Thursday, July 26, 2012

Transformations in the Library

At the end of my Getting Started with Facebook class this morning, one of the participants commented on how much more comfortable she felt using the site because of what she learned. This was the second part of a two session class, and today's focus was primarily on account and privacy settings. All of the people who came to the class had already had Facebook accounts, but I could tell that most of the information I presented today was new to them.

I've posted before about teaching classes on Facebook, but it's comments like the one the patron made today that cause me to further reflect on the value of the service we provide not just through computer classes, but through the free access to information in all the forms the library presents.

The patron left class with with a better understanding of the site, which will allow her to connect and communicate with her friends and family more easily. Armed with the tools to protect her privacy, she now feels less hesitant in those interactions and is able to enjoy the site as it was meant to be enjoyed. Transformations like these make being a librarian so rewarding.

Whether it's a shy young patron who opens up when asked about his or her favorite book or someone researching overcoming addictions finding the resources that will help them or the patron eagerly anticipating the release of the next Sookie Stackhouse novel but satisfied with a read alike, librarians have the power to change peoples' lives. I've said it before, and I'll say it over and over again - this is what I love about my job.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Going Beyond the Stacks

My supervisor, Lynn, and I had the opportunity this afternoon to visit with the Welcome Club of Lawrence which meets monthly for a luncheon and presentation at the Alvamar Country Club. They treated us to cold cut sandwiches, fruit and cheesecake for dessert, and then we presented on the topic of "Contemporary Communication Technology." Knowing that we had given a similar presentation on eBooks for a University of Kansas alumni group, one of the first vice presidents and co-program chairs, Marlene, came to the library about a month ago and invited us to come and share with the group about the different smartphones, tablets, and other devices available. The members of the group that generally attend the lunches are retired, and Marlene thought they would be interested in learning about the different things their children and grandchildren use to communicate and connect to the internet.

When we first arrived, we still didn't know quite what to expect - but we were excited to have the opportunity to share with them. Several of the board members of the group greeted us and introduced us to many of the members, who ranged in ages from 40 to late 80's. They were all very friendly, and once our presentation commenced, many had questions and comments to share. Lynn and I started by showing off the different Apple and Android devices available, then we talked about WiFi and data plans, and then briefly toured Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as examples of websites their children and grandchildren probably access. I was amazed and impressed at the variance in experience and knowledge they demonstrated, and Lynn and I could have gone on for hours answering questions and talking about social media sites. After we had finished, Marlene and members of the board said that that was the most participation they've ever had at any of their luncheons.

On our drive back to the library, Lynn and I discussed how well the presentation went, and envisioned the possibility of presenting to other groups in town. As our library moves toward a renovation process, with the possibility of temporarily relocating during construction, these outreach opportunities will become much more important. It was a perfect way for us to promote library services (several in the group expressed an interest in attending our upcoming computer class about Facebook) as well as network with members of the community. We didn't just share about technology, we demonstrated the importance and relevance of the library and what we can provide for them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

How would you live your life today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? How would you interact with the people you love if you knew you were leaving them?

If there’s just one young adult book you read this year, make it John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Heartbreaking and intelligent, the novel tells the story of 16 year old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient who has pretty much come to terms with her terminal diagnosis. Having to cart an oxygen tank wherever she goes because the cancer has ravaged her lungs, she has accepted that any day now she could fall asleep and never wake up. But that’s not the end to her story.

Hazel doesn’t expect much out of her cancer support group, and she certainly doesn’t expect to fall in love. Agustus Waters, a fellow group member whose leg was claimed by a malignant bone tumor, however, quickly becomes the object of her affections. It doesn’t help that Gus himself instantly shows an interest in her. That six letter word they share in common provides them a perspective on life that allows them to easily relate to each other, and they develop a romance that’s mature beyond their years. Despite Hazel’s terminal illness, Gus uses his one wish granted by a foundation to whisk her off to Amsterdam (though not without proper medical provisions) so she can meet the author of the book with which she’s been obsessed. On the trip, they both discover much about life, love and dreams.

Green has a fantastic ability to create real characters you can connect with. Other readers have suggested taking on this book when you’re alone with a box of tissues – as those around you may give you strange looks, confused as to whether you’re laughing out loud or crying. You’ll fall in love with these characters, laugh with them and never want to let them go.

This review also appears on the Lawrence Public Library's Great Reads blog.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Love for Librarian Blogs

Two weeks ago, I posted about my favorite blogs by librarians. Want more? What I may have failed to mention (and this may be stating the obvious) is that there are tons of really great blogs and websites for and about librarians. A reader recently contacted me through email and shared OnlineCollege.org's recently updated list of 100 Best Blogs for School Librarians, and suggested I pass it along to my readers.
The list covers blogs by all sorts of librarians - from school to children's and young adult librarians - as well as professional development and book blogs. Whether you're interested in keeping up with trends in the profession, networking with other librarians, or just seeing what other librarians are doing, the blogosphere is the perfect place to do so, and this list is a great starting point. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Book Review: With or Without You by Brian Farrey

I honestly almost returned this book to the shelf after reading the word "sexy" in the synopsis on the back cover. I'm not a fan of shallow, sex centered plots, especially in young adult titles, and that's what that word said to me. However, I gave Farrey's debut a second chance, read the first few pages and found it had a little bit more to offer.

Evan leads a double life. He and his best friend, Davis, have been out of the closet for years, and he even has had a boyfriend for almost a year - but a boyfriend nobody knows about. Bullied and beaten up through the last day at their Wisconsin high school, Evan and Davis dream of finally escaping their tormentors - whom they call trogs - with their not too distant move to Chicago. First, though, they have to spend one more summer in Madison. That's when Davis discovers the Chasers - a group that promises protection, liberation and revolution.

Enamored with the reckless leader of the Chasers, Davis convinces Evan to join the the group and their dangerous schemes to get back at the society of hate set against them. But Evan has his own personal problems to deal with. The lies that keep his two worlds separate now appear to only harm his relationships. His boyfriend, Erik, becomes frustrated that Evan has yet to fully invite him into his life and to meet his family. It doesn't help that Erik has invited Evan to move with him to California, forcing him to choose between their relationship and his loyalty to his best friend.

With or Without You turned out to be a pretty relevant, decent read, despite that choice word I didn't like in the description. Farrey addresses bullying, coming out of the closet, monogamous versus open relationships, and other gay issues. I appreciated how his characters didn't perpetuate stereotypes, which makes them more realistic. I actually enjoyed the read, and I'm happy I didn't put this book back.