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Friday, December 13, 2013

"Dear Book Nerd" Round-Up

I've been pretty bad about cross-posting my Book Riot posts here (or maybe that's a good thing? I'm not sure.) But since I think they might be of interest to my fellow book-and-library-lovers, here are my last four "Dear Book Nerd" columns for your consideration.


1) In this column, I try to counsel someone hurt by the fact that a gift book has gone un-read:

Dear Book Nerd: “My Girlfriend Never Read the Book I Gave Her”

2) In this one, I give advice to a job-hunter who has a very specific problem:

Dear Book Nerd: “I Have an Arrest Record. Can I Get a Librarian Job?”

3) This one is perhaps not what it initially sounds like (hint: there IS no good pick-up line to use on a librarian, or anyone else for the matter):

Dear Book Nerd: “What’s the Best Pick-Up Line to Use on a Librarian?”

4) And finally, more job-seeking advice (this post contains a LONG list of book-related jobs):

Dear Book Nerd: “Help! I Need a (Book-Related) Job!”

(By the way, if you have any fun/serious/silly/poignant questions you want to ask, please submit them!)

And while I'm over here Book Rioting, here's a post about a "scientific analysis" I did about what kids these days want to read, and another post about art for grammar geeks, which includes this poster:


That's enough self-promotion for one day, I think. Have a great weekend, errryone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Notes on a Library

I've shown you guys little notes I've found in the library before, like this and this and these. I thought I'd share some of the more interesting ones I've found more recently, like this series of sketchy little drawings:

Cute, right? It's like the start of a little flipbook (which I have also found in the library before).

Then I found this note, which looks like part of a kid's homework:

And this random note (not sure what it was referring to, I can only assume there's some secret passageway in the children's room I don't know about):

The other day a part-timer alerted me to this note he found taped to one of the tables:

"You're an idiot & I love you" describes many of my past relationships.

In case you can't read the fine print on top of the note, it says "take tape off and read the back for good news oh yeah."

Never one to back down from a challenge, I took off the tape and read the back. It was NOT such good news, however. 

The threat is sort of minimized with the addition of a tongue-sticking-out face, but whatever works for you, "Murder Mystery Person." Whatever works for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May the notes found in your libraries be pleasant ones.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bugging Out at the Library

For the past year or so I've been a mentor in this great program we have at the library called "Ready, Set, Kindergarten." It's basically a storytime class for 3-4-year-olds with educational activities to help prepare kids for the rigors of kindergarten. (Which, no joke, is getting pretty ridiculously rigorous lately. But that's a story for another time.)

Saturday marked our final RSK program for the season. We read some picture books, sang some songs, had a great time with my terrifying handmade felt board activity Carl the Clown, and then did a bug-themed STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) craft to tie it all together.  

In addition to all the other STEM stuff, my intern and I put out a real bugs discovery kit (complete with magnifying glass) on one of the tables so that the kids could explore and be grossed out/fascinated at their leisure. Here's an extremely blurry photo of one of one of the bug-filled lucite cubes (which, incidentally, remind me of a prank ice cube I bought as a kid and used to put in my family members' drinks. I was HILARIOUS):

The Han Solo of the bug world. 

Most of the children thought the kit was pretty cool and took turns examining the cubes with disgusted delight. One kid, however, got a bit existential about the whole thing. (And, subsequently, threw me for a loop - especially when he basically accused me of INSECT HOMOCIDE.)

Kid: "What are those?

Me: "They're bugs covered in plastic so you can see what they look like up close."

Kid: "They're real bugs?

Me: "Yup!"

Kid (wide-eyed) "You...KILLED them?"

Uh oh. 

Me: "No, I didn't kill them..."

Kid: "Then who DID?"

Me: "Um...well, I don't really...I mean, I don't think..."


Seeing as how I didn't really have a good answer for him - (Exterminators killed the bugs? The bugs were already dead when they were encased in plastic? They sacrificed themselves for science? Anything I thought of to say in that moment would have felt severely insufficient, and the honest truth is I didn't KNOW the actual answer) - the kid wandered away. 

