Friday, August 5, 2011

Ups and Downs!


Alien invasion at the Summer Reading Club!

Wow! It’s August already. Where did the summer go?


Mostly down the drain with the rain, I think.

The Summer Reading Club – Savour Each Word! – is winding to a close with only one more week of programming left. Then we’ll have the wind-up party and then it will be time to send off the summer students, Hannah and Justin, with a celebratory lunch. In a flash, it will be fall and we’ll be gearing up for Book Club, Children’s programming and the NCLF Fall Conference, which will be hosted right here at HPL.



 
I’m looking forward to September with a sense of excited anticipation. Literacy Now has provided funding for a part time programmer at HPL for 10 months. This pilot project entails hiring a dynamic and creative individual to plan and promote events and programs for our patrons and community. I wonder what surprises he/she will have in store for us… Family sleep-overs at the library? Quiz nights? Coffee houses? Contests? Author visits? Local artists’ displays? Who knows? But I’m sure looking forward to some very cool stuff. Watch for our monthly calendars for a complete list of dates, times and events!



As you know, HPL is a member of the North Coast Library Federation, a group of seven public libraries including HPL, Smithers, Hazelton, Terrace, Kitimat, Stewart, Prince Rupert, and the North West Community College libraries. At the helm, guiding us, is a very busy coordinator who manages our funds and organizes things like our annual conferences, shared collections, author readings and other federation events and programs. Without a coordinator, our equally busy directors and library staff members would have to do all this off the sides of our desks.

Until last May, Karen Filipkowski was our coordinator, but an opportunity to take over the directorship of a small library in Ontario took her away from us. She is now far, far away struggling with high heat and humidity, while we flounder in the cool rain.

Never fear! This week we welcomed a new coordinator, Katherine Anderson, aboard!

Kathy is now pulling double duty as both the NCLF coordinator and the IslandLink Library Federation Manager. And, boy, are we glad to have her! Her extensive experience in libraries throughout BC and familiarity with the North Coast region gave her the edge in a stiff competition to fill this vital position. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience that we are certain will be applied with efficiency, creativity and great enthusiasm.

Change is part of library life. Good people coming and going is part of the ups and downs we face as we deliver our programs and services to our communities. So, while we say good-bye to Karen and the summer students and wish them all well in all of their future endeavors, we now welcome Kathy and the soon-to-be-announced Program Coordinator to our midst and look forward to sharing wonderful things with our patrons.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Welcome to Goodreads

Contrary to popular belief, librarians do not sit around and read books all day. The fact is that being a librarian cuts into quality reading time BIG time! To boost our personal reading stats, we tend to pick up children’s picture books that we can breeze through in a couple of minutes. My most recent favourite picture book is Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin. This is a great book with a great message and, if you happen to overhear me singing, “I love my white shoes. I love my white shoes…”, it’s because the little ditty in the book has been stuck in my head for the last week. You can listen to Pete the Cat on the Internet at: http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/feature/petethecat/. It’s well worth the 3.5 minutes. (And I apologize in advance if the song gets stuck in your head.)




One of the best picture books - EVER!

Now that I’ve squeezed in that little promo for Pete the Cat, let me get on with my original purpose in writing this long-overdue blog today…


If you are a Facebook user and you love reading, you may be familiar with the app Visual Bookshelf, a place where you could track, rate and review books that you read. Readers could log-in to their FB accounts, click on the Visual Bookshelf icon and instantly access a complete list of the books they have read – both the good ones and the duds. They had access to reader reviews, so they could get an opinion before reading. They could see how books were rated by other readers and see what other their Visual Bookshelf friends were into. It was a mini-social network within a social network – all dedicated to book lovers.


Alas, Visual Bookshelf is no more! The people who created and maintained it have decided to scrap it.

“It's not you. It's us. You see — about two years ago — we tried a new idea, which has taken our team and company in a new direction. This community needs tools and products that are fully supported and continually improved, and unfortunately, this is something we just can't support right now.”

(Way to break up with about a million app users!)

