I recently downloaded a sampler of books that have received a lot of buzz for the spring and summer of this year. And I have to say that of the 28 in the sampler, I am looking forward to reading a few in their entirety.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Fowler – I am completely fascinated by the Fitzgeralds. Based on the excerpt Fowler gives us an interesting look at an iconic woman from our literary history. Can’t wait to sink into this book.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – She chronicles six teenagers who meet in the 70s at an arts camp and follows them over time. I love books that follow characters’ development over time. This should be a fun read.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – In this novel, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly. The premise of this book really intrigues me.
I’m not usually a fan of excerpts but the ones I read really teased me enough to try out these books. I’ve never read anything by any of these authors.
Today, I went down to an event in Baton Rouge called Better Block BR. Organizers transformed Government St between Beverly and Bedford Streets with a street fair, crosswalks and a short bike lane. In an empty lot on Government St, there were food stalls, information tables and booths from area businesses. Better Block Br was an event led by the Mayor’s office of the City of Baton Rouge – Parish of East Baton Rouge, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, and the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance. I got some information on this and other Baton Rouge initiatives like Healthy BR and discovered some local businesses like Honeymoon Bungalow and Yoga Bliss. I also got some delicious tacos from La Careta. I had heard about this event on Facebook a few weeks ago so I was looking forward to seeing how it went.
The idea behind this demonstration is that if you slow down the traffic in a given area, businesses can thrive. The idea is that you can take a four-lane road and transform it by adding a bike lane and a center turn lane. This forces traffic to slow down and makes a better environment for pedestrians and cyclists. I had recently read about this idea in Jeff Speck’s book Walkable City. He cites several examples of cities who had done this and had seen positive economic impact.
I think this would be a great improvement to this section of Government Street. I think it would help back it a better neighborhood and attract more business. I live in Mid City and work downtown and it would be great if there was a safe bike route in the area. I am glad that the Mayor’s office is trying to garner support for this type of urban renewal.
As a huge music geek, I was ecstatic when Dave Grohl unveiled his documentary Sound City last month. I am a long-time Foo Fighters fan so I heard about through one of their e-mail blasts. After viewing the trailer about this now-defunct recording studio, I immediately bought the film from iTunes so I could watch it. I was blown away on just how many bands recorded at Sound City over the years. Some of my favorites: Fleetwood Mac, Rick Springfield and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers just to name a few.
A few weeks later, I discovered that the film was going to be shown at The Manship Theater, part of Baton Rouge’s Shaw Center for the Arts. Even though I had already watched this film at home on my computer, I jumped at the chance to watch on a big movie screen. I went with a few friends who were seeing it for the first time. I absolutely loved watching this movie with other music fans of all ages. We laughed and applauded at the same moments. Specifically, when one of the guests interviewed spoke of the state of music today, everyone clapped because we were all in agreement.
Many of the albums made today are done using ProTools. I can understand why the industry has leaned towards this model from a business side: it’s affordable. There is just less money flowing at record companies now. But I also see the rise of technology in music as a good thing. A kid can create music and put it out there so easily now and I think that’s great. I just wish perfection wasn’t the ideal in music today. In the film, Dave Grohl talks about keeping the human element in music. I completely agree. I don’t love my favorite bands because there are the best singers or guitar players. I listen, buy albums and go to concerts because they have something to say and as a listener, I want to experience their humanity.
It’s that time of year where everyone tries to tie up the year in top 10 lists. So here is my attempt. Here is a list of my favorite things from the year.
Book- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green -This book made me laugh and cry and I highly recommend it to people of all ages. (This one was really hard b/c I have read so many books that I have loved.)
Movie – The Avengers – Superheroes and Joss Whedon. What could be better?
Squee Moment – I met Neil Gaiman and got his autograph at the Charleston stop of the Unchained Tour
Personal Achievement – Getting hired as a librarian in Teen Services at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. I absolutely love it!
Technology – Nexus 7 tablet. (This looks really cool and I do not yet have one!)
Podcast- Castlecast – a podcast run by two avid fans of the ABC series Castle
Band - FUN. I really love this band and hope to see them on tour soon. Their album Some Nights is really good.
TV Show- Go On – this new NBC comedy starring Matthew Perry is very funny and it’s one of the few shows I was excited about and it actually exceeded expectations.