So, there are teachable moments you knock out of the park, and then there are teachable moments you totally screw up. This was one of the latter for me. I guess you can't win 'em all, right? But I will tell you this: the next time we do the program, I will have a VERY good alibi... I mean, answer...ready if/when a kid asks about the fate of those bugs. For I AM INNOCENT OF THESE ENTOMOLOGICAL CRIMES. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Arts & Crafts

I recently found these weird puppet-things tucked away on a shelf in the children's program room. I assume they were created by the teen volunteers who recently ran an Arts & Crafts session, but I have not confirmed that yet. Until such a time, I will consider it a job done by those infamous library elves.

In addition, I need some help in figuring out what the first one signifies, if anything. 

At first I thought the blue thing was a Tardis, but unlike the rest of you nerds, I don't watch "Doctor Who," so I'm not sure. (Just kidding! You're not nerds! Don't hate me! Doctor Who is a great show, probably!) I also Googled "Go Away Birdies" with no relevant results. So, someone smarter than me, HELP. 

I rather like the angry demon guy. He looks like I do sometimes on a bad day when I'm sitting at the reference desk. Cheer up, little demon.
Also, this was statement written on the back of one of the popsicle sticks. Awww.

Isn't it nice to find NICE weird things in the library sometimes?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dear Book Nerd

A quick note, in case you missed it...

I've started a new bookish advice column, Dear Book Nerd, over at Book Riot!

Check out my first official post here, in which I do my best to advise a book-loving person whose family hates reading. 

And feel free to submit your own questions, should you be moved to do so!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Librarian Action Figure

A few weeks ago, my mom called and said she and my dad were cleaning out the garage, and she found this librarian action figure thing and could she throw it out?


So this past weekend I visited home and rescued the action figure from the "toss" pile. YOU'RE WELCOME, NANCY PEARL. 

Now I guess I just keep it in my apartment and absorb all of the superhero librarian powers, right? That's how this works?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Me: "How's school going?"

Tween Girl: "BAD. I already have a project due."

Me: "What kind of project?"

Tween: "I have to write about what my utopia would be like."

Me: "That sounds interesting!"

Tween: "I guess."

Me: "So what WOULD your utopia be like?"

Tween: "Two things: 1) Vampires would be real. 2) I would know Hugh Jackman."

Me: "Hmm. So vampires being real would be a good thing?"

Tween: "Yes."

Me: "You wouldn't be afraid of them trying to kill you?"

Tween: "Well not ALL of them are like that."

Me: "I see. Well, Hugh Jackman is cool."

Tween: "I know." 

Good talk, kid. Good talk. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What Would a World Without Libraries Look Like? (Update!)

In case you missed it (a month ago, I am really bad at posting things in a timely manner lately), I have a post up over at Book Riot about how I was once again a judge for a kid's library essay contest.

Click on over and read it for wonderful excerpts from kid essays about what the future would be like if libraries didn't exist. There's some good stuff in there.

What Would a World Without Libraries Look Like? Kids Have Their Say.

And here is a bonus essay that was written by a Brooklyn 5th grader on this topic (it wasn't put on the Book Riot site). This dystopian tale is really well-written and contains heartfelt sentiment about libraries at the end. Have hope, librarians!

"Day 1: All libraries have just vanished and there is chaos. People are starting to turn back
 to old ways. There is total mutiny. I am writing from my basement, the only safe place left.

Day 5: Thank God that the mass panic is over. The mayor said that we would start rebuilding soon and placed the ceremonial cornerstone, but it too, vanished. Then mayor then said 'Well scratch that idea, townspeople you will just have to learn to live without libraries.' With that he left.

Day 10: After the mayor's speech I wasn't feeling any better. The building was nothing, an old house with a green carpet that smells like old books. Yet there were memories in that building, chess matches won and lost, doing homework with friends, and reading on the benches. It hurts to think about it.

Day 12: I just heard where the school clubs that met in the library are now going to meet, the Senior Center. Ugh! This place has moldy brown carpet and smells like denture cream. It will do, but it won't be the same.

Day 17: At least we can use the Internet for school projects.

