Well, this is awkward — both my long absence from posting (I got a job!) and what’s going on over in Utah.
Image is from Wikipedia.
Basically, some (heterosexual) Utah parents are grumpy about a book that features a family of two lesbian parents and their adopted children. One parent is quoted as saying it is ”not a natural process to have a complete family without a male and female.” I was raised by my single father. Was my upbringing unnatural and incomplete too? Something may not be the best option for you, but that doesn’t give you license to control the lives and dictate the values of others. Live and let live. If you don’t want a gay marriage, don’t have one! If you don’t like what is in this book and your child reads it, then have a conversation (gasp!) with your child about it. Part of parenting is answering tough questions. But don’t worry, there are books to help with that!
As many of my readers know, I am a librarian in the job market. I’ve been looking for full-time work in my field since I completed my Master’s degree in 2009. During the course of my search, I have come across some very helpful resources to aid my efforts. I know that many of my fellow librarians (and fellow people in general) are in the same situation so I thought I would share some of the best (mostly) library-oriented resources that I’ve come across in my job hunting journey.
Job hunting is exhausting, especially for cats.
The Torment of Terrible Cover Letters - A blog post written by Jennica Rogers in 2011. Rogers is Director of Libraries at the State University of New York at Potsdam and offers some excellent and easily applicable advice on writing a good cover letter. Or, at least, she tells you what NOT to do. Highly recommended.
Foundations of Libraries: So you want to be an academic librarian series – I only recently found this through a LinkedIn group discussion and I haven’t had much time to explore it. Judging from the initial entry and skimming the discussion on LinkedIn, it promises to be a very useful and insightful resource for those of us interested in academic library jobs.
Hiring Librarians – A blog by Emily Weak, a fellow job-hunting librarian. She surveys hiring librarians (just like the title says!) about the process of reviewing applications, interviewing, and hiring. Straightforward and clear information. Recommended.
Ask a Manager - I found this only today and I’m already in love with it! The author, Allison Green, managed a business for years before she decided to leave and do independent consulting. She answers reader questions on everything from following up on rejection letters to interviewing in odd situations to working with gross coworkers. Her blog is not industry-specific but she offers sound, no-nonsense insight. Highly recommended for anyone in the workforce or trying to get in the workforce.
Open Cover Letters – A blog of cover letters that eventually lead to job offers in library work. Good for getting ideas on improving your cover letters. Compiled by Stephen Flynn, the Emerging Technologies Librarian at the College of Wooster.
Good luck, fellow job-seekers!
Ms. Tamora Pierce is the author of, well, let’s just say “oodles” of books. I’ve read all but the most recent of her Tortall novels. What I love most
Next on my to-read list: Tamora Pierce's Mastiff
about about Ms. Pierce’s novels are her heroines. Not only are they strong, quirky, and unique, but they are also allowed to be believable sexual beings. Most of her heroines who are physically and emotionally mature have had multiple sexual partners. What is great about this is that her ladies are responsible about it. Birth control is discussed. Romantic notions of “giving” your virginity to the man that you are certain you will marry are not brought in to the discussion. They don’t feel devalued in anyway for not being virginal. Not only that, but her heroines actively enjoy their sex lives. And they are not punished for it like in a stereotypical horror film when the sexually active teens are killed off. Yes, Ms. Pierce’s ladies suffer from heartache when their romantic relationships end, but these ladies recover and move on. With all these strong, relatable, and responsible women running through Ms. Pierce’s novels who could complain?
It would seem that some people disapprove of women taking charge of, and responsibility for, their sexuality. Ms. Pierce’s novels have been challenged repeatedly and at least one, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, has been banned by at least one institution. One of the reasons was “use of an amulet to prevent pregnancy.” Rather than be challenged, Ms. Pierce ought to be applauded for her portrayal of female sexuality. She offers young women good examples to follow. Her heroines are discreet, selective in choosing their partners, and responsible about preventing pregnancy. Additionally, when a relationship turns sour, the woman gets out of the relationship; she doesn’t hang on to an incompatible lover. She respects herself enough and has the good sense to extract
My Tamora Pierce collection
herself from bad relationship, mourns the romantic loss, and moves on. That is what I want my daughter to learn. I want my future daughter to know that sex is for pleasure but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Sex is serious enough to require that precautions be taken but it does not determine your worth as a person.
