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!
Full disclosure, this author, Jen Petro-Roy, is an acquaintance. And she is an absolutely lovely person.
P.S. I Miss You is beautifully written and addresses so many pre-teen issues, I wish it had been around when I was in Middle School. We're in the midst of a great time period where race and sexual orientation are addressed in every way so that every child can identify with a character. That is a fabulous and much needed thing. But what Petro-Roy does that I truly needed in Middle School is she allows her character to question religion.
I was raised Roman Catholic. I was married in the church. I plan for my children to be baptized in the church. I'm proud of who I am and the traditions my family has based around our religion. But I questioned my faith a lot, especially in middle school and high school.
Obviously Religion is a touchy subject. but, just as with all the topics Petro-Roy addresses (sexual orientation, first crushes, family dynamics, lying), she handles it with grace and with an appropriate attitude for a young character.
Controversial topics aside, this is a wonderful story. Evie is an easy character for kids to relate to. She writes letters to her older sister who was sent away from home when she got pregnant. The letter format is easy and enjoyable to read. We follow Evie through a year of her sister's absence and watch as she make an important new frien and tries to find herself. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll roll your eyes and you might even yell at a character or two, but you'll love Evie none the less and you'll devour her story.
This book was beautifully written by Jesmyn Ward. While the story is engrossing, it is also hard to read. It was so emotionally draining that I could only read a chapter, maybe two, at a time. The characters are so well written, I'd happily read another 3 books about this family.
We follow Jojo, a 13-year-old African American boy and his family as Jojo tries to figure out what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in a constant state of struggle both with herself and with the world. His father, Michael, is white and in prison. His sister, Kayla, turns to him for comfort, love and everything else you'd expect from a father figure.
When Michael is released from Prison, Leonie, Kayla and Jojo go on a road trip to pick him up. While at the prison we meet the ghost of a young boy who knew Jojo's Pop when he was at the prison. The ghost travels back with Jojo and his family, looking for answers and sharing another perspective on family and love.
The story is beautiful, strong, emotional, and a little magical. You won't want to put it down, but you may need to so your heart can rest.
When I get to work there are 100 things on my to-do list. Yes, I have a physical, hand written to-do list. I'd be lost without it. I cross things off and add things to it all day long. It keeps me sane and organized.
But even with the to-do list, my mornings are busy and my afternoons are... unmotivated. I get to work with energy, drive and a vision of how the day should go. And then around 3pm I've been super productive, but I'm drained. My to-do list becomes daunting and that drive I had in the morning is gone. I find myself reading book reviews (which is good) and browsing Pinterest (which can be productive, but isn't always).
So this week, I'm trying something new. I've noticed a trend: I do the easy projects in the morning and by the afternoon, when I'm feeling drained, all that's left is the big, intimidating projects. This week, I'm getting those big projects out of the way first. No more procrastinating. State Report needs to be filed? Do it first thing Monday morning. Need to create flyers for programs coming up in the next few weeks? Work on one each morning this week.
The projects I like to work on need to become rewards for when I've finished the projects I would rather put off indefinitely.
And so far this plan is working. I've finished two projects this morning that I would normally put off for as long as possible. But they're done, and I feel good, and I have the rest of the day to work on fun projects. Plus, I won't feel guilty when I spend an hour knitting with the library knitters group later, one of my favorite things about Mondays.
I have pretty mixed feelings about this book. I listened to the audio book and the narrator was entertaining. There were both laugh-out-loud moments and light bulb moments. It made me realize how many things I care deeply about that I really shouldn't. It made me think about my priorities. But it also felt a little... smug.
The message is clear and important: care about important things and stop stressing about things that don't matter.
It's not a revolutionary idea, but I think it's an idea that needs to be said. The internet has changed how we care about things. We know more about more, for sure. We can google the answer to any question, we can find out anything about anyone on social media, but is that really helping us? With all this access to information we've come to care a little about a lot of things that matter and care a lot about things that don't matter.
My issue with this book is Manson's tone. He comes off smug and some of his examples are... not exactly timely. The one example that bothered me most had to do with women, false memories, and rape. The whole chapter (really, the whole book) comes off in a strong "entitled white male" tone and I didn't care for it.
Perhaps another author will take a stab at this idea. Because the idea is good. The idea is great. But the execution was lacking.
Want to check it out anyway? You can buy the book on Amazon here:
Full disclosure: I get a small commission from Amazon when you follow this link and make a purchase.
Every year I challenge myself to read 52 books, or a book a week. Some years I fall extremely short of that goal; I only read 23 books in 2017. But most years I'm pretty close to, if not slightly over that 52 mark.
For 2018 I'm doing a little bonus challenge. I'm hoping to hit 104 books this year, 52 physical books read and 52 audio books listened to. I've finished 8 books this year, 3 audio and 5 physical. I'm currently listening to my 4th audio (with just an hour left to go!) and I'm reading my 6th physical. Here's the list!
1. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
2. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
3. I Was Here by Gayle Forman
4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
1. Fairest of All by Serena Valentino
2. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
3. The Beast Within by Serena Valentino
4. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
5. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
6. The Power by Naomi Alderman
I'll have some reviews of the two current reads for you soon!