Day 20: Today Scientists figured out why the libraries disappeared. Something to do with chemical reactions, or was that just science class. On another note in the place of the library the city is building another useless tax office. The town already has SEVEN!

Day 27: It's been about one month since all of the libraries in the world disppeared and I can't take it anymore. So this world without libraries will be torture but I think I can survive. To recap the mass panic is a very scary thing, the mayor (Not Mayor Bloomberg) is doing nothing, and LIBRARIES ARE IMPORTANT. May there never be a world without libraries.
A few months ago my class and I went to our local library. It's not an old house but a large building with high tech equipment. Our library is a fun and enjoyble place with a chess club, story time (for the little kids) and a lot of books; this place is a second home to me."
Kids are the best.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just a Librarian

Kid: "What grade are you in?"
Me: "I'm not in a grade."
Kid: "You're in college?"
Me: "Nope."
Kid: "You're done with school?"
Me: "Yep."
Kid: "You're a parent now?"
Me: "No."
Kid: "So...what are you?"
Me: "Just a librarian."
Kid: "Oh." *walks away*
Good talk, kid. Good talk.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Thank you so much to the Bay Ridge Democrats (plus the assembly and city council) for these special honors and a great night. Keep on working hard, librarians. Sometimes people notice!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Now that I've got your attention: JOBS!

If you are a children's librarian and want to work in Brooklyn, then you're in luck, my friend! Below are some current job/internship opportunities at Brooklyn Public Library for youth specialists. We haven't hired any librarians in over five years, so this is a BIG DEAL, you guys. 

Click on the links for more details and information about how to apply!

Children's Librarian

"Brooklyn Public Library is seeking a committed and enthusiastic Children’s Librarian to deliver quality library services and programs in one of our 58 neighborhood branch libraries. The Children’s Librarian, under the supervision of the Neighborhood Library Supervisor, works as a part of the branch team and performs basic library work concentrating on service to children and their parents and caregivers."

MyLibraryNYC Outreach Librarian

"BPL is seeking an Outreach Librarian to work as part of MyLibraryNYC (a partnership with NYC DOE) providing outreach services to participating Brooklyn schools. The successful candidate for this position will perform library work introducing students and faculty in MyLibraryNYC schools to the program. He/she will collaborate with colleagues to identify the needs of each school and develop programs and services accordingly. This position requires professional knowledge and judgment, including, but not limited to, reference and reader’s advisory services utilizing materials both in print and electronic resources, collection development, and individual/group programming. The successful candidate will also possess strong ability in and comfort with presentations, outreach and training. Staff at this level report to the Coordinator of School-Age Services and other assigned supervisors. This is a one year, grant-funded position. The grant will end August 30, 2014 with possibility of extension with additional funding. The position may transition to a traditional Children’s or Young Adult Librarian position in Brooklyn Public Library neighborhood libraries."

Also, if you're looking for a shorter-term thing, this internship is a really great opportunity, and it's PAID. (I have been a mentor for the RSK program the past few seasons, and I can tell you that it's a lot of fun for all involved.) Information about how to apply at the bottom.

Ready, Set, Kindergarten! Storytime Program Intern - Fall 2013

Brooklyn Public Library

"Applications are solicited ASAP for Storytime Program Interns for BPL’s Ready, Set, Kindergarten programs. The Ready, Set, Kindergarten Interns will provide a six session series of preschool programs in designated branches of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) on specific dates in the fall of 2013.  The interns are scheduled to work at for 3 hours on each session of the series.

All interns must also attend a paid training session scheduled for Saturday September 21, time TBA (likely afternoon).  Each intern will be assigned a branch for all six sessions, and all interns must be willing to travel to their assigned branch, and be available to present programs on the following dates: September 28/29, October 5/6, 19/20, 26/27 and November 2/3, 9/10. (Interns will be assigned to Saturday or Sunday programs, not both—most of the opportunities are for Saturdays).

