Tag Archives: summer plans

Summer of Grant Writing and Job Searching

This summer I’m taking a course at the School of Social Work that covers grant writing, marketing and fundraising. I find it fascinating to think about all the ways that Social Work and the Library world intersect. One thing that was mentioned in a class before break was that as people who work for the public, we can’t strike as we will hurt those who need us. This got me thinking about how critical the idea of advocacy is within the library community but also how difficult it is. As a librarian, my job is to help my patrons and for them to know that I’m there for any questions or recommendations, but public libraries are taken for granted in the United States. The role of libraries is in a state of flux and that is a difficult thing to get across because a library can be a variety of things for all of its patrons. Fundraising ends up giving good advice for how to connect, know who you’re appealing to and figure out what will be compelling for them. I think this is something that all librarians know how to do because its part of our day to day lives of helping patrons, but adding that next step of who needs to know what I do. This is something I keep thinking about as I put myself out into the world in the course of trying to find a job. I need to know who I am and how I fit into various libraries in the hope that I’ll get hired by one where I can enrich their community.

One of the main challenges for me of this course is that by the end of it we have to create a grant. I took this grant as a challenge to design a program that centers around storytelling as its one of my great loves. Today I turned in a draft of a few parts of this grant and I realized that my ideas are in this fascinating place where I know what I want to do, but I need to think forwards and backwards so they fit into the grant format.

I’m also preparing to apply for my first couple of jobs and its exciting to realize how much knowledge I’ve acquired and how many previous experiences led towards being a librarian. When I was in college, I worked for the Swarthmore College library one summer and enjoyed all the things going on around me. I’m also constantly volunteering at my local libraries as they’re truly my favorite places and after college, I had an internship at a museum library. When I did all of those, I wasn’t considering being a librarian, I simply wanted to be somewhere I enjoyed. Its just turned out that they all helped me to get to this place of preparing to step out into the world as a librarian.

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Ann Arbor Book Festival Manga Mania-Ideas to Realization

The Ann Arbor Book Festival is a wonderful event full of numerous types of programming from writers’ workshops to a vendors’ fair and events for children. Since I first moved to Ann Arbor, I’ve heard of this festival but until this summer, I was never able to participate. When the emails asking for assistance started to appear on the SI list serv, I quickly said yes, I’d like to help especially with children’s activities. The first meeting happened on a Friday morning and from the start I found myself deep in helping to think of ideas for structure about an afternoon activity based around manga and understanding narrative. One of the most fascinating parts of this planning process was the mixture of people involved in the planning, professors involved in Chinese, Japanese and childhood education alongside the tech coordinators for North Quad and students who wanted to help. You can see the wide variety of people involved here and a final breakdown of what the day looked like.

The first stages of creating Manga Mania were full of what at times felt like too many ideas and quite diverse opinions such as that we shouldn’t have too much structure or too little. A challenge happened because this was the first time this particular event had gone on and so there were no expectations of how many or what age of children to expect. The North Quad staff was helpful because they had held events in the community space before so knew what was possible within it and that helped us to build ideas around that. After much discussion, we decided to create activities that would work for all ages but aim for the eight to ten range as by observation those seemed the children most likely to appear. On the day of the event, this was true and our predictions were mainly correct. As we had a sense of the age of the children, we then had to think about the activities, here it helped that a few of the organizers had done events such as this before and knew what worked and the flexibility of the North Quad space.

We decided to create a few different stations; illustration and character creation, pop ups and 3D art, and lastly puppetry. In the end a map was created of these stations and represented them as a participant going from their house, character creation, city hall, storytelling and finally the amphitheater for puppetry, face painting and 3D art. This map didn’t fully map onto the arrangement of the room on the final day but did provide a way for children to be aware of what was available for them to do. Character creation was something that I brought up as an idea for a template that the participants could have with them and as a way to think about characters within stories. As a roleplayer in various mediums, I have a lot of experience with how creating a character can stimulate creativity and understanding of how people and stories worked.