Ms. Pierece has a good handle on the heroines that a modern young reader needs. Kudos to her.
I’m ready for baseball season to come back again, but players don’t report for spring training for another month. In the meantime, I am left with baseball documentaries and books. Recently, I finished reading Larry Tye‘s Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend.
The life of long-lived pitcher LeRoy “Satchel” Paige is a difficult one to report on accurately. Not even Satchel could tell the truth about himself. He couldn’t even give a straight answer about his birth date. Satchel relished tall tales and changing his story so as to keep people guessing and build his mystique. Tye did not have an easy task ahead of him, but he did a great job of researching and, I believe, wrote a very clear and detailed biography that is as accurate as the subject allows.
The research was sound, even if the prose wasn’t always. There were many awkward sentences and a few times when his statements weren’t quite accurate. For example, on page 150 (of the 2010 Random House Trade Paperback Edition), Tye states, “[Satchel] ended the 1941 season with a 5-0 record in Negro League games, pitching a modest sixty-four innings and striking out fifty. The next year with the Monarchs he nearly doubled his innings, to ninety-five, and his strikeouts swelled to seventy-nine.” I may be splitting hairs here, but 95 is not almost double 64. It is approximately half again as much, but not nearly double. I feel, and here I’m speaking as the copy editor that I am, that it was a failure on the part of Tye’s editor to catch an inaccuracy in prose like that. Of course, that is minor.
My copy of Mr. Tye’s book and a baseball I’ve had for a golly-danged long time.
More disagreeable is the way Tye would leave loose ends. For example, Tye states that Satchel’s first wife did not like living in North Dakota so she moved back to Pittsburg “to wait for him.” This is the last mention of the woman until Satchel marries another woman, and only then does Tye remind readers that Satchel is still married to his first wife at the time of the second marriage. I want to know what happened to his first wife in the intervening years between when she went to Pittsburg and when Satchel decided to marry again and what she was doing with her time. Did she know that the marriage was over or was that Satchel’s unilateral decision? Any additional information would have been appreciated.
An additional word of caution goes to non-baseball fans. Tye assumes the reader has a thorough understanding of baseball fundamentals. For example, he does not explain how batting averages are calculated, how strike zones are determined, or what constitutes a balk. As an avid baseball fan, this was not a problem for me, but if you are new to the sport, you’ll want to have Google open so you can look up terms that puzzle you.
Despite some small downfalls in prose and pace, Tye’s biography was an excellent read. He covers the legendary pitcher’s humble beginnings; attempts to explain Satchel’s psychology; gives a beautifully detailed account of what it was like to play in the Negro Leagues; and addresses racial segregation and how it affected players, owners, and fans. In addition to giving readers a good look at an American icon, the book also gives readers a snapshot of American life during the gradual decline of Jim Crow just before the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. Excellent book for baseball fans and those interested in race relations in the United States after Reconstruction and before the push for Civil Rights. Recommended.
While doing some book shopping to get a jump on Valentine’s Day, I came across Better World Books. Calling themselves “An Online Bookstore with a Soul,” they are a bookseller that donates a book for every book purchased, works to help the environment by keeping books out of landfills, offsets its carbon footprint by purchasing “Green-e Climate certified offsets from 3Degrees,” AND offers FREE shipping on every purchase! (As an added bonus, if you are a member of MyPoints, you get 2 points for every dollar spent at the website.)
An ethical online bookseller. Heck yeah! If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to shop more ethically, here is a place to start.
Happy New Year!
**The graphic is a photo of my 2012 Squirrels wall calendar published by BrownTrout Publishers.
I learned a few weeks ago (Yes, I know I’m long overdue for a post. Don’t fine me!), that Occupy Wall Street has a library! If I were opposed to the movement, I would be scared pants-less. Libraries belong to communities, and OWS has definitely established itself as a community that does not intend to leave until it sees the country change for the better.
Unfortunately, the NYPD has repeatedly destroyed the library. That’s right; in twenty-first-century America, books are still being destroyed as a way
The People's Library of the Occupy Wall Street Movement has very flexible hours.
to control the population. The People’s Library of the Movement (also referred to as Library 3.0 because it has been destroyed and resurrected twice thus far) has been collecting poetry about the protests, legal reference works, and books about past revolutions, as well anything a kind donor brings or sends to the collection. You can check out their collection on LibraryThing.