Duties and responsibilities:
  • Using BPL’s curriculum, plan and conduct storytime programs for children 3-5 years of age and their parents or caregivers.
  • Coordinate with assigned branch to prepare for the storytime series
  • Share picture books, songs, rhymes, fingerplays and other activities with families to promote the development of early literacy skills and science and math skills in young children. 
  • Share tips and information with parents about early literacy skills and how reading with children can promote their development. Share tips on incorporating basic math and science skills into daily life with children, and tips on school readiness.
  • Gather information and surveys from participants for an evaluation of this project.
  • Set up and clean up program materials. 
  • Communicate clearly with Ready, Set, Kindergarten coordinator, and consult with assigned mentor on at least three occasions.
  • Report any problems to mentor or library staff overseeing the program. 

Skills and qualifications:
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Experience working with young children or knowledge of children’s literature.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Flexibility and willingness to travel.
  • Enrollment in a graduate library or education program desirable, but not essential.   
  • Fluency in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Bengali, Polish, or Russian a plus. 

Stipend: $100 per program & $100 to attend the training session. 

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter (email preferred) to: 

Katya Schapiro
Ready, Set, Kindergarten Program Coordinator
Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY  11238

So, join us! We can sit together at meetings! YAY!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Book Solution

A couple of weeks ago I vague-tweeted this: 

In the interest of being non-vague, here's the backstory:

I was walking through the children's room on my way to a desk shift on the first floor when I saw a young girl crying in the middle of the room. A boy (only slightly older than the girl) was talking to her and patting her back, trying to comfort her. Naturally, I stopped and asked if she was okay. 
The boy said "She's crying because her dad said she couldn't check out any books." The girl nodded, still crying.
Well. There's ONE way to break my heart.
Then one of their friends who had wandered over said "Yeah, he doesn't  even like to take her to the library."
 Aaaaand there's ANOTHER way to break it.

I didn't ask the girl why her dad doesn't like to take her to the library or to let her check out books. The reasons didn't concern me directly, and I didn't want to put her on the spot. The fact that this was her truth, however, made me very sad. My entire life would be completely different today if my parents had not taken me to the library on a frequent basis when I was a kid - I wouldn't love books as much as I do now (or at least I wouldn't have been as voracious a reader back then without access to library books), I wouldn't have had a place where I felt completely welcome (besides home - school wasn't exactly my happy place), I wouldn't have gotten my first job at the library and ended up a librarian today. I'm sure of these things.

So I did what small thing I could do in that moment to try and let the kid know that the library will always be there for her, even if she can't always get to it when she wants to. I showed the group of about four kids (the girl and her kind friends) where we keep our free summer giveaway books (a precious commodity these days, to be sure) and let them each take one free book. 

The girl stopped crying and started beaming. She (and her father) wouldn't have to worry about late fees, she wouldn't have to stress about returning the book, she could just keep it and read it and love it and want to read more. At least I hope so. And I hope that she'll keep finding her way to the library.

I don't know if the book solution was the best solution, but sometimes it's the only solution I have.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Found in the Library

Found a cute bookmark in the library.

I love that it's actually labeled "bookmark" in the corner, as if this kid has soooo many index cards that she has to keep track of which ones are for what purpose. (Of course, this isn't the first time I've run into this phenomenon.)

"Read is awsome" indeed!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Book List Drama

In case you missed it, here is a piece I wrote for Book Riot: "The Conversation We Should Really Be Having About Summer Reading List Errors." In it, I discuss a situation in which Long Island high school was recently singled out by the media for handing out a mistake-riddled summer reading list to its students - an issue about which I have mixed feelings.

(It was also a great excuse to unearth this gem of a kid's book list found in my library):

An excerpt from Book Riot:

"Yesterday, NBC New York posted an article that puts one unfortunate Long Island high school in the spotlight for handing out a summer reading list full of amusing but ultimately disturbing errors. (You can also see the originalNewsday article here, which shows the enthusiastic but mistake-riddled cover letter from the school.)
Here are some of the mistakes found on the book list (from NBCnewyork.com): “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ is misspelled as ‘The Great Gypsy.’ Author Emily Bronte is listed as ‘Bonte.’ George Orwell is called ‘Ornell,’ and Frederick Douglass is listed as ‘Douglas.’ Maya Angelou’s 1969 autobiography is referred to as ‘I Know Why Caged Birds Sing,’ and Alice Sebold’s 2002 novel, later made into a film, is listed as ‘The Lovely Bone.’”
Now, I realize that it’s easy to laugh (I mean, The Lovely Bone? C’mon, that’s HILARIOUS) and scoff and be outraged by this egregious display of ignorance and carelessness. However, there are other things at play here. First of all, I think it’s unfair of Newsday to single out Hempstead when the problem is not limited to just this school. (This doesn’t excuse the mistakes outright, but it’s wrong to vilify one school for an issue that faces many schools, especially without discussing some of the economic factors that might contribute to the difficulties they face.) I also honestly don’t see the errors as being totally life-ruining for students (and I was once a high school English teacher myself who expected a lot from my own students). Fortunately, many kids take advantage of their local libraries, where trained professionals are able to sort these problems out. Librarians to the rescue!
It is reasonable to hold educators up to higher standards, but the point in the article about the school not having a “stable administration” might be a good one. Are these faulty reading lists indicative of a larger problem within the educational system? With crazier and crazier demands being placed on teachers, who is actually writing these lists and letters in the first place? Is it the teachers themselves, or overworked paraprofessionals who might not have the same access to information nor the time to proofread for mistakes? Does it matter?"
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Library Scat

Stumbled on this very mature "display" in the stacks. I’m glad to see that the kids have a renewed interest in non-fiction.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Some kid in the library put this photocopied sign on another kid's back a few moments ago.

Incidentally, it perfectly expresses how I feel about today.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More Book Graffiti

Another day, another example of some kid defacing a library book. I found this in one of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books. An unfortunate event indeed! 

At least this kid was able to admit that he/she wasn't the rightful owner of the book. 
Good on ya, kid. That's the first step to vandal recovery. 

In related news, I wrote Book Riot post a few weeks ago about this very topic: "When Book Graffiti Goes Bad." Check out if you want to see more examples of book vandalism that I've recently found in my library (and most of them weren't already posted on this blog as they are a little darker than what I've posted on here in the past).

Hope you're having a good summer so far, my friends. It's hot outside, but it's nice and cool in the library. Why dontcha go visit yours and see for yourself? (Just try not to write in any of the books, kay, thanks.)    

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sigh of Relief

This post is a little overdue (no pun intended) BUT, in case you hadn't yet heard, I wanted to write a quick note and say for the record that once again, NYC libraries have avoided budgetary disaster for the fiscal year. In other words, there will be NO library closures, cuts, or layoffs!

Here are some details, straight from the City Council

"The FY 2014 Adopted Budget provides $106 million in funding to ensure that New York City’s three public library systems continue to provide the full range of important services to New Yorkers – from reading and research, to after-school programs and literacy classes, to acting as a community center. Libraries strengthen neighborhoods and enhance the educational and cultural lives of New Yorkers."

It's pretty amazing that they aren't cutting ANYTHING. Let's hope that this marks the start of a pro-library trend in the city. (This doesn't mean that cuts won't happen in the near future, and we'll be talking about the issue of baseline funding soon. But for now, we celebrate.)

I want to say THANK YOU to all of you who signed petitions, tweeted, Facebooked, blogged, called 311, and otherwise supported NYC libraries during this budget season. It's always a tough time, but knowing that people are there with you in the fight is SO important in terms of advocate morale. Thank you again. 

Onward, upward, and libraryward! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

"Why The Library Saved My Life"

I work with some amazing kids.

One of them has been volunteering at my branch for several years now. I'll call her C.R. 

(And at 17, she's not really a kid anymore, but since I already feel ancient, let's just go with that.)
The other day, after the Arts & Crafts class that C.R. helps facilitate, she came up to me and excitedly said:
"I have a gift for you."
Me: "Oh! What is it?"
C.R.: "I'll send it to you later. It's a surprise."

Later that evening, I got an email with an attachment labeled "Why The Library Saved My Life." I was immediately intrigued. 

There was also this message from C.R.: "So here is your gift. Fell free to post/edit/shorten it however you want. I hope this helps in advocating for the library. = )
What followed was a very touching letter about how volunteering at the library helped C.R. in ways I wasn't even aware of.

