A bunny bag sits on a shelf. Others sit below it.
Everything, Libraries, Poetry, Writing

A Journey to Tiny Hands

A lone bag slouches on a shelf.A bunny bag sits on a shelf. Others sit below it.

Filled with books, all ready for tiny hands.

It sits.

And sits.

And waits.

A lone being approaches the bag, smiling.

It lifts the bag and brings it to a cart.

It’s filled with other, bigger bags.

A day passes.

The bags wait.

The being returns and moves the cart to a vehicle

Where it loads the bags and cart.

The vehicle moves for what seems like ages.

It stops.

The being is back, and it lifts the bag and carries it into a house.

After some time, the tiny hands appear.

Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, too many to count.

They empty the bag.

Waiting to be refilled, it sits on the floor, satisfied that it has brought the books to the tiny hands.

A month passes.

The being returns.

The bag is refilled,

Reset in the vehicle,

Transported home,

Cleaned, and set on the shelf

Where it will wait for the next being who will transport it to new sets of tiny hands.

Everything, GA Adventures, Grad School, Libraries

GA Adventures – Reflection: November 2015

This is a reflection I’ve written for the Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement Scholars I work with. Read my introduction to these here, and read the original post here.


Part A – How do you see yourself incorporating the principles we went over during the reflection into your daily lives or into your service hours?

Part B – Also, take time to reflect on ways you see power in organizational settings you participate in and the implications of that on communities and individuals.


November’s training (led by the awesome Amy Shackelford) was on power, coalition building, and community organizing. One of the more interesting principles that I have been learning about is the difference between short-term service and work that creates a lasting impact.

One good part of that idea that we discussed was that some forms of service accept the way things are whereas others work to challenge the status quo.

Where does that put people who want to do service?

At this point in time, I don’t think doing service that only impacts the short-term isn’t a bad thing, but I think that there needs to be more done for the long-term. That could maybe take the form in educating the people who complete the service, especially on ways they can help for the long-term or perhaps creating service projects that aid in long-term change.

Talking about short-term versus long-term change reminds me of a story I was told as an undergraduate. I’ll tell it (in my words, as I remember it) below:

Once, there was a man who was sitting by a river. As he sat and looked upstream, he noticed a basket floating down the river.

When the basket floated closer, he realized there was a baby tucked into the basket.

Oh dear, thought the man, as he waded into the water to retrieve the basket.

Once he had the basket, he called to his friends further inland for help. They rushed over and discussed what to do with the baby.

They discussed education, food, shelter, and more, and as they had decided to take the baby into town, they noticed a second basket with a baby floating down the river.

They decided to continue with their plan, and one friend ran the first baby into town while the remaining group of friends retrieved the second baby.

As one of the friends ran the second baby into town, a third basket appeared floating down the river.

This went on and on as more baskets appeared along the river. Soon the friends has spread the word and they had a well-oiled machine to rescue, feed, educate, and shelter the babies.

It was a long time before anyone realized that they should send someone to figure out why the babies were floating down the river in the first place…

This story highlights why we need to get to and fix the root causes of social issues. We can have our well-oiled machine of service, and that’s fine, but we don’t really make a difference until we get down to fixing what’s causing the social issue in the first place.

In terms of the prompt, I would likely use what we learned when creating or going on service activities, and I will use it as a reminder to keep focused on the root causes rather than just getting little things done.

I haven’t learned much about power yet, though I am more cognizant of it.

One way I see power is in the library, especially when it comes to the digital divide.

Many patrons come into the library to use our computers with a goal in mind (“I want to create a resume/flyer/document” or “I need to scan a document” or “I need to access these files and print them off”). For patrons who aren’t as competent with computer usage, this goal only gets patrons so far in terms of completing it. They might have a basic idea of how to accomplish their goal, but they have roadblocks in their way.

Usually when they hit a roadblock, they come to the desk for help.

In the library community, there is some debate over how best to help patrons. There’s the “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him for a lifetime” approach, and there’s the approach to just help the patron (otherwise known as giving them the fish).Teach a Man to Fish.jpg

Personally, there are times when both are appropriate, but I tend to lean towards the “teach” versus “give” approach.

I think this idea relates to power. Yes, we want patrons to come to the library, but no, we don’t want to prevent them from learning something that will aid them in the future.

If we only give them what they want, they’ll come back and ask for help every time they need it, but I think this defeats our mission as librarians.

We share knowledge; we don’t hoard knowledge.

Teaching patrons how to use computers bridges the digital divide and gives them the power. We have the power if we complete the tasks for them, because they are less-likely do do more if it complicates things and/or they think they are burdening us.

Basically, we give them power by teaching, and we keep the power for ourselves when we just give them the answers.

I hope that all makes sense; I know it’s a lot.

