Monday, January 27, 2014

The Basics of Library Science

As the spring semester gets underway for me and my fellow students, here's an infographic that explains, among other things, what library schools teach:

To see a much larger version of this infographic, click on THIS LINK.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My First American Library Association Conference

Well, technically, it was the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Still, it was the first national library event and ALA meeting that I have ever attended, and I was very excited. 
The Penguin Book Truck parked inside the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Photo taken by the author of this blog.

Part of the reason for my excitement was that the ALA Midwinter Meeting was taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a city I've never visited before. So I arrived a couple days early in order to hit up local hotspots and do touristy stuff before attending the annual meeting on Saturday, January 25, 2014.
The Next Page, whose profits benefit the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Photo taken by the author of this blog. 

Of course I went to see the Liberty Bell, but I also checked out the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site and stopped by a few bookstores, including the independent Joseph Fox Bookshop and the Next Page, a bookstore whose funds go toward supporting the Free Library of Philadelphia. I also ate at a few vegan restaurants - Vedge, Soy Cafe, HipCityVeg - where both the food and the service were excellent, and while in the city, I caught the garage rock band The Detroit Cobras at Johnny Brenda's, a live-music venue with a great vibe.
The 2nd Floor of the Philadelphia Convention Center, where sessions took place.
Photo taken by the author of this blog. 

So when my day to attend the ALA Midwinter Meeting arrived, I was a wee bit exhausted. (TIP: Get enough rest the night before a conference.) But slight fatigue did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of a first-time attendee. It helped tremendously that I had planned my schedule for Saturday ahead of time, so I didn't feel too overwhelmed upon entering the Philadelphia Convention Center. From 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., I knew where I wanted to go and what sessions I wanted to attend. I was able to go to most of them. (TIP: Arrive at a conference session early because seating is limited.) It felt like a very productive day.
Many brightly colored exhibitor booths on the convention floor.
Photo taken by the author of this blog.

A bonus of attending a national library event is that publishers who are exhibiting offer a lot of free stuff at their booths (galleys of soon-to-be-published titles, bookmarks and buttons, and sweet things to eat). Or they sell their books at a deeply discounted price to conference-goers. One big-name publisher was selling brand-new paperbacks for $1 each and hardcovers for $5 each. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I ended up buying The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir by Dave Von Ronk and Crochet at Play: Fun Hats, Scarves, Clothes, and Toys for Kids to Enjoy by Kat Goldin. With such great deals on good books, it was tempting to buy more than you should. Indeed, I saw many of my fellow conference-goers sagging under ALA tote bags weighted with books and free goods.
Goodies brought back from the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Philadelphia.
Photo taken by the author of this blog.

I left the Philadelphia Convention Center shortly after the last session, which was the ALA Presidential Candidates Forum in which two candidates for ALA president, Sari Feldman and Mary Farrell, introduced themselves and their viewpoints to the voting ALA membership. I just barely made it to the train station in time due to the long line at the coat and baggage check (despite the two volunteers busting their butts to retrieve people's things) and the long wait for a cab outside the convention center. (TIP: If you have to catch a scheduled flight or train, leave the conference location earlier than you think you need to in order to avoid any additional stress.) Fortunately, however, I did arrive to the station in time but it didn't matter - my train was delayed due to a major snowstorm that had hit the northeastern United States a few days earlier. The whole northeastern corridor was still straightening itself out after having been walloped with the white stuff.

My first American Library Association conference was an eye-opening experience and a positive one. I not only took advantage of the expertise of veterans in the field of librarianship, but I also had the pleasure of making new connections with others like me who are about to enter their last semester of library school or who are newly graduated from library school. I like to think that we can be a source of support - and be a resource - for each other. Another thing I'm glad I did was having business cards made beforehand; being able to exchange cards makes keeping in touch so much easier. I was also made aware of things I need to work on personally: being more comfortable talking about myself and being more at ease with talking before a crowd. I know that both will come with time and practice. In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to my next library conference! Still got enough business cards left over...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Help Green Branch Get a Bookmobile

Colorful clay animals that talk. Stop-motion animation. A truck-driving owl. A skateboarding bunny. There's much to like about the video that Green Branch created to raise awareness about its fundraiser. What exactly is Green Branch?
A peek at what you're in for with Green Branch's whimsical stop-motion video.
Photo from

Green Branch is a pop-up children's library that is based in Oakland, California. Since 2010, it has been providing books, audiovisual materials, and programs focused on social justice and environmental issues. It operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which means that all money raised goes directly to the library, allowing it to expand efforts that include book lending and movement building around such issues as immigrant life, anti-racism, feminism, LGBT rights, community engagement, animal rights, environmentalism, and more.

