Do you know which subject I hated most in high school? It was history. It was so boring to me. I couldn't have cared less about it. But now, I wish I had paid more attention. And I wish my U.S. history classes could have gotten past the 1920's.
So I checked out some books. I did not check out long, over-complicated books explaining how and why events happened. I thought about it and then realized I'd never read them. Instead I checked out some kid's non-fiction. It's brief, to the point and has pictures. That's all I need.
The series of non-fiction books is Monumental Milestones. I checked out the book on The Cuban Missile Crisis and the book on The Watergate Scandal. Both topics feel rather timely right now and I don't remember learning anything about them in high school other than they happened. These books had just the right amount of information so that I feel informed now but I didn't fall asleep reading them.
I would absolutely recommend them for kids, and I'd recommend them for adults too. I'm not sure why adults seem to avoid kids' books, but I think they're perfect when you just need a refresher on a topic or some easy to digest information.
This summer we're going to be offering more programs than ever before at my library. We're pretty excited about this for many reasons: increased foot traffic, increased program attendance, increased circulation...
I'm also a little anxious. We've tried numerous programs in the past that we thought would be fantastic and we thought people would love, but no one came. I feel like every librarian knows this feeling. You plan a program people have been asking for and then no one comes and you question yourself A LOT. Because planning programs takes time and resources. It's frustrating and disappointing when a program is a flop. But we keep going. We keep planning. We keep doing what people ask for.
That's the nature of our business. Sometimes I think the effort is more important than the result. Even if the community doesn't show up in droves, they like to see the program they asked for on the library calendar. They like to know their input was taken seriously.
And once in awhile, you plan a program someone asked for and it's standing room only. That's why we keep going.
So here's to a great summer full of standing room only events!
There many things about being a supervisor that I love. I love encouraging the staff and helping them achieve their goals. I love setting new goals for the year and making a plan for reaching them. I love being a cheerleader.
There are also some things I struggle with and one is solid, consistent communication. In a field where I'm the only full time person, it can be tricky to remember who I've given what information to and my staff has been feeling this lately. We have some exciting projects happening at the library but my brain has been too scattered and I haven't given the same information to everyone on staff. Which has obviously left some staff members feeling left out, and that was never my intention!
So going forward we're working on a new communication system. There will be more e-mails. I'll keep a little check list so I can be sure I share information with everyone. And things will improve. No one is perfect, and the important thing is to figure out your weaknesses and address them. So here we are, communication. I see you, I know I need to work on you and we've come up with a great plan to do so!
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley was such a fun book. I listened to the audio, and the narrators were fantastic. I highly recommend it!
Solomon is 16-years-old and hasn't left his house in three years. Lisa is a senior in high-school with dreams of getting into the second best psych program in the country. Lisa's goal: Get Solomon to leave the house and write her college essay on how she helped him. Reality: become amazing friends with Solomon, accuse your boyfriend of cheating on you and watch both relationships blow up.
I love every, single character in this book from Solomon and Lisa to Solomon's grandma! Such a fun cast of characters. The plot line is interesting and different while still being a high school story. You know, when Lisa says she can't let Solomon know she's writing her essay on him, that he will find out and it will end poorly, but you read along anyway, because you care about the characters so much. You want, maybe need, to see Solomon get out of the house. You want to see how the friendship between Lisa, Solomon and Lisa's boyfriend Clark evolves. And you're never let down.
There's nothing magical or super adventurous happening here. It's just a great story of a boy afraid to leave his house and the two people who prove that not everyone in the world is worth hiding from.
It's finally starting to feel like Spring in the North East which made me realize... it's almost time for the Summer Reading Program!
There are a few staples of our program that happen every year like a visit from Wildlife Encounter (a group who rescue animals and then bring them to libraries and schools to teach kids about them) and drop in craft time with a local teacher that everyone loves.
But then we also plan some programs based around the fun, national theme. This year's theme is "Libraries Rock," which is being interpreted in two ways: music and geology. We're planning to show some musicals on the "big screen" at the library and have a few dance parties. We're also working on some fun ideas around geology like rock candy and pet rocks. It's going to be a great summer!
Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed was an engaging, well written young adult novel. We've seen a lot of books in the last few years about African American teens and the struggles they have in the United States, with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas being a kind of pinnacle. Love, Hate and Other Filters gives the same kind of voice to another minority group in our country, Muslim Indians, and I think it's a voice that is needed in YA literature.
Maya Aziz, the main character, is a first generation Indian-American. She struggles to find the balance between the world her parents want for her (college close to home, a boy from an upstanding Indian & Muslim family) and world she wants for herself (film school in NY, the white American boy she's been crushing on her whole life).
For much of the story, it feels like a lovely teen romance. Maya has two boys interested in her, one her parents approve of and one she feels they never will. We see her struggle with her feelings and we watch each relationship grow. And then suddenly her world is shaken when a Muslim man is accused of a local terrorist attack.
The truth of how our country jumps to blame a Muslim man for a crime with very little proof is scary but honest. The bullying Maya faces at school must be real for so many kids. And my heart breaks for her in many scenes. But Ahmed writes so beautifully and she managed to create such a strong young woman in Maya, that you instinctively know everything will work out. Maybe not perfectly, maybe not as Maya dreamed it would, but she is a fighter and as a reader you cheer her on while she goes after a life that is all her own.
