Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Post 2012: On books and reading

We continue the series of end of year posts here at The Itinerant Librarian. As my four readers know, I do these to amuse myself and give my four readers something to be entertained at the end of the year. Being a librarian and an avid reader, books are a big part of my life, so I have to make a post on books and reading to share a few things such as suggested reading lists and other items that may be of interest to readers.

On a side note, do stay tuned and come back around the end of the  year for the last holiday post, on what the heck happened in 2012 (my version of the end of year wrap-up) and also come back for my reading summary, where I look at what I read during the past year. So, here we go.



Book Lists

These are some basic book lists to give you ideas and suggestions on what to read. Find out what you may have missed from 2012 and maybe pick something to read in 2013. As always, if you read something good, feel free to let know. I am always looking for new ideas.



Some more book lists

I would say the items below are a little less mainstream. These are lists that I think are a bit more unique, specific, or even quirky.
  • Via the Anime News Network, report that Da Vinci Magazine has listed its top manga picks for 2012
  • BuzzFeed has put together their list of 15 Best Cookbooks for 2012. The list has a small twist to it: it also suggests a cooking ingredient for each book to give as a gift along with the book.
  • Joshua Kim, writing at Inside Higher Ed, gives his list of "the 11 Best Nonfiction Books of 2012." Susan Cain's book about introverts, Quiet, made the list. My review and book notes on Cain's book are posted at The Gypsy Librarian here for anyone interested. I do recommend the book. Kim's list does have a book or two I need to add to my TBR lists.
  • Papeles Perdidos, the literary blog of El Pais, names its best book of 2012 as voted by their online readers. Blog content is in Spanish. The book is Almudena Grandes's El Lector de Julio Verne. Feel free to visit the blog if interested to learn more about the book and other finalists and choices by genre. 
  • The Literary Saloon blog has a list of "Foreign 'Best of Year" Selections." Because the rest of the world reads too, and it produces literature, and they recognize their good stuff. It's not just about the Anglos and Americans.
  • Book Riot has their list of Top 25 books of 2012 as chosen by their readers. To be honest, the list is mostly books that are not in my reading horizon. Other than Susan Cain's Quiet (which is basically making the rounds, and I already read as noted), I did not see anything I would be interested in (i.e. a lot of literary fiction, which is a category I could not care less about), but I am sure a few readers out there will find it useful to look over. They also have a list of best books as chosen by the contributors of the blog.And if you like boxed sets, well, they have a guide to some of those too. If I had a wish list, I would love The Sandman boxed set. On the other hand, this list they offer I am not too impressed. It's basically the "guys are hard to buy; they all read history books" stereotype. I will have you know a lot of guys, at least those of us who read, often read a variety of things. Last thing I would want is yet another war memoir or gross things book (I did those when I was a little kid, thanks. Some of us have grown up by now). If you want to give a guy a history book, give him a good biography of a political or historical figure he may admire. Give him a good microhistory. If it is history, heck, ask me, I may have a suggestion or two that does not involve some war book. I do read some military history, but I don't go all "gaga" over it. Science fiction and fantasy can be good options as well. We are not as complicated as many think we are (either that, or I am just not as manly as some people think I should be, haha!).
  • By the way, guys often like technology stuff. So, maybe get them a tech-related book. BetaBeat offers their lists of "the Best Books to Buy for the Technologist in your Life." And don't worry, if the technologist in your life is a lady, I am sure she would appreciate one of these too. The list features both fiction and nonfiction.
  • Via Entertainment Realm blog, the blogger's favorite nonfiction of 2012. From this list, I did read Agorafabulous, for which I posted my review and note here.
  • Via the blog Band of Thebes, "The Best LGBT Books of 2012: 87 Authors Select Their Favorites." From this list I read Bechdel's Are You My Mother? which I did find a bit disappointing. I posted my review in my GoodReads profile here.
  • The Arabic Literature (in English) blog as a list of "10 Holiday Gift Suggestions: New in 2012"
  • The editor at Bookgasm blog has some recommendations of books that would make good gifts
  • The ladies of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books have put together their holiday gift guides. Sure, they feature books, but also other gifts for the romance reading lady in your life. Find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 in the links.
  • Want more romance reading? The folks of Book Riot offer a list of "7 Super Weird Holiday Romance Novels." Go ahead, try to tell people you are reading Christmas Rum Balls with a straight face.

