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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Math Problems

A kid wrote this in frustration while I was helping her with her homework. I completely understand the sentiment, kid.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Just want to leave this link from Book Riot on here in case you have the means to help the Ferguson Library's extraordinary efforts:

How To Support The Ferguson Library

Thank you to whomever has already shared this link. Be good to each other.

Friday, November 7, 2014

To Amuse a Librarian

Last night I was talking with a tween (her 8-year-old sister standing nearby) about books she will probably have to read for high school, and I said that she'd probably be assigned To Kill A Mockingbird.

Her sister looks at me, a shocked expression on her face, and says "To KILL a Mockingbird?? Is that a horror book?"

The tween rolls her eyes and says, "Noooooo, dummy. It's from the Hunger Games series."

So close, kids. So close.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

When you walk over to the kid's catalog computer and it's like:



Friday, October 10, 2014

Literary Moments of the Golden Girls (The Library List)

A couple of weeks ago I published a piece on Book Riot called "Literary Moments of the Golden Girls: A Complete List." I don't want to overstate things here, but (like I said on Twitter), I think it might be the most important thing I have ever written or will ever write.

Below are just the library references I pulled for the post, but I encourage you to read the whole thing. It was a lot of fun to put together...and the girls were surprisingly literary! 

And if you doubt my undying love for The Golden Girls, here's a picture my friend Brian made for me five years ago in which I get to be Blanche. Truly, a dream come true. 



S1E10: “The Heart Attack”
Picture it: Sophia is having chest pains and the girls talk as they wait for an ambulance.
Rose: “There shouldn’t be heart attacks. Or cancer, or anything like that. There should just be a certain age when you have to turn your life in, like a library book.”
Literary Reference: libraries
S2E4: “It’s a Miserable Life”
Picture it: Rose tells one of her infamous St. Olaf stories about Mr. Minky, her town’s surly librarian.
Rose: “One summer, I worked up enough nerve to check out the latest Nancy Drew mystery and Mr. Minky was stamping my book and his tie got caught in the stamping machine. He’d have choked to death if I hadn’t cut his tie with my Girl Scout knife. Well, he was so overwhelmed with gratitude he let me check my book out for a whole week!”
Blanche: “What’s so special about that?”
Rose: “Oh, usually he’d only let you check your book out for an hour. Mr. Minky always said ‘Books belong in a library.'”
Dorothy: “Really, Rose. I always thought Churchill said that at YALTA.”
Literary Reference: the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene; libraries
S4E4: “Yokel Hero”
Picture it: Rose is nominated for St. Olaf’s Woman of the Year
Rose: “Last year Gretchen Lillyhammer won for running into the burning library and saving all the books!”
Blanche: “That is amazing, how’d she do that?”
Rose: “She took two books in one hand and one in the other and ran like the Dickens.”
Dorothy: “Your library only has three books? What happens when a person’s read them all?”
Rose: “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
Literary References: libraries, Charles Dickens

S6E11: “Stand By Your Man” (Note: this episode has a LOT of great bookish/libraryish references, so I only included my favorites. Watch the episode for more.)
Picture it: Dorothy and Blanche go to the library and Blanche meets a nice man (who later turns out to be not-so-nice).
Dorothy: “Excuse me, my friend would like to apply for a library card.”
Librarian: “What friend?”
Dorothy: “The one whose checking out everything but the books.”
Blanche: “Whatcha reading? Oh, you must be a passionate man! Females to Fondle?!”
Man: “It’s volume seven of the encyclopedia.”
Dorothy: “My mother talked me into getting her the new Stephen King.”
Librarian: “Well, we do have the one that came out last Tuesday.”
Dorothy: “As long as it’s not about some little creature who finds new and inventive ways of terrorizing a household. It’s for my mother, I don’t want to give her any ideas.”
Dorothy, to the librarian: “I’ll put the book on my card. I want you to know my card is always current, I come to the library at least three times a week, and my books are always returned promptly during regular library hours, rain or shine WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME?”
And lastly…
Blanche, praying: “As god as my witness, I will never pick up another man. In a libary. on a Saturday. unless he’s cute. And drives a nice car. Amen!”
Literary Reference: libraries, encylopedias, Stephen King

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Existential Storytime

Every so often I get to fill in for storytime here at my new branch, and it's always fun.

Today I ran the Preschool Storytime program and one of the books I read was The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (a great read-aloud).

