Thursday, November 4, 2010

(One of) The Lucky Few

The article I wrote for Library Journal appeared online October 15, but I just got the print copy! Here's a pic:

That's me in the lower right corner. From top-left: Leah L. White, Justin Hoenke, and Molly Kelly. The reaction has been nice, and many people at Queens Library have said kind things. I hope to do more writing, getting back to my roots, in the future.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Deadline, deadline, my dear old friend. I'm working on an 800 word article about my experiences as a librarian since I graduated in early '07. This of course means two things: I woke up feeling horrible and I've done everything else on my t0-do list except write the last 400 words. Trekking to Target to treat my allergies with some legal crack -- Claritin-D -- I first popped into the Party Store to check out stick-like things for my upcoming food-on-a-stick party. Behold:

Much food will be stuck. I also managed to whip up an entire week's worth of lunches, snacks, and dinners and place them all in serving size containers. I spent last night reading through old livejournal entries, giggling into the wee hours of the morning. Now I'm going to take a stroll through this blog, which has more of a professional bent than the lj. It's weird to think how much has happened in the last 3 1/2 years.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

DC Bound: ALA 2010 Schedule


11:30am: Train to DC

3pm-5pm: Emerging Leaders Poster Session (WCC, Room 201). Snacks! Fun, smart people to chat up. Snacks!

5pm-7pm: YALSA Happy Hour, Old Dominion Brew House (1219 9th Street NW). Alternative: LITA Happy Hour, Renaissance Downtown Hotel Lobby Bar (999 Ninth Street NW).

7pm-10pm Grab some dinner, and finish reading for Alex Awards committee meeting.

10pm – 4am ALA Dance Party at the APEX (1415 22nd Street NW) $10.


10:30am-12noon YALSA All-Committee (WCC Room 207A/B). Coffee and snacks.

12pm-1:30pm LUNCH!

1:30pm-5:30pm Alex Award committee meeting, closed session.

5:30pm Dinner with Alex folks. Thai!

7:30pm-9:30pm Tweet Up, The Passenger (1021 7th Street NW).

Quiet evening in hotel, recovering from previous day's fun. Alternative: ALA Annual 2010 Facebook/Twitter After-Hours Social, RFD (810 7th Street NW).


7:30am Alexander Street Breakfast, Washington Marriott at Metro Center (Grand Ballroom, 775 12th Street NW). Yum!

9am-10am YA Coffee Klatch (WCC Room 207A/B)

10:30am-12pm Alex Award program with David Small (WCC, Room 150B). David Small!

12pm-1:30pm LUNCH!

1:30pm-5:30pm Alex Award committee meeting, closed session.

7:30pm-9pm NMRT Awards Reception, where former and fellow ELer, Library Scenester will be honored. Woo! Go, Erin.


8am-10am Alex Award committee meeting, closed session.

10am-1:30pm Exhibits; Lunch; Check out of hotel. (Staying with a local friend Monday night.)

1:30pm-3:30pm Committee on Library Advocacy (GRAND, Room Independence E)

5:30pm Battledecks (WCC, Room 103A). Alternative: Hang out with my DC friends.


11am: Library Advocacy Day!

Possible meetings with aides of NY elected officials in afternoon.

Return to NYC at some point.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Are Invited By Anyone To Do Anything*

Yesterday, while still recovering from spending 8 hours at Save NYC Libraries' 24 Hour We Will Not Be Shushed Read-In, the YALSA Blog ran up behind me, yanked up my drawers and gave me a wedgie, insisting it only wanted to provoke me into articulating my feelings on panty-twisting.

Well, that's how it felt.

Playing advocate to a devil that doesn't need one, it asked, "Save Libraries?," and further inquired, "Should all libraries be saved?"

Here in NYC, we are in for the fight of our lives, as all three systems (Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library) face debilitating cuts that if enacted would include layoffs of 1/3 of staff. Moreover, the libraries and media centers in schools, face similar fates. I'm not much in the mood to engage in a discussion on the future of libraries when the present is slipping away. We're bottom-runging Maslow's pyramid, and now is not the time for discussion. It is a time for action.

I am fortunate to have colleagues so committed to libraries, that they planned and organized the Read In, managing volunteers, readers, and the media, and staying on site for more than 24 hours. I stand an awe of them. The event attracted more than 1000 people, who filled out postcards, signed petitions, and just plain enjoyed the spectacle of people reading words and sharing stories. In the early morning hours, I read a selection of fiction, as well fairy and folk tales. I staffed the postcard table for a couple of hours, amazed that people had not heard about the cuts facing libraries.

