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Friday, June 30, 2006

27 by 27

I realized last week that June 22 was my half-birthday. Now, please realize, I haven't celebrated half-birthdays in a long time. When I was a kid, it was a big deal because that meant I was nine-and-a-half (practically 10). You get the idea. Of course, now it just serves to remind me that I'm getting older, something I've never fully accepted!

My grandmother, on the other hand, recently turned 85 years old and couldn't be prouder. She doesn't look 85, she doesn't act 85, and she doesn't feel 85!

So, with that in mind, I've decided to embrace the fact that I'm now 26 1/2 and will be 27 in December.

Spurred on by Red Bay News Publisher LaVale Mills's "60 by 60" decision (to lose 60 pounds by the time she turns 60), I've made my own "27 by 27" list.

Things to do by the time I turn 27 (on December 22):

1) Lose 27 pounds.

2) Walk 27 miles (at once).

3) Read 27 books.

4) Save $270.

5) Write 27 stories (fiction, not news).

6) Complete 27 random acts of kindness.

7) Learn 27 new workout or yoga moves.

8) Learn 27 new piano pieces.

9) Watch 27 movies (thanks to Blockbuster Online, this should be no problem).

10) See (in person) 27 notable things I've never seen before.

11) Re-study the 27 books of the New Testament.

12) Visit 27 libraries.

13) Try 27 new recipes (poor Jason).

14) Find 27 "solutions" to cliches.

15) Paint my toenails 27 different shades (not all at once, of course).

16) Spend 27 minutes outside every day, unless it's raining.

17) Learn 27 new words.

18) Write down 27 memories of my mother.

19) Turn 27 of my Tee-shirts into a quilt.

20) Watch all 27 episodes of the fourth season of the "Dukes of Hazzard."

21) Watch the movie "Chapter 27." (This one is a bit flexible, since the movie is not scheduled to premiere until next year--but it still counts!)

22) Learn the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

23) Listen to Mozart's 27 concertos.

24) Read the 27 books in the Xanth trilogy by Piers Anthony.

25) Drive on Highway 27 in Georgia.

26) Make 27 additions to my Web site.

27) Update my blog (at least) 27 times!

OK, I'll be keeping this as up-to-date as possible. Pictures are also a possibility, but not definite yet. (Still no digital camera--we live in the dark ages at our house!)

Wish me luck, and happy reading!

Google-Pt. 4

Just wanted to pass along the fourth issue of Google's newsletter for librarians.

Enjoy, and have a happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Light in the Darkness

I was reading On My Own by Melody Carlson this week (take it from me--this is a great series). And in one passage, the character was talking about the song "This Little Light of Mine." She was going to college, where one of her goals was to be a light for God in the darkness of the world.

And at first, she was incredibly positive and hopeful. Then, things became more tough...typical college problems, searching for God's will--the kinds of things we all face. That's when she started to be overwhelmed and overshadowed by the "darkness" around her.

But I was thinking, that's when our light for God is shining and standing out even more. If you're in a "light" situation at home or church, yeah, you can see your candle, but it doesn't look nearly as bright as when it's shining in complete darkness.

So I've just been meditating on that this week, and I wanted to pass along something Jesus said about it, too, in Matthew 5.

I've needed to meditate on that this week! I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed myself, juggling three different jobs, everyday housework, Fred...and through it all trying to carve enough space to spend time with God and my husband--my two most important relationships. (By the way, that above cartoon was NOT a reference to him--in any way, shape or form--haha-it was just funny stuff!)

Seriously, though, these thoughts have actually helped! Not to mention, I have an amazing "prayer warrior" out there that I'm counting on this week. If I might share some thoughts from one of my long-time mentors:

"May you know His love and peace and keep a happy heart through it all. I know you get tired of my reminding you to just take "one thing at a time" and it will all get done. Another truth that I state as an encouragement is "This, too, shall pass..." I do not say these things to minimize the pressure you feel right now, but I offer them as "tried and true" advice, motivated with love. Let me conclude with a statement from Helen Steiner Rice. She states, "God helps us solve our problems when we place ourselves completely in His mighty hands." God has been good... He loves us, and we are His."

So, if you're tired or overwhelmed or discouraged this week, I hope these thoughts have helped you, too! Keep praying!

