29 December 2003


When I got home today, I had a letter from the Secretary of State informing me that my request for a personalized license plate has been approved. As soon as I send in my check (tomorrow), I'll be set. Soon, I'll be cruisin' around town with my spiffy new SNARK plates. Yay!

Damn those reference books!

The FBI is warning police to be on the lookout for anyone carrying almanacs.

I don't even have a comment on this.

I miss them too, dear

The New York Times Magazine had a charming picture of Olivia yesterday along with text remembering William Steig and Robert McCloskey.

Should I be excited or alarmed?

Maybe everyone else already knew this, but Ella Enchanted is being made into a movie.

What will Ken say?

Naked pictures of Barbie have been protected by a court in San Francisco. The photos are part of an exhibit called (Illegal Art) that seems to be garnering some press. I can see where some artists would be upset at the hijacking of their images by the new exhibit. On the other hand, it seems to be a fascinating show and one of the dangers of creating instantly recognizable characters is that those same characters may well be used later for social commentary. (Hee. I like the Prozac stamps. I wonder if using them would calm you down? That'd be the way to ensure a renaissance of personal correspondence by mail!)

NOTE: Yes, I realize I linked to the Viagra stamps, not the Prozac. Freudian slip? I don't think so. But when I went back to fix it, I was unable to get the Prozac picture, but the Viagra one came right up. (Heh.) So, whatever.

Sometimes I'm a little slow...

I swear I thought that Lemony Snicket just made this book up, mostly because of the delicious absurdity of the title.

I'd feel more stupid, but I'm too busy looking forward to reading it...

Do you think they'll carry Mr. Popper's Penguins?

Someone wants to put a library in Antarctica.


Love Actually

I went last night with a friend to see Love Actually at the awesome little Town Theatre. I had expected it to be a mildly entertaining piece of fluff, but found that I really liked it. A lot. Way better than Mona Lisa Smile, which I saw last week. It was funny and sweet and everything that a good romantic comedy should be. (Though, to be fair, I am a sucker for a good -- or even fairly mediocre -- romantic comedy.) Not all of the love stories ended in the standard "happily ever" fairy tale way, but the film satisfied me. I left feeling happy.

The film actually fit in well with my mood over the last few weeks. I'm not quite sure how to articulate it without coming across at least a wee bit unbalanced, so I will just come out and say it. I have been absolutely in love. What makes this odd is that there is no one particular person I am in love with. I just go through my days feeling like I am in love with the world.

This isn't some idealistic "aren't people grand?" thing. Some people are crap, a fact of which I am all too aware. But overall, I just feel in love. I don't know quite how else to explain it...

Pearls Before Swine

Pearls Before Swine was poignant and (for lack of a better word) lovely yesterday.

NPR update

So, I wrote that letter to Chicago Public Radio's Eight Forty-Eight about their segment on libraries. I got an e-mail back from the associate editor of the programming saying they may air the letter during an upcoming letters segment. I'll letcha know how that pans out.

Library Busy-ness

Well, if I have any readers left at all after that hiatus, I apologize for the dearth of new material here. It has been a busy few weeks here at the library (never mind all the personal running around the holidays bring). We had a horrificially bad winter concert at job #1 (what amazes me is that he has performed here four times previously; has played his last show here!), followed by a wildly successful winter craft program (we had 43 attendees, which appears to be some kind of record based on the YS staff reaction I got).

Today is our first annual all-day film festival. This first year, we are doing animated Disney films, one from each decade of Disney feature-length animation, beginning with Snow White (playing as I type this). It will be interesting to see what kind of turnout we get here. I did this at my previous job and we had close to 200 attendees, but that was a community with way more latch-key kids, which I am sure added to our numbers. (Parents sometimes read "all day film festival" and see "free all day babysitting). So far I have 4 people in there, but it's only been 15 minutes, so...

15 December 2003

Winter time is Library time

Michael Farrelly makes a compelling case for "let[ting] the cold weather drive you into the arms of your library this winter."

Everyday Advocates

I think what bothered me the most about the NPR segment on libraries last week was that I felt that the ball was dropped in terms of stressing the financial burdens many public libraries are facing now. I won't rehash my entire last post, but it just felt to me that Ms. Long should have been more assertive about the pay inequities inherent in the public library system.

I believe, so much, that every one of us has a responsibility to be a library advocate in our everyday lives. I talk about libraries whenever I can, because I truly believe in the power of public libraries to change lives.

Real Simple magazine had a shout-out to libraries. I don't have the issue in front of me (I will post the exact quote after I get home), but it reminded readers that public libraries can borrow books that their local library doesn't own through interlibrary loan. That seems obvious to those of us who work in and love libraries, but so many people have no idea. It felt huge to see this reminder (in bright orange text!) in a nationally distributed magazine.

When the local press writes a favorable article about our libraries, we often call or write to thank them. This positive reinforcement makes them more likely to write about the library in the future. Why not do the same thing with the national press? Instead of bitching because we are offended by stereotypes or action figures (it's just a doll, Sparky!), how about expending our energy on thanking those who present a positive view of libraries. And if we disagree with a view, instead of a vitriolic attack, how about beginning by thanking whatever organization we are writing (calling, whatever) for focusing some of their program (newspaper, magazine, etc.) on public libraries in the first place? Then, we can gently point out whatever errors we viewed in their presentation.

By gently, I in no way mean that we should back down and let ourselves be trampled on. But let's save our sarcasm and biting wit for the 'blogs and each other. There's a reason, "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar" has been a long-standing proverb!

Let's all be advocates in every area of our everyday life. It can't possibly hurt us and may very well help.

