Alice in Wonderland Display

Normally, when doing displays, I like to think less is more. However, all that goes out the window when I’m working on a display for children and young adults. I think children’s displays deserve more visual appeal and layers of discovery–almost like an Eye Spy book. This was the idea I had in mind when I put together a display celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s called Merry (un)Birthday Alice!

I worked with whatever materials I had, including a deck of cards from our TD Summer Reading program prizes, some pipe cleaners, photos and posters from the internet that I laminated, and various bits of fabric and props that I repurposed for the display. I got the idea for the deck of cards ‘sculpture’ and card soldier figures from Pinterest, making my own more simplified versions based on what I had on hand. We also had these lovely plastic flowers in storage at our main branch, so I asked one of our facilities staff to hang them from the ceiling, which he kindly obliged (and MacGyver’ed them so they wouldn’t spin around). Notice the Cheshire cat peering down? :)

We also have these amazing little square windows in our Teen area, which were previously unused. I’ve been incorporating them into my teen displays ever since I started here. You can see some examples in my Portfolio section (link at the top of the site). This month, I created suits (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs) to incorporate the teen area and chose some Alice- and fairytale-themed books.

I also created a reading list on our Bibliocommons site to help increase circulation of the Alice-themed books.

[Click pictures to enlarge]


Teen Area Windows

Teen Area Windows


iBrarian has finally been resurrected

*SIGH* It’s been close to two years since this site has been live. Unfortunately, it was hacked by spammers and then blacklisted by numerous filters, including my work’s web filter. At the time, I didn’t really have the knowledge or energy to tackle removing all the spam from my site and bringing it back to life. Fortunately, recent updates to WordPress and my tinkering and self-teaching has helped me to remove all the spam–at least as far as I can tell–and hopefully will remove this site from the blacklists.

In the past year and three-quarters, I’ve been working hard and trying to educate myself more on the job. I’ve been really fortunate to receive a lot of “real life” experience on the desk, which you simply cannot learn in school. I’ve also taken numerous continuing professional education courses to try and help me do the best at my job and keep me competitive for future opportunities (i.e. project management, management & supervision, and collections development). I’ve been creating some eye-catching displays, lots of reading lists for our Bibliocommons sites, and keeping up on new library technologies and trends, such as eBooks, Hoopla! streaming media, and MakerSpaces. I can’t wait to see how we incorporate the latter into our library system and engage the public with creative and collaborative spaces and activities.

I also co-taught a workshop on Etsy and will be teaching a workshop on Online Shopping this winter (hmm, I’m beginning to think I must have a problem!) :)

In the meantime, I am trying to learn more about children’s literature and programming, hopefully it will lead to a full-time position that involves children’s librarianship as well.

Thanks for stopping by!


CLA’s Feliciter issue on Changing Youth is out

As mentioned earlier in the year, I was chosen to be a Guest Editor along with another colleague for the Canadian Library Association’s national publication, Feliciter. The issue, on “Changing Youth”, just came out and you can read it in its entirety for FREE right here. We had some great submissions and I am very happy with how the issue turned out. Special thanks to my co-editor, Andrea Miller-Nesbitt, and Editor Judy Green as well as the rest of the Feliciter staff.


Form-based Readers’ Advisory?

Recently, I was fortunate to “attend” an online webinar on form-based readers’ advisory sponsored by my employer. The webinar was put on by the American Library Association and included a general overview of what form-based RA is, how it works, and how to implement it in your library. It was a great presentation, although I would have liked to learn more in-depth about how it works from start to finish. Fortunately, there will be a 4 week (or is it 6 week?) online course in the fall/winter offered through the ALA. In the meantime, I’ve been reading up on the service and am thinking of putting together a little pilot project with a colleague in order to test out how it works, how to design the forms, and, most importantly I think, how to respond to the forms and ensure people are receiving a high quality product. It will be interesting to juxtapose form-based RA with in-person RA. The latter is likely the better option, but today when we’re facing tight budgets, increasing reference desk demands, and labour cutbacks (not to mention lack of RA training), I am thinking that form-based RA might be a good way to improve or implement readers’ advisory services when in-depth RA conversations aren’t always practical (or when patrons are in a rush or don’t feel comfortable having a conversation about their reading preferences, tastes, moods, etc.). It also allows those librarians who are skilled and keen to provide RA to assist patrons because you can pass along the forms to the “right” librarian for that patron as well as work around scheduling issues, etc.