See what I mean about working with amazing kids?

I've posted my favorite parts of the letter below. I did, in fact, edit out some parts - mostly to save some space, girl can WRITE - but the words and the sentiment are hers alone. 

(The bolding is mine to highlight my favorite parts within my favorite parts, but the whole thing is great, so I really hope you'll read it.) 

My Safe Haven
"English is not my first language.
I don't really speak English with an accent unless I get excited or mad. Only then does my weird Americanized Spanish accent come out. It's funny because in all my memories, I'm speaking English; my parents showed me videos of four year old me speaking fluent Spanish, they were interesting to say the least. 
One of my first memories is of me sitting in my pre-school library reading a book. I went to private pre-school, which most likely explains why I picked up the English language more easily than my siblings did. Anyways, this pre-school had their own separate room as a 'library.' It was in the front, and as I remember it, there was a big rocking chair in one corner, shelves below the windows with books, and carpet floor. My memory is kind of skewed as I'm pretty sure the walls were not a pinkish-purple, but I'm sitting down on the carpet facing away from the window, reading a book, when my friend comes in and asks me to play.
I said, 'NO! I'm reading!'
So begins my advantage in the English language in the public school system, where the days when we went to the library were my favorite days. I can't remember my elementary schools librarian but I remember the room. There was a carpet in the middle of the room with this huge comfortable armchair in the middle. There was an easel with puppets sticking out, (surely for the pre-school-ers) and along its side where two huge shelves filled with baskets of books, pretty much overflowing. There were tables all around the room, at the librarians desk there was a computer, and all along the walls were floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books, books, nothing but books.
For me, it was the biggest place on Earth. I loved books, I loved reading, and the other kids couldn't really understand why instead of going outside to play, I wanted to read a book...you see, books are magical; they really are TV for your head. You can sit down in a comfy area and get lost reading so many different books. Discovering their worlds, what makes some characters tick, reacting to a scene you love, reacting to a scene you don't love, quoting your favorite lines from the books you've read to other people, and eventually you find yourself looking for certain genres, trying to figure out when your favorite author will release their next book. It gets intense."
"I didn't have the luxury of going to Barnes & Noble, as some of classmates did. I had the next big thing, a library card. I received my library card via a school trip, where they showed us how they used to check out books with the little card in the back, how the library was organized, the different books they had. I loved the chairs that library had. I probably should've mentioned that I live in Brooklyn, so these public FREE libraries I visit(ed) are all Brooklyn Public Library branches. I found out that there was a library near where I live, about a two-five minute walk, fifteen-minute walk if I'm feeling lazy and take the long way. But what really got my mom to take me was the fact that it was FREE!!!"
"So there was this time in my life, where I needed a place to go because I didn't like to go home, that was the library. Now let me tell you something; being a teenager sucks. The transition between a 'child' to a 'teenager' sucks. Not being able to find matching socks in the morning sucks. Every little thing will set you off; you're a little ball of pressurized energy that will explode when air touches it. It's not that I had problems at home or in school, it's that those places didn’t feel like home. They still don't feel like home. Hell, even church doesn't feel like home, but that’s another story. Library is home to me, it treated me like I was its child, and I know that sounds like a really weird analogy but hear me out. There were nice people who didn't judge me for receiving a 70% in seventh grade honors math. There were programs such as Teen Time, arts'n'crafts, games, and RIF that occupied my time. It was a quiet space (most of the time) where I could do projects, attempt to study, print out my homework assignments because my computer at home was broken. It was warm when it was too cold outside for a walk, it was refreshingly cool when it was icky and humid outside. And of course, an endless amount of books to read when I wanted to get lost in fantasy and not face the reality of my life.
I spent so much of my time at the library that I eventually started volunteering at my branch. I was a Book Buddy! It was fun, I met cool people who would become my friends, and I learned how the library worked and functioned...I assisted in Teen Time singing for Rock Band, which was awesome; I helped supervise games, which was cool until clean-up time.