Children absorbed in Green Branch's offerings in June 2013.
Photo from

It is currently raising money for a bookmobile, a campaign that has only 9 days left. If you would like to help fund this endeavor, you can do so at THIS LINK.

In the meantime, check out the charming video from Green Branch below.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tolkien's Fantasy Characters in Knitted Form

Amigurumi, which is the Japanese craft of crocheting characters and creatures, is one of the main reasons why I want to master crochet. I often think, "Once I learn how to really crochet, I'll take up knitting as well." The knitted J.R.R. Tolkien characters that Denise Salway has expertly made are a definite inspiration.
Denise Salway, standing behind her Tolkien-inspired creations.
Photo via

Salway, a 50-year-old who lives in Wales, took up knitting early in life. However, she abandoned the craft when she was in her teens, according to the Hobbit Movie News website. Yet last year, she picked up her knitting needles once more to make guest favors for her daughter Lisa's wedding. "So impressed were some male members of the wedding party that Denise, who lives in Penyfai, was asked to knit special socks to go with their traditional kilted outfits," reported the Hobbit Movie News. "From there she was convinced to have a go at kitting some of the characters from The Hobbit, and she hasn't looked back since."

Amazingly working without a pattern, Salway has knitted many residents of Middle Earth, among them Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Dwalin, Bombur, Fili, Kili, and Balin. She has even made the dragon Smaug. "I quite like a challenge," Salway revealed to the Hobbit Movie News. "Some of them take a long time. Smaug was over a month to do. Figures take a day or a day and a half."
A token of appreciation from actor Graham McTavish next to the knitted version of his character, Dwalin.
Photo via

Her highly detailed woolen models of dwarfs, dragons, and wizards are garnering Salway attention worldwide. They are even attracting notice from the actors who portrayed the characters in Peter Jackson's films. John Callen, the actor who played Óin in The Hobbit trilogy, posed for pictures while holding Salway's knitted version of his character. Scottish actor Graham McTavish, who played the dwarf Dwalin in the trilogy, gave Salway an autographed photo for her creative efforts.

Talking about her Tolkien-inspired creations, Denise Salway said, "They make people smile, and that gives me pleasure."

To see more of the J.R.R. Tolkien characters that Salway has knitted, go HERE and HERE. If you wish to follow her on Twitter, you can do so @KnittingWitchUK. You can also admire her "magical knit craft" on Flickr at THIS LINK.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Craft Ideas for Creative Librarians

As someone who has long wanted to master maneuvering a hook and yarn, I was excited by the news of a crocheting workshop taking place at my local library.
You can learn to crochet, knit, and cross-stitch at your local library.
Image via Mental Floss

Alas, I already had a prior commitment that I couldn't break and thus had to skip the crocheting workshop. But just the idea that a library near me would host such a great craft event thrilled me, so I made it a point to "Like" the library's page on Facebook in order to stay informed about future, similar workshops.

Public ibraries have become popular sites for craft classes, and these classes are attracting more than just parents with young children in tow. Increasingly, people in their 20s and 30s are going to their local library to learn how to crochet, cross-stitch, knit, embroider, and even make jewelry, terrariums, ornaments, and lace.

More often than not, the craft classes that are hosted at public libraries are filled to capacity. Attendees really like the idea of making something with their own hands - something that they can take home with them - and they look forward to the camaraderie of their fellow crafters and learning something new.
Succulents soak up the sun in these do-it-yourself planters.
Image via Mental Floss 

If you're a librarian who has a creative streak and an interest in crafts, perhaps you would like to host a craft workshop at your library branch. Publicize it well enough (especially through social media, e.g. blogs, Facebook, and Twitter) and patrons will come. But what sort of projects would be perfect for your event? 

The magazine Mental Floss has come up with "12 Crafts Perfect for Librarians." Among them are planters made from damaged books, quilts featuring old card catalog pages, pasties made from pages from books, and assorted cross-stitch projects. Embedded in the description of each craft project is a link leading you to instructions on how to make it.

