Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Final Essay

The Ideas

            Over the course of this semester I have been able to experience firsthand the kind of work I wish to make my career,  as an intern in the Bryan College Library.  From attending staff meetings to circulation desk duty to writing sections of the policy and procedure manual, I’ve learned a lot about my chosen career path, and have been given a realistic look at the inner workings of the library profession. 
            The library and information profession is one that contains a lot more than meets the eye.  I’ve known this, from things I’ve read as I’ve researched what I want to be “when I grow up” but this internship has really provided that  inside look at what lies behind all the books.  The library profession has been really romanticized over the years, as we can see in the example of the librarians of movies, like Marian from the Music Man and the librarian in the Mummy , as well as countless  stereotypes  in literature and other media.   To the uninformed individual, being a librarian is just a retired teachers job, or the occupation of shy, spectacled bookworms.  While both of these can certainly be true, it is not all there is to it. When I talk to people about what I’m in school for, after their glazed over look in response to my very general sounding  undergraduate studies, I often get a puzzled or surprised look  when I tell them what I plan to study in graduate school. “You can go to school to be a librarian” they often ask. I tell them that to be a professional librarian, full-fledged and certified, you indeed must earn a masters degree in library and information sciences. 
            I think the key term in understanding the library profession is, in fact,  “information.” Library connotes a building full of books. Information triggers a much broader spectrum of ideas, vastly dynamic and affecting so many areas of the human existence. To me, the library and information profession is about the preservation, organization and perpetuation of information. We are the keepers of knowledge, cataloging the past to give to the future.  Just as in the medical profession we have a wide range of jobs from Nurse Tech to Family Practice to Research Doctor, the same is true of the library. There are many different faces of the library, from Public services to Directors to Library Technicians and Catalogers. Some you may see on a daily basis, while others you may never meet, however, they are all crucial to the field.
Personally, I have a inclination toward the Public Services aspect of librarianship, and I had some excellent opportunities to get some hands on experience here. I love to connect with people, and I was given this opportunity through planning, communicating and hosting a library event  as well as interfacing with library patrons as I worked the circulation desk.

Continued Education

When I graduate from Bryan I plan on continuing my education at the University of Tennessee’s  School of Information Sciences. UT’s program is accredited by the American Library association, which is a must for the student looking to make a career out of professional librarianship.  I am mostly interested in UT because of its proximity to home, and the fact that as a state school, its reasonably affordable. I have also heard good things about its MLIS program from various co-workers in the past.
As a graduate student I plan on concentrating on public librarianship. The emphasis on community literacy and opportunities to build relationships with patrons in a meaningful way is a passion of mine as I’ve worked in the public sector of libraries before and found it extremely rewarding. I would love to specialize even further in children’s librarianship as I have a deep love for childrens literature, and I believe that influencing literacy and a lifelong love of learning at a young age is crucial, therefore one of the most important roles I could fulfill. I have specific librarians in my own life who were influential in my love of language and literature, who have definitely inspired me to pass that on to the next generation.
As I’ve read library journals and multitudes of blogs over this semester I have found common theme in the sector of public librarianship that sees these public libraries re-evaluating how they “do” libraries. I’ve been fascinated by the concept of the library as a public learning space. Especially thinking of youth and children, some libraries have reformatted space in to less of “quiet study”, though this still remains in other parts of the library, but more of a learning commons. I’ve read of creation labs, which provide patrons with access to state of the art media technology, encouraging  young people to  set up and become the next great creators of the future.  Open mic nights and poetry slams that give young writers a platform to showcase their skills might just be the thing needed bring forth the Neil Gaimans and J.K. Rowlings of this generation. As a librarian in the public field I would love to inspire and shape these young people, not only through  putting  the great authors in their hands but giving them the opportunity and encouragement needed to become great authors, artists, filmmakers, engineers and architects of the future.

Useful Resources

I have found various resources that have been useful to me this semester. American Libraries , the journal of the ALA, has been very helpful in informing me about various library trends and other current library issues such as the eBook debate and copyright issues it involves. Library Journal, was also great. I found the pages and pages of book and other media reviews extremely interesting as a lover of books, and I can only imagine how helpful it would be as a librarian in charge of acquisitions. I’ve also found several library blogs ranging from humorous to purely informational to opinion based that have all been useful. 
Also, in this day of multi-social-media, I have found many great connections on various points from pinterest, to facebook, to twitter. I now follow the Association for Library Service to Children  (ALSC) on twitter and get regular updates from their blog which I’ve found wonderfully informative.  I’ve also enjoyed keeping up with my own blog, in  an friendly manner which I hope would encourage the idea of the approachability of librarians.

