Friday, November 19, 2010

Zeno's Projects

I was on vacation in late October and early November. Since we weren't planning any major trips, I had a list of projects to get done at home, including trying new recipes, learning new music, and selling some stuff on Ebay. However, the weather was gorgeous, and I didn't want to spend much time inside, so I concentrated on one project in our yard. I had started it in February, simply planning to prune the ivy away from a brick border during a time it was too wet to do much else. Once I got started, I discovered a lot of other over-grown things, and began to feel I'd never finish. I eventually named it Zeno's Yard Project, after the best-know of Zeno's paradoxes.

This Zeno's paradox basically says that it's impossible to get anywhere, because you always have to cover half the distance left, and then half that distance, and then half that distance, etc., etc. I was fascinated with it as a child; I remember trying to keep moving my finger smaller and smaller distances, but never touch the wall I was standing by. My Zeno Yard Project was something like that. I did finish it (after all, it is a paradox), but it involved a lot of work, and some serious sawing of 30-year-old arbor vitae and cotoneaster, not to mention pulling dried blackberry canes out of 10-foot-tall holly trees. and pulling up half-inch thick ivy vines. (For those concerned about invasive species, I'm replacing these invaders with native plants)

So what does this have to do with libraries? Well, after I got back to work, I started to notice that I've got a number of Zeno project here, too. They tend to be pretty technical services oriented, although I imagine folks in other library disicplines have them, too. Mine are usually lists (fequently in Create Lists in Millenium) of records than need to evaluated, and possibly updated or deleted. They frequently point out other problems that need to be addressed. They also typically aren't particularly high priority, so other demands take my attention away from them for months at a time.

I bet most of you out there in support staff land have similar projects. I'm not claiming to be in control of mine, but I have come up with some coping ideas:
  • Scope small: It's easier (and safer) to eat things in small bites. Don't get distracted from the thing you set out to accomplish. For instance, if your goal is to clean up check-in records, don't start cleaning up order records.
  • Harvest the low-hanging fruit: Do the easy stuff first. It's possible that will be enough.
  • Ask for help: You might need someone with different expertise to handle some of the project. Or, with a more general project, you may be able to turn it into a group event, where everyone pitches in for an hour.
  • Say "no": This is tough! If the project is really low-value and low-priority, a diplomatic "I'm sorry, but other priorities will keep me from working on this" is worth a try. (Of course, this is assuming this isn't a project that you assigned to yourself!). At the very least, asking to postpone the project, and giving a recommended date to start, may help.
We're all juggling multiple priorities in busy workplaces. Recognizing and managing Zeno projects can make our work a little easier.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Newly elected SSD officers, etc.

Hello, All,

This is my first attempt at the blog, so please bear with me.

Here forthwith are the newly elected SSD officers :

Jay Cooper (Eugene Public Library) -- Chair-elect
Margaret Harmon-Myers (Eugene Public Library) -- Archivist
Rea Andrew (Newberg Public Library) -- Treasurer
Eugene Newbill (Oregon State Library) -- Recorder

These are the latest election results, but the SSD Executive Board is also made up of the following :

Susan Bacina (Oregon State University) -- Chair
Susan Gilmont (Oregon State University) -- Past Chair
Carrol Barton (Lane Community College) -- Continuing Education Committee Chair
Lauren Mathisen (Lake Oswego Public Library) -- 2011 Conference Committee Chair
IT Team :
Sean Park (Coos County Library District) -- Web Master
Becki Roth (Multnomah County Public Library) -- Blog Master
Kate Schwab (Multnomah County Public Library) -- Facebook Master

We also have two vacant Member-at-Large positions, so if anyone out there is interested in becoming a member of our group, or knows of anyone who might be interested, please let me know.

Susan Bacina
Support Staff Division Chair

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hard Times Can Make For Good Parodies

Nobody can deny that times are hard in many ways now. The news is rarely hopeful, and most (if not all) libraries are coping with either current or upcoming budget cuts.

