Thursday, December 4, 2008

Puss in Books

Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

As an animal lover, cat owner, and librarian, I couldn't help but love this book. It was laugh-out-loud funny in parts and heartbreaking in others.

Myron weaves her own memiors into the story if Dewey, the Spenser Public Library cat, as well as the history of this small "progressive" Iowa town.

I enjoyed how she snuck in information about the workings libraries, their changes in the past twenty years, and her own journey through a library science master's program and professional associations.

My only minor complaint was the chapter towards the end where Myron chronicles her family's hardships. Not because I don't want to hear that side of the story. In fact they enrich the story by showing the downs that we must all go through. I only wish that they had been spread out. The reader is smacked all at once with death and disease in person after person. I think that spread out chronologically would have kept the over-all tone cheerful, with the occasional appropriate dip.

But on the whole an excellent book

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This won't be popular but...

I recently read an Editorial in Library Journal. I was spurred to read it by a letter to the editor regarding keeping the quality of the MLS high.

Tony Greiner's article regarding the MLS degree takes the position that the MLS requirement for entry level library profession is keeping minorities away from becoming librarians. He quotes statistics regarding the numbers of minorities in the profession being below average for the number of minorities living in the U.S.

One problem Greinen, states is that minorities don't see themselves among librarians and therefore don't see the profession as being one for them.

However, the biggest deterrant to entering the library profession according to Greiner is the Masters degree. Minorities are more likely to drop out of higher education due to financial reasons.

This got me to thinking. I was extremely lucky in gaining my MLS because as a Graduate Assistant I had my tuition covered with the exception of two summer classes. But if I had had to pay graduate level tuition it could have taken me much longer to do while I worked full time.

I also began to wonder, if entry level librarian positions really do deserve the requirement of a Masters degree.

With out any hesitation I can say: I love being a librarian. I think it is a fun, interesting and worthwhile profession, that despite of, or even because of, google is not going anywhere.

Of course we need a good education to be librarians, or college students would already know how to do research. But I have come to believe that the majority of entry level librarian positions don't need a masters degree.

I am sure that certain specialties; such as research, technology, management and admin probably do require a Graduate level degree or certificate.

But think about what children's librarian learns in a 2 year Masters course and compare it to what an Undergrad student getting a BA in Elementary Education at the same school. I am sure that they are on par, if not slightly more rigorous for the education student. A school teacher has to observe and student teach in separate semesters. A librarian takes literature courses before being tossed in a room with puppets and preschoolers. An education major studies child psychology and learning outcomes at different ages. A children's librarian takes programming courses.

I've been a children's librarian. I know that it is hard work, demanding, and time consuming. There is a reason that children's librarians burn out after a few years. I'm not knocking it. But if we are truly obtaining a Masters degree shouldn't there be a substantial difference between what the undergraduate learns and what we learn?

Maybe I'm advocating a change in the MLS degree itself. But either way I really wish the profession would reconsider it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Librarian to Teacher a difficult transition

I recently took a position at my local Community College as an adjunct English Composition Instructor.

Having been out of work for more than six months I jumped a the chance. I have a Masters degree in Creative Writing, and a Bachelors in English Literature. I freaking love English. I also love research and argument which is the topic of one of the classes. I am a librarian after all. It was the teaching part that I failed to take into account.

Part of my problem was not being prepared. I was a last minute hire so I was rushing to create a syllabus using the samples given to me. Too bad the sample syllabi and the text books don't correspond. So it's the second class and I didn't have anything for them to read, because I haven't had the time (and I haven't slept in a couple days) to figure it out.

Just lecturing is about as fun as watching paint dry, so I tried to engage them with group work and a discussion, but all I got was blank stares and whispering in the corner. I hate to be the bitch teacher, or the too easy teacher (I had to let them go 1/2 hour early 'cuz they wouldn't talk and my material went way too fast). Add to that the fact that I look like I'm 20 and they're all college freshman and my security/ confidence in front of them shrinks exponentially with the time that passes.

I'm hoping it gets better when they have something to read before hand. I gave them two chapters before they left with instructions to come to class on Wednesday with three topics or questions for discussion. I'm also prepared for another ice-breaker, because if this goes on I'm not going to make through the semester.

Of course - I remember a professor I had once who sat at the front of the class behind a desk and read his notes for three hours (w/ one 15 minute break). So, I should be glad that I care enough not to do that.

If anyone out there reads this thing and has suggestions - please, please post them. I'm desperate.

Friday, July 18, 2008

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare Book one in the Mortal Instruments series

I couldn't put it down. Literally I read this 500 page book in two days.

It's Underworld meets Harry Potter crossed with Star Wars and somehow Clare makes this totally funky combo work. The classic storytelling that is used in stories Harry Potter are also put to good use by Clare she darkens it with Vampires, werewolves and warlocks, but keeps it entertaining with great banter and the always appreciated Star Wars reference (all that was missing was the "I've got a bad feeling about this" line).

The characters are compelling, and believable. While some of the plot "twists"are predictable, and I managed to catch one continuity mistake, I am forgiving, because I loved everything else. I can't wait to get my hands on book 2

One of the things I liked about this book was how it reminded me of other stories, and how she referenced other stories too - especially Star Wars.

I noticed:
1) Harry Potter - Valentine is so much like Voldemort, and the Circle is very much like the Death Eaters.

2) Star Wars -
a - Luke (the name),
b - Luke & Leigh being brother and sister.
c - "Luke, I am your father" when Luke thinks Vader killed his dad, just like Jace thinks Valentine is responsible for his dad's death.
d - The great "I know" response to I love you that Simon points out.
e - "I came with Luke to rescue you" so very much like "My name is Luke Skywalker I'm hear to rescue you."

3) Underworld - Lucian is the werewolf ruler

I know that some of this is from history and other works of classic mythology, and I love how Clare is keeping that alive.

If anyone found more references or sees parallels to other works of literature I'd love to hear them. Particularly Valentine.