A look back at 2014

Well, 2014 came and went. I clearly didn't get a whole lot of blogging done here, but I've certainly spent a lot of time and creative energy on other things. It's been a productive year at the library, I've met and made more connections here in Iowa, and overall I'd say it was a pretty good year. Here are a few specific things I've enjoyed:

Books and Beer Club
When I first arrived in Oskaloosa back in 2012, I received a kind welcome from the co-owner of a local bar, The Cellar Peanut Pub (famous for their craft beer selection and America's best dressed Bloody Mary). Over time, they've made it clear that they welcome everyone - straight, gay, transgender, etc. - as long as you're nice, and it's been great knowing there's at least one welcoming business in Oskaloosa. 

In January I approached the co-owner about hosting a book club at the pub, and we started the Books and Beer Club. We began with Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave as our first pick. We read many great books through the year, and our discussions have always been enjoyable and thought provoking. It's actually the first book club I've been a part of since high school, and I've had lots of fun with it!

Teen Programming: Anti-Valentines Day, Teen Tech Week and Find Your Fandom
I think I've said it before, but if I weren't a library director, I'd probably want to be a teen librarian. I've had a lot of fun this year with programs and events for teens. In February, we held and Anti-Valentine's Day party for teens where we wrote break up songs, decorated angry hearts and made voo-doo dolls (for which I got my first phone call from a concerned patron). In March, I put together a week long series of programs centered on technology for teens, including a tech tear apart, skype interview with an author and robot building.

For their summer reading program, the Teen Advisory Board selected Find Your Fandom over the collaborative suggested theme, and we had tons of fun with it. We hosted a mini-comic convention, continued with our popular Dungeons and Dragons program, and gave a way great prize packages, including Harry Potter books and movies, Doctor Who series on DVD, a Sherlock collection and a stack of book box sets. We've got a great group of teens involved with the Teen Advisory Board, and I can't wait to see what we come up with next year!

Adult Programming: Paranormal Researchers, Coal Mining & More
I think I've figured out what draws adults in Oskaloosa to events at the library: anything weird or historical. My most successful program for adults was a visit from Chad Lewis, co-author of The Iowa Road Guide to Haunted Locations - we had about 80 people! Other programs that drew in crowds was a presentation on a former coal mining town, a portrayal of Ulysses S. Grant, and a lecture on Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

I've also started the Oskaloosa Social Media Group for anyone involved with social media for businesses and organizations. We meet once a month and have an open round table discussion about tips and trends in social media and share with each other what's happening in Oskaloosa. I'm no expert, but I have enjoyed sharing my own experiences and knowledge with the group. One of the people who've gotten involved said that they have noticed hearing much more about the library recently - a goal which I've been working towards since I started there!

"Raising" a Foreign Teenager
In April, I posted on Facebook, "We've done the paperwork. Nate and I may be expecting in the fall. Wish us luck!" After a few congratulatory comments and well wishes, I had to explain, though, that the paperwork was an application for hosting a foreign exchange student! Needless to say, we were approved and in August we welcomed Giovanni into our home. 
Hailing from Düsseldorf, Germany, Giovanni's been a great guest and addition to our household. Nate and I have enjoyed having him and seeing him get involved with things like marching band, jazz band, robotics, Key Club - and even the library's teen advisory board!