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.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Technology and Libraries

First of all, Spring Break starts for me in 2 hours, 40 minutes and counting. I will not be posting next Friday as I will be somewhere between my home in Nashville and my roommate's in Atlanta, but I'll be back the following Friday.

When I worked at the South Cheatham Library (Read my previous post about it HERE!) there were a few regular patrons who I got to know pretty well as they would stop at the circulation desk and talk for hours if you would let them. These patrons usually tended to be the older gentlemen who had lots of of time and lots of life experience to share.
 Two in particular were my favorites, Mr. Wilding (who has since passed away) and Mr. Jacobsen. Mr. Wilding was always talking to me about becoming a librarian, very interested in my studies, and always giving me little tidbits of random life advice (things he said he would tell his daughter, like "If you go to a party, always open your own drink, and never set it down. You never know what people might put in it." I always explained that I wasn't the kind that would go to parties where you'd have to worry about that kind of thing, but I appreciated the thought.)
Mr. Jacobsen always wore this little ballcap with a compass attatched to the bill and when he asked what I was studying in school (which he did frequently) and heard that I wanted to be a librarian, he always said one thing "Get into computers. All the libraries are going that direction now."

Well Mr. Jacobsen, its been that way for a while now, but you're still right. I'm realizing more and more the importance of having a good base of computer knowledge to being a librarian. We've come a long way from the days of card catalogs and rubber stamps and though I really wish I could visit those days, I know I was born in just the right time. I have the curiosity and natural inclination towards technology that has been instilled into many of the kids of my generation, and if I keep up with it I know it will serve me well as I continue on in this field.
I'm currently working on a bit of policy writing that involves a good deal on working with the database management systems we use here. I'm feeling a bit lost, because up till this point, I haven't learned much about them at all, as its the kind of thing they save for graduate school in this field. So today, I've  been researching a little more about these. While I don't advocate Wikipedia for academic research, when you just need to get basic information on an idea, its a good place to go--as I did for this article on Integrated Library Systems.
An Integrated Library System, or ILS, is a database program that helps keep track of all a libraries records--both material and patron--as well as providing a means to classify and catalog materials efficiently and even keep track of billing. We are in the process of transitioning to Sierra, a web-based ILS, here at the Bryan College Library. The basics of circulation are easy to learn, but the full power of this program is pretty much unknown to me. I suppose I won't get fully immersed in it till much later down the road, but that's just one more thing for me to look forward to.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Scope For the Imagination: Book Spaces

I ran across an amazing link while trolling through my Facebook feed the other day. Titled "The 30 Best Places To Be If You Love Books" (<= Click it to see!), it has pictures of 30 book-spaces ranging from private home libraries to public and academic libraries to used book stores. Some are more modern in design, with geometric lines and huge windows to let in plenty of natural light, like number 27 on the list:

Others are more organic and earthy like number 6: (House on the Rock Wisconsin)
Doesn't this look like a hobbit home? Its pure gold.

While all the locations on the list are places that I would want to visit just for the experience of being in the presence of such a great volume of books, there are some that I would prefer over others. I've never been fond of libraries that have cool color palettes.  Something about stark greys and whites seems cold and un-inviting, and though probably not practical and "green" I've always preferred the warm glow of incandscent lamps to the weird hum and unnatural pallor caused by fluorescent lights. A book-space, whether a library or shop, should be warm in color and in atmosphere. Russets, browns and golds are good colors for library decor, as they emulate the richness of old-leather bound books. A good book-space should inspire and spark creativity. It should entice visitors to come, and encourage them to stay. The imagination and soul should be fed as much as the mind.
This one (number 25. The Hearst Castle Library) is a good example:
Here I think, my thoughts would be very profound indeed.

Also, as much as order and organization is important in a book-space, there's something inviting about an organized mess. Not in an academic library of course, where people actually need to FIND things, but rather in the case of a used books shop, where people mainly to browse, casually looking for one item, but coming away with a half-dozen, none of them the original object of pursuit. I imagine that number 5, Shakespeare & Co. in Paris (Currently my number one reason to go to France) is this kind of book shop.
Isn't that just a glorious inviting mess?

These are some of the extremes and rare gems of the book world and if every place were like these, then they wouldn't  be as special. But I think that our library, (the Bryan Library) is a nice happy medium. The colors are warm and welcoming, there's comfortable seating and good lighting. It's just as a good academic library should be in my mind.

Until next time (which will probably be earlier in the week as I leave for Spring Break on Friday), Happy reading!