As the focus of this activity was to be about manga and art, we planned to include a large space on the paper for drawing characters alongside some basic traits; strengths, weaknesses, name, age, zodiac sign. On the day of the event, most children were proudly carrying these templates that had been filled in off with them alongside 3D art and spoon puppets. A benefit of the space we used in North Quad is that all of the tables are covered with white board, which meant children could draw on the tables or on papers we ended up providing. This made for a relaxed event as everyone was drawing on the tables no matter their ages and sharing what they created. The day of the event things came together wonderfully as slide shows with manga and other action characters showed on screens along the walls, the artists predrew on some of the tables to make things easier and wonderfully inspiring handouts kept appearing with character ideas. The North Quad space has tickers to show words and alongside the already chosen words, character names, skills and qualities were added.

I spent most of the event at the front door where I explained what was happening and helped people find what they needed. One of the disadvantages of North Quad is that its a confusing building and since we had a clearly marked open door for the Book Festival, I fielded questions from many participants. We did have a small issue with our sign and the door but that was something we couldn’t have predicted alongside the strong wind.

I was also able to say goodbye to most of the participants and see what they had created and give them handouts to take with them so they could continue creating. It was gratifying to see how much every child enjoyed the event. I think next year this event will be even stronger as an expectation has been formed of what it is like and parents and children will remember. For me this was one of the best experiences I’ve had since it helped me to learn what it takes to bring such a large event together and what good programming looks like.

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My Summer-Internship at America Reads

I meant to write about America Reads here during the summer, but I never got into the habit. This is one of the dangers of various blogging spaces since SI provides one for the internship credit so I tended to write there. This summer has ended up being not what I expected and far more rewarding due to that.

In May, I was thinking that I’d be doing an internship at one of the many wonderful public libraries in the area, focused on youth services. I interviewed at the Clinton-Macomb library the Canton library, finding those interviews was exciting as I discovered just how confusing Michigan highways can be. I wasn’t chosen for either of them and kept looking, I found an internship at the UoM Depression Center, which sounded interesting, but didn’t quite fit.

Then an email showed up on the SI mailing list from the Ginsberg Center and America Reads saying they needed a library volunteer to help them organize their library. So I went to speak with them and everything fell into place. America Reads is an incredible federal program that provides tutors for elementary school students in high risk areas to assist them with learning to read. The program is an a wonderful old mansion that holds a number of other service programs called the Ginsberg Center. America Reads was recently able to move their library to a larger space in the basement, where they have a collection of at least 3000 books. I don’t have an exact number, because every day there seem to be new donations and I helped to purchase more books.

I began my internship by finding out what America Reads needed and wanted by crafting a Google Survey for the tutors and speaking to a few of the tutors. Most of the information was helpful and focused on an online searchable catalog along with making the library neater. These two pieces of information helped decide what I did the rest of the summer.

First I began by inventorying the books and taking them out of the subjective topics sections that they were in as I researched cataloging systems. I soon discovered that when a library is under 5000 books, there isn’t a lot of literature on the options, because that size usually doesn’t have a full time librarian. With the help of my mentor from the Technical Services department of Hatcher Graduate Library, I was able to find resources on Church library informational pages. I ended up narrowing my choices down to two automation library systems, Surpass and LibraryWorld and chose LibraryWorld. LibraryWorld is a company that I think will keep doing very well, because it changes the business model of automation systems. From my experience, they seem to mainly be sold in modules, so that a librarian who isn’t aware of what they really need could easily buy too much and spend a lot of money. LibraryWorld on the other hand provides everything online, cataloging, importing records, circulation, patron records, reports and a link for an online catalog. So this was the system that I chose and since July, I’ve been in the process of cataloging the books along with organizing them. When everything is finished, the books will be arranged alphabetically in four main categories; picture books, board books, chapter books and non-fiction. This way students can do in-depth cross referencing online and then come to the library to find their books and check them out. At this point, America Reads has hired me on full time to work with them throughout the year, even after I have all the hours I need for my internship.

