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Friday, March 30, 2007

Give...but Carefully!

I do not have the constitution to give blood.

It's not that I haven't tried...I just can't seem to give without passing out. I've been known to take a fall right after walking into the little donor van.

In fact, I've only given once (stood up, and promptly passed out). The other THREE times I tried, my body just wouldn't cooperate. I think it's some type of inner self-defense mechanism.

My dad, on the other hand, gives like clockwork, just about as often as they'll let him.

If you're more like him than like me, and you're close to Tuscaloosa, I encourage you to help out with the SLIS blood drive!

When: Monday, April 16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: The curve in front of Morgan Hall on the west side of Gorgas Library.

Why: To assist our fellow Alabamians affected by the recent tornados

What else: This will be part of a 4-day, campus-wide challenge. The other 3 days are April 17, 23, and 24.

For more information:

And, please, just try not to pass out!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Pleasant Diversion...

Maybe these will make your Thursday pass a little faster.

Peeps are definitely welcome in the ACA library!

Meanwhile, check out the new Google Librarian newsletter.

Happy reading (and munching)!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Book Reviews

I'll try to do a longer post soon. Between APR's fund drive, working and reading (of course), I haven't had lots of time! I'll try to catch up soon.

Meanwhile, I've been starting to post book reviews on my "professional" blog.

Here are the first couple:

Saving Fish From Drowning

Assassination Vacation

Let me know what you think, and happy reading!

Assassination Vacation

"It's just a small, pleasant buzz to amble around and watch the city come alive with forgotten men."

Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation is all about forgotten men coming alive. She delves into the deaths of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley not only with accuracy, but also with the dry wit that's made her famous on shows such as NPR's This American Life.

Vowell takes a tour around the United States, checking out and reporting on sites that are (sometimes remotely) related to the three assassinations. This potentially morbid subject goes beyond merely interesting to culturally relevant when she draws parallels between historic escapades and current events.

Don't get me wrong. Our politics could not be farther apart on the spectrum, and I would have preferred it if she had spent a bit less time snarkily slamming President Bush and instead focusing on the topic at hand (or including a chapter on President Kennedy).

If you're not of the liberal mindset, you might want to skim certain parts, but I still suggest you read the book, if only to get to know Vowell a bit better. Her long list of phobias and quirky descriptions had me laughing out loud. And she definitely made those "forgotten men" come alive.

By the way, if you enjoy Assassination Vacation, check out The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. All of the fun of history...none of the political commentary.

UA Happenings

Celebrate Women's History Month on Wednesday, March 28th for 50% Moonshine and 50% Moonshine: Flappers at Alabama.

There will be a UA women's history trivia contest before the talk, with winners receiving a copy of The University of Alabama Trivia Book. A signing and reception will follow the talk at the Hoole Library. More info? 205-348-0500.

Meanwhile, there's been a recent discussion on the SLIS listserv about "shushing" in the library. Now, with 900 kids between the ages of 4 and 18, I have to do my fair amount of shushing. But this discussion made me think!

A few of the quotes...

"I clearly remember the quiet and peaceful atmosphere maintained in the town library. It was a refuge from the workday surroundings on the outside. One could read and reflect and ponder this and that and be assured that the library staff would maintain a contemplative environment. It was one of the things that caused me to want to be a librarian; to beone of those friendly, helpful people who worked in a subdued andrespectful atmosphere. It was nice to be where you could get away from coarse behavior, away from loud and mindless chatter, and away from people who just wanted to hang-out and/or goof-off."

"I hold the opinion...that "shusher-staff" often are motivated by their personalities (perhaps a wish to control, Dr. Freud?) rather than a desire to maintain a pleasant library environment. I've read that whispering is more distracting to someone trying to concentrate than overhearing a soft conversational tone. That stuck with me because personally, I do find whispers more distracting than soft voices. Most distracting of all, though, is someone being shushed!"

I think the main goal is to create and maintain that *pleasant* library environment. So, what's your definition of pleasant? Any thoughts on shushing?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Saving Fish From Drowning

What would you do if you meticulously planned an exotic trip to Asia for you and 12 of your closest friends…and then died just before you were supposed to leave?

If you’re Bibi Chen, you go anyway and act as the omniscient narrator for Amy Tan’s latest novel Saving Fish From Drowning. Apparently being dead gives Bibi, formerly a high-end antiques dealer, a higher consciousness of sorts as well as a number of insights into others’ thoughts and actions. However, the circumstances of her own death continue to elude her, much to her distress.

Despite her death, the trip to China and Burma/Myanmar (depending on whom you ask) continues…but not quite as planned. The American tourists, without Bibi’s guidance, end up in a number of jams, from desecrating shrines to disappearing altogether. And, for once, she is powerless to help. She can only observe and wonder if any of them (herself included) will find their way home again.

