11 May 2008

List:: Libraries-- The Hot and the Fugly

As a graduation present to myself, I am dishing the dirt on awesome and not-so-awesome libraries as I've witnessed them over the past year.

Some of these libraries I've frequented over months. Most of them, I just happened to visit for one day, so I am by no means an expert on them. Some of the negative experiences I had were inevitable and not entirely influenced by the libraries themselves. This is mostly a look back on the fun and the crappy things that have happened during my travels. To protect the libraries where I've had bad experiences, I've omitted the name and location in the text I've written.

The Hot Library Mamas!

~Sexiest Overall Library~

Thomas Jefferson Building @ Library of Congress
Washington DC

So... sexy... Couldn't... breathe...
Thomas Jefferson's books!... Hot!

~Hottest Teen Section~

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main
Pittsburgh, PA

I mean, I know I work here and all... But it really is a glorious space with plenty of computers, lots of happening programming, and an awesome staff.

~Most "Sad but Awesome" Teen Section~

Washington County Free Library
Hagerstown, MD

This library does not actually have a teen librarian but they do have a pretty sweet teen loft with all types of materials for teens.

~"Warmest Atmosphere" Library~

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- Homewood
Pittsburgh, PA

The first time I went, a teen told us, "Welcome to the best library in town." The second time, I got a tour from the teen librarian. Good times!

~Most Personally Inviting Library~

Martin Luther King, Jr. Library
Washington DC

I got kicked out of this teens-only area. However, being invited to apply for a position in their system because I'm multilingual-- now that's hospitality!

~Most "In a Touristy Area With No Parking So Let's Do This Quick" Library~

Free Library of Philadelphia - Independence
Philadelphia, PA

This one was taken while our ride drove around the block. A true drive by shooting!

~Most Beautiful Natural Light Library~

Julia Yates Semmes Public Library
San Antonio, TX

Glass windows. Access to a park. This is the first library I worked at and it really nurtured my teen librarian spirit. Thanks Semmes!

~Most "I Can't Believe I'm Here!" Library~
Gettysburg Library
Gettysburg, PA

Yup. The Gettysburg. As in the Address. And this is their library! Wicked.

~Most Surprising Library~
Avalon Public Library
Avalon, PA

A former Christian Science church. Nice. This is a small library and a lot of moolah went into it. Fancy chairs, fancy earth globe, fancy grandfather clock.

~Most "It's Freaking Cold Here But Gotta Have My Jumpy Picture" Libraries~

Alderman Library @ University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

Good god! So *cold*! I may never have been this cold in my life.

~Most Nurturing Library~

Coates Library @ Trinity University
San Antonio, TX

I first debated going to library school when I worked here as an undergrad. Look at me now!

~Most Awesome Surroundings Library~

Wilderness Branch Library
Orange County, VA

It's in the wilderness! Aaaaaaaahh! Being swallowed up by trees! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

~Most Majestic Library in a Small Town~

Greensburg Hempfield Area Library
Greensburg, PA

This library is so big that this is the best picture we could take without getting me run over!

~Most "Icon of Modernity" Library~
Central Library
San Antonio, TX

My future home!

This library is very special to me. When it was first built, many people didn't like it so much. They started calling it the "enchilada-red library." I always thought it was a very cool building, though it is a bit of a space hogger.

The Inevitably Fugly

~Most Aesthetically Challenged Library~

Man, we have seen some fugly library buildings in our time. But geez. This one. Like an unfortunate dog whose front looks much like its rear, we could only assume that this was the entrance to the library.

Not much to see here, folks.

~Most Disappointing Library~

This library is housed in a building that's not quite atrocious. The service, however, has much to be desired. Not only do they not have Wi-Fi, but at least one staff member appears to be largely unaware that there is such a thing as wireless internet. They just may, in fact, call it "the internets" on the rare occasion that someone asks for help.

~Most "What? You're Closed Already? It's Not Even Five Yet!" Library~

We drove a long, long way to see this library only to... have it be closed when we got there. Before it was even supposed to be closing time, it looked dead dead dead. Thanks for the info, library!

