Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

Well turkey, baked macaroni, mashed potatoes and other Thanksgiving goodies have all been consumed, and I'm getting ready to sit down to watch some holiday entertainment. Movie of choice: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Before doing so, I wanted to update and express what I'm thankful for this year.

I'm thankful for my husband who's currently dealing with the hoards of shoppers at a department store. I wish I could be spending the evening with him, and hope that he knows I appreciate everything he is and everything he does.

I'm thankful for a family of in-laws who have welcomed me to their table this Thanksgiving - and pretty much every Sunday evening for the past year. I'm grateful for their never ending care and support, and I'm glad that I've gotten to know them so well.

I'm thankful for my family and friends back in Kansas who I miss so much. I don't connect as often as I should, but I hope that they know that I love them dearly. I'm sure I'll spend a great part of this evening reminiscing on the many memories I have with them.

I'm thankful for the wonderful job and the great staff I have at the Oskaloosa Public Library. My first year proved to be challenging and stressful, but also rewarding beyond measure. I'm grateful that I was given this opportunity to serve the community and broaden my skills as a librarian.

I'm also thankful for you - dear reader - who ever you are. I hope you're having a wonderful Thanksgiving, whether it be with family and friends or just with a feline companion or a book or a movie. Take care!

Friday, November 22, 2013

D&D: Adventures in the Stacks

This past summer, with the suggestion of a few Teen Advisory Board members, my Youth Librarian and I started a Dungeons & Dragons group at the library. Now, the only experience I had with Dungeons & Dragons was from my college years, and the story involves me excusing myself to use the restroom and never coming back. That being said, I honestly didn’t have too much faith that the program would go very far. I’m happy to say, though, that I was wrong!

If you don’t know what Dungeons & Dragons is, that’s okay – it’s only been around for years and years. A role playing game, each player creates a character, choosing from a plethora of fantasy species and races. One person designates him or herself as Dungeon Master and dictates a story that the other participants’ characters play along in. Different denominations of dice are used to determine variables in the game, like damage points in battles and strength checks.

Thankfully, the few teens who asked for the program had TONS of knowledge and experience with the game and gladly volunteered themselves Dungeon Masters. For the first few weeks, we had a small gathering of middle school students, and I sat back and watched. At some point, my Youth Librarian created a character, which I ended up adopting as scheduling conflicts disallowed her from chaperoning the program. As I got involved, I’ve had the chance to both learn more about the game and understand and witness the passion the teens who are coming to the program have for it.

Now whether it's the free snacks or the game itself, the program has developed quite the following. Over time, our little D&D group has grown to 16 teens ranging from 13 to 17! Every week, everyone in attendance – though sometimes distracted and a little over excited – are actively engaged. It has been great to watch those who Dungeon Master develop their skills. Now I look forward every week to the program, and I’m excited to see it – and hopefully other teen programs – grow.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Author Night (a.k.a. College Night) at the Library

Tip: If you want to ensure your program audience participates in Q&A time, have a college professor offer extra credit to students for attending and asking questions.

Tuesday night, we invited YA/middle grade writers Brian Farrey, Wendy Delsol and Kelly Barnhill for an Author Night at the library. Posters in the library and at businesses around town, press releases, social media - we pushed it as much as we could. We were pretty thrilled to bring these authors to the library. It was a big investment for our medium-ish sized library. We had nine people show up...

I'm not complaining, though, because eight of those people were college students seeking extra credit for a class, and they each had very good questions for the authors. My youth librarian and I prepared questions beforehand, but we didn't have to use a single one! The authors' responses were brilliant, honest and filled an hour and fifteen minutes. I think the students learned a lot about writing and getting published and hopefully gained an interest in the authors' works - which was half the purpose.

So a big THANK YOU to Brian, Wendy and Kelly for coming all the way to little 'ol Oskaloosa for our Author Night!

Monday, November 11, 2013

What I've been obsessed with recently

I've been inspired to resurrect this blog by my youth librarian, Liz, who's recently started a second blog, Library Lore. It's been a while, so I thought I'd update with a few things I've been obsessed with recently:

Library Conferences
My ALA book haul!
In June/July, I had the opportunity to attend my first ALA annual conference in Chicago! Meeting librarians from all over the country, attending sessions, visiting the exhibits - the entire experience was thrilling. I have to admit, I think I spent half my time wandering around the exhibit hall, but getting to meet authors and learning what's on the literary horizon was just as valuable to me as attending the sessions. My favorite part of the trip, though, was the "Set Phasers to Internet" tumblarian meet up - I got to hang out with some great tumblarians!

I also attended my first Iowa Library Association conference in October. A much smaller scale conference, it provided just as much information and opportunity as the national one. It's always great to be surrounded by people who share common interests and passions. I'm looking forward to attending more and working with the wonderful people in this profession.

Teen Programming
When I hired my new youth librarian, I pretty much decided I wanted to partner with her in teen programming. As she's the only staff responsible for youth services - collection development, programming, outreach, etc. - I felt that she would be a little over burdened with programming for 0 to 18-year-olds. I personally feel that services for teens are among the most important when it comes to developing life-long library users. If we're able to get them in the library and see that there's something there for them, it's easier, I imagine, to encourage them to visit as they grow through adulthood.

In the past, teen programming was a monthly advisory board meeting and a few holiday parties. Starting this past summer, we really raised the bar on teen programming. We offered chess club, Dungeons & Dragons, crafting programs and the obvious reading program. We decided to continue a few of these programs into the fall, and I have personally been amazed at how strong a following the programs have developed - specifically D&D. We've got a great group of teen regulars and I enjoy working with them.

October saw the annual Halloween party. Typically we have 10 to 15 teens at our programs. So that's what we planned for. Snacks, music, a few games - nothing too fancy. We must have had 40 kids show up! The food was gone in 15 minutes, and it was pandemonium! We also tried out a Zombie Clinic & Crawl, but with bad scheduling on our part, it was kind of a flop...but the two teens who showed up said they had a good time. I'm looking forward to finishing out the year, and planning for next!

Rainbow Rowell
I JUST finished reading Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl - an adorable coming-of-age story about a fanfiction writing college freshman trying to adjust to her first year at the University of Nebraska. Rainbow has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Ever since I read that she was disinvited by a Minnesota high school and library from speaking to teens about her first YA novel, Eleanor & Park (which I adored too!), I've kind of wanted to invite her to my library. Not for the controversy. But because it just reinforced, to me, how great an author she is and I want to share her with my community. However, when I emailed her, it turned out she was booked through the end of the year. Boo. She did say, though, that she'd be happy to once things clear up for her.

American Horror Story
Thanks to our Internet TV services, my husband and I devoured the first and second seasons of American Horror Story, and now we're anxiously awaiting each episode of Coven. As a child, I had an "unnatural" obsession with witches. I'm pretty sure I demanded to be one every Halloween between the ages of 5 and 10. Needless to say, I'm obsessed with this season. Asylum proved to me that Jessica Lange is brilliant, and now she rules as the supreme. And Kathy Bates! I adore her. Like Misery adore. Well, more like Fried Green Tomatoes adore. I appreciate the mix of history with the imaginative terror of the series, and look forward to much more!