Career Goals

            With graduation looming next semester I am quickly being thrown towards making final decisions about graduate school, and all of that. I know that then, graduate school will fly by and I’ll be looking at what I want to do, what I can do next. Three years after graduate school, I would love to be working in practically any position in a public library of any size. I know that it will take time to work towards the kind of position I might want and in that time I will be best occupied by making myself useful and proving my skills and ablilties.
            Seven years after graduate school I would love to be in a position of directing youth and/or children’s services at a good sized branch library. I could then pour in to the families that I serve by providing them with excellent material, learning my demographics and what would best profit my patrons. I would love to plan events from the regular weekly storytimes to summer reading to books clubs, and if possible facilitate these events.
            Twelve years out of graduate school, to be honest, I really hope by that time to be married, with kids and teaching them at home.  Even so, at home  and involved in homeschool co-ops I can see myself still putting my training to use by teaching fellow homeschool moms how to make best use of library resources as they teach their children at home.  I could still facilitate literacy through homeschool book clubs and research classes.
            Though the above is really my “dream” job, a more business like answer would be to say that my ultimate dream job would be to work as a solo librarian in a small town library.  The solo librarian wears many hats and does it all, from acquisitions to events to grant writing. It’d be hard, but oh so rewarding, because unlike the large branch libraries the opportunities to pour into the community are greater and deeper patron relationships can be formed. I say this because I’ve seen firsthand the impact a small town library can make on its community when I worked at the South Cheatham County Library in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. 
            Im excited about what the future holds for me through the remainder of my time at Bryan and on into graduate school.  This internship has been great in cementing my desire to follow this library and information science path to completion.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Update from the Library Intern:
Due to that semesterly phenomenon that is known as the Week from the Underworld, I was not able to write a blog post, entertaining, informative or otherwise last week. However, having made that trip to the River Styx and back relatively unscathed and considerably lightened of my class burdens, I am now at liberty to focus this week on the two and a half finals that I need to complete for my remaining classes, and of course, wrapping up this intership. I will be turning in the final drafts of the policy manual sections I worked on this semester as well as writing a reflective essay over the intership as a whole. That, I will post on Thursday as my final blog entry for the semester, so be looking for that!
Until then,
Adieu from the stacks

Friday, April 26, 2013

We're getting close!

Summer is approaching rapidly! I have two weeks left of my internship, two more staff meetings, two more Tuesday mornings spent at the desk, reading Library Journal and scanning books. As usual for the end of the semester, its becoming harder to concentrate on everything. My attention span is that of a gnat. I'm trying hard to finish strong, and do the best I can to put a good effort into the tasks I have left, both here in the library and in my other classes. I'm about to wrap up another section of the Policy Manual, and hopefully squeeze at least one more in before the semester ends. Then, I'll have an essay reflection over the entire internship. Its all do-able.
This week, the library has hosted a series of Money Smart Week events, with talks on couponing, paying for college, and paying off student loans. I've been the designated picture-taker for these events, not much, but its been fun. Not much else to be said here, as my creative juices have been completely drained this week, so I'll bid you Adieu from the stacks.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Listen to this! Storytime for College kids

Here at the Bryan Library, we have an event series called Listen to this! in which about four times a school year, we plan an evening of readings around a theme. We'll have anything from faculty and staff reading select passages of their favorite books, to local authors from the Chattanooga Writers Guild reading their works, to members of our own student body reading their stories and poems. Perhaps my favorite is the one I just worked on planning with our Outreach Librarian, Keri-Lynn, which featured childrens books. The campus was invited to come and read/listen to their favorite books from childhood. Keri-Lynn asked me if I wanted to get involved with planning it and after a meeting a few weeks prior to the event, she let me take the reins and go.
A couple of things went in to the planning of this event, while the date and theme was already set, making things pretty simple, I had to come up with advertisement to communicate the event on campus. This included everything from powerpoints for digital signage and posters to campus wide event emails, and chapel announcements.
So I made some posters....
and sent out emails
and braved the chapel announcements
and enticed best friends to attend with promises of eternal devotion (slight exaggeration)
and pulled a cart of good read alouds (which was probably the best part :)
and then came the night of the event!

With the help of Keri-Lynn's two kids, I got Spoede Cafe (technically the only room in the library in which food is allowed) prepared, arranging the armchairs in story-circle fashion, laying out the cookies so graciously provided by our Public Services Librarian, Ms. Vonnie, and bringing out the cart of hand-picked books.
Then the wait.
Librarians like statistics. We like to see how effective we are by our numbers, we catalog, we organize, we analyze. I now know that there is nothing scarier than planning an event and waiting for people to show up. I knew that at the very least, there would be me, Keri-Lynn and her two kids. We could read books for an hour and eat all the cookies, but I really wanted my publicizing work to have been effective,  therefore, I was nervous.
But everything turned out ok. My best friend and her fiance showed up, as well as a sweet freshman girl who told me she'd had the event marked on her calendar for weeks and was really excited about it. She even went hunting in the stacks to find her very favorite read-aloud. These are the patrons that make me feel good about my job. Everyone (except my friend's fiance who makes it a point to flaunt the fact that he doesn't read for fun in my face) read a book, including Keri-Lynn's normally shy daughter.