Other things about reading

What the subtitle says: Other stuff about reading that has a holiday theme that may be of interest.


Photo credit: From Flickr user retrokatz, used by terms of Creative Commons license.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Post 2012: Traditions and other seasonal miscelleany




Photo from certain popular cat meme









This is the post where I share links and snark on Christmas traditions. From Christmas trees to the food, you can find a bit of humor. Plus I often learn a thing or two in the process. So, here we go.




Trivia and things to know


Getting into the Christmas spirit

  • It is a tradition in our house to track Santa over Christmas. This year you may have your choice of trackers after NORAD decided to dump Google and sell out to Microsoft and Bing. However, Google just went ahead and created their own tracker. We may try out both and see which works better. Here is the NORAD tracker. And here is Google's Santa Tracker. No matter if you are a child or a child at heart, this never gets old. 
  • Christopher Lee narrates the poem "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (via Boing Boing).
  • Maybe you want to listen to some Christmas music. Here you can sing along with the Muppets (via Mashable).
  • Want some lights with your music? Mashable has you covered there too with some rocking Christmas light shows.
  • Naturally, since "Gangnam Style" was the big hit or trend of this year, someone had to make a light display with it (link to YouTube video).
  • What Christmas is complete without a few guns? Putting aside the recent tragedy in Connecticut, guns and Christmas have been a prominent part of many U.S. holidays. I am sure that stupid kid shooting his eye out in that movie has something to do with it, but there was even a time when guns (as in real guns, not just air guns) were advertised as perfectly fine Christmas presents for children. So, via BuzzFeed, here we have "48 Gun-totin' Christmas Moments." Because these days, even Santa has to pack heat. 
  • Having people over? Here are some small entertaining tips from Liquor.com. In essence, it's guacamole and margarita time, baby!  Which, to be honest, sounds a lot better than most boring holiday fare.

The Christmas tree and other decorations


Because some people DO deserve a lump of coal

  • I bet most people have this idyllic vision of children during Christmas: opening the presents, the wonder in their eyes, the innocence, etc. Well, guess what? Not all children are little angels. Here are "28 Reasons Why Kids Ruin Christmas" (via BuzzFeed). Be honest, if you have kids, they have done at least one of these things at one point or another.  Heck, you may have done or two of these as a child yourself.
  • Not everyone is happy about the Christmas season. In fact, some folks do get very grumpy about it. Cats apparently get grumpy too (via BuzzFeed).
  • Others get grumpy about the Christmas music blaring all over the place (via BuzzFeed), and they are not afraid to go on Twitter and let us know about.
  • And speaking of music, why is that many celebrities who have no business doing it decide to make a Christmas album anyhow and thus ruin classics? Or worse, they create atrocities soon forgotten? Here are "12 Christmas Song Fails" (via The Daily Beast). Go on, I dare you to listen to some of these without laughing, groaning, or wincing. 
  • And the reviews are out on bad celebrity Christmas music. (via BuzzFeed).  For example, on the Brady Bunch album, “This album is only 20 minutes long, which is fortunate, because that's about all a sane person can take.” It gets worse from there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Post 2012: Shopping, gifts, and other things



Whether we like it or not, the holiday season is one big shopping season. It is a season that retailers, mostly out of desperation or greed, keep pushing back a bit further every year. I will be blunt: Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving. Period. I do not want to see Christmas decorations mixed up with my Halloween. However, it looks like this bad habit is here to stay, so we may as well poke some fun at it and take a look.




Some advice on gift shopping

I thought some of these links might be useful to folks. What kind of librarian would I be if I did not offer you some information as well as snark about gifts?