There's nothing funny about it. And yet humor is a valuable way to deal with tough times.

Here at the State Library, I've been writing one or two song parodies every year for performance at our winter staff party. I'm lucky that several of my co-workers are willing to get up in front of the rest of the staff and risk making fools of themselves year after year. Below, we're singing about our scheduling software, to the tune of "Ding Dong, Merrily on High"

I've found that the worse things are, the easier it is to write a parody. Last year, both H1N1 and unpaid furloughs provided inspiration.

Last week, OLA past president Connie Anderson-Cohoon forward this video to the OLA executive board

It's worth watching, despite the danger of ending up with an ear worm. These library folks are definitely using humor (and a good deal of skill and talent) to point out the importance of their services.

Do any other libraries have parody traditions, or other ways of using humor to deal with difficult realities? If so, please share!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fall is in the Air

It's late in the afternoon on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. The weather outside is warm and sunny. I'm having trouble concentrating, and looking forward to three days of leisure (well, if you consider serious yard work leisure).

I'm also feeling antsy. This happens every year in the late summer, when the morning and evening air has a distinct crispness to it, even on hot days. It means fall is coming. And, for years, that meant a new school year was coming.

I've been out of school for a heck of a long time, don't work for an academic library, have no children, and my youngest nephew is in college. Yet this time of year still brings on a slightly nervous, slightly anticipatory feeling; a combination of being afraid you won't like your new teacher (or vice versa) and excitement about wearing your new school shoes for the first time.

I think it's good that the passage and time and changes in the seasons effect us in more than intellectual ways. It's nice to feel, in addition to knowing, things.

In libraries, we know a lot of stuff. And we also know our jobs make a difference in people's lives, now and in the future. It's just as important to feel that, too; to have the deep conviction that what we do matters.

It's almost as good as new school shoes.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Wow! I really am a geek just not the techy kind. I successfully navigated through Skype and had a wonderful video conversation with Susan Gilmont. All it took was asking my IT department to download it and set up and account. How simple is that? The next step is an SSD video meeting. This is a new adventure for SSD.

Monday, August 9, 2010

SSD Board Elections

It's election time for the Support Staff Division. Visit and click on OLA Units / Divisions / Support Staff to get to the ballot. The election closes on 8/14/2010.

Thank you!
Cathy Zgraggen, SSD Past Chair

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Couple of (not necessarily related) SSD Thoughts

Thought 1: Three weeks ago, SSD gathered for its 16th conference. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Mo Cole's keynote address was full of good advice, interspersed with a lot of fun. Every session I attended was interesting, informative, and definitely worthwhile; I wish I could have gone to all of them. It was fun to be able to peak into the book repair workshop. And, as always, I enjoyed reconnecting with SSD friends I hadn't seen for awhile.

At the same time, I was a little sad. 16 years ago, the SSD conference regularly had over 200 attendees. Attendance began to drop off eventually. After one year, when we seriously considered dropping the conference entirely, we decided to down-size in order to continue the conference while still at least breaking even financially. This has served SSD well. But I hope, some day, the economy, and support for support staff, will once again allow SSD to have a larger conference.

Though 2: Several months ago, I wrote about my concern over the fact that support staff in some Oregon libraries do not receive support from their institutions to participate in OLA and SSD. At the OLA leadership retreat this past Monday, outgoing SSD chair Susan Gilmont and incoming chair Susan Bacina brought up this issue. It led to a lively discussion; I didn't attend the second day of the retreat, but I understand the discussion continued then, leading to some action items. I'll let The Susans fill us in on those.

