Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Need a Library Job: The Struggle is Real

Sometimes you have to take a risk and hope for the best. I’ve shared this news with my friends, family and the community already, but I’ve officially turned in my resignation to the Oskaloosa Public Library – my last day will be September 11. My husband was offered and accepted a really great position with KU Libraries in June, and I’ll be moving back to Lawrence, Kansas to join him. Thus, I’ve been in job search mode for the past couple of months. And the struggle is real.

I feel I was pretty fortunate in getting my past two positions. My first library job was the result of a library school project, and with my second, connections and good references really helped. Honestly, I don’t feel like it was as tough as I’m experiencing now. But I haven’t given up hope yet. Here are a few things I’ve had to learn or remind myself in my new job search:

Don’t let one rejection (or five!) discourage you.
There are a lot of fish in the sea, and there are a lot of librarians in the field. Jobless librarians. Experienced librarians. When there are fifty applicants for one position, there’s a good chance that you may not measure up when compared to the others. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never measure up. The list of available library jobs may be small, but take the time and patience to apply, apply, apply!

Apply, apply, apply!
The more applications you put in, the more you can improve your resume, cover letter and interview skills and the better the chance you’ll have at getting a job. You may think there’s a perfect job at the one perfect library, and you won’t be happy anywhere else, but the time you spend waiting for that job to open at that one library is time you could be spending gaining experience elsewhere.

Learn how to sell yourself.
You may think you have a reputation that precedes you. You may have great connections and references. However, just because you have volunteered or worked for a library before and have done a wonderful job doesn’t mean you’re a shoe-in. Each interview – even if it’s with the same hiring supervisors over and over again – is a new one. You’ve got a new crowd of applicants to compete against. Learn how to translate your skills and abilities to fit the position, and be confident! You don’t have to embellish, but explain how your years of serving tables or selling retail demonstrate your customer service skills, etc.

Be patient.
Waiting to hear back on an application is the toughest part. I know. Some hiring processes are much slower than others – especially when there are 50 applications to dig through. If you’re concerned that they may not have received your application, it’s okay to check in on it, but you don’t have to call in every three days asking for an update. That’s bugging. If you’ve sold yourself well enough in your cover letter, they’ll contact you.

Be grateful – and show it!
Hiring supervisors are busy, and the hiring process takes a lot of their time. If they give you an interview, close it by expressing your gratitude for their time and consideration. Sending a quick thank you letter or email afterward is also nice too. It shows that you care enough about the position and that you’re professional and considerate of their time. If you don’t get this particular job, they may remember you for the next.

You may not get the job you really, really want. I didn't, and it’s been tough. But like I said, I’m not letting it discourage me. Some of my trouble may be because I’m hyper-localizing, but I know there’s a job out there for me, and I’m working really hard for it. To anyone who’s in the same position – keep at it! We’ll get there! Good luck!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review - Anything Could Happen

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained. 

-Summary from

There’s much to appreciate about Will Walton’s debut novel, but a lot going on too. Anything could happen for Tretch Farm, and a lot certainly does during his winter break.

Tretch is in love with his straight best friend, Matt, who has two dads. His straight best friend is in love with a girl who may or may not like him back. Tretch tries to avoid a pretentious, yet clueless girl who works in book shop. He struggles with coming out. Then there’s the bully who called him out on his crush. And a grandparent dying of cancer. On top of all that, Tretch learns that his best friend is moving away, which causes him to attempt suicide, but not really. Oh, and a cow gives birth to a breached calf.

That’s only some of it. I appreciate that, underneath all that’s going on for Tretch, Walton’s novel is another coming of age coming out story. I like that he presents Matt’s dads as decent parents who raise a well-adjusted child. Tretch’s feelings for his best friend are honest and realistic. I felt, though, that his maturity was inconsistent. Tretch reads classics and has mature, sexual thoughts about his best friend, but then narrates about fearing and avoiding a black cat because of bad luck. 

I would still recommend this book to anyone who may be struggling with coming out. Walton shows that it’s okay to take that risk and that the results may not be as bad as you expect. Overall, I gave Anything Could Happen 3 out of 5 stars.

You can find Anything Could Happen at a local library by clicking here.

This review also posted on

Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review - The Book of Unknown Americans

After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel's recovery--the piece of the American Dream on which they've pinned all their hopes--will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.

At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamà fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she's sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.

-Summary from
The Book of Unknown Americans is a powerful, eye opening portrait of what it's like to be a Latino immigrant in the United States. Henríquez tells the story of the Riveras and the Toros, alternating between Maribel's mother Alma and Mayor. In between their chapters, short vignettes detail the experiences of a number of other Latino immigrants.

What I really liked about the book was how real the characters seemed to me. Alma is fiercely protective of Maribel, especially since she comes to blame herself for Maribel's accident and condition. Her husband, Arturo, devotes himself to keeping a job and staying out of trouble so they can stay in the United States so their daughter can receive the help she needs. Mayor is a freshman in high school who lives under the shadow of an athletically gifted older brother and can't quite live up to his father's expectations.

A neighborhood troublemaker, Garrett, is at the center of the events that lead to the climax of the story. He begins to stalk and pursue Maribel, and it's his interactions with both Mayor and Alma that lead the reader to fear for the girl's safety. What also concerned me, though, was how quickly Mayor's feelings for Maribel developed and how far he takes them. They talk a few times and suddenly he's in love with her and feeling her up.

Overall, though, the story was moving and heartbreaking. I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a clearer picture of how hard some immigrants do work to get into this country and how dedicated they are to doing the right thing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Passive Program: Coloring Pages for Adults

With the recent popularity of adult coloring books that many libraries are taking advantage of for programs, I decided to cash in at my library as well. I had considered purchasing copies of the books that are available, but then was concerned they would come back...well, colored.

To see if there's actually an interest in my community, I've decided to try out a passive program first. This takes very little staff time, and if the coloring sheets disappear, I know I can take it further. I love the idea of a "coloring and cocktails" program!

I found a list of free adult coloring pages available on the web, printed a few off, copied them and now have them out in the reading room with colored pencils, a pencil sharpener and signage explaining the deal. We already have a number of patrons who frequent the room to work on puzzles we set out, so I'm thinking it may go over pretty well!