  • Savings.com has an infographic on the best days to buy things. Some of the days are gone by now, others are to come. For example, books, music, and movies, you are better off buying after Christmas. For some that is a big deal. For a household that also celebrates Dia de Reyes, it just means we can wait to buy these things until later here in the States.
  • Lifehacker has some ideas on how to buy gifts while avoiding the cliches. I liked the idea of giving experiences. Other nice ideas here. They also offer some tips on buying gift cards, favoring branded store cards over those broader prepaid ones. The comments on the gift card post run the gamut from those who hate them to those who like them. I understand not liking the idea, but some of the haters do sound like seriously ungrateful people. If someone took the time to get you a gift, try to be nice (although I will admit there may be exceptions, usually for gifts from people who clearly did not think. See other parts of this post for examples). Personally, I do like bookstore gift cards, especially to places like Half Price Books; I can get a lot of book for not that much moolah. I think if you know a person shops at a specific place, a card from there may be good. Handing out iTunes cards just because you can't think of something else? Not so good. 
  • What would be the holiday season without a scam or two? I know, that sounds terrible. But this is a season when a lot of less than scrupulous people try to exploit everyone else. One way they do it? Grey charges, which is basically when a business sneaks something into your bill you did not want, say a subscription or trials that become subscriptions automatically (a big reason I never sign up for any trials. Canceling them is a serious pain). This is why when you shop you need to make sure you read fine print, make sure you know what your are buying and how.  Learn more in this small article out of Mashable. Granted, the post is mostly also a promo for a transaction monitoring service, but the advice is good overall: be mindful when you shop.

Gifts

I always find amusing some of the gift ideas people come up with to give to others. I can appreciate a nice thoughtful gift, but some items I just have to say, "WTF?" So, from the nice and cute to the "WTF," here are some links about holiday presents. The snarky comments are all mine.

Is this for a man or a woman? Gifts that could go either way

Some of the lists I found claim to offer gifts for one gender or the other. Some do stick to the theme fairly well. Others not so much, as this examples will show:

  • GQ is easy; this is guy stuff. GQ has their 2012 Holiday Gift Guide as chosen by their editors. Where else can you find a traditional Turkish bath towel on a holiday list? Or a Starbucks coffee machine so instead of waiting in line at the local Starbucks you can wait for the fancy coffee maker to do it in your house? The rest of the stuff is not particularly impressive, at least to my plebeian palate. 
  • The Art of Manliness has "50 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Men." Items on this list are very classic and traditional gifts for men, some of them things that you just don't see being given as presents anymore. For instance, drug store cologne, which brings a lot of memories for me as a growing man since it was a gift of choice from my grandmother and other elderly aunts. Another example is shoe polish. Men need to have one or two good pairs of shoes, and they need to be polished once in a while. Yet you don't even see shoe polish in stores much. Now that I think about it, this topic of gifts from my younger days might make a nice blog post down the road. If you prefer to give your man a homemade gift, The Art of Manliness has you covered there too.
  • Need more ideas for the man in your life? Cool Material has a list of holiday gifts for men too. Star Wars cufflinks? Ooh yea. 
  • More gifts for men? Apparently women just don't get much of anything this year (or I just did not look in the right places). Esquire has a list of gifts for dad. However, it is mostly a highlight of various item of the month club. Sure, men may appreciate these, but I don't think they are exclusively for men or dads. They have a Popcorn of the Month Club (they send corn, not popped corn, so you can do the work yourself), and I know The Better Half is a big popcorn fan, and she is happy popping her own. So why be gender exclusive?
  • On the other hand, there is hope for women. Here are some tech gifts for mom (via Mashable). Not just any gifts, but tech gifts. However, I take it the Mashable people have little sense. Everyone knows the way to piss off a woman is to get her a vacuum cleaner as a present, so what did the guys put first on their list? A fancy schmancy vacuum clearner. How comes guys don't get vacuum cleaners as gifts? I am sure they need to clean their man cave once in a while. And before some macho guy says, "I will just have my woman do it," keep in mind part of the rule of having a man cave is that, it is a man cave. Besides, were it my mother, she would have told him to just clean up his room. Overall, the list is not necessarily gender specific to women, making the headline an example of traffic generation. 
  • Now, you may have problems telling, "is this gift for a man or a woman? Will this be OK for him? Or her?" Well, retailers (or writers of quickie online columns) have that solved in this list of "28 Gifts Online Retailers Think Are 'For Him" or 'For Her" (via BuzzFeed). Let us be honest: the sexism expressed in these choices is so predictable it stops being funny and becomes cliche. Yea, get your girlfriend that cute shopaholic wineglass. Even if she really is a shopaholic, don't do it. And by the way, if any of you get me a Bill O' Reilly book because you think it makes a good manly present, you will no longer be my friend (plus I am smacking you with the book. That notion of "it's the thought that counts" will not save you here). C'mon, be serious people. What if your woman goes hunting and fishing right along with you? I am sure she would want her own hunting knife. And if she is the kind of gal who enjoys football, dang it, get her a jersey of her own (plus in some case, she will look oh so sexy when she comes to bed after watching the game...but I digress). You get the idea.

