Saturday, April 15, 2017

Book Review- Etched in Bone

Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop
I received this book in exchange of an honest review from NetGalley.

Like all great mixtures of fantasy this book took you to a new world and yet it had enough similarities of current time that it didn’t feel too foreign. I’m from Michigan and even I found it difficult to understand which pieces of land they were talking about for a while. Luckily the author includes a map (as all good authors should) and an explanation for days of the week and months. This is a very long book but I felt myself drawn to the characters to see what the end result would be. I can see this being popular for teens and adults, especially those who love dystopian fiction mixed with a little taste of fantasy (were animals, spirit creatures, perhaps ancient deities?).

The detail that was spent creating this novel is evident. The vividness of Lakeside draws you into this small location but it’s the personal connections with the people that make you want to stay and listen. I love that Bishop used humor and wit to explain small details such as the wolves that were thought to be peculiar but to the wolves the humans overlooked everyday logic. Because of some of the vividness of poor human behavior (abuse, prostitutes, death) I wouldn’t suggest this for children.

I give this 4 stars.

Book Review- Geekerella

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
I received this book in exchange of an honest review from NetGalley.

I would give this two stars. You could watch the movies Ever After and Cinderella with Hilary Duff, add a poof of geek dusk and you’re there! This book was painful to read and I lost interest quickly once I stopped trying to guess what fan base the author was trying to base her fandom from. As a librarian I wouldn’t buy this book for my collection, unless several tweens asked for it.

Book Review- The Healing Art of Essential Oils

The Healing Art of Essential Oils
By Kac Young, PhD.

I received this book in exchange of an honest review from NetGalley.

If this is the first time you have used essential oils, reading the first chapter Essential Oils: What They Are and chapter five Using Essential Oils is a must. Although essential oils are homeopathic, that doesn’t mean that if not used properly could be dangerous to children, adults, and animals.

I have used essential oils before but I never knew how much work can go into creating your own. Dr. Young does a wonderful job explaining all the details that go into understanding essential oils, historical uses, how we as people heal, blending, and creating your own creation. When I thought the book was done Dr. Young goes on to explain the sacred uses of essential oils as well as alternative methods. I personally enjoy the chakra and crystal healings.
A well researched book that states his sources, I loved reading this book and will enjoy reading it again, to soak up all the information in more depth.

I will be ordering this book for my library and a copy for my own personal collection as well. Rating 4.5.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review-Magic of Trees

Magic of Trees

By Tess Whitehurst

4.5 Rating
I received this book in exchange of an honest review from NetGalley.

The librarian in me was jumping for joy to see all the details that went into this book: from the table of contents, organizing the trees by alphabetic order, to including three appendixes. Not only is this a great resource book, it’s a terrific reference book with the ability to jump to your desired section with ease!

Tess Whitehurst starts with, “I like to write books that I would like to read” and I could see that great care and consideration went into this book. While reading the Orientation opening I could feel myself becoming lulled into the book by the calm, serene writing style of Whitehurst. She combines history, science, the magical and the metaphysical in this book. I highly recommend reading the Orientation first (for those who love to jump ahead) as you may learn something new.

Each of the trees are broken into section explaining the history, magical uses, psychic abilities, magical correspondences, and more. Each tree is given individual attention to focus on what makes it special- healing, beauty, fairies, protection, and even mentions (not all) if you want to make a wand out of it. (Plus much more, as I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of the book). As you learn about each tree you can see the depth and variety that the author used to create this book. The illustrations are a nice addition but the author recommends using a book to distinguish the difference betweens trees, as it can be hard.

While this book may not be for everyone, the people that do feel pulled towards it will most likely find that this is will quickly become a book that they will want in their collection. I can’t wait to buy it for my library and try out some of the recipes!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review- Size Matters (Perfect Fit, #1)

Size Matters (A Perfect Fit, #1)

4.5 rating
I received this book in exchange of an honest review from NetGalley.
While I normally like to read paranormal romance I thought I would try this book on for size. I lucked out, this was really good! Have you ever met someone and were so attracted to them that you said all the wrong things? That’s exactly how the love interest of our heroine is- Sam can’t help but put his foot in his mouth, more than a couple of times.
The main character Leah Martin looks down on herself, choosing to let her insecurities take over her better judgement. Watching how Leah and Sam react to each other was exciting. Although this felt similar to the movies The Proposal and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, I got so caught up in this book I read it all in one night!  I love that the author decided to write this in third person, so the readers can understand what the other characters are thinking and feeling. Just when you think you know what Sam or Leah are going to do, a twist in the plot happens and it keeps you guessing.
If you like sassy, plus-sized ladies as the love interest this book is for you. If you haven’t tried any yet- I highly recommend this book. I can’t wait to see what the second book in this series is like.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Back with Book Reviews!

