Booktalking Tornadoes

I booktalked at three local elementary schools this week.  A lot of fun, but tremendously exhausting!

For the first and third schools, I had my co-worker Sue along, which does make it easier.  For the second school, I was alone in the morning, and was joined by my co-worker Kumud in the afternoon.  It definitely is nice to have someone share the talking!  Though I was relieved to prove to myself that I can, in fact, pull off a booktalk on my own.

The idea is that I’m going in to the local elementary schools and talking with each grade level.  First, I tell them about the summer reading program.  Then I let them choose from the books I brought along (from the featured books for the program) and I tell them how the books start, to try to pique their interest.

I have about a half-hour with each grade level, so it ends up being 20 to 25 minutes of talking.

I was nervous about it:  I became a librarian because I loved my job at Sembach Library so much.  But I never had to do anything like this at Sembach.  I didn’t even run programs at Sembach.  What if I don’t like it?  Will that mean I’m in the wrong job?

But it ended up being a whole lot of fun.  The elementary school kids are still cute and enthusiastic, and I am not trying to teach them anything — just tell them about something fun and tell them about some wonderful books.  When they do seem interested in the books, it’s a great feeling.

We did have some excitement on Wednesday, though.  It was the day I booktalked the morning alone, and the air conditioning was broken in the room where I was talking, which made it all the more tiring.

At the start of the next-to-last booktalk, the kids noticed the wind ferociously blowing outside with pouring rain and lightning and thunder.  I said, “Isn’t it great we’re warm and safe inside?” and kept talking.  But after awhile, they made me stop — because in the background, their tornado alarm was going off.

I was glad the teachers were in charge and not me!  The kids all knew what to do.  They went in the hallways and ducked and covered.  (It did not look very comfortable!)  Some of the kids were crying.  The power went out, and for a few moments there was no backup power, which was a bad moment of blackness.

The teachers had mercy on them and let the kids sit against the wall after about ten minutes.  I brought my bag with me into the hallway, so I was fortunate to have some reading material!  They had to stay in the hallways for at least a half-hour.

Driving back to the library, there were all kinds of branches and leaves in the road.  I had to detour because of a downed power line, and there was no power in the library.  But the books still worked!  I sat under an emergency light and counted beads — we are going to have a big jar of beads for people to guess the number.  And I need to get them counted first!

It turned out that all the schools in Fairfax County had the tornado warning.  Tim had to stay in the duck and cover position for a half-hour.  Many reported seeing funnel clouds, but thankfully, I didn’t hear of any touching down.

I was most stressed out, though, about the Algebra 2 Final Exam that my son had at 7 pm that night.  I called, and they had power, so the test was to go on, even though another wave of storms was predicted for 7:30.

Mapquest said it would take me a half-hour to drive to the test center, but of course it took a full hour.  Through rain and a couple of places where traffic lights weren’t working.  It was a very stressful drive.  Fortunately, the worst of the next wave of storms happened while we were in the building.  And at least now Tim is all DONE with Algebra 2.

But it ended up being an extremely exhausting day!  By the time I finished booktalking the next day, I was wiped out, and ended up getting a migraine just from tiredness.

However, it was still a lot of fun!  Next year I will try to make sure I schedule restful time after each booktalk and ask that I not be scheduled to man the information desk after a day of booktalking!  But now I have a weekend to recover before next week’s round of activities.

And when the preparation is all done and the Summer Reading Program is underway, I will get to celebrate by going up to Philadelphia to march in my graduation at Drexel!  On my birthday!  It will feel extra good to celebrate becoming a Librarian as I will have just completed my big event of the year for a children’s librarian — getting ready for the Summer Reading Program.

Go me!  🙂


Librarianship as a Calling

Having finished Our Singular Strengths:  Meditations for Librarians, by Michael Gorman, today I’ve begun reading Our Own Selves:  More Meditations for Librarians, by the same author.

In the first meditation, he quotes from a book written in 1966 by Lawrence Clark Powell.  Gorman says:

In it, he summons up a vision of a library as a place formed by “good hands” that have made it orderly and efficient; by “good heads” that have not only shaped collections by intelligent choice but have also absorbed a good part of the knowledge contained in those collections; and “good hearts” that exercise service in humility — motivated by a love of people and learning….

Libraries are about service or they are about nothing.

That got me thinking about why I’m excited about being a librarian.