Geeky and/or Writer Gifts

I will highlight book lists in a future post. This would cover more things that geeks, writers, and even librarians may like.

  • Do you have a writer in your life? maybe this small list of "12 Gifts and Goodies for Writers" (via the blog Writing Forward) might inspire some gift giving ideas. I think some of these may appeal to the reader and/or librarian in your life as well. I personally endorse the idea of a nice writing notebook or two. As a writer, I do much of it on notebooks, so nice ones are always welcome. 
  • Need more ideas for that writer? The Office Supply Geek has a "Holiday Guide for the Office Supply Geek." The Star Wars Moleskine is my personal favorite in this bunch.
  • A little gift giving humor. Here are some "Gag gifts for geeks" (via Boing Boing).  
  • Popular Science has a nice gift guide for those aspiring or real rocket scientists in your life, or just anyone who likes science. 
  • It may be a bit of self-promotion, according to him, but Phil Bradley offers some gifts that librarians may like.  
  • Stephen Abram points to some geeky office supply gifts for librarians. I will be perfectly honest in saying I have mixed feelings on the use of the word "geek" and librarians. Although geeks are moving to reclaim the word as their own, the negative connotation baggage is still there. I mean, for instance, I am fairly knowledgeable in graphic novels and comics, but I am not one of those OCD people who camp out in a comic bookstore debating minutiae about Batman or some obscure comic book character three people read during the Golden Age. Actually, that is the old stereotype. The new OCD geek type are those who hang out in Internet forums making those mostly irrelevant to anyone but them comments on minutiae about Batman or some obscure comic book character three people read during the Golden Age. It's people like that why I stay away from commenting on many book and reading blogs that discuss graphic novels and comics even as I have an interest personally and professionally. I honestly do not give a shit what color Aquaman's underoos were in the third comic book incarnation and why that offends your comic geek sensibilities. But my brief digression aside, some of the items on the list are interesting. 
  • Naturally, many librarians gravitate to gadgets and other electronic toys and gizmos. So, Stephen Abram also helpfully points to some of them that librarians may find of interest. This list does look better and have a few practical things.

Gifts for your pets
Because they are family too, that's why: 

Food and Drink Gifts

This is pretty much what the title says. I think giving good food or a good bottle of a spirit is always a good option. It is something that will not just sit on a shelf someplace, but it is often consumed and shared with family and friends. Personally, I think anything you can share with family and friends is a good thing. 