I think this experience is going to put me in a great place to work in the kind of library I want to be, one that’s small and my skills will help it become the best library for its community.


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Robin Hood, Historical Fiction and Summer Plans

Life has been quite amazing this week. My parents left on Monday, I had an interview on Tuesday and one on Wednesday and now the one on Wednesday has lead to me having a summer internship. I still need to find a mentor and put together a proposal for it so I can get credit but I pretty much have an internship. Its wonderful, I’m going to be helping a literacy center figure out what’s the best cataloguing option for them and then if it all works helps them implement it.

Now for the long history and historical fiction post that’s been brewing in my head for a while. Fair warning, this is going to be rambly and probably all over the place. I think the best place to be is with Robin Hood, because that was what really pulled me into history and the possibilities of historical fiction. Paul Creswick’s Robin Hood with the N.C. Wyeth illustrations just made me think about another time and world in terms of amazing and real people. Not long after I read it, I started to read biographies and other historical works. This was also the point when I first began to write fanfiction though I didn’t know that’s what it was called when I put Will on the Enterprise from Next Generation.

Milliways has given me a wonderful chance to expand my own ideas about Robin Hood and I love just how much space to play the legend allows. This is actually the reason why I won’t be watching the new Robin Hood movie, because from what I’ve read, Ridley Scott didn’t want to use any of the legend so made up his own story. Even though from within the huge sprawling legend, he could have found just what he wanted. If he hadn’t called it Robin Hood, I would have been there because I enjoy his movies and love Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett and a lot of other people in the cast.

When I started college, I really thought that I was going to become either a Medieval Historian or possibly a teacher, instead I ended up a Classicist and now I’m on my way to becoming a librarian. The explanation for those changes isn’t too hard to show. Randolph-Macon Woman’s College didn’t have that much of a medieval history program, but the classics’ one just pulled me in. Classics caught me with Homer and getting to read him in the original since literature and primary sources are one of my favorite ways of approaching history.

I took one Education class that was fascinating but it felt easy in terms of my other classes. There was such a huge focus on Education trends and not so much on how do you teach. The class did have a practicum where we observed real classes that I enjoyed, but in the end, I didn’t feel passionate about it. Its sort of how I feel after my School Library Management class, I have a huge amount of respect for school librarians, but I don’t think I would be happy in the complex world of a school library. Reading Lies My Teacher Told Me is also reminding me of how broken the US public school system is and honestly I’d rather help a public library, because I know myself and if I wanted to try and fix it, I would until it broke my heart. I attended public school for twelve years and I was very lucky, because I was in a good district, but I had some horrible teachers and a lot of tests. A lot of the issues that are coming up in Lies My Teacher Told Me are things that we talked about in School Library Management, using primary sources, doing more than just teaching the test, but also how hard it can be to change things. Schools at times have a culture where the teacher basically closes the door to their classroom and they run things their way in there and any criticism no matter the form is very hard to take. My professor talked about nudging teachers and I think that’s what Lies My Teacher Told Me is pushing for too, changing as much as you can and get everyone thinking.

I’ve always loved good historical fiction and mysteries though this is a hard combination to get right. The Benjamin January novels on the other hand combine the best of both these worlds wonderfully. I’m sorry that it took me so long to read them, because she tells you about her research and really pulls you into that other time. Now I’m curious to read some of her fantasy, but I’m not sure where to start. I would love any recommendations.

This entry is not quite as organized as I’d hoped but all of these things swirl and combine in my head and so I tend to think of them together. I think I’m going to also post this on my professional journal too. Thank you to anyone who read all the way through this.

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Stretching Beyond My Limits

This has been a long and hard semester and its almost done. I feel like I’ve been stretched and pulled in a lot of unexpected and good ways, which I’m going to reflect on here.

First though I want to post a link to the library website that I helped create with Maria, Library Girl and Caroline, Artichocke Mountain High School Library Website.