Hello everyone! I took some time away to start a new job (yea!) and now have time to write some book reviews. Thanks to I am able to get a sneak peek of the newest books before they are published! I highly recommend to all my librarian friends. can be addicting!

Published online today (November 23, 2016):

Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)

I received this book in exchange of an honest review from NetGalley.

I was excited to read the next Anita Blake book before it was available for the public. I loved book 24 entitled “Dead Ice” and couldn’t wait to read “Crimson Death.”

Laurell K.Hamilton is a wonderful story-teller. I love the details that she uses for her characters so that you can visualize everyone in the manner she sees them. The emotional connection that the main character Anita Blake has with all of her loves is felt. The reader can feel every emotion Anita is facing herself. However, I could not understand why this book had to be 720 pages. The last book was shorter and more engaging.

The setting for half of this book is in Ireland, where we have a chance to meet the Fae. Since Hamilton has another series, Merry Gentry, I was excited to see what that would mean to her plot. If you were waiting for a mashup of the two books, keep waiting.

While the plot for Crimson Death keeps the same pace as Hamilton’s other books (personal issues, uses lots of details, sex scenes, fight bad guys, finishes in a hurry, and a nice tidy wrap up to explain what she didn’t tell us) I found that this title gave a little more backstory with all the character’s relationships. The triumvirate between Nathaniel, Damian, and Anita grew in many ways, bring a lot of fallout to fix. Anita is maturing in her relationship with women as well as with men as they continue to plan for a wedding. If you were hoping for more steamy sex scenes, this book doesn’t have as many as the last few have had- Hamilton is more concern about Anitas emotions and than action in this book. Hamilton’s plot was predictable but was good enough to keep me engaged to see how the book ended.

I’m sad to say that this may be the last Anita Blake book I will read. As I have mentioned, Hamilton has become very predictable and a bit far fetched with all of her lovers that is necessary for her power system. I thought this book was about explaining more to the readers why Anita had to have as many lovers and how hard it was on everyone, not just the main character. Yet, I personally do not feel enough of a curiosity to see where this is going next. The anxiousness of the book, became almost emo in nature and was not appealing. And the length of the book was a bit off putting in ratio to explaining vs. action and adventure. It reminded me of the Twilight Series and oddly feels like Anita is the new Edward.

Published October 1, 2016:
Taking Charge (Lone Star Burn) 
I received this book in exchange of an honest review from NetGalley.

This is book is a little grittier than a cozy Western or Christian Romance, because it’s not. It’s meant to be a fun quick read with exciting characters. The book begins well but it quickly jumps ahead six month without warning. What’s disheartening is the fact that the book glazes over some of the juiciest details. For example: David and Lucy’s first date, the awkward moment of seeing each other after they haven’t for a while, and a few other moments. I was looking forward to the new twist on the western romance with the heroine selling sex toys, but I ended feeling like the book was rushed. 

Since this is my first book from Ruth Cardello, maybe I missed some back story from the first three books? In the end I believe the author did a good job of making the main couple likeable but didn't expand enough on it. David and Lucy were real people with real doubts but I wouldn't add this to my collection. I finished the book to give an honest review and honestly, things wrapped up a bit too quickly and tidily.

Monday, May 25, 2015

STEAMed Up At The Library

STEAMed Up At The Library: Using STEAM programs in the public library.

STEM or STEAM is not a trend, but a to way remember that children's education is important. When we teach children we don't focus on one way of learning but incorporate several methods. If you look up child development you will find that the theorists cannot agree on one singular method. Wait, what is STEM/STEAM you ask?


So, why is the Department of Education and others having our schools focus on STEM/STEAM?

