Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oh, Snap! Take a Pic-Cha at NYPL

One weekend, I went to see a friend's band perform at a local venue. Not far from where I stood was a photo booth. During the show, a giggly couple stumbled into the booth, the bright flash of its camera intermittently illuminating the darkness. 

At that moment, it occurred to me that I've never actually had my photo taken in a photo booth. A visit to the New York Public Library would remedy that.

Earlier this month, two branches of the New York Public Library installed photo booths on the premises. Visitors to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the famous branch with the two stone lions at the entrance) and the Mid-Manhattan Library (just across the street, at 455 Fifth Avenue) can take their photos at these booths. The booths are proving to be quite popular!

Since their installation, these photo booths have produced approximately 2,000 photographs of people who have visited these library branches, according to Denise Canniff, who is director of engagement at the New York Public Library.

Stepping inside the booths, patrons can choose from eight preselected options that explain what brought them to the New York Public Library: Borrowing, Exploring, Learning, Reading, Researching, Studying, Visiting, or Writing. They then have the option of stating where they are from - for instance, any of the five boroughs of New York City or from outside the New York region.

The New York Public Library gets data revealing who patronizes the library. Patrons get a funny keepsake of their trip to one of the city's esteemed institutions. All of the photographs are sent to the patrons' email address, and they can be shared via Instagram by using the #NYPL and #NYPLPhotobooth hashtags. The New York Public Library also highlights submitted photo booth photos on its Inside NYPL blog channel and on Facebook and Twitter.

I began browsing these photos on the NYPL Photo Booth on Flickr, with the intent of only looking at a few. But I quickly became captivated by the breadth of humanity that passed through the library and by the silly faces that were made, the obvious comradeship between those who took group photos, and the facial expressions (or lack of expression) of those who took photos alone. It's actually a fascinating look at human nature! To take a look for yourself, go to THIS LINK. And if you're ever in New York, stop by one of these two branches of the New York Public Library and take a picture why don't you - it'll last longer.

All photos from

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Yes, Reading Actually Improves Your Life

Ever since I was small, I've read. And reading my favorite stories inspired me to write stories of my own. So I know that this lifelong pastime is largely responsible for me becoming the writer that I am. Along with stirring my imagination, the act of reading has also broadened my vocabulary immensely.
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Making you into a better writer and strengthening your vocabulary are two of the twelve ways that reading can actually improve your life, according to BuzzFeed. Other benefits of picking up a book include:

Less stress: Reading "transports you and your worried mind to another place, so you won't feel so overwhelmed with the hardships of everyday life," said BuzzFeed. "And a 2009 study found that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels up to 68 percent."

Greater empathy: "Through reading," said BuzzFeed, "you're able to conceive of a life beyond your own insular one. Reading about a culture other than your own helps you to understand their way of life. In that way, it helps you to empathize with other people and connect with different cultures."

Better memory: Each "time you read, you create a new memory of what you've read - essentially exercising your brain muscles. With each new memory, your brain forges new synapses, strengthens existing ones, and helps to keep your memory sharp," reported BuzzFeed.

More smarts: Anne E. Cunningham "discovered that being an avid reader actually does make you smarter. It not only helps you retain information, but it also helps you maintain knowledge through old age," said BuzzFeed. "Whether or not you're aware of it, reading fills your head with new information, and you never know when it will come in handy."

Reading also boosts your analytical skills; means you're likelier to vote, exercise, and be more cultural; and makes you sexier! To find out how, see the BuzzFeed article "12 Scientific Ways Reading Can Actually Improve Your Life" at THIS LINK.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Star Wars, as Written by Shakespeare

The best part about being assigned Romeo and Juliet in 9th grade was the teacher showing us Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film adaptation of the classic work by William Shakespeare. Oohing and aahing over the comely cast (and their surprisingly revealing attire) was much more fun than poring over a play that took twice as long to read because of the unfamiliar way in which it was written. But what if Shakespeare had written the play about Star Wars instead of star-crossed lovers?

That is precisely what Ian Doescher has imagined. The Portland, Oregon-based author has completely rewritten the Star Wars saga in the stylistic manner of the Bard. The results are not only amazing enough to cause Star Wars fans to geek out, but the book was written cleverly enough to rise to the level of literary parody. Here is a sample of Doescher's masterful reinterpretation:

The incredible Elizabethan illustrations by Paris, France-based artist Nicolas Delort enhance what is already a spectacular book. 

