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"I'm a cataloguer working for a library vendor, interested in pretty much all things library! I graduated December 2004 from UWO with my MLIS, so librarianship is still all new to me."
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1. Moved!

The Canuck Librarian (or at least the one that resides at this Blogger site) has now moved along to different pastures.

You can find her at: http://jenniferlcyr.wordpress.com/

À bientôt!

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2. Moved (sort of)

Hey all,

I've moved to http://jenniferlcyr.wordpress.com/

No new posts there yet though, but I've been working on a couple drafts.

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3. Dancing for suicide awareness.

Last night I attended a dance show at Centre de créativité Gesù that was a fundraiser for Fondation André Dédé Fortin. Perhaps like me you don't know who Dédé was. I've seen posters around town for a new movie, Dédé, and assumed it was the same man. It was only at intermission that I finally made the connection that Dédé was a singer with Les Colocs. He committed suicide in 2000, and I remember hearing about it since I spent a couple months in Rivère-de-Loup that summer.

The foundation aims to help prevent suicide and make aware that suicide is still a problem. They write that in Québec on average 3 to 4 people commit suicide every day. That's a lot.

Last October I witnessed a suicide, as in I heard it occur. I happened to be laying on my couch so I didn't actually see it, but a man jumped off the roof of my building and I heard him hit the ground and the ensuing screams from other witnesses (the superintendant's wife was on the ground where the man landed). I'm not going to rehash the whole thing here, but suffice it to say it's not easy to see a freshly dead person.

I didn't go to the dance performance knowing what the fundraiser was for. A good friend of mine was performing and she said it was something about suicide awareness, but that's all she knew. It really was great watching the dancers on stage, though being contemporary dance I can't say I "got" it all. Some pieces were uplifting, and some were tear jerkers. Some were just weird. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable way to spend an evening raising money for a good cause.

So this post is just a reminder that you're not alone; if you're feeling depressed and hopeless talk to someone, anyone for starters. And if you have a hard time expressing yourself, I find dancing always helps.

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4. Review: Burning Chrome by William Gibson

I decided to try giving science fiction a shot since I used to enjoy it a lot when I was young but lately I've been reading more fantasy and horror. So I checked out Burning Chrome by William Gibson from work.

Burning Chrome is a collection of short stories. I've mentioned before how I like short stories since they make me feel like I'm actually getting some reading done. I suppose most people have heard of "Johnny Mnemonic" which is included in this collection and I have to say I like Keanu Reeves.

I most enjoyed "The Belonging Kind", "Hinterlands" and "Red Star, Winter Orbit". Those were the stories that got me thinking. Life, death, future, past, relationships, existence.

Some of the others just had too much jargon for me to read before bed, so I'd get confused or have to read extra slow. I know it's not tough reading, but still, my tired mind can only handle so much. I didn't enjoy much the ones that felt more "hardware" - like the technology was at the forefront.

Gibson is a successful science fiction writer, so I don't think there really is much I can say about his writing, other than I like it and want to read more. Oh, I hear Gibson is American-Canadian so I get to count this as #2 in the Canadian Book Challenge. (Actually I read this back in October, but waited so long to blog...)

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5. Review: Broken by Kelley Armstrong

Way back in October or November I wandered into a Chapters in search of Canadian books to read for the Canadian Book Challenge. Somehow even though I knew about this challenge months earlier this time compared to last year, I hadn't even begun it at that time.

After browsing some shelves, I remembered that I wanted to read more by Kelley Armstrong. I saw her read once at Word on the Street. (I notice that Stolen is not on my bookshelf; I must have lent it to a friend before I moved last year.)

I had to ask for help because I couldn't find any of her books; it never occurred to me to look under horror. I hate horror films so I don't think of myself as liking that genre. Anyway the sales person and I had a nice chat about Armstrong and werewolf fiction and horror in general. I ended up purchasing Broken.

I was a little concerned because the Jack the Ripper storyline sounded a little lame, but Armstrong's werewolves are so diverse and have such different personalities that I knew the book would be enjoyable. There are some characters I dislike or find annoying, but not because they are poorly written, but because they are so well written; if they were real I'd find them annoying. (Like Clay, ick.)

I felt there was a good mix of suspense and action and magic, though most action was reserved til the end. There were a lot of 'cameos' by characters from previous books. It's been a long time since I read any of them, but I didn't feel like I was missing much and Armstrong gave brief yet informative background details when she reintroduced them.

Overall a fun read, though nothing too dazzling.

(Book 1 of 13 for Canadian Book Challenge)

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6. Making special collections available and visible

Many libraries and archives have been embarking on projects for digitizing archives and special collections. In addition to hosting digital collections on their own sites more and more libraries are also using other tools such as Flickr. The Library of Congress is one of the more notable libraries using Flickr.

I recently became aware of the Musée McCord here in Montréal having a Flickr account as well. This picture is of Interior Peter Redpath Library, McGill University, Montreal, QC, ca. 1893 is from their collection. It is great that these libraries are putting these resources where ordinary people are able to find them and see them. I mean, sure I've been to the McCord Museum (years ago), but I would never have thought to look into their archives.