As a nation we are failing to engage our children to become excited in mathematics and other areas, which will lead to a decline in college/university degrees, meaning that we will not be able to support ourselves as a nation. Further information about this can be found on the Department of Education's website, "Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leadership."

What is the plan for STEM?
"The Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), comprised of 13 partner agencies—including all of the mission science agencies and the Department of Education—will facilitate a cohesive national strategy, with new and repurposed funds, to reorganize STEM education programs and increase the impact of federal investments in five areas: P-12 STEM instruction; increasing and sustaining public and youth engagement with STEM; improving the STEM experience of undergraduate students; better serving groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields; and designing graduate education for tomorrow's STEM workforce."
Why are librarians conducting STEM/STEAM programs?

First of all, it's fun! Hands on, up close learning, is a great way to learn and retain information. As librarians we have been making story time fun for decades with chants, dances, songs, and more. So why should we focus on incorporating science, technology, engineering, art, and math? I believe we should reach out to our community and promote learning. Learning is more than simply reading a book.

Yes, many teachers are using these subjects in school but libraries are not limited to school age children (or those who attend school). What about families who choose to home-school their children? Why not give one more reason for people to come into our libraries? And why not allow teens a chance to learn about the technology and media resources that are a part of their every day lives.

Why did I get all "STEAM"ed up? I watched a wonderful webinar entitled "STEAM in the Public Library: Programs & Services for Children" by Amy Koester and thought I would share. If you have an account with WebJunction you can watch it here or if you want the original (May 7, 2014) you can find it from Infopeople here. Although this webinar is a year old, I highly recommend it to librarians, teachers, or parents. A good webinar focusing on Teen STEM programs can be found on this link from Tech Soup, "Teens & Tech: Creating Successful STEM Programs in Libraries."

What if I have none to little money for programing?

Anyone who has helped with children and teen programs knows that recyclables can enhance a program. Don't feel that your program will make or break if you have the proper funding. If you do need funding reach out to the Friends of the Library, local companies, local organizations, or apply for grants (see links below).

There's too much pressure, I can't think of a program!

You wouldn't be the first to think this, but one of the great things about being a librarian- we share our knowledge. Search Pinterest (e.g. keywords "STEM" or "Engineering") or click on one of the links below. I have also shared links that were included in Amy Koester's webinar and a few I found myself.

Even if you don't choose to create a STEM or STEAM program, you can always enhance your current story times:
  • Add a Non-Fiction Book
  • Create a handout for Apps or learning websites
  • Share new vocabulary words
  • Show new tools that relate to your theme
  • Ask questions! It doesn't cost anything but we can create engaged thinkers.

In the end the real goal is to inspire children and teens to think and create. If we are able to get them away from TV for a few hours, Epic Win!


Friends of the Library- check the one connected to your library or district.

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grants- (for all grants)
STEM " provides info concerning: new STEM grant opportunities from federal agencies, state governments, foundations, and corporations.  It also identifies recent STEM grant winners, features news related to STEM funding trends,  provides updates on STEM initiatives and events, and offers insights on developing proposals in response to funding opportunities. also offers a free guide to those that sign up for its email list."

Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) by ALA- Not STEM specific, but if you are a member to YALSA this is worth a look.

More Links "Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra."

National STEM Video Game Challenge- "Inspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, the National STEM Video Game Challenge is a multi-year competition whose goal is to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games."

Robot Test Kitchen- "A group of Youth Services and Teen librarians. We believe that when imaginations play, learning happens. We aim to use simple robotics as a means to expand our learning experience for other new technologies. Our goal is to provide an entry point of simple robotics in a way Youth and Teen Librarians can understand."

Scratch- "With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge. 

The Show Me Librarian Amy Koester's blog: "This blog is dedicated to exploring programs, services, and other topics in youth librarianship. I get lots of inspiration and ideas from fellow librarians out in the blogosphere, and my goal is to share details of my successes and learning moments in the hopes of adding to the vast pool of collective librarian knowledge. I'm a firm believer in the power of collaboration in this profession. We're a community of sharers, and I am thrilled to contribute."

STEM Collaborative- An idea list of programs and resources by grade. The STEM Collaborative was formed when four public television stations with a steadfast commitment to classroom and community education were awarded a Local Service Initiative grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create innovative digital content in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subject areas.