But I do want to say how encouraging it was to hear OLA leaders strongly supporting support staff who are willing to be involved in OLA. There was no question that all who participate actively in OLA are equally valuable. I can't think of anything else to say, except "Wow!"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How to Chair a Conference in 100 Difficult steps, part one

I bet you thought I was going to say something like, "How to chair a conference in 10 easy steps", didn't you? Alas, it ain't easy, and it takes a lot more than 10 steps.
Chairing the 16th Gateways Conference for the Support Staff Division was a tremendous experience. Yeah, yeah, I know, people always say that, but it really was - tremendous, occasionally awful, stressful, gratifying, exhausting, fun; I can tell you how it feels when over 80 hungry, sleepy people find out they are not going to be fed the hot breakfast they were promised because the conference center "forgot" to arrange for it! For about 5 minutes there I teetered between throwing up and bursting into tears. But I had an empty stomach, so nothing to throw up, and had sweated out every drop of moisture, so no tears were forthcoming. I suppose that was a good thing. Everyone was looking to me to do something and I realized that I was not alone: I had a past conference chair beside me who stepped up to help, and I had a radio! All I had to do was turn it on, push in a button and say "Al, where's our breakfast?" Unfortunately, although Al came at a run, he had no solution to offer, having no breakfast crew available and not enough time to cook a breakfast even if he had. We eventually got some food, cold and meager as it was. But nobody starved. I found myself in an odd mood of fatalism - and I just rode it along on autopilot. Many wonderful people worked together to make the day an ultimate success, and after all, as someone said, once started the conference just takes on a life of its own and will not be stopped. It did, it wasn't, and hopefully most attendees got what they wanted from it and left satisfied. My mantra became, to quote Keynote Speaker Maureen "Mo" Cole, "It's not about you," or rather me.
More to come.....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finding Your Voice

In late June, I came down with an obnoxious summer cold. After a couple of days, I completely lost of my voice, and couldn't speak above a whisper for the better part of 5 days. For a motor-mouth like me, this was a big deal. It was tolerable at home (although the cat wasn't convinced I was really one of his people). It was weirder at work: I couldn't change my voice mail greeting, had to answer the phone whispering "This Jey. I have laryngitis", and couldn't take part in informal over-the-cube-wall chats. But it was worst going out in public. I avoided to going shopping, even to the grocery store, and used self-check-out so I wouldn't have to try to talk.

In other words, it was an isolating experience, and made me feel conspicuous and uncomfortable. It gave me more empathy with those who, for reasons of disability, language, etc., have barriers to communication in their everyday lives - especially when those barriers aren't going to go away like my laryngitis did.

It also made me think about the importance of finding and using your voice, whatever it is. It may be speaking, writing, singing, painting, cooking, or gardening. It may be acting as the enthusiastic leader or the energetic follower. It may be speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves, or bringing up the difficult topics when no one else will.

And it may be acting as the positive person who brings encouragement and hope during tough times.

We all have opportunities to find and use our voice in our libraries and our personal lives. We're lucky to work in a field that values diverse voices.

I'm looking forward to seeing many of you and hearing your voices at the SSD conference next week!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SSD breaks ground on Youtube!

Greetings fellow support staff. Please take 1-1/2 minutes out you schedule and click on the attached video link. It just might be the best investment of your time you make today!

Feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments or interest at

Thank you,
Cathy Zgraggen
Deschutes Public Library

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Haunted Library

I work in a building that was built in 1939. As I mentioned in a previous post, it's a beautiful building. It does, however, have closed stacks that can be seriously creepy to work in. Not surprisingly, there have been rumors around for a long time that the library is haunted.

I'm a skeptic myself. The only person I've talked to who claimed to have seen something mysterious was a renovation worker who was running a jack hammer alone in the stacks at 2:00 a.m.; sounds to me like enough to make anyone hallucinate. Not that stacks aren't scary at time. Footsteps on the floor above sound disturbingly like they're on the floor you're on, which can lead to the feeling that someone invisible is walking towards, then through, you. It's also possible to be fairly close to someone else in the stacks, but not realize they're there because you can't see them.

