5941d283-29b3-47ca-aeb4-8dc86f7917c1Today marks the first day of my library staff's internal "Biggest Loser" competition.

I got the idea from a library system out east (I can't find the article right this second, though!), who set up a "Biggest Loser" competition for their patrons, but I tweaked it a bit for our staff use.

I think we're all hyper-aware at the library of staff health and fitness, having had three staff members die within a two year period, (plus, let's face it, we all want to lose a pound or two!) so I created our 15-week challenge, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Every participant will wear a pedometer (we even bought pedometers for staff who didn't already own one) every weekday, tracking their steps. They get one point for the first 3,000 steps, then an additional point for every additional 1,000 steps.

Easy, right?

The kicker is that every participant has to chuck $1 a week, or $15 total, into the kitty. Whoever has the most points after 15 weeks wins the whole pot - which, by my calculations, should be close to $200.

I'm all for that!

I can't wait to see how competitive we all get, pushing each other for more steps, and to see how our health and wellness improves over 15 weeks. Every staff members but three are participating, which I think is FABULOUS! I was afraid people might scoff at my idea, but everyone jumped on board, which was pretty gratifying. :-)

Does anyone else have any workplace wellness programs going? I'd love to hear what other staff challenges people have set up, maybe something we can use in the future.

In any case, stay tuned for a report in September about how we did! :-)

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Well, I'm back from ALA Annual in Anaheim, and except for the travel part, it was a good conference, and a good place to have some fun, too!

I had a nice room in the conference hotel:


I heard Sally Ride speak, met Jay Asher and Kaya McLaren, I did NMRT things, and I picked up schwag at the exhibits:

Time for Exhibits

I also dipped my toes in the Pacific:

And a Few More!

Got an In-N-Out burger:

In N Out!

And of course, went to Disneyland! We had perfect timing, and only waited a few minutes for each ride! Wonderful! The Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Pirates...good times...

Another View...

I even got some Pirate Mickey Mouse ears. Hee. :-)

July 1

The only bad part of the trip was getting home...LAX had a bomb scare, my plane took off late, storms further delayed us in the air, and the whole trip culminated in my sleeping on the floor of the Detroit Airport for an entire night until I could take two more flights to finally get home. I missed my home. And my BED after that experience!

Still, 'twas a good trip:

All Together!

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This just makes me sick.

I mean, physically sick.

On Saturday night, someone vandalized our Bookmobile.

And I don't mean a spray painted the outside or tried to puncture a tire.

I mean, they ripped out the dash, boogered all the mechanical wiring, trashed the interior, broke out a window with a 2x4 and sprayed glass everywhere, stole library materials, kicked out the emergency window, cut computer and satellite wiring, and also stole thousands of dollars worth of satellite equipment - equipment that is useless to them without the satellite or the data transfer software.

We are looking at, conservatively, at least $10,000 to $15,000 worth of damage.

I just don't understand...why would someone do this? I mean, the BOOKMOBILE?

And the irony? Even though they took tons of CDs and books, we found them all neatly boxed up on our playground or stacked behind the building. They didn't even take anything.

They just...trashed it.

It really does make me sick what people will do to a good thing...


The photo evidence:

Destruction of the Bookmobile
The trashed interior (and part of a TinyTown cop).

Not Going to Move
The dash, completely ripped out, thus rendering the Bookmobile unable to move.

Glass Everywhere
Shattered glass everywhere and a busted screen from the patron door.

Smashed Bookmobile Window
The busted out window (on the top left)

I weep for the future, if this is what the youth of today will do for fun...

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Summer Reading Program at APL is in full swing (Exercise Your Mind...Read!), and we've had some super programs this week!

Sidewalk Chalk creations...we had sidewalk chalk decorating all the library sidewalks, a mural painted for the youth services area, and of course, snacks!

June 18

My favorite, though, was the steel drum band we had come play. We put them right outside, so the whole downtown could enjoy the sounds of calypso! Everyone brought lawn chairs and blankets, and we had a great time!

