The past month and such has been incredibly busy for me in wonderful and interesting ways. I discovered that my love of research translates into an ability to do fact-checking and I’ve had great conversations at two Carney Sandoe Forums. During one of these Forums, one of the best ways to describe a school-librarian in terms of hiring and schools came up, the librarian as Goalie. In this entry, I’m going to talk about these two points which have been on my mind and with the fact-checking taking up a great deal of my time.
On my grad school list-serv, there was a mention of a publisher of children’s books needing fact-checkers. I emailed them, because I’m always looking for ways to connect to the world of children’s literature. It took a few weeks from when I emailed to when I was sent a PDF of a reference book on a state for Middle Grade kids. Then I had three weeks to work on the book checking everything from the obvious facts such as statistics to the statements in the text. I found it a pleasure to research for a job, to find and explore sites to discover how trustworthy they are and think about what information is out there. It was an intense job as I only had so long and had to cover every piece of data presented on the book’s pages, which meant I wasn’t doing that much else during it.
Along the way I discovered thoughtful historical sources in places I hadn’t immediately thought of such as websites put together for National Historic Sites by the National Park Service. Though as I thought about it, it made perfect sense to find strong scholarship put into easily accessible formats from the National Park Service, which exists to make history and nature closer. One of the challenges was that because I was fact-checking, I was searching for particular nuggets of facts, which meant at times having to pull up three different biographies of one person to cover all that was mentioned. Along the way, it was a pleasure to do my best to eliminate some common historical fallacies that sound nice but aren’t always true as well as learning a great deal about how many Native American tribes choose to be referred to. Whenever I found an error, it was important to have either the correct fact to replace it with or something else. In many places, I found myself disagreeing with some of the author’s choices in terms of the sorts of numerical facts that were put down. Those facts were usually the hardest to find as they tended to be created by combinations of sources and thus I couldn’t always find confirmation. In those cases, I would try to find more information that presented the same idea which was usually about the scale of a historical event, the size of a geographic feature or the size of a part of the economy. The experience brought together many facets of my knowledge and life since my friends know that if they wonder about something, I’ll go and find the answer. Fact-checking also reminded me of how much I enjoyed my internship at the Independence Seaport Museum as I was reading logbooks to put together archival descriptions and had to do research to understand their times and context. The process taught me too of various ways to approach research so that its not just something to do for class, but enjoyable. Now I have more ideas about bringing more of that joy of finding the fact that puts an event into context into the library and classroom. As its so key to make looking for information interesting and remind students that research comes in many flavors and what counts is understanding where a fact comes from.
The Librarian as Goalie came from a conversation I had at a Carney Sandoe Forum where someone I spoke said that librarians were like goalies; schools normally didn’t need more than one or two but it was key to get the right one. This resonated with me as a concise way to show how key a librarian is to a school but how librarians also don’t fit in the normal boxes. A hockey or soccer team might have two goalies, who they have to have to keep the team working as it should but they won’t be replaced as often as other members of the team. A school hopes to not have to hire librarians too often as they want them to be the goalies who are dependable and there to provide a foundation for the rest of the school. With a good librarian, a school can build on research and technology basics allowing teachers to experiment in ways they might not have first thought of. Its a way of talking about school librarians that I plan on using in the future as its simple and effective.
An interesting benefit of living as I do in coastal Delaware with my retired parents is being aware of how many ways creativity can be nourished. For me, creating has meant writing in classes or online and performing in the theater, at the moment, the main one is my writing. Sometimes though the words don’t come easily and I’ll have ideas that feel like they’re dammed up in my mind waiting for something to unclog them and then they flow free. Of late, this has been an interesting contrast to my father who recently discovered writing as a new avenue of creativity for him. Most of my life, his main artistic endeavors have been wood sculpture and photography, the sculpture has grown more prominent as he has the time and space to stretch himself. The photography has always been there but since he began thinking about writing a memoir and taking classes suddenly he’s writing an hour or two every day. Its been fascinating to talk with him about writing and hear him finding the joy in shaping the right words as well as exploring how to capture his own experiences for our family.
My mother has always been a writer, when I was younger she was working on a novel and from her, I learned a lot about editing and how important it is to get the words down. Since her retirement, her creative shift has been a return to music and rediscovering photography. There’s a wonderful camera club in this area which has competitions, trips and various other programs. For my mother, its become a teaching course where she’s learned to approach what she sees through the lens differently.
All of these interactions with creativity have at their heart a balance of a desire to create for one’s self and choosing how to best share them. My father has found a small gallery where he displays his work alongside another friends’ prints, my mother plays piano with friends and enters her photos in the camera club competition and now my father shares his work with a writing group. Most of my words are shared online through this blog and the various fanfiction sites that I participate in but the heart of all of these interactions is finding that welcoming and familiar audience. I look forward to the day when in a library, I can discuss with students what they make and who they want to share it with.
January always seems to go by faster than I expect and my 2014 has started quickly and is going to end in a busy way. I’m preparing to go to ALA Midwinter as I’m now living on the East Coast which means I can visit family while getting to spend time with librarians. Before heading north tomorrow, I wanted to recap some of my favorite events that have happened this month, because there’s been a lot of creativity and reminders of how I am a librarian for me.
To start off, I helped run a great celebration on New Year’s Day called Noon Year’s Day. This is an event that was inspired by something that happens at the Delaware Art Museum and was the first time it was run at the Lewes Library. The set up is rather simple, throw a party for the kids in the area and instead of celebrating the New Year at midnight, do it at noon. The big part of the set up was attaching a parachute, a small one to ceiling and filling it with balloons that could be dropped when noon hit.