Being dumped by an app is almost as crappy as being dumped by a lover, only worse, because the app disappears completely and there is no chance of reconciliation. (There are no stalking opportunities either, but that may be a good thing.)

The good news is that the Visual Bookshelf creators – Living Social – are not that cruel. They have been kind enough to provide an alternative social network for readers called Goodreads, which can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/.


Goodreads has all the great features of Visual Bookshelf and more! You can join the Goodreads Book Club and share your thoughts about a featured recommendation with literally thousands of other Goodreads users. You can participate in polls and answer trivia questions. You can join or form groups and connect with like-minded readers to discuss favourite genres, authors or styles. You can connect to Facebook so your FB friends can still see what you are reading and know what you think about it. You can see what your friends are reading and find out what they think about it, too. You can set a goal for your reading by taking the Reading Challenge.


I have to admit that I was aghast when I clicked on Visual Bookshelf and read the break-up announcement. How could they do this to me? I had a couple hundred titles entered and reviews written for most of them. Eek! But then I saw the silver lining: a link that imports all my Visual Bookshelf information to a new Goodreads account. Well, most of my Visual Bookshelf information…


My list of books zipped right over to Goodreads without the ratings and reviews. But there’s more good news! You can save your ratings and reviews in an Excel file for future importability – as soon as they perfect the transporter for it. Or you can manually reenter everything. I guess that depends on if you have a life or not. And if your current book is good or not.


Anyway, readers can rest assured that their Visual Bookshelf information has a good home waiting over at Goodreads. I hope to see you all there. Send me a friend request – I’ll look forward to seeing what is on your bookshelves!




Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Speakers and Magicians and Ventiloquists - Oh, My!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve last taken the time to compose and post a blog. My intentions were good, my schedule was uncooperative! But here I am – finally! – with something to say and the time to say it.



Things have been hopping at HPL. Last month I attended the BCLA conference in Victoria along with about 500 other library employees and trustees. This annual gathering of Libraryland citizens is a jam-packed two days of workshops, speeches, award ceremonies, vendors, dinners, and, of course the requisite schmoozing between directors, coordinators and trustees. Here we put faces to names and names to faces. We learn together, make contacts and come home exhausted from the whirlwind activity and information overload.



Paul Whitney

My favourite part of the conference is the key-note speaker. This year we gathered in the theatre at the Victoria Conference Centre next to the Empress Hotel to listen to Paul Whitney’s address entitled: The Times They Are Always A-Changin’. Paul Whitney reflected on library history and development in the province, from his perspective as a library leader and innovator. During his 36-year library career Paul was Chief Librarian for both the Burnaby and Vancouver public libraries. He served as president of BCLA and of CLA and was actively involved in countless national and international committees such as copyright, public lending right, and accessible services to the print disabled, to name just a few. Paul's reflection on his remarkable library career was nostalgic for long-serving members of the library community and inspirational for newer generations.

 
But, alas, all good things come to an end. All too soon the conference was over and it was time to head back to the office to pick up where I had left off – namely, getting organized for the summer. Planning events, hiring summer students, completing the annual PLSB survey and the submitting the Statement of Financial Information, were all on my plate waiting for me upon my return, along with the back-log of e-mails, statistics, and other day-to-day stuff that needed to be attended to. Oddly, I managed to catch up and get back into the swing of things in only a couple of days.

 
Norden the Magician



So now we are looking forward to some fun things, like Norden the Magician, who will be visiting us on May 26th. Mike Norden is a comedic magician who has won several awards, including Children’s Magician of the Year five years in a row. His show promises to be fun for the whole family! It’s also free and everyone is welcome. The show starts at 3:30! Many thanks go out to the North Coast Library Federation for sponsoring this event.







Val Hiliker
Then in June, we will welcome Val Hiliker from Calgary, Alberta. Val is a ventriloquist specializing in children’s entertainment. She learned ventriloquism in 1977 and has been performing since 1979. We partnered with Houston Link to Learning and the Early Childhood Development Committee to bring Ms. Hiliker to Houston. Her performance starts at 6 p.m. on Friday June 10th, right after the FREE Family Night BBQ.