In our last class of School Library Management, we talked a lot about what’s the next step for heading towards a career as a school librarian and a lot of the advice works for just being a librarian. A lot of the focus was on professional organizations and how many options there are and thinking about what you can get from each one. This is something that keeps coming up in my various classes, the idea of how as I become a librarian, there really is an amazing community with lots of smaller communities out there for me to become a part of. The other wonderful thing we did was do a quick exercise about summing up being a school librarian. In my group we designed a girl scout badge that incorporated books, reading devices and the world since a good librarian can bring you the world.

Now I want to talk more about this semester in general, because it was one where I took a number of classes that don’t properly fit within the definition of my specialization in Library Information Science. I took School Library Management because I think I want to be a youth librarian and it gave me a way to really think and consider what is really key when you run a library or part of library where the focus is on children. This class has stretched me to try new things and really think about what are the responsibilities I take on as a librarian who works with young people.

I also took a course on Archives, because I want to be a well rounded librarian and many times small public libraries will be connected to their town’s archives. This class stretched me the most in terms of the major project in which we had to do a project within an archive to understand the user experience. Yet the problem I ran into was that my topic was not really suited to an archive, it was one of those cases where I could see what I was meant to do but its not really how I think about things. In the end what happened was I created a paper that I’m proud of about Robin Hood and illustrations of Robin Hood, but didn’t really get as much of a sense of working in an archive. I’m thankful for how stretched and thoughtful this class made me and it just reminded me of something I knew before, I’m not an archivist. Not long after I graduated college, I interned in the library of a maritime museum and a lot of the work I did was sort of archival, I was going through a collection of logbooks and putting together descriptions for researchers to use. What I learned doing that job was that I found the information in the logbooks fascinating but I wanted to do more than just describe it, I wanted to write stories and novels based around what I learned in those books. I may not ever be an archivist, but I am grateful for understanding why I’m not.

Another course I took was a required course on technology that had the feel of a survey and a wonderful challenge along the lines of as a librarian you might not see yourself as a tech person but you can be. This connected a lot with School Library Management because so many times the librarian especially a new librarian can end up the technology person. I came out of this class realizing that I can do a lot more with tech stuff than I realized.

The last course I took this semester was a mix for me, Online Communities, because I found that it wasn’t what I expected. Instead of an anthropology course, I found myself more in a course with some looking at communities work but rather more on the tech of working with groups online. The stretching was much less noticeable in this one and I did learn of some good tools.

As I look back over this semester and first year at SI, I feel incredibly tired and accomplished and a little disappointed in myself. I know that I have gained a lot from these courses but at times, I feel like when I stretched, it wasn’t always in the right direction and I didn’t do as well as I might have. SI is a powerful testing ground and place to learn because it asks you as a student to step beyond what you think you know and find out more. I’m glad to have a break and will be curious to see how I change this summer and next year.

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My Next Step-Putting Things into Practice

I realized as its nearing the end of the semester that I haven’t written a huge amount on here about my own journey and why I’m in this class and this field. The world of libraries is one of my happiest places, but I only recently realized how the place I want to be is in children and youth services. I was just starting to figure this out when I applied to Michigan because I’d been volunteering in the children’s section of the Lewes Public library. I had the chance to run story time a few mornings and also to just be there to help with shelving, preparing books and even putting together some recommendations for the young adult section. The environment of the section where you had families with toddlers to middle school students looking for their summer reading just made me so happy. It brought together so many things that I love doing, using stories to pull children deeper into reading and creating or just talking about reading with kids.

The two courses that I’ve taken with Kristin this semester have just confirmed for me even more that I want to be on the ground and a change agent in the world of youth services and hopefully in a public library. I want to be an ally of the school librarians and someone who will can help foster a love of reading and creating in kids.

One of my favorite things to do is storytelling and I can see so many options for storytelling in a public library, the classic example is story time, but I’d love to bring storytelling into the world of older kids. This comes from my own personal experience, I started storytelling by accident when I was twelve and through it I was able to get over my shyness and figure out that I have a powerful creative voice.

I’m hoping this summer that I can get a chance to see where my experiences and abilities will help the most in a public library by interning with youth services.

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