Tag Archives: Librarian

Guest Post: The Atomic Librarian

7 Jun

This guest post is by the sharp-eyed and whip-smart Kerry who writes at Atomic Librarian. She found her way here through mutual friend and badass Cookbook, and today she’s exploring the topic of what it’s like for a childess person to read blog posts about children. I’ve often wondered what my childess readers think when I share gushing stories about her. Technically I qaulify under that large umbrella term “Mommy Blogger,” but I hope to provide interesting content for people who are not, and never will be, parents as well.

If I’m being completely honest, this post made me a bit sniffly at the end. So here we go. Take it away, Kerry!


So, it seems these days that my blogroll has been taken over by babies and small children. It used to be that the internet was all about the cat pictures, porn and weddings. All good things come to an end.

I am 36, never married and without kids. Unless something radically changes the trajectory of my life in the next week or so, I doubt that’s going to happen for me. Which frankly makes me sad sometimes, because I would have like to engage in a decades long genetics and social science experiment. I don’t care about others’ pregnancies, and those “Dear Baby, Today you are X months old…” letters irritate the hell out of me, because frankly that’s just bragging that the writer has a baby. Come on, when’s the kid going to be able to toddle over to a computer and find your blog? Put it in a scrapbook so the kid can enjoy it; my niece loves to look at the scrapbooks her mom has made for her and kiss the pictures and look at herself.

But I do like to read about little kids, even strangers like LittleBig’s Isobel. It’s been fun to watch her change over the past year or so, and to watch Carrie Anne and Anthony love and enjoy her–like the “oh crap, Isobel’s toys are too young for her–let’s go shopping!” episode. Partly it’s because I remember being a kid–a sad, anxious, weird little kid with a strange family.  It’s reassuring to read about prepared, thinking, loving parents who enjoy and take pride in their children. And it’s nice to hear stores about the little people who are growing up ready to take on the world. It gives me hope. It makes me feel like I’m a part of their circle, a neighbor perhaps, who feels pride in the community. Right now, my best friend’s son and my niece get my efforts at love and being a trusted adult in their lives, a resource I never had as a kid. And they’ve done the same for me. When my niece was born I was so sick with depression that all I could do was make my way over to her house and hold her. I called her “Narco Baby” because I’d get an endorphin high off the physical contact and her baby stink, along with a little jolt of pride and self esteem that that was something I was good at.

We’re all connected, even by internet. And the more connections the better. Anything that gives me hope for the future is good, which is why I’m thankful for Little Big and her family.

Things I Will Miss About The Library

6 Jun

Things I will miss:

High-fiving kids on the last day of school.

Being called “Mrs. Liberry” on occasion.

Going on the morning announcements and talking about Happy Bacon and Sad Bacon.

Calling Susie at 7 a.m. and begging her to bring me coffee. (Though she probably won’t miss that as much as I will.)

Wearing bear ears while giving away scholastic achievement prizes.

Introducing kids to terrariums when they ask about the one on my desk.

The surreptitious dumping of obsolete consumable materials. Try it sometime.

Pimping the circulation desk.

Signing a hundred yearbooks with a cheesy “Keep reading!”

Recommending and promoting my favorite books to a whole new audience each year.

Turning into my Alter Ego, “The Laminatrix,” and getting drunk on the power to coat things in plastic. I HAVE THE POWER! (to laminate!)

Teaching kids how to use the computer. Cut, paste, and copy will change their lives.

Talking smack, UFC, and parenting with Carlos.

The presents kids make me every year, plus all the goodies I get at holidays.

Photoshop competitions with the IT dudes.

Being described as a “plucky, indispensable librarian with floaty hair.”

Being recognized whenever I leave the house. Obviously this isn’t always a good thing, but sometimes grocery shopping makes me feel like a minor celebrity.

Typing in a kid’s name into the label maker, telling them it’s an advanced computer scanner, then blowing their minds when I point it at them and their name pops out.