14 December 2003

Okay, back to NPR

I have many opinions about the segment NPR ran on libraries last week. However, in the interest of retaining some professional integrity, I decided not to post my ranting. Instead, I will post the letter I sent to Eight Forty-Eight's Steve Edwards in response to the program:

Thank you for your segment about the increased use of libraries over the past years (which aired Thursday, Dec. 11). It is true that public libraries are one of the"best-kept secrets" around. However, while Ms. Long chose to highlight internet and electronic resources in her interview, libraries provide so much more -- we provide books, storytimes and other programs for all ages, expert reference help, and a sense of community that is often missing from other segments of society. Trained librarians using careful questioning, can often help patrons find exactly what they are looking for, even when the patrons aren't often sure themselves.

Ms. Long answered the question about why there is a shortage of public librarians by pointing out the demand for information specialists in other fields. While this is a valid point, she neglected to explain why so many of my colleagues are choosing the private sector over public libraries. Quite simply, public libraries, with few exceptions, are not able to pay their employees as well as private employers. A quick glance at the recently updated survey by LACONI (Library Adminstrators Conference of Northern Illinois) shows a startling range of salaries throughout northern Illinois. While some libraries pay well (sometimes well over $75,000 to administrators), many more librarians make shockingly small salaries (under $25,000 to administration, less for other employees).

Many public library employees have earned Masters' degrees in Library Science before being employed as librarians full-time. We have spent much time, energy, and money on our educations in order that we may serve all those who walk through the doors of our libraries, yet are not always fairly compensated for our efforts, especially when librarian salaries are measured against the salaries of other professionals with comparable schooling. Furthermore, the inequity of librarian salaries throughout the state make it difficult to convince librarians to work in certain communities when the willingness to relocate or commute could mean fairer pay. Sadly, this inequity means that communities where parent could afford to purchase books for their children if they so chose are able to afford more librarians and bigger libraries while those communities which need public libraries the most often are unable to pay competitive wages, buy new materials, and expand too-small facilities.

I truly love my job and cannot imagine doing another. I also love the communities I have chosen to work in, which have thus far been communities on the lower end of the economic spectrum. I could make much more money than I do now by working in the city of Chicago or in the north suburbs. However, if we all follow the money, who will be left to serve the communities that need us most?

As long as poor pay and salary inequities remain, I fear there will be a shortage of professional librarians. I passionately believe in the value of public libraries and the potential they have to change lives. Most of us who work in public libraries do so out of love. We joke amongst each other that we didn't go into this profession to get rich. The fact that we love our jobs, though, doesn't make them less meaningful and less worthy of recognition and fair compensation. We didn't go into this profession to get rich, but it would be nice if we were able to stop worrying whether our paychecks will stretch enough to cover our basic needs.



11 December 2003

Libraries on NPR

This morning, NPR ran a segment on public libraries. I have opinions on this, but they will have to wait until tomorrow, as it is time to (finally!) get home.


Okay, so tomorrow, when the staff of my library comes back from a multi-library staff development day, I am supposed to give a brief presentation on 'blogs, including introducing the rest of the staff to the new 'blog we are using in Youth Services.

That's pretty swell. I am excited by it and I am hoping my enthusiasm will be at least interesting, if not infectious.


But, my Reference pal and I spent the last five hours getting this stupid laptop and the projector to work.

And when one of the Circ crew came through, asked what we were doing, and we told her, she didn't even pretend she didn't want to sit through that.

Hey, at least appreciate what it took to get this stuff to work!

I dunno if we should shut this down or just let it run all night...

Nobel Lecture

The lecture given by the Nobel Laureate in Literature, J. M. Coetzee, is now available, as text or a video.

10 December 2003

Kingly words

Now you can read (or watch, or listen to) the acceptance speech given by Stephen King upon receiving the National Book Foundation's Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award.

Ooh! Ooh! How 'bout this?

Okay, I finally found something else that my loving family can get me for Christmas! Everyone can chip in and I don't need any gifts next year, either! (I prefer the letter written from Milan.)

I want this!

Darn! If only I hadn't just redecorated the bathroom, I could have a truly fabulous place to relax!

Dangerous nursery rhymes

A brilliant new study examines the carelessness many of us have exhibited in reciting these tragic tales to children for so many years.

A smile to start my day

This morning, when I came in to work, I had an e-mail from one of "my" kids from my previous job. It was one of those soppy bits o' glurge that have a life message within. In this case it was, "Never save something for a special occasion. Every day in your life is a special occasion." I think that's a pretty good bit of advice, even if I abhor the chain letter aspects these pieces usually contain.

The best part, though, wasn't the moral. The best part was seeing that I haven't been forgotten by my kids. So many children have passed through my life, and I have genuinely loved many of them. My last job was especially meaningful to me. I wept when I left because I didn't want to leave those children, even though I could no longer bear to remain in that place. I have a large folder of their drawings and letters at home and a picture a small boy drew of me taped to my bedroom wall. I have a hideous silver Chihuahua one of my girls gave me (shortly before she and her sister were whisked out of school by a parent and then disappeared). I have a heart broken by the leaving that is now, finally, slowly, healing.

I also know that, in the way that the minds and loyalties of children work, sometimes they mean much more to me than I do to them. I am, after all, just the librarian. But I love them and remember so many of them. It is heartening to see that some of them remember me, too.

09 December 2003

Fair and Balanced

I am pretty well a fan of librarian-generated 'blogs, but not everyone is.

New links

Finally, I have added links to some of the other (mostly librarian-generated) 'blogs I read (with varying degress of regularity, I must admit). There's some pretty entertaining stuff out there...

08 December 2003

Ups and downs

I am at job #2 tonight. The evening got off to a stellar start when I came in to find yet another memo from our psychotic computer guy in my mailbox about the almost hourly needless changes to the computers.