It’s always exciting to be able to provide quality programming for our patrons and the community and we are looking forward to sharing a few good laughs with them at these events.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Kobo Experience

Wow!

That pretty much sums up how I feel about these little gadgets. A thousand books in the palm of my hand. Simple, fun, versatile! Every time I pick it up, I discover something new about it.

It does take a bit of getting used to, though. I’ve had a few giggles at my own expense while using my personal Kobo. It’s not uncommon to find myself reaching out to turn the pages as I read – sort of like going from a stick shift to an automatic transmission in a vehicle; there’s an adjustment period. But the built in dictionary and the ability to adjust the font size and style are brilliant features. I don’t need my reading glasses to see the print and when I come across a new word, I simply highlight it and – click! – the definition is right there!

Maneuvering through the book is fast and easy as well. From the main menu, I simply choose the table of contents, scroll to the place I want to go and – click – I’m instantly where I want to be! Just press the back button and I’m returned to where I left off. There’s no need to book mark, the Kobo remembers where I stopped reading and takes me right there when I want to read. I can have multiple books on the go at the same time if I like. And the wi-fi feature makes downloading new books an instant and convenient process anywhere, anytime. Did I say Wow!?

The screen is not backlit (as I thought it would be), making it easy on the eyes. It really is just like looking at the page of printed book. I purchased a clip-on LED light from the dollar store for $2.25 that makes bedtime reading entirely possible without needing a lamp. It fits into the groovy, quilted case that my sister made for me right along with the charging cord, instruction book, pencil and note pad.

Charging the Kobo from an empty battery takes a couple of hours, but the charge lasts a long, long time. I’ve had my Kobo for two weeks and haven’t had to recharge it yet – and the indicator for the battery says that it’s still ¾ full. Pretty economical and more environmentally friendly than many other gadgets.

These things are amazing!

The library Kobos will be ready for check out mid to late April. Right now the staff is learning how to use them so they will be able to help patrons who want to try them out with Library to Go. You can place a hold on a Kobo any time after April 1st. Just call or drop by the library and ask to be put on the list.

With spring just around the corner and summer not that far away, a Kobo will make packing vacation reading material as easy as slipping one into a pocket, leaving more room for those bikinis and Bermuda shorts! You really have to try them out and HPL is a great place to start.

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's Flavia Up to Now?

I’m quite excited! Alan Bradley’s third book, A Red Herring Without Mustard, has finally come out and I can’t wait to see what Flavia de Luce is up to now. This precocious eleven-year-old junior sleuth and self-taught chemist is one of my favourite literary characters of all time. She’s clever and innocent, but not na├»ve. She’s funny. She’s tenacious. She’s somehow both sensitive and unflappable. And through her, Bradley has managed to resurrect the good old-fashioned whodunnit in a most delightful way. Fans of Flavia de Luce will already know what I’m talking about. Those who haven’t yet had the Flavia experience are in for a big treat.

I cut my murder mystery teeth on Nancy Drew when a boy in my third grade class gave me a copy of The Secret in the Old Clock (the first Nancy Drew mystery, 1932). I think it may have been the first real novel that I ever read, and while I cannot recall the plot at all now, I will never forget the feeling of being thrilled by the discovery and unraveling of the clues. I wanted to be a detective!

As I grew older, I got to know more literary detectives, both amateur and professional. Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot topped my list of favourites for decades. They were the quintessential representatives of the mystery genre where, while yes, there were dead bodies, the focus was not on the violence of the murder, but the detection involved in solving the crime.

Brother Cadfael (Ellis Peters) and Amelia Peabody (Elizabeth Peters) soon joined the intrepid trio of esteemed crime solvers, rounding out a short, but beloved list of clue-gathering brilliance. Then came Jim Qwilleran, Willam Murdoch, Tom Barnaby, and Mikail Blomkvist. The list was growing. And now dear little Flavia has found a permanent place in my heart (and on my list).

