Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

But do, in fact, judge the book. I just saw on Twitter that the Friends of the St. Paul Library is looking for judges for the MN Book Awards. As a librarian, each spring I look for the list of the new books and check out some new award winners, it’s a fun time. This year, I thought, “hm, what if I were able to impact those awards?”

I mean, judging books? Yes please!

I think I’d be a good candidate, I read a lot, I think about books a lot, I think I am well versed in what is a good book versus an excellent book versus a less-than-stellar book.

And I think this is also a good move for me, professionally. It’s a different area than I have previously been focused, but it is still heavily related, so it’s a step, a line on the resume.

All good things, yes, but mostly, I just think it would be fun. An adventure. Something new to try. So I applied. Applications run until September 9, and they’ll choose by the 16th. I may not get chosen, but I hope that I do, I’d really enjoy trying something like this .

Cross your fingers for me and I’ll keep you posted.

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Out of Control

Anyone else feel like technology is getting out of control?

I mean, really, who actually NEEDS this much technology?

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Yep, I have three iPads. That is my desk, just a few minutes ago, at precisely 2:43 pm. The one on the right, bearing the handsome face of Christian Kane, that is my personal iPad, the iPad 4. The one on the left, with the beach photo is my old work iPad, the iPad 2. The one in the center, with the mountain and stars, is my new work iPad, the iPad Air 2. Our old work iPads were out of date and not as current as the students I am teaching, so we got the newest tech.

The new one arrived today and that is how I found myself with not one, not two, but three iPads on my desk at the same time. All mine. Oh, and I took the photo with my iPhone.

Yeppers, this tech is out of control!

Autumn’s Bounty

This weekend I worked my second job, and did an art program for kids. It was only okay, this program, but the part I loved was where we took digital cameras outside and photographed the colors of fall. The point was to get close up and capture texture, but I just sort of went camera-happy and clicked away. At one point, I bumped a button on my camera and it changed some setting and starting taking all these arty photos, I tried to fix it, ended up taking more, and eventually just shut the whole thing off and turned it back on, that worked. I need to figure out all this camera does….eventually. But, as it turned out, I liked several of the arty pictures.

So, enjoy, this is nothing but photos of the gorgeous colors of fall.

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Now here’s where the weird arty pictures started occurring. At first I didn’t notice….
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But then I did….
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I mean, they are cool pictures, but they do not look that way in real life, so I fixed it and then, here is that last picture without the weird editing.

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And this photo was taken after work as I drove down my parent’s street, on my way to visit.

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It was a really fun way to kill a Saturday afternoon (and get paid!) and aside from the arty ones, none of these photos are edited in any way, they are all just that gorgeous. Usually when I take pictures, I try to take in the whole scene, but learning to get close up and see things by texture, that was a cool new experience.

Want to talk about texture? You can practically feel it in this final picture, my favorite of the day.

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Drop by the comments and tell me which was your favorite. Happy fall!

Banning Books

This week is the American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week (BBW). Libraries all over the county are celebrating by putting out these banned books and telling the world to triumph over the closed minded and READ THESE books. These long-suffering, sorely abused books.

If you’ve been to a library this week, you’ve probably seen evidence of this.

I am a book lover, a reader, a librarian, a teacher, a writer, and more. I love books. I do not believe in censorship. But I also do not believe in BBW. The thing of it is, none of these books have been, well, banned. Sure, for many of them, small minded parents in a school district complained to the board of education and got them removed from the school, the reading lists, the library.

But is that banning? Not in my view. Those kids could still go to the local library and get them. Or maybe they couldn’t because they were banned at the public library as well. But is that banning? Again, I say no. Maybe in that area, in that town, you couldn’t get the book, but other towns still had it, other schools, other libraries. The book was and still is available. Never in my lifetime have I been unable to read any of the books on ALA’s list of banned books. And don’t kid yourselves. Look at the list. Many of them were written and banned in my lifetime.

