Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review (part 2)

The second half of the year started out with a trip to Chicago for my first American Library Association annual conference. It was big and amazing and everything I’d imagined and more. My favorite memory of the whole experience was my first bus ride to the McCormick Place convention center. I was nervous and excited, and I tweeted that I felt like I was being bussed into the Hunger Games. Other great things included meeting authors like Veronica Roth, Tim Federle, Demitria Lunetta and David Levithan; meeting librarians from all over the United States and learning a ton at the many different sessions.

After the exiting summer wound down, I oversaw the final touches to the library’s reading garden – a three year long project that started before my time at the library. From dealing with issues with our boilers and elevator to planning a few programs here and there, things at the library were pretty calm throughout the fall otherwise. To spice up my life, I decided to accept an offer to teach a section of English Composition at William Penn University, a local private, liberal arts school in Oskaloosa. For those who know me, I once had an interest in teaching, and this was a great opportunity for me to try it out – and earn a little extra money on the side.

Friends of the Library Tea Time in the Garden
October brought my first Iowa Library Association Conference, another opportunity for me to connect with librarians and receive continuing education. And then came the rush of the holiday season. Before Thanksgiving, my Youth Librarian and I hosted a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Party, and one of the library assistants created an awesome replica of the TARDIS which we then used on the Teen Advisory Board’s float in Oskaloosa’s annual lighted Christmas parade. We also tried out a free crafting program series before Christmas, which I thought turned out pretty well.

All in all, I felt 2013 was a pretty great year and I’m looking forward to 2014. One of the projects that I’m most excited about that I’ll be working on is a Books & Beer club I’m starting with the co-owner of the Cellar Peanut Pub! We had a pretty good response to our initial survey, and many have expressed interest in the club. Our first selection is Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, and we’ll be meeting to discuss the book at the pub at 6:00 p.m. on January 28th!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in Review (part 1)

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was writing a review post for 2012. So much has happened this year, but you can’t really tell from my posts! I keep promising to update this more frequently, so maybe it’ll be a New Year’s resolution? Then it’d never happen! Anyway, here’s a look at my year:

In January, my husband and I took a two week trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon! We pretty much spent our time playing tourists on the streets of Waikiki, visiting the beach, hiking up volcanoes, buying expensive skin care products from Israeli street merchants and eating at famous places like the Hard Rock CafĂ© and Bubba Gump’s. And what’s a trip without a near death experience? On our last full day in Hawaii, we took a wrong turn on a hike on the Manana Trail to see the Waimano Waterfall and ended up going 3 or so miles on a monster of a trail before realizing we were unprepared and out of water. Thankfully we made it back to the bus and then our hotel safely. We never did get to see the waterfall...but it became my favorite tale from the trip though! If you ever find yourself in Hawaii, I recommend the Circle Island Tour, Germaine’s Luau and a trip to the Ala Moana Center, the largest open air shopping mall in the world!

Once back in the states and the frigid weather of Iowa, I quickly put my nose to the grindstone and coordinated a six-month strategic planning process for my library. My only experience with long range planning was in library school, so I based my plan largely on the fictitious one I contributed to for a group project. I formed a Strategic Planning Committee made up of members of the Library Board of Trustees, library staff, Friends of the Library members, City of Oskaloosa council members, the city manager and myself. The committee gathered data and information about the Library’s resources, services and programs; users and non-users of the library; and the communities of Oskaloosa and Mahaska County through the responsibilities of four subcommittees: a Survey Team, Inventory Team, Focus Group Team and an Outreach Team. You can check out the full plan here.

By the time the plan was completed and submitted to the city and the state, the library’s Summer Reading Program was in full swing. For me, this was one of the most exciting times of the year. We offered three programs, Take Back the Summer for adults, Read It ‘n Tweet It for teens and Dig into Reading for children. I had a ton of fun planning programs and events, and it was inspiring to see how many people in the community registered for the programs, participated and got excited about reading – over 700! To go along with the adult theme, I planned Classic Movie Mondays and showed a classic movie from each decade between 1930 and 2000, downtown walking history tours, and invited the curator from the local Nelson Pioneer Farm to do a presentation on historical women’s clothing. For the teens, we started a chess club, a Dungeons and Dragons club, and our Create & Innovate crafting series. The new Youth Librarian had several great programs for the kids, too, including a visit from Snakes Alive, magic shows, and presentations by a local master gardener.

The second half of the year was a little calmer, but I’ll bore you with another post tomorrow....Until then, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Make It & Take It: Wine Glass Snow Globes

Last night I hosted the first of four “Make It & Take It” crafting programs we’re offering at the library this holiday season.  The program series invites patrons of all ages to create thrifty crafts – or gifts – for free and take them home.  I borrowed the idea from my days at the Lawrence Public Library and their “Thrifty Gifter” series, which was very popular. One of my crafty library assistants and I collaborated and came up with four crafts to offer: wine glass snow globes, cards, yarn wrapped wreaths, and felt ornaments.

Tuesday’s craft was the wine glass snow globes. I picked up some cheap wine glasses from the local Goodwill store and gathered small ornaments, ribbons, garland, glitter, white confetti for filling and other holiday themed crafting materials that were crammed in the many boxes the library has accumulated over the years. Using foam core for the bases, patrons selected their materials, designed their snow globe scenes and used hot glue to put it all together.

Planning and going in to the program, I didn't know what kind of turn out to expect, and I was definitely surprised and delighted when 15 people showed up! I only managed to get 11 wine glasses, but fortunately, parents were agreeable to helping their kids make theirs.  I gave a few instructions at the beginning, and then gave them free reign over the materials. Everyone had a great time helping each other, and they were so thankful for the program!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I spent the majority of my Thanksgiving weekend with my nose buried in Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, a 784 page tome chronicling the misadventures of a young man who gains possession of a famous Dutch masterpiece, a painting by the same name as the novel.

Captivated by the painting of a small bird tethered to a perch, thirteen-year-old Theo Decker obtains it after a bomb explodes at the New York City art gallery in which it was being displayed, killing his mother. Theo also receives a ring, given to him by a dying elderly man by the name of Welty. After dealing with social workers and the possibility of being shipped off to uncaring grandparents, he ends up under the temporary hospitality of the wealthy parents of a former friend from primary school. 

Trying to come to terms with his mother's death, Theo delivers the ring, as promised, to an antique furniture shop and townhouse where he meets Welty's business partner, Hobie, and Welty's granddaughter, Pippa, who was also injured in the explosion. Meanwhile, Theo's estranged father shows up and whisks him off across the country to Las Vegas to live with him and his lover, Xandra with an X. There, Theo meets and befriends Boris, a Russian burnout who ends up playing a key role in Theo's misadventures. Those misadventures take him back to lavish New York, to Amsterdam, and through the criminal underworld, all for the enrapturing masterpiece that consumes him.

The Goldfinch - the novel - is a masterpiece in itself. Donna Tartt has a penchant for detail that - though leads to a lengthy story - often times provides a perfect visual for the setting. Wading through the detail, the reader comes upon scenes that are gripping and suspenseful. Anger, frustration, confusion, fear - I felt all of these while I followed Theo on his quest to come to terms with his past and set things right in his world. It was a Thanksgiving holiday well spent.