Wow this year really has flown by. I hope the coming year is full of new surprises!
Do book lovers and technology enthusiasts have anything in common? Some may think they don’t but think book may bring them together. A young, unemployed techie finds himself working in a rather unusual bookstore. This store carries rare encoded books that its patrons borrow in order to crack a centuries-old code. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan takes us on a journey from the walls of a small bookstore to Google’s Mountain View campus.
One of things I liked most about this book is the mystery aspect. You keep turning the pages to find out the secrets behind the mysterious proprietor of this unique bookstore. I think how this book came about is also pretty interesting. It started out as a short story that grew into a novel. You can read the shirt story Robin Sloan’s website. Also, I love that this book glows in the dark. In an age where digital books are all the rage, I like that the physical version of this book has something extra.
Well I have officially relocated to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to be the new Teen Services Librarian at a branch in downtown Baton Rouge. The last month has certainly been an adventure. I had to quickly move over 800 miles. I could not have done it without the help of my family. At first, it was a bit overwhelming moving to a new city. I have been here about three weeks and am starting to feel at home.
Not only are my surroundings new, but my new job is also completely new for me. For past several years, I have been working in reference/adult services. Now, I am moving to teen services. I will be planning programs and doing outreach to middle and high school students in the area. This job involves sharing my love of books with patrons. I think it will be a good segue for me professionally. At my branch, the teen area is on the same floor as the children’s area. Therefore, I will be working closely with the Children’s staff as well.
In addition to the new job, I have been trying to explore my new city. There are a lot of great restaurants here and I love trying them out. One thing I have noticed is that the sweet tea at most of the places is not sweet enough for my South Carolina taste buds. I like the variety of the different places though. I am also hoping to check out some concerts coming up in the next few months.
River Center Branch – my new home
This past Friday night, I had the opportunity to attend a storytelling event called The Unchained Tour. The Moth, a storytelling network, traveled around the Carolinas to celebrate the art of the raconteur or storytellers. It was a mixture of stories and music from different performers. I went to this show because one of their guest was best-selling author Neil Gaiman. I was able to meet him for a minute and get my Unchained Tour CD signed and he is a lovely man!
The evening was a celebration of stories, books and the independent bookstore. Many thanks to Charleston’s Blue Bicycle Books for hosting this event. Acclaimed author, George Dawes Green, founder of the storytelling network The Moth, came on stage and gave a sermon-like talk about the religion of books and stories. I feel like I underpaid for the experience (tickets were on $20). I loved that the raconteurs took the audience on a journey with their stories. This troupe tries to “keep it local” so i was glad to be able to support that endeavor. I do sincerely hope they do another tour next year. Check out this promotional video from this group http://vimeo.com/46668920
Recently, I have discovered a fantastic new television show at the perfect time. NBC’s Grimm just returned from summer hiatus last week. I remember hearing about this show as a “one to watch” from last fall’s freshman shows but had not gotten around to watching it. I was able to devour the complete first season just in time for the Season 2 premiere. It is a police procedural but with an added supernatural elements. In the pilot, Nick Burkhardt, is a police detective in Portland who starts to see normal-looking human morph into supernatural creatures. Nick has inherited this “gift” of being able to see these creatures, called “wesen”, and is charged killing the bad ones.
As a child of the 90s, I grew up on the sanitized Disney versions of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I remember looking up the original fairy tales later and falling in love with them. I thought they were so much darker and scarier than the animated movies I saw as a child. This show takes those fairy tales and brings them to life as if the Brothers Grimm were criminal profilers, documenting their encounters with the “wesen”. David Greenwalt (of Buffy and Angel fame) is co-creator and executive producer of Grimm. After watching the show, it has a similar tone of his previous work. The show also features lots of actual German words in the names of the different creatures. My family has a strong German ancestry and I studied it in college so this aspect of the show really excited me. Confession: I had to look up most of the words to see what they meant though. Kudos to the dialogue coach because the pronunciation of the actors are dead on.
I feel like the landscape of network television is flooded with police procedural programs but this one adds some twists and turns that make it very entertaining to watch. During the first season, Nick deals with solving crimes, killing wesen, and keeping his Grimm identity a secret. Not always an easy task. I am fascinated by how the show re-tells my favorite stories. Take a peek at the teaser for Season 2. Also, NBC is really trying to welcome newcomers to the show so they also published a free ebook available here. (I’m still amazed that something this good is on NBC!)