Noon Year’s Day
Below you can see the wonderful chaos as the balloons dropped when the countdown happened. I found a countdown on timeanddate.com which was projected onto the wall. There were three crafts and food and in the end almost a hundred kids went through, because its been a cold winter and this was a great distraction. I love events like this, that aren’t too hard to pull together, a lot of the craft supplies and set up were based off of what the Children’s Librarian does for Summer Reading. It was simply a matter of altering them for New Year’s. Crowns with 2014 on them, handmade tambourines made out of paper plates and using pipe cleaners to create fake sparklers and string cheerios on to feed the birds plus seats for the adults. Entire families came and enjoyed themselves including making a lot of noise when it was noon. It was one of the best New Year’s parties that I’ve ever been to for the joy going on in it.
A few days later, I was able to revisit a favorite place of my childhood and feel rejuvenated by the presence of art. The Coastal Camera Club is something that both my parents are active with and I’ve been attending meetings. Its a wonderful organization that welcomes all levels of photographers and works to help them be creative and thoughtful. A part of that is they organize trips to places to take photos and there was a trip to , now this is a place that I used to go to as a young girl. The gardens were built by some members of the DuPont family with the idea that they would be open to the public, plant research goes on and in the summer performances. The day we went it was bitter cold so we spent most of our time in the Conservatory, which is a sprawling series of greenhouses containing all types of gardens. Since it was a cold day, there were few other people there and I was able to walk around following my eye. This is how I prefer to look at art and that day, all the plants were art and I found a way to capture some of their beauty with my camera. I’m going to post one of my pictures since a place I’d forgotten is the Children’s Garden that is full of playful fountains and statues that seem to invite you to another world. Below is a picture of one of my favorite places in the Conservatory, the Orchid Room where I was lucky enough to be in on my own for a number of minutes.
Orchid Room at Longwood Gardens
Also this month, I finally had a chance to read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and it was a book that surprised me in the best way. My review can be read As someone who has been involved in many types of fandom and roleplaying, various activities that made me on the edges, this book clicked with me. Rowell was able to capture how powerful the internet can be for finding your tribe out in the world and also how writing fanfiction provides another way to connect with favorite authors. I would recommend to anyone who is working with teenagers and college students and isn’t sure what they’re doing on Tumblr or what’s so special about Teen Wolf to read this book.
On that note, I need to go and finish getting ready for Midwinter and I hope to meet with one of my groups, the librarians.
I haven’t written much about the Lego League because sadly the library’s team won’t be competing. The team wasn’t able to pull together and get motivated on their own to get done what was needed. For me and my fellow librarian and facilitator, this put us in a difficult position because we weren’t meant to be pushing the team just helping them. If the time had went like a classroom then more would have been accomplished but that felt like it was going against the idea of the Lego League which is about getting the kids active on their own.
I’m glad though that we were able to get a few weeks of time together, because I was able to get a sense of what drew the boys to want to participate. It was clear that they all love Legos and creating and thinking outside the box since there were moments when they would get interested in the challenge and start to approach them. The bigger issue was finding a way to get them all thinking about the same problems as the Lego League asks a lot of all the teams since they must build a robot to complete almost twenty missions as well as doing research and presenting it.
What seemed to be missing was that alchemy that makes a group of people into a team. In my experience with group projects and various hobbies where people work together, it seems like sometimes all the proper pieces can be there and still nothing quite clicks. This happened to be one of those cases, but I feel like some of these boys have made some new friends. I hope so and next year the Lego League might perhaps have a longer build up to get kids excited. Also I look forward to other interactions I might have with Lego Leagues as I find the program a fascinating way to get kids thinking outside the box, addressing issues in the world and learning how to program.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, because its a chance when everyone can play openly with their imaginations. For the past ten years, my costume has been simple but I’ve found rather effective:
As you can see, I’ve painted the top half of my face to look like a red fox, which was a skill I learned how to do when I took a theatrical make up class at a local theater in middle school. That was one of my favorite theater classes because I find it fascinating how it doesn’t take much to shift the character of your face and body.
Halloween is full of people who understand that and a chance for everyone to share various sides of themselves. Since the explosion of YA lit and cosplay becoming more widely recognized, costumes based on what someone loves are easier to spot as we share our inspirations. When I was in elementary school, I had two costumes that were my favorites and both of them grew out of my love of books. One was Glinda the Good Witch from the Oz books, I based my costume on illustrations in the original hardcovers that my parents had and my mother and I found all the makings at a craft store. The other favorite was Will Scarlett/Stuteley from Paul Creswick’s Robin Hood, I made myself a felt hat and my father cut me a quarter staff which I carried to school. For most of my life until my parents moved out of that house, the staff rested in the corner and the hat perched on my desk chair, because Robin Hood is a story that I happen to love. As I grew older I got involved in theater and Live Action Role Play which gave me chances to try on various guises and learn more about how to make someone see me differently. When I try on another identity through a costume, writing, roleplay or another avenue, I find myself examining things from more angles.
Now my costumes are simpler but I’ve found that this face paint gets everyone to look twice at me. Today when I went to pick up something, a woman meowed at me and other people smiled in surprise when they noticed that no, I wasn’t looking normal. I think my favorite reactions to this face paint are the quick smiles as that person has had a little bit of weird in their life.
I hope everyone who does something for Halloween enjoys it and remember to look at the world a little sideways sometimes to see that nothing’s ever quite what it seems. As in Celtic mythology, Samhain and the turning of the seasons means today is when the walls between the worlds are thinner. Also its a time to celebrate the harvest of the summer and prepare for the cold of winter. Brew a hot drink and keep your eyes open. Happy Halloween!