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher was released just last month by Quirk Books. With 170-plus pages of verse-spouting Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the other now-iconic characters in George Lucas's series, this is the Shakespeare I wish I was assigned in high school.

Above images from Quirk Books

An Insider's Tips on Landing a Library Job

I went to a social mixer for library professionals and students at a local bar. Seeing a group of older attendees, I walked over to say hello. Once introductions were made, one of them leaned in and asked me, "So, what do you want to do?" Upon hearing my career plans, he said, "I hope you're willing to relocate."
She's totally psyched to have a library job.
Image from

Being willing to move to where the jobs are is advice I've heard before, and it's one of the tips that's offered by Brian Kenney. A contributing editor to Publishers Weekly (PW), Kenney has ample library experience, both as an employee and as an employer. "For much of my career," he said in PW, "I suffered from a kind of librarian wanderlust, which pretty much means that I spent my first 20 years in this profession engaged in a continuous job search. But I've also put in plenty of time on the other side of the interview table, having hired scores of librarians." 

Having been on both sides of the interview table has afforded Kenney a special insight. In "How to Land a Library Job," his article for PW, he gives "hard-won advice worth sharing." 

In addition to "Keep your bags packed" ("If you want to be hired as a librarian, get ready to move"), Kenney suggests that library job seekers do their homework. "Found a job ad that looks good? Go into research overdrive and investigate the hell out of the institution," he says. "Use your personal network to learn more." I can say that finding out as much as you can about an institution you're interested in is crucial. Not only will you be able to determine if you actually want to work there, but it will come in handy if you're called in for an interview. Interviewers are always impressed when you know something about them and the place where they work. It'll definitely put you a notch above the other candidates.

He also asks you to "exploit your past": "If you have a prior career, extrapolate the skills that will transfer over to library work and find a way to talk about them. If it was a profession that libraries can make use of, put that out there. You may have run screaming from a career as a graphic designer, but a library's need to have someone in-house who can design the monthly e-newsletter may be what gets you hired." As someone who is making a career change, I'm bolstered by this advice. In my cover letter and in interviews, I'm sure to say how the skills I've acquired in publishing can be of benefit to the library or archive. 

In his article for Publishers Weekly, Kenney offers much more advice for library job seekers, including tips on the interview process, storytelling as a way to promote yourself, and more. To soak up all his wisdom - and trust me, you'll be glad you did - read his article "How to Land a Library Job" at THIS LINK.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mornings at My Local Library

In my neighborhood, there is always a crowd waiting for the library to open - and not just after holiday weekends. As a future librarian, this makes me happy!

GIF from Librarian Problems:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book-Centric Google Doodles Are the Best

Who doesn't love a good Google Doodle? The typically playful alteration of the company logo on Google's homepage is always a welcome attention-grabber. 
An already good Google Doodle is even better when it's book-related. Whether it's recognizing the birthday of a celebrated writer or commemorating the anniversary of a classic work of literature, a Google Doodle that is literary in nature never ceases to delight, especially when it's both clever and whimsical. For instance, check out the above doodle celebrating Dr. Suess' 105th birthday.

Another favorite is the one that served as a tribute to Richard Scarry on what would've been his 92nd birthday. As a child, I had many of his books, including the ABC Word Book, Best Mother Goose Ever, Best Word Book Ever, Please and Thank You Book, and Mr. Paint Pig's ABC's. I used to spend hours staring at the densely illustrated, intensely colorful pages filled with anthropomorphic animals dressed in quaint outfits and doing silly things. The Google Doodle marking his birthday perfectly captured the essence of his children's books.

There's also the Google Doodle that honored Maurice Sendak on the occasion of his 85th birthday. It features a frolicking Max, the young boy at the center of his 1963 children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. As if seeing Max in his wolf costume wasn't enough to bring a smile to your face, the doodle was also animated. You can CLICK HERE to enjoy it. (On a related note, if you're in New York City between now and August 17, be sure to check out the exhibit "Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work" at the Society of Illustrators.) 

In its article "Best of Literary Google Doodles," BookRiot spotlights the above doodles and several more, including ones lauding Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Beatrix Potter, Will Eisner, and Franz Kafka. To see them all, go to THIS LINK.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crafting Workshop Works for Brooklyn Library

There is much talk in class about tailoring the library's offerings to meet the needs of the community and about making libraries relevant to single adults in their 20s and 30s. A branch of Brooklyn Public Library has succeeded on both fronts.