P.S. Tomorrow (March 2nd) is Dr. Seuss' birthday!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Portrait of a Small Town Library

Its a cold, deary day here in east Tennessee--a day that begs to be spent in a nest of pillows and blankets with a copy of Jane Eyre and a mug of tea. My mom and grandparents and fantastic four-year-old sister are driving out to visit me tomorrow (and see the college's production of Cosi Fan Tutte!) and while I'm not homesick per se, I've had home on my mind a good bit the past few days. As much as my place of residence matters, home is not really home till I've found a library.

 Since my focus in librarianship is in the public arena, I've been slowly gathering ideas and shaping my view of what makes a good public library.When I think of my favorite small town library, my mind will always go to the South Cheatham Public Library (click to visit their website!) This is where I got my first experience working in a library, and while its definitely not the most conventional library out there, its got a unique character and the warmest heart you will ever find.

Located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee, the South Cheatham Library (along with the Red Tree Coffee shop and the local high school)  is one of the pillars of  the South Cheatham County community. Housed in a log cabin building that was built entirely by volunteers, and wedged between a Church of Christ and Methodist Church, it sits on main street, right in the heart of Kingston Springs. Walk in the back door from the parking lot and you are immediately greeted by a large artificial tree (decorated according to the season, and always adorned with white Christmas lights). The Learning Tree, as its called, has a story which Janet Walker, the library director would be glad to tell you if you ask.

The layout of the library is simple and open and can be divided in to three main sections. As you walk in the back door, the right-most third (the one with the tree) contains the Children's and Youth sections. A low table with brightly colored stools features new and seasonal picture books. There are often young families here stocking up on reading material for the week.
The middle section consists of the circulation desk and public use computers. In a rural county, where some locations have yet to be reached by quality internet service providers and income isn't that high, the public library computers become even more valuable. Working at the library, I got used to the regulars who came to use our computers on schedule. One man's public library computer can quickly become another man's office. The circulation desk is a watering-hole of sorts, where patrons and the library workers connect and catch up on town news or other topics of interest.
The third section of the library is the adult materials, from print to audio to visual. Split in half between fiction and non-fiction, both get sampled from equally. A moderate sized large-print section services the body of elderly patrons the library has (as well as those who, like my not-elderly mom, just like large print).

There are some quirky features to the South Cheatham Library that you may or may not find elsewhere. For example, over in the adult section, near the fireplace (which is not in use, as evidenced by the rattle of squirrels and birds in the flue come springtime) is a Keurig coffee maker, provided by the local community bank. Here, patrons can brew of cup of coffee and sip it while they browse or relax and read in the rocking chairs. Needless to say, there's not really a drinks policy in place, but they haven't had any problems with it yet!
 Library events include the annual Christmas tree lighting and cookie contest, Summer Reading Program with great children's edu-tainment, and the twice-annual book sales in the Spring and Fall.
The library also hosts weekly programs like Storytime with Mrs. Velvet, for preschool and kindergarten aged children, and Coffee and Chat, (sometimes called Sip and Stitch by Mrs. Pam) a group of ladies that meets weekly to drink coffee, eat sweets and work on their current handiwork projects.

Its small and sometimes noisy; its not the best place to go study, but we in the community are fond of it. So much so, that when disaster strikes and a tornado rips the roof off, we're all there the next morning to move waterlogged books.  There's something special about a small town community like that, something that draws me to small libraries. I want to be in on an operation like that someday.

Friday, February 15, 2013


My dear readers,
Sadly I have nothing profoundly thoughtful, or beautifully romantic to write about today...
(Here you say: "what is she talking about? Girl must be smelling too many books and have her head in a cloud of dust to think that highly of herself and her writing." 
To which I respond: "One can only dream!"
"Aye, that's the problem," you mutter to yourself as you take a sip of your coffee and wonder when the word "aye" slipped into your vocabulary. 
But enough with the imaginary dialogue.)

...Nothing profound or beautiful, but yet life is sometimes plain and simple and intriguing in its ordinariness.

One thing that I have recently found extremely interesting is the concept of compact shelving. I was up at Covenant College yesterday (yes, I know, enemy territory) helping a friend hang fliers for her senior film project casting call, and we hit up their library. Its a bit smaller than our library here, with not nearly as much natural lighting, which would drive me crazy if I needed to be in there a lot. The decor was mostly in greys, which I personally believe libraries should avoid, as it makes them seem colder and less welcoming. (They also didn't have glorious brown overstuffed couches and armchairs like we do.)