What? I didn't tell you about Crazy Computer Guy (henceforth referred to here as CCG)? Huh. Prob'ly I was just trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism by not revealing inappropriately malicious ranting. This guy is insane. Just trust me on this.

Anyway, this means that, again, the rules for letting patrons use the computers have changed. What that means is that, as Reference Girl, I will have angry patrons asking about inconsistent rules again all evening. Fun.

I have a headache. I am starting to get more and more stress from this place that I love. I am starting to dread coming in because I know there will always be some new, irrational rules and behavior (from CCG, not the patrons) that will cause problems and complaints.

So far this evening, I have had some teenage girls bitch at me after I remind them of the "one person per computer rule." Heck, the rules around here are so elastic and inconsistent that I almost can't blame them and consider caving, but I know that will quickly cause a descent into utter chaos, so I stand firm and am later rewarded by their better behavior and apologies for their earlier behavior.

A woman called and yelled at me because we do not have books about silicon for her daughter to use for science fair. I offered to get something through interlibrary loan and she started yelling at me that the paper is due tomorrow and what the hell is wrong with the libraries? We know the kids are doing these projects! We should have the book here! NOW! She was disgusted with me for offering to get her information from our seven zillion different (and pretty current) science encyclopedias and ended up hanging up on me.

Another satisfied patron.


Did I mention that I seriously HATE science fair? No, we do not have any books on working underwater with paper or that specifically spell out the result of your child's project. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF DOING THE EXPERIMENT! Maybe I am suffering from senile nostalgia, but I swear it wasn't this complicated back in my day -- and I'm only 30. I built a simple water filtration plant out of tubing and some other crap -- or rather, I tried to and, when that failed, I drew a lovely diagram of what my plant should have looked like. I wrote a paper explaining what I had learned from my experiment and...

Oh, why do I bother complaining? No amount of bitching will change the fact that these parents want me to do their children's science fair projects for them.

On the other extreme, an elderly gentleman patron told me I was a "credit to [my] whole profession" this evening after I had answered some simple request.

How odd to have a job that you can love passionately but dislike a bit at the same time ever once in a while.

I guess as long as the scales stay weighed to the side of love, I'll be all right.

My least favorite part of the holiday season...

... is trying to think of enough stuff with which to compile (er, update) the wish list my family requests every year. I can never think of enough stuff I want other people to buy me, except for piles o' books, which I can almost guarantee I will not be receiving.


So, without further ado, my dearest relations, here ya go.

(You know I love you all, right?)

06 December 2003

Better than a shiny gold star sticker

This afternoon, a tenth grader came to the Reference desk to ask for help finding information on the Eastland disaster. I was kind of excited by this request, since I had stumbled across a phenomenal Eastland site earlier today while looking for info on the Iroquois Theatre fire for this very 'blog, so I showed her that and told her about some other materials we could borrow through interlibrary loan.

Her sister -- a child around 10 years of age -- was with her, listening to all of this. When I paused for a moment, she said, "Excuse me?" I thought maybe she wanted to find a book to occupy her time while I helped her sister, so I said, "Yes, Miss?"

She looked right at me and said, "You really love this job, don't you?" I was a little surprised by her question, but then I felt myself grin, and I answered her. "Yeah, I really do love my job. I think it's the best job in the world!"

And I do.

Later, when I thought about it, I decided that this was a good indication that I am doing something right. I feel that one of my strengths is my love for all things bookish and my passion for and absolute belief in the potential of the public library system. That a child was able to glean that from observing a brief transaction... well, that made me all warm and fuzzy and more than a wee bit proud that that love shines through.


... the Oriental Theatre stands on the same site as the infamous Iroquois Theatre, site of the deadliest fire in Chicago History. (Yes, even when considering the Great Chicago Fire. That one killed 250 people. 602 people perished at the Iroquois Theatre.) The 100th anniversary of this tragedy will occur on 30 December 2003.


I am a happy girl! I bought my tickets and I'm going to see Elvis Costello in March at the beautiful Oriental Theatre! I have been lucky enough to see the mighty EC 3 times before, and every time he has blown me away. He has one of the strongest, most amazing voices I have ever heard.

I bought two tickets, although I'm not sure if I know any other real Costello fans (except The Boy, who won't be allowed to go on a school night, and mine sister, who lives far, far away now). I'll figure that out when the concert gets closer.

In the meantime, I can't wait to get home from work today so I can listen to North again!

Poor, poor squirrels

Who knew that squirrels were the victims of such violent and senseless hazing?

And now, that marvelous song Dr. Demento used to play is running through my head. Swell.

And, as long as I have squirrels on the brain, I would be remiss if I didn't implore you all to listen to the hilarious "Squirrel Cop" segment of This American Life, post haste.

Maybe snow globes aren't as peaceful as they seem...

I love snow globes. In fact, I was just thinking that I should buy one for my snow-deprived nephew. Then I found a swell one on-line...

05 December 2003

And Santa said, "Let there be light." And there was light. And it was good.

Truth be told, I wasn't really looking forward to the Township tree-lighting ceremony tonight. However, I promised to attend, to represent the library, so that was that. My Library Director agreed to meet me there, too, so there was really no backing out of it.

Now I'm glad I went. It was really a nice evening. It wasn't too cold at all. There were a number of kids waiting to see Santa, running around in the wet grass, gathering whatever pathetic snow was left to make a tiny slushman. When Santa arrived (chauffeured in a fire truck, sirens ablaze), the kids went wild with excitement. The tiniest ones were fairly shaking with joy. Only Scrooge (pre-ghost, of course) could have failed to be touched by the Christmas Spirit.

Some speeches by local politicians (including a rather touching one about how all of them need to pay attention to how they behave, even at election time, because children are always watching and they need to set a good example, not just as politicians, but as people), and Santa turned on the lights.

