages ago! Fer sure, fer sure!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

(A pea in the) podcast?

Find a podcast that I like. Well, that was not too hard to do because CBS interrupted my mornings in January. They decided to take a popular (and profitable) morning talk show off the air to save money, which makes no sense to me. So I headed over to Adam Corolla's podcast website and took a listen to a part of a recent podcast. The format is, of course, looser than the radio show, but it was nice to find out what some frequent guests have been up to in the past few months. Well, CBS' decision has increased the circulation of books on CD for SPL because I am tired of the same old, same old music they play on the radio.

Unlike some members of my household, I am a big fan of what the Irish call "trad" (short for traditional music). I mentioned in my last post that my dad's side is almost completely German. I am sure nobody is surprised to know that my mother's side is almost completely Irish, and Albany has a sizeable Irish-American population. When I was in college, an Irish immigrant and musician, Eamonn McGirr, had his own show on Siena College's radio station, and I loved it. He left his beloved Ireland because he felt his daughter would get better treatment for her cerebral palsy in the US, and it was a joy to listen to him share music and tales of his homeland. I was delighted to find I can listen at my leisure and find some new favorite artists. By the way, Danu will be coming to the Mondavi Center in December. Any other trad fans out there want to go?

Lastly, I listened to Chris Kretz's podcast called "Learning to Speak: Creating a library podcast with a unique voice". He is a librarian at Dowling College who got drawn into podcasting, and he talks about what he has learned in the process. It has made me wonder about the possibility of podcasting Telecuento, Dial A Book, and Dial A Story. Dowling College sits on a former estate of somebody or another (sorry, can't remember who). Since the archivists sometimes get asked questions about the estate, he created a Primary Sources Theater using some of the archival materials in the library to tell stories of what it was like in that time. I think of all the stuff we have in the Sacramento Room and wonder what a similar podcast might be like.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You can't-a-have-a de Mango (for all you Chris Kattan fans)

I have a wonderful pen-pal (or email pal) in Germany, and I have had the luck to meet Peter twice while he was touring around the US with his wife, Nicole. My father's side of the family is almost completely German, and my ancestors came to the US between 1830-1857. Not surprisingly, the language was not passed down to my generation. Peter was kind enough to translate a legend from the Facebook page of Andernach, the hometown of my great-great-grandfather, Phillipus Zerwas, but I thought it would be interesting to learn some German on my own. I liked Mango in that it gave you basic phrases and a lot of repetition that reminded me of my first years of French in middle school. But I found that I am not retaining it without having an opportunity for constant use. I have, for years, wanted to take sign language, especially knowing that my son might have a genetic tendency for a hearing loss (luckily, he doesn't), but without an opportunity to practice my skills constantly, I have put my energies elsewhere.

I took five years of French in school. I got a 97 on the statewide exam (in 1984). But when I was at lunch with John and Chris the other day, I could only make out some words here and there of the conversation of the people speaking French at the next table. The rest of it was bleh blah di bluh bluh....I can read it much better than speak and hear it now that I am so far removed from actively learning it.

So am I going to be fluent in German using Mango? No, but it is a good place to start. You can get a feel for the language and then move on to more intensive instruction.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Youtube part 2

One of the things we are supposed to be talking about regarding Youtube is the possible applications for the library. I think we could take Youtube back to its "how-to" roots and make short videos (maybe longer than 12 seconds, Chris) on how to reserve a computer or how to access one's account and renew a book online....

Someone who works for SPL posted to Twitter recently about the new Melrose Place and how she wants to be left with her memories. I completely understand that as I am incensed that somebody decided to tamper with one of the greatest shows of my childhood: Land of the Lost. While I agree that Will Ferrell is a logical choice, the trailer is completely horrible and stupid. John laughs his butt off every time the commercial comes on and I go into a rant. I'm sorry. The show is pure cheese, and you just can't replicate it. It is just wrong. For those of you who know nothing of the show (like John) or who do remember and want to reminisce, here is the intro:

(unfortunately, the embedding is disabled upon request, so you'll have to click on the link)

What do you think? Did you get your weekly calcium intake just by watching that? I remember my little sister and I glued to the set each week before doing our Saturday chores. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Youtube, Youcylinder, Youcrazy?