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7. Alone again

Smile Rattie
Originally uploaded by Canucklibrarian
My only companion has left me. Last night I noticed that Gaius was being particularly quiet considering the night before he had been banging to get out of his cage.
I know he hadn't been drinking enough the last week or so, but I also know he was at least two years old, if not more, and he was diabetic. So I had decided not to fork out hundreds of dollars like last spring and just wanted to see how things went.
He was still himself for the most part, climbing out of his cage, wandering around the place, getting into the kitchen cupboards (he liked the one with the grocery bags; loved to nest).
I guess he had enough though and I found him dead. This picture was from last week. You can tell he was thrilled to be photographed. (Actually he much preferred to walk on my laptop, but I wouldn't let him.)
I think his last few weeks were good though. We've been having a lot of cuddle time lately. I'll miss my furry friend.

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8. Only 6 days away. Tuesday will be exciting.

Two important events are happening next Tuesday, October 14th.

First it's Canada's 40th general election. My first time voting in Québec! Should I vote BQ just because I can? I'm just kidding! My riding is Liberal, has been for 40 years and will be for many more; very little chance that it'll change. Even so, I still haven't decided where my vote is going. I had planned on going to my local candidates' debate last night, but the plan was thrown out by a friend coming over to watch Buffy. You see where my priorities lie (lay? chickens lay, humans lie?).
I visited http://www.theundecided.ca to play around and see what they suggest. I don't think the site completely worked for me whether because I'm on a Mac or using Firefox I don't know. Anyway, it helped a bit. I've actually visited the websites for all five top parties and I subscribe to their YouYube feeds. I follow the National Post's Twitter since they aggregate from all the parties. I watched the debate in French and English. So, I'm trying to inform mysef but really I still feel like my vote doesn't matter. I'm voting anyway though, and you should too. Canadians, if you haven't registered that's ok; just bring your ID to a polling station on election day and you can vote!

The other important event is Open Access Day! It's time to get the word out about Open Access journals and publishing.

Open Access is the principle that publicly funded research should be freely accessible online, immediately after publication, and it’s gaining ever more momentum around the world as research funders and policy makers put their weight behind it.
Is your library taking part? In mine we're setting up a booth, handing out stuff, answering questions and then at 7 pm we'll be broadcasting the Webcast with Sir Richard Roberts and Voices of Open Access videos from one of the reference computers. We also created an OA banner on our website that goes to a page all about OA and provides a search box so patrons can search OA resources like DOAJ.

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9. Two-Tiered System Sucks

I know when Canadians see the word two-tiered they often bring to mind the discussions surrounding privatized healthcare, but that's not what is bothering me today.

My place of work has a two-tiered system in place for its wireless access. Both campuses have wireless internet that students, faculty and staff can access on their own laptops as well as ones that the libraries loan. Laptop lending is quite popular since computing resources are always in demand.

This past year, the IT department has invested time and money to create a second wireless network on campus, with intentions of expanding it to cover the area between the two (6.3 km apart according to Google maps). A noble idea, providing wireless in this corridor, but I'm not sure what their true intentions were. This second wireless network supposedly uses newer, stronger technology and only students are allowed to subscribe for about $120/yr. That's right, it's a subscription service, and it's not even available for faculty or staff yet. They are charging students for wireless. Coincidentally, coworkers here noticed the standard wireless start to go wonky when that system started up.

The IT folks were working on the wireless all weekend, but I guess they didn't get enough done and there's been sporadic service yesterday and today. Actually worse than sporadic. They obviously need to do a lot of work to keep it up and running so why did they waste resources on creating the new network? Especially now since reports have been leaked that not that many students are using the new network; most still rely on the free one. And I use 'free' loosely since after all, isn't tuition and student fees a main source of revenue that these folks use as their budget? It's almost like they're double-dipping into students' pockets.

I am so tired of explaining to students that the wireless isn't working. So much so that I told one of the last ones that came to the reference desk to ask about the wireless that I wished the students would start a campaign against the computer folks. She asked why, so I told her how the paid-for service is a lot more reliable than the regular service.

In my wildest dreams, I would have the university form a partnership with Ile Sans Fil to provide free wireless for all, not just students and faculty, but that will never happen; Security precautions are extremely strict here (hence the Facebook blocking). I guess I'll just keep smiling and telling frustrated students that there's nothing we can do.

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10. New year really is in September.

I got a Jewish New Year's post card in the mail yesterday from a local political candidate (everyone in my building did). Don't remember which but I think it was the Conservative. Anyway, it got me thinking about the New Year that to the calendar is still three months away. January has always been a month of reviewing the past and looking forward for me but not because it's the start of the year but that is when my birthday falls. There's only been 2 or 3 years in my life (since I was 5) when I wasn't either going to school or working in an academic environment, thus September has always been the beginning for me.