Then there was Arts'n'Crafts and RIF. I get very emotional about these two topics. RIF was a program the library held where a kid could get a free book to keep so long as they come every week, they would get the book every third Friday. I ran RIF along with a couple of other volunteers, and let me tell you something, little kids would get so excited when it was their week to get a free book. They would actually ask us (the RIF volunteers) for input on the book they were going to choose. It was a program that encouraged young children to read books in a time period that is increasingly putting emphasis on technology. So imagine my surprise and shock when I heard that RIF would no longer be funded and would end within the next two months. I cried. This was a program that I participated in when I was young and volunteered for the past four years- on the last day of RIF I felt weird, empty. My home was falling apart.
Arts'n'Crafts is the program that really made the library feel like home. Currently I volunteer on Fridays, running the program that I loved to participate in when I was younger. After all, who doesn't want to feel like they're five using felt shapes, and paint, and markers, and glitter, although most of the kids who do arts'n'crafts are eight. I like arts'n'crafts for a multitude of reasons. One, I like glitter, two, it's such an enjoyable experience working with little kids, they're funny and look forward to it every week, three, in addition to being a program I participated in when I was younger, it was the first program I participated in at my library branch. I'm thankful that my branch has the resources and the space to be able to produce this program, and I know when I go away for college I'm going to miss this program so much, just as much as I miss RIF.
But what's scary is that one day Arts'n'Crafts might end, just like RIF did, because someone said, 'Hey, let's not fund a program that promotes reading, or provides a safe environment for kids after school.' If I didn't have the safe haven that was, no IS, the library, I am being so honest with this next statement, I most likely would not be typing this essay, I would be one of those delinquents that inhabit my school. That time period, where I was lost, I did some pretty stupid things, like really stupid. It was at the library where I had an adult I could trust to help me out and it was the library where I could sit in a corner and read Curious George and nobody judged me. It was the library where when I didn't feel like going home, I could have a safe place to waste away two-four hours. Now, it's place where I can help provide a safe place for other younger who participate in a variety of programs, where kids come to use computers because maybe they don't have one. Where they can print assignments, because their home printers are being jerks, where there are trained librarians to help you look for a book that has the time setting of the 1990's tension of the Persian Gulf War (history nerd over here).
I want the library to be the safe haven it was for me, to be a safe haven for other lost teenage girls or boys, even younger kids.
But the library can't be that if their funding keeps being cut, if they don't have the resources to keep having programs, if they're short-staffed because they need to lay off workers.  Being a volunteer, I see these issues and it hurts. At one point I wanted to be a librarian, it seemed like such an awesome job to have. I know a couple of librarians, Ally, Chris...I also know Dawn who runs a program for babies and toddlers, that encourages reading. And I know the amazing Rita, who advocates for the library, in addition to being another awesome librarian.
And I'll be damned if I can't take my friends children to the library one day and show them where they keep the Curious George books.
I've never been outside of Brooklyn, but I've traveled to so many different neighborhoods, worlds, and universes.
Thank you, Brooklyn Public Library for being my safe haven."

Thank you, C.R. This was the best present you could have given me. And, in many ways, libraries saved my life as well. All the more reason to keep advocating. Now if you'll excuse me, I have something in my eye...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rescue 311

Today's the day to start calling 311 in support of NYC libraries!

You can read the blog post I wrote on this last year, because it's pretty much the same exact thing again this year. (Isn't it SO great we have to keep going through this?) 

And here's the most recent post by Urban Librarians Unite (incidentally, I wrote this too, but that's neither here nor there) on what to do and how to do it. An excerpt: 

"On either Thursday, June 20th, or Friday June 21st (or both!), call 311 at any time and tell the operator you’d like to make a 'budget comment.' Then you can make a statement regarding library funding. If you want to keep things simple, here’s a sample script: 'I believe closing any libraries in NYC is unacceptable and I’m calling to request the complete restoration of library funding.' Easy as that! And it feels so good. If you don’t live in NYC, you can call 212-NEW-YORK (or 212-639-9675). In addition, the TTY Number is 212-504-4115."

I just made my call, and it was easy as pie. (Actually, pie is pretty hard to make. Easy as pouring some bourbon!)