Today, I had several opportunities to help people find information, quite a few of which were Moms with kids.  That’s one thing I thoroughly enjoy doing.

I love books.  I love learning.  I love connecting people and books.  And I like helping people.

That’s why becoming a librarian isn’t just about finding a job to support myself.  It’s about finding a calling.

May I remember that!

I’m a Librarian!

Last December, I finished my Master’s in Library Science.  Last week, I had my first week as Children’s Librarian at Herndon Fortnightly Library.

Although I’ve worked in libraries for almost ten years, there’s something different about my first week as a full-fledged librarian.  Instead of just coming to work and doing what I am assigned to do, now I am going to be partly responsible for making the assignments, for planning what the programs for children will be and what books the children’s collection will hold.

Librarians make connections — connections between people and books.  As a children’s librarian, I will work with parents to help children learn to love books, as well as simply find information to get their homework done.  I love books, and I love tracking down information.  Now I will get to share that with people who come into the library.

And the timing has been so beautiful.  Moving to America was hard on my son.  Being on the other side of the world from his Dad was hard on my son.  But now my husband has moved back to America, only three hours away, and my son gets to spend time with him almost every other weekend.  He’s in a groove with classes, and seems to be doing well.  He can get by without Mom being around every afternoon.

It feels good to support myself.  To know that I will “eat the fruit of my labor.”  My husband was ready for that to happen.

And working full-time gives me a purpose and direction, and something to think about completely separate from my impending divorce.  I still wish that weren’t happening, but now I have a meaningful profession to keep me busy and happy, and it’s easier to keep my thoughts off of regrets and longings.

God is good!  All my adult life, I got more of my identity from being a wife and mother.  Now I can devote full-time hours to another side of my personality–a side that brings me a lot of joy and fulfillment.  So whatever happens with my marriage, this is a chance to more fully be the person God made me to be.

I Love Libraries!

Today our branch manager mentioned that last month our juvenile circulation was up by 40%.  She said she believed this was because a second children’s librarian and I have been added to the staff.  When the library only had one person in the children’s department, she naturally wasn’t able to keep the children’s desk manned.  Now we have someone sitting among the children’s books almost all the time.

It felt good to be told that my presence has made a difference.  Sometimes I sit back there and feel like I’m only getting the opportunity to smile at babies, hear clever children read, and start the computer for kids.  Fun for me, but is it helping anyone?

But yesterday I got to help a Dad find summer reading books for his first grader.  I got to find more train books for our little friend Miles.  And I even got to help my friend Darlene’s adorable children find books to check out.

(I know my former boss will wonder if the stats are up simply because I use that library now.  However, I’ve been checking out more YA books than Juvenile ones, honest!)

And really, even if I don’t hand them a book, surely it’s a good thing to win the heart of a toddler, as I got the chance to do today, simply by smiling at him.  The mother was one of our many, many immigrant patrons, and I think she felt a little more welcome when I obviously thought her son was adorable.

I do love libraries.  You get to meet parents who care about their kids enough to read to them.  You get to share amazing books with amazing kids.  It was nice to be reminded today how privileged I am to work at a library.  Also nice to hear that my having fun at the library might even be making a difference!

Way Too Funny for an Assignment

For my Resources for Children class, I have to follow the YALSA-Bk List, as well as Joyce Valenza’s blog, Never Ending Search.

Last week, the YALSA List had a link to a hilarious video called “Accio Deathly Hallows”–Hank Green, brother of John Green, the YA author, sang a song about how anxious he was to read the new Harry Potter book.

I already knew a tiny bit about John Green/Hank Green’s blog–at the Printz Awards, I and the rest of the audience said, “Hi Hank!” to a video camera for the blog.  The two brothers decided to communicate only through their video blog for one year.

The song was wonderful!  So I sent a link to my now 13-year-old son. 

My son has spent hours of the last three days (EVEN after getting a Wii!) beginning at the beginning of the video blog and watching every single entry.  He’s up to April.

I watched today’s and think I’m hooked.  Anyone who gets excited about cataloging his home library is my kind of person!

As if that weren’t enough, in Joyce Valenza’s blog, there was a link to some utterly hilarious librarian videos, created by “Dr. Loopy.”  I’ve done some hard laughing tonight.  Is that allowed for a school assignment?

(I’ve added both hilarious links to my Blogroll.)