15 Feb 2013 Leave a Comment
There is something that is troubling me. It’s not the first time I’ve come up against something like this, but this takes the proverbial cake. I ask your indulgence if you have heard me rant on this topic before.
It all began some weeks ago. The principal of a start-up school, where I set up a library literally from the ground up last fall, met me outside her office one morning. She was upset, and refused to allow me to enter the library–which was being used by a teacher working with a small group of students. It appears that the school administrator did not understand why I worked so many days that were not part of the verbal agreement (which I was not even a party to) while the library and its collection were being made ready for business. He expressed his displeasure at the amount I was paid during those weeks! Not always the quickest thinker, especially under duress, I could not sufficiently overcome the shock to properly respond. I would need to meet with the administrator and discuss the “situation.”
When I was finally allowed to take off my coat, I began to think. Had I done something wrong or deceitful? It seemed to me that the administrator had that impression. At no time during the whirlwind of activity that transformed a room full of boxes of books into a small but viable library did this question arise. I was only encouraged to complete the task as soon as possible, so class sessions could begin. After about six weeks, the collection and I were ready for the youngsters. The beginning was literally stormy, thanks to Hurricane Sandy and an early snowstorm a couple of weeks later. As the students learned about the library and its treasures, and I became acquainted with the eager young visitors, there began to be sense of mutual anticipation as library time approached.
Until now. My careful preparation for the meeting with the administrator seems to be for naught. I wrote a detailed letter describing the myriad duties of the position, from building a library from scratch, through implementing a circulation system, through planning class sessions, through maintaining the collection, through evaluating all reading materials. This does not appear to impress the administrator. He was not aware of this. Why does a librarian need so much time to fulfill her duties? So now my pay is reduced to “make up” for the advance preparation time. On top of that, I am expected to continue to do the preparation, book selection, and everything else I do at home.
Perhaps I will meet with the administrator again. I have a clearer plan of what to say now. If he is willing to listen, fine. If not. . .
01 Feb 2013 2 Comments
The plane barely touched down, bringing my husband and me back from an incredible five days visiting our new granddaughter and her family, when reality encroached on our feelings of warmth and fond memories. There were the usual issues clamoring for our attention: household, family, and so on. As each had varying degrees of urgency, we prioritized, and planned to take a breather before jumping into our normal routine.
Yet something about this time of year is not quite normal. Every winter, I begin a book-selecting frenzy. This is the time state funds for library materials must be spent, and I anticipate this by beginning my “wish lists” sometime in the autumn. However, at my new school, the principal informed me that we also receive state funding–and I should put together an order asap. Do several months of preparation in several weeks? No problem. After all, I’ve been doing this for more than twenty years. I know what types of books are most needed, so this should be easy.
It should be. However, as I looked for titles of chapter books for the 2nd-to-3rd-grade set (a gap that needs filling), many choices presented themselves. Some came recommended; others came to my attention through a bit of searching.
Here is where the “however” comes in. One promising series features a classroom of children in which several students are constantly bickering with each other (and the teacher is compelled to separate them). If that weren’t enough, when the protagonist is unhappy about a situation, his older sister suggests a solution that would result in physical harm to the little boy. This may be the reality in some schools and some families, but need it be glorified? Then there are the stories that employ liberal amounts of humor that borders on the gross. Okay, many kids like it. And if we provide what they want, there’s a chance they’ll eventually choose something a bit more uplifting.
Call me old-fashioned or whatever you want, but I don’t entirely agree. Yes, the point is to get the kids to be enthusiastic about reading. But why not make a little extra effort and make sure that what they find on our shelves is not only entertaining but also enriching? Our kids will be the better for it. I’ve personally seen the rowdiest youngsters borrow some of the most meaningful tales. (And if that marvelous book we remember so fondly is out of print, that is, thankfully, usually no obstacle.)