Well, I remember Youtube when it was all about "how-to" videos. It was quite helpful then, and now it is more of an entertainment venue. Before I really play around with it, I am going to try to embed a video into this post. If I am successful, great. If not, well, try, try again --until I get so frustrated that I am tempted to throw the computer out the window. So here goes. Regular readers of this blog might remember that my cousin Matt's daughter, Elena, races motorcycles. So here is a promo video she did....all I can say is "wow"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Zoho...who came up with that name?

I am going to attempt to write this in Zoho Writer and then post it to my blog. I think I like Zoho very much, although I would need to really play around with it before feeling comfortable that I can take advantage of all its features. I liked the invoice option and other applications, but, again, how often will I need those since I have (most of) those functions covered in different applications? I can really see the value in this for writing shared reports--like the million (okay, it seemed like a million) papers I had to write in library school. John recently posted that his son, Christopher, was having some issues at school. Chris called John to ask his advice, and John wrote a letter and sent it as an email attachment to Chris. If they had been familiar with Zoho, then they both could view and edit the document to exactly fit the details as Chris understands them, and then Chris could print out the letter, sign it, and send it to the other party in the dispute. The way it happened was fine, but it might have been faster and done with a little more finesse with Zoho. I am definitely going to keep this in mind for future situations.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Web Awards

I have played with Zoho, but I am going to address that in my next post. I am going to skip ahead to Web 2.0. One of the first things I looked at was Urbanspoon. It is a site where folks can post good restaurants in various cities across the nation. Excellent! Although sometimes I want the dependability of a restaurant chain, I, like most people, feel that I might as well have stayed at home if I am going to eat somewhere that has a location in Sacramento. I want to emphasize that last bit because there are some chain restaurants that I patronize every chance I get because they are not in Sacramento. This includes Friendly's Ice Cream, Sonny's BBQ, and Newport Creamery. Since John and I are going to take a mini-trip soon, I looked for some places near where we'll be staying. (In an interesting twist, one restaurant owned by a friend of John's ex caused my ex to get food poisoning about 5 years ago.) After that, I was curious to see what restaurants were on the list for Albany, in case something new and exciting opened up recently. I was dismayed to see a lot of chain restaurants on there....until I saw they have a Carrabba's! I fell in love with Carrabba's when I lived in southwest Florida, and so I will probably have to give up a Friendly's trip to go there. In case anyone is going to Albany, I must recommend a restaurant that is (shockingly) not on the list: El Loco's. Delicious food and great margaritas.

I also looked at mothersclick, which looks very interesting. I have seen many similar sites, but this is nicely organized. The only problem I have is that, as a mom, I just don't have much free time during the day to look at this site. I'd much rather play with my son.

I'm going to play around with some more of these. I know the man who used to own the domain name for Mog, so it was interesting to see that on the list, too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Say "wiki" 3 times fast and you sound like you need WD-40

First assignment is to explore 3 wikis. I looked at the pathfinder site for St. Joseph County Public Library, and I chose the Finding Birth Families pathfinder because it is a subject near and dear to my family. My eldest nephew, Alex, is adopted, and three of my cousins are adopted. I really like the layout of the page, the variety of information formats, and that I could tell the information was recently updated.

I next looked at the Blogging Libraries wiki. I was hoping to see a listing for the libraries in towns where I have lived (besides Central's), but I didn't. Oh well. I wanted to see what was being done to serve communities that I was well familiar with instead of just picking a random one, but it is still useful.

Then I looked at the Library Success: Best Practices wiki. I am going to have to delve into this deeper. It looks really interesting, and, looking at the wiki user list, I saw some names that I recognize from listservs, journals, or other professional sources. (I was also secretly hoping to see the names of some of my FSU classmates, but I did not recognize any.)