It happens year after year, any time a book is published that people don’t like for any reason. Do I agree with this? I do not. I don’t think any person has the right to decide what others read, unless you are a parent of a child. But that only gives the right to decide for YOUR child, not to complain to the school and get it banned for all the children. You don’t get to decide what MY child reads. So, yeah, I support anti-censorship.

But, my issue is this. We live in a world with serious problems. We have 10% of our population who cannot read. Illiteracy is a serious problem. Not liking the sorcery in Harry Potter is not a serious problem. Thinking 50 Shades of Grey is smut, is not a serious problem. Worrying about the overuse of the word fuck in Eleanor and Park is not a serious problem.

Overall, though, what we see are small areas affected by the actions of a smaller-still section of the population. It sucks, it surely does, for those affected by it. But in this day and age, go online and buy the book at Amazon. Or download it to your smartphone from the public library. Heck, go ahead and read that classic for free at Project Gutenberg. Books are more prevalent than ever in our society and our access to them is nearly unlimited. Sure, some people will disagree with the content and not want you to read it, but at the end of the day, even if those people are your parents, what you read is up to you. It is your choice. No one can take that from you. If your school or your public library or the bookstore in your town will not carry the book, that makes it tougher to get your hands on a copy, no doubt. But it does not make it impossible.

Our government is not standing up and recalling all the books it doesn’t agree with and holding nationwide censorship bonfires, because we don’t live in a society like that. We have freedom to write what we want and think what we want and read what we want. And no one gets to stop us. Some people will try, people will always try. Those people, they will always exist and always fight. Same as there will always be people who will give in, who will cave to the pressure, who will fold to the fanaticism of their every opponent, but this does not mean your world is limited.

Your world, my world, the world, is exactly what we each choose to make of it. I don’t agree with a celebration of Banned Books. I don’t believe in the cause. Instead, I choose to be a reader and a lover of books. I read what I want and don’t worry about what anyone else says.

That is how I celebrate. That is my contribution. It is how I make my corner of the world a better place to be. I just keep on reading.

And So It Begins

I am rapidly nearing the end of my first day of work. The “new job” (yes, it still feels like it needs quotes). First days are so odd. Paperwork, orientation, meeting a bunch of people, but here, at this small nonprofit, they just sort of let me go. Fill my time. I’ve done a lot of reading today. Work reading. To be clear. Link after link. Document after document. It’s fine. All necessary to my future success and I am sure I even retained some of it.

I spent a large part of my day, actually, I am still working on this, adjusting to my new Mac laptop. I’m good with the iPad (also provided) but the MacBook is a new beast to me. No desktop computer for me, just a laptop. It’s kind of nice. I could, then, work from home if needed because I have my computer with me.

It all went well, very well. I was nervous for nothing, which is usually the case, but still, completely normal.

Want to know the oddest thing, though?

I am thirty-five years old. I have had my fair share of jobs. And in all my life, with every new job, new first day of school, new….well, pretty much anything, my mother always wished me good luck.

When I was a kid, it was a note left for me on the first day of school. Sometimes notes even as I grew and it was jobs, but usually just a verbal, “good luck, honey, you’re going to be great” or some other motherly variation. But, this job, this time….crickets. No, not Buddy Holly’s band, just nothing.

I actually waited all day yesterday for that note, email, phone call, so sure it would come. And it did not. Then I thought that she would call me this morning, or I’d get here and find and email, but none of the above. I’m not upset, obviously, just surprised. The only difference between this time and all the other times is that this is the first time I’ve started anything and not lived with her, I suppose. Which makes a difference. Proximity and all that jazz.

Still, I expected and it did not happen. It’s surprising to me how much I was counting on that. Mom, don’t worry, I’m not mad or anything (and I know you are my most faithful reader, so I know you’re reading this) just surprised…and maybe a little disappointed. I may be an adult with my second real job and a house and everything, but turns out, I still need my mommy. I will probably never grow out of that.

