ALA Midwinter

I attended ALA Midwinter in Denver, Colorado this February, which was a good experience, but when I got home from the trip, I felt worn out. I had a very busy fall. During the conference, I was wrapping up a book review, putting together a conference proposal, and working on my review documentation. As I sat in my room munching on a salad while writing, I realized this was not dissimilar to what I was doing at home most nights after work–still working, not spending time with others, not exercising, etc. I had been stretching myself too thinly and not taking care of myself. I took a step back from social media, turned down requests, canceled a few things, and used some sick days to start getting a little help. Making the right steps to get myself back on track have helped me feel a little better, and I plan to begin writing here a bit more now that I have some more energy. As a way to jump back in, I have a quick Midwinter overview.

This was my first time attending Midwinter, which I attended to co-lead ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group (LMOIG) discussion with my co-convener Jen Park. It was lovely to meet her in person, and we actually ran into each other in the restroom on the way to the ACRL Leadership Council meeting. I’ve really enjoyed working with her!

LMOIG Leadership Team

After the Council meeting, we attended the Opening Keynote, given by #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Kahn-Cullors and #1000blackgirlbooks founder Marley Dias. It was a humbling experience, and I was amazed to meet them both and receive signed copies of their books, one of which I gifted to a co-worker.

I only attended a few other meetings, but I enjoyed the Undergraduate Librarians Discussion Group (UGLi DG) meeting. I also experienced falling snow for the first time.

I visited the Denver Public Library, which has seven floors and is home to the world renowned Western History Collection.

Reforma held a fundraiser at Museo de las Americas; the museum had just opened a new exhibit on pachuco culture. (I somehow missed Junot Díaz appearance at the fundraiser, though! And this is a small gallery! I’m hoping he showed after I left, but I did leave at about 10 pm.)

Lowrider piñata

I think I had the most fun at the Denver Art Museum. I actually liked that it wasn’t that large, and I managed to see everything except for a few things in a just a couple of hours. I’m not one to write reviews, and I actually wrote one for their Facebook page. In case you don’t have a Facebook account, here is the text:

I really enjoyed my visit!

I was actually able to see most of the museum in a couple of hours, which was perfect as I am in Denver for a librarian conference full of meetings. As a librarian, I was very moved by Xiaoze Xie’s book censorship exhibit. I also thought the Stampede: Animals in Art exhibit was a lot of fun.

I happened to come by during the #heartsforarts campaign and spotted a few make-and-take craft carts and the participatory poster about what visitors treasure about the museum. I also saw an area that has soft seating and Spanish- and books available for young children. I really like that there are interactive activities for people of all ages to enjoy.

I love the integration of Spanish throughout the museum, as well–from the descriptions of items to the books available for children. I would love for my mom to come visit as her predominant language is Spanish.

I also took note that the museum is free for all children 18 and under. What a wonderful way to make art available to our youth!

From fun exhibits, interactive elements, and integration of both Spanish and English, I highly recommend this family-friendly art museum.

I generally don’t go on many excursions between conference sessions, but I’m glad I took the time to do a little exploring in Denver. In June I’ll be attending ALA Annual in New Orleans, which will be full of programs, including a co-sponsored program by the LMOIG and University Libraries Section Academic Outreach Committee, and, hopefully, a little sightseeing, too.

This Is What a Librarian Looks Like

My Elephant and Piggie dreams have come true!

This is What a Librarian Looks Like

The absolute craziest thing happened yesterday. I found out that I’m on the cover of a book that will be published in May 2017. Sure, the photo is from 2.5 years ago (it will be a 3-year-old photo when it’s published) when I was a little rounder and pre-Invisalign, and the photo is not my personal best…blah blah blah…but it’s pretty darn cool.

In February of 2014, an article on Slate called “This is What a Librarian Looks Like,” which featured photography by Kyle Cassidy, went viral. In June, there was enough money in the Kickstarter campaign to “photograph and interview more than 300 Librarians at the ALA conference in Las Vegas [and] to also fund the stretch goals of creating a series of stock photographs for libraries to use, doing five hours of video interviews, and doing some photography for the new Joan of Dark book on knitting projects for book lovers” (Cassidy, 2014). Read more about the project here: http://kylecassidy.com/librarians/

Back in May 2014, I had just finished up my first year as a tenure track faculty librarian at a community college, and I decided to attend the American Library Annual Conference in Las Vegas that June (I paid for the whole trip out of pocket). I didn’t really intend to participate in the photo taking (I’m shyer and struggle with putting myself out there), but the initial librarians involved were encouraging. I filled out the model release and wrote up a statement answering one of these questions.

1) What are the greatest challenges facing libraries today?
2) What are the most important services that libraries provide?
3) What inspired you to do what you do?
4) What do libraries do that people might not know about?
5) What would happen in your community if all the libraries shut down tomorrow?
6) Why are libraries relevant when the Internet exists?