Amy Tan once again gives us a fascinating peek into a culture that is far removed from our own in many ways. Yet she uses subtle social commentary and empathetic characters to highlight similarities we might overlook at first glance. The situations they find themselves in are at times maddening, hilarious, bittersweet and frightening (sometimes all at once).

While Tan is one of my favorite authors, this is not my favorite work of hers, partly because I see too much of myself in some of the American tourists! Also, I didn’t sense quite as much depth in the characters as Tan usually provides. I wouldn’t recommend this as a “first read” of Amy Tan’s, but if you’re a fan already, you’ll still enjoy it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quick Links

Feeling hungry?

If you're planning to be in Tuscaloosa on Monday, April 2, stop by Gorgas Library and check out the edible book festival.

Yeah, you read me right.

Also, I like this blog. Inspiring for those of us who work with teenagers.

Meanwhile, I received yet another thought-provoking e-mail on the SLIS listserv recently. A UCLA professor was commenting on LIS education. A few of Marcia Bates' thoughts...especially interesting to those of us who have studied both communication and library sciences.

I have my own theory as to why it is difficult for universities to figure out where to put us. There are at least three disciplines that do not fit into the conventional academic spectrum of arts-- humanities--social sciences--natural sciences. These three are information studies, education, and communication/journalism.

These three don't fit because they all deal with ALL the conventional subject matters. Education people have to deal with teaching all the subjects, information people have to deal with storing and retrieving all the subjects, and communication researchers and journalists deal with the communication of all subject matters. Thus, these three fields encompass the whole conventional spectrum, but each from a particular perspective--learning, informing, and transmitting, respectively.

These disciplines...facilitate the transmission of the content of all the other disciplines.

Ideally, these three big fields should be in the same college, but each be different schools within the college. The history and shaping of the theory and practice of these three disciplines is so different that they don't fit ideally well together in a single school. Furthermore, because education, information, and communication departments have often been marginalized within the traditional university structure, they often fight with each other, each scrambling to keep from being the discipline that ends up on the very bottom rung of the university pecking order.

I'll try to have more comments and a book review posted soon!

Top Ten Books...

OK, normally I love doing "Top Ten" lists. Makes me feel like a female David Letterman.

But this one was tough! I was challenged, though, after I read bookgirl's list, and I wanted to see if I could actually narrow down my many, many favorites to...

The Top Ten Books You Can't Live Without...(cue dramatic music)

10. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Normally my husband is the sci-fi, time-travel fan. But this story just got into my head and really stuck with me. Girl falls for boy, despite his "chronology impairment" (or something like that). Basically, he jumps around in time and can't control it. And they fall in love anyway. Awww...

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
I would say the whole Harry Potter series, but I guess the first one is my favorite. If you've been living in another dimension for the last few years and haven't heard of Harry Potter, he's an 11-year-old wizard (who gets one year older in each subsequent book) fighting the ultimate evil wizard, Voldemort. Lots of action to keep you hooked, but it's fun to delve into the books deeper themes as well.

8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Just so you don't think I'm all about fantasy...This is one of those "not meant to be" romances that will just tear your heart out when you read it. But I love it anyway! The depth of the characters, the beauty of the language...It's just incredible. But "read it with a box of Kleenex."

7. Ava's Man by Rick Bragg
Anything by Rick Bragg is amazing, but this story of his grandparents really spoke to me. Change a few of the particulars, and he could be writing about my family. Poor but proud. Worn out but witty. That's my old South!

6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Speaking of the Old can you go wrong with Scarlett O'Hara? I read this book for the first time in fifth grade and actually read my first copy until it was falling apart. I think I've read this book more times than any other, even though it's not my absolute favorite. I just got so wrapped up in the story. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm wanting to read it again. Maybe this summer...

5. The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
Although I've extolled Amy Tan's virtues ever since I read The Joy Luck Club, I think, if I were to narrow it down, this one would be my favorite of her books. Even now, as I write this, though, I'm not 100 percent sure. Read all of her's, just to be safe. But I love how she really makes the characters shine in this one, weaving the past and present to create an incredible story of mothers and daughters, cultures, religions. She's just amazing.

4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Again, I could say read all of C.S. Lewis just to be safe. But I think this one cuts to the heart of who he was as a Christian. He makes such a great case for God, and it always makes me think more about my Christian walk.

3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A semi-autobiographical account of a little girl (Francie) growing up in Brooklyn around the turn of the century. Her family is poor, but her circumstances don't dictate her dreams. She finds happiness in small pleasures and keeps pursuing that happiness as she gets older.