I almost put The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia’s first adventure) down after the first page. What? I asked myself have I gotten myself into. The opening paragraphs described, in the first person, a dreadful kidnapping and escape. It was this passage – on page 2 – that got me hooked: “I skipped down the broad stone staircase into the hall, pausing at the door of the dining room just long enough to toss my pigtails back over my shoulders and into their regulation position.” I had to read on.

I’m so glad that I did. Alan Bradley spun a tale of mystery so utterly captivating that I rushed out and bought my own copy. When The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag came out, I pushed aside two other novels to read it. Flavia had lost none of her charm. Her vivid imagination and genius detection skills kept me up well into the wee hours each night until I sadly turned the last page and closed the cover on another endearing chapter in her young life.

Now, the bright yellow dust jacket that hugs A Red Herring Without Mustard beckons me back into Flavia’s post WWII English world. Shortly after a Gypsy tells her fortune, Flavia stumbles (probably literally) across the seer’s dead body. “…bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan.” Was it an act of retribution? Flavia is about to find out.

You can place a hold on this book by searching the on-line catalogue at http://houston.bclibrary.ca for A red herring without mustard. Click on the title and then click on Place Hold on the far right side of the page. Enter your user name and password and then click on the Place Hold button near the bottom of the page. You will be entered into the queue and our friendly staff will let you know as soon as it is available.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Canada Reads - and an HPL contest maybe!?

It’s that time of year again. The Canada Reads 2011 debates will air on CBC on February 7, 8 & 9 at 9 and 11 a.m. and again at 8 p.m. Started in 2001, Canada Reads is CBC's annual battle of the books, where five Canadian personalities select the book they think Canadians should read. Each personality selects a book to defend and the books are eliminated one by one until a winner is declared. Jian Ghomeshi has hosted Canada Reads since 2008.







So today I’m going to present the five titles, their defenders and pull it all together with a cover photo of each. What I’m actually going to do is copy most of the stuff from the Canada Reads site, but don’t tell anyone. If you are concerned about copyright and information piracy, you can go to the Canada Reads site and read it all there - http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/. What you won’t find on the Canada Reads site is whether or not any of the titles – should you be so inclined as to want to read them – are available at HPL. It’s entirely up to you; read on here or surf on over and read it all legally.

The first book on the list is The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis:
The peccadilloes of Parliament Hill's political animals are the subject of The Best Laid Plans (McClelland and Stewart), Terry Fallis's hilarious first novel, which won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

The novel's protagonist, Dan Addison, has had his fill of Parliament Hill propaganda and backbench maneuvering. A former speechwriter for the leader of the Liberal Opposition, he's disillusioned by the discrepancy between what's said on the Hill and what's done behind the scenes. Now in his 30s, he's washing his hands of the whole thing. Dan Addison is dropping out of politics for the relatively tame world of academe.

Not so fast, say his former employers. Before Dan can cast off politics once and for all he's given a Herculean task: find the party a new Liberal candidate to run in the next federal election.

Terry Fallis
No stranger to the worlds of public affairs and government, Terry Fallis has worked in public relations for more than two decades - and his insider knowledge in both arenas shines through in his irreverent, award-winning satire of national politics, The Best Laid Plans.

Defended by Ali Velshi
An award-winning CNN anchor and the news network's chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi has covered every major news story from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year to the financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Lehman Brothers in 2008.


The second book on the list is The Birth House by Ami Mckay
The miracle of birth and the struggle to live a good life; the miracle of a good life and the struggle to be born — these are just a few of the themes explored in Ami McKay's poignant debut novel, The Birth House (Vintage Canada).

The novel is set in a small Nova Scotia community during a period of great change: in Europe, the First World War is raging. In North America advances in medicine and social organization are radically altering the way people live. It's an era charged with tumult, destruction and social revolution.





Ami McKay
Born and raised in the U.S. Midwest, Ami McKay moved to Nova Scotia a decade ago and embraced Canadian history in writing her debut novel The Birth House. She and her family moved into a home that was once known as the local "birth house"-- it was there that she began writing fiction in earnest.

