Wow. It's been almost two years since my last entry. What's happened since then?

Well, I've fell in love, lost that love, got a new job, then got another job, quit the first two jobs, and moved across the country.

Yeah, it's been rockin'.

But what do you really know about? Yes, the generic you.

Last weekend I visited Book Expo America, which was held in Los Angeles. Let me tell you, if there was such a sport as "extreme booking" this would be it. Of course, ALA's not for another month so my definition may change.

Still, let me spell it out for you. I walked into the LA Convention Center after driving in what I assume is a perfect spiral for six miles in order to a)find the parking for the CC and b)find a parking space in the CC parking garage. The place is ridiculously huge. And a good portion of the ceiling was taken up by a portrait of Michael Moore. It was pretty intimidating.

I had been prepared to shell out ridiculous amounts of money aside from what I'd already paid for the convention entrance fee and gold pass (which I never retrieved). There were plenty of books, but it was weird. There were a lot of single books and then there'd be a pile of one book. I thought those were for purchase, but lucky me, I was wrong. No, these were the type of book I had once been able to sort through in the back room of my public library. These were the type of book I often receive on www.bookmooch.com. Yes, my dear friends, these were arcs. Galleys. Advanced Reading Copies. And most importantly? These were free.

Without further ado, I present to you my top 10 finds (before reading and reviewing) at BEA 2008.

10. Free O.C. (Orange County) from Free Fun Guides
9. Paper Towns by John Green (of Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines fame)
8. Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
7. Odd Hours (the audiobook) signed by Dean Koontz!
6. Dark Delicacies, a collection of horror stories by the likes of Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury and Richard Laymon
5. Don't Throw It, Grow It! by Deborah Peterson and Millicent Selsman on how to grow windowsill plants from kitchen scraps
4. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
3. A tie between Sucks to be Me by Kimberly Pauley and Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (two teen vampire books)
2. Parallel Worlds: Book One: Paraworld Zero by Matthew Peterson - according to the sticker on the cover it's a barnesandnoble.com bestseller, but my joy in it comes from the picture of the horrified child with the hole in his hand taking on two pixelated komodo dragons.
1. Inkdeath (signed) by Cornelia Funke, the last book in the Inkheart Trilogy which will not be available until October 2008! Which gives me tons of time to catch up on book two.

We'll see how this list changes once I actually read these books. :)


Yer Outta Here Punks!

I never thought I was the shushing type. One of the first things I learned in library school is that librarians are totally cool, hip and technologically up-to-date people. We can navigate the information superhighway like ninjas, never let our hair go gray, always wear contacts and come to work in stilletto heels (even the guys) because sensible shoes are for nurses.

One of the first things I learned in the real library is that, while not stereotypical, most librarians do not fit the mold that my brain cast in library school. I am the youngest reference associate and of our 59 staff members I'm guessing a good amount of them are over fifty. Many are still afraid of computers. Don't get me wrong, I like my co-workers and my job, but there is a definite disconnect between library school, Hollywood and the real world.

Still, though I had entered the real world, I still could never imagine hearing a "Shhh..." pass my lips.

Then, last week (or a few weeks ago - I have a bad memory) I had to kick my first batch of teens out of the library. To be honest, I probably could have done it before. There isn't all that much to do in our town so the library seems to be where half the teens hang out. For this reason it can be very noisy in the afternoons.

One of the things I don't think I learned sufficiently is how to discipline teens. I felt terrible. I thought for sure they would hate me and at least see through my stern facade and see I was really weak and hoping really hard that they'd just listen to me and leave. I didn't want trouble.
I remember being in high school. The teacher I remember most is my literary magazine advisor. We called him Super Scottish Man and even wrote a poem about him. We thought he was the coolest even when we knew we drove him up a wall and he sometimes reprimanded us for it. He offered us a place to stay and be creative with each other after school. He barely had to do anything, but be there to listen.