I was trying to think of ways SPL could benefit from a wiki for staff. Splat articles are static but can be taken down and then newer versions put up relatively quickly. I know some of us who would not mind the ability to go in and correct the spelling or grammar on a form or article, though. To my knowledge, sharepoint is the closest thing we have now to a wiki, but, if there is someone who uses it regularly, I don't know about it. Most people view it as one more thing to log into and ignore it unless it is absolutely necessary. If we do start a wiki, it should be somehow prominently featured on splat so it does not get lost in all the other things.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Continued musings....

In Dr. Wendy Schultz's article, she speaks about Library 2.0 being "everywhere, barrier-free, and participatory." She goes on to suggest this model will "collaborate with Amazon; provide digital download of books; create a global, and globally accessible, catalog; invite readers to tag and comment". Hmm, sounds familiar.

I remember a few years back, when Youth Services Librarians were reviewing books and recommending purchase levels, I was assigned a book about Christmas. I personally did not like the message of the book. I felt overall the title had some merit (and it was beautifully illustrated), but I could not decide if it had enough merit for a "third purchase" rating. (For those who are unfamiliar with this process, first purchases were relatively rare and were those "must buy" titles. Second purchases were your average title and, if you had a good budget, you picked up a healthy amount of these. Third purchases were those that were so-so or had limited appeal, and those with small budgets knew to avoid ordering these. Of course, the best fun was presenting a reject (unavailable for purchase) at the monthly meetings. Neva and Rebecca Nadel were really good at skewering these titles, and you could almost hear the gong.)

But I digress. I decided that I would look at Amazon customer reviews of the book because I wanted to know if there were people who were not bothered by the things that bothered me. I found many positive reviews; therefore, I decided to make it a third purchase instead of a reject and let the other YS folks decide for themselves if they wanted it for their branch. When I made my presentation at the monthly meeting and stated what I did not like about it and that I checked Amazon, I got an angry "Oh, so we are letting Amazon and the public choose the titles for us?" from one of my colleagues. I was stunned because librarians are not God (really, we're not) who alone are capable of creating a "Library of Eden", if you will. People have a wide range of information needs, and they are constantly changing with the circumstances of their lives. We need to listen to them to meet their needs, whether it is a book dealing with losing a loved one, how to train a puppy, or videos to learn new things and drown out your noisy neighbors.

Skipping over Library 3.0, (although I like the idea of being "collected" as long as I have a high re-sale value unlike most comic books), I zoomed to Library 4.0 where she talks about a "knowledge spa: meditation, relaxation, immersion in a luxury of ideas and thought". The first thing that came to my mind was does she mean this:
in the movie "Wall-E", humans on the ship no longer do a thing for themselves...everything is automated and instantaneous. Even food comes in milkshake form to expedite assuaging hunger.
But then I re-read it, and I see that she did not mean that at all. Considering that I cannot collect full Social Security benefits, assuming they will still exist, until 2035, I guess I will be around a while to see what the future holds....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Devil is in the details...

It was an interesting start to the day. I swung by Raley's to pick up something for lunch. I settled on a salad and a Diet Pepsi, and the total came to $6.66. Yep, that infamous number from the Bible and the subject of an Iron Maiden song. (Whoo! Maiden!) But I suppose I should not be surprised because I am Rosemary's baby. My mother has the same maiden name as the character in the book, and the movie came out when she was pregnant with me (so now curious folks can figure out how old I am!). She is not a fan of horror flicks anyway, but her friends made sure she did not see the film! This post started out being about wikis and how information can be changed or misleading, such as the character Rosemary was based on my mother. (I know several people who were relegated to wikipedia's sandbox and/or were branded a "vandal".) But then I realized I skipped over Thing 15, so I should not be so wiki about wikis, apparently.