Finding the truly ridiculous library books.

Giving my student aides nicknames. They love that.

Looking every inch the librarian stereotype and wearing my Librarian pin.

Greeting the excited seventh and eighth graders as they come through the library on the first day of school.

Telling the kids,  “YOU HAVE TO WANT IT!” when the main door sticks and the students think it’s locked.

The shushing. I will totally miss the shushing.

Having conversations about books with kids who are excited to read.

Calling the library my home away from home.

Each year I have the opportunity to affect at least one kid’s life in a big way. Usually more than one. I still keep in contact with some kids who graduated eight years ago.

Giving up my Librarian Trading Card.

Coming up with creative ways to promote our surplus of book covers.

My free Pinboard account. Especially after what I did to get it.

The good substitutes. And the substitutes that maybe weren’t very good but at least made for good stories.

Telling patrons about my favorite library apps.

The dear friends I’ve made.

Things I will not miss:

Fielding a ton of telemarketer calls and telling them, no, I do not have a budget this year, either.

And, oh yeah, now that I mention it, the total lack of budget.

Getting laid off. Repeatedly.

Dealing with insane coworkers such as The Kracken, Harpy, and Withered Lich. And their dysfunctional department.

Signs on the vending machine saying it STOLE TWO DOLLARS FROM SO-AND-SO AND THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Chain emails from the Superintendant that read like email forwards from your Grandpa.

Kids who try to use their bus pass as a library card.

The Gray Space.

Lifetouch. OMG, the shittiest, sorriest excuse for a school photo company ever.

The fact that you will be Cc’d in any email complaining about you to your supervisor.

Textbook Collection Week.

The yearly safety/sexual harassment/don’t steal from us/don’t dress like a whore video.

The people who keep score at the potlucks, judging you if you brought something unworthy—or worse, if you ate three chips but didn’t bring anything at all.

The free, freshly-baked cookies that turned out to be leftover year-old fundraising cookie dough somebody found in the freezer.

The inappropriate questions about my reproductive future.

The lack of environmental control.

The Facebook requests from coworkers who are completely unaware that I dislike them.

The political maneuvering. It was necessary if you wanted things like, say, tape or light bulbs. I was horrible at it when first hired, became proficient at it by the end, hated it all the way.

The shitty substitutes. The racist substitutes.

Giva, the unbearable coworker whose ringtone was the techno frog and who used to eat two packages of powdered donuts and a red bull every morning. The resulting burps terrified both the children and myself.

Guest Post: Children’s Music Recommendations

24 May

I’m still checking in textbooks and performing inventory on my library, so today I have a post for you by Julie Jurgens, also known as Hi Miss Julie on the internets. Julie is a children’s librarian and a talented singer-songwriter, so children’s music is a topic near and dear to her heart. Also, here’s a video of her playing the banjo. No other qualifications necessary.

This topic is extremely timely for me as Isobel is showing a disturbing preference for children’s music. Bad children’s music. The kind sung by children. (I blame my mother, who bought her CDs.) She is becoming scarily attached to it. Her other obsession is the Care Bears Big Wish movie, and music in that movie ranges from boring and saccharine to what you find here.  I’m pretty sure that song is the soundtrack to Hell. (Seriously. Check it out. It’s way more demoralizing that you can possibly imagine.) Also, this. There are no words.

On the bright side she’s so obsessed with this movie that she walks around telling people NO! MORE! WISHING! It’s adorable, if confusing to other people.

Miss Julie’s Music Picks for Children

And The Parents Who Have To Hear It

As a kidbrarian and musician, I make it a point to use a lot of music in my programs, and I like to expose my storytime parents to music beyond the usual Raffi and Hap Palmer (who are great, by the by, but sometimes you just can’t take it anymore, you know?) Here are a few of my current musical favorites for your enjoyment:

Pete Seeger American Folk, Game & Activity Songs
For parents who like Wilco, Justin Townes Earle.