Tinker Group- "Tinker is a networking group for library staff who work–or want to work–with children, teens, and technology. We are interested in sharing programming ideas and providing an opportunity to work hands-on with technology."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Teaching Technology So People Remember

Learning and Training with Technology

People learn in many ways, and sometimes we forget as adults, but when we were children we learned by using our five senses. Tactile learning is very important. The sense of touch allows us to hold the device or technology and to become familiar with it. We must remember that there is more than one way to learn. Providing a second way can make the difference between frustration and success.

Handing someone a step-by-step written guide may not be enough. If the person has never worked with that device or technology before, the experience can be very overwhelming.  A better way to handle the situation is to allow staff to play with the item. That is why we create demonstrations or have devices at a "petting zoo." We want people to see a device, become familiar with it, and to realize that it is not as scary as it looks. I have personally learned that screen shots are a great enhancement to written procedures. This technique might be leaning on being overly cautious, however, for some learners, that is exactly what is needed. The experience will remind them: what it looked like when they were actually using the device, where they were in the list of steps, and what it should look like. Remember, we learn by listening, seeing, and using our hands.

I recently responded to a colleague about the best techniques on teaching staff how to use an iPad. Here was my response:

How to train the staff… that is tough, especially since a quick 15 minutes didn’t work for me I would say that a real hands on approach would be best. Try to make it fun, let them play a game! You can say it’s too loud/quiet, you want to switch games, and so on. Another training that works is pairs- pairing up someone who has experience with those who don't. But of course, DON’T pair up as a team that has someone who is a little slower to catch on with someone who is impatient. Honestly, playing with a device and using it is the best way to learn. For written procedures, I find that screen shots are a life saver. Unfortunately, iPads do like to update regularly- especially with the new iOS 8 (operating system, software for Apple devices).

If you have a person who seems really unsure about iPads, let them borrow one for a night or a weekend. You can always create a backup, so even if they change all the settings, your favorite settings are easily changed back. 
Children aren't the only ones who like to play games and, for those who are up for it, a simple "challenge" could be a fun way to learn. When I learned how to use a 3D printer, I remembered more when I did the entire job from start to finish. Don't be afraid to give up a little control- a written procedure is a good backup and it might help some staff but most likely it won't help everyone. On the other hand, screen captures in the written procedure and hands-on learning is the winning combination to help patrons learn how to use new technology.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Publish or Perish- Not Just For Academics

No, I didn't forget that I have a blog. Yes, I will update some of the most looked at pages to make sure I have good links and stay up-to-date. But first, an update of what I've been up to.

Since I created the new layout for the Children's Area at Rapid City Public Libraries I decided to share what I learned. I thought it might make a good webinar but when I reached out to WebJunction they thought it would make a wonderful article. And they were right! My first article "iFought the iPads (and iWon)" was published online and then put in the Crossroads Newsletter.  Since I didn't feel I covered everything I learned I wrote another article, "You Shall Not Pass! Passcode Problems and Other Insights." What surprised me was when I received an e-mail from Strategic Library asking if they could reprint it in their newsletter that reaches 5,000 people. Of course I said yes, and as time got away from me I realized how many times I was published this year- 6 times. Not including the Rapid City Journal articles about Databases and one coming up this Sunday about using Pinterest for Holiday ideas. Plus, I have two book reviews.

The Programing Coordinator that I work with at RCPL has been working for the library for over 28 years. In that time she has sent numerous articles to the local newspaper. Her understanding is that sometimes the best way to market is by sharing the information yourself. Looking back on this last year, I understand what she means. Yes, we should use social media to reach out to our patrons as they wish to be contacted, however, sometimes the old ways are still good ways- newspapers, radio, TV, and also in person. Media might reach more people, but networking and building relationships is something that benefits the library for years to come. 

I'm not afraid of a quick article for the newspaper or something longer, I look forward to it! And I have a feeling I will be writing more in the future.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Dragon' a great fantasy tale- Rapid City Journal (April 6, 2014).

AT THE LIBRARY: Surprises abound at public library- Rapid City Journal (July 20, 2014).