I actually thought to myself, as I arrived at work (23 minutes EARLY – no lie), that I might have been less nervous if I had gotten support from my mom. Then I laughed at myself, out loud, in my car, because I KNOW I have her support, so clearly it did not make me less nervous.

Which is all by way of saying, I am a lot less nervous now. I know what to expect from the day to day, I think. It’s just when I start teaching that I’ll get all nervous again.

But on the plus side. I do have my very own office. My first ever. That’s kind of cool. It has windows. It’s pretty spacious. I brought a box of stuff with ¬†(Hi, Kel, you just called me to ask about my first day while I was typing this!) it surprised me when I left Globe that I had two whole boxes of stuff to move out. That does not include books. I pared that down and moved one smaller box into the new office. It really helps, seeing my stuff in this space, it immediately makes it feel more like mine.

So, there you have it. Just another day at the “new” office. And hopefully, by the time dinner rolls around on Wednesday, I’ll have some more fun stuff to report.

Buddy Coke

On the 4th of July, I decided to have a coke. I grabbed one from my mom’s fridge and it said “Share a Coke with a BUDDY” I was so excited because I always call Arionna my buddy. Whenever we do something together, haircut buddies, dinner buddies, library buddies, you name it and we’re buddies.

So I showed her the coke and said “it says to share it with my buddy” and she jumped and said “that’s ME!” So we shared a coke. Hours later, she said “Auntie Livi, can we be pop buddies again?” So I pulled another one out and it said, “Share a Coke with your BFF” and I looked and they were all different. Friend, Pal, etc. I had just randomly grabbed buddy. So I searched until I found another buddy for her and I to share.

I love that new campaign, it’s adorable. But I thought that was it. Friendship Coke. Until this morning. A woman I work with came in to say goodbye to me and she said, “I brought you a small present”. She did not have to get me anything, but…..

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HOLY guacamole! Apparently bottled Coke has names on it. All sorts of different names. She bought a ton of them for her friends and family, but she saw that one and brought it for me. Honestly, I don’t even want to drink it. I just want to keep it, it’s so cute. Really made my whole morning. Can’t imagine a better gift. Thanks, Jenell!

Coke, I LOVE this new marketing campaign. Genius.

Faith in the Future

To begin, I need you all to understand how long it’s been. Over seven years I’ve been applying for jobs. That’s such a long, long time. There was a brief lag after I got hired at Globe, but then it started right up because I knew almost right away (that was written four months after starting at Globe)that this job wasn’t for me.

So I kept looking. The economy is down, jobs are scarce and I’m in a field where jobs are slimming anyway. It has been a rough go of it. I’ve applied for hundreds (literally) of jobs, trying to find what was right for me. I was asked over and over again, what did I want, but I never really had the right answer. Public libraries are a better fit for me. And I love them. But there’s no job security there. And budgets shrink practically daily. It’s a scary time for public libraries, but still I tried.

I’ve been on interviews. Many, actually, and nothing every panned out for me. As you all know, I tried being the director at LEPL and that was pretty much a bust.

In recent times, I’ve grown more quiet about the job situation. I didn’t really talk about it. Not here, not anywhere, not really to anyone. If I was asked (Lanie always asked, it’s nice) I’d say what was up, but I rarely ever brought it up myself. Some people assumed it meant I had given up searching and was content to stay put. Not so.

The problem was, I had lost faith. It’s hard, extremely hard, to search for jobs. I felt weighted by the frustrations of applying, waiting, getting an interview, waiting, waiting some more, and nothing. Or worse, applying, waiting, and never hearing another word. It’s a struggle and not a good one, not even when the end result could be fantastic. The process is so awful, it starts to tear you down. That’s what I felt happening to me. I was being torn down by disappointment and failure. I couldn’t understand how no one could see that I would be amazing at this that or the other job.

I still wanted something different, but I began to worry it wouldn’t happen. That I might end up one of those sad people who hate their job but have been doing it for twenty years or more. I feared the future.