Defended by Debbie Travis
A pioneering force and major star in the now popular TV makeover genre, Debbie Travis is a household name - for good reason. The design maven is a best-selling author and the CEO of a growing housewares empire, Travis's Home Collection, which boasts nearly $100 million in annual sales.


The third book on the list is The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou
Angie Abdou's remarkable debut novel The Bone Cage (NeWest Press) takes readers deep into the gruelling, often solitary world of amateur athletics. Neither a classic sports novel, nor a simple coming-of-age story, The Bone Cage offers a unique spin on both beloved genres.

Sadie and Digger are amateur athletes with the same goal: to make it to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Sadie is a swimmer, Digger a wrestler. Both have spent an inordinate amount of time training and training and then training some more. They've made sacrifices, both personal and physical, over many years to achieve their dreams. But life will get in the way of dreams. Sadie, in particular, deals with tragic unforeseen circumstances, which threaten to undermine her dreams of Olympic glory.


Angie Abdou
The fierce drive of a former competitive swimmer and the imagination of a gifted fiction writer: these are the qualities that author and creative writing instructor Angie Abdou brought to her compelling first novel, The Bone Cage.

Defended by Georges Laraque
During his 11-year career in the National Hockey League, Georges Laraque was one of the most feared enforcers in the game. But off-ice, this talented tough guy has put his muscle behind a wide range of social causes, from relief efforts in Haiti to animal welfare.


The fourth book on the list is Essex County by Jeff Lemire
Jeff Lemire's Essex County (Top Shelf Productions) is composed of three interconnected graphic novels: Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories and The Country Nurse. Winner of several major awards in the world of comics, including a Joe Shuster Award, it was hailed by reviewers as "the comics medium at its best" (Booklist) and "a quiet, somber, haunting masterpiece" (The Oregonian). The minimalistic though intensely emotional trilogy gives form to the author's inspired vision of what it means to live, work, dream and even die in a Southwestern Ontario rural community.

The population of Lemire's fictional landscape is represented from childhood to old age through the characters of Lester, Lou and Anne. Their external world is rendered in stark black-and-white lines. The vividness of their interior lives, however, is what gives the graphic novel its colour and vitality.

Jeff Lemire
A graphic novelist and comics illustrator who has garnered international acclaim, Jeff Lemire paid tribute to his rural roots in his remarkable trilogy, Essex County, and the world of comics responded with a plethora of major prizes and rave reviews

Defended by Sara Quin
She's a musician who has been in the limelight for more than a decade, though she's only 30. Calgary native Sara Quin, one half of the indie music sensation known as Tegan & Sara, has been singing and writing songs with her twin sister, Tegan, since she was 15.


The fifth and final book on the list is Unless by Carol Shields
Most people want to be happy. But how many have what it takes to be good? Can self-realization and morality share the same space in our lives? Or can we only have one and not the other? These are the questions that underlie Carol Shields's 2002 profoundly moving novel Unless (Vintage Canada), which explores the "problem of goodness" and how it squares with the very human desire for happiness.

Reta Winters is going through a period of "great unhappiness." The successful writer, wife and mother appears to have every gift life can offer, and yet, she's miserable, consumed utterly by the sudden change in her 19-year-old daughter, Norah.

Without warning, the pretty, confident young university student has chucked it all — school, love, her family — for a life on the streets. Norah now spends her nights in a homeless shelter, and her days plunked on a street corner in downtown Toronto. Around her neck hangs a sign that reads "goodness." She collects money from strangers, which she then distributes to the homeless of Toronto. The question that haunts her family: Why?

Carol Shields
One of Canada's most beloved and prolific literary figures, Carol Shields influenced a generation of writers both in this country and abroad. She wrote her first novel, Small Ceremonies, in 1976; over the following three decades, she went on to publish more than 20 other books in an array of genres, including fiction, poetry, plays and criticism.

Defended by Lorne Cardinal
One of Canada's most recognizable actors, with numerous television, film and stage credits, Lorne Cardinal is best known for his role as police officer Davis Quinton on the hit TV series Corner Gas.


