What waits for librarians when they return from holidays.

After a much-needed week in the Green Mountains with my family and enjoying the beauty of Lake Champlain,  much waits me upon my return to my library.


My UPS delivery fellow,  Mr. Brown,  brought me 9 boxes of newly released books from Baker and Taylor , as well as a number of new talking books on CD from Micro Marketing. Then, there was the state of my desk and the mail which arrived during my time away.  Composing  the annual report. Finalizing the Fall newsletter for publication. Drafting  the Board of Trustees annual fundraising letter.  Preparing for meetings. Negotiating contracts.  The life of a library director never stops. However, it was delightful to have a short break and rejuvenate myself.

Summer plans…version 2013

What are you planning for your upcoming summer? Traveling? Family reunions? Summer Camp? Summer reading?

disneycastleWith the end of the school year around the corner, the Potwins have a few plans ahead of them. A short get away to Disney is definitely in the cards. One last pilgrimage to the Land of the Mouse before the crowds get too cumbersome, as well as the Florida humidity rises to similar levels found only in the thickest portion of the Amazon Jungle.

Since both Mr. Potwin and I will be working most of the summer, preparing forlakechamplain the coming school year as well as shuttling between summer camps, travel will be limited. Sadly our annual ( and relaxing) Vermont fishing trip will not happen, much to the collective relief of all bass fish in Lake Champlain.

Much of my reading will be centered around many of the titles on the newly announced Sunshine flwinnState list, in addition to my course work reading about Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. This preparatory reading will help me better understand the lessons during my National Endowment for the Humanities – Landmarks in American History grant. In mid July, I will be traveling to Iowa to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and writings. Thank you NEH for selecting me as part of your program.  Thankfully, I am attending  the American Library Association conference. Woohie!  chicagoala The annual ALA conference will beheld this year in one of my favorite city’s , Chicago, home of the ALA (and Intelligensia Coffee– yummie! ). With luck, I will be able to meetup with my two rockstar librarian idols…Nancy Pearl and Sarah Houghton.

easy-to-make-christmas-ornaments-simple-craftsTime off will be spend with Eoin, traveling to local museums , reading and doing arts and crafts. Normally, we work on our Christmas crafts in the summer months, as that December is too busy a month to fully enjoy the intricate nuances of glue and glitter and paint and fun foam.  We are eagerly awaiting the release of the diary_of_a_wimpy_kid_ver84th Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie this August as that Eoin and I are reading Jeff Kinney’s books in tandem. The reality of my son turning 8 years old this summer is shocking; my baby was just born, or so it seems, and now he is a healthy and active 8 year old who loves to read, count everything, thinks math is the coolest subject, wants to be a football player/ restauranteur/teacher/Lego brick designer. Where did the time go?

University of Alberta’s New Chief Librarian

rutherford southBeginning August 1st, 2013,  Gerald Beasley will be responsible for Canada’s second largest university library collection: the University  of Alberta’s library 5 million holdings at nine locations, as well as for its museums and collections, university bookstores, university archives, and the U of A Press.  In recent years, Gerald Beasley has been a star librarian at Concordia University in Montreal and Columbia University in New York, two of the most exciting, culturally vibrant cities in North America. Among his many accomplishments, he helped shape Concordia’s academic mission and assisted in planning extensive renovations of the university’s libraries, set to begin later this year.

“Under the inspired leadership of Ernie Ingles, the U of A has really promoted and developed its library system in a way that is unique within Canada,” says Beasley. “Of all the places you could mention, the U of A has shown real leadership in supporting its libraries, and that’s very attractive.”

In 1994 he emigrated to Canada, taking on a position at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal where he served ten years, the last five as chief librarian. Between 2004 and 2008, he headed up the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, before returning to Montreal to lead Concordia University Libraries.

At Concordia he introduced or improved several notable library services, including enhanced study space and 24-hour access to both campus libraries, free laptop and tablet loans, a mobile-friendly library website and a new course reserves service. Throughout his career, he’s also amassed an impressive list of publications and presentations, mostly on rare books and architectural collections.

uofalogoWelcome to being a Golden Bear, Mr. Beasley.

as found http://news.ualberta.ca/newsarticles/2013/may/new-vice-provost

Libraries, Hackspaces and E-waste: how libraries can be the hub of a young maker revolution

How libraries can be the hub of a young maker revolution? What is the role of   libraries in the 21st century? The following is  an except from  Canadian author Cory Doctorow’s blog entry for Raincoast Publishing, to celebrate Freedom to Read Week, 2013.