The thing is, I don’t remember which I answered or what I wrote! I had almost forgotten about this whole project. I suspect that I answered #3. I will find out in May. It may be that not everyone’s statement was included, but being on the cover is cool.

Anyway, my parents who don’t know much about what I actually do are super excited. My sister showed them my Facebook status update (they are not computer users…my mom doesn’t even have a mobile phone). This is what my whole family is getting for Christmas 2017. As I said on Instagram, Amazon, all of those pre-orders are from me. LOL! (P.S. You can pre-order a copy here.)

I’m looking forward to reading what everyone wrote!

Local History

I had an epic struggle choosing a major when I was in college. I started off  as a sociology major, then social science (sociology, history, and criminal justice), but all the while I was also taking English classes. Eventually, I realized having essentially three minors as a social science major was probably not the best idea. At the end of the day, how I decided to mark the paperwork as history is that I had one more class done than in English. The reality is that I thought everything was interesting–no wonder LIS was so appealing!

However, before library school, I was in a history MA program for a week…until I found out I’d be able to go to library school. Ultimately, I think I would have stayed on if I had found my little history niche. I was surrounded by people who were really into specific areas–Latin American protest art, Civil War, etc. It’s only now that I have worked in public and college libraries that I realize my little history place is actually local history, and I think it’s more because I know it can be a big challenge to actually do effective history research at the local level. There is so much that is forgotten or boxed up. (Recently, I read a really neat article by history professor Peter Knupfer and his experience in developing and guiding students through a project-centered study on a nearby community’s grapple with desegregation; students in his class were able to appreciate that local history research is difficult because the sources are not readily available.  A service-learning style project like this would be such a cool way to apply the Framework, don’t you think? My librarian heart swoons at the possibilities.)

In the summer of 2009, I volunteered at the Merced County Courthouse Museum and at the UC Merced Library. At the museum, I researched the building of the Japanese Assembly Center during World War II in Merced. My research was used in a documentary called Merced Assembly Center: Injustice Immortalized and in the Densho Encyclopedia. Here is a Merced Sun-Star article that references my research. I also wrote an article eliciting more information from the community in the Merced County Courthouse Museum’s column in the Merced Sun-Star, but there isn’t a digital copy–this is another difficult thing about small local papers and doing local history research. (Speaking of UC Merced and hidden collections, I discovered that UC’s Calisphere collections contain WWII Japanase American Assembly Center newsletters and the beginnings of a Merced Local History collection. Pretty cool!)

While writing up the laundry list of stuff for the new librarian coming on board to know, I began drafting a section about things I didn’t get a chance to do but would have loved to see through at the Los Banos Campus Library at Merced College. One of the things I really wanted to do was create a local history area. Here’s a little write up from American Libraries magazine, “What To Collect?,” from last summer that outlines the kinds of resources a public library might think about collecting to create a Local History Reference Collection (LHRC).

At the Los Banos Campus Library, there is a mishmash of items in the 300s, 500s, 900s, and in reference that deal with Los Banos and Merced County, but I would love for these things to be housed together. I have asked off and on for approval to do this from the main library, but I haven’t ever gotten an answer to any requests. Honestly, it just requires us to make changes in the catalog for location and call number–all we need to do is put a letter in front, like we have R for reference–and redo a few stickers. We don’t have tons and tons since we’re such a small library. The question is what letter should go in front? SC for special collections? LR for local reference? LHRC is just way too long.

Another thing related to this would be to work with the public library and the little local museum to compile some kind of pathfinder for researching local history. The museum is barely functional from what I understand (I never got a chance to visit–working and living in different counties is rough), so I am pretty curious what kind of resources are housed there.

Aerial view of Merced Assembly Center, California, c. 1942. (2015, July 17). Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 5, 2016 from http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshopd-i224-00004-1/

Knupfer, P. Consultants in the classroom: Student/teacher collaborations in community history. The Journal of American History, 99(4), 1161-1175. doi:10.1093/jahist/jas602

 

Art + Library = Fun(draising)

Mod Shop

Small Business Saturday is coming up this Saturday, November 28th, and my city puts on a fantastic event downtown that I am always excited about–The Mod Shop: Indie Crafters Market! The stores downtown open their spaces for local artists and artisans to sell their artwork and wares. Here is some history from the local paper.

This year, my sister and sister-in-law will be joining forces to sell cup cozies and purses. Last year, my friend Angela sold stationary (she doesn’t sell anymore, otherwise, I’d post the link to her Etsy shop). Last year and again this year, fellow librarian–and now published poet–Stella Beratlis and our town’s former poet laureate Gillian Wegener will be typing up poems on the spot.

The event always reminds me of a great fundraiser the Friends of the Los Banos (public) Library put on every October–the Small Works of Art Sale. Here is an article about this year’s event from Los Banos’ local paper. Since I began working in Los Banos as the town’s college librarian, I help sell tickets and man tables during the event to show my support. Essentially, the Library closes a little early, so local artists and artisans can show off and sell art and wares, the proceeds of which go to the Friends. There is also wine and delicious goodies. Tickets are just $20 a piece. It’s so great to see members of the community all come together to hang out, buy art, and support their local library.