Then I saw a different position. Not in a library. But for a nonprofit that supports libraries (in fact, they run the job board I use primarily) hiring….for a teacher. The position is to teach information literacy to teachers and school librarians so that they can, in turn, teach their students. It’s what I do now, minus the library part, only on a grander scale. When I read the description, something inside of me whispered¬†yes. I knew I was going to apply, but I was beaten down by all that had come before and decided to start over. A new cover letter and updated resume.

So I began. I wrote the first draft and sent it to Lane. I asked her to please, please, please, give it her best polish, because I needed something spectacular. She updated it. Then I did. Then she did again. Then we did my resume. DAYS of sending documents back and forth, editing and making changes until it was the best we both thought it could be. (Lane – humongous thanks and kudos to you, could not have done it without you. You are the greatest. )

And I sent it. Right as my Yahoo mail went down. I had no idea if it was sent. I spent the day being nervous about it. Wondering if it was a sign. The next day I learned that all my sent emails went through….in triplicate. Great. Now I look like an idiot who can’t send an email.

The wait began.

Meanwhile, there were countless other jobs, suddenly, and out of the blue. I began applying. Something about seeing this new job caused me to widen my net and there were new opportunities. And I waited.

Then the interviews started rolling in. No spoiler, I got the interview that I wanted. And my nerves set in. So many times I had felt this sense of anticipation, this feeling that things were going to change, that it was finally my time, but over and over again, I was left disappointed.

The day after I got the interview, I was reading a book. I know, that’s a real shocker. Suddenly, I read a sentence that jolted me out of my chair. Literally. I lurched up, read it again, out loud, and wrote it down. The sentence was this.

“You can have what you say if you believe that you have it before you actually see that you have it. That is faith.” (Wicked Nights, Gena Showalter, p. 131)

And I kind of went….whoa. It seemed so simple, so easy when you see it like that. Of course, it isn’t as easy in practice, but at that very moment, I told myself that it absolutely could not hurt to try. And so I began. I kept telling myself “this is it. You already have a new job, you just don’t know which one yet.” The power of positive thinking, I guess.

The day of the interview(-s, I actually had two scheduled back to back, the second was in a public library) I told myself, “today is the day that you got your new job.” I believed. I was driving to the first interview and stopped at a light on the ramp. There was a homeless person standing there with a cardboard sign. It said, “I’ve lost everything….except my faith.”

And I got goosebumps. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a dollar. I rolled down my window and gave it to this guy. Right then, it seemed like the absolute right thing to do. It seemed like a sign.

Not surprisingly, the interview went amazingly well. They told me the last interview was Tuesday, July 1st, ending at 2pm. They’d make a decision after that, before the holiday weekend. My second interview also went well, but they aren’t making a decision until the end of July.

On July 1st, I watched the clock hit 2pm. I knew that interviews for the position I really wanted were over. Now it was a wait to see if I got the phone call. I still believed in my heart that it was my time. At 2:41pm, my phone rang. Before I even picked it up, I knew. The job I wanted, it was mine. She offered it to me and I accepted it right there on the phone. I did not need to think it over. This is the job I want, this is the job I think I may have been waiting for. She told me that they wanted me badly enough to offer more than the position was being offered at. Extra money…I was blown away. They wanted me. I was the best choice for the job. I was blown away.

It was a long road, a hard road. It was challenging in so many unexpected ways. But, maybe it was all for a reason. If I had gotten one of those other jobs in the past, I wouldn’t have applied for this one. I would have missed this chance. I might never have read that book. I might not have noticed that quote. I may not have learned that faith is one of the strongest weapons in my arsenal, right up there with my brain and my truly awesome supportive friends and family.

I’m excited, I’m nervous, I am worried because I won’t be a librarian any more, but I know that this is the right decision for me, at this time. This is my next step. This is finally the direction I am supposed to go – even if I never knew it.