The library is a living, breathing entity that is doing its best to serve a community with specific needs. Being a librarian is difficult enough when your work is paid and sheltered from the elements. Imagine being a volunteer librarian in a makeshift shelter in constant fear of the police. Occupy Librarians and Library Volunteers, I salute you.
Presently, the library is entirely mobile as a way to protect it from city officials looking to destroy it. Librarians are currently using carts to ferry books to and from the protest site until a better solution is found. If you would like to help, the People’s Library needs volunteers, reading and reference materials, storage containers, and shelter material.
I promised a second highlight of Banned Books Week, and, though I’m a little late, here it is!
ALA asked readers to vote for the Top Ten Most Far-fetched Reasons to Challenge a Book.
Sarah Fischer, a staff writer for the University of Illinois’ Daily Illini wrote an editorial briefly discussing censorship and her love of banned books.
Barbara Jones, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, recorded a two-part video message encouraging parents to read and discuss challenged and banned books with their children.
The Australian Broadcasting Company covered a news story about schools in Israel refusing to use censored textbooks. Not strictly BBW-related, but still an occurrence of censorship that deserves attention.
In early September, Laura Whitwell of the UK paper, Daily Mail, wrote an interesting article about books that have been challenged in Texas schools. Now, I want to find a copy of The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln to read!
Finally, you can take ALA’s Banned Book Week Quiz. Good luck!
According to the American Library Association website:
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
Unfortunately, I’ve haven’t been able to participate in any BBW activities this week aside from reading a book about Genghis Khan’s daughters. Written by highly respected scholar Jack Weatherford, The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire is the first book dedicated to the female descendants of the founder of the Mongolian Empire. The book itself has never been challenged, but I argue that it is appropriate for BBW because the records of the deeds of the extraordinarily powerful daughters, granddaughters, and daughters-in-law of Genghis Kahn were destroyed in an attempt to erase their memory from history. Most of the information that modern scholars have about these women comes from the records and observations of foreigners who visited the Mongol courts or were conquered by the Mongols. These women were silenced for centuries but, thanks to Dr. Weatherford’s research, their stories are surfacing again. If you enjoy Asian history, Mongolian culture, women’s history, or underdog stories, I recommend this.
How have other people and organizations been celebrating Banned Books Week? We are all busy people so I’ve limited myself to a small selection of
ALA's BBW poster
highlights from the week so far.
A friend of a colleague wrote an excellent blog entry reminding us why we need BBW.
Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post condemning censorship.
The Springfield-Greene County Library District in Missouri posted brief interviews with authors whose works have been challenged and/or banned. (The link leads to a PDF.) Authors interviewed are Jane Yolen, Beth Hammett, Leslea Newman, David Harrison, Sandy Asher, Jan Cheripko, and Patricia Hermes.
I am a fan of biographies and I am a fan of Louisa May Alcott. To that end, I highly recommend Harriet Reisen’s biography of a woman widely considered to be one of the very best American authors.
For biographical reasons, I can recommend this book. Reisen’s book is well-researched and she makes use of never-before-published resources. She provides insightful analysis of the Alcott family dynamics, especially the strained relationship between flawed and passionate second daughter, Louisa, and her idealistic father, Bronson Alcott, a respected pillar of the Transcendentalist movement of the nineteenth century.
For personal reasons, I can recommend this biography. I found myself genuinely relating to Miss Alcott. In her mid and late twenties, Louisa chose to move away from her parents (though she had the option to live with them indefinitely), take cramped quarters in a different town, and work three jobs (teaching, sewing, and freelance writing). She worked hard and maintained her confidence that one day she would achieve financial independence and would find work that she loved. Her situation mirrors my own. I, too, am in my mid-twenties, living on my own and working three jobs while trying to find that one full-time job that will make me happy.
My slightly dinged up copy of Miss Alcott's most sensational work.
For literary reasons I can recommend this book. Most readers know L.M. Alcott as the author of Little Women. She was, in fact, an extraordinarily prolific author of short stories, poetry, essays, children’s fiction, and adult fiction. She published many morbid and sensational stories under pseudonyms. My favorite Alcott novel, A Long, Fatal Love Chase, was considered too scandalous to print during the 1800s. It was published posthumously more than century after she wrote it.
If you are interested in biographies, Louisa M. Alcott, the Transcendentalist movement, nineteenth-century American life, or a rags-to-riches story, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women is for you. Recommended for high school readers and up.