In the book, The Readers’ Advisor’s Companion by Kenneth D. Shearer and Robert Burgin (eds.), there is a chapter that looks at experiences approaching real-life librarians and requesting reading suggestions (“Readers’ Advisory Service: Explorations of the Transaction” by Anne K. May). It may or may not surprise you that the “undercover” librarian informants who approached the reference desk looking for a good read were often met with reluctance or disdain from the librarian on duty; one librarian responded, “You know, this is the query the reference desk dreads” and another muttered “I hate this question” (p. 134). A form-based RA service would ideally avoid reluctant librarians and would allow keen readers’ advisory librarians in the system to answer the forms and create a personalized reading plan for the patron. As mentioned in the webinar, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of the participating librarians and match up patrons with a librarian who has knowledge or interest in a specific genre. Although, I do think it’s ideal for all librarians who provide RA services to be somewhat fluent in any and every genre, or at the very least have the tools and skills to provide advisory even in areas they themselves do not read. You don’t need to be a romance reader to provide a romance-loving patron with a good read-alike or author suggestion, after all.

The key to form-based RA is to: a) design a form that takes into account various reader tastes, preferences, aversions, and their own reading context; b) train and maintain a pool of qualified and enthusiastic RA librarians; and c) correctly interpret and respond to the forms, providing a personalized and finely-tuned reading suggestion response (although, like in a face-to-face RA transaction, it may take some tweaking and feedback from the reader before you get the “right” response for any particular reader).

Does your library have a form-based readers’ advisory service? What are your experiences with it? What challenges have you faced? Comment below and share your experiences!



Summer Reading Club for Adults



I just came across an article on BCLA Readers Advisory Interest Group’s blog on an adult summer reading program at the Terry Fox Library in Port Coquitlam, complete with a reading log and prizes. I think this is a great idea! Particularly for parents who have children participating in the children’s summer reading program. Parents can sign themselves up for the adult club at the same time they register their children for the kids’ club. This can encourage the children to participate, model reading behaviour (important for improved literacy in children), add a bit of fun competition between parents and kids, and open up a dialogue between parents and children about reading.

Of course, the adult summer reading club isn’t only for parents–any adult can participate; the library provides prize draws for all participants. According to the blog entry, the library has also included a FaceBook app. and reading lists to support the readers in finding good books to read–and, I might point out, this is an excellent program to market your library’s Readers’ Advisory services :-)

Check out the link above, it might provide your library with some fun and innovative ideas for your adult summer programming next year.


Why I Love the Zombie Genre so Much


It’s funny: ever since I did a zombie reading map for library school, I sort of got branded as “the zombie guy”. Horror was a genre that I was somewhat interested in before (mostly movies, though) but I wasn’t a huge zombie fan until I put together that project (a link can be found on my portfolio page). Of course, I was a fan of The Walking Dead, though more for the post-apocalyptic and dramatic character stuff than the actual zombies (though I did like it better once things picked up after the slow second season).

This recent article on why zombies are good for libraries got me thinking more about why I like the genre so much. To begin, I am actually more interested in the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic aspects of the genre than the zombies themselves. It’s interesting to put yourself in the characters’ shoes and ask yourself “What would I do?” in such an event, whether it’s brought about by zombies, infectious diseases, aliens (I admit, I’m not a big fan of alien stuff for some reason), natural disasters, nuclear war, and so on. It’s sort of an interesting thought experiment on what would happen to society, what would certain individuals do when pushed to their limits? I think in these kinds of stories/scenarios, you really get to see what people are all about and only in the worst-case scenarios do people’s true character come out.