If the library was haunted, though, I like to think that it would be a benevolent haunting. Maybe Cornelia Marvin, the first Oregon State Librarian, is still hanging around, making sure we're staying true to her vision for libraries in Oregon. Maybe a voracious reader from years past is attempting the impossible task for reading everything on our shelves. Maybe employees from long ago, with the insatiable curiosity that's common among library folks, are eagerly watching us adapt new technology.

Yes, I'm a skeptic, but I have no problem thinking that the library I work in is strengthened by all those who have gone before me - even if they're not still hanging out in the stacks.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"What a Good Idea!"

Here at Eugene Public Library we have a fun, helpful practice of morning and evening P.A. announcements. Remember from your school days those reminders that let students know about upcoming events? Well, here staff receives a musical reminder that the library is opening in 5 minutes (action stations!), including "Here comes the sun" and currently "Morning has Broken". And about 10 minutes before closing the public is alerted with a song to start packing up and checking out materials . Staff can make suggestions about songs to use and periodically the songs are changed. We've had Sound of Music's "So long, farewell" for example and right now it's "Happy Trails" which sets some people laughing and sends public and staff off lighthearted.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gateways Conference is sweet 16!

It's hard to believe that the Support Staff conference has been happening since 1994. Get ready to come celebrate with your peers from around the state on Friday, July 23rd at the Salem Conference Center. Attend great sessions including "Treasures from the Vault - Special Collections"; "On the Front Lines: Support Staff and Intellectual Freedom"; "Author Author: Support Staff Writers", and more. Or sign up for the all day Book Mending Workshop.
Great food, Gift Basket raffles, Keynote speaker Maureen Cole - Director of Oregon City Library, a display of the history of OLA's Support Staff Division all await you.
See you there!
Margaret Harmon-Myers, Conference Committee Chair

Friday, May 28, 2010

Seeing through a visitor's eyes

Sometimes first time visitors to my library comment on how beautiful it is and I smile, say thank you or some such and immediately think of all the ways the architecture is unsuitable to a library setting. There's the dim lighting over reference desks and much of the stacks. The open, circular staircase in the center of the building which allows sound to travel from first floor to the floors above, sound that can be cacophonous with crying kids and loud cell phone users. The shortened open third floor allows sound to spill over into sections of the second floor disturbing those patrons who are studying or reading; and of course second floor noise carries up to the quiet areas on the third floor.

Well, the other day my perspective changed when before the library opened a coworker beckoned me out to the public area on the second floor and pointed to the windows at one end of the building. There I saw what I hardly pay attention to, something visitors notice, and it filled me with joy. Spring green trees framed in the morning light by the stained glass windows that reach straight up from second floor to third. It was breathtaking.

Over the next few days I looked around at the rest of the library differently. I stood in the circular tiled rotunda looking at the smooth polished wood framing the curves of the central stairs, up, up to the far domed skylight on the 4th floor. From the magazine area on the second floor I saw the rich red wood of the third floor ceiling, curved in a wave pattern. The two oversized carved chairs - usable art pieces. I'm with the patrons - I think it's all beautiful.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Enthusiasm: it's not just for kids

I work at the Oregon State Library. Because of both our mission and the architecture of our 70+-year-old building, we're a little different from most other libraries in the state.

One of my occasional duties is giving library tours. They're generally for state employees, or for visitors from other libraries. However, this week, I gave an hour-long tour to a group of 20 5th graders. The kids, from Chenowith Elementary School in The Dalles, were very well-behaved and interested. But what struck me most about them was their enthusiasm.

Not that the adults who tour the State Library aren't enthusiastic. They like learning about the history of the building, and enjoy the behind-the-scenes trip into our warehouse-like closed stacks.