It was a pretty good first expericence with event planning. 

Practising my storytime skills with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Pete gave a great performance reading of A Bad Kitty Christmas

Mo Willems was represented with Michaels reading of Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Lucy did a fantastic job with Fancy Nancy

The Giving Tree is Sarah's favorite, and the theme inspiriation for her wedding

Keri-Lynn entertained us with her reading of Skippyjon Jones

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beyond the Bubble @ Clyde W. Roddy

Yesterday was the annual all-college service day here at Bryan. Everyone from students to faculty to staff was encouraged to join one of the many project groups that would be going out into the Dayton community to serve. The theme for this year was Beyond the Bubble, a title that pokes fun at the figurative "bubble" that we live in up on the Hill.  The library crew--being the current staff, myself, and a former intern--had been set up with a project at the Clyde W. Roddy Public library in Dayton.
 Armed with rags and shelf reading skills we dusted the shelves and read them to make sure they were in order. Between the seven of us, we conquered the entire library.

Clyde (as I've affectionately called it since first coming to Dayton) isn't a big library, but despite it's size and the size of the county, (not much bigger than Cheatham County where my family lives with ~8,000 less in population) its surprisingly well stocked.  I started making a mental list of books to read this summer as I worked my way through the stacks.
Here's a list of things I like about Clyde:
  • Great young adult selection, both new and old. Not only do they have the newest and most popular teen series, but they still have the oldies but goodies like The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace and The Emily Trilogy by L.M. Montgomery. This stuff is important.
  • Couches. Need I say more? I'm a big fan of cozy library seating.
  • Events. I follow the library's page on Facebook and they always seem to have great events for the kids, like a Lego club, Wii nights and of course, storytime.
  • Great DVD collection. Sure, you can only have them for a night, but if you check them out on Friday you have two extra days over the weekend!
  • Random A/V stuff. They have a nice collection of audiobooks, audiobook and book combo sets, Playaway MP3 books and the newest innovation from Playaway, the Playaway View, a preloaded digital video player. I had never heard of them before yesterday, but I was tempted to check one out just to see how it works.
  • Friendly Staff. Not as great as my ladies back at South Cheatham, but I think that's probably cause I haven't had as much of a chance to get to know them here.
  • Location. Its right smack downtown in Dayton (if you can call it "downtown") and 1.3 miles from the college so a student could feasibly walk down there on a nice day. Also, its right across the street from Harmony House Coffee Shop, so after you get your library haul you can go drink coffee and read in one of John Piatt's assorted arm chairs.
If I get to stick around Dayton this summer I'll be hanging out with Clyde whenever I get the chance.  If you're from around the area and know this library, what do you like about it? let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

International Children's Book Day and other things...

I didn't set out to write about International Children's Book Day; in fact I don't normally write on Tuesday, but I had decided to write my weekly blog today as my thoughts were abnormally inspired this morning as I was working in the Curriculum Lab (which, for those who care, is tidying up quite nicely.) I will get to those thoughts eventually, but first, an explanation for the title. I pulled up my Google account to open the Blogger dashboard, and saw my Goodreads quote of the day email in the inbox. It was a quote from Hans Christian Andersen as today, April 2nd, is his birthday. The note in the email said, "Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales are so beloved that his birthday is celebrated as International Children's Book Day." I didn't even know this day was recognized until today, but it is now one of my favorite random holidays to celebrate. (Others include National Library Week, which falls on April 14th-20th this year.)
ANYWAY... on to what I was meaning to blog about, which has everything to do with children's books.

Interesting Things I Find While Working

Part of my intership includes an hour of shelving and shelf reading every week. I picked an area to maintain at the beginning of the semester and have been working happily on it ever since. The Curriculum Lab is half Education Department-half Library domain. It includes all the 370s (books on education and educational philosphies) all the juvenile literature--both fiction and non-fiction--current curriculum materials in use by the local schools, and LOTS of teaching aids.
The juvenile stacks are generally a thing that strikes fear in the heart of many a brave librarian as they always seem to be in disarray, but I truly enjoy getting them back into order.  I have to be disciplined to not be distracted by the wonderful books I work with, especially those with gorgeous illustrations, but I'm always keeping my eyes open for old favorites to come back to when I'm off the clock.
Today was a good day in the stacks, so here are a few I found. While they may not be classified as "good childrens literature" they certainly made me smile to remember reading them. (With links to Amazon)

Uncle Bob's Animal Stories JUV 268.62 D496u
A collection of short non-fiction essays about animals, exploring their unique places in this world and how wonderful the Creator designed them. There was a radio program on Moody Radio that featured these stories and it was one of my favorites growing up. I'm probably giving away my conservative, jean-jumper, homeschool background by saying this, but seeing that book threw me back to early elementary school and those wonderful, simpler days of co-op with my cousins and best friends.

