There’s No Such Thing as a Snow Day

Living in the temperate climate of the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve never had a snow day.  Sometimes it bums me out, but then I remember that not having snow days makes it that much easier to do the things I want to do when I want to do them.  Since I’ve never had one, it’s impossible for me to say what I’d do to stay entertained during a snow day.  But, we all have sick days.  You know, the days when you’re too sick to go to work/school but not sick enough to sleep all day?

You can tell just how sick I am by how much activity I do.  If I’m laying like a lump on the couch, drifting in and out of dreamland, then you know I’m really sick.  As I get better, even just a little bit better, I get antsy.  Sadly, I can only watch so much TV, read so many books and write so many blogs before I need to get up and move. Have you ever seen someone who is terribly sick try to do something useful?  It’s comically sad, really.

My mind’s capacity for concentration simply isn’t there when I’m sick.  I’ll be making a grocery list and halfway through I’ll get distracted by heating up soup for lunch.  I’ll watch a training program online and somewhere in there a link for something else will pop up and I’ll click that instead.  I’ll start paying bills and go off track when I see the links for mortgage information.  So then I end up with a lot of half finished projects which sometimes include a mess and be too tired to finish any of them.  Not such an ideal situation.

My coworkers say that they can tell how I’m feeling by how hard I have to think and how many words I “forget” when I’m answering a question.  It’s not a pretty sight.

So, in a nutshell, when I have a sick day I sleep a lot, watch TV, read books, goof off on the internet, breathe lots of steam and get myself into trouble.

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Don Quixote

I keep trying to read this book.  Man is it hard.  And boring.  I’m almost 200 pages in to the 531 page book.  Each page is a struggle, which makes it that much harder to enjoy the story.  I don’t know if I’ve just gotten dumber or what, but I’m sure feeling dumb.  I haven’t had to concentrate so hard on words since… well, I don’t remember when.  Even Shakespeare was easy for me.  *sigh*  Back to reading.

 

de Cervantes, Miguel. The adventures of Don Quixote. Ann Arbor, MI: State Street Press, 2002. (ISBN 0-681-45390-7)

What to read…

One of the things I realized at CLA was that I don’t read much.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I voraciously consume trashy romance novels, but we all know that’s not the same as “reading”.

Without even realizing it, many of us are book snobs.  We look at what someone else is reading and (perhaps unconsciously) judge them based on the title, genre and even on the cover art.  So what do my reading preferences tell you about me?  Do they give you a true picture of who I am?  Probably not.

I read what I read because it’s easy.  I don’t have to think very hard about the story.  I don’t have to look for a deeper meaning.  I don’t have to critique the plot, the message, or even the idea behind the story.  I just have to read it.

There were people at CLA who were reading books that have won literary acclaim.  There were people who were reading children’s books.  There were people who were reading technical manuals and social commentaries.  There were people reading library school texts and things that looked really interesting.  And then there were those of us who were reading trade paperbacks.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t consider myself a book snob.  I believe that reading is reading (and reading is good), no matter what you’re reading.  But if all I’m ever reading is the latest bodice ripper, then there’s something wrong… especially since I work at a library.

When I work at the reference desk I need to be able to give informed advice about books that isn’t based solely on what I see checked out/returned a lot during my circulation duties.  I also need to broaden my horizons so that I’m not basing my “informed” advice on the “If you liked _____, then you may like ______, ________, or _______” shelf at Borders.  So, with that in mind I’ve decided to focus the brunt of my reading on other stuff.

Looking around online for inspiration, I found a list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die at http://www.listology.com/list/1001-books-you-must-read-you-die.  It was typed up from a book by the same title.  It seems like as good a place as any to start, right?

There are titles on the list that I remember reading before, and ones that I attempted to read but quit in the middle.  I’ll be reading them all again.  I’ll try to write about/review as many of them as possible as I finish them.  Instead of picking books randomly from the list, I decided to start at the bottom (the oldest titles) and work my way up.  I’d also like to finish reading these books within 2 years.  We’ll see how it goes.

Luckily I was able to find all of the “pre-1700” titles in my library system and through Link+!  And one of them is here in my house somewhere.  Way to save money!

Wish me luck!

