Librarian’s Spotlight – Annie

This month’s Librarian’s Spotlight features the lovely Annie. Enjoy!

tiara photo of annie

RO: Please introduce yourself and speak a bit about your background with libraries.
A: My name is Annie, and I’m a thirty-something children’s librarian in a big, urban, East Coast library system. This is my first librarian job—I’ve been here for about six months so far.

RO: What made you want to become a librarian?
A: I’ve always wanted to be a librarian. I remember when I was in kindergarten, drawing a picture of me being a librarian (I actually still have it—I should get it out and frame it), but that was also around the time I wanted to be an astronaut and a supermarket checkout girl, so that should tell you something about the kind of child I was. But I think the reasons then are the same as the reasons now—I love books. I love reading them, talking about them, sharing them, pushing my favorites onto people, recommending similar books…

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The picture Annie drew as a young girl.

What pushed me to make the switch was thinking that I didn’t want to be in education administration my whole life, which I had been doing, and enjoyed, but it wasn’t super-fulfilling. In 2009, I decided to go back to grad school (my first MA is in literature), and get my MLIS, just for the hell of it. If I used it, great; if not, well, at least I had the experience. I loved library school. My classmates, colleagues, and teachers were all terrific, the work was stimulating, and the whole time, I was thinking, This is what I want to be doing. But I didn’t have the nerve to switch careers just yet. The time was right in the fall of 2013, so I closed my eyes and held my breath and jumped.

RO: What is your least favorite aspect of being a librarian? What is your favorite aspect of being a librarian?
A: I think in library school (and certainly as a child), I had this rosy, romantic vision of being Marian the Librarian from The Music Man, helping children, stamping books, shushing, you know, that kind of thing. And then I actually landed in a library and realized how naive I’d been. My favorite parts of librarianship are either helping people find what they want—it is such a rewarding feeling of satisfaction—or the organization. It’s quite satisfying to know that everything is in its proper place, sorted by author, or number, or title, or whatever.

My least favorite part is being a disciplinarian, either with the children (“Please put your shoes on,” “Walk, don’t run,” “Let’s use our indoor voices,” “Please don’t throw blocks,” etc.) or with the teens (“Guys, watch your language,” “No, seriously, watch your language,” or my favorite, “Would you mind pulling your pants up, please?”).

RO: Librarians have been pegged with several stereotypes. Are there any that you find particularly amusing?
A: Oh, man, I’ve heard them all. And none of them are amusing. I do the online dating thing—no jokes, please—and mention that I’m a children’s librarian in my profile. If I get one more email centered around a “sexy librarian” question, I’m going to scream! A lot of men also ask me if I wear glasses. They weren’t even amusing the first time I heard them, and I get exponentially more irritated the more I hear them. Get a new line, guys.

But when people do ask me if there really is such a thing as library school—I get that a lot, too—I say, “Yes, with a major in shushing and a minor in book stamping.” That usually gets a laugh.

RO: What is your favorite database/online resource? Why?
A: I got to teach a database class for adults a few weeks ago, and I helped them with the Learning Express Library. I love that there are so many great resources for adults, and that they’re able to better their lives at any age, to go back to school, to learn about job searching, or to learn a new language.

RO: What book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you would recommend? Conversely, what book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you not would recommend?
A: I just finished American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, because both The Graveyard Book and Coraline (both children’s books, I might add) scared the living crap out of me – and I only read them a few years ago. But I wanted to try some of his books for adults, and I thought American Gods was brilliant. If anyone else had written it, it would have been pedantic and banal. Gaiman has such a gift with words and description and setting, though.

I find it hard to recommend books that don’t connect with me—the characters aren’t developed, or the plot isn’t logical, or people don’t behave realistically. I recently had trouble with Amelia Gray’s Threats because I felt it was obtuse. The story centers around a man whose wife dies mysteriously, but it raised more questions than answers, and it left me unfulfilled. Similarly, I also read Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois (a thinly veiled Amanda Knox novel) and the way the characters spoke, they were too clever—real people don’t speak like that.

RO: What is the best (most challenging or however else you may define “best”) reference question you have ever been asked? What is the wackiest reference question you have ever been asked?
A: Most of the reference questions we get in children’s and teens are pretty straightforward—someone’s doing a report on Uruguay, or bugs, or the Constitution. I have taken a few shifts in our nonfiction section, and got a terrific variety of questions there—one about the Mafia, one about harpsichord music…that’s really the fun of working in a library, because every day, every shift, every hour on the desk is different.

