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Today I decided to do something with all that kid-energy roaming around our library during this post-Christmas winter-break time… so I invited a bunch of kids who were hanging out in the library to make snowflakes with me… it was fun, although there was a touchy moment when five-year old Ahmed got laughed at by his ten-year old brother for making a square-shaped flake.flake1.jpg

But then Ahmed got back at him by making the best blue snowflake to be found this side of the Mississippi.

Then there were the triplets who came to cut and fold flakes… needless to say, none of their creations were identical.

Oh. And how could I ever forget the little two year old who came to participate with mom and big bro and sis in tow. When asked his name, he said, I kid you not, “Good boy!” And beamed.

I am loving this Web 2.0 how to design your website with simplicity guide by Ben Hunt (found on the website design by scratch site) which I found via an online search recently, but which, due to grad school pressures, I didn’t have time to look into. Ironically one of my grad school assignments was to create a website, so actually, I could have used the tips from this site…

But no problem, I’ll take their lessons to heart for my real, actual honest-to-goodness website which I will create soon. When? I don’t know. But… soon.

In the meantime, here, check out Alex Dukal’s beautiful site, which was given by Ben Hunt as an example of a website which works extremely well, being simultaneously simple and yet richly nuanced. Alex Dukal is an illustrator and graphic artist, and after having seen his site, I now want to share it with one of my favorite coworkers, the children’s librarian where I work… I love the synergy of the web sometimes. :)

Years ago, I wrote a short story about a young woman who got into trouble with her long distance phone company by racking up a huge phone bill. In that story, in the days before ubiquitous cell phone usage, her “astronomical phone bill” was in the whopping amount of $853.52, which many of my Writing workshop peers found to be somewhat unbelievable. Well… better believe it, ‘cuz, as they say, “Truth is stranger than Fiction.”

Check out the below story to learn just how much financial trouble technology can get us into: Read the rest of this entry »

[continued from The Holy Terror (part 1)]

So, the other day, I was mystified when I found the HT quietly hunched over a keyboard and looking quite concerned. I leaned in to see what was going on. Ah… He was working on a report. A report that had to be 500 words long. A report which was due the very next day. It was good to see that even the HT could be quiet when the occasion called for it.

Several hours later, the poor HT was still in the same spot, still trying to tap away (he doesn’t know how to type yet) but looking quite worn though not defeated. By now a small crowd of his subjects had gathered ’round to give him encouragement — and their computer time, which he desperately needed. When he stretched his now knotted up fingers, one of the few girls there volunteered to help him type if he dictated. This went on for some time. But then, alas, she had to go home. Then our security guard joined the crowd and told him he would dictate from the HT’s scribbles so that the HT wouldn’t have to keep trying to decipher his own words as he “typed.”

After a while, though, things got rough. There were only five minutes left until all of the computers in the library would shut down. (They are programmed to automatically do this near the close of the day.) The HT was in the last stretch — the ever-dreaded Bibliography, wherein he had to type in all of the addresses of the websites he had used as sources. Alas, the HT had missed copying and pasting them into a Word document, so now they all had to be entered by hand. Enter moi, fledgling “librarian” who saw a win-win possibility in this predicament. The security guard saw what I was about to do, and grinned. “So, what, you’re getting into the action too?” he asked.

I said to the HT, “Tell you what. I type 60 words a minute. I’ll type these bibliographical entries for you, but in return I ask you to do me two favors. One, please help this young kid sitting next to you to print out the webpage on Gorillas that he’s trying to print. Be nice to him – he doesn’t speak much English. And two…”

Here, I was interrupted. “I know, I know! Two is “be quiet,” right?”

“Yes, how did you know I was going to ask that?”

“Oh I know, I know, I have a loud voice.”

So we switched places, the HT to help the young non-English speaking kid to print out lovely gorilla photos, me to type up the HT’s bibliographical references. We printed out the report just in the nick of time, with the computer timing out right after I clicked Print. Smiles abounded.

The HT left the library happy, as did I, as did our security guard. The next day things were a tad bit quieter in the Chess Kingdom. All praise the Holy Terror.

There is a kid who comes into our library on an almost daily basis. My nickname for him in this blog will be “The Holy Terror,” (AKA “HT”). Actually, he’s not really a terror, but he does have one of the loudest voices I have ever heard in a library. I must say that I sympathize, since I too have a propensity to speak quite loudly.