My Library Director introduced me to the Mayor of the town we serve and I chatted with some kids and sipped some cocoa. I was proud of our library tree, proud of our larger community, proud of our township for trying to create a true community, not just a collection of cities and towns and villages.

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one!"

No lectures for me!

Yesterday, before my yoga class, Odysseus (my little purple Escort) was workin' just fine. After class, though, he was ill. No heat -- or, indeed, air of any kind -- was blowing through my vents. Of course, yesterday was the first really cold day we had.


So, I called the dealership where mine uncle (a master mechanic) works, made an appointment for early this morning, and prepared for another, "you need a new car"lecture.

I know my uncle loves me and has my best interests at heart, but still. Yeah, okay, so Odysseus is 7 (almost 8) years old and has nearly 150,000 miles on him. So what? He runs pretty well most days and I love him. Besides which, at this point, I'm not getting any money for him, anyway, so why not drive him 'til he just cain't no more?

Plus, I really want a hybrid, and Ford doesn't make one yet, so...

(I used this argument with my uncle last time and he informed me that Ford will have a hybrid out next year. An SUV. Before I could react, The Boy piped up: "An SUV?! Have you even met Katharine?" Hee.)

Basically, I was readying myself to hear another refrain of the "Betray Odysseus" tune.


It was just a bad wire. My car was fixed in 15 minutes. It cost me $9.

So there! Odysseus rocks!

04 December 2003

Say it ain't so!

In one of the sadder moments of my life, I recently got back the check I sent to Book Magazine. I was excited to finally be subscribing (and wondering what took me so long).

But, as I said, my check came back. Apparently, the November/December 2003 issue is their last.

Strangely enough, this is not mentioned on their webpage -- at least not that I can find.


Oh, Tannenbaum...

Today, I was lucky enough to go decorate a tree for our library's town at the township building.

In the rain.

Still and all, it turned out pretty spiffy, what with all the little wooden book ornaments we had. I also found a lovely old-timey Santa to adorn the top of the tree. Yeah, he'll probably be wrecked after enduring the winter, but hey, he was a buck, so no bad.

Friday night is the tree-lighting ceremony and I -- lucky me! -- get to go to represent the library. Should be a hoot and a half.

01 December 2003

Little things make me happy

Last night, my nephew called me. Well, actually, my sister called me and put my three-year-old nephew on the phone. He said, "Hi, auntie Katharine!" and then asked, "Is it snowing there?"

Because he lives so far away, I see him seldom, and don't talk to him on the phone a super lot, either. But that question made me melt. It showed that he remembered me, that he recalled our last conversation, when I told him it was snowing here.

A little thing, to be sure, but an important one.

I love him.

Look for the silver lining...

I have been trying to find some good in having the flu attack so viciously last week, causing my Thanksgiving feast to be a kingly four saltine crackers and half a cup of soup, but it hasn't been easy, especially since I'm still feeling pretty beat up by the influenza.

Here's something good, though. I haven't smoked a cigarette since the day before I got sick and, honestly, I haven't missed it a bit. I know that in a few days I may change my mind, but I am gonna try my level best not to start up again...

25 November 2003

Church signs: ready made or DIY

A bizarre collection of church signs has been collected for our viewing pleasure. You can also make your own.

I'm sure we'll all rest easier now

A friend just sent me this update on the OCLC lawsuit:

N.Y. Hotel Settle Dewey Decimal Case
Library Service, New York City Library Hotel Settle Dewey Decimal Debate

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio Nov. 25 -- A library-themed New York City hotel whose floors are divided based on the Dewey Decimal system has agreed to acknowledge in its advertising that a nonprofit library cooperative owns the system.

The settlement announced Monday also requires the Library Hotel to make a donation in an undisclosed amount to a nonprofit organization that promotes children's reading. The library overlooks the New York Public Library.

The Dewey Decimal Classification has been used to track books for 120 years, and the OCLC Online Computer Library Center in Ohio has owned the system's trademark since 1988.

OCLC sued the hotel in September after finding the hotel used the system to divide the building, with each floor dedicated to one of Dewey's 10 classifications. For instance, the eighth floor is divided into subjects embracing literature, the 800 category of the system.

24 November 2003

Three years ago today...

...my amazing nephew was born. Unfortunately for me, he lives far away, and so I had to content myself with a phone call. I haven't seen him for several months, so it was a lovely surprise that after I identified myself as "aunt Katharine" he said, "Hi, Katharine!" I know it is ever so syrupy to gush so, but I was pleased that he can say my name! Yay! We had quite a nice little chat (especially considering he is only 3 and doesn't see me much), during which I learned that he is getting a Buzz Lightyear birthday cake, that his baby sister cries a lot (until Mommy feeds her), that it isn't snowing where he lives, and that he still likes Max and his Wild Things.

Happy birthday, dearest Buddha Baby. I hope this year ahead is your most amazing yet. Remember always that your auntie loves you!

My favorite reference question this evening

So, I'm at the Reference desk and an announcement sounds throughout the library: "Reference, you have a call on line 4. Reference." All right. I'm ready.

Or, I thought I was.

There's a woman on the other end who wants me to look for her son's gloves. He had apparently been in a little while earlier, had checked out a book with the Dewey number 291.blah, and came home gloveless, so could I please go look among the 291s to see if his gloves were there?

So far, so good. No problem. It's even a fun "reference" question. I ask her to please hold so I can look. However, I do not hit the hold button quickly enough, because I hear her shout, "No, wait!" I oblige, and she tells me that she wants to be sure I know that they are brown leather work gloves. Yes, ma'am. I ask her, again, to please hold on while I go look for the gloves. Again, she shouts, "No, wait!"