Every discussion of libraries in the age of austerity always includes at least one blowhard who opines, “What do we need libraries for? We’ve got the Internet now!”


The problem is that Mr. Blowhard has confused a library with a book depository. Now, those are useful, too, but a library isn’t just (or even necessarily) a place where you go to get books for free. Public libraries have always been places where skilled information professionals assisted the general public with the eternal quest to understand the world. Historically, librarians have sat at the coalface between the entire universe of published material and patrons, choosing books with at least a colorable claim to credibility, carefully cataloging and shelving them, and then assisting patrons in understanding how to synthesize the material contained therein.

Libraries have also served as community hubs, places where the curious, the scholarly, and the intellectually excitable could gather in the company of one another, surrounded by untold information-wealth, presided over by skilled information professionals who could lend technical assistance where needed. My own life has included many protracted stints in libraries — for example, I dropped out of high-school when I was 14 took myself to Toronto’s Metro Reference Library and literally walked into the shelves at random, selected the first volume that aroused my curiosity, read it until it suggested another line of interest, then chased that one up. When I found the newspaper microfilm, I was blown away, and spent a week just pulling out reels at random and reading newspapers from the decades and centuries before, making notes and chasing them up with books. We have a name for this behavior today, of course: “browsing the Web.” It was clunkier before the Web went digital, but it was every bit as exciting.


That is to say that society has never needed its librarians, and its libraries, more. The major life-skill of the information age is information literacy, and no one’s better at that than librarians. It’s what they train for. It’s what they live for.

But there’s another gang of information-literate people out there, a gang who are a natural ally of libraries and librarians: the maker movement. Clustered in co-operative workshops called “makerspaces” or “hack(er)spaces,” makers build physical stuff. They make robots, flying drones, 3D printers (and 3D printed stuff), jewelry, tools, printing presses, clothes, medieval armor… Whatever takes their fancy. Making in the 21st century has moved out of the individual workshop and gone networked. Today’s tinkerer work in vast, distributed communities where information sharing is the norm, where the ethics and practices of the free/open source software movement has gone physical.

At first blush, the connection between makers and libraries might be hard to see. But one of the impacts of building your own computing devices (a drone, a 3D printer, and a robot are just specialized computers in fancy cases) is that it forces you to confront the architecture and systems that underlie your own information consumption. Savvy librarians will know that our access to networked information is mediated by dozens of invisible sources, from the unaccountable search algorithms that determine our starting (and often, ending) points, to the equally unaccountable censoring network “filters” that arbitrarily block whole swathes of the Internet, to underlying hardware and operating system constraints and choices that make certain kinds of information easy to consume, and other kinds nearly impossible.


Damn right libraries shouldn’t be book-lined Internet cafes. They should be book-lined, computer-filled information-dojos where communities come together to teach each other black-belt information literacy, where initiates work alongside noviates to show them how to master the tools of the networked age from the bare metal up.

Cory Doctorow

February 24, 2013

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

as cited from  Cory Doctorow’s blog entry on http://www.raincoast.com/blog/details/guest-post-cory-doctorow-for-freedom-to-read-week/

Dead Writers Perfume


J.T. Siems of Seattle-based perfume company Sweet Tea Apothecary has formulated Dead Writers Perfume, a unisex blend that “evokes the feeling of sitting in an old library chair paging through yellowed copies of Hemingway, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Poe, and more.” The copy further reads, it “makes you want to put on a kettle of black tea and curl up with your favorite book.”

This bottle contains black tea, vetiver, clove, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, and tobacco.

Oh dear. I think that someone’s creativity has gone too far.

as cited http://laughingsquid.com/dead-writers-perfume/

Reasons to be thankful

20121111-153649.jpgWith many reasons to be thankful,  I find myself recalling how busy the past few weeks have been.    Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School  has been celebrating the newly released Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, we hosted the Overdrive Digital Bookmobile.  Also, we are preparing for the upcoming Holiday Bookfair, to begin Friday November 30th…above all, I am thankful for the many parent volunteers who get involved in our school school activities and help promote literacy amongst our children.  We have parents who help supervise events, set up book sale shelves, hand out prizes, bake treats and serve them to our children, re-shelve  library books, sign items in and out in our automated system, process new items….all in the name of supporting the library and  our literacy based activities.

Thank you to all our Mums and Dads and Grandmums and Grand Dads and family members who get involved. You are appreciated. I am thankful for your support.

Why Neil Gaiman is my hero.

Another reason I have a geek crush on Neil Gaiman, kid lit author…

“Most people don’t realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn’t value its librarians doesn’t value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”―Neil Gaiman

Sigh. Thank you. Thank you.