The Norm…

Since I started school I’ve noticed my house has become a bit dirtier than normal.  The dishes are piling up in the sink (no dishwasher so I have to do them by hand), the vacuuming isn’t being done (by the time I think of it it’s late and the neighbors will be upset if I make too much noise), and the tables are becoming “hotspots” of clutter again.  All this in just two weeks of school.  *sigh*  So, starting tomorrow I’ll use my timer again, and work on the house for 15 minutes at a time, just like FlyLady says.  I’ll use my timer for reading assignments too, so that I don’t read until I’m cross-eyed.  If I don’t, my house will make me cranky – and that’s not good for anyone around me.

On another note, I finally got the last book I needed for school.  I started reading it, and so far it seems as though the teacher is just lecturing from the book.  I’ll read the next chapter or two, and if I feel like the teacher is just saying the same stuff that I’d find in the book, I’ll just stop reading it.  I need to budget my time too wisely to sit there and read what someone just got done telling me.

I haven’t been keeping up with the Learning 2.0 stuff.  Too busy these last couple of weeks.  So I’ll work on that 15 minutes at a time too.

Well, that’s all that’s going on in my life right now.  Nothing super exciting, just the norm…

Printing

The internet is great for certain things.  Computers are too.  But one thing I can’t wrap my head around is reading hundreds of pages of text for school or pleasure.  It’s not like I can’t read so much on a computer screen.  It’s more a matter of taking notes, underlining passages… and of course there is the portability factor.

As a result, I’m sitting here printing up hundreds of pages of articles, stapling them together, and then labelling them with class info so I know when I have to read them.  I’ve learned that it’s much easier to do this now, before I get too involved in the class so that I’m not feeling overwhelmed by all I have to do.

It also makes me wonder about the professor who assigns all these articles.  Is it really so difficult to find a book with this information inside?

Back to my printing…

What I learned while out sick

Even when I’m sick at home, I can’t just sit around doing nothing.  I can only watch so much daytime TV, and there are only so many words I can read on a page before I go cross-eyed… So, today I decided to look at SJSU SLIS’ videos of various presentations and lectures that have been done over the past two years.

One of the most recent videos was a lecture by Susan Hanks on California Tribal Libraries.  Although we don’t have a tribal library in the area that I know of, there were a few things she suggested that intrigued me.  The biggest idea that she spoke of was making sure that there were positive Native American stories in our libraries.  She discussed the problem of stereotypical Indian characters, and incorrect information found within children’s non-fiction books.  Ms. Hanks also explained why it’s necessary to display culturally sensitive Thanksgiving books in addition to the traditional Thanksgiving stories, specifically suggesting Giving Thanks by Chief Swamp.

Since I’ll have to use Second Life with the SLIS program sometime soon, I watched the presentation Second Life: 20 Lessons by Jeremy Kemp.  In this presentation, Mr. Kemp discussed the ways in which Second Life (SL) is different from typical online role playing games, and the things he has learned from this program.  He explained that SL is very community driven, and very “flat” in that there is no heirarchy and everyone speaks the same language.  While this is good, it doesn’t come without its problems.  In his words “Second Life is very beta” so you wouldn’t want to hold a live meeting in it.  But for what it does, it’s great.

Patty Wong of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library presented on Community Outreach.  She discussed what her library has done to increase community involvement in their system. Ms Wong emphasized the importance of sincerity and genuine goodwill when creating relationships with the community. 

The SSJCPL recently underwent a complete overhaul, and created a dedicated unit for community outreach (they manipulated staff and resources).  Their unit focuses on literacy at all levels, mobile libraries, school visits, attending community events, partnerships, publicity and marketing.  Ms. Wong admitted that this is labor intensive and requires a lot of cultivation and negotiation, but she feels that this outreach unit has worked wonders.  They have gotten more books into more homes than they would have without community outreach.

The final presentation I watched was Young Adult Reading by Richie Partington.  This presentation was geared towards reading and school libraries for the Jr. High students, rather than High School students.  Having said that, Mr. Partington had some great tips that I thought translated well into public libraries.

Mr. Partington suggested a straight forward policy of allowing parents to deny the checkout of specific books for specific kids.  He said that the new circulation programs allow this, and that it will keep parents involved in what their kids are reading.  I don’t think something like this will work well on the scale of a public library, but it was intriguing.

He went on to say that it’s important for YA librarians to be knowledgable of what’s being taught in class so that they can make sure that they’re up to date on what’s new with books and make suggestions based on this knowledge.  Mr. Partington also explained the importance of teaching SLIS principles to the teachers first, and then to the students so that you can get the teachers’ help and backup when needed.  And of course, there’s the need to be tech savvy so that you don’t lose credibility when students ask you a question.

So that’s what I learned while I was sick.

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