Image via

BPL's Greenpoint branch hosts a crafting workshop called Greenpoint Hand Skills. Meeting the first Saturday of every month, the workshop attracts the artistic 20 and 30 somethings who in recent years have been increasingly making up the surrounding community. Greenpoint Hand Skills has proven to be so popular that the workshops, which are limited to 12 to 15 adults, fill up quickly.

"Adults can be an especially difficult demographic to crack program-wise, especially 20 and 30-year-olds (unless they're parents), which is what I think makes the success of the Hand Skills program so impressive," said Robert A. Simic, neighborhood library supervisor, to Library Journal.

The branch manager and program coordinator of the Greenpoint library, Kure Croker, enlisted Kim Grassie Konen and Julie Schneider to create and run the workshop. Both Konen and Schneider are closely affiliated with Etsy, the hugely popular online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. Konen and Schneider are sellers on Etsy, and Konen is employed at Etsy headquarters.

On a volunteer basis, Konen and Schneider conduct Greenpoint Hand Skills, leading classes on knitting and the making of zines, bracelets, change purses, ornaments, and much more. They buy the supplies for the classes but are reimbursed by the library or by the group Friends of the Greenpoint Library. 

Branch manager and program coordinator Croker ties the Greenpoint Hand Skills program into the library's collection by curating a selection of titles that match the theme of each month's workshop. The coordinated efforts of Croker, Konen, and Schneider, which include word of mouth and publicizing Greenpoint Hand Skills through social media, have made the program a success.

Speaking to LJ, Schneider said, "Greenpoint Hand Skills carries on a tradition of sharing creativity and knowledge in a community setting that can be traced through history with things like quilting bees, knitting circles, potlucks, and DIY skill shares. As such, it fits right in as a piece of the DIY and maker movement that is carrying handmade skills and pursuits into this present digital age."

To keep up with what Greenpoint Hand Skills is doing, or to find out about upcoming workshops, check it out on Facebook and Flickr.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Advice for 'Alternative-Looking' Library Job Seekers

When it comes to dressing for a library job interview, we all know the drill: dress conservatively, cover up tattoos, wear minimal makeup and accessories, and style your hair conservatively. But what if you have pink hair? Or a partly shaved head if you're a woman? What if your ear lobes are stretched by gauges? Or you have tattoos on your hands? What should you, as someone seeking a library job, do?

A pink-haired page shelves books at a public library in Illinois.
Image via

Dress appropriately for the position you're interviewing for, but leave your pink hair and piercings be, said Elinor Crosby, who works at a public library in Nova Scotia. She has blue hair, a shaved head, arm tattoos, and multiple piercings, and she has stayed true to her personal style all her adult life. Considering this, she's been steadily employed for the past 18 years. "The librarian who convinced me to go and do my MLIS insisted that librarians didn't care what you looked like as long as you could do the job, and I have found this to be true," Crosby said in her article, "So You Have Blue Hair," published on

At the close of the interview, let the interviewer know that you're willing to comply with a dress code to the best of your ability, advised Crosby. "However," she said, "I also take this opportunity to explain that this is how I've looked for twenty years, and that it's definitely how I'm most comfortable. I have been told that this approach is very refreshing, and that the people who have hired me appreciate my candor." But what if you feel like you've lost out on the job because you didn't dye your hair back to a natural color or remove your nose or labret piercing? That's probably not a place where you'll be happy anyway.

"I probably don't want to work for an employer that can't see past outward appearances to see the stellar employee that is sitting in front of them," said Crosby. "This is how I screen where I actually want to work."

So what did Crosby wear to the interview for her current position? "I walked in to my interview wearing slacks, a button-down shirt, a blazer, and my bright metallic pink Doc Martens," she revealed. "My outfit showed that I was taking this interview seriously, but I allowed my personality to shine through with my accessories."As someone who nearly hobbled around in conservative black pumps on a job interview - I don't wear high heels ordinarily - I find Crosby's advice and boldness to be encouraging. I'll forgo the Chucks but will shine my Docs for the next interview. And I'll let my piercings and bold hair color stay in!

To read Crosby's entire article, "So You Have Blue Hair," go to the INALJ link HERE.