~Most "What? You're Never Really Open, Are You?" Library~

The "Bibliotheek" sign in the picture here should give you a clue that this one is not located in the States.

And it was open 2 hours a week. Weekdays only. At different times. It was so easy to show up on the wrong day, wrong time, wrong planet!

As much as I loved it there, I pretty much figured that I couldn't really be a librarian if I were ever to move there.

~Most Elusive Library~

Where is this library? We printed out maps... We drove around for a while... We found the address... It was completely gone... It just... disappeared...

~Most Predatory Library~

I know I look happy in the picture, but this was before the $17 parking ticket we got in the shady parking lot next to it. A sign made it sound like one does not have to pay after 6pm but we were wrong to hope that a parking lot close to the library would be at least straightforward.

~Most Obnoxious Red Tape Library~

The librarians I spoke with personally were helpful. When I showed interest in their library and they saw my camera, I was basically told that I would make some people very unhappy, since it is a popular library for a peculiar cult following. There was just so much red tape so that I could take a picture of their library-- a major setback to the feeling of warmth. This is the worst experience I've had, I'm afraid to say.


As a whole, I do try to see the positive. These fugly libraries are-- well, let's face it. They did not harm me permanently or anything. I'm positive that there are things that they must do very well that I did not see at all. I just have to describe my experience the way I saw it. After all, being on the other side of the desk-- a patron like any other-- helps me see what works and what doesn't in libraries. I'm always on the lookout for ways to help patrons have pleasant trips to the library, whenever possible.

Spotted!:: Twilight movie trailer

For those of you Twihard peeps out there... It's here. Kinda. Sorta.

By "it" I mean, the teaser trailer. And yes, it does tease. And entice.

I'm going to save the "I actually envisioned it like this" comments because there's no point. The good definitely outweighs the "eh" here. This looks like it's going to be very, very exciting.

I... am having a hard time... waiting for this one...
Can't wait!




Okay, I lied. I am going to go into a discussion here, though not the kind you're probably expecting.

Like many of you, I became enamored with the idea of Henry Cavill and Emily Browning playing Edward and Bella. This was back when Stephenie was fantasizing about which actors would bring life to her characters. Then they cast Kristen Stewart. Then Robert Pattinson. At first, I thought, "Okay. I guess." Now, seeing the trailer, I can see Kristen as Bella. She was never described as beautiful. In fact, that's her appeal. She's supposed to be normal. Attractive in her own way but still, just a girl. (A winning option, because it makes the average reader feel like, "This could happen to me!" A romantic notion indeed.)

But I couldn't see Robert as Edward. Why? Because of the many descriptions of Edward's "perfect face" and allusions to his godly physique. And as I watched the trailer, I kept thinking, "His lips aren't full enough."

Then I snapped myself out of it. What am I, sixteen and on the prowl for a pretty face to idolize? Why does it all have to be so beautiful? These characters are about more than just their appearance. Yes, we all had specific images in our minds as we read the books which may not match with the reality of this film. But come on! It's silly to write Robert off as not worthy of Edward without really seeing what he can do with the character. He totally had that Edward playfulness in that last scene of the trailer. And I'd much rather see individuals who can really act, as opposed to really cute teens with the acting ability of a chipmunk (sorry, Emma Watson).

So what did I learn here? Keep an open mind and let yourself get excited. That's not so hard. The more I watch this trailer, the more...


10 May 2008

Librarian Glamour:: Glorious Graduation

The joyful scream heard around the world. Or at least, on the street where I live. Wait, no. Make that, in my head.

I'm now officially a full-fledged librarian! Today is my graduation-- a day I've been anxiously waiting for these last two years. Just weeks ago I felt overwhelmed and couldn't wait for this day. Now, I have an anti-climactic sort of feeling. Like, it's not really happening.

Oh well! At this point in time, my feelings don't really matter. Now I can actually say, "I'm a librarian" whenever people ask what I do, instead of saying, "I'm a library assistant"-- which doesn't have quite the same "glamorous" flow. Ha ha.

