Monday, June 29, 2009

Cowboy Librarian?

So I've returned from the mountains of Colorado and lived to tell the tales. After 21 years of avoiding all things outdoorsy I returned to the Mile High City for the first time in the summer since 1988. Now don't get me wrong, I've nothing against the state in the colder months, I've been skiing the hills of Colorado since 1983 and learned to snowboard there back in the 90's but I've been avoiding the state once the snow melts. Sad thing is my parents have owned homes out there since the early 80's and my sister relocated to Denver from Chicago a few years ago so I've had amble opportunity to visit, I just prefer to visit family when they are living at their home in Florida, I am way more a beach girl than a mountain girl. So after years of sending my son out there in the summer, I decided it was time to experience my mother's sanctuary in the mountains with him, my husband and my very happy mom and step-dad.

I can't deny it, Colorado is a beautiful place. Wide open valleys bordered by towering mountains and spectacular sunsets that light up the sky and reflect off the snow still clinging to the tops of the Rockies. My parents own a lovely home in the area around Winter Park with amazing views over the mountains and from their deck you can relax and take in 180 degree vistas. Truly spectacular. What was neat about the trip was experiencing things I've never done (or even thought of doing before). One afternoon we raced town the alpine slides at Winter Park, another we rented a pontoon boat (surely the dumbest type of boat ever dreamed up) and glided over the largest natural lake in Colorado (Grand Lake). On Saturday night we attended the local rodeo and that was so surreal it was like visiting another planet. Truly a family affair, most of the participants were high school age and their families seem to be heavily involved in everything from rodeo clowning to cleanup to fund raising.
I also visited local libraries and was pleased to find new modern buildings built in the center of small towns. At the Grand Lake Juniper Library they were having a theater night benefit showing of Pirates of Penzance!

One of the highlights of my travels are all the libraries I visit. From the most prestigious libraries in the world to the small mountain log cabin libraries, people USE and LOVE the books and services that remind us that the best things in life are still simple and free.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Article-7 Most Impressive Libraries Throughout History

And yes, 1 of them is the Bodleian. Cool.
Very intersting article, maybe a good trip would be to visit them all, I've been to 2 and counting...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Beginnings and Endings

Well it's been an interesting month already, I still feel like I am waiting for sunny summer days. Since I last posted on June 12th the joy of celebrating my son's 16th birthday on June 15th was met with the passing of my mother-in-law the day before. I've been off work and frequently out of town so much I'm feeling a bit disconnected. In the way of trying to ground myself with the familiar I've been turning to the comforts of friends (laughter and support, thanks guys!), fantasy (some good summer reads & films) and food (attempting to eat better when too busy too eat!). Here are a few of my favorite comforts:
1. Water - yes water...I'm trying to drink as much as possible and thanks to my friend Kathy I've discovered SASSY water from the book The Flat Belly Diet. A combination of 8 1/2 glasses of water with 1 sliced lemon, 1 sliced cucumber, mint leaves and fresh ground ginger is totally delicious and perfectly refreshing.
2. Movies - I've lost myself in some good ones lately including the edge-of-your-seat thriller Taken starring Liam Neeson and the fish-out-of-water New In Town starring Rene Zellweger.
3. Farmers Markets - my favorite thing about summer meals is the fresh, local produce you can buy at your neighborhood farmers market. I love buying from local farmers and feel better about reducing my carbon footprint by not buying produce shipped from thousands of miles away. No matter where I am in Illinois or Michigan I am able to find wonderful markets filled with happy shoppers and sellers and hope you have a few options where you live.
4. Flowers - right now my home is filled with flowers in remembrance of my mother-in-law. It's the perfect season to buy at markets and local stands or maybe just from your own backyard! Flowers always give my spirit a lift.
5. The Beach - even though we've had record rain in my area this "summer", it' nice to be just a short drive away from beautiful beaches in Chicago and Michigan. We have a boat at a yacht club in the relaxing boating and artistic area of Saugatuck in Michigan but sometimes all I need is just a walk on the sand to put things in perspective. I've also narrowed down my "Can't live without at the beach" list to 5 things. Here they are: swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, book and a long sleeve hooded dress (Lands' End makes a great one which you can find here)
I leave in 48 hours for a much needed vacation to Colorado, I'll post before I leave and from the mountains.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Looking for escapism? Try a romance novel.

I doubt I'm the only one who avoids the news because I don't want to read one more story about murder, the economy or corruption. I even avoid the home page on my email because I don't want to read the latest headlines. My regular reading tendencies run the gamut from popular fiction to biographies, historical romances to home and fashion non-fiction. I have noticed that the more I want to escape the more I turn to romance. There is just something about the hope that love conquers all. Apparently I'm not the only one, check out this great article about the increase in romance book sales.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Librarian, counselor, psychologist, teacher

Working in a public library is never a dull job. Libraries have become more than just the traditional building that loans books by evolving into a combination of career center, community center and learning center. The computer classes that I teach are almost always full with even more patrons on the waiting lists and recently we added a weekend class to fill the need. I'm often called to the computer terminals to help patrons who are having problems accessing job search websites or those who don't know how to upload cover letters and resumes.
During my shifts on the reference and information desk I've heard stories that have curled my toes, others that have inspired me and some that have moved me to tears. As I've said before, sometimes being a librarian is a lot like being a bartender. We have to be good listeners because sometimes that's all a person needs.
Check out this great article about the services libraries have embraced.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

UNC Oxford Seminar May 17-May 30

Mom and I on our last night in Oxford

So the seminar is over and I'm home from England. Hard to believe that the 3 weeks went so quickly. It was hard to leave a place that had became so familiar and saying goodbye to the new friends I made.
When I first heard about the UNC Oxford Seminar I was thrilled there was a program that would allow me to study at such a prestigious international school without leaving my family, friends and job for a semester or more. If you read my blog regularly than you know I'm an anglophile and Oxford represented the best of British education while allowing me to live in the English countryside like a local.
My overall impressions of the seminar are positive and I would not hesitate to recommend the experience to other librarians. My only disappointment was in the low number of participants (economy related I'm sure) and the inability to network with a diverse selection of US librarians as the majority of the participants were graduate students at UNC (and really some of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure to spend time with).
The organization once we arrived at Oxford was perfect from our check in to our accommodations to the meals, absolutely no complaints. The seminar included our room which was huge with an attached bath (equally huge) that had a lovely view over the rooftops to the Oxfordshire countryside. Meals were served 3 times a day in a dining room/atrium and the food was excellent. This was not cafeteria style eating but gourmet meals with options for dietary restrictions and a wonderful lunch buffet option. Desserts were decadent and after each meal tea was served in a common room with a small bar all centered around a private courtyard. Eating such fine food was a luxury but easily forgiven with the amount of walking we did every day.
Each of the sessions was excellently presented by a diverse selection of librarians not only from Oxford libraries but from other British Universities. Highlights included tours of the British Library and the Bodleian (as described in previous posts) and sessions on conservation and rare books. Everyone involved with the Seminar was professional, friendly and went out of their way to make the experience a wonderful one. I truly feel like I made friends for life.
For more information on the Seminar check out the website at:
I'm already planning on studying in Prague next year.