The zombie genre itself also lends well to various subjects and media. For example, your typical infectious-zombie-virus scenario involves aspects of virology and epidemiology, survival techniques, re-adapting to old ways of life/loss of technology, recreating some kind of civilization, etc. Plus, the zombie-disease scenario is at least a little more plausible than some magical rising of the long-dead. Furthermore, the genre adapts well to all kinds of media, whether it’s traditional books, videogames (you can fight zombies, or start a zombie epidemic, depending on the game), audiobooks or plays, tv shows and movies, comics/graphic novels, etc. It also lends well to non-fiction sources, such as survivalist books and websites, providing entertaining scenarios for emergency preparedness education or public health campaigns, and has been used to pep up certain government or scholarly reports and exercises.

Of course, aside from the interesting layers of character development, plot, and so on–you have the actual, terrifying element of the zombies themselves (and almost terrifying is the infection, particularly at the beginning when people are still trying to figure out what the disease is). A good scare can be thrilling and entertaining. I’m kind of boring, so I don’t do any hazardous sports or whatnot; my thrill comes from watching a scary movie or reading a scary movie and having some terrifying but kinda fun nightmares (although I am mostly a lucid or semi-lucid dreamer, so I usually know that I’m dreaming or come up with some weird way out of a bad situation in my dreams, so your mileage may vary). The newer, faster zombies like those seen in the 28 Days Later franchise are even more terrifying (and exciting) because you can’t just outsmart them, you also have to be able to outrun them! Everyone needs a little good scare every now and then, it’s good for you I swear 😀

Besides, everybody knows that zombies are way cooler than stupid vampires or werewolves 😉



Graduated and Employed

Well, it’s been quite awhile since I last updated this blog. I got caught up with my final projects for finishing my degree, including a big multilingual collections report that I did for my practicum at Oakville Public Library as well as various papers. I’m also in the middle of a big downsizing move with my family, so that’s been kind of crazy. Not to mention, I got a job! I was very fortunate, despite my worrying, to obtain a part-time contract position at Oakville Public Library as an Information Assistant–basically, a reference librarian where I spend all of my hours on the desk helping the public. I love it. I just finished my first week and am still in training but it’s been a really rewarding experience. I’ve already been able to assist patrons with computers, finding books, doing some readers’ advisory, and putting holds on some items. I’ve received a ton of training in various areas, such as technology, our electronic databases, local history and genealogy, children’s programs, etc. and I have lots more to learn. It’s just a four-month contract, but I think it’s an ideal way to get into the system, learn as much as possible, prove myself as a librarian (I think of it as a verrry long interview), and hopefully end up with a more permanent/full-time position. Us new graduates will often have to pay our dues this way, working part-time or piecing together contracts at first, but hopefully that is just a temporary measure. There are lots of changes happening right now, as people are retiring, moving, and so on.

My current goal, aside from learning as much as possible and trying to do my very best on the reference desk, is to brush up on my readers’ advisory skills, so I’ve been trying to get an idea of what new books are coming out, reading trends, and playing with Novelist Plus. I’m going to have to start assembling a good list of RA resources (blogs, tools, etc.) and listening to what our patrons are discussing, reading, and enjoying. Lots of fun! Hopefully I’ll be updating more often now that I’m actually employed in the library world, but I won’t be writing anything too specifically about my work, but more about librarianship in general. Of course, all thoughts posted here are my own and don’t reflect on the opinions or policies of my employer/s, school, etc. as mentioned in the fine print at the very bottom of the page :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Technology in the Classroom [infographic]

Recently, I was contacted by Allison, who created a very interesting infographic on technology use in the classroom. Allison thought I might be interested in her infographic, given my interest in education, social media, and technology in general–and she was right :) I am including it here below to share with my readers, as many of you are either working in an academic environment (i.e. as academic librarians), or are iSchool students. The use of technology and tech training in the classroom has been a major theme this past year at UofT’s iSchool, so this infographic couldn’t have come at a better time. 

What do we Know Infographic


What is your opinion on technology use in the classroom? Comment below!