And now that you have read this far I’ve decided not to tell you which ones are available at HPL. Instead I’m going to let you guess. I will tell you that only two of them are available. I will also tell you that you don’t even have to guess. You can search HPL’s on-line catalogue to find the answer. If you e-mail me with the right answer by February 15th, your name will go into a draw for a $25.00 gift certificate from Chapters-Indigo.ca with which you can buy one of these Canada Reads titles – or any title you want, actually. My e-mail address is hlibrary@telus.net. You can find the HPL on-line catalogue at: http://houston.bclibrary.ca/.

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you soon! Happy reading!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting Digital



After a slight mix up in the seasons – we think that winter took some time off to attend a conference somewhere in the tropics and left spring in charge – the temperature is dropping and the slush is re-solidifying into barely navigable sheets of ice. It’s just a little crazy out there.

But we have a solution!

Well, not a solution to the weather; a solution to the problem of having to go out in it. It’s called Library to Go and it lets you stay at home and check out great books whenever you want.
Library to Go is a provincially shared collection of downloadable audio and e-books. There are thousands of titles to choose from and both fiction and non-fiction are available. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s a great way to put that e-Reader you got for Christmas to good use!

All you need is a current membership at HPL to access Library to Go from your home computer. Members in good standing need only go to the HPL website at http://houston.bclibrary.ca and scroll down the home page until the Library to Go logo appears. Click on that and you will be instantly transported to a world of digital literature.

The books in Library to Go can be checked out, just like a book from the library. Once the lending period has expired, the book will too! This is because in many cases there is a single license for a title and so only one person can have it out at a time. There are, however, many “always available” titles with unlimited download capacity.

You will need to install free software on your computer in order to download the books. The links to these downloads are on the left hand side of the Library to Go home page near the bottom. They only take a minute to download and install and, once that’s done, you can check out up to five titles at a time and keep them for up to three weeks. You can also transfer them to compatible devices such as iPods, iPads, MP3 players and Kobo or Sony e-readers. A link to a list of compatible devices is available on the Library to Go home page and each title record shows icons that let you know at a glance what devices will work with it. Full tutorials, also on the home page, will guide you through the process from start to finish.

As digital editions become more and more common, some people fear that print books are going to disappear. Controversy on the pros and cons of digital publishing and what it means for the future of print books has raised debates all across library land. From managing collections to patron education to how libraries, themselves, are going to look, librarians range from excited to dubious to downright concerned about their own futures over it. What will happen is anybody’s guess, but libraries are certain to face some interesting challenges and changes in the coming years.

And not to be left out, HPL will be offering patrons the chance to experience digital books in the coming weeks. We have ordered two Kobo e-readers that will be available to patrons to borrow. Each Kobo comes with 100 classic titles and has the capacity to hold up to 900 more. Patrons will be allowed to download e-books of their own choosing. Upon return of the e-reader any patron-downloaded titles will be deleted. If a patron chooses to purchase a title and download it to the Kobo, they will do so with the understanding that it will be deleted when the e-reader is returned to the library. The Kobos will be lent out for 14 days – plenty of time to play and read!

So stay safe this winter; check out Library to Go and experience digital editions today.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Fresh Cycle Begins

So, the holidays are over and the New Year has begun. It’s back to the grind, or, rather, the grind picks up again after the interruptions.

It’s only the 7th of January and already libraries are receiving information about spring conferences, award nominations, board nominations and, of course, the dreaded annual survey that all public libraries are required to complete each year. It’s a daunting task, collecting all those statistics for the survey, but libraries are statistic-driven entities and library workers are used to collecting the information. If it can be counted, libraries count it, gathering numbers of checkouts, renewals, patron visits, memberships, acquisitions, program attendance, reference questions (asked and answered), ILL’s (lent and borrowed), computer use, database use, funding… You name it and it’s likely that a librarian somewhere is recording a tally of it.

Complicated spread sheets haunt the hard drives in virtually every library in the province and dedicated staff members dutifully input data daily in preparation of filling out the lengthy and detailed survey form. Without a completed survey, libraries do not receive the provincial funding that they rely on to be able to keep counting those stats.