Like a fool, again, I do as bids. This time she wants to tell me that she thinks her son's name is on the gloves. But apparently her son has multiple names, because the gloves bear either the name X or Y, she's not sure which.

Again, I ask her to please hold, but when she starts to ask me to wait yet again, I feel my professionalism start to slip just a smidge. "Ma'am, I'm guessing that if I find a pair of gloves in the stacks, there will only be one pair there and those will be your son's. Now, hold on, please, while I go look."

I press the hold button firmly this time and head back for the 291s. On the way there, I feel a little guilty for getting impatient, but that only lasts about a second, until I start to consider how absurd the possibility that maybe there really are many gloves carelessly scattered about the 291s, some neatly tucked between books. Maybe I won't recognize her son's gloves amidst the wealth of handwear I am sure to find.

I come to the 291s and am rudely yanked back through the looking glass. Of course there are no gloves in comparative religion!

I return to the phone and inform our patron that her son will have to remain gloveless, because there are no gloves in the stacks. She reminds me, "They were brown leather work gloves." I remind myself to be nice (and not exclaim, "oh! I thought you said purple satin evening gloves! Let me check again!") and say, "Yes, ma'am, but I checked the 291s and there were no gloves there at all."

She is dejected and hangs up. I feel a little bad for her, but not too much. I remember her son and he was a grown man, so I have to think he could get his butt back in his car and come look for his gloves his own self.

I tell one of my Circ friends about this and she laughs. I head back to Reference and my phone rings. It is the woman again. She wants me to have her name and phone number in case I find her son's gloves. She wants to be sure I write down that they are "Brown leather work gloves. Suede leather." I promise to pass the message on to Circ, since they take care of our lost and found.

I deliver the message to the Circ staff. My friend says, "Oh, I know him!" and proceeds to tell me how much trouble this man (and his mother) give them. I tell her that I was just passing the message on in case the gloves turn up. She says, "yeah," and tosses the note into the trash.

At this point, it officially ceases to be, in any way, on any level, my problem. I go back to helping patrons with more traditional library questions: Do you have Things Not Seen? and the like. I get back into the regular rhythm of a busy night at Reference.

After about 20 minutes, I get another Reference call. It is the patron. Again. Wanting to know if we found her son's gloves yet. I apologize profusely for letting these other patrons interfere with what should be the all-consuming task of seeking and finding the gloves, break down in tears, and vow to dedicate the rest of my shift to my new mission. I shall not rest until I have the gloves!

Well, no. But I do promise we'll call her if we come across them.

Maybe it's just me...

... but it bothers me some that one of the libraries I work in has apparently turned the computer room into a shrine to Microsoft. I don't really have anything tremendous against Microsoft. I use their products and finally stopped disliking Bill Gates once I realized how much philanthropy he is engaging in. Yeah, he's got some kind of monopoly going, but so do other companies, and at least he isn't sitting on his piggy bank, kicking away anyone who might ask for a penny.

Still. I have this thing about openly advertising corporations in the public library setting. Again, maybe it's just me. Maybe this is perfectly acceptable and normal. But it is bothering me something fierce that there is now a large, framed poster for Windows Server 2003 (framed! None of our other posters are framed!) hanging in the computer room, along with several smaller framed homages to the wonder of the Gates Empire.

It just doesn't seem right, somehow...

Stupid Medicare!

I was so excited that I was gonna get to see the National Book Award Ceremony on C-SPAN2. I bought my blank video, called my aunt, wrote her a note reminding her to tape it.

Then, this morning, my boss told me that the Ceremony wasn't on last night, after all. Instead, legislators debating Medicare pre-empted the program which, according to C-SPAN 2, ran at 1am this morning, instead.

Well. That doesn't do me any good... Luckily -- hopefully -- they will show the Ceremony next weekend now. Here's hoping.

23 November 2003

I don't know if I can do it

Okay, so last night, The Boy and I watched Attack of the Killer Tomatoes with Gram.


It was such a bad movie, even more so than I remember. Basically, someone off-camera was rolling or tossing tomatoes at actors. (Oh, except when the giant paper-machie tomatoes rolled on visible wheels through the grocery store parking lot.)

Even so, it was so bad, it was pretty funny. The Boy giggled a lot and even Gram laughed. (And, since we had BLTs for dinner, there were a lot of jokes made about that, too.) I would still consider the DVD. I am pretty sure the kids at work would laugh at it, and I do think everyone should see it at least once.

But I don't know if I can watch the other three.

22 November 2003

Brand New Guestbook!

(I sure do seem to use a lot of exclamation points. Huh.)

Okay, in the margin to the right, you'll notice that I have a brand-spankin' new guestbook, compliments of cgi2you. I'll see how it works out and may (or may not) keep it. If I ever have the time to figure out how to make one of mine own, that'd be preferable, but this'll do for now. Feel free to sign!


My Librarian Action Figure just arrived and she ROCKS! My only complaint is that her book keeps falling out of her hand. Other than that, though, she's pretty darned cool. Even the packaging is rockin' cool, with library facts on back, bookmarks, and a trading card. (In fact, I am thinking about buying another one so I can keep one in the package.)

I know some people were unhappy with this doll, and I kinda get that, but I hafta admit that I love her. (Maybe I should get her together with my Giles action figure...)

God help me...

...but I have had confirmed to me, once again, that I am a complete geek after I got super excited that the National Book Awards ceremony will be broadcast on C-SPAN 2 tomorrow night.

I am almost a little embarrassed by how much I am dying to see this! I called my Aunt Sissy to see if they would tape it for me (most days I don't miss cable a bit). After she laughed at me, she agreed to tape it.

Yay! I can't wait to see Stephen King's acceptance speech for receiving the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, a decision that has been hotly contested by some of the literati.

I just have to stop on the way home to get a video.