The elementary school visitors liked those things, too, and asked good questions. But they liked pretty much everything else, too. They were impressed that our federal documents collection includes a game to educate kids about the danger of underage alcohol use. They were interested in the genealogy research folks can do in our Reference Room. They were impressed with the Talking Book and Braille Program. They paid attention and asked good questions. They liked our heavy bronze doors, and even thought getting to ride in the freight elevator was cool.

After they left, I started thinking about enthusiasm, how important it is for positive attitude, but how elusive it sometimes is. I probably sometimes sound like Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Don't try to engage my enthusiasm, because I haven't got one."

However, the kids were right. Our building is beautiful, the collection is full of treasures, and even the freight elevator can be kind of fun. I see it all every day, so I start taking it all for granted.

So, to engage my enthusiasm, I'll start paying more attention to things I see every day.

If you'd like to highlight cool stuff that you see every day at your library, post an comment!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bright Ideas

In our library, we collect almost 40 different newspapers, from all over Oregon, in addition to the New York Times, the Seattle Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The retention varies for some, but we generally keep a year’s worth of papers in our stacks. These papers are stacked in piles on the outer wall of one of our tiers of stacks. Every month, it is necessary to weed the oldest issues. It is a rather exhausting task, especially when you have to lift up piles of heavy newspapers again and again to check the dates. Finding where the oldest month ends can be rather difficult, especially when each newspaper puts the issue date in a different area of the cover. It is almost as if newspaper businesses made a pact to keep things interesting for people in libraries! Personally, when I am completing a task that requires a lot of exertion, my mind constantly thinks of ways to make it easier. I thought, “What is the most difficult part of this?” Shifting the piles takes physical effort, but there is not a lot of struggling involved. Lifting stacks of issues over and over, however, can be very frustrating.

Then it hit me! Why not turn the newspapers sideways, alternating direction for each month? This would work with daily papers and those published less frequently. I would simply turn every four issues a different way for a weekly, every 30 or so for a monthly, etc. This made it much easier to grab the entire pile. Of course, I double check the issue date on the top and bottom, but I don’t have to “guess and check” to find where one month ends and the other one starts. Genius! Of course, I didn’t personally come up with this pile alternating procedure, as you see it with stacks of paperwork all the time. But the idea of applying it to the newspaper stacks did come to me (eventually…). So I am not trying to “toot my own horn” but simply to say, even if it takes a while to think of it, a good idea is still a good idea. And now, I often have someone else to do the big monthly weeding, so it is even easier for me (because I don’t have to do it very often!) Regardless, when I do perform this task, it will be much easier than it was before. Does anyone else have a bright idea that you or your organization have put into practice?

Jessica Rondema

Oregon State Library

Friday, April 2, 2010

Support for Professional Activities

In a recent post on this blog, SSD Past Chair Cathy Zgraggen solicits nominations for SSD officers for the coming membership year. In Library Journal's Paraprofessional of the Year award article , award winner Allison Sloan credits a former boss with encouraging her to become involved in the Massachusetts Library Association.

Unfortunately, the current economy may have created conditions in which may be difficult for support staff to participate in professional activities. Recently, some SSD members with an impressive history of involvement in the organization have been unable to continue that involvement. This makes me both sad and worried.

I certainly understand libraries are trying to do way more with considerably less these days, and that giving staff time off for professional activities can make it difficult to provide the service patrons expect and deserve.

I don't know if MLS librarians are having the same experience of no longer being supported in their professional activities. I'd like to think that it's spread over all levels of staff, but suspect that support staff are more likely to be effected.

I've been lucky to to have significant support from my library for my involvement in OLA. I know it has, at times, taken me away from my usual job duties for significant amounts of time. Yet I also know that I'm a better employee because of the opportunities for growth I've had by being involved in OLA and SSD.

There's no easy answer to this problem. But here are a few suggestions:

For managers: Make sure you're treating staff at all levels fairly regarding support for professional activities. Be flexible. Realize that your staff will have opportunities to learn and network, which will make them better employees.