I've made it through the first month of my new academic year. It was a lot less busier than last year. Last year I was liaison for business, journalism and media studies in a community college. This year I am liaison for Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics at a university. The demand for librarian assistance between these positions is currently in stark contrast. I was in demand last year and even did little in-class sessions for every section of a particular course. I was running around so much and going crazy (in a good way). This year I've had two requests from my faculty, and I helped out the Psychology Librarian with two workshops (there were 12 sections of a course, two was the least I could do for her). Though I do not believe the subject matter is necessarily the reason that I found myself requested more last year than this year.

In my old position the former librarian, sorry that is library technician, had a very strong relationship with the faculty and a good rapport. So, the faculty were happy to continue on that relationship with the library and with me. My current position has not had that connection with faculty for several years. When the former CMLL Librarian retired, the position was filled by a strew of Limited Term Appointments, like me, who are only around for three years at the most, often less since they move onto full-time positions elsewhere. This was certainly evident when speaking with a professor who first approached the Women Studies' Librarian since she knew that one and was always confused by the coming and goings of the CMLL Librarian.

Despite this lack of subject specific assistance, September was not a slack month. I was happy to make contact with the three or four faculty that I've talked to on the phone or emailed. I also have been involved with the generic library workshops that we offer and since so many other librarians are busy with their workshops, I'm on the reference desk plenty. I've been busy and getting into the groove of things. What I'm trying to say is, things are feeling and looking a lot better than during the summer when I was fighting hard to stay positive. This academic new year is off to a good start.

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11. Me right now

Me right now
Originally uploaded by Canucklibrarian
Sometimes following is fun.

The Rules:
1. Take a picture of yourself right now.
2. Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture.
3. Post that picture with NO editing.
4. Post these instructions with your picture

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12. Fitting in: everyone has a role

A few months ago I wrote about finding a niche and discovering one's place. I haven't found any answers yet, but I've continued to think about place a bit. I'm trying to look at it on a larger scale. Instead of narrowing down to find a topic I'm interested in, I'm looking outwards to see where I am and where I've been.

Stepping out of the world of work altogether, I can see things I hadn't before. Growing up I had an older brother and a father. Well, I still do have them, they're just bigger now and further away, though at least were all in the same country and within a 12 hour drive of each other. Let me tell you about them.

First, my dad is a tinkerer. He likes gadgets. I don't remember when we got our first computer. I know we had Commodore 64 and Vic 20s and before them we had game consoles like Atari and we had some sort of Texas Instrument - no not a calculator, maybe this, I remember a keyboard. Anyway, I grew up around electronics. Other than those consoles, my family did not buy computers. We were working class, or maybe working poor is closer to the truth, and so there's no way we'd buy a computer. Instead, my dad regularly packed us into the car (never, never a new car - even now he only gets junkers) and drove us across the border to the shopping paradise we called the United States of America, where milk came in gallon jugs and electronics were cheaper. I can't even say how often we drove over, but we pretty much went whenever there was a big computer show at some nondescript community centre or mall or wherever. Of course we'd also hit Gibraltar Trade centers and do groceries (it's not just gas that's cheaper). Piece by piece my dad would assemble computers and adjust things just as he liked. In grade school my brother was fairly popular with the boys (well some); he'd always have friends over to play on the computer. In high school (early 90s) we had two PCs which was unusual for most families in my hometown. My dad still hasn't ever bought a desktop, though he has laptops - used ones that he's torn apart to mix and match components. Through the years besides providing my brother and I with computers, he's also built and given some to my cousins, uncles, families in need, even my mom after they were divorced. My dad enjoys this hobby, but that's all it is; he's actually a driller during the day.

Moving onto my brother. He also likes to tinker around but over the years it has developed differently. While dad is a hardware geek, brother is a software geek. He's a programmer. His last job had something to do with debugging stuff and he writes code. He's also a Linux adherent and a bit of a gamer. He hacked into our high school computer system and changed his friend's grades. (Only found out that changing grade bit a couple years ago, and indeed his friend turned him in and my brother was punished.) Growing up, he was the bigger, stronger sibling and so I didn't get to play on the computer much. Really, I only had a fraction of the computer time my brother did, but that's OK because I've always thought of computers and their games as entertainment, not just for those who play but for those who watch too! Unlike my father, computers are not just a hobby for my brother but a source of livelihood. He is a programmer of some sort and I'm sure many of you would recognize the company if I said it's name. He told me once that even for fun he would work on geek stuff (like WINE). He's taken an interest in my video game playing giving me tips on WoW and he does seem sincerely disappointed that whenever we're on he has to go on a raid with his guild.

So, dad is hardware, brother is software. What does that leave me? Am I just a consumer? An end-user? I think I care too much to just be a user. I'm not much of a creator, although I did do a website for my dad's boss as a course assignment (who was then too lazy to actually put it up - believe me mine was better than their old one, and what they have now). I also helped my former workplace go through two redesigns last year. Yet, I don't feel as though site design is my thing either (I'm not really that good at it, though I enjoy it). Friends used to mention their university classes and I lament, yes, I say I am sad, that I did not take any math (or science) courses in university. Although I did well in my OAC math classes, I nearly flunked grade 12 Computer Science the year before (long story) and that experience made me afraid to try anything math or science related in university.