Add to this summer student applications, the even more dreaded Statement of Financial Information (SOFI), conferences, programming and AGMs that all take place during the winter and spring months and you can see how the first part of the year is a whirlwind of activity with strict deadlines and no latitude for slacking off. Plus it’s weeding time again, time to go through the collection and work on cleaning it up and out. (The staff is going to love me!) And it’s that time of year to update the membership list.

This is the stuff of librarianship that gives my job the awesomeness that gets me out of bed every morning with a smile on my face and enthusiasm in my heart. Sure I stress about it, fuss and worry and fret like a mother hen with too many chicks to fit under her wings. But when each of these things are completed, wrapped up and filed accordingly, the sense of satisfaction melts away the anxiousness for a few glorious moments and gives my mind a bit of a rest before the next deadline looms and the frenzy begins anew.

Working in a library is a perfect blend of routine and creativity. There are always problems to solve, decisions to make, patrons to satisfy, programs to organize, books to buy, books to withdraw, reports to write, reports to submit, meeting to attend, projects to plan and myriad other tasks to perform. Library work has its own continuum where tasks rise, fade and blend in a constant stream. Like the seasons, it’s cyclical. There’s the daily, the weekly, the monthly, the seasonal and the annual. And there’s the unexpected. A grant opportunity pops up out of nowhere and that special something the library’s been needing (wanting) for years if suddenly at hand. Or a generous donation from an unexpected source arrives and some piece of much needed equipment is realized. Or the server crashes and the IT guy isn’t available for a week. Or someone breaks in and steals the cash from the front desk income. It’s never a dull moment.

Anyway, a fresh cycle has begun, and ended and is continuing here at HPL. And I, for one, am excited about all the great stuff that is coming our way in 2011. For example – mark your calendars now! – Val Hiliker, a ventriloquist from Calgary, will be here to entertain the community on June 10th. We are partnering with Houston Link to Learning to bring Val here for Family Night. There will be other great events, too, so watch for our monthly calendar/newsletters so you won’t miss out on any of the fun.

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year



Well, Happy New Year, everyone! I trust that you all had a good holiday season. It was peaceful and quiet under here at the library, but that just gave the staff some time to catch their breath and get ready for 2011. It looks like it will be a great year at HPL.

If you go to the HPL Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/edit/?id=176164105732299&sk=basic#!/pages/Houston-Public-Library/176164105732299 you’ll notice a discussion tab. There is one lonely discussion posted there and we are looking for some feedback from our fans. What would you like to see happening at HPL? Do you have some programming ideas? Some promotional ideas? Some fundraising ideas? Well, we want to hear about it. This is your library, people! Tell us what you think would work to promote and enhance the best little library in the North!

Oh, and while you’re there, be sure to become a fan – or a Liker as it were! Please click the Like button on the HPL FB page and help us get those numbers up, up, up. Since we switched to the new FB page, not all the fans have taken the time (mere seconds!) to show their support. And that makes me sad. I’m really a very likable! Heck, some people love me! 2400+ members can’t be wrong!

With the cooler weather hanging around for a while yet, there’s hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate on the go. Enjoy a cup while you browse the shelves or relax in the sitting area. We’ll happily take donations, but feel free to help yourself.

Oh, have you heard the rumor? HPL is this close to having BiblioCommons!

What’s BiblioCommons? Well, it’s been described as the crack cocaine of library services. I guess the best way to explain it is it’s an interactive catalogue that lets users see what is available in their libraries. Patrons can access their accounts to see what they have out, when it is due and if they owe fines. They can even place holds on books they want to read. I know it sounds like what HPL already has, but it’s not the same. It’s like Facebook for library users and it is the one-stop place to get and give reviews, see what’s happening at HPL and connect with library users from all over North America. How cool is that?

Well, I think it’s very cool and I can’t wait to announce the launch - expected sometime this month.

The staff is on pins and needles waiting for BiblioCommons to call and tell them when we’re good to go. Stay tuned and keep checking back either here or on Facebook for the official announcement! It’s going to be good!