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librarians

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to lead a book club discussion on the book, Kosher Nation. I use the term lead loosely, as the group really led itself. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been to any kind of book discussion where there were absolutely no lulls, all of the points brought up were interesting, and everyone there was engaged. Good stuff.

I did panic a little bit when I realized that I couldn’t find any book club discussion questions or guide for leading a discussion of the book. Sure, it’s not on Oprah’s reading list, but I thought I might come across something. So, I put together a few questions for every chapter, and have shared my document via Google docs. If you end up leading or wanting to lead a discussion on this title, I think they’re at least good base to initiate a discussion . Or if you’re reading it alone, they might still be useful for you.

Happy reading and discussing!

When I met Kara Jesella, co-author of How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, at Pete‘s monthly party Chuffed! held during the ALA conference and she said she was doing a piece on librarians for the NY Times, I was intrigued. Fluff piece for the style section? Probably. Fun? The odds certainly looked good. And really if I had a dollar for every time someone quipped that I don’t look like a Librarian, I’d be on vacation right now. So while the “hip librarian” thing might be a new cliche, maybe with a true glut of these articles I can stop trying to come up with a reasonably amusing response every time someone comments on my appearance when I tell them my profession.

I am a little surprised by the twitter over the article (pun intended), although I suppose I shouldn’t be. While I will try to maintain, as my friend Carrie (who is also quoted in the article) put it, some emotional distance from the content of a story that I didn’t write, I will say, that as I stated, it’s true that I finally decided on library school after listening to a zine curator at a public library speak. She was passionate and articulate, and worked in Salt Lake City, for the love of God. I saw her at what was once the Underground Publishing Conference which has since morphed into the Allied Media Conference. The conference that year was full of people who were focused on getting information “out there” to people. Among them, naturally, were librarians, library students, and a great many people who recognized the powerful role that librarians can and do play within society. For me it was less, the job sounding “pretty awesome“, but more opening up the possibility of what the job could be. That it could be more than a job, really but perhaps a personal philosophy, of a dedication to putting information in hands where it was necessary, and useful, and in some, albeit extreme, cases life-changing. To supply an abused woman with the information she needs to get help, to give an elderly world-traveler who can no longer fly on a plane an book that will make them forget that they’re in their own living room, to show a student how to get the information they need to write a good paper. That’s cool. That’s hip. And maybe when I’m done I’ll celebrate with a $10 cocktail, because I’m in DC and that’s just how much a cocktail costs when you miss happy hour.

At the end of the day as Kendra notes, the article wasn’t for us, us being library types. Jessamyn points out that,

“As someone who talked to the author of this article at length about politics, I think the problem was that the publishable article was about hipness but the article the author *wanted* to write about was about progressive politics… I agree, fluffy article, but if it can get a little more attention to the leftist aims of some librarians, I’m all for it.

I couldn’t agree more.

Today I hit the ALA exhibits area and had a totally fun time. I feel like I’m one of the few people that I went through grad school with who has never been to any part of the ALA conference. I decided to go to the exhibits area since it was inexpensive exposure to the conference and my company would easily cover that cost. Talking to various exhibitors, I was a little surprised that very few of them got my title (which shortened to “Internet Librarian” which was the official title of my predecessor). One library software exhibitor that I talked to was all but hostile when I told him my title and where I worked, saying, “What’s that have to do with libraries?” I was amazed at the degree to which many people in and serving the field, simply didn’t get it.

Regardless, I had fun. I got to look at products that I’m interested in but don’t currently have the opportunity to use, and re-familiarize myself with all of the pertinent vendors. I’ve also gotten to hang out with local librarians, and friends from grad school whom I rarely get to see which has been super nice.

the cover of the book,

Most importantly I scored lots of free books and went holiday shopping for my little cousins. It’s nice to have that out of the way so early. I got them:

Seriously.

Yesterday when reading the NY Times I noticed that in the top 10 best selling paperbacks in the fiction category, two feature a character who just happens to be a librarian.

“7 – TRUE BELIEVER, by Nicholas Sparks. (Warner, $12.95.) A hip young New Yorker finds love with a beautiful librarian who lives in a North Carolina town.”
“8 – MORNING COMES SOFTLY, by Debbie Macomber. (Avon, $7.99.) A reprint of a romance involving a librarian from Louisiana and a Montana rancher.”

image of red breast irish whiskey

Also Forbes releases it’s list of “must drink Irish whiskeys.” A favorite server at the Irish Lion in Bloomington turned Pete and I on to Red Breast Irish Whiskey, which both of us became rather fond of. mmm….whiskey.

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