Grimm Season 2 Teaser
Posted in Pop Culture
Finding statistics is something librarians have always been asked. In recent months, it has become even more difficult with the cessation of the Statistical Abstract of the United States. This publication has long been the “go -to” resource for librarians when asked questions regarding demographics and workforce statistics. It gathered information from hundreds of agencies, associations and other groups that gather statistics on the population. Information that I would have found in the statistical abstract I have to look for in other places. For instance, I was looking for the number of emergency medicine physicians in the United States. I found this information in a table in the Healthcare section of the online Statistical Abstract. The information I found was last uodated in 2011. The cited source for the information is American Medical Association’s Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the U.S. , an expensive publication that most public libraries (including my own) do not own. Therefore, I would have to contact a local universality library that owned a copy of this publication in order to obtain an updated number.
Now, public and academic libraries are faced with seeking other sources of information for their patrons.While some of these data sources are published by other federal agencies, many are only available in expensive print publications or fee-based online resources. Thankfully, the collection of the sources is still intact in previous version of the Statistical Abstract so librarians and other researcher can know where to start looking.
Possible Sources of Demographics info:
Demographics Now – This is a fee-based database to which an institution can subscribe to specific data sets. The Charleston County Public Library has access to South Carolina data. This is one of the most user-friendly databases out there. You can search by City, ZIP Code, and customized drive times as well as 13 other kinds of geographical divisions.
Government Printing Office – GPO maintains an online catalog of their printings. As with many other federal agency website, the GPO website is packed with information that is often hard to navigate. I often find that if I know the specific title of a publication that it’s easier to use Google as a search instead of the site’s search features.
Locating data is now more difficult and we need knowledgeable librarians more than ever. I do hope in the future Congress will reinstate funds to bring back the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Realistically, I know that is highly unlikely because it’s role in government was largely underappreciated.
Many who know me as an adult would scoff at that statement but as a child I had a very outgoing personality but I was very shy and self-conscious. (I still am sometimes especially when speaking in front of large groups.) I was a little overweight kid who wore thick-glasses so making friends was not the easiest thing in the world. As a result, I developed habits of an introvert especially reading and studying. These revelations come after reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in World that Can’t Stop Talking. A friend recommended this book to me not long ago and I thought it would be a great way to understand my introverted friends, family and coworkers. I found out a lot more about myself and how I relate to people. The author goes into great detail about the psychological mindset of introverts and explains the roots of America’s insistence on the “extrovert ideal.”
I found out things about myself while reading this book but also gained a better understanding of those around me. I work in the library profession where many of my coworkers are introverts. I have gone through times where I don’t seem to know how to relate to them and probably irritate them with endless chatter. I discovered that if you leave others their quiet time to recharge, they don’t mind engaging. I also realized that while reading this book that more extroverted individuals should flock to the library science profession. I mean I interact with people on a daily basis both face-to-face and on the phone. I think there is room for those who like a quieter work environment, maybe in technical services or at a small, quiet branch. However, it baffles me that the job “librarian” is still seen as something that bookish, introverted individuals should enjoy. While there are elements of that, the type of work and the temperament of librarians is changing. There are many roles that almost require an extroverted personality.
Another issue that really resonated for me was Cain’s discussion of office dynamics and team collaboration. She discussed many instances where an individual’s best work is often done alone. I feel like many employers today over-emphasize the role of collaboration. If you have many employees that lean towards introversion, it might be better to see what they can do on their own. I think when team and committees are formed, the extroverts tend to win out over the others. (I say this because I am guilty of doing on probably more than one occasion.) I went to primary school at the beginning of the trend of group learning in schools. I had so many group assignments and projects and I really hating doing them because I ended doing the bulk of the work even when trying to distribute it evenly. Even as an adult, That’s not to say that nothing good comes from a committee but sometimes that are just too many cooks and you have to go it alone to get things done.
I firmly believe that my profession would be better served if more extroverts were to consider library science. I think it adds balance to any workplace. Personally, I seem to get along better with my more introverted coworkers. Maybe it has something to do with the yin-yang or different temperaments complementing each other. As a side note, if you have kids who are a different temperament than you, this book also offers a very informative section on parenting those kids to help them fully know who they are and not be ashamed of it.