On the teen librarian front, 17 of the 20 official young adult librarians at Queens Library have been given layoff notices that will take effect August 15, 2010 unless the budget is restored. Additionally, many generalist librarians who are responsible for providing teen services at communities libraries have received pink slips. Remaining staff that might not have the same skills or enthusiasm for teen services will be left to fill the gaps at libraries that will be open fewer hours and understaffed. Rinse, lather, repeat the same story for children's librarians. All libraries are worth being saved, if only for the youth that depend on them. Letting them close and hoping that something newer, better, more powerful opens in their absence, is a risk we shouldn't be ready to take.

To understand the importance of libraries, all you need to do is talk to the kids:

I do not mean to minimize the importance of libraries for adults, but I think the argument for saving all libraries can be made based on the services, sanctuary, and collections that libraries provide for young people. So, I hope all will join the effort to save libraries in anyway possible. Twibbon, postcard, 311 phone calls, e-mails to government officials, read-ins, protests, door chainings, outreach at bars and laundry mats. You are invited to do anything.

*This post powered by The Dismemberment Plan station on Pandora.

Monday, June 7, 2010

48 Hour Book Challenge: Done!

I read just over 16 of the 48 hours. I hope to post some reviews in the next few days but my allergies are hitting me hard today, so I'm going to sleep them away.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Countdown to 48 Hour Book Challenge

+ + + + + + + = Fun, fun, fun.

I read a lot of books. Good books, bad books, adult books, teen books. Books, books, books. I'm excited to participate in the 5th 48 Hour Book Challenge.

Last weekend I did a test run, challenging myself to read early and often in a 24-hour time period. When the start time rolled around, I settled in for a 2.5 hour nap. Over the next day, I read approximately 700 pages during nine dedicated reading hours. If I read 18 hours and 1400 pages for the official challenge, I'll be pleased. I like to sleep and nap, especially on weekends, and I plan on indulging my somniac tendencies.

This time, I've got some secret weapons: Girl Scout cookies!

I've also set time aside Saturday morning to make salads (apple-yogurt and cucumber-tomato) for snacks all weekend long. I will take one scheduled break, a walk to Park Slope to hang out with some friends' kitties that need tending.

On my book pile, but subject to my whims:

Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski
Peep Show by Joshua Braff
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (On Junot Diaz's Summer Reading List!)
Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern

I don't expect to read them all, but I intend to follow the 50-page rule: if something's not moving me, it's toast. And maybe I'll crack open my ARC of The Passage by Justin Cronin.

I'm always looking for new friends on Goodreads. You can find me here.

I'll be reading from 9pm Friday to 9pm Sunday. Fingers crossed and pages dogearred, I'll resist sleep and read more than 18 hours.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday Night (Library) Fever

On Saturday, my friends and I pubcrawled through Park and South slopes, Windsor Terrace, and Gowanus. I left armed with a stack of stamped Save NYC Libraries postcards.

And, there's always someone who makes a joke:

I think libraries should do more outreach and advocacy in bars. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PLA 10: Thrilling Tales with David Wright

It takes a lot to get me out of bed, caffeinated, and ready to listen at 8:30am. I've been stalking following David Wright on Fiction_L and Shelf Talk for at least a year, probably longer. I've been intrigued about the storytime he does for adults at Seattle Public Library.

I figured a guy who's been entertaining folks with stories for years would give a pretty awesome talk. I meandered in a few minutes late and I couldn't resist tweeting: Listening to one of my library crushes, David Wright, talk about storytime for grown-ups. #pla10. (Tweets about #thrilling tales.)

Wright has been telling stories at SPL for more than five years, regaling workers and tourists from 12:05-12:50 twice a month at the flagship library. The escapist romps attract between 25 and 80 people per session. Wright mentioned the stories of Jack Ritchie as early and favorites to read.

Initially Wright recruited local actors and "celebrity" readers -- like our beloved Nancy Pearl -- but after a year decided to read all the stories himself. ("Just me and a microphone.") He found that regulars preferred the consistency. For those not wanting to tell tales personally, volunteers can also do the program.

Where find stories? Everywhere!