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I got a free copy of Little Women when I got my first library card from the Muscle Shoals Public Library, way back when. It was my first experience of falling in love with a book, and I still love it. I thought I was Jo March. I wanted to be a writer, to scoff at traditions, to sell my hair to help my family. This book was a major player in making me the person I am today.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
While Little Women shaped my childhood, To Kill a Mockingbird shaped me as a teenager/young adult. It made me look outward at the world around me, instead of just at myself. I realized how one person's actions can make a difference, how we all should be concerned about truth, justice, family...what's right. And, of course, it didn't hurt that a fellow Alabamian brought all these deep concepts to light!

OK, now I'm already thinking of others that I love and am leaving out, but I'm going to be strong and stick to the list! I hope I don't sound too hokey talking about these, but I really do get all hokey when I talk about good literature, dogs and my husband.

Go figure. Happy Thursday!

Monday, March 19, 2007

What's in a Word?

Can I just say how hard it is to come back from Spring Break? It's definitely been one of those "slow" days, but it's good to be able to catch up on blogging!

One link to start us off...

Library Journal article about “movers and shakers” in the with a SLIS connection.

Moving on...

How surprising is it that one word in a children's book can stir up so much controversy? A couple of articles to give you some starting info...


Let me start off with the disclaimer that I have not yet read the book. However, judging from what I HAVE read so far...I believe I would include the book in my collection. Yes, even at a conservative Christian school.

For one thing, the book won the Newbery. This medal has showcased great works such as Kira-Kira, The Tale of Despereaux and Jacob Have I Loved. By the way, that list could just go on and on. Anyway, the award should automatically keep the book from being thrown out of consideration because of one "objectionable" word.

Also, what makes one word more objectionable than another? There are some "objectionable" words in Holes, which also won the Newbery, but (unless I'm too young to remember) there doesn't seem to be the firestorm of controversy that is surrounding The Higher Power of Lucky.

Meanwhile, is "scrotum" really that objectionable? It's an anatomical term, not a curse word. And, from what I can tell, its use in the book is brief and not graphic.

So, I plan to grab my copy of The Higher Power of Lucky as soon as I get a chance, and I'll let you know if my opinion changes. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Spring (ah-choo) Break

What I did NOT do for Spring Break:

-Shampoo/scrub my floors
-Finish the books piling up on my to-read list
-Try my hand at sewing
-Catch up on e-mails
-Work on my tan

What I did do for Spring Break:
-Sneeze, blow nose, repeat
-Watch TV
-Sleep, sleep and more sleep
-Pick up Kleenexes off the floor, table, bed, wherever
-Send one e-mail, I think
-Take Fred to the "beauty shop"

Oh, well. My husband likes to remind me that when we get sick, our bodies are often trying to tell us something. I'm just thankful I got sick when I didn't have to use any sick days. And Jason got to be home watching TV with me.

I'll try to have a more fun, positive post later this week. Don't you just love (ah-choo) Spring in Alabama?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Book List

Thanks to Maggie for this fun project! I didn't want to re-copy, paste and color everything, so I just linked to my "personal" blog. (There's probably an easier way to do it, but I'm not that savvy.)

Have a fun day, and happy reading!

Book List

Thanks to Maggie for the cool project!

Look at the list of books below:

Color green the ones you’ve read.

Italicize the ones you want to read.

Color red the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole.

Put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf.

Place an asterisk (*) in front of the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. +To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. +Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. +Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. +Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. *A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. +Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. +Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. +Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. +The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. +Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. +Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. +The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. +Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. *I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. *The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. +Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. *Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. +The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. +The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. +Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. +Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. +A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. +The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. +The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. *A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. *The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Prayer Request

Got a quick prayer request. Another one of our students has lost a parent. The father of one of our sixth graders died yesterday. Out of respect for the family, I don't want to go into too much detail, but they need your prayers.

In a bigger issue, though, I ask you all (if you don't mind) to please pray for my school. We've had a lot of tough issues this year, and I feel, without totally understanding this, that we're under attack, in a way. Great things are happening, too, but, again, I just respectfully request your prayer for this family and for our school.

Will try to get an update of our life soon...things have been busy around the Norris house. Have a good week!

Links for Early March

Hey! Happy March!

Some items for your perusal...

An article from the American Libraries Direct regarding an ALA-APA Council resolution endorsing a nonbinding minimum salary for professional librarians...

This got a lot of heat on the SLIS listserv. While I love the idea of being paid a decent salary, I'm not sure this is the best way to go about it. If you, as an individual, don't want to be paid less than $40,000, only apply for jobs that pay more than that. That being said, maybe we can focus more on our value as professionals without necessarily putting a dollar value to that.

Just a thought.


Are you "feral?"

And, just for funsies...

Jerry Springer U

From my hometown...

The young ones still read!

Read from the beginning...