In Rick Anderson's article, the statements "During the print era, if you wanted access to pricey indexes or a collection of scholarly journals, you had no choice but to make a trip to the library. It wasn't a good system, but it worked. Sort of. That is to say, it worked moderately well for those privileged with a good library." most of you know, I grew up in another state capital: Albany, NY. There were plenty of libraries to go to if one was not meeting one's needs. But then I thought about my sister, Carolyn. She currently lives in Podunk, NH. Okay, not really Podunk, but close enough. It has about 2,000 residents, and so you can imagine that the library serving her and her sons is not large nor really convenient for her to patronize. I can't speak to what services they do provide for folks beyond the bricks and mortar stuff, but I hope that it does offer some of the same services SPL does. My eldest nephew will be starting school this fall (yikes!), so he'll need information for school reports soon enough. Michael Stephens wrote that the 2.0 librarian "bases all planning and proposals for services, materials, and outreach on user needs and wants." I know that this has generated a lot of controversy in the past for SPL. Remember everybody all up in arms about SPL buying copies of "Jackass" on DVD?

"What are we, Blockbuster?" "We're a library, not Burger King! Why do we have to get trash instead of good literature just because they want it?"

But that concept is more than buying stuff the public wants. It is finding ways to get information in the hands of users regardless of when or how or even if they think they want it. That's what we all struggle with, isn't it? I don't see that ever going away, no matter how technology evolves.

One statement in that same paragraph jumped out at me: "This librarian does not create policies and procedures that impede users' access to the library". Oh boy! Ladies and gentlemen of SPL, this is something that has been a thorn in the side of many of us. There has been many changes (some work, some not) to the policies and procedures in the past few years. Fine structure, fine threshold, collections procedures, library card applications, borrowing limits.....and each have been hotly debated, whether at an individual level, a branch level, or an institution level. Some folks don't like change because they just don't like change. Some feel it is unfair to the folks who abide by the rules to let others "slide" a bit. Others think that by fixing one thing, you are breaking another. Regardless of the argument, no policy and procedure is going to be perfect, and what works in 2009 might not work in 2019. In the social work world, we say that if we do our jobs right, we put ourselves out of a job. Pretty idealistic, but not a bad thing to strive for. I think good policies and procedures that work right now (and continue to keep them current) are a worthy goal for us to strive for.

More musings in a post to come....

Saturday, May 2, 2009!

I used to think this guy was yummy--until he cheated on his wife with her sister-in-law. That spoiled my digestion. (Back to Tums from an earlier post!) And, what's worse, the team did not make it past the Hurricanes in the playoffs!

I signed up for a account, and I posted some of my favorite bookmarks. I like that I can go somewhere away from home and still have all my sites organized for easy access. Plus it is fun adding tags. Right, John?
I just joined Technorati, but I cannot claim my blog yet because they are busy processing pings. I hate it when that happens! I'll try again later, as the message so politely asks me to do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


My Telecommunications class at Florida State had a textbook whose author liked to throw in all these acronyms such as the title of this post (What you see is what you get) and TANSTAAFL (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch). Luckily for me, I recognized that my professor would use these as bonus questions on our weekly quizzes to make sure everyone was actually reading the book.

Last week, I signed up for Library Thing and Rollyo. (Can you roll a Rollyo to your friends?) Neither of which impressed me terribly. I did put five titles into my account on Library Thing, and perhaps it might be useful to know what shopping sites interest Debra Messing but I doubted it. Well, today I thought I was being very unfair in my initial impression, so I decided to play around some more with both. I have a better idea of Rollyo, and I created my own list of shopping sites. I see where it can be useful although I am not sure how much I will use it. I am glad to put it in my bag o' tricks though.