For support staff: Make sure your boss and co-workers know how much time you may be spending on professional activities, and what you'll be doing. Be flexible. Be willing to do some professional activities on your own time.

Professional organizations like OLA depend on the participation of their members. Let's hope that we'll continue to receive the support we need to make that participation possible.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nominate yourself for an SSD position on the Board

Please consider nominating yourself or someone else (with their express permission) for a position on the Oregon Library Association / Support Staff Division Board. The election is in July at the SSD annual conference. You may be asking, “Why am I sending out a call for nominations so early?” This will provide you time to get approval from your supervisor or manager. The positions are:

· Chair-Elect – 1 year term, acts as Chair the following 1 year term, acts as Past Chair for a 1 year term
· Recorder – 1 year term
· Treasurer – 2 year term
· Archivist – 1 year term

You may be wondering just what the Support Staff Division is. Our bylaws state:

The purpose of the Support Staff Division shall be to provide a framework for information sharing, continuing education and moral support for all library support staff. Specifically, the aims are to provide a forum to encourage new ideas, discuss concerns and solve problems; promote awareness of library issues; inspire and promote professional growth through networking, conferences, workshops and mentoring; exchange ideas on processes, systems, and policies; provide a medium for the exploration of new ideas and technologies; foster cooperation among all Oregon libraries in all the various public and technical areas throughout the library; and to increase awareness in the library community of the evolving roles played by support staff.

Position descriptions per our bylaws are as follows:

Duties of the Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect
Assumes the office of Chair after one year as Vice Chair.
Assists the Chair; becomes familiar with the By-laws and procedures of the Association and Division. Attends meetings and chairs meetings in the absence of the Chair.
Duties of the Treasurer
Has approval authority for all expenditures below $250.00. Obtains signature of Division Chair for all expenditures above $250.00 (two signatures are necessary for expenditures above $250.00). Submits bills and receipts to OLA Treasurer.
Maintains records of all expenditures and profits for the Division.
Duties of the Recorder
Records minutes of the Division's Executive Committee Meetings.
Assures each Executive Committee member receives copies of the meeting minutes before the next meeting.
Duties of the Archivist
Maintains all historical data, scrapbook and photo album of SSD conference and other events, including keeping conference programs and accompanying material.

Thank you!

Cathy Zgraggen
Supervisor, La Pine Public Library
Deschutes Public Library

Know More.

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Praise of Ambiguity

In the library world, and particularly in Technical Services, we've got a reputation for being very literal, even unimaginative. Of course, we all know that we're really outside-the-box people with big imaginations and hearty senses of humor.

Fortunately, our work life provides us with the occasional giggle.

This morning, I made a note on the back of an old catalog card from a stash that we use for scratch paper. As I sometimes to, I turned the card over to see the title. It was the wonderfully ambiguous Fighting with Food. You can come up with all sorts of things that it could be about! Knowing that it was published by the U.S. government in 1918, I can infer that it was something about the war effort in World War I, but it still gives me a chuckle.

My previous favorite ambiguous title was 1958 Fish Stockings by Watersheds. I know it's about stocking fish in different areas of Oregon, but it conjures up an image of fish trying to pull stockings over their fins.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Be a Better You: Advancing Your Career through Certification - session at PLA

Those interested in certification may be interested in this session at the PLA conference in Portland.


Be a Better You: Advancing Your Career through Certification

Friday, March 26 8:30 - 9:45 A.M.

Room: Oregon Convention Center – E141-144
• Nancy Bolt
Consultant, Nancy Bolt and Associates
• Peg Hooper
Branch Director, Jefferson County Library-Golden Branch
• Bryan Fearn
Reference Librarian, Henderson District Public Libraries
• June Kruer
Branch Manager, Charlestown-Clark County Libraries
• Dorothy Morgan
Business Manager, Liverpool Public Library

Let's take conference learning beyond the closing session! There are hundreds of professional development opportunities for librarians and support staff! During this session we will talk about how to choose programs that are right for you right now and long term. We will also explore national and regional certification programs with your colleagues who are participating and how they relate to state certifications.