I think that I did get indoctrinated a bit into the library school view of librarians. I wanted to be these teens friend, but what I've realized is that I've had to find my own leadership style and my own way of relating to them. Being their friend is not it. I am someone who will listen to them, guide them, give them ideas and laugh with them. I am also someone who has to correct them when they are wrong and teach them that there are consequences for their actions - even in an environment that isn't as controlled as school.

The teens I kicked out returned the next day. One of them came over to say hi when she had been close to tears the day before. So I learned that they don't hate me for doing what they expect adults to do. And I am an adult which is also kind of a shock.

Oh, and even if they don't see it I still consider myself the cool, hip, up-to-date librarian. It's certainly better than the alternative.


Within these depths...

I want to take a moment now to inform you all of why you're here. Actually, I am fairly certain you are here because you clicked on a link that said "Beat up the Monkey and Win a FREE IPOD!!!!!!!!!potato!!!!" I am sorry I cannot offer iPods at this locale. However I do hope in the near future to include the following:

  • Reflections on YA librarianship and library school
  • Complete program outlines (like the ones in the books)
  • Ideas for bulletin boards, programs, book displays and other YA-related stuff
  • Antecdotes about life in the library
  • Book reviews (or, more likely, me ranting about books - there will be plenty of spoiler warnings)
  • Pictures of completed projects and those in progress
  • Rants about how I swear I gauged that sweater this time and the sleeve is still twice the size of a hippo's rear
  • Pictures from craft swaps
  • Info on an ongoing plan to have a craft show business called Knifty Knits
  • Patterns - if I ever write any down
  • Basically whatever I feel like talking about because this is my blog and I'll do what I want!

So if you are interested in any of those things, welcome! If you were instead looking for blogs on fly-fishing, socialism or Pat Benetar, I suggest you go here.*

Now, there is one more piece of info that I should mention. Recently a friend of mine posted some interesting tidbits about his workplace. Even the lower management thought it was funny. Unfortunately upper management didn't feel the same. They called my poor friend into their office and decapitated him (and by decapitated I mean asked him nicely to take his blog down). For this reason I am not mentioning the name of my place of employment in my blog. Names have been changed (to something utterly ridiculous when appropriate). You may notice that it isn't THAT hard to find out where I work, but this is not a matter of national security. Thank you for understanding.

*Please note, there is no relationship between this site and the previous ones, but it also includes so pretty stupid stuff so you'll probably like it.


Librarian: Quest for the Job Part II

Yes! You have made it to the sequel. Aren't you excited? I dare hope so.

The last time we left our heroine (read: me) I had just discovered my calling to be a librarian. Upon waking the next morning my inkling had coagulated into a more discernable plan. I had decided that I would not just be any librarian - I'd be a young adult librarian. Mostly, I had fears that if I were to be an adult librarian I would be expected to read literature. I didn't want to do that. I like fantasy, mostly, and I'd heard that YA librarians played video games and planned Harry Potter parties. This sounded like the perfect job.

I returned to the career counselor's office and handed her back the books, telling her I'd found my perfect profession. She smiled, politely, probably assuming I was off to make my mark on the world as a grant writer.

Fast forward two years.

I had my plan. Unlike many of my friends and peers I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. How, then, could I have graduated from college and spent almost nine months searching for a job. At first, I'd been picky. I would only work in libraries or something that helped my credentials for librarianeering. Then, I relaxed it a little. If it made enough money, I reasoned, I could get through library school faster and get to do real librarian stuff. A month later I was listening to someone tell me how I, too, could be a successful financial advisor.

I had already started library school. I wanted to get on it as quickly as possible so I began classes only a month or so after college graduation. I had been working at Giant Eagle, my fallback job for the last two years, and looking for college-educated employment since January. I did everything right. I had a great resume - I'd done study abroad, internships and took leadership in student organizations in my undergraduate studies. I was a regular at career fairs and I always always followed up with employers. I must have had hundreds of applications in and I was so sick of sitting through tests at Cuyahoga Public Library that I wanted to scream and give up librarianeering forever.

