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I missed my blog anniversary last month, and while this is a milestone I usually like to celebrate, this year on January 20th, I was a bit preoccupied.

I’m a month in to my new position with the library, and I could not be happier. I feel like I’m making a really positive impact on my teen patrons here, though I really miss my old group. I’m gearing up for my first book club meeting, and we’re reading Neil Shusterman’s Unwind (meanwhile, I’m tackling his new title, Scythe, for my own sheer joy). I’m helping plan programs and events for Teen Tech Week in March, putting together bulletin boards and book displays for the teen area, etc. It’s been great!

Plus, you know, there was this whole wedding thing that happened last week. So, V and I finally got married. It’s been officially in the works since August, when I finally proposed to the girl who’s been my closest friend for over a decade.

I’m working on more book reviews, I promise. There are so many coming out soon! I just finished reading M-E Girard’s Girl Mans Up, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Plus a follow-up to my review of The City Stained Red when I review the sequel, The Mortal Tally (because the final book, God’s Last Breath, is out in July). And A Conjuring of Light is out in two weeks! So many good books lately, I’ve barely been able to keep up.

Anyway, thanks for sticking around for so much of the last six years. I’ll try to get the anniversary post in on time next year.

Things that are happening this week:

Captain America: Civil War (Spoiler-free review coming soon)

Free Comic Book Day (Check out your local comic shops/libraries)

Reading/reviewing Joe Hill’s new novel The Fireman (With utmost gratitude to William Morrow for the Advance Copy)

I’m also working through a heap of holds from the library. My to-read list is ridiculous. Thankfully, I’ll be putting some vacation time to good use. The weather’s getting warmer, and the small ones enjoy time outside, so I’ll try to make the most of it. Reading outside counts as exercise, right?

 

 

 

It’s National Library Week! In fact, today is National Library Workers Day.

That’s right, folks. It’s that time of year again. In celebration, I’m working 40 hours!

Well, I’m doing a few other things, too. It’s not just about being here for the community. As part of that, last week I attended my first ever library conference, PLA 2016. It was an absolutely incredible experience. PLA is held every other year, and by sheer luck, I was given permission to attend for the opening of the exhibits last Wednesday.

It’s a short drive to Denver. I got to the conference about an hour ahead of the exhibit hall opening, and wandered the convention center, marvelling at how weird it was to see the place devoid of cosplayers (since the last time I’d been there was Denver Comic Con in 2013). I watched the bustle of downtown Denver from a balcony, read some Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and waited as patiently as possible for the doors to open.

When 3:30 finally arrived, I entered the exhibit hall and was blown away by the sheer number of vendors on site. Book distributors Baker & Taylor and Ingram; publishers Hachette, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Dorling Kindersley; library service providers Overdrive and Mango… I spent three hours wandering the rows, chatting with representatives of companies like Lulzbot. I got to meet people from libraries around the country. I snagged some ARCs from publishers (stay tuned for some reviews!), got a free mango smoothie from the folks at Mango Languages, and chatted with some library school representatives about my desire to pursue my masters degree. I got to demo some software, play a game of Super Mario Bros. using a system of fruits and circuits as a controller, and drive a BB-8 Sphero toy around. I saw floor models of furniture designed for library use and new construction toys for kids. But the best thing that I saw at the entire conference? People like me. Young people who are just as enthusiastic about libraries as any generation before. People who want to challenge the stereotypes of libraries and librarians alike. People who are eager to spread their knowledge of and passion for libraries around the country and the world.

The future of libraries is bright and varied, folks. Please continue to support yours.

“It’s still National Library Week. You should be especially nice to a librarian today, or tomorrow. Sometime this week, anyway. Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding.”
Neil Gaiman

I get to go to my first library conference!

The Public Library Association’s biennial conference is in Denver this year, and my boss acquired passes for some of our staff. While I’m only attending for a day, and only to see the exhibits, I couldn’t be more excited. There will be library people from all over the country coming in for this, and it’s going to be a great chance to do some networking and see what cool developments are in store. I’ll be tweeting from the conference tomorrow, under the #PLA2016 hashtag. If you’ll be there, come say hi.

P.S. Non-library friends in the area, I might be around after!

So, it finally happened. My rather irreverent take on some of the things that happen to me at work managed to catch the attention of someone at Booklist. This month’s issue featured an article on Twitter Reference, and it included one of my #librarylife tweets. You can check out the article here.

“Library”

Brightly lit shelves and cheering voices
Of children hearing the call for storytime.
Frazzled researchers sharpening golf pencils
And digging for scraps of paper from their
Hand-written records of family trees.
Lines of the question-filled masses forming
Before the reference desks and the smiling
Librarians, seeing the benefit of their job
With every answer they dispense, every
Mind they help to open, every misconception
They dispel.

It’s almost the end of September, and another favorite time of year is here. This year, Banned Books Week runs from the 22nd to the 28th. For you uninitiated out there, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read. You see, some people in the world are so terrified of knowledge that they actively seek to hide information from other people. In some unfortunate cases, this results in people attempting to remove a book from public access. In response to this behavior, the American Library Association started Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of free and open access to information.