August 2014 Board Meeting- " Staff member Sally-Adrina Taylor is digitizing library scrapbooks and photos, and has uploaded 100+ new items to the digital archive. Digitized materials include newspaper clippings, photographs, and promotional materials." 

Strategic Library- Reprint of iFought the iPads (and iWon), August 15, 2014; Issue 8.

'Some Girls Bite' a transformative novel- Rapid City Journal (October 5, 2014).

Pinterest makes holiday planning easier, fun- Rapid City Journal (November 23, 2014).

The challenges of having a superhero for a dad- Rapid City Journal (December 14, 2014).

 LIBRARY REVIEW: The stories of war- Rapid City Journal (March 22, 2015).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

iFought the iPads

I fully intended to write a blog to follow up my Kiddie Cafe, but I ended up writing an article for OCLC's WebJunction website. You can read it here: or watch for it in their April newsletter the Crossroads. I will work on a follow up article that will share more personal tales of working with the children and parents as well as deciding apps.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If I even help one person from the frustration I felt when trying to set up an iPad on display from out of the box, it was well worth it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Appy iPads: Kiddie Café

The project I manage for months began with a desire to replace a kinderloft. To replace a much beloved, but non practical, structure with something children would enjoy just as much. I volunteered for the project because I wanted to get rid of the kinderloft and I enjoyed working on the reference floor reconfiguration. Using some of my knowledge gained from my child development degree was a nice bonus.

Although it seemed like it would be an easy project it seemed to take on a life of its own. I ended up working with vendors and companies, several different library departments, and learning to roll with changes which included complications, timing for signs and staff, budgets, and more that was unpredictable.

It took me awhile to figure out what to do for the children's area and I asked staff for their opinions. I wanted to make sure I knew what the problems we already had for the youth services area and what improvements we could easily make. One practical solution was to set up a space that was a little bit bigger just for children. And another concern was that we wanted to include a Wii station for teens, but wondered where the best place to put it would be. I learned a lot from this project especially to be patient, to seek the advice of others to gain knowledge, but in the end hard decisions must be made with the best information possible.

Although I have worked with vendors and companies before, this is first time I was able to contact and get pricing for items as a staff member working for Rapid City Public Libraries. I enjoyed picking out individual pieces and figuring out what additions we could add to excite children. Our staff was very excited to see a change but at one point there was a thought to put in large steps. The step idea had staff wonder about concerns whether or not it would be too loud, how much it would cost, or if it was even practical at all. The steps were then surely scrapped and a better idea emerged- kiddie cafe.

An idea sprang about from a co-worker's recent visit to an urgent care clinic. There at the clinic were iPads for children to use while they waited. Once this idea came together I was able to work quickly with facilities and a contractor. It was amazing to see ideas I drew on paper come to life. The finished product was even better than I imagined. Children loved the wall desk even before we put in iPads.

The next phase after getting the iPads was setting them up. I'll continue my story soon with iFought the iPads and end with stands and displays.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

eBook Platforms: The Dating Game

When searching for a platform vendor, especially for your second vendor, it's important to fill the needs of the library or the areas lacking from the vendor you currently have. Much like dating, finding the right vendor can be tricky. Yes, they will call you after the video demonstration. No, they won't blow you off.

There are many choices out there but my library decided to focus on the following three: iLibrary by Ingram, Axis 360 by Baker and Taylor, and 3M Cloud Library by 3M. We currently have OverDrive, so the three new platforms were compared to it. At the end of this post I will include resources I used to help evaluate the platforms and the report I sent of why RCPL should choose 3M. The report was made in July.
How to get ahold of platform vendors:
You can always try their website. Like most websites vendors have a "Contact Us" page or sometimes a form to fill out. A complication I did not expect was how hard it would be to contact 3M. When I filled out the contact form I received an e-mail stating that my form did not reach them. I followed the link from my e-mail and it just looped back to the form that didn't work.
Networking is another great way to reach vendors. I contacted a person on LinkedIn that responded to posts in several library groups. By networking to him about 3M,  I had a regional representative from 3M Cloud Library contact me within days. Don't forgot to network and ask other libraries their opinions on platform vendors. Those libraries that already have the platform know the daily tips and headaches. 
What I've learned from dealing with vendors:
I've found the staff at platform vendors to be very helpful and willing to answer all my questions. If you have never dealt with platform vendors there is no need. Platform vendor companies would not choose people who aren't friendly, because then they wouldn't make as many sales. And though the sales reps are personable, they are still trying to make a sale. So when it comes down to it, selecting a vendor comes down to what the library needs, not the person who is your rep.