River Secrets Book Cover
Everything, Grad School, Libraries

Thoughts: River Secrets by Shannon Hale

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

Many of you have wondered why my cat’s name is Razo (and those who have known me for some time have also wondered why my parents have a cat named Enna).

For reference, here are Razo and Enna:

Razo the cat
Enna the cat

These cats are named after two characters in a book series I have read several many times over. Shannon Hale was first recommended to me by Bev, our children’s librarian. After reading the Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, I began reading the Books of Bayern in reverse order (on accident!). I didn’t realize they had an order. The books were so well-written that I didn’t need the background stories to follow along.Enna Burning Book Cover

There are four Books of Bayern:

The Goose Girl

Enna Burning

River Secrets

Forest Born

The books follow the characters: Isi, Geric, Enna, Finn, Razo, Dasha, and Rin.

Out of all of the books, Enna is the character I liked the most (though I do connect with both her and Rin), Finn is the male character I liked the most, and Razo is a good guy and great comic relief.

Enna the cat and Razo the cat are named because their personalities line up closely with their corresponding characters.

River Secrets follows Razo’s journey as he travels into the land of his enemies, Tira. He feels useless and questions why he was even picked to accompany fellow members of Bayern’s Own on an important ambassador mission. Razo’s friendly personality and his keen eye for noticing things end up playing a huge role in the mission.River Secrets Book Cover

This is the one book out of the four that I can read over and over again and never get bored. There’s so much action, so much humor, and so much story to tell.

River Secrets is a story of compassion, understanding, and compromise.

It’s the only book in the series of four that features a male character (Yay for strong female characters!), but Razo’s tale is one of uplifting and supporting his female friends, and it is in no way your typical male-hero story.

River Secrets is captivating and will leave you questioning who the real bad guy is until the very end.

I highly recommend you check out the entire Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale, and River Secrets isn’t one to pass over.

Everything, Grad School, Libraries

Thoughts: Social Networks

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

You could say I’m fairly connected. I use a variety of social media in my daily life. I have a Facebook, a Pinterest, an Instagram, a LinkedIn, and I operate Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest pages for several of my employers and organizations I volunteer for (I’ve added hyperlinks as an example).

I’m on Facebook the most, though I would say 90% of my posts are uploaded from Instagram. I use LinkedIn to connect to people I know professionally. I use Pinterest to plan crafts, displays, and to store good ideas (and yes, I actually found Pinterest helpful when planning my wedding).

However, even though I’m on a lot of social networks, I make a conscious effort not to use them too much, though they all are useful.

I check Facebook multiple times a day, I check Instagram a couple of times a day (and I post maaaaybe twice a week), I scroll through Pinterest a couple of times a week, and I check LinkedIn once a week.

Since social media is normally not a very private platform, I use it to highlight events in my life, to express some of my personality and opinions, and to promote things I care about.

Each social network is useful in its own way.

Below, I’ll list out the uses for two social networks I use: Facebook and LinkedIn.

Facebook – Facebook is really good for keeping track of friends whom I can’t see much because of our schedules or who live elsewhere (such as the friends I made while studying abroad). I mainly use Facebook to find articles; a lot of my friends share a lot of really interesting reads. I also use Facebook to interact with certain groups of people, such as the NaNoWriMo group for Indy. Lastly, I opt to have most of my blog posts share to Facebook automatically.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is good for keeping track of your professional accomplishments as well as those of others. I use it to connect with people I know from work and from classes. The idea of this social network is networking. We connect with people and present our best professional selves to them. We update our profiles, which contain professional images, examples of work, work history, and recommendations from others. It’s a social network where colleagues can congratulate each other on work-related milestones. Like with Facebook, I opt to have most of my blog posts share to LinkedIn automatically.

LinkedIn differs from Facebook in the type of content that is posted on each account. Facebook is mainly for personal information, such as the day-to-day goings-on in life. LinkedIn is reserved for work- and education-related content.

Value for Library and Information Science Professionals

Social media is a useful tool for libraries and other organizations. The IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI has a Facebook page where they share articles, events, information, and more. For example, they recently posted to upcoming graduates the following:

SOIC ExampleThis is a great medium for places to share information. However, Facebook has a “mysterious” algorithm that doesn’t always allow everyone to see your posts unless they visit your page specifically. So you’ll want really important information to be shared multiple times (Hootsuite is a great tool for planning posts in advance).

Facebook is also a great way to express the “personality” of your library. Some library Facebook pages are very professional and some feel very connected to their patrons online.

I use the library’s Facebook page to share library programs, community events, pictures from events and programs, upcoming happenings for the library system in general, closing information, new services (such as our new fax machine!), and occasionally articles.

We are in the process of building our Pinterest page, but we currently use it to highlight books and materials on display at the library, staff picks, and programs. We also have secret boards where myself and other staff members can save pins for display and craft ideas.

