24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

Month: August 2014

LIBR 200: A Brief History and Future of Me

For those of you just joining me, here’s a bit on me and my goals to get you up to speed.

I grew up in the great but small state of New Hampshire, a fact of which I typically remind people around me daily. While I now live in Virginia, I’m a bit of an elitist when it comes to my home state. Live free or die, right? After eighteen years and some months in glorious New England, I headed south to Roanoke, VA to earn my BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Psychology at the ever-supportive Hollins University. Hollins is basically unknown, so here are some quick facts:

  1. Hollins is a women’s school with a co-ed graduate program. There are a few trans* students on campus (F to M), though I do not know of any M to F individuals there.
  2. Hollins is tiny, both in campus size (you can get to one side to the other in six minutes, walking slowly) and population (we’ve got fewer than 650 undergrads).
  3. We do not have a mascot and, because this fact got us on Jeopardy once, we never will.

Hollins was a great place that encouraged me to do lots of things I wouldn’t have done on my own including, I think, trying an online program for my MLIS. I’ve known I wanted to be a YA librarian since I was sixteen. I feel very lucky knowing that I’ve had such a sure career path for a long time as I know this is not the norm. Despite the many comments I’ve received from people around me (“Libraries aren’t going to be around much longer, you know.”), I’ve stayed true to my path and am confident that libraries aren’t going anywhere.

All this to say, I’m very excited to start my adventure with SJSU. Already I am learning about things I had no idea about — information-as-* for example, is a totally new concept to me. For once, I am excited to learn about theory and other topics that are typically encountered with groans from students in all disciplines — foundation-driven topics and the like.  I’m interested in cementing a strong online presence and have considered opening an additional Tumblr account as I am already aware of the large LIS community on that platform. Pinterest, too, seems like a great opportunity that is currently being underutilized by LIS professionals, and so I will be making an attempt to pioneer my way through that path as well. As I continue to read for pleasure in what little free time I’m anticipating, I’ll also be documenting these books with brief reviews on this blog. Check in to see what I’ve read recently and what I recommend. While these goals develop, I’ll be taking on smaller goals of learning as much as I can and trying to stay up-to-date in the larger field and the more specific field of YA readers in public libraries.

This brings me to my next bit: For this semester’s community-driven assignment in LIBR 200, I’m interested in studying YA readers in public libraries. I phrase it this way because, although I am mainly interested in the “intended audience” of YA novels/programs/etc., I also recognize that people who are not strictly “young adults” (that is, middle to high school students) also read and enjoy YA materials. It’s important to create a space in which all categories of readers feel comfortable seeking material. Due to the nature of age-emphasized environments in many of the public libraries I’ve visited, I can see where “adult” readers may be uncomfortable browsing the YA section of a library. Of course, the section should focus on it’s young adult readers, but it should not alienate any group, either.

I’m looking forward to a great semester and, if you’re wondering what the person who wrote this looks like, look no further than below.

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Abby Reads: Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks

Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, 262 pages
YA Historical Fantasy

Before I read Selkie Girl, I took a look at some of the reviews on Goodreads. While I tend not to put a lot of stock in what other readers are saying about a book, particularly on a platform which lends itself to brief, spur-of-the-moment

photo (1)_minireviews, I noticed that there was a common complaint: the cover was not at all reflective of the book. This is accurate. While the cover of the edition I read suggested mermaids (other than the title), if you do not know what a selkie is prior to reading the novel, you might believe that a “selkie” is another word for mermaid. This is true to some extent — selkies are typically defined as a mythical creature that can live in the physical form of a seal or human. But the cover also suggests a modern take on the selkie myth.

Brooks’ YA novel takes place in an unspecified time, though it’s easy to imagine the protagonist, sixteen-year-old Elin Jean, mucking about in late-1700s Scotland. A loner in her hometown, Elin Jean fears the taunting and cruelty of her peers. Her webbed fingers keep her from making friends and developing a sense of self-esteem, leaving her to befriend the selkies that come ashore and shed their seal skins on Midsummer’s Eve.  Elin Jean’s limited human contact consists mainly of her family: Mither, Fither, and Grandfather. But they are keeping a secret from her — one that affects them all.