At the same time I was starting to consider getting my MLIS, I thought another option would to be go back for a Bachelor's in computer science but obviously I decided against that because I still didn't think that would get me a job. Now I have my MLIS and I still want to take computer courses but I might have a little bit of an idea. Many job ads that interest me require skills that include HTML, CSS, ASP, Javascript, PHP, etc. and then other stuff too, you know, the standard web 2.0 mumbo jumbo (or 3.0) [love the concept, hate the terminology]. I've always wanted to do things that require more geek power than I have. I have Geek Envy. I want to be a bigger geek. Realizing that, maybe it's time I took some action? I've been contemplating once again taking some sort of courses, but it's so hard to know what I should do - a certificate? diploma? maybe an actual degree in something? A friend suggested just getting a book and working on stuff but I need more structure than that. So, that's still something I'm thinking about.

Going back to the question of where I fit in, it does seem like librarian is a good role for me. I may not be a creator or inventor or manufacture anything, but I play mediator. Connecting people with information or tools that they want or need. And as many librarians will tell you, this isn't just during working hours. I have had friends and acquaintances contact me one way or another to get advice or find out more about a topic or just some tips for their work. I wish to continue to connect people with their information needs, I'd just also like to have a stronger comprehension of how we can create and use technology for fulfilling these needs.

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13. Walking is always a good idea

I like walking. Walking if easy yet healthy. Walking can do more than just self-improvement; it can be a way to help others.

I was pretty surprised yet proud when I read that my former place of work, Library Services Centre, has an upcoming fundraiser, Walk for Young Readers (press release pdf) as announced on OLA Blog.

LSC’s three Children’s Book Specialists will clock their commuter kilometres on foot, setting off from LSC in Kitchener, Ontario and heading home towards London. Many other LSC employees and friends will walk every day during the week of September 22, collecting pledges from publishers, families and friends
They'll be raising funds for the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation Public Library (which does not have a website AFAIK). You may be thinking "But they're raising funds to spent at their own business!", however, besides that LSC is a not-for-profit, they really do care about their libraries. I may have to email a couple of my former coworkers to see about donating. For more info email Darian Lajoie Paquette at [email protected].

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14. Posts are slow

Don't you hate it when you start working on a post, and then you see it's going to be a long one, and you keep it in your drafts. You go back to it every other day or more, edit, write more, think about it. Then it seems like it'll never be finished and it starts to feel irrelevant and not worth posting? So you let it sit in drafts for months, or just delete it right away.

Yup, that happens to me. Lots.

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15. Guts, Geeks and Girls - three reviews

Two weeks ago I received an order from Chapters after I used up an online gift certificate I had. Showing the three books I got to my friend, I asked if she agreed that I had a variety of tastes; she did. The three books were Incubus Dreams by Laurell K Hamilton, Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton and Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares. I've managed to read them all, Incubus Dreams was actually the slowest going and it was the longest as well (over 700 pages), so I'm glad the other two were quick reads.

Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton
I got the book on a Friday and it was done by Sunday. This is a memoir of sorts as Wheaton describes how he moved from being an actor (remember Wesley Crusher on Star Trek:TNG?) to an author. If you've read his blog at all then this book won't present you with too many surprises and most of the stories will be familiar. It consists of excerpts from his blog dating ca. 2001 to 2002 but he fills in the gaps between the excerpts and elaborates, giving us a 'behind-the-scenes' look into his mind, since like many bloggers, he didn't always write how he truly felt. I admit that I must be one of the few fans of the character Wesley Crusher, but what did I know? I was just a kid myself and I always thought it cool when a kid got on a "grown-up" show. Please don't ask me to explain how I could have a crush on both Picard and Wesley. So, as a former fan, I probably enjoyed this book more than say a non-fan, especially someone not interested in Start Trek whatsoever. The book isn't all about Star Trek but readers must understand that for Wheaton to accept who he is he had to confront his past and that included some mixed-up emotions regarding this past role. Part way through I started to feel disappointed because he didn't cover as much time as I thought I would, but when I stepped back I saw that it was because he was focusing on the transition from has-been child actor to up-and-coming writer. In one of the reviews I read on Amazon someone asked what the point of this was. Perhaps that reviewer had never had such a change in life that would require a realignment of goals, values, or even identity. I know for me, my work is very much a part of who I am and so these past months I've been struggling as I've tried to find my new place, so I appreciate reading about others experiences. Not in a "misery loves company" way but more like, "hey he got through it, maybe I can too" sentiment. That being said, if you aren't a fan of his blog, his other writing or his acting roles, then you could probably skip this one and find some other book with the same themes that you'd enjoy. I look forward to reading his other books in the future.