To check out all "12 Crafts Perfect for Librarians" as recommended by Mental Floss, go to THIS LINK. And for further inspiration, read about crafty librarians HERE and HERE. Oh, and HERE and HERE, too!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Books That Have Changed the Course of History

I was once serious about learning how to consult the I Ching. I had read a few memoirs written by members of the 1960s counterculture in which they talked about turning to the I Ching before making any serious decisions...or at least before leaving the house. So I figured I would try to unlock this ancient book's wisdom, even going as far as concurrently buying the I Ching for Beginners by Brandon Yusuf Toropov to help me along the way.
Image via the interwebs

After a while, however, the I Ching, the I Ching for Beginners, and three pennies began to gather dust on my bedside table. A few years later, I gave both books to a friend who had expressed interest in them. Still, I understood and respected the influence of this "Book of Changes," which has guided countless many throughout the centuries. "The importance of I Ching is phenomenal," stated Megan Willett, in an article for Business Insider. "Not only do Confucianism and Taoism have common roots here, but people around the world still use it for divination and fortune telling purposes to this day." For this reason, the I Ching has been recognized as one of the "25 Books That Have Changed the Course of History," according to Willett, who worked with Miriam Tuliao, assistant director of central collection at the New York Public Library, in compiling the list.

Among the "25 Books That Have Changed the Course of History," I was not surprised to see The Jungle by Upton Sinclair ("It galvanized public opinion and led to a forced government investigation that eventually caused the passage of pure food law"); Silent Spring by Rachel Carson ("The book is widely credited with helping launch the contemporary American environmental movement, spurring revolutionary changes in laws affecting our air, land, and water"); How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis ("Riis made it his mission to show the upper and middle class the dangerous conditions the poor faced every day with graphic descriptions, sketches, statistics, and his photographs"); and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan ("The book helped spark second-wave feminism by encouraging women to look beyond marriage and motherhood for their fulfillment, and challenging traditional patriarchal expectations").

Other books on the list are On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin ("Not only was On the Origin of Species the foundation of evolutionary biology, but the concept of evolution and natural selection continues to have a major impact on modern scientific theories, politics, and religious discourse, particularly in the United States"); The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx ("the manifesto resonated with industrial workers across Europe, the U.S., and Russia with its rallying cry: 'Working men of all countries, unite!'"); and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass ("The book was fundamentally influential on the American abolitionist movement, as well as politics in the U.K. and Ireland, where Douglass later spoke publicly about his narrative"). Also on the list is Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (a "philosophical text about living life simplistically and working for the greater good"), which I want to read because of my interest in Taoism.

To see all "25 Books That Have Changed the Course of History," go to THIS LINK.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Progressive Librarians Hit the Pavement

When people think of librarians, they may envision cardigan-wearing introverts huddling behind a towering stack of books. Or perhaps, in their mind's eye, they see a stern matronly figure glowering over her glasses at patrons. It can be hard to imagine librarians pushing aside book carts and picking up picket signs, but that's precisely what the members of the Progressive Librarians Guild do.
Progressive Librarians Guild members take part in an OccupyMN protest in 2011.
Image via

The Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) was formed in 1990 in New York City. According to its "Statement of Purpose," found on its website, the PLG does "not accept the sterile notion of neutrality of librarianship, and we strongly oppose the commidification of information which turns the 'information commons' into privatized, commercialized zones. We will help to dissect the implications of these powerful trends, and fight their anti-democratic tendencies."

With chapters across the United States and Canada, the PLG takes part in a range of political actions in order to combat "anti-democratic tendencies." Among these actions are supporting Occupy Wall Street; fighting against censorship; resisting the privatization of public libraries; condemning the blocking of Wikileaks by the Library of Congress; opposing book banning, including Tuscon, Arizona's ban on Mexican-American books in its schools; addressing issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and privilege in its journal, Progressive Librarian; being antiwar; and affiliating itself with the group Librarians for Peace.
PLG buttons made by the London, Ontario, chapter.
Image via

In addition to maintaining a website, issuing bulletins and journals, printing buttons, and picketing, the Progressive Librarians Guild also gets its message across through social media. The PLG has a continuous presence on Twitter, and its many North American chapters are active on Facebook. 

If you would like to know more about the Progressive Librarians Guild, you can check out its website, follow it on Twitter, find a chapter on Facebook, subscribe to the PLG list, or write to the following address for general information:

Progressive Librarians Guild
MLIS Program
St. Catherine University
2004 Randolph Avenue, $4125
St. Paul, MN 55105

If you want to become a member of the Progressive Librarians Guild, you can do so at THIS LINK. Membership dues are $20 for individuals and $10 for students and those who are low-income. "Please note," says the website, "that if you are joining a chapter - either an existing one or one that you are creating - half of your dues are paid to the PLG chapter you join and half get sent to the PLG. If you are a regular member, $10 stay with the chapter and $10 get sent to the PLG. If you are a student or low-income, $5 stay with the chapter and $5 get sent to PLG."

OK, fellow librarians and library students: Out of the stacks and into the streets!