In other words, I didn't find it attractive aesthetically, (buts that's probably a topic I should save for another post) but there was one feature that I was fascinated by, namely, the presence of cranks on the end of the stacks which were all set into tracks in the floor, allowing for the stacks to be moved back and forth along the tracks for easy access. I'm guessing that you could probably double your storage space with compact mobile shelving.
 I don't think I had ever seen something like that before, so today, I've been researching all sorts of storage solutions for libraries. I found one document that gives all sorts of wonderful information on different types of storage for libraries, including recommended shelf heights based on your different collection groups.  Here at Bryan we have what looks like closed base cantilever shelving (of a very ordinary putty color) with top-tie struts and wood laminate decorative ends.

Pretty cool stuff, huh?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Kids Stuff

One drawback to being a Liberal Arts major is the fact that at the undergraduate level, I don't have any major specific classes--those classes that actually give me a taste of what I might be able to do with my degree. I have to wait till my graduate work to actually get to the classes that specialize in my field. However, this semester has turned out to be a great one for me as far as classes that I enjoy, and actually pertain to my career field. Not only have I been happily installed as intern in the college library, but I also have been enjoying a class in Children's Literature. I would love to specialize in Children's and Youth services in a public library someday. Libraries in general are my passion, but I have a soft spot in my heart for kids and reading. I would probably attribute that to my large-homeschool-family origins as well as the fond memories I have of libraries and those favorite librarians that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

The focus of the class is mostly on teaching literature to kids--the class is made up almost entirely of Education majors--but I think that as we continue on, I will find it useful towards areas like making good choices when selecting new titles for a children's collection, being able to recommend books to families and individual kids, and leading storytime events.

This is a topic that I'll most likely return to in the upcoming weeks, as I have some thoughts that I'm still mulling over in regards to what makes "good" children's literature and other things. But meanwhile, in the area of chronicling random activities from the intern's mundane life, I've switched my shelf reading domain from the respectable 800s--where almost every book is sturdy and old and of one general size--to the Juvenile Fiction section in the curriculum lab. There, everything is of odd sizes and bright colors and never seems to stay straight--much like my four-year-old sister's wardrobe.

After trying, with much frustration, to find books for my Children's Lit homework, I deemed that the slight loss of sanity that is sure to come with the task is worth knowing that my classmates and I will be able to locate what we need when we need it. So far, the going is slow, as might be expected, but I'm just thankful that everything is neatly classified in Dewey Decimal  instead of alphabetical by author's last name. With alphabetical, there's always the sticky business of then putting titles by the same author in order (if your library procedures prescribe that) and there's nothing that screams "Nut-case" louder than a grown woman in an oversized sweater sitting cross-legged on the floor, singing the alphabet under her breath while thumbing through two foot long collection of  The Berenstain Bears. But thanks to good old Melvil Dewey, that crazy woman will not be me this semester.

Until next friday, I bid you adieu from the stacks.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Balance: A Romantic's View on Librarianship

I will be the first to admit that I am what is called "a hopeless Romantic" (a phrase which here means "one who is imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry etc. which may border on the fanciful, impractical or unrealistic.") Very much right-brain oriented, I have an active and vivid imagination  with a love of language and the beauty and rhythm of words that has been the basis for both my love of reading and my insatiable need to write.

It's true that a great portion of my decision to pursue librarianship is based on that highly idealized picture of librarians that comes from books and movies. The Music Man is my favorite musical not just for the amazing  songs and all-American theme, but predominately for the strong character of that Defender and Keeper of Knowledge, Marian the Librarian. I've always wanted to BE her. And look at the picture that heads my blog: a demurely dressed girl with wispy tendrils of hair framing her face sits shelving books surrounded by twining ivy. Beautiful, yes. Idealistic, yes. Unrealistic? probably so.

We live in the information age, where school librarians are called Media Specialists, we have to worry about copyright laws and every time someone finds out about my academic path they ask, "Aren't you worried having a job with the rise of the technology?"  My answer to them is "Nope, not really." Maybe that's little naive or maybe its still the romantic in me talking, but I know that there is a balance in me that fills out my desire to be a librarian.  Half of me (the right-brain half) wants this because of  the rosy image in my mind--that picture of dusty leather-bound tomes, overstuffed chairs, and the crisp, yellowed smell of the pages.

The other half (because I don't believe any person is completely driven by a single hemisphere of the brain) receives great satisfaction from order and organization. The mathematical precision of the Dewey Decimal system is a comfort to me, to know that there is a place for everything, so that I can put everything in its place. As I shelf-read I enjoy the full spectrum of the stacks, from the aesthetic and imaginative--running my fingers along the spines and reading the titles, to the simple joy of falling into the rhythm of the decimal numbers.