Here's Benjie! JUV 268.62 W171h
Also from the sector of homeschool days comes a random book of 1970's orgin, complete with two-tone cartoon sketch illustrations.  Its part nature-story, part sunday school moral-stories. I had completely forgotten about it, until today. I still don't quite remember where I first laid my hands on a copy of it, but I want to say it was in pamplet form from a sunday school teacher at my grandparents church. In the jean-jumper wearing days. Seeing it again kinda makes me nostalgic, but also kinda makes me shudder at the thought of reading such saccharine material. Lets just hope it made me a better person somehow.

The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes JUV 220.9505 T215b
I was in the 200s (Religion) obviously as all these books so far have had sort of a sunday school bent to them. I know I wasn't the only kid who had this book as a child. Its laid out with a painting of a biblical story, a synopsis of the story and bible reference, and questions about it. The paintings are bright and very detailed, and I always remember one particular painting the best--the one of Absalom getting his hair stuck in the low lying branches. I don't remember now if the book tells exactly what happened next, (SPOILER ALERT: Joab comes along and stabs him through the heart with three javelins 2 Samuel 18:9-15) but I know my dad read that story to me straight out of the Bible plenty of times. (This is where my homeschool past becomes less Little House on the Praire and rather more Braveheart and blood and guts and glory and epic adventures. I'd like to thank my father for that.)

And Finally, Last but not least is a book that I did NOT read as a child, but love all the same
A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss JUV Easy K868h
This is subtitled "A First Book of First Definitions" and it defines ordinary things like mashed potatoes, faces, dogs, holes and the sun. Simple and sweet... and a little silly, I love it because it is a book of Being. Things ARE, but why are they?  What are they for? Ultimately, its a quaint philisophical little book, and as one who likes to ponder the nature of Being, I love this book.

To end, I'll leave you with a quote from this book on what a book is, because thats what I'm all about here:

"A book is to look at."

and to a child, is that not the truth?

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I believe one of my internly predecessors has previously blogged her thoughts on the subject of the Academy Award winning short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, but as it is a story  that has a lot of meaning to me, I decided to add my voice to the mix at the risk of repeating her.

I have linked the video at the end of this post, and I'm giving you two options now, either watch it right away, then come back and read my thoughts on it, or read my thoughts first (at risk of spoilers) and watch it at the end. The choice is yours. 

I don't remember when I first stumbled upon this beautiful  film, though it might have been because of radio coverage of the Academy Awards, but when I first saw it, I marveled at how perfectly it depicted everything that I wanted to be as a librarian. The other thing that came to mind was "where have I seen that artwork before?"  After some quick Googling I came up with the the answer. The creator of the film, William Joyce, is a prolific author/illustrator of children's books including the popular Rolie Polie Olie  and a personal favorite of mine from childhood, Santa Calls. The short film was followed by a picture book of the same title which is absolutely wonderful as well. (We have it here at the Bryan Library, where you can check it out as soon as I return it! :)

The film depicts the story of  a man  who's world is turned upside down in a massive storm (with a storm sequence reminiscent of the tornado in The Wizard of Oz). In the aftermath of the storm he struggles to seek out meaning in his life. After, as the book says, "a happy bit of happenstance" Mr. Lessmore is given a purpose in life again when he is led to a library of living, fluttering, flying books where he becomes their  caretaker. In essence, Mr. Morris Lessmore is a librarian, a true Keeper of Knowledge. He organizes the books, repairs them, and reads life into the old tomes that have died in the memory of everyone else.

 My favorite scene perhaps, is when he is shown at the window of the book house handing books to a line of people who, as they stand in line, are depicted in black and white. When given a book however, they light up and are filled with color. This has been in my experience, the most satisfying and rewarding perk of being a librarian and why I most particularly want to work with children--the service of connecting a person with the book that was meant for them and watching them come alive as readers.

The story goes to show how powerful the written word can be, and how important the Keepers of Knowledge, the librarians, are to a society.

I hope you enjoy the film, and go check the book out at YOUR local library.
Until next time,
Adieu from the stacks.