I'll drink to that!

Quote o' the moment:

Perhaps the two most valuable and satisfactory products of American civilization are the librarian on the one hand and the cocktail in the other. (Louis Stanley Jast)

The Dewey Decimal System of Love

First of all, it's a great title.

The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr.

(Somehow, I keep hearing this title intoned by The Tick. And no, I don't want to know what that says about me.)

After hearing the title, I was pretty much obliged to seek out the book. I didn't have high hopes, but the title was a siren song.

Actually, it wasn't half-bad. I liked the librarian. I liked the love story. Even the mystery (kinda) subplot worked for me. In fact, now that I have returned my copy to the library, I'm thinking I'll buy it. I'm all about anything library related, so long as it doesn't suck.

And this book didn't suck. It was pretty darned entertaining.

(Boy! I get more eloquent every day!)

One of my favorite things about the book was the way every chapter opened with advice about which Dewey number to consult for different concerns. As much as I loved this part, it did lead to one concern on my part.

I hope OCLC doesn't sue her.


I am always deeply moved to realize the absolute power and magic contained within the pages of Margaret Wise Brown's masterpiece, Goodnight Moon and the glorious illustrations by Clement Hurd.

I have always loved this book and have often shared it with children, but I am still ever filled with awe when I read it aloud to a group.

This latest fresh wave of adoration for the Great Green Room comes from my experiences on Illinois Family Reading Night this Thursday past. I had a pretty good group there and had gotten the kids all riled up with some rowdy books: I Stink!, Bling Blang, The Cat in the Hat. I further compounded that by reading aloud some of Shel Silverstein's naughtier poems. (The moms didn't look too thrilled with "Someone Ate the Baby," but the children fairly howled with laughter.)

So now, I have this room full of kids hopped up on rowdy books and sugar and I need to calm them down and wrap things up. Huh.

I told them I was gonna read a goodnight story, held up Goodnight Moon, and waited while they quieted down.

And then, I opened the book, and miracles happened.

The room was silent. Not just quiet. Silent.

Even the teeny baby there (perhaps alarmed by the aforementioned Silverstein poem), stopped crying.

I thought about the phrase, "so quiet you could hear a pin drop." I have seldom experienced that kind of quiet with children, but it happens every time I read Goodnight Moon. The only noise at all came when, almost inaudibly, a few of the children whispered "hush" when I read, "And good night to the old lady whispering 'hush'."

When the story ended, the silence hung on for a few seconds and then the kids started clapping while I made announcements.

The miracle is that this happens every time I read Goodnight Moon, and while I'm a pretty good outloud reader, I know that the reaction is not to me. It is to this timeless, simple, beautiful book.

God bless Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd.

Somehow, I'm not a bit surprised...

Well, judging from early reviews and critiques from professional colleagues (notably, the collective genius of the Child_Lit crew), The Cat in the Hat is a great big bust. The New York Times has a great review by A. O. Scott, which includes some advice for the filmmakers and film-goers alike:

Neutering, to prevent this beast from spawning sequels, is perhaps the most humane solution. Or maybe it is best to follow the advice of that wise fish: "Make that cat go away! Tell that cat in the hat you do not want to play."

On a related note, I opened our Illinois Family Reading Night celebration Thursday past with a reading of Dr. Seuss' incomparable book, The Cat in the Hat and the kids loved it! Not one of them even mentioned the movie.

I guess we can all breathe a little easier knowing that, even as children have loved this book since it first appeared in 1957, they will continue to beg their parents to "read it again!" and will learn to read it themselves long after the film version has disappeared from our collective consciousness.

19 November 2003

Meet my new friend!

I love Library Girl.

I just checked...

... and all four of the Killer Tomato movies are on their way through the magic of ILL. I've already been feeling a wee bit under the weather the last few days. I hope this doesn't finish me off for good!

God Went to Beauty School

What if God loved this world He created so much, and was so curious about it, that He decided to come try some of it out?

That's the premise of God Went to Beauty School, the new juvie novel by Newbery Award winning author, Cynthia Rylant. It's a teeny book, just 55 pages, and written entirely in poems.

Each poem title announces something or other that God did: "God Went to Beauty School," "God Caught a Cold," God Saw a Movie," and so on. One of my favorites, "God Went to India," begins:

To see the elephants.
God adores elephants.
He thinks they are
the best thing
He ever made.
They do everything
He hoped for:
They love their children,
they don't kill,
they mourn their dead.

While some people will doubtless find this book too irreverant for their liking, I think it is a beautiful meditation on the little things that matter (because if God finds value in making spaghetti or getting a dog...), with just the right amount of humor thrown in. (Of course, we all know God must have a good sense of humor.) Run to your local library (or bookstore, even) and check out this lovely, lyrical volume.

18 November 2003

I want a tee shirt!

I need this tee shirt to warn others that sometimes I am an Info*Bitch.

A Library 'blog I'm loving

I know there are a number of 'blogs by librarians out there. I looked over a few before I decided to do this one. Most of them are funny and smart and left me feeling like I probably do not want to be compared to any of them, since I'd be found lacking. I haven't had the time to read any of them in depth, though.


Ref Grunt captivates me in some strange way. Maybe because I recognize it as true. Maybe because it seems like such a fascinating project, to keep track of the questions we're asked in that way. It would probably be immensely useful in helping us to pin down exactly what our patrons want. (Or at least what they think they want. I guess anyone who's ever worked the desk knows that often a few questions from a wise librarian can uncover what the patron is really looking for.) I look forward to reading Ref Grunt, so I suggest that you click on over there with all haste to see what the fuss is about.

17 November 2003

What do you do when your produce is up to no damned good?