I am happier to talk about Library Thing. Now, regular readers of this blog will remember that "Dune" by Frank Herbert is one of my favorite books, so I put that down. Another one of my favorite books is "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeleine L'Engle, so I put that down. One of the books that is getting read over and over again in my house is "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!" by Mo Willems. Two more, two more.....oh, so another plug for Mr. Bruno and "Into the Pit 1" and I decided to create my own record by inputting "Walt Whitman in Australia". It is a rare title, and I think there are only two copies that survive in its entirety. So, when I entered these titles last week, I thought "big deal" since I already know about them, etc. (Nice attitude, huh? I claim sleep deprivation induced grumpiness) I was pleased to return to the books in my "library" and see a popularity ranking ("Dune" is ranked 45th with 12,235 members, and "Walt Whitman in Australia" is ranked 3,433,020th with 1 member), an average rating, reviews, recommendations, and the libraries that are most similar to yours. Ah! So I can discover new titles that I might not have known about--always a treat for a librarian--and can help with reader's advisory! I'm starting to like this Library Thing! My concerns are that a) many (though not all!) of the recommendations are other titles in the same series so it is not that helpful at times, and some of the recommendations are a little, shall we say, off-base? Recommendation number 6 for "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!" is "Wringer" by Jerry Spinelli. I loved "Wringer" when I read it, but it seems like an awfully big leap to go from reading a cute picture book about a clueless pigeon finding a hot dog to a chapter book about a 9 year old boy who does not want to turn 10 because the town tradition is that 10 year old boys wring the necks of pigeons wounded in the annual Pigeon Day shoot. I get the connection--pigeons--but sometimes technology can only do so much. That is why the world needs librarians. Now I just need to work on my superhero costume. Maybe Barbara Gordon can help me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Now this is cool!

What do you think of my new header? I have no idea who secretly made me into a comic book character (Al?? Did you have George do this??), but I think the likeness is striking. Except they gave my lips a collagen treatment. Perhaps so I would not sue them for using my likeness without permission.

Oh, and that guy behind me with the guns? He goes around to households where there are overdue materials and "politely" asks for them back. Some suspect it is John, but I'll never tell...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Too much fun....

Before I say anything else, I should apologize to technology for calling it "stupid" in my last post, even though I was kidding. As my son pointed out, "stupid" is a bad word so "no say that".

Speaking of my little (rambunctious) angel, I started playing with Image Generator. Check this out!

Isn't this cute? Of course, that isn't a real motorcycle. But my cousin Matt's eldest daughter, Elena Myers, does race motorcycles, and she's pretty good at it! Check out her website.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Old way vs. the new way

Last night, I checked my mailbox. You know the kind. It sits at the end of your property, and a trusty government worker drops all sorts of stuff into it like letters and bills. I received the latest version of the alumni newsletter from SUNY-Albany (although they call it UAlbany now). I found out that Harvey Milk is a fellow alum as I perused the pages.

Fast forward to a few minutes ago. I am checking out Topix to provide fodder for this blog (unlike the last post--that was for fun), and I learn that the"Craigslist Killer", Phil Markoff, is also an alum! I don't want to know that! Stupid technology! (just kidding)

I also learned that some streets in Albany are being closed to film a car chase scene for the latest Angelina Jolie action movie, "Salt". So it all evens out.

Right now, I like Topix, and I prefer Google Reader over Bloglines.

Technology--is it safer?

Before I delve into other tasks on the 27 Things list (I have a Bloglines account and managed to subscribe to some feeds)....

Everyone talks about how different youth has it these days. For example, my son plays on plastic playground equipment with nice soft landing areas vs. the metal that would rust and give you blisters either from friction or from being heated to a billion degrees in the sun.

Last night, my 8 year old neighbor, Coby, had another drum lesson. He just started, so he's not close to Tommy Lee yet. Angel, another neighbor, and I stood with our boys at the end of the driveway and shouted encouraging remarks about his rock star status, although he should be cautioned against playing with Spinal Tap. Angel stated she wished she had a lighter to hold aloft. I remembered I had my cell phone and held it aloft as apparently cell phones are the new lighter. One of my colleagues has an iPhone, which has a flashlight application that would be perfect for using at a concert. Certainly, it would be safer to use a cell phone's LCD than a lighter. I have never gotten burns on my thumb from a cell phone, unlike a lighter's flint wheel, at a concert or anywhere else. However, there is a certain satisfaction to flicking one's Bic and the element of danger connected to holding the element of fire.

Not to mention the satisfaction of burning a Red Sox hat with a Yankees lighter. Go, Nicky!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Back by popular demand, here is a link to the blog of my friend, Al Bruno III. He is a writer, and, unlike James Patterson, he is not getting rich off selling books just yet. But if he does, I plan on nominating one of his titles for One Book Sacramento. Probably not the one about the pavement eating monster though.