Our Twitter is the least-utilized of all of our social media accounts, but we occasionally use it to “live tweet” events currently happening.

Social media is a great tool for libraries to get in touch with their communities, to share events, to show patrons what goes on at the library, and to make the library seem less like a building and more like a place to be.

One last thing that I have noticed while operating social media accounts for a library is that it allows for patrons who can’t physically make it into the library (home-bound patrons) to connect with us on a social level.

I would highly recommend libraries and library professionals to become familiar with social media, as it is a great tool for them as professionals and their organizations.

Do you use social networks? What are your favorites? What don’t you like?

Everything, Grad School

Grad School: Experiences with MUVEs

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

My husband Daniel and I at the IUPUI Regatta dressed as Harry Potter characters.
Daniel and I

This post has two parts: a description of an experience using a MUVE and ways libraries could use MUVEs.

For this post, I have interviewed my husband, Daniel, who has lots and lots of experience gaming and playing MUVEs.

A MUVE is a “Multi-Universe Virtual Environment,” where you can interact with a virtual world and other people inside of the virtual world.

Fun Fact: Daniel works for a local theatre which is currently running a show called The Nether, in which characters interact in a virtual reality (think The Matrix) MUVE called The Hideaway.”

Daniel’s first experience with a MUVE was with the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMO) Anarchy Online way back between 1999 and 2000, when he was around 9-10 years old. This is long before World of Warcraft came out, which is usually people’s first introduction to MMOs. Anarchy Online came out around when EverQuest was the ultimate MMO.

Daniel’s dad (my father-in-law) had bought a one-month subscription for him and his sons to it because he found the idea of MMOs intriguing and there weren’t many things like it. When the game first released, it was massively buggy and basically unplayable. When Daniel’s dad bought it, most of the bugs had been worked out and it was finally starting to gain its virtual land legs.

This was Daniel’s first time where he actually got to make and design a character in a game. Most games in those days just had standard basic characters (basic wizard, basic warrior, standard military dude, etc.), but in Anarchy, Daniel really had control over the character, and he liked that he had more flexibility with it. He could choose to play a male character, or he could choose to make a female character if he wanted to.Anarchy Screenshot

Anarchy Online is a futuristic game, so Daniel also had the option to play an alien race if he wanted to. He spent a long time flipping through the different options he could play until he finally decided on one: Liadon, a female solitus (human). On the next screen, he also had a large choice as to what profession he wanted his character could be. Each profession had a description, so Daniel spent time reading through each one until he settled on the Adventurer profession, which sounded similar to a Ranger. Daniel figured he could get an animal companion based on the image of the sample Adventurer, but he later found out Adventurers could become animals.

With character creation complete, Liadon (Daniel’s character) was dropped into a futuristic junk yard. There was no quest, there were no windows that popped up and told him what to do, he was just dropped in. He just had to figure out what to do.

He noticed some robots that were walking around, and as he walked around, he found a little green oasis that had a little shop with a shopkeeper. Daniel spent a long time playing with the buttons and options to figure out what he could do. It was really, really, really confusing for him. Eventually, he learned how to attack things, and after he would kill things, he would collect loot to sell to the shopkeeper in return for better gear.

Later on, Daniel came in contact with another player named “Romulan2,” another solitus, who had been playing the game for some time before Daniel joined. He just sat down with Daniel for hours talking about the game, how to do different things, and then he showed him how to get to a big city. If it wasn’t for Romulan2, Daniel thinks he probably would have quit the game because he was so lost.

This was the first time Daniel was ever in an open world that was absolutely gigantic where you can go anywhere, do anything, and it was weird for him not to have a purpose or someone telling him what to do. He had to make his own adventure, and it was the sense of exploration that kept him going.

The game became more enjoyable when he started meeting other people, making connections with them, and started exploring things together.

Daniel became “pretty obsessed” with the game, and he played it almost every day for three years. Even to this day, he still logs on to play (and he has even shown me the ropes).

Daniel and his brothers eventually started fighting over who got to play the game, because back then, they didn’t have a computer and account for everyone.

Daniel has formed really good friendships and connections with the people in the game. Looking back on some of the times that he’s played, he says they’re some of his most fond memories of gaming.

MUVEs are great ways for kids and people who have social issues to communicate and work together in a safe environment. It allows people to step into a world where you can be yourself without really showing who you are.

MUVEs can be a new way to learn for a generation who has grown up with video games.

Libraries could use MUVEs in several different ways.

One way would include either being a game designer or employing them. Libraries could build MUVEs that center around books and the exploration of books. Rather than just reading a book, they could really walk around in and explore the world that the book takes place in.

Another idea could be that libraries could use MUVEs as teaching tools. Whether it’s teaching students to work together or about a specific topic, a MUVE could be built so students can explore those topics and work together.