When I finished the book, I asked the kids if they thought a watermelon seed could ACTUALLY grow inside a person's belly.

One of the girls (who I suspect was slightly older than preschool age, but it's all good) raised her hand and said:

"No. There is no truth there."

Sometimes storytime gets existential, y'all.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Brooklyn Classic

Hey guys, I haven't been posting too many library stories here lately because things have been ohmygodcrazy with my new job (plus with the picture book, podcast, and, you know, LIFE) so I'm going to try to be better about that. In the meantime, I'll be passing along cool opportunities I see or am asked to spread the word about (but only if I really think they are cool, I swear).

Here's one for becoming an "engaged, young supporter" of Brooklyn Public Library (plus...COCKTAILS):

Second Annual Brooklyn Classic 
Fall Cocktail Party + Benefit

Enjoy live Latin jazz rhythms with the Jeremy DeJesus Quintet and savor
fine Caribbean and Latin-infused fare from Naturally Delicious as we celebrate
our Library and its role as a vibrant cultural anchor for every Brooklyn community.
Hosted by the Brooklyn Eagles, a new group of engaged 
young supporters of Brooklyn Public Library. 

Tuesday, September 30

6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Central Library
10 Grand Army Plaza

Tickets start at $150 and include Brooklyn Eagles membership.
To purchase tickets, please click here.

Proceeds from the Brooklyn Classic directly support Brooklyn Public Library’s
collections and programming for children, youth and families.

For more information about the Brooklyn Classic or the Brooklyn Eagles,
contact Mike Fieni, Manager of Community Engagement at mfieni@bklynlibrary.org
or visit bklynlibrary.org/brooklyneagles.


Mercedes Armillas
Justin & Leigh BrannanAndrew Brent
Lauren Brignone

Kwanza Butler *
Ashley C. Cotton
Kate Cucco

Sean E. Cunningham
Charles Duhigg
Myla Goldberg
Peter Goldstein
Peter Goldwasser
Melanie Hartzog
Sarah Johnson
Brooklyn Public Library Trustee
Marie Clare Katigbak
Joel Kress
Hon. Brad Lander
Arden Levine
Dena Libner
David Margalit
Lucy Mayo
Yolanda McBride
Kathleen McGee
Hon. Carlos Menchaca
Ashley Mihlebach
Eric Munson
Joseph Musso
Shauneequa Owusu
Grace Rauh
Tucker Reed
Adam Riff
Jeremy Robbins

Divya Sashti
Elizabeth Semmens
Jessica Silver

Emma Straub
Shin-pei Tsay
Michelle R. Van-Ess
Joanna Weiss
Dan Wilbur

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Faces of the Past

As I (slowwwwly, paaaainfully) transition into my new supervisory role, I've been going through my old files and weeding out things I no longer need. The image below (which I made, by the way, don't be jealous of my art skillz) was on a handout that I apparently intended to use in a children's program:

I can't even remember what sort of program I was going to do (I think something with emotions? Like, the kids were supposed to complete the face with how they were feeling? Or something?), but I apologize to the kids of Brooklyn for ever planning to inflict this kind of existentially terrifying image on them.

Of course, feel free to use this if it will help you with programs or with just expressing how you feel. For example, this is how I look when the kids come to the library after school:


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Beer & Books (For a Good Cause!)

I've been asked by a good friend to pass along a message about a great opportunity for you guys to buy antiques/vintage books, drink beer, AND support the Greenpoint branch of the Brooklyn Public Library while you're at it. I plan to be at this event; hope to see you there too!

"The organizers of the Brooklyn Antiques and Book Fair, scheduled for September 13-14 (7:30pm-9:30pm) at the Brooklyn Expo Center at Franklin and Noble in Greenpoint, are putting together a special opening reception to benefit the Friends of the Greenpoint Library on Friday, September 12. Tickets are $25, including drinks and food from Brooklyn Brewery and Milk Truck, and are good for entrance throughout the entire weekend."

Tickets can be purchased at here at Eventbrite

More information about the event is on their webpage

And, of course, they have a Facebook page. Check it out!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wine, Robot

Check out this robot a kid made for our summer reading program. (She made it at home with her grandfather and brought it in to show us.) Bonus points for using a wine box. You get me, kid. You get me.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Found in the Library

 Saw this in my library's recycling bin. Sadly, no Marauder's Map was found with it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Haunted Library

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this series of tweets last week about a serious haunting problem in my library: 




As you can probably tell, it was an exciting day. Since the girls were compeltely freaking themselves out about the library ghost, after they filmed their "newsreel" (which I have not yet seen, sadly), I told them they should do some investigating and then write down the facts. This was the result:

A bit later, the girls came up to me and said they found an ACTUAL note from the ghost (nevermind the fact that I had given them this paper myself and they said they were going to crinkle it to make it look "old". It's GENUINE, they assured me).