Okay. So my uncle turned 50 yesterday. When I was born, he pretended to my (very young) mother, that I had no legs (they were tucked underneath me) and freaked her out. When I was a little girl, I wanted to marry him. He played catch with me in my Gram's backyard and made me step on a bee! He did one of the best Kermit the Frog imitations I had ever heard. He's so swell that he is one of the only people on the planet who gets away with calling me "Kathy" (sometimes).

Well, the marriage thing didn't pan out and, y'know, that's cool. I like my aunt and, besides, I see now that we are way too different and it never would have worked. But I still love mine uncle, so I was at his party last night. It was a pretty good time. Lots of people there, yummy food.

After dinner, The Boy (my aunt and uncle are The Boy's parents) and I ran to Borders for neccessities : The New York Times (for the special kids' book section), The New Yorker (it's the cartoon issue -- for The Boy), Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them) by Al Franken (for me -- The Boy owed me a copy because Franken signed my copy of the book for The Boy), something else I don't remember, and how is this trip to Borders even relevant? It's not. Sorry.

So, mine uncle was unwrapping gifts and, I swear, I have NO IDEA how it came up, but the next thing you know, we are all sitting around talking about Attack of the Killer Tomataoes.

Yes, you heard me right: Attack. Of. The. Killer. Tomatoes.

Maybe it was just our family (in fact, I wouldn't be a bit surprised), but we loved this movie when we were growing up! LOVED it! We quoted it, hummed that damned "Puberty Love" song (as I type this, I can hear the lyrics awakening in my brain after a considerable hiatus and beginning to play), and did so proudly.

I was trying to tell my friend, Amy, about this last night and was shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- to learn that she had never heard of the movie.

I have already ordered all four (yes, there are four) killer tomato films through interlibrary loan and am seriously considering buying the DVD of the first film. I don't know what's wrong with me! Maybe during my formative years the tomatoes infiltrated my brain!

Whatever. Just thinking about seeing these films again is making me giggle.


The Horn Book Magazine also has a lovely remembrance of William Steig on their site.

It still makes me sad to think that Steig is gone. I don't want to imagine a world where there won't a new Steig drawing or cover or cartoon in (or on, I suppose) my New Yorker each week...

I want to remember this

Great quote from Gregory Maguire in the current issue of The Horn Book Magazine:

"Children's lives are fiendishly hard. Adults, having survived childhood, turn their mind to the future and, if they have a choice, generally retain the rosier of childhood memories. Doubtless this is as it should be, productive for them and for society. But children's books aren't for adults, they're for children." (emphasis mine)

(Maybe having this quote in my mind is what made me doubt Milkweed?)

And Gram says...

By the way, I know everyone is waiting with bated breath to know what Gram thought of Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul). She seemed to like it pretty well. She said, "You know, that was really rotten, the way they treated her." I thought that was a positive view. "But, you know," she continued, "I would never have married a foreigner."

Baby steps are still steps.

16 November 2003


So, here's my question: If I read a Juvie or YA book and think it is outstanding, does that mean it is an appropriate book for kids and teens? Not appropriate meaning that the subject and language is inoffensive, but more along the lines as something that will capture them, too, something I should buy for my library.

The book that has me asking myself this question (yet again) is Jerry Spinelli's new novel, Milkweed. I finished this book this morning and... hmm... I hate to use the word "enjoyed" in connection with such a painful Holocaust story (although, to be fair, I think the book ultimately encapsukates a great deal of hope, too). The story definitely held my attention and moved me.

That said... I don't know. I'm not sure if I can articulate my hesitancy about giving it to a young 'un.

Hmm... Maybe I am wrong. I was just about to say that I have recommended the far more disturbing (at least in my eyes) The Final Journey by Gudrun Pausewang without worrying about whether kids would like it. That book made me feel like I'd been punched in the gut and haunted me for months after I'd finished it. It raised troubling questions for me, especially when it comes to how much should children be sheltered from reality and at what point does that shelter need to be lifted? Is ignorance always bliss? The father in Life is Beautiful, I think, did a good job of protecting his small boy from the horror of the Holocaust. Some may argue if that should have been done at all, but I don't have the energy to even peek down that road right now. Or maybe that's all tangled up in my point and I am about to trip so I should just stop.

ANYway. Back to Milkweed. My initial reaction was a bit of doubt as to whether or not it was a good book for kids or just a book that adults like and think kids should read. But I seem to have no problem with The Final Journey, so what exactly is giving me pause? I think maybe I am wrong. I have given the book to The Boy (my favorite thirteen-year-old reader) to see what he thinks.



Got home about half an hour ago from my night out with pals from previous job. I miss them all a great deal, but not neccessarily all the stress that job caused. I do miss all "my" kids there, though.

I haven't had that much beer since... heck, I don't know when. Maybe 2 or 3 years? ANYway... had a fabulous time, but had to stop at the grocery store on the way home. Made a cake for my uncle's 50th birthday (tomorrow). Now just have to wait for the darned thing to finish baking (only another 45 minutes) before I can go to sleep. I'm ready to doze off now. Morpheus keeps cuddling up to me and whispering his siren song in my ear, but I'll have to hold him off just a smidge longer.

Then, tomorrow, I will have to get up extra early to make a pecan pie (mine uncle's official gift from me), because there's absolutely no way that's gonna happen before bed...

15 November 2003


27 minutes 'til I get to go home. 1 hour and 57 minutes until I meet some friends from my last job for beer and pizza. Yay!

Bitch & Moan

I am at my part-time job today. I love the Circ staff here, but sometimes...

There are multiple Circ people here today and still they have a long line because only one of them is actually at Circ. So, I finally end up at Circ myself, helping to check people out and to get patrons their books quickly so they can leave happily. I do not mind that at all. I am glad I had to work Circ sometimes at other libraries so I can help.


