Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Post of 2009

Wow, here it is, my last post of 2009. It's been an amazing year and I've documented most of it here and I'm glad you've been a long for the ride. I'm planning on 2010 being full of adventure, major life changes, new friends and lots of laughs. Not to mention it will be the year I celebrate my 40th birthday...geez.

So for my last post I thought I would look back and share some thoughts and thanks.
  1. Oxford. What more can I changing.
  2. Friends. New and old. Some naughty adventures, unplanned fun and lots and lots of wine.
  3. Wrinkles. I've got a few. Been a banner year for growing older, I hope I'm doing it gracefully.
  4. Travel. Florida, Colorado, California, England and more. I think I've been on a plane almost every month this year. Hopefully next year it's even more. If I'm going to grow old, I'd rather do it on the run.
  5. Magic. Late night parties, music, quiet cobblestone streets, nature. It's been a year of wonder.
  6. Opportunities. More than ever in my life, 2009 was the year I said yes to almost everything.
  7. Thanks to my Mom. Because she was there.
  8. Chances. I took more than I should, didn't always end up unscathed but always had something to blog about.
  9. The Kid. Mine. 6'5. Eating machine. Ups and downs and not just in his moods. I love him.
  10. Thank you Internet. For connecting me with friends on Facebook, authors on my blog and more.
For 2010 in the words of Coco Chanel:
"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone."

See you all in 2010! Thanks for reading!

Cheers, Shannon

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Count Down to Christmas

So I thought I would blog about my personal joys of the holiday season. I am notoriously not a Christmas person, I don't enjoy decorating my home, baking or dressing up in reindeer sweatshirts or ornament earrings, but I'm trying to open my spirit to the beauty of the traditions this year. Christmas to me is a visual holiday and I love to watch the world around me decorate and celebrate. Here are my thoughts on what I find joyful about Christmas:

  1. The twinkly lights. Love them, well I love the white fairy twinkly lights. The colored ones make my vision blur.

  2. The food. I love diving into a seafood feast on Christmas Eve and gorging on fresh shrimp, lobster, crab and other sea delights.

  3. Friends. I love reconnecting at parties, sharing a cocktail at festive restaurants in Chicago and just being happy.

  4. Spending time with my family. There is something about getting on a plane and flying to my Mom's house where I know she will have the house decorated to the nines with her multiple Christmas trees, pretty towels, holiday dishes and napkins, candles and plates of cookies and candy. Where I lack in the Christmas spirit, my Mom has it in abundance, thank goodness. It's also pretty cool that she has a plastic Santa floating in her pool. I love floating on a raft while drinking a cold beer with water Santa on Christmas Eve.

  5. Shopping. Regular readers know I am a shopper and I LOVE to shop for other people. I am a major gift giver and love hunting for special gifts.

  6. The quiet. The mornings when you wake up in the Midwest to new snow, before the plows have arrived, before the sidewalks are shoveled, before the dog makes footprints in the backyard. That quiet that only happens after a heavy snow when you can listen to the trees creaking and hear the snow fall off the branches and hit the ground. It's magic.

  7. Living in a big city during the holidays. I love the sight of Michigan Avenue, State Street and the ChristkindlMarket in downtown Chicago. The lights, the color, the shop windows, the salt on the streets...It's like a movie come to life.

  8. Being a Mom at Christmas. I love the late night wrapping, the stuffing of the stockings and the anticipation of Christmas morning. We still put out carrots and cookies for Santa but now the dog drinks the glass of milk.

  9. Forgiveness. I think at this time of year we are more receptive to forgiving past transgressions. At least for a little while.

  10. Giving. We give more of our time, our love and our money. I don't count my pennies as much. I stay a little later at work, take on a few more responsibilities. I say thank you with a smile and a hug and just try and remember it's a season about everyone else.

Happy Holidays to all of you. May you each find your joys in the season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flash Back Friday #32

My favorite Christmas Carole, the Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Do you Subscribe to E-Newsletters?

You should, they are fab! In case you are not familiar with e-newsletters I will tell you a little bit about them. E-newsletters are similar to regular paper newsletters, creatively full of material on a range of subjects but sent to you in a digital format. I subscribe to dozens of e-newsletters from libraries around the country mainly on book topics such as romance, cooking, new fiction, new DVDs etc... and they arrive conveniently in my email.

A few weeks ago after months of planning the library where I work began offering 35 e-newsletters on everything from events at the library to book lists to mysteries to new fiction. They are invaluable readers advisory tools and excellent reminders on what is coming up in the library and on the shelves.

Here are a few examples of libraries that are offering e-newsletters:

Prospect Heights Public Library

Las Vegas Library District

Arlington Heights Memorial Library

Fresno Public Library

You don't need to have a library card to subscribe, just an email address. Try out a few and then check to see if your local library offers e-newsletters as well. If you are looking for the latest news on books, music, movies and events at your library, e-newsletters are the answer!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stop Ron Howard Please!