Incubus Dreams by Laurell K Hamilton
This is the guts part from my post title because, if you didn't know, the main character, Anita Blake, is a vampire hunter among other things (such as necromancer) and the best way to kill a vamp is to blow its brains to pieces then shoot it through the body till you see daylight. Or so she says. Incubus Dreams is book 12 in the Anita Blake, vampire hunter series. I remember the first several novels being exciting and thrilling and I did blog about the first three. As mentioned in that earlier post, some refer to them as "vampire porn" because there's a lot of sex and a lot of vampires. I usually describe it as erotic fiction though. One friend recently described it as porn and while I did correct her, I'm not so sure she was off the mark this time. As I wrote above this book took me a while to read, over a week and I was reading often. Honestly, there was just too much sex in it this time. I swear more than two thirds of the 700 pages were sex versus the detective/mystery/thriller side of things. See, usually some bad person comes to town and she ends up having to figure out who and why and then kills them. Not really this time - well she kills some but the big boss gets away without even a real view of him. Sure it leaves it open for another book, but that's not what I want even in a series. There were also a few threads from the earlier part of the book that were hastily tied up in the end; it wasn't satisfying at all. Really, it was almost such a turn off that I'm not sure I want to continue reading the series, especially since my friend who first turned me onto these books says that they do go downhill after the next novel. Oh, and really, who the heck was the proofreader on the printing I got? There were so many errors I got distracted. I expect a couple, but there must've been at least a dozen. If all you want to do is read about one woman having sex with vampires, werewolves, wereleopards et al. then this is your book, if you're looking for something with a little more adventure then don't get yourself hooked on this series.

Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" is out so I figured it was time to finally read the last in this series. The first movie mixed a bit of books one and two and I hear this second movie mixes books two, three and four, so I wanted to make sure I read them all before going so nothing was spoiled. Of course, since the first movie, I couldn't help but imagine the actresses as the characters now, which isn't bad because they all did a wonderful job in the first movie. This last book starts the summer after their first year in college. It seems like it's been pretty rough on some of them and they haven't seen enough of each other through the year. And they aren't going to see much of each other through the summer either as they all have plans. It has been a while since I read Girls in Pants so I don't remember where they ended but I felt as though a couple of the girls didn't really grow that much. Maybe I'm just projecting onto them since things for me were so different from high school to university (you know I never set foot or laid eyes on my university before I actually moved into residence?). Certainly though, throughout this book, I could see that the girls were growing, becoming young women making adult decisions (or not). I really enjoy the author's method of writing and changing between the voices of each character. At first I thought the ending was really cheesy, but after thinking about it, I probably wouldn't want it any other way. Forever in Blue was a fulfilling conclusion to the story of the traveling pants. Oh, and if I had to pick one character that I was most like, I'd go with Bridget, except for the whole athletic thing. Which do you relate to most?

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16. Review: When you are engulfed in flames by David Sedaris

As I wrote recently, I bought a copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris when he was in town for a reading.

I finished it reading it about a week ago. I rarely read short stories, or humour, but I think I should read more. What's nice about short stories is I don't feel the need to finish too quickly. With books, finishing a chapter doesn't feel like much progress, so I feel pressured to read quickly. Not so with short stories.

I remember reading a review somewhere and someone complained (yeah I know all so vague) that Sedaris' stories could've been about their own family and therefore not worthy of our praise. Hmm. Yeah, my family does some pretty silly things too, but I don't write about them and even if I tried I'm pretty sure the humour would not get across to all of you. The fact that his stories deal with the types of people and situations with which we are familiar is the very reason why they are enjoyable.

I do admit thought that there were only a few laugh out loud moments, and there were some stories that I just didn't get. Sometimes I forget to have a sense of humour. Overall it was a good read and a nice introduction to his work (other than the excepts I've seen online).

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17. LibrarianGear is back!

The news is spreading across the Internet: LibrarianGear is back! Colour me thrilled. Looking back I'm surprised I never really blogged about LG other than a passing mention.

Back when M.J. was coordinating this back at Dalhousie, the student council at FIMS worked with him to bring the shirts to our school. I was on council and remember how involved it all was. I bought two shirts: librarian definition and Dewey decimator. DD is no longer available as a design so I'm glad I still have it. The definition one has long been gone because of some stains.

A couple months ago I was talking with a co-worker about something and librarian t-shirts came up, specifically the info*bitch design. This co-worker happened to be at the School of Information Studies one day and in passing - not even in direct contact - she saw a student wearing the info*bitch shirt. That student later applied for part time work at our library. My co-worker was relieved when that student did not get the position. You might write my co-worker off as a fuddy-duddy or humorless, but really I've learned a lot from her already, she is great to work with and open to new ideas. I tried to point out that the student was at school but she just didn't buy that as an excuse. She was uncomfortable with the idea of a self-proclaimed bitch providing reference service. I'm just glad she's never seen me in any of my shirts.

This isn't to scare anyone away from buying or wearing these shirts, just raising awareness that not everyone gets it. (BTW, even being on student council, I never heard any complaints from students or faculty when we got the shirts - some admitted they weren't their thing, but they never displayed offense.)

And, if you actually can wear t-shirts often enough to need them, check out the ones from Unshelved, and also the one cool design from Questionable Content. I've owned four Unshelved shirts (plus book bag), though I think I only have Library Schooled now, and yes I have the QC Library Science one.