Sometimes you have to ask some follow-up questions to really get to what the patron is asking for. Patrons will often come in and say, “I’m writing a report about Greece,” but what they really need are books about the fall of the Greek economy, or ancient Greece, or Greek gods, or something. The wackiest one wasn’t a question, but the path we took to get to the answer: there was a parent who said that her child was looking for comic books with a blond-haired character (so that could have been real comic books or graphic novels), but she couldn’t remember the title of the comic. I listed as many as I could think of, and we went through the catalog, when I finally decided to cheat and Google “blond hair comic book character” and we looked through the pictures. It turns out she wanted Foxtrot. I felt like Sherlock Holmes.

RO: We all know that kids say the darndest things. As a Children’s Librarian, what is the funniest/silliest thing one of your littlest patrons has said?
A: You know, I don’t think I have any real winners in this category. I have had a child or two ask if they can buy our books, at which point I gently explain about borrowing books and bringing them back, while watching the parents crack up behind the kid. I do have a few unpublishable quotes from some of our teens, involving some extra-creative swear words, though. Sadly, one of the most memorable quotes came from a teacher (A. TEACHER.), who, after asking for picture books, followed up with: “Do they have words in them?” Oh, dear.

RO: What is something librarians do that, in your opinion, should be considered a superpower?
A: Having high-capacity memories. Some of my coworkers can instantly name a book’s author, the Dewey Decimal number for bats, or fairy tales, or bulldozers, or something along those lines. It’s amazing to watch, and I wish I had that. Maybe it will come with time.

RO: Going off of that question, if you could have a skill that is traditionally considered a superpower, what would it be?
A: This isn’t traditional, but I would love to be able to look at someone and immediately know his or her age. Teens has a strict 13–19 age range, so I spend a lot of time asking those patrons for their ID. Skipping that step would be awesome.

RO: Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is considering going into the library science field?
A: Get the TV/movie stereotypes out of your head. Shadow someone in the library for a shift or two so you can really see what it’s like to work there. Stock up on hand sanitizer. Be prepared to get creative. Practice flexibility. Keep your eye on the new releases so you can always be up on what’s new and exciting.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Annie! That picture you drew as a young girl is key—it told the future!

One Second Every Day – May

Here’s the fifth month of my One Second Every Day project. This month includes

The song in the video is Pharrell Williams‘s “Happy” (as it seems to be the theme of spring). This month includes a new dishwasher, friends eating food, and bowling.

(Curious as to what this project is all about? See the first post.)

Poetry Monday – Teresa Carson

Thanks for joining me for the last Poetry Monday until September. Today I’m reading two poems from Teresa Carson’s latest book “My Crooked House.” The poems are “To My House” and “My Crooked House.” Enjoy!

Librarian’s Spotlight – Tara Anderson

Today’s Librarian’s Spotlight features a lovely lady whose blog I’ve been following for some time now. While reading her blog, I’ve found she’s had some really cool things to say about being in a PhD program, YA lit, and many other bookish topics. It’s my pleasure to present this wonderful, informative interview with librarian and blogger extraordinaire, Tara Anderson!

me circleRoaring Out: Please introduce yourself and speak a bit about your background with libraries.
Tara Anderson: Hi! I’m Tara Anderson, and I finished my MLIS in School Library Media in 2010. I worked in a middle school library for three years before deciding to go back to school and get my PhD. I originally wanted to do my PhD in Library Science, but decided that a PhD in education would be me more marketable when looking for tenure-track faculty positions upon graduation. Fun fact: I was voted “most likely to be a librarian” in fifth grade.

RO: What made you want to become a librarian?
TA: I became a librarian with the specific intention of becoming a school librarian. I taught middle school for a few years, and did a lot of lessons in the school media center. The school librarian suggested that I might make a good school librarian with my love of books and my tech skills, so I applied to library school and took the plunge.

RO: You are currently working on your PhD in YA literature. What is your least favorite aspect of getting your PhD? What is your favorite aspect of getting your PhD?
TA: My favorite aspect of getting my PhD is having a lot of freedom in what I do with my days. I get a lot of control over my classes and the papers I write within those classes. And even though I spend a lot of time on studying and research, I can do a lot of it from local coffee shops. My least favorite part is always feeling like I should be doing more. There are always so many things on my to-do list!

RO: Librarians have been pegged with several stereotypes. Are there any that you find particularly amusing?
TA: I find the sexy librarian stereotype rather amusing. I’m kind of the opposite of that. I like the idea that we can be sexy and smart, but I think personal brand of sexy is a little outside of what that stereotype is portraying.

RO: What is your favorite database/online resource? Why?
TA: I was always a fan of procon.org . A lot of middle school projects have students practicing argumentative essays or exploring issues in politics or science. The site is a good starting point for these essays, clearly defining both sides of the issues. It is designed for students, and fits all of the criteria for “trustworthy resources” that we try to teach in middle school: it has citations, a clear creator, and well-organized content.