"Sincerely, the Ghost." Very polite for a poltergeist, no? 

Later still, I found photographic evidence of "The Lady" on a table.

They point out that she has white hair because all ghosts have white hair, apparently.

This note was at the bottom:

We're all creeped out, kids. We're all creeped out.

So, the "Ghostbuster Cousins" didn't actually say how they planned to bust the library ghost, but if all else fails, they can always call the librarian. (Unless, of course, she is a ghost herself.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I am vengeance. I am the night. I am...THE LIBRARIAN!

Since today is National Batman Day, I thought this would be a good time to share with you what the great Chip Kidd said about librarians:


A few months ago, my boyfriend (who is a big comics nerd) and I attended the Batman at 75 panel, which featured Mr. Kidd, Michael Uslan, Kevin Conroy, Kevin Smith, and my Twitter friend Marc Tyler Nobleman, who put together the panel (and who writes interesting books about Bill Finger, one of the formerly unsung heroes in Batman's history). I'm not much of a comics gal myself, but I found it to be very interesting stuff. 

After the panel, there was a book signing, and, as I usually do when I go to signings, I awkwardly blurted that I was a librarian to the signees - luckily, Chip knows what's up.

Happy National Batman Day, everyone!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Another Summer, Another Case of Summer Reading List Drama

What is it about summer reading that makes people so cranky? Is it the heat? Are people just bored before they go away on vacation? I dunno, man. Last year, people got all up in arms about mistakes on a school's summer reading list. That was fun.

THIS summer's drama hits a bit closer to home for me: an opinion columnist at the NY Post wrote a rather scathing and (in my opinion) uninformed diatribe against this's seasons summer reading lists from NYC libraries. Here are just a few of the author's problems with the books that were chosen for the list: there aren't enough classics on it, the books represent too much ethnic diversity, and (I'm paraphrasing here), librarains are obviously trying too hard to be politically correct to pander to certain demographics. 

Here's my reaction piece over on Book Riot: A Defense of NYPL's Summer Reading List for Kids.

The issues of literacy and diversity in books are very important to me, so I tried hard to give a measured, somewhat-fact-based response (as opposed to yelling and breaking things, like I was tempted to do). I hope you find it worth reading, and I hope your summer - and summer reading - are going well.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Domo Arigato, Ms. Roboto

You know when you're having kind of a rough day and then some of the library kids come in and show you a freaking ROBOT that they made just for the library and then your day seems much, much better?

I introduce to you the "Maid/Cleaner 3000." This was created by two tween library users (girls, I might add) with an interest in science and technology. One of our suggested activities for the Summer Reading challenge is to make a robot, and these kids sure delivered.

There are its sponge feet. And it was made with 100% recycled materials, so it's good for the planet (or so I was told). I asked the girls what made them think of this design, and they said they had so many cleaning chores over the summer, it would be good to have some help.

Thank you for making the day a bit brighter and cleaner, girls.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ain't No Pun Like a Librarian Pun

Teen: "I'm having STRUGGLES."
Me: "What's wrong?"
Teen: "I need to do a five-page report on Joseph Stalin."
Me: "Ouch."
Teen: "I KNOW. I'm going to die."
Me: "Well, I think researching Stalin will put things in perspective for you."
A little while later, she came back up to the desk in an obvious attempt to put off doing her report.
Me: "Don't you have a report to write?"
Teen: "I DON'T WANT TO."
Me: "When is it due?"
Teen: "Tomorrow."
Me: "Tomorrow!"
Teen: *nods with shame*
Me: "Then you'd better stop STALLIN'!"
Teen: *blank stare*
Teen: "That was really cheesy."
Me: *nods with shame*
Can't win 'em all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summertime and The Reading is Easy

I just wanted to share a few quotes from actual kids I talked to during my Summer Reading school visit today:

1) "We need to read over the summer to get smarter and learn more things so we can grow up and write books." (When I asked why it was important to read over the summer.) 

2) "Can I live at your library?" It sounds fun." (When I talked about library programs.)