Textured Forest Painting

This year, I manned a table of succulents in handcrafted chic concrete pots and some modern wall hangings by United by Form. These were the only wares and artworks not created by someone local, but the artist is a friend of the daughter of one of the Friends’ members. I have a profound love for succulents, so I bought a couple for myself.

United by Form Business Card

Succulent on Block of Wood

Succulents in Concrete and Copper

Wall Hangings

What kind of fundraisers does your library’s Friends’ group do? The Friends of the Los Banos Library also do a Used Book Sale every fall and spring, which I know are popular among many public library Friends’ groups. Is a small works of art sale something you think would work well for your local Friends? Let me know if your Friends’ group decides to put one on.

Spanish, Salsa, and Small Towns

I live and work in different counties, and I find it difficult to stay connected to the community where I live and the community where I work, *Los Banos. As the community college librarian in LB, I do feel guilty, but my husband and I bought a great house in a great neighborhood four months before I was offered a full-time position in our hometown. I do what I can in LB outside of work, mostly with the public library.

This spring, the woman who volunteered for Spanish story time had many health issues and decided to take a break. All the story time programs are volunteer-run, which is very different from the early literacy skills-based training I received during my first regular part-time library job as a bilingual Spanish/English library assistant in the children’s department of the Stanislaus County Library. In May, I got together with the supervisory library assistant at the local branch of the Merced County Library and some Friends of the Los Banos Library members to talk about starting a bilingual Spanish/English program on Saturdays. I volunteered to do two bilingual programs this summer.

I did the first program in mid-June, and it had been two years since I had last done a story time program. It wasn’t full-blown with music and dances, but I did incorporate sitting and standing fingerplays. It was a magical experience. The supervisor said it also looked like I was really enjoying it, and I really was all smiles. Since Merced County Library’s summer reading program is music-inspired this year, I focused on music, song, and dance. The supervisor started the program with a reading of Farmer Joe and the Music Show. I picked up with Salsa, Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure, and De Colores. I chose these because they support diversity, specifically showing people of color; introduce kids to new music styles they might not have heard before (jazz and salsa); and Salsa and De Colores are both bilingual, so I could decide which language to read in, etc.

In my planning I completely forgot to choose a clip of salsa music, but thanks to smartphones, it was pretty easy to pull up music on YouTube. I also showed a clip of salsa dancing courtesy of one of those dancing shows because, you know, if it’s on TV, it’s got to have some kind of standard.  After I read De Colores in Spanish, I also looked up José-Luis Orozco singing “De Colores,” and we all sang as I re-read (sang) the book along to the video of Orozco. Now the big secret about me is that I do enjoy singing, but I clamp down when it comes to singing in public. But story time is just different. I remember being really unsure when I was asked to apply for the bilingual story time position at one of my former employers, but doing story time really helped me break out of my shyness a little more.

For fingerplays, we did Pulgarcito (Where is Thumbkin?), the Bee Hive, and Ábranlas, Ciérrenlas (Open, Shut Them). I think the parents were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t just all reading and sitting. I also mentioned that singing helps kids hear different sounds, and that this will help them when it’s time for them to learn how to read. (Phonological awareness–I’m legit, people.)

I also brought in a book of children’s poetry I have used before, but I ended up not using it. If you’re a bilingual children’s librarian or library assistant, parent, or teacher, you  might want to check out Alma Flor Ada’s Todo es Canción. You’ll be sure to find something no matter what theme, and the poems are all short and sweet.

While I was there, I also saw the library sub for the college library, Willie, who is one of my favorite people. She has so much kindness and also keeps it real. She also takes classes at the college. I took her to lunch at Wendy’s, and all the people working were our college students. That’s what it’s like to work in a smaller town.

After dropping Willie off back at the public library, I went downtown to Sweet as Cake Bakery to buy cupcakes for a cousin who just had a baby a few weeks earlier and checked out a home interior store, The Country Duck. The store had donated to the public library’s Small Works of Art Sale fundraiser in October (I won that gift basket, and I  never win stuff), and they also had a booth out at LB’s Tomato Festival that my husband and I went to earlier that same month.

I left LB in such a good mood, I’m not even kidding. Volunteering gives me my children’s library services fix and a chance to strengthen my relationship to the town.

If you commute to work, how do you connect to your commuter community?

*It’s really Los Baños, but because the town doesn’t have the tilde listed on its government documentation, we aren’t allowed to write it as it’s pronounced per the college board. It’s a pretty dicey issue in the community, and while I’m not in agreement, I did change all of the college library information and documentation to reflect the anglicized version. And, yeah, I guess we shouldn’t be “changing” the name if its officially “something else.” With racial and ethnic tension all over the news in our country, this banning of the tilde just doesn’t sit well with me.