RO:What book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you would recommend? Conversely, what book are you currently reading, or have recently read, that you not would recommend?
TA: I’m currently reading Noggin by John Corey Whaley, and it is brilliant! The premise that a kid has his head cryogenically frozen when he gets really sick from cancer, and comes back to life 5 years later when they connect it to another body. The science is supposed to be a little wacky, but the story itself is an interesting exploration of second chances. As for a book I wouldn’t recommend, I just finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and found it obnoxiously pretentious.

RO: Your blog, The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh, is really such a wonderful place for literary types. What prompted you to start your blog and expand your love of books outside the library’s walls?
TA: My blog started as a blog in my media center, but it become very clear within a month that I wanted to say things a little too controversial for a middle school blog. I decided to move from Blogger to WordPress and pursue a personal blog.

RO: You have a very consistent posting schedule (posting once every weekday. With all that you juggle, how are you able to keep up with all of your posts and the comments they receive?
TA: I schedule everything ahead of time! The blog in general has a posting schedule that forces me to spread my content out. I do reviews on Mondays and Thursdays, quotes on Fridays, I post about graduate school on Wednesdays, and I usually do Top Ten Tuesday lists on Tuesdays. I’ll sit down while watching TV and write 4-5 posts when I’m feeling inspired. I have a calendar that I use to keep up with it all. The nice thing about the schedule is that a crazy week at school can go by and I might only miss 1 or 2 posts, rather than a whole week. If I disappeared tomorrow, the blog would run itself through mid-May!

RO: The Internet is full of wonderful resources for librarians, and you are active on many of those outlets. What do you love about connecting with other librarians/bookish types via social media and your blog?
TA: There is no possible way that I can read all of the books that I want to read or that kids want to read, but I really do feel like I know about a lot of books I haven’t read from reading reviews and musings on other blogs. Some of my fellow bloggers are still in high school, so they are also a good resource for thinking about YA books from the perspective of actual YAs. They have been a great resource, and I’m currently thinking about involving them in my dissertation in some way.

RO: We all know that kids say the darndest things. In your experience as a middle school librarian, what is the funniest interaction you’ve had with a middle-school patron?
TA: Middle school kids are nuts. In a good way, of course! I think my funniest interactions were with my TV news crew. We used to do the daily announcements on the closed-circuit television system. They used to come up with very creative ways to force me to play the news anchor for the day. I was supposed to just supervise and they knew I hated being on camera. One time they all changed into non-uniform shirts just before the news, knowing that I could not let them on the air out of uniform. It wasn’t something they could get away with all the time, but it was hilarious and they were so clever about!

RO: What is something librarians do that, in your opinion, should be considered a superpower?
TA: I’m pretty sure I can tell what’s happening on 24 computer screens at once. The kids used to joke that I can tell who is sneaking on Facebook from across the room.

RO: Going off of that question, if you could have a skill that is traditionally considered a superpower, what would it be?
TA: I would want to be able to be invisible at will. I’m a curious person and I would sneak into all kinds of meetings. I think this is why I want to be a researcher—I like observing people.

RO: Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is considering going into the library science field?
TA: Jobs are pretty scarce right now, but not impossible. Have a pretty good idea of what you want to do before starting library school. I was able to land a school library job because I was already in the school system and had connections. However, some of my classmates are still looking for school library jobs (3 years later) because they have no classroom experience or connections and the schools are on hiring freezes. For anyone not looking into school libraries, being able to spread your job search across the whole country, or at least a region, will also help. Many of my classmates are unemployed or underemployed because jobs in general right now can be hard to come by. I know that sounds pessimistic, but it is realistic.

 

Thanks, Tara, for your advice and insight! If you’d like to keep up with Tara’s happenings, follow her on her blog or on Twitter.

One Second Every Day – April

Here’s the fourth month of my One Second Every Day project. This month includes baking, my cousin’s sweet rollerskating moves, and lots of Cards Against Humanity.

The song in the video is Matt Nathanson‘s “Birthday Girl” (in honor of my birthday).

(Curious as to what this project is all about? See the first post.)

Artist’s Spotlight – Robert Garcia

When I first met Roberto Garcia a few years ago, what stuck out to me was his incredibly easy-going and fun personality. As I got to know him, I realized he had much insight as well. These qualities make their way into his artwork. Enjoy the interview with my good friend, Roberto Garcia!

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Roaring Out: How long have you been creating art and in what types of media?
Roberto Garcia: I’ve been creating art for as long as I can remember. As a kid I’d take my toys apart and combine them. GI Joe’s with Transformer body parts, and stuff like that. Then I tried my hand at comic books and portraits. Recently, I’ve been working with acrylic paints, markers, and newspaper. Let’s see where that goes.