Benefits and Learning Objectives
• Participants will be able to link their professional development with their career goals.
• Participants will learn tools for selecting conference, workshop and course participation.
• Participants will understand the ALA/ALA-APA certifications for librarians and support staff.

Long-term followers of the national library support staff scene may recall that among her many awards, Dorothy Morgan is the 1997 winner of COLT’s Outstanding Support Staff of the Year award, 2000/2001 president of ALA’s Library Support Staff Interests Round Table, and 2005 winner of the Dynix ALA-APA Award for Outstanding Promotion of the Salaries and Status of Library Workers. And, of course, Nancy Bolt is one of the program managers for the Library Support Staff Certification program.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Jey's Favorite Reads for Stressful Times

For the past few weeks, everyone I've talked to in the Oregon library world has been feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. I'm not sure what combination of events is causing this (although I'm sure the economy is one of them), but it seems to be hitting all kinds of staff and all kinds of libraries.

We're all familiar with the standard advice for dealing with stressful times, so I won't repeat it here (especially since it usually doesn't include baking & eating chocolate chip cookies). However, one of the things I find useful during tough times is re-reading a favorite book. Or two. Or three. Here are a few of my favorites. Please post your own! We could develop a whole De-Stressing Bibliography!

Any of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. Extremely well-written and intricately plotted. I always end up wishing Sayers hadn't given up writing mysteries for more scholarly pursuits.

The Moonstone by William Wilkie Collins. One of the very first mystery novels, and a heck of a lot of fun. The plot is complicated, but the narration, from the point of view of a number of different characters, is wonderful, and absolutely hilarious in places. The authors other mysteries ramble on a bit, but I'm always sad to get to the end of this one.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. I'm a big Willis fan, and this is my favorite. It's a hilarious, intricate time travel novel. It's even funnier if you've also read The Doomsday Book, which is an intense page-turner, but with a darker theme.

Ursula LeGuin is also one of my favorite authors. My favorite re-reads are The Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven. Like most of LeGuin's work, these books explore complex social and philosophical topics in an elegant and compelling way. The Left Hand of Darkness is also good to read during a heat wave, since it's also so cold in the novel.

Here's hoping our stress levels will be going down soon. Bring on the good books and chocolate chip cookies!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

SSD Presence: Facebook

We've had a blog developed for us, established a Flickr account, we are on the web at and now we are looking at joining the world of Facebook. Establishing these virtual identities is not an easy task. Several people share words of wisdom or post articles on the blog however most of the updating falls to 1 person: Sarah Cunningham. And she needs HELP! Would someone like to try their hand at maintaining our Facebook presence? The idea is to share the wealth! How about it? Contact me: if you'd like to take on this fun and rewarding task.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Expecting the unexpected

It's a new year and a new decade, and an obvious time for reflecting on the past and thinking about the future.

Whatever we end up calling the decade of the 2000s, nobody can deny that it was an eventful 10 years. Though it started out quietly, despite fears of the Y2K-induced end of civilization as we know it, the decade quickly shaped up to be eventful in ways we'd just as soon avoid. For most of us, these things were totally unexpected.

As we look ahead to the next 10 years, it's easy to feel gloomy thinking about the unexpected things that might happen. However, unexpected doesn't have to mean bad.

For me, the 2000s brought the unexpected opportunity to re-connect with the great folks in SSD. I expect SSD to continue to do great things in this decade, and look forward to the unexpected ones with eager anticipation. Our libraries are all facing the usual challenges, exacerbated by the economy. Yet delightful, expected good things are bound to happen.

I don't want to sound all Polly-Anna-ish and say that nothing bad will happen, but it's important to remember and anticipate the good stuff, too.

So: best wishes for the new decade, and keep your eyes open for unexpected treasurers.