I’m not going to mince words. I fucking hate people who push for the banning of books. It is the one thing that gets me upset more than anything else. It is an act of supreme ignorance to ban a book. No one should be able to tell someone else that they can’t read something. Period. In fact, I’m rather stubborn about it. If you tell me that I shouldn’t read something, I’ll ask you why. If you tell me I CAN’T read something, I’m going to find a way to read it.

So, why do people ban books? Most challenges to books occur in schools. This frequently has to do with a book that a class has been assigned to read having some content in it that a parent or guardian of one of the readers finds offensive. Case in point: Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is a frequently challenged title. This is usually more because it includes a description of a girl having her first period than because it is about said girl’s questioning of the existence of a deity. Yeah, that’s right, kids. Talking about the changes that EVERY HUMAN BEING goes through are apparently reason enough to stop someone from reading a book. HOW DARE YOU CHILDREN ATTEMPT TO LEARN WHAT YOUR BODY IS DOING!

But yeah, “sexually explicit” and “unsuited to age group” are the two biggest reasons cited when someone challenges a book’s presence in a library. That’s because both of these terms are open to a very loose interpretation. If a parent feels that their precious little snowflake of a child isn’t ready to read about something that everyone else in their class at school has been talking about, then BAN THAT BOOK. Guess what, folks? Mitch Hedberg said it best. “Every book is a children’s book if the kid can read!” Look, if you’re concerned about what your kid might learn from a book, talk to your kid about the topic. It’s called parenting. The librarians aren’t there to do it for you. They’re there to provide information to their patrons, not to keep them from accessing it.

Why should I care? Orwell left us this gem in 1984. The oppressive regime in control of England in the book uses several slogans, including  WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. It’s quite telling, and a bit terrifying, that 1984 has itself been challenged. We’re living in a world where our ability to access information is greater than ever. Thanks to the internet, we have an unbelievable amount of data that we can use every day, WHENEVER WE WANT. However, there are people who want to limit this sort of access to those things that they feel are appropriate for us to see. Sound familiar? People who want to ban books are proponents of ignorance. Fight them. Peacefully.

What can I do to help? Learn your library’s policy on reacting to book challenges. If someone says that they want to complain about a book, ask them if they’ve read it (Yes, this is a legitimate issue—most of the people I’ve met who complained to me about Harry Potter, for example, had NEVER ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK). Many complaints are based purely on hearsay. I like to think of this as the “Cycle of Stupidity.” Some day I’ll draw you a nifty illustration as an example of the cycle. For now, let it be known that only you have the power to stop stupid people. Fight the spread of ignorance. Embrace literacy. Read a banned book. Judy Blume has a great strategy for getting a kid to read. “The best thing to do is leave the books around the house and from time to time say, ‘I really don’t think you’re ready for that book.'”

Other people can stand where they like on the issue of reading freedom, but me? I’m with the banned.

About two weeks ago, I was approached by a coworker to craft the opening lines to a collaborative story that would be taking place in my library’s lobby. The starting words I wrote were posted on a large paper tablet on an easel. Patrons are free to come up and add a sentence to continue the narrative. As of this morning, we’re onto the fifth page It’s been an intriguing community effort, and I will try to post the whole thing once it is done. For now, however, here are the first one hundred words. I was given two themes to weave into this intro, summer and the library. This is what I wrote.

* * * * * *

The summer sun was hanging low in the sky, lazily dropping toward mountains. A light breeze carried a leaf from behind me and whisked it across my path before dropping it to the ground. I could still hear the laughter of the children playing games in the park I’d passed a few minutes before, mixed with yells that the ground was lava. I paused briefly to look toward my destination. The library stood tall amid the growing shadows, as if it were waiting for my arrival. I shivered in anticipation and approached the entryway, placing my hand on the door.

* * * * * *

I can’t wait to see where they go with this one.

June is here, and I’ve been productive. I’m almost (finally) completely unpacked and pretty well set up in my new apartment. I’m sorting through books and paring down to no more than two copies of any given title, though some exception may be made for collectible editions (I’m looking at you, Tolkien).

Why two? I like to share my books with my friends, and it never hurts to have a backup of something you’re going to loan to somebody. Plus, it’s a good chance for me to use this:

Knock Knock's Personal Library Kit

Why, yes! I DID buy this for myself. How did you know?

Besides, I need to free up room in my place for new books. I’m very much looking forward to what I find next. Every day around books is a beautiful adventure.

For this week’s Trifextra challenge, we were prompted to write the origin of a superhero in thirty-three words. I debated doing someone from my favorite comic book series, but then I remembered I had this little thing floating around in my drafts folder, so you get someone original-ish. Enjoy.

The Librarian:

Raised in secret in the catacombs beneath our nation’s capital. Trained from birth in the ways of those who have always walked in silence. He is the peerless warrior of words. The Librarian.