I had the unfortunate experience of watching Angels and Demons as directed by Ron Howard. Since I rented the movie for free from my library I am trying to figure out how to contact Ron Howard and ask him to reimburse me for those 2 hours of my life that I will never get back. Ya the movie was that bad.

Now you would HOPE that when a movie team is working with an excellent book, the process of translating it to the screen would be easier than say...rewriting it and having it end completely different! Uh huh, cause that's what happened and it totally pissed me off. Now I gave Ron (yes we are on a first name basis after a lifetime of watching him on and behind screen) the benefit of the doubt after the crap that was his big screen version of The Da Vinci Code. I like Ron, I do, I loved A Beautiful Mind and that Tom Cruise Ireland movie. And he was a first crush when I grew up watching Happy Days, the motorcycle crash episode made me cry. So I had faith that THIS time he would get it right. And for the first few minutes I was OK and then I spent the remainder of the movie confused.

So here is what I think. Ron Howard needs to stop making movies based on books, especially fiction as loved and equally as hated as the Dan Brown books. Ron, Tom Hanks was too old to play Robert Langdon and I have more fun looking for your family members in your films than actually paying attention to the action. Yes, it was easy to tell which Cardinal was played by your Dad, the American twang gave him away. Seriously when you are given material like Dan Brown writes, how hard is it to just follow along? Sure cut out a bit, but really, changing too much just made me want to throw firewood at you. And no I'm not taking back the bird I flipped at the credits, you made a bad movie.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gifts for Book Lovers

Looking for gifts for the librarian and/or book lover in your life? Here are a few suggestions to make your holiday shopping a little easier.

Books about books and libraries:
Books for the collector:
Going Green this holiday season? Here are a few ideas:
  • Make a donation to your local library or the library where a loved one lives, works or studies
  • Organize a book exchange in place of a gift exchange
  • Create bookmarks using images of favorite book covers or quotes (you can find images on Amazon and thousands of quotes on sites like )

You also might want to check out the American Library Association's online store:
Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Green Holiday Shopping

I completed a large portion of my holiday shopping yesterday at one of my favorite stores in the Chicago area. The Antique and Resale Shoppe at 7214 N. Harlem on the corner of Harlem and Touhy in Chicago is an amazing little shop filled with treasures. From floor to ceiling, literally there is stuff EVERYWHERE, this wonderful store sells an assortment of beautiful costume jewelry, small antiques and beautiful vintage clothing and other accessories. When I visit I try and schedule about 2 hours to shop because there is just so much to find. Jewelry is arranged on every surface of the store and organized by color or metal, style or stone. In large cases built like old map drawers you can pull out drawer after drawer of necklaces, bracelets, pins, broaches, earrings, buttons, shoe buckles, sweater clips and more. To me it's like finding a pirate's chest.

If you make it through the front of this small store don't miss the back. Here you will find vintage clothes including dresses, wraps, cardigans, leather kid gloves, hats, scarves, shoes, and purses. There are also vintage aprons, tablecloths, cloth napkins, glassware, eyeglasses, watches, political memorabilia, figurines, plates, and photographs. Owners Suzanne and Jules always great you with a smile and are happy to point you in the right direction if you are looking for something specific. Their displays are so creative and fun you will find something new everywhere you look. Oh and you'll love the old movies they always have playing on their TV and the sweet little dog who sits on the counter.

During my many visits to the store I have found beautiful jewelry all of it more stylish than the mass produced junk you can buy in chain stores and online. I've bought some wonderful small antiques, vintage clothes and fun gifts like antique picture frames and quirky salt and pepper shakers. All the ladies accessories that are currently seen in catalogs and department stores are original and in excellent condition with prices cheaper than the knockoffs.

If you are looking for an alternative to cookie cutter big store gifts and don't have a problem with buying pre-owned items than consider going green this holiday season and give gifts with a history.

Check out the shoppe's website here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Impossible Reference Question?

In library school a frequent topic in my reference classes was how to conduct a good reference interview with a patron. I had a question at work yesterday that even with training from school and a few years of experience at the reference desk I was unable to answer. Here's a summary:

Me: "Reference and Information desk, can I help you?
Patron on phone: "Hello...I need to find David. He lives in Evanston. I need his phone number. Can you find David's number for me?"

To begin I asked a couple more questions, what was David's last name and how was the last name spelled. Unfortunately the more I spoke with the patron the more I realized the woman on the phone was unable to give me the information I needed. Mentally she wasn't comprehending what I was asking her and was not able to either spell the name or give me more information on David. I didn't know how to help her.