Several changes since my report in July:
Penguin joined Random House, bringing the big six down to the big five. OverDrive has gone through several strong changes: there is now a clear agreement with Penguin Random House and MacMillan, meaning there are a LOT more high demand publications available; and with OverDrive One, patrons can switch from one device to another by creating an account. 

My draft report for why RCPL should choose 3M Cloud Library:

The following statistics were gathered by reviewing the Material Request folders for eBooks that were not available at time of request. The percentage is not 100% as some items were found when I did a search after the publication date, that was not available during request. Anything that was not found with all three platforms was removed from the list. The list totals 60 titles or authors during a time period of March through July of this year. Of 60 items, OverDrive had 15 items or 25%. Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 had 27 items or 45%. And the clear winner was 3M Cloud Library with 44 items out of 60 items or 75%.

It’s clear to see that if we add another platform vendor that we will be able to add more titles that our patrons would want, including those found on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I propose that we look into opening a second platform with 3M as they have all six major publishers (Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan). 3M is able to easily download eBooks using only one app and does not require an Adobe ID (making our patrons create an account outside of their library card). Since this is a “cloud” library, a patron can start reading on their phone then pick it up on their computer, tablet, or eReader device- without losing their spot. Since 3M gives ownership of titles to us (pending publisher approval) we are able to transfer the eBooks to another platform. We are also able to create a download station at the library, regardless if patrons have Wi-Fi or internet at home, so everyone will be able to come into the library and download some eBooks. A download station is something that OverDrive will not allow us to do without spending thousands of dollars. Plus, with our Sony eReaders, patrons would be able to easily download- and perhaps we could have an extension of this for the homebound patrons (with eBooks preloaded). Some authors that we are missing right now that 3M has: J.R. Ward, Robert B. Parker, Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, J.D. Robb, John Green, Lori Armstrong, Ann Rule, and more.

All 6 major publishers
1 app for all devices to download
Cloud- stop and pick up from another device where you left off
We own items- can transfer to another platform
Download station
Log into app once, no need to keep re-entering your library card number.

No Audiobooks (in the works)
Not many picture books (talking to publishers)
No Amazon/Kindle books (works with KindleFire, Amazon has an agreement with OverDrive)

3M’s Cloud Library explained:

ALA TechSource- Report for comparison. This resource is nice but since technology of platforms change so quickly, it is best to directly contact vendors.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

There is no "me" in Team

Not sure how to work in a team? Don't worry- there are books, quotes, webinars, classes, and many more resources to help you with that. But first, do you know where you fit? They say there is no "I" in team but there is a "me".  What you bring to the table is part of that collaboration- that part that creates the environment and camaraderie.

Before I began work at Rapid City Public Libraries, even before my interview, I was asked to complete a personality test. This is becoming a common occurrence in businesses. After all, everyone can be taught how to do something but generally you can't change a personality. But what test do you take?
I can't tell you which test(s) is exactly correct. That is a matter of personal opinion. In the case of your library or place of employment, they might lean towards one that best represents their goals or mission statement. If you have the chance take a test or two, please do. Don't let it overwhelm you, look at it as a chance to step back and look at your personality traits. Now comes the part that every teammate has to learn:
  • Being in a team is not something you completely prepare yourself for. Unless you have physically gone through every situation imaginable, you don't know how you will react- also, you don't know how other people will think or how they will react. 
Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that the books, classes, and everything else can't help you...they will to a certain point. After that you are left with: you, your teammates, and hopefully a chance to communicate. I learned in my first year that communication is not just talking and listening, but also taking a moment to consider what the other person is saying. 