RO: What first inspired you to art?
RG: Hmm. I suppose it’s just something I had to do. Writing, drawing, and music just called to me. It didn’t hurt that my mother had all kinds of books on hand at home. I was just moved to do it all the time.

RO: What types of media are your current favorites and why? Is there a different type of medium that you would like to try in the future?photo1
RG
: Writing is my favorite medium, but I love painting with acrylics. Something about what you can imply with the colors. I’m no expert, I just enjoy it.

RO: Could you please talk a little about your creative process?
RG: I like to explore my world and see what it gives me. It could be an article, a scene, a photograph, or a moment. I try to complicate whatever it is that inspires me, and present it in a thought provoking way.

RO: What is the longest time you’ve spent on a piece of art?
RG: I spent a year on a really terrible piece of art! It was pastel chalks, acrylics, an actual poem glued to the canvas, and it was horrible. I finally let it go, but after that I painted four to five pieces that I really like. So, I guess I had to get that ugly out. Haha.

RO: Your chapbook, “Amores Gitano,” was recently published, which is very exciting! Could you speak a bit about putting together the chapbook as well as the publishing process? How would you describe the feeling of holding the chapbook in your hands for the first time?photo2
RG
: Most of those poems came from an erotica themed reading a friend of mine put together. I worked them and worked them, and sent them to the editor of Cervena Barva Press, and the rest is history. It’s a fun book because it morphed so much as I revised it. They could be read as poems of desire and longing, or the artist’s struggle with art, and the muse. I was fortunate to deal with a professional press, and they made everything smooth and painless. When I finally held the chapbook in my hand I was like, Wow!! The publish date was right before AWP, and the Cervena Barva press had issues for sale at their table, so it was surreal. I was at AWP Boston and copies of my chapbook were on sale. Wild!

RO: Your chapbook has a Spanish title, which means “Gypsy Loves.” Please speak a bit as to why you chose to have a title in a foreign language for an English market. What does that title mean to you?photo4
RG
: Might seem cliché, but everything sounds better in Spanish, and French. The title is a nod to Garcia Lorca. These are passionate poems full of longing, searching, and the mysterious. I had an English title for the book, just in case. Thankfully Gloria Mindock, the Editor/Publisher at Cervena Barva Press, insisted I stay with the Spanish title. I think it captures the feel and passion of the poems. I should also add that the title is in no way a slight to the Romani people.

RO: How does your background as a writer inform your visual art? Conversely, how does your background in visual art inform your writing?
RG: Sometimes a line of poetry will spark an image, and I find myself kicking a painting around in my head until I put it on canvas. However, art greatly inspires my writing! I write a lot of ekphrastic poetry, and flash fiction pieces based on art work I see.

RO: Every artist has subjects that pop up again and again in his or her work. What are those subjects for you? Is there a different subject you’d like to tackle in future work?
RG: Race always pops up in my work. As I study race relations in America I’ve begun to realize why. Everything in America is hypersexualized, and hyperracialized. So in a way it is inevitable for an artist to either write/draw about it, or avoids it. Relationships are also a subject that comes up in my work. I find interpersonal experiences fascinating, and that comes up a lot.

photo3RO: If you could spend an evening with any writer, living or deceased, who would you choose and why? On a similar note, if you could spend an evening with any visual artist, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
RG: Wow. Can it only be one? That’s impossible. However, I’ll cheat a little. I’d really like to go back, and hang out with the Harlem Renaissance artists, the whole crowd, at one of those big band jazz swing clubs!  I believe that the artists of the Harlem Renaissance are the American version of all those European writers that wrote under communist, and dictatorial regimes. The conditions they endured, (racism, brutality, being marginalized, economically) and they still produced amazing work. Yes, definitely the Harlem Renaissance.

RO: Is there anything handmade that you own that is particularly meaningful to you?
RG: I like to collect old stuff, but nothing handmade that I can think of. I have an old Olympia typewriter from the 60’s.

RO: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
RG: Easy, a healing factor. Wolverine is one of my favorite characters for that reason. Yep, indestructability, if I could have a second, The Force! I want to be a Jedi slash Mutant!!

RO: To conclude, what is a lesson you have learned from creating art that you would like to share with others?
RG: I’d like artists to know that working at your craft every day strengthens the muse. It’s nice and whatever to think about the muse. However, hard work is the best muse. Or maybe it is the best thing we can do for the muse. Thanks Michelle!!

 

And thank you, Roberto, for sharing your insights! If you’d like to follow Robert’s happenings, visit him on Tumblr and Twitter.