I finished 3 books this week! I feel so accomplished. So you'll be getting lots of reviews from me =)
The first review is for The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. I don't know how popular Penny is across the country, but here in Walpole, NH everyone and their cousin reads her. There are 13 books in the series now, but having only recent become a Walpole resident, I only recently started reading these. Haha!
The Cruelest Month is the third book in her Inspector Gamache series and in my opinion, the first really good book. I'm now completely invested in the characters and can't wait to keep reading. Obviously she had lots of characters to set up in the first 2 books, but now, with a crazy subplot, I'm really enjoying the story line more.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache keeps getting pulled back to a quaint little village in Canada called Three Pines. There's an incredibly haunted house that makes appearances in all of the books so far. There are people you can totally imagine being neighbors with and people you can totally imagine murdering, which is why Gamache finds himself back in town so often.
While each mystery stands alone, the characters really require reading this series in order. And now with the sub-plot, I'd imagine you'll have to read that in order.
So if you're looking for a good mystery series with fabulous character development and mysteries that are actually hard to solve, definitely check out Louise Penny.
Two years ago when I was asked to be on the Board for the local pre-school I almost laughed. I don't have kids yet, so what possible interest could I have in the school?
And then I started to think... a lot of the families who use the library have kids in the school. I care about those kids, right? And wouldn't this create a nice relationship between the library and the pre-school?
So I jumped in. I spent my first few months on the board just absorbing. I didn't really know the other board members and I had never had kids, so I felt a little like an intruder. But after a few months, I was fully invested. I became the secretary after my first year, my husband and I help at all the school fundraisers, and I've built a great relationship between the school and the library.
There is so much happening in your community, whether you live where you work or not. It's great to be a part of the community you live in, but as a library director, it's just as important to be involved in the community you work in, because that community is who you work for! There's no better way to gauge the needs and wants of the community than by meeting them where they already are.
We now have more families who come to story time and other children's programs. We have more families who recognize me both as a board member and as the library director. I have personally made some friends (which is nice since we also live in town). Plus working things like a Pancake Breakfast and Spooktacula (a kids Halloween event) are a lot of fun!
Going into my third year on the Board this summer, I'll be the president. It's going to be some serious work as the school is looking for a new location, but I know it will be worth it!
Oh and I'm building the school a new website. Ya know, in all my free time. Ha!
My advice: get out into your community in capacities other than just Librarian. It can still help the library, and it can help you personally too.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a story about Ally, who is very bright but has trouble reading. Ally loves math and she thinks in pictures but when she has to read or write the letters dance on the page. She makes excuses and causes trouble rather than asking for help. That is, until Mr. Daniels becomes her teacher. He takes great care in helping Ally and showing her that a learning difference doesn't make her dumb, it just means they have to be a little more creative in teaching her to read.
This is a fabulous story and the audio book is wonderfully done. Ally is relatable and likeable. Mr. Daniels is the teacher you wish you had in 6th grade; he's so understanding, patient and you can tell her really cares about the students. The other kids in the class seem real and are well developed. Ally's friends are great companions and you'll find great joy in their unlikely, yet somehow not surprising, friendship.
Hunt does a wonderful job writing about a character with Dyslexia, but she also handles other topics that every 6th grader deals with: handling bullies, making new friends, feeling alone. I'll definitely be recommending this book to both kids and parents.
I've really been in a rut at work lately. As a library director I spend a lot of time at my desk doing paperwork and administrative tasks. I try to spend as much time as I can interacting with the public, talking about books I love and helping with technology questions, but some days that just doesn't happen. Those days of being stuck at my desk have been adding up quickly over the last few months and it's just not fun. I needed something fun.
So I went to a Young Adult Library Services (YALS) meeting. I love reading young adult fiction and I love working with the few teens who come into the library. My goal is to make the library a place that the teens in town feel welcome to come and hang out, do homework and find a book. While I may not have a lot of ideas to contribute to these YALS meetings right now, I know that this is the right group of people to turn to for ideas on getting teens into the library and loving it.
I also went to a meeting for the Flume Award (NH state award for YA lit for 9-12th graders) and for the Isinglass Award (NH state award for YA lit for 7th & 8th graders). The purpose of this meeting was to narrow down a list of recommended books (recommended by teens, librarians and teachers) to a list of 10 books for each award. Then once the committee narrows down the list, teens vote on their favorites and a winner for each award is announced in May.
I went to this meeting having read very few of the books, but having read lots of book reviews. I didn't plan to partake much in the meeting. I wanted to meet people. I wanted to absorb how they talk about books for teens, how they talk about teens, how they provide services for teens. But instead I did participate. And I walked out of the meeting as the committee chair for the Flume Award for 2019.
And suddenly I love my job again. I have a reason to read all the YA books that have been on my "to read" pile. I have new librarian friends that I get to work with. I have a project I'm excited and passionate about. I have new things to talk to my patrons about. I have information to share with the school librarians and a project that will help us build a better relationship between the public library and the school libraries.
This is exactly the fun I needed. I can't wait to get to work!