 If you're phone-phobic, stuck in the office, or just don't feel like calling 311, you can submit a comment online and contact the mayor directly by clicking this link. It all counts the same.

Thank you endlessly, fellow fearless library supporters! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ain't No Cure For The Summer Reading Blues

Last week, I had my very own little Summer Reading assistant. She (an extremely precocious 7-year-old) made the sign below and then, with a somber sense of professionalism, proceeded to walk around the children's floor with a clipboard, signing up other kids for the program. (I don't think she gave them much of a choice, to be quite honest with you. Subsequently, she got a lot of sign ups. So much for child labor laws!)
She also did the illustrations, saying to me: "The rabbit is a 'reading rabbit.' Get over it." SIR, YES SIR!

Yesterday she returned.
Kid: "I'm back. I'm going to do my job now."
Me (handing her the clipboard): "Okay. You're better at it than I am!"
Kid: "What do you expect? I'm a cute little girl, they love me."
Me (jokingly): "What are you trying to say, I'm not a cute little girl anymore?"
Me: "No, I'm saying you're not a LITTLE girl."

The truth hurts, my friends.

Anyway, even though we all love our jobs, summer is definitely a tough time for public children's librarians, especially if your library is short-staffed and under-resourced. I have no words of wisdom other than to say: like all the summers before, we WILL get through this one (although, unlike my little helper friend, I cannot necessarily promise that it will be fun. That's what bourbon is for).

Personally, I am going to try my best to have a positive attitude this summer (at least while AT the library), and think about the fact that summer reading actually is good for kids and we ARE making a difference, even in smalls ways, and even if we don't always know it.

Godspeed, librarians.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stage Fright

Found this in the library. No idea who made it or what the context was. This was all it said:

I guess we all have stage "frieight" sometimes, but, luckily, admitting that you have it is the first step to getting over it. Good job, kid (whoever you are.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

When Kid Art Goes Wrong

Sometimes a kid at the library draws your picture and it's adorable.
And sometimes a kid at the library draws your picture and it's...not quite adorable.
Recently a couple of my tween girl regulars were hanging around the reference desk talking about horror movies (they both love them, as do I) and how they want to create a "haunted subway" for Halloween. The subway cars would rock and shake, rats and snakes would scamper and slither over the floor, and blood would drip down from the ceiling (although how that all differs from normal subway cars, I don't know).

I guess this conversation sparked something creative in one of the tween girls. She said to me:
"I'm going to draw you Tim Burton-style."

Me: "Oh boy."
Tween: "If I draw you weird, it's not personal."

Me: "No, of course not."
Tween: "I'm going to give you weird hair, like you're in an asylum. That's what I see when I look at you."

Me: "....."

This was the result:
No. No I would NOT like to play.

I don't know much about drawing, and even though this artist's rendering of me is not entirely Tim Burton-esque, I do appreciate what she did here and feel that she nicely captured my basic work persona: smiling, friendly, a little deranged. 

So wrong, it's right.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let's Rally

Last week I attended a rally for NYC libraries at City Hall as part of Urban Librarians Unite. I didn't get to take many photos because I was holding a sign (below) for most of the rally, but I wish I had been able to, because there was a great turnout, energetic speeches, and even some bubble-blowing at the end. It was definitely one of the more fun, productive-feeling rallies I've attended and it gave me hope about library funding going forward. 

School Library Journal covers it better than I could here and the Epoch Times covers it here - both articles are worth reading for their discussion the kid speeches (is there anything more hilariously adorable than an eight-year-old in a suit and tie?) and also because they talk about the introduction of legislation for baseline funding for libraries, which would be GREAT. 

If you missed that rally, there's still time for you to attend some today, May 28th! It's the City Wide Day of Rallies, and there's stuff going on in every borough. Check it out. 

If you can't go to any of those events, be sure to tune into this live feed (provided by the Queens Library Guild Local 1321) starting at 11am today. They are going to be broadcasting peoples' short (30 seconds or less) testimony about why they love their libraries. 

And if you can't watch THAT, you can always sign one of the library petitions, which I will be shoving down your throat until we don't need them anymore. *BIG SMILE.*

Rally on, people!