But then, the one other Circ person up there starts telling people that I will help them with Reference questions. Right. At. That. Very. Moment.

I explain that I will be back at Ref in just a minute. The patrons are nice. They understand. They see me trying to help them and they appreciate that. But my Circ friend keeps telling them I will answer their questions. Right Away.


Okay. So, I get the line of waiting patrons finished, send them on their merry way. Then I run back to reference, where the patrons are wonderful and patient and I solve all their problems like Wonder Woman. FINALLY, time to breathe. But then, Circ starts transferring calls to me that aren't really reference, people asking what time we close and what our address is.

So, I take a deep yoga breath, answer their questions, and do not go throttle my Circ pals.

But I want to.

I've been wondering...

Why do patrons keep thinking I will do their homework for them over the phone? And what delineates a clear line between answering a reference question and doing homework? And why do so many parents do their kids' homework for them? Many parents seem to want the A so badly that they don't realize that their child isn't getting the *education* that should go along with that grade. If your kid gets an A, but learns nothing, is that really better than if he gets a B or C but carries with him a lot of new information about his topic (or even -- heaven forbid! -- about how to study and gather information)? There were plenty of times when I maybe didn't get a good grade (mostly because I was lazy and my parents weren't gonna do my homework for me!), but still remember the lesson I was supposed to be learning.


"These libraries have made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies of their privileges." (Benjamin Franklin)

That ain't right!

Mini-rant alert:
Okay. So, my beautiful and talented and brilliant friend, Shannon, just sent me an e-mail about the news that African-American soldier Shoshanna Johnson will receive a 30% disability benefit, compared to the 80% that will be received by Jessica Lynch. I am always suspicious of internet rumor, so I checked it out with snopes and found out that this is true.

The military claims that this case has nothing to do with race, and I want to believe that. I mean, for cryin' out loud! This is the year 2003! We revere Dr. King (as we should), but then this kind of blatant racism occurs?

Well, no. The military says it isn't racism. They claim that the disparity has more to do with the offical extent of injury sustained by both women.

On snopes, Barbara Mikkelson writes, "If disability pensions are awarded on the basis of what a soldier has been put through, Spc. Johnson has a strong case for claiming the same level of compensation as that which Pvt. Lynch receives. Johnson was the frightened looking African-American woman shoved in front of the TV cameras by her Iraqi captors, a remembered image that haunts me to this day. She was shot through both legs and held prisoner in Iraq for 22 days. Like Lynch, she too has weathered a difficult convalescence, walks with a limp, and is tortured by memories of her captivity. Her recovery has not been followed by the media the way her more famous comrade-in-arms' was. (Indeed, no other injured soldier's recuperation has garnered attention of that depth and magnitude.) "

I've gotta agree.

Most of my friends know that I am against this war. However, that doesn't make me against the troops. If someone was willing to fight and suffer under the auspices of the US Military, shouldn't she be fairly compensated?

Okay. That's all from me right now. I don't think I can articulate the reason Shoshanna deserves more money any better than Ms. Mikkelson did. I'd better go before I utter some "traitorous" declaration that will have ... um... Yeah. Never mind. I'm gonna go for a walk.

Angst essen Seele auf

I watched Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) for the second time last night. It made me angry and sad. Okay, so I know it was filmed almost 30 years ago, but it bothers me that it still seems possible. The way that Emmi's friends and family react to her new love just piss me off! And while I felt my blood begin to boil when Emmi herself made reference to Ali's "foreign mood," I could also sympathize with her pleasure at being graced with the presence of "friends" again. Still. At least the end of the film leaves some ray of hope shining through. I firmly believe that Emmi and Ali will pull through, that their love will survive, that the hurt people try to do them will be deflected by the armor of their love.

Yeah, I sound like a cornball, but that's what I believe.

I think Gram is gonna watch Ali while I am at work today. She got very upset at Leila. Wonder if she will excuse the idiots in this movie a smidge more because they are German? Huh. It'll be interesting to get her reaction.

Get the paper!

This Sunday's New York Times has a marvelous section about children's books.

14 November 2003

Maybe it's just me...

Okay, so I don't neccessarily want to spend the rest of my life alone, but reading about this speed dating approach just made me feel sad.


I guess it pays to go through all the stuff heaped on my desk, 'cause I just found a Bob Dylan paper doll one of my part-timers printed for me.

Good book alert

On lunch, I read a bit more of Raising a Reader: A Mother's Tale of Desperation and Delight by Jennie Nash. This is a wonderful book. I think it appeals to those of us who already love books and could serve as a valuable resource for those parents who want their kids to read. I love that it discourages the kind of manic forced love so many people try to inflict on their kids.


... if I have duct-tape left over, I can use it in the War Against Terrorism!

I *knew* Duct Tape could do anything!

Those wacky Canadians are so clever! I want a duct-tape wallet. Maybe we can do a library craft program...

Librarians Rock!

Tori Amos has a new album coming out Tuesday: Tales of a Librarian. There's some cool stuff on-line, including a card catalog. As much as I love the librarian action-figure, maybe this will help assert a hipper image for our profession? Huh. Prob'ly not, but still cool.

Maybe it's just me...

... but I hear words like "Dynix" and "Sirsi" and my eyes glaze over, my brain stops functioning... I know other librarians get it -- God knows I have heard them all engaging in heated debates about it even outside the library -- but I just don't care. Does this make me a bad librarian?


I was trying to make myself read the latest Computers in Libraries while remaining awake this morning when I found myself suddenly on-line, exploring a plethroa of librarian-generated blogs. Wow! Y'all sure are a witty bunch! I am intrigued by the seeming lack o' time committment this seems to take (as anyone who has been to my sad websitemight guess I would be!), so we'll see...

01 January 2003


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