No matter how many "I feel" statements or thoughtful questions you ask, you won't get anywhere if you already built a wall around yourself. Open yourself up to hear what your teammate is trying to tell you. And they should do the same for you in return. Who knows, those uncomfortable/awkward moments might have just been a misunderstanding. Or a difference in definition. For example, I tell you I will call you soon. You thought I meant I would call you in the next couple hours but I meant I would call you within the next couple of days.
  • Tip: If you're becoming frustrated at work, you waited too long to talk about it (the person or situation that frustrates you). As a part of U.S. culture, conflict is not something we are taught to relish. Conflict is mostly thought to be messy, personal, emotional, and unpleasant. It might be all those things and more, but it might also be a necessary evil. Remember, with conflict comes change- and that could be positive. 
I personally learned that I should speak out when things are starting to get to me. An example is the theme book displays. I take great pride in filling them and feel validated when patrons check them out. Hey, I picked a good one! But when my teammates are too busy to fill it and I end up taking time out of my own projects to fill them, then I feel frustrated. To me it's not just a side project that I like, but good marketing sense. If half the grocery store is stocked, it doesn't look as appealing. So in my way of thinking, why would you purposely leave a large display half filled?

Do you know what I found out by speaking up and communicating with my co-worker? That some of them felt the same way. It is not efficient or effective to have a team where one person feels like the other members are not helping out. But what is shocking to know is...they don't know how you feel unless you tell them. Also, if you're bogged down with a lot of work to do, maybe someone can offer to  help or offer a reasonable solution.

I will leave you with one final truth about teamwork- it's never finished. The projects might be completed, the group may get along wonderful, but life will happen and adjustments will need to be made. Teams need to have adaptability and work with change. But here's the good news, you're not alone in a team.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's Not My Fault!

It's Not My Fault!- Oh wait, yes it is. 

Whether it is due to pride, ignorance, avoidance, or whatever you are uncomfortable with- when it is a flaw about ourselves it is hard to admit it. The only thing worse than admitting it to ourselves is when others point it out for us. That is how I felt when I found out I needed to work on my interpersonal communication skills. I immediately went to denial, which only made my progress take longer.

In the past with friends and work, I have been known for my listening skills and people skills. But working at Rapid City Public Libraries I dove into a teamwork structure that I had only worked on a little in grad school and a little in previous jobs. With my extrovert personality I was mostly depended on to act or create a plan to get things rolling. After talking to several of my current co-workers I realized it wasn't only interpersonal communication but also perception I needed to improve.

Your colleagues and co-workers have perceptions not just about what you say to them but also what you do. After coming up with an action plan to track my work interactions I realized, I do have an interpersonal communication problem. I was acting or trying to come up with an answer for how to help, when all someone wanted to do was vent or start a discussion. I don't always have to take a leadership role or have the best answer, I needed to listen more. I know I am a person who likes to help, to solve problems, and get things moving. However, to my co-workers I looked over eager, pushy, and what I had learned in my past jobs were the best way to do things.

I'm not going to lie, I am eager. After graduating with my master's this is my first librarian job. This is my career- I get to do what I love, why wouldn't I be excited? I realized that some things don't need to be addressed right now. And I can use past experiences to help me but I can't let that hold me back from learning new ways of doing things. I need to stop talking and start listening. Or asking questions. It's amazing how much you can make someone feel important or involved by asking about their personal life.

I will continue with another blog, talking about working in a team environment. But for now I will share some great resources for self-help and reflection. I hope this blog will help those who have been following me: The Unemployed Librarian, Library Certificates & Library Education, Free Webinars and Other Library Training Resources, and Preparing For a Library Job Interview. This blog and the next one or more to come are from my experience in my first year on the job.

Warning: Since self-help is a personal topic, not all resources/theories will work for everyone. Learn what works for you. And this is no where near a complete listing of what is available. Also if you need a sounding board or help, please seek someone for counseling.

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.
  2. The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss by Jim Warner and Kaley Klemp.
  3. Get Out of Your Own Way at Work...And Help Others Do the Same: Conquer Self- Defeating Behavior on the Job by Mark Goulston.
  4. People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts by Robert Bolton, Ph.D.
  5. Self-Defeating Behaviors: Free Yourself from the Habits, Compulsions, Feelings, and Attitudes That Hold You Back by Milton R. Cudney and Robert E. Hardy.
  6. What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith. (or read an excerpt article "Which Workplace Habits Do You Need to Break to Become More Successful?" from The Journal For Quality & Participation; Summer 2007.
  7. You Want Me to Work With Who?: Eleven Keys to a Stress-Free, Satisfying, and Successful Work Life...No Matter Who You Work With by Julie Jansen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pin Addiction = Great Marketing

Back in April I posted a blog about Pinterest when my co-workers introduced me to it. After taking a look at the library's account, I decided I would like my own account. Since then I realized that posting to Pinterest is not only addicting but as a librarian it can be a marketing and self-promotion gold mine. Plus, it is a nice resume builder.