3) And lastly, when I asked the kids if they were able to read for 20 minutes, one kid was like, "Psht, I can read for 20 HOURS." Oh yeah? PROVE IT, BIG SHOT.

Happy Summer Reading, children's librarians. God help us all.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

News to Share: Book Deal!

So, I haven't talked about this much on here (mostly because I didn't want to jinx things), BUT I have some news to share about a picture book manuscript I've been working on for the past two years or so. After a lot of revising and waiting and revising and waiting, I'm beyond thrilled to announce that my book Edward Gets Messy has sold to Simon & Schuster Children's Books, thanks to the hard work of my wonderful agent Brooks Sherman and my awesome new editor Kristin Ostby. I am so excited to be working with this team! Here's the official announcement from PW Children's Bookshelf

I'll post any significant updates about the book's actual creation as they occur. (And rest assured, I will NOT be doing the art. I just tried to draw a pig and this was the result. Someone call a vet!)

At least it's smiling?

In conclusion: yay! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kids, man.

NYC schools have a half day today, so of course a big group of kids came to the library right when we opened.

Kid (after seeing the computers are all being used for an adult computer class): "Aw, maaaaaan."

Me: "Well, you can read while you wait!"

Kid:  "We can read when we're grownups. The only time we can have FUN is when we're kids."


Monday, June 2, 2014

When Literary Tattoos Go Wrong

Yesterday I was doing some organizing in my apartment (you know how librarians like to have fun) and I came across a book of "Illustrated Librarian" temporary tattoos that I had received in grad school. Since I graduated approximately eight million years ago, I wanted to see if they still worked  - and they did! 


I've never seriously considered getting a real tattoo...not because I don't like them or because I'm afraid of the pain, but because I'm scared that I'll change my mind about whatever it is I choose as a design. I've toyed with the idea of getting something literary because, you know, BOOKS (side note: the Book Riot crew has a lot of inspirational literary tattoos, which you can see here), but I can't ever seem to be able to commit fully enough to an image or quote...at least not enough to feel good about it literally being a part of my body/skin for the REST OF MY LIFE.

However, applying the fake tattoo yesterday kind of got me in the mood to at least THINK about designs, so I asked my insanely talented boyfriend Michael if he'd help me sketch something out, just for fun. (Michael also created this amazing librarian pulp poster a few years ago, so you know he's got talent.) He asked what ideas I had, and I told him that it might be nice to incorporate a part of my favorite quote ("The world was hers for the reading") from my favorite book (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith) into a related image (a tree. Because I like trees and "tree" is in the book title. I'm so original!) I told him I'd do a rough sketch first to show him what I meant.

That's when things went terribly wrong.

Okay, well, that's when my drawing went terribly wrong. As you can see from the image below (and from previous posts in this very blog), I have absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever. I'm not being modest or fishing for compliments when I say this. It's a well-established fact, and I am okay with it. So, basically, my version of a tree looks like a whale tail with Chia-hair. Luckily, from my monstrosiTREE (I don't know) Michael was able to understand the basic idea of what I wanted and drew a beautiful version of the quote in a tree:

I don't know if I'll ever be brave enough to get Michael's design actually tattooed on my person, but I do love it. Or maybe I'll come up with another idea altogether that I'll actually decide is worthy of becoming a permanent "living" art exhibit. For now, I'll just stick with the temporary tattoo. (Maybe I'll trick the kids at the library into thinking it's real. Again, we librarians like to have our fun.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Catch Up on Dear Book Nerd!

Over at Book Riot, I've had some fabulous guests on the Dear Book Nerd podcast lately! (Although, I think all my guests have been fabulous. I may be biased.) 

In case you missed them, here are the episodes that have come out since the last time I posted about the show on this blog:

Episode #7: Entering the Literary Discomfort Zone

"The witty and charming Colleen AF Venable joins me this week to answer some TOUGH QUESTIONS from listeners. We discuss issues like restricting what kids are allowed to read, who has the final say in what is even “appropriate” for kids in terms of literature, how to deal with family bookish drama, getting out of your own literary comfort zone, and much more. (Then we take a fun break and talk about poetry! Yay!)"

Episode #8: The Guilt Game

"The bold and brilliant Saladin Ahmed joins me for Episode #8 to answer two listener-submitted questions about very specific types of book guilt. Saladin and I act as judges in the 'Guilt Game,' deciding whether or not these people should feel guilty about things like not buying a book when you visit a book store, not finishing a book you’ve started, taking out library books when other people might need them more, and how not to act like a jerk to booksellers and authors. Have a listen!"