Piggybacking on John's post about technology/progress, today I was assisted with the task of seeing the branch with new eyes. (No, it wasn't anything like that disgusting scene in Minority Report with Tom Cruise). It's easy to stagnate when bogged down in the mundaneness of everyday tasks, but I want more. I want this place to be getting Better Every Day. I just heard a mom comment to her daughter, "The library is an exciting place to be." as they were exiting our all ages movie program. That's what I want to hear every single day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

That is so wrong.....

My friend Al knows that "Dune" by Frank Herbert is one of my top two favorite books. So he sent me an email this morning about a coloring book based on the novel. Yes, a coloring book! Are you kidding me? The page with Duke Leto lying dead on a gurney (not Gurney Halleck, ha ha) kills me (pun intended). What were these people thinking??? Leave the coloring books to the Care Bears and other such characters! Sheesh!

What's gonna work? Teamwork! (yes, the Wonder Pets theme song)

Yesterday I attended the Fully Engaged Customer Service workshop, and it gave me a lot to think about in terms of what do I do and how others perceive it. Plus the opportunity to see Joann Severson pretend to be irritated at a customer made it all worth it even if the rest of it bombed. Which it didn't. Anybody who attended the workshop knows the Beanie Baby exercise. For those who didn't, half the class stands in a circle, and it is determined who will throw a Beanie Baby at whom. It works best when everyone is focused on just 2 people: the person tossing it to you and the person you are tossing it to. However, I found it fascinating when it was my time to be observer to see how well it worked overall when everyone was focusing appropriately. That is where the teamwork comes in. If there is a staff person who is not doing their job, the team does not function as smoothly. But if everyone is doing their jobs, some pretty cool things happen. Speaking of teams....

Last night, John and I went to see the Stockton Thunder play the Ontario Reign in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs. Apparently, there was a baseball game at the same time, and maybe that is why the attendance was about half of what it was during the regular season games we attended. The whacko Cameron wasn't even there to stir up the crowd, but somehow the energy was more intense. These are the people who really care about hockey. The "YOU SUCK!!!!" crew was stronger and louder than usual. I even joined them on a few rounds. The Thunder worked better as a team than I had seen all year (except for the last 2 minutes of the third period when they allowed 2 short-handed goals to force it into overtime). They pulled it together to win in OT. Huddy fed the puck to Bates, who slapped a quick shot past Zatkoff, and it was sweet. What would have made the game better was if the officials would let the guys fight. Especially Hunt. That kid is 5'8", but he was not afraid to push back on the guys over 6' who were harrassing him. Go Thunder, and may you win the game tomorrow!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tums, anyone?

Some things are easy for me to learn. Other things are difficult, and it would be so much easier if I had a person sitting next to me telling me to do this, do this, and then do this rather than written instructions that I have to keep going over. This reminds me of starting out in grad school and learning how to submit my assignments online. It had to be in a certain format, and you had to cut and paste and other stuff I had never done before. Nobody helped me. I just had to keep trying different things until I got it right. And then I had to figure out how to do it again. Usually while gulping Tums to calm my upset stomach because my stomach is my "stress target".
Some of the people I help with computer questions at the library think I am a genius. I sure hate to disabuse them of that notion, but I know how it is to feel utterly stupid doing some computer tasks. I suppose trying to figure out a new task while getting constantly interrupted by reference questions is not the best idea, but I thought I'd at least read through the information on RSS feeds while on the desk in between questions. This is something completely new to me, so we'll see how it goes.

Unexpected results

I was doing outreach this morning to a grandparents' support group. The point was to inform them what the library has/does and for them to inform me on what they want and need the library to be. Before it was time to do my presentation (which ended up different than how I envisioned but still good), a counselor was there to help folks talk about the issues they are having caring for their grandchildren. It brought me wham, bam, back to my social work days. One woman talked about disciplining and teaching her 7 year old grandson, who she has raised since he was 5 days old and born with fetal alcohol effect and drug addiction. He has ADHD and is failing first grade for the second time. These folks are dealing with some heavy-duty issues, and yet there was a lot of laughter in the two hour session. An amazing group of folks, and I learned more than just when is the best time to hold a storytime.