June 19

Of course, I was also a big fan of our "Caribbean" buffet table: we served "Tropical Punch" (red Kool-Aid), "Fresh Seafood" (Goldfish crackers), and "Roast Pig" (cocktail wienies in sauce). :-)

"Fresh Seafood"

I love my library!

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You know how airports and hotels and universities all have those zippy plasma screen televisions with updates and promotions and pictures continually scrolling on them?

I've wanted one of those for my library for AGES.

Sadly, cost is a wee bit of a factor. Those screens are uber-expensive, and then getting a program that will scroll and flip and update can be awfully pricey.

So, what do we do in the TinyTown library?

Get creative - on the cheap!

I decided that with a castoff monitor from my folks (thanks, Dad!), a decommissioned CPU from the Indiana Room and a powerpoint presentation on a flash drive, we could build our very own zippy promotional system!

It sits by our circulation desk and flips between pictures from programs, upcoming program information, general data (hours, ILLs, etc), and how to contact us. We're going to update it every few weeks, and so far response has been very positive. It may not be the biggest screen ever, but for us, it'll do. ;-)

Rock on!

Yay!It Works!

(I'm particularly proud of using the plant to camoflauge the wires. We're nothing if not image conscious. *grin*)

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Yeah, we had ourselves a BIG OLE giggle at the reference desk over this one.

It wouldn't be half as funny if it weren't true.

Have you hugged your reference librarian today? ;-)

(Thanks, Maire! You made my day!)


Nat (calling me at work this morning): Hey, did you hear about the shooting at the Peerless last night?

(The Peerless is a less than reputable, uh, establishment in town. I've never been.)

Me: Yeah, I heard someone got shot in the leg a couple of times. Any idea who was shooting or got shot?

Nat: No, not yet.

Me: Huh.

Nat: So, Greg (her hubby) got a page last night around midnight.

Me: Oh?

Nat: Yeah. They were calling for the fire department's bucket truck.

Me: Oh god, what for?

(I'm picturing a three alarm fire or a kitty in a tree, mewling pitifully.)

Nat: So they could search the library roof.

Me: Um, what?

Nat: For evidence.

Me (trying not to laugh): They thought the evidence was on our roof? Someone slung the gun up there?

Nat: I'm thinking so!

(At this point, we're both nearly hysterical.)

Me: Know what would have been damn funny? If one of them fell THROUGH the roof looking for evidence, because with the roof looking like swiss cheese and leaking everywhere until we get it fixed...

Nat: I know!
So, yeah. The library got searched for evidence. Again. We're like a regular crime scene these days...

Postscript: The gun was found in a trash can, but we don't know where. After I hung up with Nat, I started to wonder if the shooter would be stupid enough to put it in the library drop box. God knows we've found kitty litter, trash, and even a dead fish (!!) in there...

Life in a small town, my friends. :-)

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I've been back from ALA Midwinter in Philly for a few days now, and have finally gotten around to uploading a few photos and getting things in order during this long weekend.

I didn't feel this Midwinter was as productive for me as last year in Seattle, but it was still a good experience!

Among other things, I:

Sat on the tarmac in Detroit for a looooong time, was a scheduler for the Resume Review booth, toured the exhibits, attended NMRT events, snapped photos, took a tour of Philadelphia, watched the Packers win (thankfully, I was in a meeting for the Colts game, though the entire Hampton Inn heard my dismay when I got back and got the final score), ate cheesesteak, had lunch with our architect and more. Good times!

A few photos, methinks...



Meeting Josh Kilmer-Purcell *swoon* the author of the great memoir I Am Not Myself These Days...

Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Working the Resume Review Service area...

January 13

And, of course, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in the background...

January 14

Sadly, I didn't have a chance to run (well, stroll) up the Rocky steps, though I took a picture of someone else doing it!

Runner on the Steps!

Turns out, TinyTown got more snow that Philly did - figure that!

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Library Automation

Ahh, library automation at its finest.

Nothing like buying a Dot Matrix computer on eBay so that we can keep printing spine labels.

(Spine label printers are SOOOOO expensive...)