Episode #9: Is Honesty the Best Policy?

"I am joined this week by the philosophical and hilarious Ari Scott , who is a writer for the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC and AMC Story Notes. Ari and I give advice about to three listeners who are struggling with whether or not it’s a good idea to be honest with people when it comes to book recommendations. We cover red-hot topics such as: can I lie to my friend about having time to read this book she recommended? Should I tell my friend I think this series sucks? And, speaking of series, is it okay to hate Game of Thrones?"

"This week, the eloquent and enthusiastic Jonathan Auxier joins me on the show and we answer two listener-submitted questions about the different ways in which people experience books. Jonathan and I explore issues such as: is it better to deeply analyze a book, or just enjoy it? Am I driving my friends crazy when I pick apart their favorite novels? How do my partner and I reconcile our differences when we don’t experience books in the same way? And much more. Don’t miss it!"

(Note: there were some audio problems with the second half of Episode #10, which is annoying because Jonathan had lots of interesting things to say. But we are working on the problem and it should be fixed by the next show! Thanks for your patience.) 


And if YOU have any bookish questions you'd like answered on the podcast, please email me at DearBookNerd@bookriot.com or use the little webform thingy at the bottom of each post above. Don't be shy! Try to challenge me! And thank you to those of you who have submitted questions and/or listened to the show. I really appreciate it. 

Until next time!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Conversations at the Reference Desk

Me: "Why is your arm in a cast???"

Scrappy Tween Girl: "I punched a wall."
Me: "Whyyyyy did you do that?"
Scrappy Tween Girl: "Because I was mad."
Me: "Well, can you maybe think of a more constructive way to express your anger?"
Scrappy Tween Girl: "Yeah. Punching softer things."

Touché, scrappy tween girl. Touché.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Day in the Life

Several months ago I was asked by documentary filmmaker Julie Dressner to be a part of an advocacy video featuring different library branches and library workers in the BPL, NYPL, and QBPL systems (which are all awesome, but separate). Being an advocate for libraries in whatever way I can be, I jumped at the chance.

The goals of the video were two-fold:

1) To show the reality of working in a public library and the positive effects that libraries have on actual people living in the city.

2) To help NYC libraries get better funding.

I'm proud have been involved (a small segment of my interview pops up at minute 8:43, as well as shots of some of my library kids) and I think the entire video came out very well. Watch it here:

Libraries Now: A Day in the Life of NYC’s Branches

The video is also being featured on The Atlantic and other outlets. With all the misinformation and ignorance about libraries swirling around out there, I hope the message gets spread far and wide. People need libraries. Libraries help people. It's that simple.

Also! Julie had asked me if I knew of anyone from my branch who should be featured in the video, and right away I thought of my wonderful (now former, *sob*) teen volunteer, C.R., who wrote this amazing essay and allowed me to feature it on my blog a while back: "Why The Library Saved My Life." Read it if you get the chance. It's important. While her interview didn't make this particular video, you can see her in the background during many of the shots. Thanks for being awesome, C.R.! And thank you to Julie and Jessie Hicks for making such a powerful, true-to-life piece.

And just for fun, the photo below is a still of me from the advocacy video sent to me by my sister. In this segment, I was talking to C.R. (who is highly charming and amusing) but for some reason I was trying to maintain a serious, business-like expression. My sister noted that it looked like I was trying very hard not to laugh. She was correct. An actress I'll never be. Oh well. Guess I'll stick with the librarianing. It's pretty cool anyway.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reference Question of the Day

Sometimes the best reference questions are the ones I barely even answer:

Lady: "How do you spell 'chauvinist'?"

Me: *spells it for her*

Lady: "Thanks. I used to know that word soooooo well."

Me: *raises eyebrow*

Lady: "Now, the phrase 'voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir.' I know what it means. I just don't know how to spell the 'ce soir' part."

Me: *spells it for her*

Lady: "You know, I knew that phrase even before the song came out."

Me: *raises eyebrow again*

Lady: "I once dated a man from Canada and he said that phrase to me one day. I didn't know what it meant, but I found out soon after. When I saw him again, I slapped him right in his face."

Me: *raises both eyebrows* *eyebrows freeze that way forever* *never needs Botox*

I love my job.