  • Want to give food instead, but you do not have the time or inclination to make it yourself? Here are "31 Best Food Gifts Under $20" (via Buzzfeed). I will admit some of these look interesting, but to be honest, I have not heard of a lot of the brands presented. This is not the stuff you will find at the local Walmart (not that you should be shopping at Walmart anyhow). I had no idea I needed aged garlic. I guess I am just not enough of a gourmet.
  • BuzzFeed also has a list of "38 Best DIY Food Gifts." There are some nice ideas here if you are willing to put in a little effort and time. 
  • Drinkhacker has their 2012 Holiday Gift Guide up.  There is a bit of everything here. 
  • If you prefer more "American made," Liquor.com has an American whiskey guide along with other guides for the spirit you might favor. They do list some interesting things like a bourbon pecan peanut butter. And then there is their high roller list, a.k.a. stuff I would never be able to even get a whiff. Hey, I do live on a librarian salary after all. But a man can dream.
  • And speaking of high end indulgences, The Advocate offers a holiday guide for those who like to indulge. I will say the Crystal Head Vodka looks pretty cool. I may go out and grab a gift set. That is one thing I like about buying liquor in the holidays. Many of them come packed in nice gift sets where you get a mug, or glasses, or some other knick knack, and you pay for just the booze. What we might have called in Puerto Rico a ├▒apa (a freebie). 
  • Now, let us say you have to (or feel moved) to buy your boss a present. OK, now that you are done laughing, what can you do? Well, if the boss happens to enjoy a good drink now and then, maybe this list of "20 Bottles to Buy the Boss" from Esquire may help. This kind of article always reminds me of my father when I was growing up. My father was an industrial salesman, and he was often on the road. During Christmas season, clients and friends often gave him bottles of liquor, and I remember him at times coming home with a small gift bag or two with a nice bottle of whiskey. It was often whiskey, which my dad did admit he was not a big whiskey drinker. As he always said, it was the thought that counts, and it was clear his friends and clients did think of him well; he always got some good stuff. They have Drambuie on the list, which I remember there being a bottle of it in the house at one point, though I don't remember anyone doing anything with it; the list mentions fans of Mad Men might find it appealing. Then again, much of this list has fiction in it. I mean, you ever met a boss who buys you pints of Guinness? Exactly. 
  • Since I am a wine drinker, I have to include at least one list for wine lovers. Here are "30 Gifts for Winos for $60 or Less" (via BuzzFeed). By the way, we prefer "wine enthusiast," not "wino." Some gifts are very nice. Others not so. The wine sippy cups? Those are just wrong on so many levels. Then the bicycle wine rack is just one sudden steer or move away from breaking that nice fancy bottle all over the road. Oh, and if you get me that stupid wine challenge thingamajig where you put the bottle inside some "puzzle" to make me try to get it out, I will break the wooden thing over your head so I can get my wine bottle out. I may have said this before or not, but I loathe those kind of wood puzzles with ropes and stuff (heck, I loathe most "logic" and "teaser" puzzles overall. If you want to earn my enmity, go ahead and get me one of those).
Other Tchotchkes

This is pretty much other stuff I was not sure where to put. It may also be stuff that made me say, "WTF?"
  • Did you procrastinate? What do you mean you did not rush out the door after almost choking on your turkey to do your shopping? Did not even bother doing it online, and now you are stuck? Here are "32 Awesome Last-Minute Gifts" (via BuzzFeed). I am not so sure how awesome or not some of these items are, but they certainly are unique in some cases. Texting gloves, really? Hey, at least they are made in the U.S.A.
  • Need to put stuff on those stockings? If you have a bit of artistic bent and some ability with your hands, maybe you'd consider making one of these "50 Tiny and Adorable DIY Stocking Stuffers" (via BuzzFeed). 
  • And if you are totally out of ideas on what to give, why not try one of these kitchen gifts, which seem more like gifts from "Seen on TV" hell (via BuzzFeed), Seriously, who really needs a banana baker? These are the things I find amusing: someone actually thought someone else would need these things. However, you know they sell, or else they would not be making them. 
  • Not quite a tchotchke, but I am listing it here. Interested in fair trade products? Here is "Gift Guide: These Fair Trade Gifts Give Back" (via Good.is).
  • Maybe you like calendars, or you want to give calendars as a gift. Calendars tend to be a popular gift option this time of year. For the book lover in your life, Book Riot has some calendars for book nerds.  And if you like the idea of buying something and some of the proceeds go to charity, maybe one of these "Six Wall Calendars that Benefit Nonprofits" might interest you (via Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog).
  • You've got to wrap your gifts. Maybe of of these "Rad Wrappings" would look nice on your presents this year. Via Web Urbanist