I had about given up on ever rising above my station as a deli clerk when my YA professor announced a job at her husband's library. There was an opening for a YA associate. I didn't think I'd get it. I had suddenly realized I had no experience with teens other than working with cashiers at Giant Eagle and being a big sister. I decided I should start volunteering - anything to get the experience. When I got the interview for the YA associate position for the first time in my job hunt I was not confident - which translated into not being nervous. I left the library thinking that it was very nice and I'd like to work there, but that would probably be the last time I saw it.

Fast forward another week.

I was leaving for work at Giant Eagle. I worked 37 hours a week, just under what they could give me before I would get stuff like benefits. The phone rang and I yelled at my brother to get it. I was running late. He handed me the phone and I was not surprised to hear the voice of one of my interviewers. Oh, that's nice, I thought, usually they don't call to tell you they chose someone else. But, as you've guessed, she offered me the position. I luckily did not jump all over the room and scream like I'd won Publisher's Clearing House. I instead thanked her nicely and agreed to show up two weeks from the date.

So that's how I became a YA associate. I still work at Giant Eagle, though, because librarians do not make as much money as financial advisors. Or, probably, grant writers.


Happy Sir Eats-a-lot Day!

First of all, Happy Day of Turkeyness! Or Tofurkeyness if that's your kind of thing.

Second of all, I feel I must record the first of my victories as a YA associate. (Oops! I gave away the ending of my story-in-progress.) The first week I started I though that I should probably take initiative and try to immediately validate my presence on the staff. I emailed the local cinema (which shows all of two movies) and asked for two free passes a month that we could give away at various programs and for contests. Weeks passed and I heard nothing. I called once during that time, but was told he would call me back. It didn't happen. So I began to feel that my fresh eagerness had all been for naught. Then, last week I got a call back from the manager of the theatre. He was more than willing to help out and said my message had just ended up at the bottom of his inbox.

So joy! Now we have two passes a month to give away to bored teenagers. I'm thinking if we use them at programs that don't have as high of appeal as door prizes it might boost attendance. Maybe. I'll keep you posted.


The Librarian: Quest for the Job Part I

So you've read the last two entries (presumably) and wondered "Who the hell is this person?" The next series of posts will attempt to set your troubled mind at ease.

It all starts a few years ago. I was a young and naive undergrad studying International Studies. My counselors and professors had all told me "No problem! You can do whatever you want with whatever major you want! Want to be a doctor? All you need to know is the quadratic formula and Keats." That sounded good to me for awhile because... well, I wanted to believe it. Then I started talking to people outside the academic would and they had a different response to my enthusiastic optimism. They laughed.

My face grew cold. I started shaking. I couldn't sleep at night. I mean, what does one do with a degree in International Studies? I had staked my entire future on the possibility that there would suddenly be a huge demand for professional travellers in 2006. I didn't like law, I couldn't see myself teaching and I didn't want to get any closer to politics than my local polling booth. So, after several sleepless nights, knowing that the decision I made now, as a 20-year-old college student would irrevocably change my life, I knocked on the door of the career counselor. She was polite and happy and just as optimistic as everyone else at first, but then she noticed my trembling hands and surmised that I had seen through her glamour.

I sat perched on the edge of my seat like a baboon on heroin. "Well, what do you like to do?" she asked, politely.
"Um, read?" I asked. She nodded, politely encouraging me. "And knit. And watch movies. I like knowing random trivia and writing. Oh, and throwing theme parties that my friends all pretend they like."
She opened her book o' jobs and flipped it so it faced me. I expected it to glow as her perfectly manicured hand pointed to the title.