The HT is a bright kid who means well but tends to boss around the other kids–mostly boys–and at times cajoles them out of their computer time. Despite his bossy nature, he’s one of those proverbial “heart of gold” kids, though, since the other boys seem to go along with what he wants and don’t look too unhappy – he’s one of those born leader types, albeit a bit too overt about the power structure. Through the guiles of our weekly chess program instructor (who is worth his weight in a combination of any precious metals and then some), all of these boys have gotten hooked on chess and now they visit the library on a regular basis to play chess. (As I told another librarian yesterday, back when I was a teacher, I would have cried tears of joy had my kids been remotely interested in anything that didn’t require pushing a remote, clicking a mouse, or swishing around a joystick. Needless to say, the leader of the “chess gang” is the Holy Terror. He usually rules over his little Chess Fiefdom as a Benign Tyrant – sometimes encouraging, at other times goading and taunting, but always, always LOUD. [continued in The Holy Terror (part 2)]

I have been asked to choose a specialty at the library at which I work — I have the choice between being a Children’s or Young Adult specialist. I am truly torn. Here is a list of writers/books which come quickly to mind when I think of my own childhood reading pleasure… by no means is it exhaustive:

List of writers

A.A. Milne

Astrid Lindgren

Betty Smith

Beverly Cleary

C.S. Lewis

Charles Dickens (yes, I know, but I consider Oliver Twist to be children-oriented)

Dr. Seuss

Judy Blume

L.M. Montgomery

Lois Lowry

Louisa May Alcott

Madeline L’Engle

Mary Norton

Michael Bond

Mother Goose (as far as I knew back then, she was an actual writer)

Natalie Babbitt

P.D. Eastman

P.L Travers (AKA Helen Lyndon Goff)

Peggy Parish

Richard Scarry

Roald Dahl

List of books/series (not necessarily coordinating with the above list)

the Amar Chitra Katha series (Desi parents across the diaspora owe immense homage to this series for making Indian mythological stories accessible and alive for their children.)

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

the Paddington books

the Mary Poppins books

Little Women (I cried inconsolably when I read what happened to Beth, mystifying my mother)

A Wrinkle in Time

Winnie the Pooh

Are You my Mother

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

What Do People Do All Day?

Beezus and Ramona

Anne of Green Gables


Right about now, all of the MLS and MLIS students I know are quite stressed. So I thought I’d share some Library/Librarian Humor that I found on various blogs and websites. Not too many though, since I need to get back to my own website project!

LISNews: Librarian Pickup Lines

YouTube (Sesame Street): – Rock & Roll Readers

Warrior Librarian: Library Quiz Answers From Middle Schoolers

Life Story Writing Network: Something Called B-O-O-K 

ERIC’s serious take on humor: Librarian Humor in Classroom and Reference

Biblia’s Library Weekly: Computer error alerts for OPACs (wishful thinking)

I have a couple of podcast shows which discuss the desi immigrant experience, but I haven’t uploaded new episodes in a tremendously long time– and there are so many episodes that are lying dormant on my computer – half edited Audacity files, unedited mp3 files, half written scripts… you name it, it’s there. I also have a separate podcasting project I want to do for work, on a team with another library associate, wherein we will work with the youth from our communities (an immensely diverse group) on recording their experiences as first and second generation immigrants.

Ah, but where’s the time?!

I hope that once this semester’s over, I will be able to attack all of my podcasting projects with gusto and stop this “podcrastinating!”

Right now I’m hard at work on a project for one of my library school classes: designing a website. One of the things that is highly absorbing and yet frustrating is picking colors for the site. I have been spending quite a bit of time on the w3schools website, looking at their html color names page… It’s a bit like being in an ice cream shop and being torn between many wildly different and yet equally tantalizing flavors. Sure there’s the flavors you know right away that you don’t want, but what about the others? What if you initially decide to go with something fruity (subtle, like strawberry, or Pow! like raspberry sherbet? ) but then your friend nudges you and you spy the coffee and chocolaty flavors that she’s been eyeing?


Right now I’m drawn to these colors:





I could go on and on… But I need to choose! And soon!

Yesterday (Friday) was my fifteenth day working at a public library. It felt positively easy after some of the other days last week. I’m discovering that some days are relatively calm while others are a whirlwind of activity… Therefore, days like these are gold, and should be savored when they pop up, because there’s sure to be a hectic day just around the corner.

Some interesting (and satisfying) things happened today.

A young woman came in looking for how-to books on catering and bartending. While we didn’t have any books on the topics currently on the shelf at our tiny branch, I was able to refer her to a larger, specialized branch that did have these materials. And, unlike many patrons who have waited till the last minute to do their research, she had the time and energy to actually physically go to that branch despite the one hour train ride. And then, just because I was curious, I did some more research after she left, and found that we had at least one e-book in our system on bartending, so I emailed her the link.

A Russian woman who spoke sparse amounts of English came in and managed to communicate that she was looking for a book about New York City, written in Russian.

I’m not sure that my search was the most sophisticated, but I managed to turn up a book in the online catalog that intrigued her. But since this book was at another branch, we’d have to put in a reservation for the book for her and request that it be sent to our branch. This, however, was difficult to communicate with the language barrier. Then it hit me. I could finally make use of the AltaVista Babelfish translation website!

Go ahead and laugh at my nerdiness, but it was fun to type in the sentences in English and then get to see the look of happy comprehension in her eyes as she read the Russian translation of how the reservation process works.

“Da, da!” she said, with a broad smile, while her tiny son looked on. Da, indeed! Satisfaction achieved.

December 2007