It’s Pete Seeger, guys! How can you go wrong? He’s an American classic, like Levis, apple pie, and changing lanes without bothering to use your turn signal. Furthermore, I am hereby predicting that banjo will soon supplant the uke as the hispter alternative stringed instrument of choice, so you might as well get your kids ready now to ride the resurgent wave in twenty years. The banjo is also just inherently awesome and the twangy out of tune-ness of it will make up for the fact that you can’t sing in tune (which kids don’t care about, really, until they are seven or eight and capable of being embarrassed, so until that point, sing while you can, because before you know it little Jimmy will be plugging up his ears and screaming “MOM! FOR PETE’S SAKE STOP YOU’RE MAKING THE DOG FARTOUT OF FEAR.”)

Putamayo Kids
For parents who are into world music, Radio M, and Afropop Worldwide.

Whatever style or genre of music you’re into, there’s a Putamayo release for it. Animal songs, Caribbean, Zydeco, folk music, anything, and chances are high that 90% of each disc will make you just as happy as it makes your kid. This song is my current favorite, and it never fails to work its magic.

Human Tim + Robot Tim
For parents who like Star Wars, Red Dwarf, and Star Trek.

Do you have a love for all things robot but know it’s too soon to introduce your tot to Jabba the Hut?* Then play some Human Tim + Robot Tim for your kid and enjoy some age-appropriate science fiction fun. Human Tim is also a Wiggleworms staff member at the Old Town School of Folk Music, so you know he has some musical chops to go along with his super-cool sci-fi concept.

*Although for some people it is never too soon.

Super Stolie
For parents who like Neko Case, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, and Jill Sobule.

Super Stolie is super adorable and super energetic, and will give your little girls (and boys, hey, I don’t judge; paint little Jimmy’s toenails pink if you wanna!) a non-princess pretty girl to look up to, emulate, and admire. Stolie is always performing live, so if you live in the Chicagoland area, make an effort (you won’t have to try very hard) to see her in person and help create the next generation of live music supporters and show-goers.

Ella Jenkins
For parents who can’t stand treacly, sugary children’s performers, for parents who love(d) Mr. Rogers, and parents who need to learn what authoritative parenting sounds like.

No, seriously, I’m tired of wishy washy and permissive parents. Listen to the way Ella talks to kids, and follow her model. “Kids. I’m going to play the ukulele, and we’re going to sing a song together.” Bam. There you go. I love Ella’s simple and clear presentation. The children’s music equivalent of a scotch, straight up. In, you know, a wholesome way.

Hugh Hanley
For parents who were Classics or English majors in college, who want to be well-versed in classic children’s songs, who drink the house blend at Starbucks, who shop at Etsy.

Hugh Hanley isn’t flashy, but he’s a solid musician and he is on the Ella Jenkins end of the music spectrum. His voice is medium-pitched but bright while also being soothing (like your morning coffee). He has a strong background in early childhood education as well, so everything he does is perfectly attuned for your little ones to dance and move. Don’t be the only Mum or Dad at the block party who can’t bust out “Here’s A Ball for Baby” or “Open, Shut Them.” Hugh also includes handy booklets with lyrics and illustrations, so you’ll be sure to get the words right and you can smugly lord this fact over all the other parents at playgroup.

The Gray Space

19 Apr

I feel like I’m living life in a gray space. An intermediary space. Ever since we made the decision for me to leave my job at the library and stay at home with the baby, I’ve been going through my normal routine with only half of my brain engaged. Part of me is already making plans, updating the etsy shop, and enrolling Isobel is summer activities. The other half sits behind a desk, helps students find research material for home work, shelving books. I’m undeniably distracted.

I’ve always been this way: impatient to get on to the next thing when I know a change is coming. I’m not good at these temporary situations; I become consumed with anticipation for the Next Thing.  It’s hard to focus on my job and what’s worse is I’ve done it so long I can actually function well without being fully present. I’m doing what I need to do, but my heart’s not in it. I’m miles away, deep into the summer, going to swim lessons and story times and working on craft projects and cooking.

