Reading Myself into a Career

Do you remember when you decided what you wanted to be when you grew up? What inspired you to follow that career or life path? For me, I believe the books I read played a big part in my plans for the future.

Nancy Drew and the 3 Investigators helped me develop a love of mysteries and puzzles. Because of this, Police Officer and Private Investigator were high on my list of what I wanted to be. The modern and successful women in my Grandma’s Harlequins made me think that a big city career would be the direction I would go, so I added Lawyer to my possible career choices. Following my interests I earned an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and Communications only to discover that life isn’t as well planned out as fiction.

One thing that didn’t change during my search for a career was my love of a good story. Though different jobs gave me different skills and experiences, it was the books I read that helped me dream. When the opportunity came to work in a Public Library I jumped at the chance to spend my workday surrounded by books. It was this job that showed me that the perfect career for me, included a lot of fiction. While a Librarian’s job does NOT include sitting and reading all day, it does include helping people, providing information, teaching computer and research skills, and talking about books.

So what started as a job 16 years ago, became a career that I love. While the majority of my work days are filled with tasks that don’t revolve around books, it is the books that I enjoy most. Now when I see a book about a library or librarian I have to give it a try, because after all this is my career I’m reading about! Here are some of my favorites.

Free for All: oddballs, geeks and gangstas in the public library, by Don Bochert. The author recounts his experiences working as an assistant librarian in a public librabooksry in suburban Los Angeles, as he encounters patrons who range from bored latchkey kids left there for the afternoon, to rowdy teenagers.

I Work at a Public Library, by Gina Sheridan. Collection of strange-but-true anecdotes, heartwarming stories, and humorous interactions with patrons from a public librarian.

Open Season, by Linda Howard. Daisy Minor is bored. Worse than that, she’s boring. A plain, small-town librarian, she’s got a wardrobe as sexy as a dictionary and hasn’t been on a date in years. She’s never even had a lukewarm love affair, let alone a hot one. So when she wakes up on her thirty-fourth birthday and wonders how it is that she still lives with her widowed mom and spinster aunt while her friends have all gotten married and started families, she decides it’s time to get a life.

Good Girls Do, by Cathie Linz. After his father’s death, Luke Maguire returns home to Serenity Falls to take care of the family bar and, while trying to liven the town up a little, forms an unlikely alliance with Julia Wright, a sassy librarian who can read him like an open book.

Here Lies the Librarian, by Richard Peck. Fourteen-year-old Eleanor “Peewee” McGrath, a tomboy and automobile enthusiast, discovers new possibilities for her future after the 1914 arrival in her small Indiana town of four young librarians.

Louisiana Saves the Library, by Emily Beck Cogburn. Librarian Louisiana Richardson must resort to unconventional methods if she is going to save Alligator Bayou Parish’s struggling library from being closed.

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“The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man”, by W. Bruce Cameron

Midnight Plan of the Repo Man If you have been reading any of my book posts, you obviously have noticed that I tend to read female authors along the romance genre, so this was a change for me. I will say I’m very glad I picked up the ‘Repo Man’ and gave it a chance.

Ruddy McCann is a former college athlete who was on his way to the NFL, and instead ended up in the State Penitentiary. Know an ex-con, Ruddy makes his living stealing cars as a repo man. Life is hard in Kalkaska Michigan, especially during the winter, so when Ruddy wakes up from a very vivid dream of murder, he doesn’t easily adapt to having the victims voice living in his head.

Alan Lottiner, is officially a missing person since his body has never been found. When Ruddy tells the Sheriff where to find Lottiner’s body his past and present collide and now he must listen to the voice in his head to find the killers and clear his name. Along with this compelling mystery is a cast of memorable and quirky characters that will have you laughing and cringing at the same time.

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“Me Before You”, by Jojo Moyes

A heartrending story of pain, love, endurance and grief. The story will stay with me for a long time even though I wanted to throw the book against the wall in the end.

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“River Road”, by Jayne Ann Krentz

River RoadJayne Ann Krentz is taking a break from her Arcane Series to bring back her wonderful style of romantic suspense without the paranormal elements. In “River Road” Kentz ties the past and present together for Lucy, a forensic genealogist, and Mason, a Cold Case Investigator.