Like many bildungsromans, Selkie Girl focuses largely on what it means to “be yourself” and “know yourself.” Elin Jean’s understanding of herself is severely stunted as a result of her isolation and low self-esteem. She has no sense purpose other than a great desire to interact with the selkies and struggles to identify what characteristics are strictly Elin Jean.  While Tam McCodron, Elin Jean’s love/hate interest, seems to have a pretty good grip on himself, he, too, learns much through the pages of the novel.

Admittedly, the plot takes some unexpected turns. In some instances, it relies too heavily on life-threatening drama. Elin Jean experiences a number of events which have the potential to kill her. While this works a few times, it eventually becomes an overused hook in the novel, leaving the reader to wonder, “Can Elin Jean really be so careless?” Unfortunately, while there were many plot points that were unpredictable, the main twist was blatantly obvious. Dealing mainly with the theme and a particular relationship in the novel, the revelation of this twist can leave the reader disappointed as it seems like such the obvious choice.

The writing style wavers in strength throughout the story. It is the antiquated style (and lack of technology) in the novel which clues the reader into an era, but it takes Brooks some pages before it reads naturally. After settling into the style, it becomes a sort of lulling lyric, until a large plot shift occurs about two-thirds through, and the speech patterns and vocabulary feel unnatural again. Overall, the writing style needed some more work and might have benefited from some modernization and paring down.

❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤

9 Simple Ways to Hack Your Job Search

Since March, I’ve been seriously applying to jobs.  It’s absolutely a full time job that, unfortunately, doesn’t pay. Many recent grads are in the same boat and, with a sea of job sites to navigate, it can be difficult to figure out the best way to start. Here are some things that I’ve learned while job searching.

1. Network

Okay, so maybe you’ve heard this one a million times, but it’s important. Networking can open opportunities for you. They say you’re “six degrees” from anyone you can think of, chances are you’re far fewer than six degrees from a job. Talk to people about what you’re interested in. Return the favor. Even if someone can’t offer you a job or a connection to someone who can offer you a job, networking is a good way to learn how to look for a job and how to talk to people.

An even bigger secret? People have been telling me to network forever. I understood that networking meant talking to people, but I had no idea what to talk about or how to even start those conversations until recently. You’re going to think I’m joking when I tell you this, but I promise, it’s the truth: I learned to network by playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. While you can’t enter personalized responses to things people say, watching those conversations (and their consequences) play out on your tiny phone screen can make a world of difference in how you approach networking in real life. At least, it did for me. Not sure where to meet people? Try joining a Meet Up relevant to your interests. Because Meet Ups are built around hobbies and career interests, there’s already a topic to break the ice.

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2. Keep a List of Keywords

If you’re not looking for a super specific position (like, Professional M&M Taster), keep a list of the keywords you use to search for jobs. This allows you to check back in on those job listings with less hassle and more consistency. It also empowers you to search more creatively. Occasionally, job search engines are smart enough that they will find synonymous listings, but this isn’t always the case. Keep a thesaurus or www.thesaurus.com nearby and handy to help you have a comprehensive search going at all times. Some job search sites also keep a history of your search terms with a number of new jobs posted under those terms since your last visit to their site. This can be helpful, but the history only goes back so far and if you have an extensive list of terms, you’re probably better off keeping track yourself.

3. Track with a Spreadsheet

My “Job Search” spreadsheet is a lifesaver. Every time I apply for a job, I enter it into my database. This not only helps me keep track of the number of jobs I’ve applied to (and thus enables me to be appropriately bitter as I mutter that I’ve applied to ninety-one jobs to no avail and I can prove it), but it also helps me to remember important contact information, passwords for jobs that require a log-in, and a link to the job description should an interview present itself. The categories I use in my spreadsheet are: Job Title, Organization, Link to Post, Date Applied, Location (City), Result of Application, Follow Up (Date), and Notes. When I receive a result, I highlight the row of boxes so I know it’s no longer an active application. You may find other categories more useful to you, but I highly recommend keeping a spreadsheet to help keep your search organized.

4. Add to Hacks to Your Search Terms

It occurred to me recently that many of the hacks you can use to search Google more effectively also apply to other search engines. Use them to your advantage. While some search engines automatically search both “library” and “librarian” when you type just “librarian” in, it’s not necessarily guaranteed. Try typing “librar*” without the quotation marks to search all job posts with the words “librarian” or “library” in it. My favorite alternative search technique is to add a minus sign before the word “intern” to weed out any internships listed in the results. Many of the advanced search techniques in this chart can be transferred to job search sites.