 Some Gifts for the Adults

 Hey, I enjoy sex and the good that comes with it as much as the next guy. So, naturally, we have a small section of things that may be a bit more risque. As usual, if this is not your thing, if you offend easily, you are religious, have issues, etc., then you can stop reading now. Otherwise, go right along.
  • This falls under gift purchase with proceeds to charity or a "wtf is that thing on the Christmas tree?" Orchid, a British organization for male cancers advocacy, has created some very nice Christmas ball sac tree ornaments; they call them "bauballs." I think it is a cheeky campaign, and I would not mind putting it on my Christmas tree, but here in the States I can predict the reactions. Some will freak out because heaven forbid you show a pair of testicles. And others will see it as some tacky thing like those really tacky truck balls that douchebag males put on their trucks. (hat tip to BuzzFeed). 
  • If you want something sexy to share with your partner, or yourself, Good Vibrations is a good go to source. Compared to other sex shops out there, these folks have a good reputation and they are friendly. As The Better Half would put it, they are not intimidating. They have a simple guide of ideas for the curious shopper in their blog. Also, the blog is pretty informative on various sexual health and fun topics.  
  • Mashable has a list of "20 NSFW Products that Will Make You Blush." I don't think they are that big of a deal, but your mileage may vary.  A few of these are more politically incorrect than anything else, one or two are amusing.
  • On the other hand, you can still offer good sexy things without things. My Sex Professor offers "My Non-Thing Holiday Guide."  Though the blog does have adult content, the post itself is not just for those of us with a bit of a risque inclination. For instance, the professor writes, "So, maybe less generic glassware and more hugs. And fewer gift cards and more lazy lunches with friends and family. In some ways, life is long and there’s much time to do the things we want to do." 
  • My Sex Professor also offers a list, this one has "Eight Holiday Gifts for the Sex Geek in Your Life." If you have friends who work as sex educators, or they are just, well, knowledgeable sex geeks, they may appreciate some of these. 
  • And again, you may need to wrap your presents. If you are giving a bit more adult presents, this may be fun to use. Here is some "Raunchy Wrapping Paper" (via Incredible Things).  Don't worry, just in case, the paper is reversible. 

Photo credit: Flickr user alliecreative (Allie Towers Rice). Used under terms of Creative Commons share and attribution license. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Post 2012: Some reflection as the year is almost here, or just getting some stuff out in case the Mayans were right

I just realized I am running a bit behind in my holiday blogging this year. Usually, I would have posted my traditional holiday posts by now. What can I say? It has been a busy year, and there were some changes.

The big change for my family and I was the new job and move to said job. I started my new job as Coordinator of Information Literacy for the Hutchins Library of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. This is a bit different for me. My previous workplaces were public, state institutions. I was a state employee. Berea College is a private liberal arts college. It is also a religious school; they are non-sectarian. Some of you who know I am a bit of a heathen are probably wondering what would make me come to a religious school, liberal or not. Well, to be honest, their mission is one I can get behind. In addition, the job is the kind of work I have wanted to do for a long time: to lead an instruction and information literacy program, so when I saw the opening, I applied. While I am geographically flexible, usually what takes me to a place is the job, then the place. For others in the job market, place is probably higher on the list. For me, it is more of where can I go and make some difference, where can I go and use my skills to best serve the students and community I will be working in. Those are the kind of questions I ask when I go out into the librarian job market. Sure, I look at other factors (I am not that naive or idealistic), but mainly I look at the job. As for Berea College being a religious school, it turns out they take inclusiveness and diversity here very seriously, and those are things I take seriously as well. So far then it has been a good match. I am happy here. The family is happy here. I can say that my employers and colleagues are happy I am here.

Berea College is a small school. We have about 1500 hundred students here, so it is much smaller than other places I have worked in. But for me, and I say that I am most fortunate, it is starting to feel like home, both in terms of the campus and in terms of the community. It is not a big city, but if I want "big city" stuff, a drive up I-75 to Lexington fixes that (it is only about 40 minutes away give or take), and other areas are not too far. The people here are very nice, in an honest and sincere way I had not experienced in a while. I am trying not to sound like I am bragging, but I think I may have found my best destiny here. I have made it through my first semester, and I can say that, while ready for the holiday break, I do look forward to the spring semester. We have a few good ideas and projects to work on. On another note, I am feeling like blogging again, including blogging a bit about librarianship again. That may well be a good sign that things are looking up. So, stay tuned here and at The Gypsy Librarian for more. 