So, when our Dot Matrix died last week, instead of buying a new one from some warehouse for upwards of $350, I did the eBay thing.

Worked out okay for us!

Except for the humiliation of me having to admit to buying a Dot Matrix. ;-)

The price of progress...


Time for a new library display, and I must say, this is a favorite of the staff. ;-)

And the patrons - it's almost clear after only a week!

Love a Man in a Kilt?

Love a Man in a Kilt? ;-)

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Celebrate your freedom to read…banned books.

Banned Book Week is September 29 – October 6.

Banned Books Display

I love this display! The blurb on the front describes the book and the reason it was banned, and then you flip up the label to see what's inside!

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Spartans! Tonight We Work...the Reference Desk!

“Then I used the most valuable and unlauded investigative resource in the United States, the lowly reference librarian. Their salaries are wretched and they receive credit for nothing. Their desks are usually tucked away in the stacks or in a remote corner where they have to shush noisy high school students or put up with street people blowing wine in their faces or snoring in the stuffed chairs. But their ability to find obscure information is remarkable and they persevere like Spartans.”

—Detective Dave Robicheaux, in post-Katrina New Orleans, makes use of a library, in James Lee Burke’s novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown (Simon & Schuster, 2007), p. 354.

Damn right. :-)

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CIMG4881Now that it's all official, I can tell y'all my news.

I have a new job.

After a year in the office, our director of APL (whom we found after I served as interim director for nine months) has chosen to resign and take a library position elsewhere in the Hoosier State.

As such, I have stepped into the role of Director of the Alexandrian Public Library.

Two years ago, when the job was open, I wasn't ready.

I didn't know enough, I was still learning, I was just a kid, I enjoyed my current job, I wanted to protect my friendships and my psyche from doing something I wasn't ready to do.

I'm ready now.

If I can handle writing a capital projects plan, if I can handle writing a budget, if I can handle a staff dispute that nearly went legal, if I can laugh when things break, if I can wrangle this staff of incredibly talented, creative people, if I can do all this...

I can do this job.

And the best part?

I've done all of the above, but this time, for real.

Everyone has been saying "you should have done this two years ago!" but I knew myself, and I wasn't ready.

Now, I'm ready.

I couldn't be more pleased that the Board has trusted me to take over the reins of my library, and while the pay raise will no doubt be nice, the affirmation I've gotten from the staff in the last week is worth even more to me.

I can't wait!

Here's to new challenges!

(Above is a gerbera daisy from the bouquet Becca sent - thanks, girlie!)

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We're FINALLY done with all the thrashing and rearranging in my Adult Services department at APL!

Rearranged furniture, new stations, light through the windows and a lot of dustbunnies.


Click the photo to see what changed...

New View

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Some of the fun things I've encountered at Ye Olde Library in the last couple of days...

  • I got to put out a (rather lengthy) plastic cigarette butt trashcan thingy fire, having my director thus dub me "Fireman Marissa"

  • I had a 5 year old run up and give me a big hug after I watched his books while "he went potty with Mommy"

  • I input a override password into a PSP handheld, and got a standing ovation (a quiet one!) when it worked

  • One of my favorite reference transactions: "Yeah, my teacher said I have to read a Hemingway novel." "Okay, which one?" "It doesn't matter." "How about Old Man and the Sea? It's short." "How short?" "105 pages short." "Dude! Sweet! You rock!" I laughed.

  • Getting to teach someone how to use the Contemporary Authors, CLCs, TCLCs, and seeing the lightbulb go off when they figured out the index and the information it contained

  • Having a patron seek me out to tell me how much a particular audiobook narration rocked based on my recommendation (Yay for Scott Brick!)

  • Feeling that sense of satisfaction as I weed really, REALLY outdated (and dusty) volumes from our print reference collection

  • Having a patron pump his fist and grin when I accessed our online auto repair database and found the EXACT wiring diagram he needed

  • Picking out a new picnic table for the staff area, as well as new benches and even a zippy new trashcan
Nope. No day is exactly the same in the life of a librarian...