"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Jul 25, 2010

The Tall One Knows!

There’s a semi-regular patron at the library where I intern. She is learning English and is usually in search of books with very short stories or essays to read, so that she can work on her comprehension without having to follow a long, complex series of thoughts. The last time I conversed with her was probably two or three weeks ago, at least; I don’t remember much of the conversation other than that she didn’t like the last book we’d found for her, and I helped her find another.
When I was at the library last week, a colleague asked me about this patron. Apparently she’d come to the desk with a question about something relating to writing. Unfortunately, because the patron's English is still fairly basic and her accent is pretty strong, my colleague couldn’t understand what the something was; only that it was a three-syllable word. The patron couldn’t write it down or spell it, but just kept repeating the word more loudly. As my colleague admitted defeat, the patron said, “The tall one knows! The tall one knows!”
I stand four to six inches above almost all of the other reference staff, and I’ve begun to develop a relationship with this patron, so the referent of this statement was fairly clear. Thus my colleague approached me.
…and I have no idea what on earth the patron was talking about! Admittedly I don’t have much to go on; if I’d actually been there I might have been able to suss it out. But I honestly don’t remember our previous interaction in great detail. I don’t remember precisely what we talked about. I’m now a little petrified of the next time I encounter this patron, because I really do want to help her but I’m not sure I’ll be able to! I joked that they say wisdom is knowing what you don’t know...
Above all, however, I am highly amused at my new appellation. It has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? I am… The Tall One. She Who Knows.

Jul 21, 2010

Read Something! _The Forest of Hands and Teeth_ (Carrie Ryan)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

310 pp.
YA / Horror

Mary chafes against the demands of her life. Despite the dangerous Unconsecrated who lurk beyond the village fences, she longs to escape her isolated home in search of freedom. When, impossibly, an Outsider comes to the village, Mary's hopes of being able to embark on a new life rise. But the outsider's presence soon becomes a threat, and Mary's escape from the village comes at a high price. Now Mary and her companions are alone in a hostile world. Will they survive, or fall to the Unconsecrated? And will Mary ever find the freedom she seeks?

Appeal characteristics
  • Characterization: Independent-minded, teenage, female main character
  • Characterization: A few chapters mostly about the characters and their relationships alternate with a few chapters of heightened action or suspense
  • Frame (?): First-person narration
  • Frame (?): Romantic elements/subplot
  • Frame (?): Mysterious elements (but the mysteries are mostly never resolved
  • Frame: Extensive worldbuilding
  • Pacing: Short chapters -- 5-10 pages each -- often ending on a revelation or cliffhanger
  • ??: Not very much detailed description of things outside of the main character's feelings and thoughts (visuals, etc. often just get a few words to a couple of sentences)
Other notes
  • I Am Legend? (I've never read this book, so I really have no idea)
  • The later Harry Potter books? Both take place in a fantasy world connected to, but unlike, our own (though HP is present-day and Forest is set in the future); similar emphasis placed on characters and their relationships vs. events; similarly dark; similar protagonists (teens, to some extent with the world of the book revolving around them, faced with life or death choices); semi-similar endings that are happy but not quite fully fleshed out or satisfying (yes, that's a subjective judgment, but I couldn't help myself -- these books frustrated me in remarkably similar ways)

Jul 15, 2010


I promised an update on my job interview!

Overall, I think it went pretty well. I was articulate and had some good answers to the questions I was asked. I put together a pretty decent flyer for the MS Publisher test without feeling too rushed to finish it. I am a little concerned that I didn't say as much as I could have about my qualifications. Sometimes the director would make a comment that paralleled something I'd been planning to say later or talked about the importance of a qualification I had, and while I often tried to indicate that I really agreed or that I had the qualification in question, I think I held back a bit more than I should have out of concern about sounding sycophantic. In retrospect, that was a bit silly. But what's done is done, and in the future I'll be more prepared for that kind of situation.

Of course we also spent a bunch of time talking about the job. And oh boy. The job sounds great. If I were hired, my primary responsibility would be to work on getting the community more strongly engaged with its library. I would also be doing some reference, meeting room scheduling, etc. -- but most of the job would be program planning, outreach activities, and the like. Anyone who knows me should see how this is a great match. To begin with, it ties directly into the whole reason I want to work in public libraries to begin with: my deep interest in how libraries can work with their communities to create mutually beneficial relationships that strengthen the community while ensuring that its needs are being met. I have been itching to get into a position where I can have a major impact on library-community relationships. This particular library is an especially good place for me because it's in a city that is recovering from an economic downturn, in part by rebranding itself as a cultural center. There are tons of opportunities  in that kind of situation for a library to meaningfully weave itself into civic life.

The position also offers a bit more responsibility than the typical entry-level job might, which would also be good for me. It is a bit of a step up from the amount of responsibility I've previously held in jobs and extracurriculars, but I feel ready to grow in that way and confident that I would respond well to the challenge. I think with a little free rein to exercise creativity and initiative, I can really start to put together some great things for anyone who employs me. And at this library, the director seems open to ideas and very supportive of her employees. I think it would be a nurturing environment in which to work, and just the kind of situation that would help me to create and implement my best ideas.

The job would offer plenty of opportunities to take some initiative and run with my ideas, and really have some impact in a vital area of library work. The people I met seemed nice (the circulation worker who I asked for directions to administration gave me a huge smile and cheerfully helped me -- big points for good customer service!), the location is fantastic, and I think it would be a great opportunity for me to grow while accomplishing concrete positive results. And it plays right into many of my strengths -- my interest in this specific area of library work, my ability to organize and multitask, the analytical and management skills I learned in classes at SI, my creativity and strong initiative. I just hope that I got all that through in the interview!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I make the next cut! If I do, the director will call my references, and my references are very strong. I think I've got a good shot at the job if I make it to the next stage.

For now, all I can do is be patient. If all goes as planned I should hear something quite soon. Send me thoughts of good luck!