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18. There really are a lot of dancing librarians

I've blogged before about swing dancing. Perhaps I've mentioned how I knew two other librarians who attended FIMS just after me who are also swing dancers (well one of them started at FIMS my last semester there). Or maybe you heard me tell about the time I danced in Chicago and the lead and I were making small talk and he turned out to be a librarian too!
Back in June when I went to California I was supposed to meet up with two dancing librarians for dinner, unfortunatley our plans got derailed. I still was able to meet one of them (a law librarian from Colorado). That was in San Francisco. In L.A. I met another librarian at the Thursday night swing dance, Lindy Groove.
Well, she tracked me down and now there's a place for all of us swing and bal and blues and charleston dancing librarians on FaceBook. Yup, there's the Swing Dancing Librarians group!

Librarians do love to dance! I mean not just swing, but there's belly-dancing librarians, contra dancing librarians, line dancing librarians, even virtual dancing librarians!

See look, they even dance at conferences!

So, what type of dancing do you do?

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19. WILU 2009 Call for Papers

WILU (Workshop for Instruction in Library Use) is an annual Canadian conference that is next happening here in Montreal, May 25 to 27, 2009. The WILU 2009 website is up and the committee is looking for proposals:

Our vision for the reflections of WILU 2009 is a spectrum of sessions that will inspire and engage the information literacy community.
I have always wanted to attend a WILU. I plan on volunteering as much as I can given work, but I hope I get to attend a few of the sessions too!

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20. It's playtime

One thing I noticed about myself recently is I often substitute the word play for work or explore or investigate, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, except when done repeatedly in an interview perhaps. *ahem*

I'm one of those types that never truly grew up. I get excited in candy and toy stores. I eat dessert before supper about once a week (though granted I don't have dessert all too often). I still laugh when my dad farts. Again, those who know me, know I'm not all fun and games, but really, fun is what I like. Relaxation is the only thing I'd put above fun (and I believe both are possible in work but that's another post). I've been thinking lately about playing more, online that is. I know, you're thinking I'm online too much as is, but I'm not playing so much as randomly surfing. Wouldn't it be better to have something to focus on?

I remember about 5 years ago I bought a Harry Potter video game for my PC but it didn't run well on my system. So I left it at a friend's place and played it there. She would watch me, and jumped and screeched with me when the giant spider attacked. I asked her if she played it when I wasn't there and she said no; she was only interested in watching me play.

So years after my childhood, and 5 years after my last gaming experience, I've decided to give games another go. Last month I dropped by my brother's place. He and his wife had to excuse themselves from supper while they went on a raid. Yes, raid. My brother has played World of Warcraft for years (or equivalent). It was through playing some of these MMORPG that he stayed close to his best friend while he lived overseas. Now that he's back in Canada, a new homeowner, I think gaming is main source of entertainment since his budget is tighter. Of course, he got his wife involved because besides her having no friends (moving can be lonely) it also is a good way to spend time together. So I sat on the carpet with their dogs and watched and listened while they did their raid thing with the Guild they're in. It was pretty cool.

Now that the librarians have gone and made their own guild, I think I'm about ready to jump on in and play too! See, one of the reasons I've never ventured into online playing, besides crappy computers which is no longer an issue, is that I didn't want to be the inexperienced one dragging everyone down. But librarians are used to being dragged down! Er, or, that is they're used to helping people, so who better to learn to play with? I emailed my brother yesterday and he sent me a trial link and I'm in the process of downloading the game now. So soon we shall see how Jen likes her online gaming. It's just too bad the librarian guild and my brother are on different 'realms'.

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21. Sucker for an author signing

There's something about having the opportunity to see and hear an author that appeals to me. I'm not talking about any of my favorite authors or recent reads, just any author. Really, I don't have to have even heard of an author to be interested in going to her or his reading or book signing. Of course, that was one of the perks of going to library conferences like OLA Superconference. There's always so many authors signings (and at the conference the books are often free). Also why I attended Word on the Street a couple times. I discovered a few authors that way.

This past Sunday I went to see David Sedaris at an Indigo store here in Montréal. I heard about the signing on Twitter and so looked it up on the store website. I've heard of Sedaris before, and I've heard about him, but I guess it was a recent post by Wil Wheaton that got me thinking that I should check out his writing (I think I may have heard him on NPR or youtube or something before).

So what else was I to do on a rainy Sunday when all my close friends are out of town? I purchased a copy of When You Are Englufed in Flames and went and stood in the already forming line and began to read it. Glad I realized he was popular enough that I got there about an hour early. Okay actually 45 minutes early since I had to eat lunch first. I'd be annoyed that it's so cheap online compared to in store, but I still had a balance left on a gift card from my birthday six months ago so it worked out for me, plus I got it signed!

His reading was good though he admitted that he was feeling a bit rushed since he had to catch a flight back out in a few hours so he wasn't going to be as pokey as he usually is. Since I was already in the line, I didn't have the greatest view, though that wasn't as annoying as the fact that I was close to the escalator and clueless customers would come up talking loudly to each other or on their phones not realizing they were interrupting anything.