But what touched my heart the most was the closing exercise of the meeting. Everyone stood in a circle and held hands. The group leader asked that we think of an adjective to describe ourselves that begins with the same letter as the one in our first name. Then we went around the circle and said that adjective and our name. After thinking a bit, I said "Lighthearted Laura" when my turn came. Then she said that all of us are all those things, and we went around again and said just the adjectives.

Compassionate, angelic, nourishing, amazing, jovial, magical, jazzy, tender, lighthearted....

We are all those things and more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The force of attraction

My current branch is the third one where I've worked in the system, although I have worked temporarily at 4 or 5 more from time to time. My first branch got a Starbucks nearby, and I was happy. Then I moved to my second branch, which had no nearby Starbucks. Oh well. There was a fellow staff member who was a coffee guzzler too, so I was content with that....until the day a Starbucks opened near that branch! Alright! Now, I don't make a habit of buying mochas, but I like to have the option of taking one of my breaks to obtain one if I need to. So, guess what happens? Yep, I move yet again. No nearby Starbucks. Darn it! But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? (See, I can quote Shakespeare too, Johan!) It is to the north, a Starbucks opens a block away! Now I see that the stores near my first two branches are slated for closure. It can't be due to the loss of my business and sunny personality. I mean, probably not. Hopefully, the one near me stays least until I move again.

I cannot go to the mountain (or other habitat) so it comes to me

I have been doing a lot of computer work lately, and my eyes are feeling the strain. Here I am back on the reference desk, but the computer screen cannot hold my attention (except to check for typos). Why? Because Wild Things, Inc. is here. The door to the community room is open, and I have (mostly) clear sight lines to the action. So far, the presenter has shown an owl, cockroaches, a beaver, and a spider monkey just came onto the scene. It's a lot of fun listening to all the oohs and ahhs of the kids. The library is a good place to be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Html, shtml....

One of the assignments is to post something about technology. In typical me fashion, I don't know if the previous post about Flutter counts, so here is another one to make sure I get full credit. (Can you tell I come from a family full of teachers?) Yes, I know there is no grade to this, but, heck, even my blood type is A+. (Add that to your list, Chris, of things you are learning about SPL folks!)

Anyway, technology. I suffered a loss recently, and one of the folks in the support group I found talked about creating a website as a memorial. Hmm, I thought. I could probably do that. I took a HTML class in grad school! Then I remembered that, unlike all my other classes, I was glad that Florida State was adamant that everyone work in groups. Why, you ask? Because I had an honest-to-God website developer in my group! Our group assignment (to create a website for a fictitious businessman) turned out to be the best of the class, and I got an A for learning hardly anything about HTML. Nice for my GPA, but now what do I do?

So I googled "free websites" just for the heck of it, and I landed on It is quite easy to set up a very basic site--even the mourning doves in my backyard could do it. (and why not because the nest they are trying to make is never going to work!) I don't know how much time I will spend on it, but it is nice to know I have the opportunity to do something like that without spending hours learning programming first.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My grandmother was a flapper. Now I can be one, too!

So I was being a good librarian and reading April 8th's American Libraries Direct. They always have technology stuff down at the bottom. So imagine my surprise to see the headline "Twitter be worried. Introducing Flutter". I couldn't believe it!! I spend enough of my free time on Facebook keeping up with family and friends, and I had not even gotten into Twitter yet. Now they have Flutter to replace it? Flutter limits you to 26 character posts (as opposed to Twitter's 140) that are called "flaps". They call it "nanoblogging". So I click on the link to find out more. It links you to a video.

It is hilarious. I wish I'd thought of it.

More photos

Here is the more artsy photo of the State Ed building. See how long it is? I wonder how many calories I burned running the length of it, back and forth. Anyway, you can see the Capitol building, well, a glimpse of it in this photo. The red roof and all. My great-great-grandfather, Philip Zervas, was one of the many folks who helped build that. Wanna see some of his handiwork? Look at the photo to the left.