For example, I posted the following pin in June:

Since that time, you can see how many likes, repins, and comment it has created. This one pin might have brought people to look at my Pinterest account, but people started following the board it was posted in because of my hard work. I created the Paranormal Kind of Love- Teen/YA Readers board after my blog post of the same name. So from the beginning I had a nice list of books, however; if I wanted people to come back to my board I needed to continue to add new posts. 
  • Tip*- My personal secret on finding books for selecting purchases is Barnes and Noble, but if I want to stay up-to-date with current books before they hit Barnes and Noble I use Rapid City Public Library already has goodreads to help show their user reviews (which appear while viewing item records in our catalog).

Another thing I have learned from using Pinterest is that as great as blogs are they are a time consuming- unless you are someone who posts often. Which I personally find is not easy to do with two full-time jobs (librarian by day, devoted mother by night and weekends). I can pin 2-5 items a day and that seems to satisfy the Pinterest main websites categories to keep my account visible enough. Not to mention the crazy Twilight pin that started out silently, but averages 100 new repins a week. 

  • Warning: Do NOT forget to select what kind of category your board should be listed under, that won't make the searches as affective. I learned this when I hardly had anyone looking at my boards.

Now that you see it from an individual point of view, let's look at things from a group/organization view point:

Pins + Public Interest = Followers. 

Basic principle but true. By working together the staff at RCPL went from the following numbers on April 5, 2012:

16 Boards
327 Pins
and 186 Following. 

To the current numbers (as of 11pm November 14, 2012):

35 Boards
1,009 Pins
and 257 Following.

  • Tip*- Number of "Likes"? Not important. Number of "Following" does not need to be high to be impressive. 
  • The truth that can be found in the statistics is how many new followers you have and WHO those followers are. If you have a Pinterest account, go ahead and see how many people you know. Now look and see how many are companies (libraries, groups, etc.) and how many people are unique users that you do not know (or affiliated with you in some manner). If you have any in the latter rather than the former, you are doing great. If not, try looking at this article on what website can help you better understand your Pinterest account. 

Let us not forget the important topic of self-promotion. Whether you are an individual user or a group using the same account, a successful Pinterest account can (in my opinion) only be seen as an asset. Pictures do circulate without the users caring where the original website the image was taken from (beware of malware, viruses, or inappropriate content). Yet, if you are using Pinterest for self-promotion you need to utilize where the pin's attached link takes the users.

For example, RCPL will post an image with a little information about the item. To give users the added value, RCPL staff does not link to a Google image search or a book store, we link directly to the catalog so that the users can place a hold on the item. People are very visually oriented, and as eBooks and downloadable audiobooks become even more popular a patron would like to see the below image, instead of just a name of the book and the author(s).

Tip*- Don't just pin to books or images- Be Creative!

I am glad I have the opportunity to pin for Rapid City Public Libraries and the Black Hills Knowledge Network. Otherwise, I wouldn't have learn the above information. While the first year on the job is supposed to be the hardest I feel like I have learned much more. Perhaps something I can carry on through the rest of my life. This is just a hint to my next blog posting. I promise it won't take as long as it did for this one.

Please let me know of any comments, questions, and suggestions. I believe the best way to learn is through communication and shared experiences. Thanks for reading!

For more information:

10 Amazing Pinterest Tools To Help You Get The Best Out Of It by

20 Ways Libraries Are Using Pinterest Right Now by

In Defense of Pinterest by

Pinterest and Academia
Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) webcast 9/18/12.

Pinterest for Business- "We are cataloging and archiving everything we can find that will help grow your business with Pinterest."

Pinterest for Business (Pinterest Board for statistics)

Use Pinterest to Promote Your Programs And Services by Library Journal.