Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Re-occuring Themes

Today has been a job search day at COL. At opening time I had a woman come in that needed to fill out an online job application for the University of Washington. The problem was that while she spoke pretty good english, she can not read it. I had to tell her that I was not able to sit with her to fill out the application. I was the only one here, and I don't know the neighborhood that well. I have been to the Worksource down here though, during my woefull year of unemployment, so I gave her the information there. I have since found that there is a place called the Rainier Vista Technology Center that might have been able to help her, but this was hours later. I also recommended that she have a friend help her, preferably someone that spoke Arabic so they could communicate on all levels.

Another gentleman came in a couple of hours later. He started out asking how he could get on a computer. We went through the card application process, and I explained to him how the computers worked. He was dismayed by the short amount that SPL allows patrons to spend on the internet. I ended up finding out that he recently lost his first job out of college. He asked me if he qualified for unemployment and I told him what I knew from my experience, but told him he should talk to the folks at worksource to find out for sure. He was a quiet young man that asked a lot of smart questions. He had an accent that I would describe as very light bronx, but really could have been anywhere on the east coast.

It is absolutely beautiful today. The sky is blue and bright with both fluffy and jetstream clouds. On my lunch I went for a walk and had a coffee. I emailed my dad earlier to find out the best place for coffee down here, since this is his neighborhood and I don't go in for Starbucks for various reasons. He directed me to the Columbia City Bakery. What a gem! Cafe Vita coffee served very well and with very little wait, and beautiful baked goods--I got a pretzel roll for a snack and a sunflower mulit-grain loaf for later. There were a lot of lovely croissants, cookies and scones calling my name but that don't fit into my goals for the moment. I was barely able to resist!

Have I mentioned that I love this area?

Oooh, another one! A woman just asked me for Seattle Magazine, which I happen to have looked up for a patron yesterday. She also wanted the top physicians issue, so I was able to direct her to their website--I even knew the url off the top of my head. No wonder some patrons think we are magic...

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Inspiration

On Tuesday I met with a fellow librarian to go over book talking. It is a bit strange, but the only book talk I have ever done was at my interview. I have tried to interest the teachers and librarians at my schools to have me come in and do one, but I have had no takers so far. It was a good afternoon with tea, scones and kitties, gross facts and fun titles. She also sent me home with Black Holes, a nifty graphic novel placed in Seattle in the 70's. It is dark and it is weird and just what I like in a graphic novel. I am still reading Maus and enjoying it very much.

Oh wait, I am transgressing. We had a nice couple of hours, discussing book talking and library politics. It got me excited for my first book talk and I have been looking up good titles in non-fiction to include in my reprotoir. I also worked at COL yesterday and got to interact with the ya librarian there. She is just always so upbeat and innovative. I like conversing with her and she always gives me new ideas without even meaning to. I should really carry a tape recorder.

I have finally received some responses from my librarians and schedulers, so I know when I am doing my lunch table and I am having a meeting with the book group organizers. I am making plans for my poetry party in May. Yay!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Eastern Sun, Winter Moon

The autobiography of Gary Paulsen, Eastern Sun, Winter Moon is the chronicle of of a remarkable childhood. Born during WWII, young Gary lives with his mother in Chicago while his father is away in Europe, fighting in the war. Mother works in a munitians factory and Gary stays home with a neighbor that drinks red wine and talks to the radio. When Mother comes home, she washes of the grime and becomes another woman-a movie star type beauty that draws all the men's eyes. When Father has a "friend" in France, Mother also gets a "friend", which disturbs Gary and sets the stage for future indiscretions.

When the war ends, Mother and Gary go to live with Father in the Philippines. After a cross country drive, a bout of chicken pox and a long boat ride with stops in Hawaii and Japan, Gary finally gets to meet his father. At 7 years old, Gary does not feel very connected to his father, but does feel that his mother should be faithful to him no matter what. From the soldiers and sailors Gary has learned to swear, how to "shoot a crap" and what sex is all about. From his parents he learns that he hates drinking and what it does to people and from his parents servants he learns about the Philippine lifestyle and eventually goes "native."

I greatly enjoyed this book. Gary Paulsen is an imaginative author and this definitely shows up in this autobiography. The imagery is so vivid that you feel as if you are standing next to him on the deck of the ship and feel his shock when he bites off his tongue in a childhood game. It does feel, after the fact, that some of this might have been imbellished or made up, but the times were very different than they are now.