So, yes, whatever turns a child on to reading is worthwhile. But isn’t an affinity for books worthy of the endeavor on the part of librarians–and everyone else who chooses reading material for children–to stock the shelves with titles that are the best we can provide?
06 Jan 2013 2 Comments
Those of you who know me, and the many more who have become acquainted through this humble blog and my equally humble book review site (http://bookandagarden.com), recognize me as someone who is content–no, happy–to connect people with wonderful books. When a group of young readers exits the library with exclamations like “I got the best book!” (even if they have tested the patience of even this librarian), my day is complete. And when I learn of a new and/or noteworthy title that sounds like a must-have, I wish it were in my hands right now so I could check it out and share it with my young patrons. So why, you ask (as do I), would I think of being anything more?
It all started when a close relative (somewhat to my surprise, I’ll admit) suddenly came on the scene with two novels that she published independently online. She asked me to proofread them for her and write reviews, and I was naturally happy to comply. The budding author was so impressed with my work (as much as I was with hers!) that she began asking when I would start writing my own books. At first I shied away from the prospect, but the more she asked, the more I began to think. I even dug up a children’s story I once began as a write-your-own-ending class project–except now it needs an ending! And there is a little corner of the world whose cultural history fascinates me. Perhaps there is a story there waiting to be told? (Serendipity strikes: once I purchased for my Nook an authoritative historical work concerning the ethnic group I am most interested in–at the same time period.)
So maybe now is the time to take the plunge–or at least test the waters. I know that I don’t take rejection and criticism well (but then does anyone?), yet I can always remind myself what I tell others about the incomparable Dr. Seuss. After penning his first children’s book (the magnificent And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street), at least twenty-four publishers rejected it before Random House finally accepted the story. The rest is history. (Think how many publishers began crying in their tea.)
Please don’t start looking for me on any best-seller lists. I’ll probably never make it there. But it might be interesting to see my (pen?) name on the cover of a book–if even I have to publish it online myself to get it there.
15 Dec 2012 5 Comments
I call it a professional hazard. Or perhaps it’s a bibliophile’s dilemma.
One would think that, after reading hundreds–perhaps thousands–of books over the past 55-plus years, it would not happen. But it does. I cannot say the phenomenon occurs every time I read the final page. Yet, when I turn the page and realize the end of the book is in sight, I become reluctant to read those concluding words. It means it is time to leave the place where the author has taken me and say goodbye to the people residing there. After a few moments of reflection, I realize anew what I have discovered before. There is only one remedy for end-of-a-memorable-book depression, and it is this: Find a worthy new title, and enter a wonderful new literary world. Fortunately, there are so many marvelous books out there waiting to be read.
03 Dec 2012 2 Comments
There must be a reason. After months of planning and preparing, and unavoidable delays such as school closings courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, my brand-new school library was finally open for business and pleasure. (Teachers and therapists had already begun taking advantage of what I have to offer even before the library was fully operational.) Classes would visit in a two-week cycle: half one week, half the following week.
The first cycle came and went and, even though there were some bugs, I think the kids enjoyed the sessions. Teacher feedback was positive, and I began to look forward to the return of the eager readers to my domain.
However, my body sent me a different message. In the past, one or another of my joints has staged a protest (and even, on occasion, sustained an actual injury to justify its malaise). This time, I woke up one morning to swelling, redness, and pain–and no memory of having done anything to cause these symptoms. Dedicated librarian–or foolhardy person–that I am, I went to work for two days despite the discomfort and limited mobility. Only on the third day did I listen to the voice of reason–my husband’s–and stay home. So far, no cause has been found, although I am in for more testing and evaluations in the days to come.
Why now, I ask? When I finally can begin working with the wonderful kids at my new school, and the library sessions are part of the established schedule, it is frustrating that I must postpone class visits after only one cycle! Not only that, it certainly does not send a good message about my ability to function as a capable member of the faculty.
