May 8th, 2013 Brian Herzog
My library received an email last week that I thought was fun and wanted to share:
My name is Heather Gaines and I am the event coordinator for adult programs at the O'Fallon Public Library located in Illinois. Our summer reading program will be kicking off soon and I would like to recruit you as a helper! The theme this year is "Have Book-Will Travel."
I had an idea that would bring America to our patrons in a fun and colorful way. For your part I would like to ask you to do one small thing. Would you be willing to send us a postcard from your great city, state, or even a unique local spot?
Once collected, I will share them with all our patrons, with the hope that they too will see what amazing places there are to discover across America. On the back of the postcard, please write a small blurb about what location is pictured or about the state it is from.
If for any reason you do not or are not able to participate in this endeavor, please email me back so I may contact another library in your home state.
You may send more than one postcard if you so choose!
Our address is as follows:
O'Fallon Public Library
Attn: Heather Gaines
120 Civic Plaza
O'Fallon, IL 62269
Thank you and have a great day!
What a great idea - we were happy to participate, and Heather said she'd welcome everyone to send them postcards. It reminded me of my coworker's Library Card Table, which also relied on the kindness and cooperation of other libraries across the county.
And, talking about postcards is a good segue: starting tomorrow I'll be on vacation visiting family in Ohio, so no reference question until next week - see you then.
June 30th, 2012 Brian Herzog
Since school ended and the weather has been nice, the reference desk has been pretty slow. Most of the requests we've had have been to help kids find school summer reading books - but this one was a little different.
A woman came up to the desk carrying a couple YA books. She was obviously in a hurry, and I think because she was trying to rush, it took me a bit to actually figure out what she was asking* - it turned out, she had found on the shelf books three and four in the Rangers Apprentice series, and wanted to know if we had books one and two checked in.
I searched the catalog, but unfortunately books one and two were checked out. When I offered to place a hold on them for her, she said,
No, my son wants to read these on our vacation but we're leaving right now and the kids are in the car in the parking lot and I have to go.
And she turned and literally ran away from the desk and up the stairs to the circulation desk.
Ha. When I go on a road trip, my last stop before hitting the road is usually the gas station - awesome that that someone's point of departure is filling up on books.
*Initially, she asked me if we had any "earlier editions of this book." However, she didn't offer to show me what book she was talking about, and then when I tried to clarify if she actually was looking for an earlier edition of that book, or if she wanted the earlier books in the series, she seemed to take offense. I wasn't trying to be a jerk, just make sure of what she was really after - but I think she viewed me as just dead weight slowing her down at that point.
June 20th, 2012 Brian Herzog
With summer reading programs in full swing, I thought this was appropriate. While cleaning my old stuff out of my parents' house, I came across some of my childhood summer reading logs. They're from the Sandusky (OH) Library from the late seventies - I was born in 1974, so these show what was shaping my mind when I was three and four years old (click through to zoom in):
Yay for the Sandusky Library, and for my parents. I hope everyone is enjoying summer reading - it sticks.
Incidentally, I found a couple other interesting things at my parents house too.
August 6th, 2011 Brian Herzog
When I came into work one day, I was told that three people were already working on this question and no one could find an answer - we still don't have anything conclusive, so please let me know if you have any suggestions.
A student from a private school a few towns over came in to start her summer reading project. One of the books she has to read is S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders, and in addition to the typical "read and describe" work, this student's assignment also said,
...after you finished reading the book, answer the following questions. If you need help, ask the librarian at your public library for assistance.
- The Outsiders begins and ends with the same sentence - does this technique have a name, and if so, what is it?
First of all, it's great that the assignment encourages the students to seek out librarians for help - although bad in this case that we're failing her. Second, I dislike the "does this have a name, and if so, what is it?" - it makes me feel like we're not finding an answer because there isn't an answer, but I don't want to give up looking.
Anyway, of course the first thing I did was grab a copy of The Outsiders to check out the sentences (copy/pasted here courtesy of LibraryThing's Common Knowledge)
When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.
And I finally began like this: When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home...
After describing the question to me, my coworker said that they had consulted every literary dictionary and reference book in the library, and also any literary terms website they could find - but hadn't been able to find anything.
My first thought was to try the Descriptionary, which is perfectly designed for this type of question. It's a dictionary that lists information by description, rather than by word, so it lets you look something up by what it is and the book tells you what it's called. However, in this case none of the descriptions matched a story beginning and ending with the same sentence, so no luck there.
My next thought was to ask one of our library volunteers - when she's not volunteering for the library, she's a Professor of Literature in the English Department of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. If anyone would know this, she must.
Later that day I spoke to her and explained the question, and she said she had no idea. She felt that if there was a term for it, it would be a term of rhetoric, so I should search those instead of just literary terms. She also said she'd ask around the department and let me know if any of her colleagues knew.
I searched online for rhetoric terms, and found quite a few glossaries, and although many terms were extremely close, none were exactly right.
Later I heard back from the volunteer - she said that no one she spoke with could identify it, and the only suggestion anyone had, however dubious, was "circular construction." That sounds good on its face, but I couldn't find it listed in any of the glossaries I consulted.
Frustrating. This all happened on Thursday and Friday, and I haven't yet contacted the patron with an answer. So if anyone knows, please comment.
***WARNING: SPOILER ALERT***
I read The Outsiders when I was young and don't really remember it, so I was interested to learn about this first/last sentence trick in the book. The book ends with a student being assigned a writing project, and he begins his assignment by writing the first sentence of the novel. This leads to the conclusion that the novel itself was the student's assignment, which is fun because it blends reality with fiction, and turns the story into a sort of mobius strip of plot.
It also reminded me of the imagery of the snake eating its tail - which got me wondering if there is a term for that symbol. It turns out there is: Ouroboros. When I do call this student back on Monday, she'll have all kinds of paths to follow.
After getting comments on this post, I spoke with the patron by phone, and emailed her a few links. A couple weeks later, she emailed me back:
Thanks for the answer and all the hard work everyone did. I just e-mailed my teacher about the summer assignment and she said circular structure is the correct answer.
That's great - thanks for helping, everyone.
Tags: assignment, high school, homework, libraries, Library, literary, Ouroboros, public, rhtoric, rhtorical, s.e. hinton, sentence, summer reading, term, terms, the outsiders
July 7th, 2009 Brian Herzog
Two posts this weekend caught my eye, both being new (to me) ideas on serving kids and students.
The first was a New York Times article about Chegg.com, a company that rents textbooks to college students. They use the Netflix model, which makes a lot of sense for something as temporary and expensive as textbooks.
I always try to imagine the long-term implications of things. For renting textbooks, if it really takes off, it could mean that fewer will be purchased, which may cause them to get even more expensive. If it impacts the publishers' profits, it might drive them faster towards ebooks, which are much more difficult than print books to loan/rent/use for lots of DRM and format issues.
Downside to Summer Reading?
The second was an article from a mother who homeschools her children, on why she doesn't enroll them in summer reading programs. My library's summer reading program is usually elaborate, and kids have always seem to love it - participating seems to make reading more fun.
I read her article and the comments, and I still don't see a downside. Summer Reading Programs are an incentive for kids reluctant to read, and for kids that read anyway, they are still a fun way for them to get recognition. But most important, it's participating in something bigger than themselves, and reading by suggesting books along with other kids their age. It's not just about inflating circ stats or even building reading skills and habits - it's also about the social aspect of being a part of a community of people who enjoy learning and imagination.
via LISNews and Slashdot/LibraryStuff