"Grant Writer"

Oh, I thought. I had expected something perfect and glamorous. Something that clicked in my head and made me shout "Hallelujah! I've found my calling!" This didn't do it, but then again we were being realistic here and I was pretty sure she kept the "Professional Traveller" guide sheet with "Actress," "Rich Folk-rock Singer" and "Unicorn Trainer." Well, I figured, I'd have to toughen up and accept the real world.

The next week I met with a real-life grant writer. She was very nice and described her job in detail while I nodded and tried to keep my eyes from glazing over. The interview went pretty badly. I even forgot to send her a card so professional humiliation was added to the list of reasons to avoid grant writing.

That night, I went home and sadly flipped through the career books I'd taken out. I was sure that my only other option was garbage person or politician. I was depressed. Then, I notice a faint shimmering between the pages. I turned back a few and there it was. Red lights surrounded the title and big sign said "ARE YOU STUPID?!" An arrow pointed from the sign to the title. "Librarian." Oh, I thought. Oh. That makes a lot of sense. I like to read and write. I enjoy researching, but not writing research papers. I like programming. I'm always suggesting books to people. I also, unbelievable, like working in retail.

I couldn't understand how I didn't think of it before. I mean, I spent hours every week in a library since I could remember. I saw librarians on a daily basis. One of my aunts had been a librarian and I'd been accused by my cousin just last Christmas of looking like a librarian. A wave of relief spilled over me. I wasn't going to have to change my major or spend extra time at my uber-expensive undergraduate school. Everything was going to be great. And for the first night, I slept well.


Exorcising my Personal Demons

My first week of library school (which I insist to prosepective students, is exactly like Hogwarts) I noticed something strange about Watchers. They speak an entirely different language and they don't even seem to notice it. Most notably, they pronounce everything. When I began, I innocently thought that the School of Library and Information Science was pronounced S-L-I-S. How silly of me. No, the Watchers (and the Watchers-to-be) around the joint call it"slis." Okay, I can see that. It's even kind of cute. Same with a Marc record or YALSA. It saves time and it flows, more or less. The interesting part is when they start trying to pronounce the unpronounceable. For example, OLC. Isn't it easier to just say O-L-C than to struggle with something that sounds like ohelk. I've heard it done. I promise. Or NOTSL. Ts and Ss were not meant to be pronounced in that order. One would presume, as Watchers, they know the rules of language. Apparently one would be mistaken.

Soon after joining the SLIS, I found myself sputtering along to the most common acronyms. I passed over the more difficult ones. I suppose I am not that librarian enough yet. I refuse to admit I ever would, but give it time. Eventually I will forget how normal people speak. Still, when I speak of librarianship those acronyms pepper my speech and confound the muggles. Generally, though, I do not speak of these things in proper company and so the threat was limited.

Then, I took a YA services course.

The acronyms here are not the problem. Really, there is not much extra offending vocabulary. Except for one word.

The E word.


I didn't even notice it at first. My professor started speaking about "edgy" literature and "edgy" clothing. I didn't recognize it as anything other than that professor's own peculiarity. But then I started reading YA blogs and publications. It is everywhere. Whenever anyone wants to push YA material. And the weird thing is, only YA Watchers use this word. Ever. I tried to explain the phenomenon to a coworker on the reference desk. "Edgy?" she pondered. "Does that mean it's sharp? Poignant?" Even she, a fellow acronym-pronouncer, didn't understand the meaning of the word. Now, try using the word with teens. Tell that girl that her purple and black striped wristwarmers are totally edgy. Or let that teen know that he just performed an edgie ollie on his skateboard. Chances are, they will back away slowly from the frighteningly unhip adult.

Unlike the acronyms, this word has edged its way into my everyday speech. I'm looking for clothing and I think, "Kaufmanns is so boring. I'm looking for something edgy." I flip through a few more shirts before I realized what I just thought. My blood runs cold. Have I actually integrated this word into mundane, non-Watcher, speech?

I propose a ban on the word "edgy" in all professional YA literature.

Why? Well, I suppose the use of it just makes me ... edgy.