Set in beautiful California Wine Country, secrets can be real ugly. While settling her Aunt’s Estate Lucy discovers a skeleton in the fireplace. Now questions about her Aunt’s death, a threat from the past and pressure to sell her inheritance cause Lucy to search for answers with the help of Mason Fletcher, her personal guardian angel who just may be something more.

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Is Everything Up to Date in Your Collection?

Okay so I really wanted to say “Kansas City” in this post title but since I work in Indiana and have never been to a library in Kansas City it would be more confusing than witty I’m afraid.

I will admit, I’m not much for buying fashionable clothes. I’m happy in jeans and a polo with a sweater thrown on during the winter. (That might change if I ever find fashionable clothes that fit my oddly shaped body but that is a totally non-librarian topic, so lets get back to the point I was trying to make.) I do know people who buy wardrobes for every season, keep up on the latest fashions and when their clothes become outdated, stained, worn-out or just don’t fit anymore, they have no problem donating or throwing them away. So why is it so hard for some librarians to do the same thing with their library collection?

I have often said that one thing that keeps me from being a really good librarian is that I love to throw things away. I have always worked in libraries that have serious space issues. Maybe that is why Weeding has always been exciting for me. If we were going to offer new books to our patrons then we had to get rid of some of the old books. For years my Weeding selections have been decided by circulation, or should I say lack of circulation, and this works well when looking at fiction collections and what people in your community want to read but it doesn’t always work for nonfiction.

Your nonfiction collection can be outdated, ugly and filled with information that was current 20 years ago, and patrons could still be checking it out because you don’t have anything newer. There are two schools of thought when dealing with nonfiction collections. The first is that you should have something on every topic no matter what it is. The other is that it is better to have no books on a topic than to have incorrect/outdated books on that topic. Which school of thought are you?

Now I realize that library size and budget size play a big part in collection management. Maybe you are fortunate and can replace or update the majority of your nonfiction collection every 5-10 years. Maybe you can buy all new space books every time someone decides a planet is a star or a star is a planet. Maybe you don’t still have Travel Guides to non existing countries sitting in your stacks. If that is the case then congratulations but if you are struggling to keep your collection updated let me share a few tips that I have discovered.

1. What comes in should go out: when you buy a new how-to book, whether it is cooking, crafts, computer or decorating, find an old one to get rid of.

2. Get to know the CREW method: The Texas State Library has a downloadable copy available of CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries.

3. Know what is in style: you know your community. You know what they ask for and look for when they come into your library. You may have a user population of DIYers who constantly raid your 700 collection, or maybe it’s farmers, gardeners and cooks who keep your 600s going out the door. Focus on the materials your patrons use the most and just keep the basics available in the other areas. When styles change collections should change too.

4. Take it off life support: how many times can you re-glue a book? How many pages have to be taped back in before the book just isn’t worth it anymore? Do you really want that book with questionable stains covering half the pages to be checked out by your Mayor? When books get used they pick up bumps and bruises and eventually you need to replace the copy or go without.

So maybe my enjoyment of throwing things away doesn’t make me a bad librarian. Maybe it just makes me a librarian with an attractive, up to date collection.

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When it’s right it’s right

So my last post was a lament about job searching and the disadvantages of being a plus size librarian. Well the search is over and on January 2nd I will be leaving my secretarial position at the Tamarack District Library in Michigan to be the Adult Services Librarian at the Jay County Public Library in Indiana!

New adventures await and as I clean out my desk and review the files I’ve accumulated I have discovered that I tend to collect more information on Publicity & Readers Advisory than any other library topic. I think that shows where my heart lays in libraryland. I love telling people about what the library has to offer and I enjoy a good discussion about books.

I leave behind some of the best coworkers I have had the privilege to work with but I have high hopes that I will find the same quality in Indiana.