As I waited on the phone while she struggled to describe who David was and where he lived I realized although she had the voice of an adult woman she was communicating at the level of a small child. After a few minutes of listening to her repeatedly ask me to find David's number in Evanston I asked a fellow reference librarian if she had any suggestions on how to help her. She spoke with the patron but was also unable to get any more information. At that point we ended the call with the suggestion to contact us again when she had an address or last name of David.

So I'm wondering what more I could have done to help her? This particular patron was unable to answer the questions we asked her and was really asking an impossible question, to find a person named David who lived in the city of Evanston. As a librarian I hate being unable to help a patron no matter what the question is and I'm hoping that the woman has someone kind helping her wherever she is. Maybe they should include this topic in library school reference classes, how to handle a patron without the mental capacity to ask the questions they need answered.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How I Became a Librarian

This is my contribution to The Library Routes Project, a wiki created to collect the stories and experiences of those of us in the library world and how we got here.
Here we go.

Sure my career in the library profession started from a love of reading and visiting my local library but it also grew out of the necessity to find a job. As much as I would like to say, "I always wanted to be a librarian", I didn't. I wanted to be a doctor when I was little because I thought that would afford me a nice condo on the water and lots of vacation time (giggle). I also wanted to be a mermaid, a mom, a teacher, an Olympic gymnast or ice skater, the person who created the exhibits at the museum, an actress, a socialite and British royalty. My 20's was spent raising my son, trying a dozen different jobs, traveling and finishing my college education. It wasn't until I was in my 30's that I realized what I loved to do, read, read, work with people, oh and read...could become a career. So I went to law school. Ha. I did. And it was awful. So I dropped out of law school and immediately applied and was accepted into a double graduate program, Public History at Loyola University and the Masters in Library and Information Science program at Dominican University. My goal was to become a museum curator/librarian but after 1 semester in Loyola's Public History program I realized the field of professional historical academic wasn't for me so I concentrated solely on becoming a public librarian.

During my second semester in the graduate library program I got my first library jobs. At one mid-sized Chicago area public library I was the Adult Programmer and at another small public library I was hired as the Interlibrary Loan Assistant. Both were part time jobs but I was thrilled to be getting my foot in the door at public libraries with no prior experience. After 9 months of working in public libraries I applied and was offered a job as the Program Coordinator at the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association. Working at ALA was great, I enjoyed getting to know some of the most respected librarians in the field and traveled to all ALA midwinter and annual conferences and a PLA annual conference. However (and rather ironically) working for a library association made me feel very removed from what was actually happening in the library world. Sure I attended a half dozen conferences at locations all around the country and I was directly in charge of the awards and programming for all PLA committees but I really had no idea what librarians were doing. I didn't work with librarians in the field, I just coordinated the time they volunteered with PLA. It was rather like working in a machine that wasn't adapting to the world around it. So I quit.

I was offered a job at one of the libraries I have previously worked at as the Interlibrary Loan and Volunteer Coordinator, a full time job I was thrilled to have. I'm still at that library but now since finishing my MLIS I am the Technology Resources Librarian and Volunteer Coordinator. Job responsibilities include serving on various committees within the library, collection development, reference and training. I absolutely love working in a public library and feel more connected to the profession than I ever did while in library school or working for ALA.

Since I started my career in libraries in the fall of 2002 I have participated in a number of professional development opportunities. In 2003 I was chosen to attend the Institute for School and Public Librarians through the Illinois State Library. The 5 day session was held at a University in central Illinois and immersed those of us involved in librarianship, training, brainstorming and mentoring. It was an excellent experience, especially since I was so new to the profession. This year I was chosen to participate in Synergy: The Illinois Library Leadership Initiative that was held over three 3 day sessions at locations around the State. I plan on blogging about my Synergy experiences here so stay tuned. In May of this year I attended a 3 week continuing education program on Libraries and Librarianship at Oxford University in England. Absolutely one of the best experiences of my life which I highly recommend to all librarians.

I often get asked how I ended up as a Technology Resources Librarian since that job description is rather new to libraries. My library needed someone to teach computer classes to patrons which I started doing once I completed my MLIS. From there the need for a technology librarian grew. I create and train the library staff on everything from Outlook and basic computer skills to using Facebook and new media. I regularly teach patron computer classes and host a computer group once a month. If there is new technology the library should explore I learn about it (Twitter, Facebook, MyMediaMall etc). If new computer software is introduced I learn it and implement it. When we hire new staff I train them on everything from email to using the catalog. My job is creating itself but I also have traditional librarian duties such as working as a reference librarian and collection development. My job allows me to combine new librarianship with a high standard of public service our patrons expect. So there ya go folks, that's how the "Lively Librarian" became one and I can't think of a cooler profession!