Everyone at work has been supportive (so far, the wider population doesn’t know yet), but I’m asked repeatedly, Are you sure? Is this final? I can tell they don’t want me to go. It makes me feel guilty.

Things are changing in education. Especially in California, where the district budget has been riding on fumes for several years now, the new structure isn’t supporting the old models. Earlier this year I came to terms with the fact that librarians in our district will probably be phased out. The database that will eventually replace me is still in the works, along with other money-saving ideas meant to cut costs and slash staff.

Maybe it’s better I say goodbye to this job before it says goodbye to me.

But hopefully not. Hopefully there will be librarians in this district by the time Isobel is enrolled in school. I don’t know, but I hope so.

Quitting my job to stay at home has long been a fantasy, but there’s a part of my brain that rails against the idea. You idiot. Give up a full-time librarian position in the middle of the largest recession since the Great Depression? What do you think you’re doing? Who do you think you are?

Anthony reminds me that I’m giving a wonderful job opportunity to someone else. Some other soul who wanted to be a librarian as badly as I did will have the chance to step into my shoes, shake things up, and call this place their own.

I am wildly excited to stay at home. My reservations are not strong enough to keep me from embracing this opportunity. The challenge for the next two months is to focus on what I need to do to get there, instead of what I want to be doing.

Shushing, Etc

1 Feb

The life of a librarian isn’t always glamorous. It’s not all slowly taking off glasses and shaking my hair free of its conservative bun. There’s more to it than inspiring a love of reading and helping students work on projects. There’s also the thrill and excitement of fielding call after motherfucking call of people looking for the IT guy. Though no fault of the IT guy’s own (he’s super awesome), people think that because we work in the same room, I must have his schedule memorized and beyond that, I must actually tell him what to do, prioritizing tasks based on how loudly a person just yelled at me. Keep in mind, we have different offices and unique phone extensions. But I can’t make it to 9 am without fielding six or seven calls asking if Carlos is there and wondering if I could perhaps fix their computer issue for them. Sorry. I can’t. I’m kept too busy with wearing sensible shoes and shushing.


Isobel is kind of OCD when it comes to dirt. Rather, she really enjoys finding any speck of dirt on the floor that she can and immediately screams EW YUCKY DIRT DIRTY DIRT EW EW MESSY! Although I still find it amusing the 100th time as I did the first time, the fact that I have a toddler constantly on the lookout for dirt on the floors isn’t helping me feel accomplished. Between the kid and the cat and the leaves tracked in and out every time someone comes and goes… let’s just say there’s no shortage of crumbs or pieces of grass or shredded bits of couch for her to flip out over. I appreciate the sentiment, honey. But we’re just going to have to leave some of that dirt there for now.


Isobel is not fond of changing into her pajamas so I made a Big Deal one night of telling her she was going to wear her Owl Jammies. She has a marked affection for owls for some reason, and one set of her pajamas features a litle applique owl. Now every time it’s time to change into pajamas she starts shouting OWL JAMMIES! OOOOOWL! JAAAAMIES! HOOOOO! HOOOOO! Which is great, except that we have the one pair so she’s rewareded for her efforts about every third day. Basically I feel this proves something integral about parenting: sometimes the solutions you find lead to new, and even more inventive problems. Parenting is evolution at its most exhausting.


I’ve had several million coworkers have asked me when we’re going to have another baby. As if they were waiting for us to just reach into the ether and pull one out. I respond by tossing out a vague, “We’ll see,” or “eventually” because I suspect people would not be happy if I told them that I’m waiting until I can train Isobel to feed our cats without breaking things or dumping cat food all over the floor. You see when I was pregnant with Isobel, my sister moved in with us. When I became too huge to bend down or squat, it was her job to feed the cats. I realized that until I have a replacement cat feeder that doesn’t leave for business trips (sorry, husband) I can’t think of having another. Isobel trains every day, though, and is making great strides in her technique. I just hope my vintage milk-glass bowls survive.

