Monthly Archives: September 2012

So Many Books

My life in a 20 foot truck

This weekend, I moved about 90% of my stuff from the house that I lived in for 23 years to the house that my husband and I have been building for the past 11 years and have finally committed to finishing and living in.  We must have had over 35 boxes of books.  I was amused when a friend said to me, “But you have so many books…” and she’s an English teacher!

My husband is a former art teacher, so many of the books were large art books.  I am an amateur digital photographer and I collect books of photography, particularly of New York City, my old home town.  There are many books from my Sociology degree (who knows – I may go back to teaching it one day), books by my favourite authors, even books from my childhood that I can’t bear to throw out.  I am a chronic re-reader; I don’t mind knowing how the story ends because I like going back to places that I have enjoyed.  I can put up with Jane Eyre’s trials and tribulations because the language is so beautiful and I know that it’s all going to work out for her in the end.

The books you own that live on the shelves and adorn the walls of your home tell who you are and what your life has been like.  An e-reader can do many things for you in that it’s portable and the new retina display will make pictures glow, but it doesn’t look as nice on a coffee table as a book.  It can’t make a home feel cozy and it can’t make a home feel lived-in like a nice wall of books.

As a librarian, I am thrilled to be able to have the skills to put my hands on just the right information source for a patron in a matter of minutes and sometimes, even seconds, thanks to the Internet.  Of course, many librarians were able to do that with the books in their own library. Yet print has its advantages, even if it’s not speedy.

Printed books are subversive in that they are private.  You can buy a book and pass it around a hundred times.  Unlike e-readers, no publisher comes down on a library for loaning out a print copy of The Hunger Times a hundred or even a thousand times. I think that if the economy doesn’t kill print material altogether, it will still be around fifty years from now because people will love print for its own sake.  I don’t think that it will be an antique format either, but I certainly hope that it’s not a premium source of literature or information, only available to those who can afford it.

Moving all those books was a big pain, but once I’ve had the joy of arranging them, they will continue to be my companions for years to come, and I will be happy to have them.  On the other hand, I welcome the dawn of the e-reader and hope that over the next few years, bugs of copyright and accessibility will be worked out quickly and smoothy.  It’s not a question of all or nothing; it never is.


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Thought For Today – Keep Calm

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Get Them Reading With Great Library Displays

I have to be the least artsy-craftsy person on the planet.  This is why I tended to take the easy way out back when I was a high school librarian. I would go all out for Freedom to Read Week.  Yet when it came to the rest of the year, I dutifully displayed new books on the circulation desk and I had a cart with six blue plastic tubs that I used to display books relating to current research projects.  I had one easel for which I put up posters relating to holidays or monthly themes.  No, I didn’t score big points for imagination.  I was intimidated by anything visual – words have always been my thing.

Now I know that there are librarians out there who do have superior display skills and do it without great financial outlay. For example to the left is a very attractive display on myths from one of our high school libraries, Alexander Galt Regional High School.  Judith Munger and Dale Davidson use sheets of coloured plastic  to cover their small platforms that create levels in the display.  They often feature student artwork too. The use of the monitor above the table to display a graphic web site related to the theme is very effective.

If you’re like me and have real difficulty seeing yourself creating eye-catching displays, remember that librarians love  to share their good ideas on their blogs and Pinterest sites.  I wish that I’d know about them a few years back.

First of all, there’s a great list of library display sites at the blog, Infomania, at It lists some great Pinterest sites.  I had a look at a few and if you want to go further than apples for September, this is the place to go.  Since I’ve become a fan of Pinterest, I’ve found it a very good way to recommend books and library posters.  The graphic nature of Pinterest makes it perfect for finding library display ideas.

I spent quite a bit of time looking at Fran Bullington’s Pinterest site, Library Displays and BB, which I take to mean Bulletin Board,

Another great site is Library Displays for Inspiration, Creativity and Ideas,  While there is a gallery of pictures, this site provides tips for planning your year of displays and general tips for what makes a good display, such as using only 2-3 colours, using repetition, and knowing when to stop.

One of my favourite ideas that seems to be going around library sites on Pinterest is displays of “Books From The Bottom of the Shelves”, for example, the post from Tommy Kovac’s wonderful library blog, “smells like library”, I always love ideas to get kids to take out books that become hidden on the shelves.

So if imaginative displays aren’t your forté,  as it surely isn’t mine, have a look at these sites or search Library Displays on Google or Pinterest.  These displays are great ways to get kids to pick up a book, thumb through it, and sign it out.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you have other good links.

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A Thought about Bullying

If you’ve been a victim of bullying, you carry the scars.  That’s why it’s important to let kids know that adults do NOT think that being bullied is a normal part of childhood.  Smoking is no longer cool, and neither is bullying; it never was.

This wonderful picture is going around Facebook and I think it’s important to share on my blog. It’s from

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Click on these sites for dystopian fiction lists

Dystopian fiction for young adults

What is it about teenagers and dystopian fiction?  Long before the Hunger Games movie came out, the teenaged members of the book club in my former school library nagged me incessantly, “Have you read The Hunger Games yet, Miss?”  “Twilight sucks! Don’t waste your time!  Read The Hunger Games!”

Admittedly, not every kid said this.  I had one or two Twilight devotees.  Vampires really do have an attraction for many of us, but anyone who has a bit of imagination and is a reader loves to imagine a world gone wrong and loves to cheer on that hero or heroine who wants to do something about it.

This year, the Quebec Library Association posted a list of newer dystopian novels that you might want to consider buying for your collection.  Moreover, Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger Games, gave a very positive review to The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch,

These books are sure to both delight and depress your avid readers.

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September 4, 2012 · 3:53 pm