Wrapping Up June

Remember the town meetings going on across the state? Well, I hit the one in Demopolis Saturday!

Interesting stuff...not a big crowd, but big discussion.

Don't want to comment too much right now because I'm doing a story on it for the fan-tab-ulous show, Alabama Life, on Alabama Public Radio.

Either tune in Sunday, June 25, at noon to hear more, listen online, or get it on a podcast.

Good stuff!

A few other things have come across my path recently...

This report on attitudes of Americans toward libraries looked interesting, overall, but be ready to plow through the 85 pages! I've gotten lazy since grad school, so I haven't read it yet. But here's the link if you're interested:

http://www.lff.org/long_overdue061306.html.

This also looked interesting and useful:

http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

OK, so there's some happy reading for you! Remember to tune in Sunday for the feature.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Summer's Top Ten

This week in Tuscaloosa, temperatures are hitting the 90s. Although the official first day of Summer isn't until next week, it's here already, believe me.

While I was immediately tempted to complain about the oppressive, smothering feeling of a Tuscaloosa June, I decided to take a look at the things I DO like about Summer in the South!

10) There's not nearly as much traffic in T-town.

9) Shaved ice--All of the taste of ice cream, none of the calories. My favorite is a place called Summer Snow in Alberta City.

8) The smell of a yard that has just been cut.

7) Even though I'm working more now than I do through the school year, I still FEEL as if I'm on a break! There's just that "Summer mentality" that everyone seems to have right now. Life feels more flexible.

6) Vacation!

5) Reruns--no pressure to watch television and keep up with your shows.

4) Laying out. Sometimes I only get outside for 10 or 15 minutes, but it feels so amazing to soak up that daily dose of Vitamin D.

3) I love the long, long days. I love that the sun is just setting when I go to bed and just rising when I get up.

2) Baseball. You know, I couldn't tell you the last time I've been to an actual game. But I still love it. Watching the Braves from home or Turner Stadium, keeping up with the Rangers, renting Bull Durham over and over, drinking an ice-cold Coke while doing all of these.
Summer Perfection!

And the number one reason I love Summer in Tuscaloosa...

1) It's not Winter in Connecticut!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Loyalty Oaths, etc...

OK, before diving into the weightier matter of loyalty oaths, I thought you'd enjoy a couple of fun library stories that have crossed my path this summer:

School Library Journal featured fantastic author Jacqueline Woodson this month. Check out the interview online, and look here for more information about Jacqueline Woodson.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/africa_kenyan_camel_library/html/1.stm

http://www.lacrossetribune.com/articles/2006/05/26/news/library_0526.txt

And...Yahoo! now has a new feature that competes nicely with Google: http://answers.yahoo.com/

Moving on...

The topic of loyalty oaths recently hit the SLIS listserv. Apparently one of our public library colleagues in Arizona is being required to take a loyalty oath to keep his job.

From what I understand, the ALA (more below) is now looking into the case, so it might be resolved in his favor. When I first read the posts, I must admit that I thought, "What's the big deal? Say the oath. Move along."

But, then I got a different perspective.

Thanks to a radio colleague, who hosts a fantastic show called "Getting Sentimental Over You" on Alabama Public Radio, I began to see how important these oaths really are, and I started looking more closely at the reasons people take them.

Here's the oath in question:

State of Arizona, County of Pima I, (type or print name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of according to the best of my ability, so help me God (or so I do affirm).

Here's a sampling of thoughts/discussion:

"All Federal Government employees, including military and civilian, are required to take this oath when we accept a government job…and it doesn't bother me at all. If I expect to be paid by American citizens, I owe each and every one of them my "truth faith and allegiance" to the laws and Constitution of the United States of America…The oath is NOT just to the library or for the library -- it's a requirement for all government (federal, state and county) employees. By the way, here's the oath you have to take to become an American citizen-- those of us who were blessed enough to be born Americans usually don't have to say this -- but maybe we need to be reminded of what it means to be born American."