Plucky, Indispensible Librarian with Floaty Hair

2 Sep

I had my meeting yesterday and know only a little more than I did before it. Basically we’re going to figure this process out as we go along. I have a job for the rest of this school year, but after that? I could get laid off at any time. Same as before. So there’s that.

I wore all black in protest yesterday–less to accomplish anything and more just to express my feelings about the situation. Staff members on campus have organized different days where we’ve all worn black to protest the cuts to education and I felt that even though I’d be protesting alone at least I’d be able to express myself.

In awesome news, my excellent Twitter buddy Nic Piper sketched a quick comic based on my situation and a conversation we had in the comments wherein he called me “a plucky, indispensible librarian with floaty hair.” I thought that was basically the raddest thing ever said about me and told him that I’d want that carved on my tombstone. You can enjoy the full-sized comic here.

Thanks again, Nic. This made my day.

Here we go again

31 Aug

I expect to spend most of tomorrow feeling very hopeless and sad.

I don’t know what the future holds, but there are certain changes happening in the library that are anything but good. For the students or for me.

I don’t know how much I can say for certain about my situation, but these changes that are happening are not for the students’ best interests, but in the interest of our catastrophic state budget problems.

Tomorrow I will most likely be asked to create the automated database checkout system that will eventually replace me.

I don’t have any more information than that right now. I don’t know how much longer before I’m laid off again. It could be a year away. It could be a bit longer.

It could be less than that.

I imagine the actual plan itself is incomplete and details are released on a need-to-know basis.

I’m heading to a meeting tomorrow to hear the beginning of my end and how it will all go down. I’m planning on wearing a lot of black. And I’m going to be very sad.

I’ve headed down this road before and I somehow survived, but there’s only so many times I can dodge this bullet.

Patio: Before-er

21 Aug

Summer’s over. For me, anyway. The most significant aspect of summer, my summer, is over: I have returned to work. I think I confused a lot of people on twitter when I mentioned I was back at work because it seemed like I had a maternity leave of almost two years. And wasn’t I laid off? What is your deal, Liberrian? Or should we call you Lie-berrian?

The truth of the matter is I have the best of both worlds: a librarian’s job on a teacher’s schedule. As school librarian I get summers off so spring and fall are a mad flurry of activity for me, winter is more calm, and summer, when I’m at home, is downright placid. Or at least, I always assume it to be for some reason. Then summer actually comes around and I find myself busier than ever and suddenly it’s August and I’m back at work, shelving books, kicking ass, and taking names.

I start each summer with a to do list that’s accumulated throughout the working year and I count myself lucky if I get through half of it. An item that always makes the list is to redo the patio area. I mentioned this before, so it probably sounds familiar.

Garden Buddha: Still chilling on the useless electric grill

As I’m back at work I don’t have an awesome ‘after’ photo to show you of my recently redesigned patio. It’s pretty much the same, but we did manage to get a couple things done, such as:

1. My mom replanted one of my very root-bound ferns. That counts, even if I didn’t do it, right?

2. I have two new Monterrey-native succulents! While on vacation we walked by a planter filled with healthy jade-type succulents on the way to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and I broke off two teeny-tiny pieces and planted them the moment we got home. Not exactly on the up-and-up, but I’m what you’d call a Rouge Gardner. Er, yeah.

3. I pruned the rosemary bush! (That sounds like a euphemism. I swear to you it is not, however further details of my “rosemary bush” will be saved for #oversharewednesday.) This is something I’m very proud of because it’s an actual yard work activity that I did. I normally can’t be bothered with anything besides watering and the occasional replanting, so I feel like this is a big deal. I have so much wonderful dried rosemary now my entire family’s getting some in their Christmas stocking. Take that, recession!