Here is the Capitol building when looking across the Plaza. That weird looking building on the right is The Egg. Yep, it looks like an egg from the side. Inside is a performing arts theatre.

This photo is during the Tulip Festival in Washington Park. My friend from high school once got more than a little inebriated and climbed onto Moses' arm. I can't remember which one, but I had to climb up after her to help her down. Some people need a designated driver. I was a designated climber.

The photo to the right is from the Indian Ladder Trail in John Boyd Thacher State Park. John, I want to take you there someday on a day much like the one in the photo. It is a time honored tradition to walk this trail. This is the scene of one of my many stories that makes you laugh.

Thanks for letting me share some of my favorite places. Thanks to the people who took these photos and posted them to Flickr. But now I am homesick!! :)

Here we go with Flickr

My first thought as I was poring through images on Flickr was I have a long way to go if I ever want to be a professional photographer! I did try to take some classes while in grad school, but the class schedule clashed with my other classes. My then-fiance somewhat graciously allowed me to take his expensive camera to some of the gardens around Tallahassee. Too bad the thing was broken (not by me!), so I never did see if that (what I hoped to be a) supercool photo of a spider's web ever turned out.
Last night, my husband and I caught a few minutes of Rachael Ray's show that she did in Dublin, Ireland. Since I am half Irish-American and I got to spend some time in Dublin (not even close to enough though), I decided I was going to go look for some Dublin photos to post and talk about here. I looked at photo after photo. There were some gorgeous shots, but I did not see any of things I recognized from my brief time there. Then I thought, what about looking at photos of a place I do know? I want to see the beauty of a place I know so well in a whole new way, so I directed Flickr to my hometown: Albany, New York. I was not disappointed. There are some beautiful photos on there, and they brought back so many memories: the Tulip Festival, Washington Park, etc. (Note to Al: I did not see any photos of Price Chopper. Weird.) Anyway, I am going to attempt to get some photos into this post and tell you what they mean to me.

Ok, so this is the New York State Museum building. The museum is in on the bottom part. The upper floors are the New York State Library and New York State Archives and other offices. For the Sactown folks, this is to Capital District schoolkids what Sutter's Fort is to Sacramento schoolkids. We had a field trip there almost every year. Anyway, the middle part (above the arches) is where I spent the summer of 2000 for my library school internship. I dug around in mental health records from 1860 forward and compared sets kept at the hospitals and sets sent to Albany to determine if both need to be kept or not. I spent many a nice day eating lunch on the steps you see there and taking walks around the pool for exercise like many, many state workers.

This is the State Education building downtown. This is where my family would park every year for the St. Patrick's Day parade. You'd have to get there early, so we'd pack all sorts of sandwiches, chips, fruit, water, hot chocolate for the kids, and coffee for the grownups. We'd meet up with other family members, and the kids would literally run up and down the steps and around the columns for hours while the adults sat in the car, trying to stay warm and gossip until the parade began. The energy I had back then! The more artsy image of this building is not actually posting, so I will try again in another post.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What's in a name?

I see the next task is for us to explore flickr. I already have some experience with Flickr, but I apparently am going to get more. I have to wonder about the name though. Did they name it "Flickr" instead of "Flicker" to save everyone an extra key stroke? Perhaps to save its users from carpal tunnel or to save time? Or is it to separate the users, those "in the know", from hopeless wanna-bes like all those girls in high school who wrote "I love Deaf Leopard" or "Arrowsmith rules" on the desks?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners

The best example of a lifelong learner is my grandmother. She passed away in 1998 at age 91, but she kept up with current events, slang, movies, fashion, you name it. She loved to read, and she loved to hear what her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were getting into. She started knitting after her stroke to strengthen her weak side instead of sitting back and withering away. She was amazing. She definitely followed Habit #3: view problems as challenges, and I like to think I follow her example.

One thing that struck me was the statement that we give our signatures away every day, so we should commit to ourselves with our signature on a learning contract. As someone who signed legal documents and credit card receipts on Sunday, the reminder that our signature is committing a piece of ourselves was something to think about.