After the reading and a few audience questions he got down to signing. I think I was in line for maybe a half hour or so. He gave me a newspaper doily. What's with that? I got the sense that he does this at every signing, but does he make them himself? He drew a picture of a turtle in my book. I like turtles. When I stepped up to the desk he asked if I was Libra - no, taurus- no. He was closer with his first guess (in the sense that Libra and Aquarius are both air elements). He then asked if I was alone, saw anyone I'd want to date, saw anyone I'd sleep with for $7. Yeah, he wants to turn us all into prostitutes. During his talk he had mentioned that he advises people instead of going to do a Master's (in English?) to spend that time as a prostitute - you'd have more money and more writing material at the end of it!

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22. Five month status update

It's been five months at my new job at a new institution in a new city, and I have some time right now so I thought I'd give another little update. Today I received the official email that I didn't get a permanent position that I had applied for here, although I already knew that weeks ago and in fact met the successful applicant about a week and a half ago. Of course I'm bummed - that's now two permanent positions I've applied for here and not received (since if you remember I originally applied for a tenure track one, but got this temp one instead). So, instead of focusing on trying to get a permanent place, I'm going to work at making the most of my time here and take this time to learn as much as I can and to grow and we'll see what happens next. No need to hurry, right?

Things are starting to come together now and I'm doing pretty much what I expected and doing the things an academic librarian does. In fact I'm finding it a little challenging learning to give reference staff work; I'm used to working in smaller orgs where librarians have to do their own 'menial' or clerical type things that I don't even think of asking the staff or student librarians to do stuff for me. As noted earlier, I have been given a subject area and so I've received some training on acquisitions which is going to continue for a while; they're pretty good at supporting and training new librarians here. I still haven't met with the chair from my department but considering it is summer I don't expect to hear from him for awhile, though various faculty have emailed me requests. No requests for library instruction at all though. I'm not sure if there's been any work done in that area for this department. I'm so happy that I have a subject area that I'm familiar with yet at the same time it makes things difficult - so many titles seem interesting to me, but I don't think they actually support the curriculum so I can't really buy them.

In addition to collections and reference, I've managed to get onto a couple committees. I know, most of you abhor committees since they mean meetings and meetings are time wasters, but any of you that know me, know that I'm a joiner and actually like committees and (some) meetings. Next week I have meetings with both committees that I'm on. Should be interesting - they're both areas I've had some experience in and want to work more with.

Can I just say, I feel like such a baby?! Really, compared to every other librarian here, I feel like I've accomplished little - they're all so experienced! Of course, I suspect I'm the youngest librarian here; I think there's maybe one the same age as me. Not that age is necessarily an indicator in this field, but it still helps puts things in perspective. Anyway, I still have time to find my place, as I was so worried about in a previous post.

And of course reference! You know me, I love reference. I do chat reference every day. It's pretty dead right now, but I get a few questions; even the occasional one that's NOT circulation related! Yesterday was a new milestone at the reference desk for me. I actually had two reference questions in French: one in person, one on the phone. The in-person question was from a professor who had looked for an author and saw his books were at our library but checked again and saw they were at the other campus. Turns out most of that particular author's books were at our campus, although the other campus had a couple too. The prof had a couple follow up questions too. So it wasn't too hard a transaction, but still I was proud that I didn't have to force him to switch to his broken English (which the clerk at circ needed him to do). The phone call sounded more complicated at first but that's just because the caller used a lot of words. Basically she was part of a research group that wrote a book and wants the library to buy it, so I transferred to the librarian that collects in the relevant area. Still, my phone language is horrible - I hate talking French on the phone; I sound like an imbecile.

Not much else comes to mind at the moment. Like I wrote, just trying to make the most of my experience here and learn. Still getting to know my coworkers; one had a nice garden party two weeks ago and I believe there's another party in August. Oh, and I guess I should mention the library has a new director! I haven't met him personally yet as when he was by on Monday the phone rang just before he walked by (I'm pretty sure he was going to greet me). He seems like a nice fellow, reminds me of my former Classics professors.

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23. Review: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

This past Monday I finished reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I had at one time borrowed his The Omnivore's Dilemma from the library, but was unable to finish it before I had to return it (the hold list was quite long). Then I saw the video of him at Authors at Google and thought I'd give this book a try since I did enjoy what I read from Omnivore. Again, there was a long wait list, so much so that I forgot that I had put a hold on anything!

I think this book is another case of common sense that just ain't so common anymore. Like he writes, his book really boils down to seven words "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants". If you truly understand that then you probably don't need to read his book. But if you're like me you may be wondering what he means by those few words, and that is what he explains.

Pollan isn't too fond of nutrition science - he says it is too flawed and that everything is very reductionist - looking at one or two elements instead of a whole food or meal or food culture. He writes that this is one of the reasons that over the last several decades nutritionists and food scientists come out saying one thing then change their mind, or change their focus. Is margarine better or worse than butter? (Which off topic, but Québec just voted to repeal law that disallowed yellow margarine in the province for the last 20 years.) Is a low-fat diet better than low carb or high protein or...? All these specialists have been telling us what's good for us but in general Americans and Canadians haven't really improved our health. This is just one of the issues that Pollan tries to address in his book while he guides us through steps to take to make better choices about our food.