Our very nice neighbor across the street does the maintenance on our pond and he’s also been helping us do something about the sorry state of our back lawn. Our house was vacant for about a year before we moved in and around here if you don’t constantly water your lawn it will wither and die. Which ours did. But it still sort of looked like we have a lawn because we’d mow the weeds and Bermuda grass level and kind of fake it. It’s sharp and terrible though and you can feel it stabbing you in the rear when you sit on it, even if you lay a blanket down first. Isobel can only walk on it if she’s wearing shoes, it’s that bad.

A weird bush also started growing randomly right in the middle of our neglected lawn. I saved this photo from the real estate listing because it looked they they were featuring the weird bush as some sort of selling point:

I don't want no shrub

We never bothered about the lawn before because they are a waste of resources if you don’t use it. And we didn’t. Now that we have Isobel, we want to use it so Chris, the very nice neighbor, has been helping us salvage it.

We affectionately named this tree "the stick."

That tree, by the way? Dead before we even moved in. Like, dead-dead. It looks this way year round. Chris ended up just pulling it out of the ground. It took me three days to notice it was gone and even then I only noticed it because it was leaning against the fence by the pond. He pulled it out of the ground. Chris tilled the lawn as it was quite uneven and the next step is to re-seed. I’d love to have something sort of resembling a lawn for Isobel and Kingston to play on next summer.

Illegal Succulents

I still have some pumpkins! Remember the pumpkins? I lost my own bet as the first one to go was the one I thought would last the longest. In my defense the only reason it rotted was because Isobel loved that pumpkin and her favorite game to play with it was to pick it up and then throw it on the ground as hard as she could to see it bounce. It only bounced the first couple times, really. After that it turned into a pulpy mess.

Three is the loneliest number

I just realized I never answered my own question! I was laid off! But then I was un-laid off. It was sort of illegal for them to lay me off at that point so they un-laid me off then laid-off someone else but then they un-laid that person off at the last second.

After all is said and done I will most likely be laid off again at the end of this school year. Hey, more time to neglect my patio, right?

Still a D-bag

Eight Years Ago

16 Aug

Eight years ago I was beside myself with anxiety about my first day of work as school librarian. I had two days to figure out the job I was entrusted with before the onslaught of parents, teachers, and students. In those eight years, some things have changed.

THEN: I had a different professional outfit picked out, ironed and prepped for the first two weeks of school.

NOW: Meh. Anybody seen my pants?

THEN: my three feet of straight long hair was painstakingly wound into an intricate bun to be kept professionally out of my way while I worked.

NOW: I have a hair tie in my pocket should I need it. I won’t even look in a mirror when I put it up.

THEN: I wore the most discrete nose pin possible so as not to attract attention.

NOW: I can sleep and shower with my ring in? Sweet.

THEN: I was as nervous as the students, as prepared as possible, but not nearly knowledgeable enough. I hardly inspired confidence in the students.

NOW: I set the students at ease while I help them. They know they can come to me at any time throughout the day for help. They leave the library relieved.  I can help parents with whatever questions they have. I anticipate teachers’ needs. Things run smoothly.

What a (wonderful) difference eight years makes.

Wherein I Am Not A Laid Off Librarian After All

4 May

So, I got a call from my HR department yesterday informing me that due to procedural errors my layoff notice has been rescinded. I should be glad about that, and I am, but my feelings are mixed.

I’m glad the kids are going to have access to a fully stocked library and the services of a full-time librarian. I’m glad that I’m returning to a job I love where I can connect with kids. I’m glad we don’t have to worry about insurance for me since I am uninsurable. I’m glad I have the whole summer off with a dependable stream of income.

I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to be a SAHM (yet) for Isobel. I’m disappointed that I won’t have as much time to cook and craft and thrift like I’d like. And I’m disappointed that my job was saved by a clerical error and not by a District that saw the precious value of providing a librarian for its children.

What does this mean for the blog? I am committed to posting and have a whole summer to look forward to. I have a lot of projects in the works and a lot of ideas inspiring me. Stay tuned.