So here's a list of all the major upheavals caused by this degree over the last two years:
  • Academics do not always wait for finances to catch up. The first year, I was working 3 jobs, 60 hours total, while doing my Master's full-time. I was a bit of an emotional mess.
  • I could only take one summer course because I was getting married. That's right, I got married in the middle of my degree. I don't regret it at all but I would have finished earlier if I'd taken more classes last summer vacation.
  • I had to travel to Denton, TX to go to several on-site classes. Stressful! Expensive! Mostly a waste of my time! Gotta love it.
Here's the fun part, though!
  • I went to the Texas Library Association conference back in April 2007 and felt so invigorated. It really taught me that in my heart, I want to be a teen librarian.
  • I've been mentored by some amazing librarians. I feel so fortunate to be in a profession with some really nurturing people. Except for the random territorial psycho, librarians are very giving of support and gentle nudging. I totally wouldn't be a librarian right now if it weren't for a good friend and former colleague.
  • I officially started my jumpy project in July of 2007 but I started targeting libraries for pictures a couple of months before then. As of today, I've taken 87 trips to libraries.
    • 5 countries: U.S., Chile, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy
    • 11 states : Rhode Island, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Texas
    • 1 territory: Washington DC
    • 46 cities/towns total
And here are the fun parts that are coming!
  • I'm moving back to Texas in a zigzag kind of pattern. Going through some more states at the end of this month and you can bet we're stopping at libraries along the way. Can't wait!
  • I'm starting work as a teen librarian for a New York Times Librarian of the Year. She's been very gracious in fighting for me and I hope I live up to expectation. More than that, though, I hope to grow and be a total kickass librarian.
  • I'm going to ALA Anaheim at the end of next month. Yeah! I'm prepping myself for some more writer love.
So yeah. Regardless of how I feel today about graduating, some totally awesome stuff is coming up. And I'm sooooo ready for it.

09 May 2008

Road Map:: Long tresses and libraries in April

I'm sick today so the creative juices aren't exactly flowing. This entry will be pretty basic and straightforward.

I recently got my hair cut so I could donate it to Locks of Love. I look at these last jumpy pictures of me rocking my hippie mane and can't help but get nostalgic, though the cut barely happened less than a week ago. Le *SIGH*.

Moving on... Here's some luscious libraries.

a) Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: Woods Run
Pittsburgh, PA (04.02.08)

A friend and I stuffed our faces at a nearby diner and I, of course, couldn't leave without getting an appropriate library picture. Yeah. Their teen librarian seems really hip and interesting. Too bad we were only there momentarily.

b) Green Tree Public Library
Pittsburgh, PA (04.12.08)

Tekkoshocon 2008-- the yearly gathering for those enlightened souls into Japanese culture, anime, and manga-- was epic. The crowds! The energy! The creative and rather skimpy outfits!

I worked at the Manga Reading Room of the convention. One of the librarians from the Film and Audio department checked out over 300 manga from the library and attendees were able to read the manga of their choice in the room. I was there on a Saturday, where there were 315 visitors! It was beatific success.

And what does this have to do with Green Tree Public Library, you ask? Ah yes. This library was in the area and oh-so-closed when I got to it. At least I still got the shot.

c) C.C. Mellor Memorial Library
Edgewood, PA (04.27.08)

I visited this one back in December but it's so close to home and I was never really satisfied with the first pictures. Here's Edgewood revisited.

If it looks like I'm sporting flowy M.C. Hammer pants, I'm trying to bring a fad back. That, and I was rediscovering old clothes. These are pants I bought in Thailand and I'm wearing them while they still fit.

Bye bye April. Oh that reminds me of that old Simon & Garfunkel song, "April Come She Will." How does it go? May she will stay... Wait, no. Actually I'm leaving... So I guess the song doesn't apply at all. Oops.

More on my departure-- and more jumpy pictures with my new 'do-- coming soon.