The move here was not easy; in fact, it had some very stressful moments. It was not easy to move out of Tyler, Texas. In fact, Texas has given us all sorts of headaches when it came to transferring some paperwork for things like our vehicle registration in KY, and hell, The Better Half had to make a few phone calls back and forth to explain to those hicks that we no longer lived in Smith County, TX, and therefore could not make it to jury duty (true story. And I call them hicks because The Better Half had to deal with quite an asshole, to be blunt, over the phone who just was too attached to his or her script to actually figure things out and use common sense. I think we finally have it sorted out, and they won't be sending the Texas Rangers to bring her back). However, those moments were made easier by people here at Berea who helped me through various steps along the way from the housing (it turns out the campus offers some transitional housing for incoming faculty, and I got lucky to get one) to students from the library who came and helped us move stuff into the house. I cannot thank them and other people who helped along the way enough, so I am writing about it here as another way to thank them for their kindness and generosity.

So, what the heck have I been doing?

  • For one, we are reviewing how we assess our information literacy program. As of this writing, we are working on a new pre- and post- instruction session assessment to use with our General Studies students. We are experimenting with LibAnalytics for the implementation.
  • We are looking at our teaching practices. I am trying to move us to a more reflective practice for our teaching. We are working on and using more active learning techniques. We are lucky to have two Immersion-trained librarians here (one of my team members and me). 
  • We are starting a library blog. It is "live" now, but we are not really launching in full til the spring semester. Feel free to take a small peek here if interested. We hope it will make a good tool to go along with our Facebook page and other social media. One thing that is good here is we tend to feel free to experiment, but we also know not to jump into every bandwagon. We do think it over whether a tool will serve us or not. 
  • We teach. We teach a lot. Our big client here is the General Studies program, but we also provide some instruction for other classes. Down the road (as in soon), we plan on doing some curriculum mapping to see where else we can "deploy" our services to better serve our faculty and students. 
  • We are exploring outreach ideas. We have a small calendar for displays now, and I have some ideas for possible library programs to implement. 
  • Also, looking into solidifying our liaison work with faculty. 
  • I lead a small team of instructional services librarians. It is an interesting experience as one of them is an older (both in age and experience) librarian and the other is a newer, eager, but very knowledgeable in instruction librarian. I think they give me the best of both worlds. I am learning to become a mentor to the younger librarian while I strive to learn all I can from my older fellow. And yes, I am their manager, but I strive for a form of service leadership where I lead more by example. 
  • And I try to participate in campus life as much as possible, both for outreach (to represent the library) and just for personal satisfaction. 
That is just a little bit. I am hoping to also find time to write a bit more professionally, something that is encouraged here. I am faculty, but as library faculty, I am not tenure-line, or do I have to publish or perish. I do have full privileges like the rest of the faculty, including vote in the faculty senate, being able to be drafted for committee work, so on. It's not bad. It's different since I was always a staff member. Now, I am officially an Assistant Professor of Library Science (it does sound cool, huh?). However, if I want to publish and write, it is encouraged. Maybe this will be the year I publish something other than a mere blog that four people read. Don't hold your breath though. I am not one for resolutions, but this is something I want to try. Also, get my bearings on other professional development, something also encouraged here. We'll see.

All in all, the latter half of 2012 was pretty good overall. Well, as long as I did not watch too many news (more on that on other posts of the holiday series), and for that, I am grateful.

Coming up next, the fun posts, so stay tuned. And before I go for now, I want to wish my family, colleagues, friends near and far a safe and happy holiday season in whatever form they celebrate it (or choose not to celebrate). If you drink, please do so in moderation, and whatever you do, do not get into a motor vehicle intoxicated. There are enough tragedies already, please don't add one more.

Happy Holidays!