I'm just going to go ahead and list all the places Wright mentioned, but be sure to see his handout (link below) for more examples: Ghost stories, crime, mystery, western, pulp, Elmore Leonard ("suspense with spurs"), New Yorker, anthologies, Kelly Link, Stranger: Dark Tales of Eerie Encounters, Best Short Stories, Best New Voices. One thing to avoid? Novels.

Ready to start?

All you need is water, light, a clock, lectern, and mic. Wright advised, "Use a mic unless you're reading to one person in a closet." (Now, do you understand my library crush? Funny guy.) Set the mood with dim lighting and pre-show music. Lowered lights send the message that the program is auditory. Wright suggested starting with a short tale, maybe 10 minutes in length, so that late-comers will be able to get into the groove.

Wright tends to stick to suspenseful tales, but there's a lot of opportunity for variation. The program also works great with themes (do a world tour, selecting different countries; bilingual storytime; reach out to the deaf community and arrange for an interpreter to sign the program). The grown-up storytime is also a natural fit for outreach, visiting senior and other community centers, as well as nursing homes.

Broadcasting and podcasting are also possible, though the requirements change when you record something. Wright encouraged attendees to seek necessary permissions and stated it was easier than one might think. He said, "We are libraries, we hold the golden key."

The community library where I worked for two years would have been great for this type of program. Even though I'm not currently doing public service or programming, I knew grown-up storytime was something many of my colleagues would be interested in. (And something I could try once I left my Very Special position.)

Wright offered, "This is a great program to fail at." You can't beat the bargain basement price of you, a mic, and time.

Wright's materials are available on the PLA Conference website: (You can search by last name or session title.)

See also: ricklibrarian: Thrilling Tales and Selected Shorts: An Adult Story Time for Your Library

Monday, March 29, 2010

PLA 2010: Nancy Pearl's Book Buzz

+ + =

I like playing with my Nancy Pearl Deluxe Librarian Action Figure just as much as the next girl, but the real fun comes when listening to Nancy (and the folks she's gathered) gush about books. I'm on the Alex Award Committee, so I am always scouring blogs and lists, eavesdropping on conversations, browsing book stores, and scanning trains for possible contenders. We look for books published as adult that have possible high teen interest. (You can nominate a title here:, but it's a no-no for publishers and authors to nominate their own books.)

And, I just love to read. Humorous P.I. fiction, gritty memoirs, anything YA, pop science, suspense (romantic and otherwise), food stuff. Basically, I go ga-ga during publisher previews and round-ups. I'm not going to list everything, but here's some titles that stood out to me:

  • My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. Described as "midwifery gore." May 2010.
  • The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees. April 2010.
  • Under Heaven by Guy Gavrial Kay. Historical fiction + fantasy. April 2010.
  • Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen. I'd love anything with Scrabble in the title. Stephen King sings its praises. June 2010.
  • Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez. September 2010.
  • Think of a Number by John Verdon. Spooky. July 2010.
  • Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts. Murder + humor. May 2010.
  • Elegy for April by Benjamin Black. Crime thriller. April 2010.
Nancy also recommended a business book: Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath. It's out now so I went ahead and put in a request at my'brary.

Portland, My Portland

Just got back from the 13th Public Library Association (PLA) Conference in Portland, OR, and I've decided to shake the dust off my blog for some updates.

The ALAs -- Midwinter and Annual -- tend to be working conferences for me, so I enjoyed the opportunity PLA offered for pure, unadulterated soaking of knowledge.

Over the next few days, weeks, months, I'll be updating H&H with some of my conference experiences. The most notable change in my conference-going habits was that I took almost all my notes on my iPhone. I then e-mailed myself the sessions' scribblings. No copying! No trying to figure out my handwriting! No forming my thoughts into 140-character tweetable quotes and rambles. (I did my share of tweeting, but I liked being able to easily switch between the Notes app and Tweetie.)