Gary Paulsen is the author of many teen books; probably most well know are Hatchet, The River and Brian's Winter.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Finally a Book Review

I do like the libraries that keep me busy, either by having lots of patrons with reference questions, interaction with patrons or other library staff or with projects. At COL last week I processed all of the new Adult fiction and non-fiction (stickers, changing in the computer, etc.) and scheduled all of the tax help in the meeting room calendar. Today at GLK I organized all of the tax forms into stand up bins and placed them on a rolly cart so they are easily moved and out of the way. Then we put up a winter display on the shelved they used to occupy. Of course, those projects never take long enough, so here I am adding some long needed book reviews to my blog.

I would like to introduce Saint Iggy by KL Going. My fellow TSL's will have at least heard of it and most have read Fat Kid Rules the World, which was by the same author. I enjoyed both books, but the second has transcended the first. KL Going has dropped all the gimicky trappings that she used to sell the first book and has really given us a look into the life of a child less fortunate. Born in the projects addicted to meth, Iggy wants to show everyone that he is a good person. He wants people to look past his druggie parents, ugly neighborhood and odd personality to see who he really is: a real person who does not do drugs or drink and wants to do good with his life. Let down by the system and his friends, Iggy falls into an selfless act that is both more and less than he had planned.

It made me cry. Nuf said.

The second book I read is a feel good book. Sleeping Fresman Never Lie by David Lubar is direct and interesting. He writes the story from the point of view of a "normal" teen boy entering high school as a freshman. There are issues all around Scott Hudson, but he has the tools to deal with them. He does not hate his parents, he loses friends but finds new ones, overcomes superficial first impressions, goes out for the school paper, the spring play and honors classes, when all his peers and brother are trying to avoid anything school related. He learns, he becomes, he grows, just like kids are supposed to. But I loved reading it. He was an interesting kid. He had a great english teacher like the one that inspired me in 9th grade. I was sad when it was over. Thank you David Lubar.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sudden Hail

I am at CAP today, enjoying the quiet. I am working with a directed fieldwork student from the iSchool--her second day. She seems to be absorbing things fairly quickly.

About a half hour ago I began to notice a raised voice from across the library. An elderly lady was arguing with an LA. She wanted a stamp in the book with the due date, was threatening to write it in there herself and said the computers were corrupt. I watched to see if things would resolve themselves, as they sometimes do, but it soon became apparent that was not going to happen. I moved into position on the customer side of the circ desk and looked concerned. My belief that the lady was a bit of a conspiracy believer was cemented as she explained that her apartment was being burglarized--although she did not explain what this had to do with wanting a date stamped in her book. Her accusations and complaints quieted slowly to a dull roar as we both stood there listening and she decided to leave. I think she wasn't as comfortable when she couldn't abuse just one employee that was separated from the rest of the staff. The LA was a bit flustered, understandably, and she had done everything she could to make the lady happy, short of damaging the book. She offered the woman a complaint form, explained the receipts, took her barrage of harsh language and explained that she would accrue charges if she wrote in the book.

Just as I was going over to check out the situation, the heavens opened up and we had a torrential downpour of hail. It reminded me of a witch movie from the 80's.

As I was typing the event above, I was called upon to help with another security issue. A gentleman was smoking right outside the doors, which not only violates the city's rule of 25 feet from doorways, but also the library's rule of not smoking on library property. The interesting thing was that the man was talking to his reflection in the windowed door. When we first went outside I expected to be confronted with two people-the smoker and whomever he was talking to, but when we got there the reality was apparent. He immediately moved off, without us having to say anything, so he knew the rule. Maybe he just got sidetracked by the possibility of a conversation partner.

I have also had the enjoyment of helping people today. A woman and her three kids came in with a list of non-fiction they needed for a class project. An elderly couple came in for value line and I answered several computer related questions. We had a security guard come in and things quieted down immediately. Just the presence of a man in a uniform was enough to change the atmosphere.

The variety of patrons here is completely different from any other library in the system. There are hipsters, homeless, middle-aged, middle class, seniors, patrons with mental problems of all ages and classes. There are also families, but not many teens. Usually the behavior issues that I deal with at other libraries involve teens, rather than adults.

Ah, now a wallet has gone missing. Who carries $600 cash in a wallet then leaves it sitting on a computer terminal? I am not sure how that is going to play out.

Yesterday at COL I had just gotten done asking a group of teen girls to keep their volume down when a woman who was in with her two children started talking with another woman right in front of the information desk. There were no natural breaks in the conversation where I would usually ask them if they could be a bit quieter. The woman had also made it known that she knew one of the librarians there, so I felt uncomfortable in case she became embarrassed. I felt like such a hypocrite for not saying something.

Time for a walk about.