While reading this book I'd discuss a few things with a friend, who hasn't read it. She would sometimes respond with wary or negative comments, but I understand now because she already IS doing what he suggests she wasn't thinking like me. She eats real food, she grows her own herbs, she cooks fresh every day, she likes to eat with others, she eats mostly plants. It wasn't so much that she was disagreeing with anything so much as she still feels there's more to it than all that. She still also believes in nutrition (and she was reading the Thrive Diet which focuses on whole raw foods).

For me though, I am the stereotypical Westerner eating a 'Western' diet. I grew up on prepackaged foods and can barely remember a time when we didn't have a microwave. In fact, I used to think TV dinners were special! If you look in my high school yearbook you'll see that 'wrinkly peas in TV dinners' was my pet peeve. I don't remember when my family stopped eating dinner at the table - maybe when I was around 10? So since I was 10 I've been eating dinner in front of the t.v. I think that was also around the time I stopped eating breakfast. Mom rarely ever cooked from scratch (and she wasn't a good cook anyway). I do remember two things: baking peanut butter cookies with her, and making pizza from scratch with my dad (he was and still is a better cook than mom).

So this whole 'eating fresh, whole foods' thing is new to me. Even up til a year or so ago I would regularly buy a bag of frozen french fries each week! And microwave dinners? I just stopped buying those this year when I moved to Montreal (I used to get them for work). One of Pollan's 'guidelines' is that if it makes an health claim, it's probably no good since it's been played with by food scientists adding, removing and adjusting ingredients (natural and non), so don't buy it. Well, doesn't that just fly in the face of everything I've been told till now? Sure recently I've become aware of concerns with aspartame so I change from diet soda to regular...well until I cut it completely from my habits (Yup, used to drink at least one pop a day until, again, I moved to Montreal - now I have maybe one a week if that).

I may not fall for all the ideas in this book totally hook, line and sinker, but it certainly has helped me a lot. For the last few years I've been thinking about diet and health and that it would require a lifestyle change that seemed like the largest challenge of my life, but becoming aware of what people are saying about food, even those in discord, has helped me to start making small changes in my eating habits which I can only hope are benefiting my body and mind. Well, if anything I'm sure I've lost several pounds since coming to Montreal (an estimate since I don't own a scale, but clothes fit differently now - smaller size needed.) All the small changes - no pop, rarely chips, no fries, bringing lunch or going home, and more walking have added up! (oh and the occasional breakfast; that's still one of my greatest challenges.)

Now, I just need to learn to cook better!

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24. Canadian Book Challenge update

July first was the end date of the first Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John over at the Book Mine Set.

Read his final update on the challenge; you might find some reviews you'd like to look at.

You'll notice that I'm a failure. I didn't complete it! I was so close reading 11 out of 13 required, much better than the last challenge I tried. My excuse is vacation - I went to the U.S. without any extra books than the last one I finished so had no more Canadian books to read! Ok, fine that was the start of June, but when I got back I never made it to the library either (as evidenced by my overdue fines). So I only made the 'Snowy Owl' level, which actually, was my name when I was a Brownie leader.

Here's my list again if you don't want to scroll through that final post!
- Whale Song by Cheryl Kaye Tardiff
- Mary Ann Alice by Brian Doyle
- The Greenies by Myra Paperny
- Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- The Ruby Kingdom by Patricia Bow
- Late Nights On Air by Elizabeth Hay
- Eye of the Crow by Shane Peacock
- Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
- The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
- No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

Although this challenge has come to an end, the 2nd Canadian Book challenge has started. Same 'rules', same number of books. Hopefully with a year to go I won't have a problem whatsoever completing the challenge this time!

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25. Shared catalogue for Québec libraries

Somehow I missed it, but last month the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales de Québec announced that there is now a new shared catalogue linking all the libraries in the province.

The Catalogue des bibliothèques de Québec so far seems to be a fairly straightforward tool. Once on the site it was easy for me to sign in using my library card and password from BANQ - no need to get another login!

One of the features I like is the search for a library by region. Being new to the province I find this handy and it could be useful for travellers too. The list not only provides links to the libraries' sites and catalogues but also straight out says whether online interlibrary loan (or Pret entre bibliothèque - PEB) is available. It's almost all 'non' but that could change.

I did a search so that I could search for the title "Les Citadines" by Anne Guilbault. I read this book back in 2001 while spending a few weeks in Riviere-du-Loup for a French Immersion program. Anne was my teacher in that program and everyone had to read a book so I read hers (as well as "Le Libraire" by Gerard Bessette, overachiever that I am) and gave an oral book report instead of written (because writing in French is too easy for me compared to speaking).

Okay, so back on topic, my search found 79 hits for titles that contained that word but instead of being one bibliographic record with holdings information, there's a record from each library that has a copy. That isn't a good thing. However, if you click on search history it'll show not only your search but the collections where the items were found. A bit of a round-about way of getting the information I wanted.

So it has it's flaws as most catalogues do, but to me it feels a lot better than most the websites and catalogues that the libraries here have. (Really, go take a look at some, they're a mess.)

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