I'm not sure if I could ever bring myself to leave NYC and my'brary, but I fell a little bit in love with Portland. The moody, changeable weather; the tasty food and beverages; the clean, deep-breath air; the Midwest-friendly people; the men who dressed like the boys I had crushes on in high school. My friend told me that I had to go to McMenamins. Failure to do so would mean I had not actually visited Portland. I never did. Also, I somehow skipped Voodoo Donuts. I'm not worried, I'll be back soon enough.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Library: Karen Keys, Queens Library

Edited to add: Often you do 50 little tasks and it feels as if you have accomplished nothing. A large part of my job is trend spotting and reading constantly about emerging technology. It can feel like a waste of time unless that one magical idea strikes. The point of the Day In the Life project was to show the wide variety of librarian experience. We're not all bunned, cardiganned librarians, chained to the reference desk, peering through our glasses. 4.29.10

I am the Functional Design Manager at Queens Library. I spent two years as a YA librarian before leaving public service to work on a special project: the redesign of our website and implementation of mobile services. This my Day In the Life of the Library ...
7:15am iPhone sounds alarm, waking me up with "Blues" tone in rainy Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
7:20am Check e-mail and Facebook.
7:30am Prepare breakfast (Raisin Spice oatmeal, tea with cream), lunch (Moong Dal soup from soup swap, home-made veggie soup, mini corn jalapeno muffins) and to-go tea for my hour-long commute.
7:45am Scan New York Times (through iPhone app, of course).
8:45am Start to leave for work, become distracted, leave 20 minutes later.
9:05am Apartment to C-train to J-train to work in Jamaica, Queens, NY at Queens Library. Read more NYT (including articles about marriage and James Patterson).
10:15am Arrive at work, late as usual but no later than usual.
10:19am Check work e-mail, Queens Library Chat (internal message boards), Twitter.
10:34am Read Bloglines (102 items)
11:08am Officially sign up for #libday4, explain to Facebook friend about # and @.
11:34am Review Queens Library twitter search. Recent one: "I think my personal library has more books than the Queens Public Library." Er ... really?
11:41am TWEET: Researching software/apps for kids and teens gaming, etc. computers #libday4
12:29pm Send e-mails to possible presenters for YALSA program (Lights! Camera! Booktrailers) at ALA Annual In Washington DC.
12:55pm Work on and submit application for Principles of Public Library Organization and Management course.
1:38pm More research.
2:15pm Lunch, Moongdal soup. Place veggie soup in staff fridge.
2:47pm Spend the rest of lunch trying to get a refund from MTA for a 2-week Metro Card that never came out of the machine. TWEET: On hold w/ MTA: "Parents please encourage your kids to surf the web, not the train." When's the last time you "surfed" the web?
3:16pm TWEET: Hitting afternoon slump. I don't think I've ever accomplished anything 3pm-4pm. #libday4
3:20pm Wander down to first floor to mill about the stacks and check out reserved books.
3:30pm Review list of 2010 books to request for Alex Awards committee.
3:55pm Work on A Day in the Life of a Library post.
4:30pm Scan the day's discussion list posts (Fiction_L, yalsa-bk, ya-yaac, Web4lib).
4:56pm Realize that I haven't done all that much today. It's a Monday, right? Time for more Bloglines, another round of e-mail, chat, and Twitter/Facebook.
6:11pm Packing up, heading home with Splendor and Catching Fire tucked under my arm.
7:44pm Arrive home and guess what's in the mail? My (partial) reimbursement from ALA Midwinter. Hooray! Now I can afford to go to Urban Librarians Unite! drinks tomorrow. I'm going to celebrate with a book.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Boston or Bust

I thought I'd store my ALA schedule here:

1pm Arrive by (Mega)bus
2pm-4pm Alex Award Committee meeting (closed session)
4pm-5pm Check into Nine Zero Hotel, register for conference
5pm-7pm YALSA Happy Hour, Boston Convention Center, Grand Ballroom Foyer
7pm-8:30pm Alex Award Committee dinner, Cottonwood Cafe
9pm Emerging Leaders Meet Up, JJ Foley's

8am-10am YALSA Leadership meeting
10:30am-12pm YALSA All-Committee
-Meet with Technology for Young Adults committee (I'm the chair.)
1:30pm-5:30pm Alex Award Committee meeting (closed session)
5:30-7:30 NMRT Social, Bell in Hand Tavern
8pm Tweet-Up, Green Dragon Tavern
10pm After Hours Social, The Black Rose

8am-10am Alex Award Committee meeting (closed session)
10:30am Top Tech Trends of 2010, Boston Convention Center, BCEC-162A/B (#alamwttt)

Rest and relax, explore exhibits, spend time in jammies in hotel.

7:30am Announce Alex Awards, watch the rest of the Youth Media Awards
1:30pm-3:30pm Committee On Library Advocacy meeting (I'm the intern.)
6pm-7:30pm Joint Youth Division Member Reception, Westin Copley Place, America Center

Check out of hotel
12:30pm Bus back to NYC