5. Limit Your Searches with Filters

Some job sites, like Simply Hired, allow users to limit search results. Looking for something that requires little experience? Select “0-2 years” under the experience panel. Only interested in working for a non-profit? Click on “non-profit” to find jobs in the non-profit sector. This will save your hours of scrolling through irrelevant search results, thus enabling you to apply to more jobs that better suit your interests and intent.

6. Don’t Just Rely on One Job Site

Although you’ll often be presented with over a thousand search results at just one site, you’ll be better off if you check with multiple sites. My favorites at the moment are Indeed, Idealist, Simply Hired, CareerBuilder, Snagajob, and Monster. Admittedly, I don’t check them all with the same frequency, but even by checking more than one, I increase my chances of finding the right job by quite a bit. It’s unusual to see the same job posted on multiple platforms, so your results are very likely to look totally different. Like your keyword list, take a minute to make a list of sites you want to check on a regular basis and then do it.

7. Check Career-Specific Sites

While I can’t speak for other career paths (though I suspect there are resources for most of them), the library science field has many career-specific resources for job seekers. I Need a Library Job compiles an almost-daily list of job posts with links. The American Library Association has a JobLIST as well. A quick Google search will reveal a number of other resources for job seeking in library and information science and it can help make your search more specific and effective.

8. Follow Librarian Blogs

As an active Tumblr user, it’s easy for me to keep my finger on the pulse of the library job market and trends therein. Of course, Twitter is another useful social media platform to keep up with librarians. With a lot of high profile librarians keeping blogs and other social media accounts, you can watch for advice from the pros. Often, these are the kind of people who can hire you, and I’ve read more than one post on what to and not to do for resumes, cover letters, and interviews in a library setting.

9. Be Optimistic

It’s okay to have glass-half-empty days. Overall, it’s important to keep a positive attitude. If you don’t, it’s likely to show up in your cover letters. Fake confidence until you feel confidence and don’t take rejections personally. When the time and the job is right, it will happen.

 


References

Glu Mobile, Inc. (2014). Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. (Version 1.3.1) Glu Mobile, Inc. video game. San Francisco: Glu Mobile, Inc.

Why I Want to Be a YA Librarian

When I was growing up, my mother brought my brother and me to libraries frequently. I spent a lot of time at the Derry Public Library and the Taylor Library, both located in Derry, New Hampshire. Not only were the libraries a fantastic escape from the heat and humidity of New England summers, but there were books everywhere and I could take them home for free.

As I aged, I began to appreciate the services my local libraries offered to young adults. Writing clubs, craft nights, summer reading programs, and a sense of peace that I struggled to find with my peers at school. At the risk of sounding dramatic and angsty, the library was a place of refuge for middle and high school kids who couldn’t find a place to fit in. What was more, I knew the librarians and people manning the circulation desk wouldn’t judge me. I check out A Midsummer Night’s Dream one week and Twilight the next and no one would so much as sniff at it.

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Libraries open new worlds, both physically and mentally.

I parted from the library for some time while I was in college. Despite studying for a BA in English, I rarely stepped into the campus library or the public library in Roanoke, Virginia. Like many other college students, I couldn’t find time in my schedule to do many of the things I enjoyed so much in high school, including reading for pleasure. Since graduating, I’ve redeveloped an appetite for fiction and a new interest in non-fiction.

My main interest remains, however, in YA fiction. The more I become engaged with “Tumblr activism” and issues of diversity, the more I realize how important representation — seeing one’s self represented accurately, in this instance — is. If I had not read so many dozens of books with characters with whom I identified in high school, I doubt I would have such a strong sense of and comfort in who I am now. While many people assume I want to become a YA librarian solely for the sake of interesting non-readers in reading, this isn’t true. I certainly hope to help find the right book to hook new readers, but I am more interested in providing a safe and non-judgmental space for the population we call “young adults” to read, learn, create, and grow. It was this space that was so important to my development, and so it must be for others. Many young adults do not get the support they need from school, parents, or peers. Librarians can play a huge role in providing mentoring, encouragement, and assistance in the lives of young adults. If I can pick up a few new readers along the way, fantastic. But first and foremost, I want to find the lost boys and girls. Then, I want to open new worlds for them, and help them open their own new worlds.

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