I think that to be solely focused with the image or with the organization would be a shame. A librarian should have that balance described in order to fully realize the scope of the job. At this point in my education, I still may be slightly skewed towards the romantic, but it is my hope that as I continue on, especially in this internship, I will strengthen the structure beneath the facade as I learn more about the organization it takes to keep a library running.

The only area in which I will probably continue to stay unrealistic in--and one that I can do nothing about--is the fact that I have perfect vision. It is the bane of my existence, as I am positively convinced that I would be a better librarian if I had glasses to look over. Oh well. Time will remedy that!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The History of a Librarian-in-Training

People often ask me what made me choose librarianship as my career path to follow, and I'll usually tell them    "I just love being around books," mostly because I can't think of any deeper reason on the spot. But after they've walked away, and I'm left with the question still hovering around in my mind, I can begin to pull together the real reasons why I want to be a librarian "when I grow up."

Yes, I love reading, and even just being around books. I can't remember a time when I couldn't read. At six, I got my first library card, signing the back in ballpoint chicken scratch. My first pin number was 1111 (I was the first child and ones were easy to remember. My sister had twos.) I remember the old DOS-based computer catalog that sat in the children's section. We became well acquainted even then. At the age of eight or nine I figured out how to use the library website to place holds from the comfort of my home. My dad only let me check out three of the twenty  books that showed up at the library for me later that week. At ten, I was allowed to walk the half-block the library by myself, for a half-hour at a time. My mom has a picture of  me walking across the street in the rain with our giant red and white golf umbrella. She was afraid that I was going to be abducted and that it'd be the last picture she'd ever have of me. A love of the contents cultivated a love of the place. I loved books, so therefore, I loved libraries.

It wasn't till I was in late middle school to early high school that I started to think that I might want to BE a librarian however. There were two spectacular librarians in my life at this point that I believe started shaping this desire in me. We lived in Tallahassee at the time, and would frequent the main branch library as a family on Friday evenings. We'd pick my dad up from work, grab some mexican food at On-the-Border, then head to the library to stock up for the next two to three weeks. Working the Youth and Children's services at the Leroy Collins Leon County Public Library was a wonderful young librarian by the name of Sarah. Maybe it was the fact that she had the same name as me; maybe it was her amazing red hair, but I wanted to be just like her. She had the best job ever.

When we weren't visiting the downtown library, my mom would take us to a smaller, closer branch for home-school book club in the afternoons. That's where I met Karen White, also young, lovely and working in the best job ever. She facilitated our club meetings, leading conversation of 10-15 home-schoolers in her little office where we'd sit on the floor, on the desk, on boxes, wherever we'd fit, discussing Shane, Eragon, The Outsiders and other  books of our (and our mothers) choice. I still remember the first time I saw her diploma on the wall in the office. She held her Masters in Library Science from Florida State University, and that was the first time I realized that you could go to school to be a librarian. So in my junior year of high-school  when my dad asked what I might want to go to college for, we started researching library schools.

It wasn't till half-way through my freshman year of college that I actually got my first shot at working in a library. I think that it probably solidified my desire to make it through 4-6 years of school. I found that I received intense satisfaction from being able to point people in the direction of the books they wanted, and from keeping my little kingdom of stacks well-ordered. But what I found I loved the best was helping kids find that perfect book, the one that made their eyes light up and got them excited to read. That on the deepest level is my reason for becoming a librarian. I want to share my passion for books with others, to grow young readers, and to cultivate the next generation of the Knowledge Keepers that are Librarians.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Experiences and Grand Ventures

Here I sit tucked away in library carrel, by the 800s for good luck (hoping the inspiration of the greats will rub off on me like pixie dust) and begin the first library blog entry on the first day of my first internship ever! I'm really excited about what this semester holds for me. Wednesday was the first day of school and I walked over to the library after my last class of the day to receive my marching orders. Dr. Fitsimmons, the director of library services here, presented me with a thumb drive with all the documents I will need for this semester, and I immediately went off to read them.
I found that I have a lot ahead of me this semester, and I would be lying if I were to say that I wasn't a little nervous about it all. But I know that in a week or so this will all be familiar and I'm gonna love it. My current library experience extends as far as a page who knew her little log cabin library like the back of her hand, and was sometimes allowed to work the desk. Here, I'll be learning the nitty-gritties, the policy and procedure writing, the paperwork, as well as honing my shelf-reading and barcode scanning skills.
I plan to take each day one step at a time, keeping my head high, mind open and appetite for learning sharpened. I think Fridays will be my blogging days, so check back with me as the weeks go along and I'll continue to share my thoughts from the library!

By the way. I heard the word "carrel" as in "a table that is often partitioned or enclosed and is used for individual study especially in a library" for the first time only within the last year. This proves that one is always learning!