Worst degree…I think not……

Below is an article  published by Valerie Strauss, education reporter for the Washington Post,  as a response to a recent Forbes.com poll,   stating that a Masters degree in Library and  Information Sciences  (MLIS)  is the worst degree a student can achieve.

Personally, I hold a MLIS from an accredited American Library Association  school ( one of the top five in North America).  While I do not make a top salary, in comparison to say a computer scientist or  biomedical researcher,  I do  have a huge amount of job satisfaction.  My position allows me to touch people’s lives everyday to make a difference in their world, to encourage their children to be great readers and understand the world around them.  This joy is immeasurable, thank you very much.

Thank you to Maureen Sullivan, President of the American Library Association,  for standing up and defending our profession.  We are more than  old dusty librarians   from yester year.  We are a profession in need of people with tech skills,  communication skills, marketing skills etc.  We work in traditional setting such as schools and public libraries, though we also work  for corporations, for vendors, for media outlets etc.  We write  code and design websites, manage data and yes, some of us still shelve books.  We are not the traditional stereotype.

Worst degree?  The best profession…!

The worst master’s degree?
By Valerie Strauss

American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan was not amused by Forbes’ recent designation of the library and information science degree as the worst master’s for a student to pursue.

 In this Forbes.com post , master’s degrees were rated based on salary, employment outlook and long-term opportunities.

Programs that train physicians’ assistants were No. 1 on the “best” list; computer science, second; electrical engineering, third. Leading the “worst” list was library and information science; English was second and music, third.

The rankings are like many others: They should be taken with little more than a grain of salt. As Sullivan notes, one notable item missing from the criteria is a little thing called job satisfaction.

Sullivan took issue with the top “worst” ranking for a number of reasons. Here’s her statement:

Recently, Forbes.com wrote: “…the low pay rank and estimated growth rank make library and information science the worst master’s degree for jobs right now.” It is true that many librarians are not paid for the full value of their work. The profit-centered, corporation-based measures valued by Forbes suggest that pay rates and growth are the only valid reasons for selecting a career or seeking an advanced degree.

While it is true that for some individuals these factors are the principal focus, for librarians the primary motivation is job satisfaction derived from the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of others.

Librarians find fulfillment in their work because they provide essential services for patrons of public, school, college, university and other libraries. The range of services they offer matter greatly to their communities: assistance finding jobs; free, reliable and organized access to books, the Internet and other sources of information and entertainment; research and reference assistance; and, programs for children, immigrants and other groups with specific needs, plus much more.

In more than 16,000 public libraries across the U.S, librarians offer a lifeline to people trying to adapt to challenging economic circumstances by providing technology training and online resources for employment, access to government resources, continuing education, retooling for new careers and starting a small business. More than 74 percent of libraries offer software and other resources to help patrons create resumes and employment materials, and 72 percent of libraries report that staffs help patrons complete online job applications. Libraries have also fueled renewed interest in and use of library services. Americans are capitalizing on free access to books, magazines, e-books, DVDs, the Internet and professional assistance. More than ever, libraries are community hubs, and it is the librarian who works to maintain a safe harbor for teens, a point of contact for the elderly and a place to nurture lifelong learning for all.

In schools across the country, librarians support teaching by providing students access to the tools and resources necessary to gain 21st century learning and digital literacy skills to enable them to compete in a global economy. Librarians are teaching students how to navigate the Internet and how to conduct research. They foster a love of reading and prepare them for college, where specialized academic and research librarians then continue to support and guide their education.

You don’t have to look far to find a librarian. There are more than 135,000 librarians working in schools, public libraries and colleges and universities – plus thousands more in hospitals, law firms, government agencies, corporations and nonprofit organizations. From the Chicago Symphony to Columbia University to Entertainment Weekly, there is a diverse range of career opportunities for these graduates. Librarianship remains a dynamic and rewarding career choice ranging from teaching information literacy skills to digitizing and archiving rare collections to selecting the winning Newbery Medal book for children.

Graduates of master’s of library and information science programs (now frequently known as “information schools” or “I-schools”) have training in a range of competencies that can be successfully applied not only in librarianship, but also to careers in other fields.

So, if you are looking for a rewarding career that will enable you to make a significant difference in the lives of others and contribute to the health and well-being of our communities (while providing a comfortable standard of living), a master’s degree in library and information science is an excellent choice.”

Maureen Sullivan, president

American Library Association

as cited from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-worst-masters-degree/2012/07/08/gJQAfm6BXW_blog.html#pagebreak