“Why should anyone be required to take an oath that they intend to abide by the laws of the land? Are we to presume that everyone harbors a desire to violate the constitution unless he or she makes a solemn declaration that he or she will not do so? And, what difference does it make that someone has taken such an oath? Does making a solemn pronouncement--and even invoking the supreme deity of one's choice ensure that he or she will not willfully violate the Constitution? Don't we have recent examples of incumbents of the nation's highest offices, who took oaths to uphold and defend the constitution, yet who, nonetheless, openly violated the constitution--to say nothing of other laws? Do we ask everyone who enters a bank to swear that they will not rob the bank? Do we ask teachers to take oaths that they will not molest the children in their care? Do we ask everyone who renews a driver's license to take an oath that they will faithfully obey traffic laws? After all, we use and share highways paid for with public monies; don't we owe every one of those taxpayers our complete allegiance to the traffic laws?"

“Sometimes, because of the special nature of what a person is about to undertake, those with a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings following the oath will want to be sure that the potential oath-taker is reminded that the circumstances are so serious that if he or she is not completely committed to the ideals which the stakeholders hold near and dear; then they should not make promises in front of God and everybody...unless they are committed. It may be that, under those circumstances, it is best to remind the oath-taker (and any witnesses) that before they can "play", they must publicly affirm their commitment to the process; upon pain of punishment should they violate the oath. Do certain forms of employment warrant such public promises? Probably. Should oaths be used sparingly so that the solemnity of the special circumstances which prompted them is preserved? Probably. Should a librarian have to take an oath as a condition of employment? No.”

For the record, here's the ALA's position on loyalty oaths.

And, while I haven't totally made up my mind on the issue, I tend to agree that a librarian should NOT have to take a loyalty oath as a condition of employment.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Content-Driven Libraries

I recently received an e-mail discussing content-driven libraries.

For those of you who don't know (like me), that means that videos, reference books, and circulating items are put on the same shelves so that customers can see all the materials on a topic at the same time.

Interesting concept, especially for public libraries.

For patrons who aren't as familiar with Dewey as librarians and library aficionados are, this concept might be less confusing. Another positive is that rarely-utilized materials would likely be circulated more often.

The e-mail also pointed out that patrons don't need as much staff assistance when browsing.

However, there doesn't seem to be a lot of research out there concerning content-driven (rather than format-driven) libraries. A simple Google search only brought up about 10 results, only one of which I found useful.

It seems to be a bit like The Purpose-Driven Church. What is your library's purpose, style, audience? Go from there to decide which format might be best for you.

Overall, this could be a truly useful organizational system that shouldn't be discarded for being "outside the box."

Next on the agenda: some fun library stories and debate over loyalty oaths

Summer Reading

When I was in high school, I eagerly anticipated the summer, not only for the freedom of school, but also for the freedom from required reading.

As much as I love to read and appreciated being introduced to books I might not otherwise pick up, it was always so much fun to be able to just read--without other time restrictions like school, without anyone else telling me what I should be reading or what I should be learning from it!

Most of the time, I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't choose anything that noteworthy. In fact, I generally embarked upon what I called my "summer of trash!"

That meant anything from magazines to Danielle Steel! And it was great fun, but, as with most things in life, it would have been better in moderation!

So, here are my "top 10" suggestions for fellow readers out there:

1) Plan some kind of summer reading--even if it is just a summer of trash!

2) Try and move past reading ONLY trash!

3) Reread a favorite novel.

4) Check out a "classic" you've always meant to read.

5) See what summer programs your public library might offer.

6) Read a book, then watch the movie adaptation and compare!

7) Girls out there, if you read nothing else this summer, definitely check out the "Sisterchicks" series from Robin Jones Gunn. I'm halfway through those and loving them!

8) With all the talk about "The Da Vinci Code," try reading something spiritual--something that will help clarify what you believe and why. (And, no, "The Da Vinci Code doesn't count.) How about C.S. Lewis? My two favorites are Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters.

9) Check out books for children and/or young adults. There are some amazing authors out there, and you don't have to have kids (or even like them) to enjoy this literature! My favorites--the "Junie B. Jones" series by Barbara Park, the "Series of Unfortunate Events" by Lemony Snicket and the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series by Ann Brashares.

10) And, OK, if you're going to read trash this summer, at least do it right! Grab a copy of Jewels by Danielle Steel, an InStyle magazine and a KitKat bar!

Read from the beginning...