Yet, I am forgetting a few things. My administrator, even though she has high expectations for the members of the educational team (and rightly so), is human. As such, she is aware that our physical selves do not always function at 100%. (And I am sure she remembers that I am often among the last to leave at the end of the day, reluctant to leave anything unfinished.) Further, what has happened–or when–is certainly not my choice. Who would prefer to lie around the house, in pain and unable to maneuver without difficulty, instead of going to a job that is enjoyable and fulfilling? Since I believe that there is a Creator running the world, it is a given that He knows what is best. It is up to me to discover the reasons for what has befallen me–or, at the least, understand that this is for the best. I can only grow and become better for this experience.
I have already seen one silver lining: a relative who has written two novels is paying me to proofread her work–and is helping me to find other “customers.” How fortunate we are when something so clearly opportune presents itself.
25 Oct 2012 Leave a Comment
in Books, children's books, librarians, libraries, picture books, school library Tags: alphabet books, animals, Books, Caldecott Honor Book, children's books, humorous books, librarians, Libraries, picture books, school libraries, school stories
When you think of the word marathon, you probably think of a long race involving hundreds of participants. Boston might come to mind, or New York. Perhaps you know someone who has run. Maybe you have yourself. If so, you have earned my respect.
I’m running in a marathon of sorts. Since taking on the delightful and challenging job of setting up a new school library catering to preschoolers through second graders, I’ve been moving steadily toward the goal of opening for business and conducting class sessions. Now that the finish line is in sight–the principal has indicated that she wants me to begin meeting classes next week–the race is becoming even more intense. In addition to ensuring that the physical space is ready for the little ones, I must be prepared with programs that will engage the kids and turn them onto the magnificent world of books and reading. As this dedicated and determined librarian huffs and puffs her way to the above-mentioned finish line (which is in reality not the end of the race but the beginning of a year-long endeavor), she is unearthing some gems that beg to be shared.
Prim and proper Elliot, whose attire of choice is a tuxedo, isn’t exactly looking forward to a trip to the aquarium with his father. Once there, however, he discovers Magellanic penguins, and decides one would make an ideal pet. After all, they wear tuxedos just like his! What happens next makes this very funny story one that kids will adore from the first page to the surprising ending.
Alphabet books will never be the same. It all starts when “Adelaide annoyed Bailey./Bailey blamed Clyde…” and on through the whole alphabet of cantankerous preschoolers. But all is not hopeless: the kids learn that being nice also has a ripple effect. Hilarious.
A mother duck is searching for one of her eight babies. As she asks various animals if they have seen the youngster, children will have a blast pointing out the duckling, who is hiding on every page. The beautiful pictures tell the story in this treasure–and the repetition of “Have you seen my duckling?” gives young readers the satisfaction of reading the book themselves. Although published more than twenty years ago, this timeless treasure is every bit as charming as her more recent Silly Little Goose and Blue Goose.
TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book. ~Author Unknown
27 Sep 2012 Leave a Comment
As I work at a feverish pace to make my new library ready for business, many treasures are coming to my attention. The urgency to be up and running has not lessened the excitement of preparing these books for sharing with youngsters–and hopefully turning them into eager readers
05 Sep 2012 4 Comments
I’m on picture book cloud nine. When a principal, with whom I worked for many years before she moved to a start-up school in 2011, asked me this summer to join her faculty, I was immediately excited. And for good reason(s). The collection consists largely of books I myself recommended on several occasions since last winter. The students are preschoolers through second graders, so there are endless opportunities for waxing enthusiastic about my favorites. Everything I ask for is given me, no questions asked.
Even the daunting task of processing and making shelf-ready hundreds of books has only cast a brief shadow on my delight. As I prepare each volume for borrowing, I have an opportunity to acquaint (or reaquaint) myself with the treasures that will soon inhabit the shelves. If this isn’t a librarian’s dream, I don’t know what is.
I’ll be sharing gems with you in the days and weeks to come. Meanwhile, it’s time to recharge my batteries. School starts tomorrow for some of my kids…