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Challenges of Job Searching

Me and Beiber

Hanging with the B at Rural Library Conference

Job searching is never easy. You can have the education, the experience and a professional resume but sometimes it just isn’t enough. I have been looking for a new Librarian position for almost 2 years (with a break during Summer Reading Club) and even though I’ve landed multiple interviews I can’t seem to land the job. I admit that I do have one major disadvantage when it comes to being hired. I am obese. That means looking professional is very hard to portray. Even if they are “equal opportunity” there is always the fact that if you have 2 equally qualified applicants with similar experience you have to use some factor for making your decision. If you offer insurance, face it, it’s more expensive to insure an obese employee than a normal sized employee. Even if you don’t offer insurance the whole issue of appearance is something to consider if you are hiring someone to work in a public position. Would you want a multi-tattooed, facially pierced, punk haired wild child as the face of your library? Being obese isn’t something I planned on. I didn’t wake up one day a say, “Hey my life needs some spice so why don’t I gain 100 lbs. today!” it just kinda happened over the last 40 years of my life. Unfortunately I can’t just undo it in a week, month or maybe even a year it is a long, slow and painfully process that I have undertaken several times already and I’m working at it again but that doesn’t help me right now. So I continue to apply, pray and hope for the perfect position to become available with an employer who is willing to look past what they see to the person within and the abilities, skills and passion that I bring to the job.

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Giving Thanks for Books

Thanksgiving can often be overlooked with the abundance of Halloween and Christmas books out there. It may be because of family birthdays that fall around Thanksgiving or maybe the food and family gatherings without the expense of gifts that makes Thanksgiving special to me but either way I want to share a couple of my favorite Thanksgiving children’s books with you.

Over the River“Over the River: a Turkey’s Tale,” by Derek Anderson is a retelling of the Thanksgiving song by Lydia Maria Child. This is a song I grew up singing and hearing but never heard the full thing. I don’t know why I associated it more with Christmas than Thanksgiving but I was very happy to find this edition of the song illustrated by Anderson.

A simple trip to Grandmother’s house isn’t easy if you are a turkey and it’s turkey season. The comical illustrations do a wonderful job of detailing the trip over the river and through the woods while showing the unsuccessful hunt of a young man and his dog. The resulting feast at Grandmother’s house doesn’t have a roasted turkey but still embraces the sense of family celebration most common on Thanksgiving.
Turk and Runt

It’s not always the strongest and biggest that saves the day as demonstrated in Lisa Wheeler’s book “Turk and Runt”. This book labeled a Thanksgiving Comedy tells the tale of 2 turkeys. Turk is is a strong, football playing celebrity and his brother Runt who is more brains than brawn. When visitors start showing up at the farm, Turk’s parents are proud to show of their sons athletic abilities while Runt realizes there is more to the visitors appearance than just a fan’s normal excitement. Through determination and  fearless actions Runt manages to save Turk over and over but when the tables are turned and Runt is selected for the dinner table, his family finally realizes Runt was right all along.

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday and take time to share your favorite Thanksgiving story with the children in your life.

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“If You Ask Me (and of course you won’t)”, by Betty White

If You Ask Me With all the scandal of modern Hollywood actors it is nice to read about one who takes herself and her career seriously. Betty White may not have planned to be an actor growing up but she found her place in TV and movies. White looks at her career as a job that provides the means to support what she truly loves. Animals.

This book gives brief glimpses into White’s personal and professional life. While there is no apparent order to the book it engages you from the beginning and keeps you entertained.

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“Hotshot”, by Julie Garwood

hotshot At fourteen, Finn MacBain, grew up. No longer was he a wild teen doing nothing but causing mischief, he faced death, even if it wasn’t his own. At six, Peyton Lockhart, almost died. If it wasn’t for the fast action of Finn MacBain she would have drowned in her own swimming pool.

That day Peyton found a hero. Now almost 20 years later she needs a hero again. What looked like a dream job turned into a nightmare of sexual harassment. Peyton leaves the job but not before she gets proof of what was happening in hopes of stopping it from happening again. It’s not that easy though as she is shot at and almost forced off the road. Adding to that mess, Peyton and her sister are trying to turn their Uncle’s resort in Florida around and someone keeps sabotaging their efforts.

There is only one thing for Peyton to do after escaping the bullets that damaged her car. She calls her Hero, now an FBI agent, and Finn proves once again that when danger threatens he can be quite the Hotshot.

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