A third idea is to form a group inside an existing MUVE, such as a book group, or just a group that goes around exploring together. People could either come into the library to play together, or they could play from home. Librarians could make themselves available in the MUVEs to be moderators and also leaders.

There are lots of ways libraries could incorporate MUVEs, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m currently reading book called Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age by Kurt Squire. I would highly recommend it.

Being Big for Kids, Everything, Libraries

Being Big for Kids: Family Craft Night

Being Big for Kids 2.0This is the fifteenth post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, please click here for an archive of the posts. 

As you may know, I work for a public library.

Each library in our system has a mix of system-wide programs and branch-specific programs. One consistent branch-specific program we have is our monthly Family Craft Night.

I wish our schedules had worked out to where we could take our Little to Family Craft Night each month, but so far, we’ve only been able to make it to one.

On Tuesday, June 23rd, Daniel and I headed to pick our Little up from his home and make the drive to my workplace. He was fairly quiet on the way there, but I think it was mainly because we were driving on a side of town he hadn’t yet visited.

Once we got to the library, we made our way to the Community Room. My supervisor was just starting to pack up since the big wave of patrons had already gone through by the time we got there, but she and the volunteers were kind enough to hang around and help us make musical crafts (our theme for the Summer Reading Program this year is Beatz & Bookz).photo 3photo 4

Ryan enjoyed making the different musical instruments, and he formed a one-man band.

As much as he enjoyed crafting, he was really excited to sign up for the Summer Reading Program.

We got him signed up and we took turns reading books out loud to each other so he could earn his 40 in-house points for the day. With his points, he purchased an animaze stamp, which kept him entertained the entire drive home.

After we got back to his house, he recruited one of his younger sisters to jphoto 1oin his band, and they paraded up and down their street. Hopefully they didn’t annoy Mom too much… 😛

Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-Crafting is a good way to chat with your Little.

-Allow your Little to read to you (or read to your Little!); you both can enjoy and talk about the story.

-Libraries have lots of free programs Bigs and Littles can attend!

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? Did you ever visit the library with your Big/Little?

Everything, Libraries

On Understanding

This post has been in the works for some time. However, I attended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at my university Monday and listened to a fantastic keynote speaker before the service started. He stressed that we should think about making every day a service day and to serve others beyond a few hours of volunteering. His speech motivated me to think about the ways I serve others in my life.

So far, I know that I have chosen a career path that will allow me to serve others in a meaningful way, and I constantly strive to be the same person I present on social media that I am in person. I also realized that part of how I serve others is how I treat the patrons at my library. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on being understanding and nonjudgmental…

Everyone has a bad day at some point in their lives. Many people have days that are a lot worse than my worst bad day will ever be.

My best friend and I (on the left) before service started.
My best friend and I (on the left) before service started.

There is no rule or law that states people who come into the library must be having a good day in order to use our resources.

Yet many people (in general, not just at libraries) are quick to judge someone based off of one interaction. Perhaps they were having a horrible day. Maybe they really are just a rude person. We don’t know, and it shouldn’t be our job to judge them; we should try and help them or let them be.

Judgments don’t just apply to personalities though. They apply to things like how one dresses and what they come into the library to do.

We as humans are quick to judge others based off of what they wear and how they present themselves, but one of the first lessons I learned when I started working for the library was to not assume the man in the suit is rich or that the not-so-pleasant-smelling patron is experiencing homelessness. People do all sorts of things to hide their true situations, which includes what they do at the library.

Assumptions harm people. They affect how we view people, how we treat them, and if spoken, they are likely to harm the person they’re about.

If there is a not-so-nice-smelling patron who comes in regularly, we don’t know what their life situation is. They could have a mental illness and not have the money to access proper treatment, so they let themselves go. Depression has a strong ability to stop the person with depression from taking care of their self. People who experience mania might be so involved in an idea that they completely forget to shower or practice self-care and thus charge into the library to research how to make their ideas reality.

If a patron comes in wearing a suit every day, they might have lots of money, or they might not. What if they were raised to dress nicely every day so that good opportunities will find them? What if they are extremely poor, but they allow themselves the luxury to wear a nice suit or to have an awesome phone?

My point is that people aren’t always what they seem, and I shouldn’t treat people poorly based on assumptions I make about their life.

People who come into the library want one thing: resources. Why should an assumption I make about their life change how I give them access to those resources?

My job is not to badger the man in the suit who has a lot of fines but never pays them, nor is it my job to make assumptions about any of the library patrons (or anyone else either).

Me working to prepare a Valentine's Day craft program.
Me working to prepare a Valentine’s Day craft program.

My job is to treat everyone with understanding and kindness, and my job is to accept things as they are. I simply have to notify the patron in the suit that they have fines, and I treat them just as I treat the other patrons.

In terms of being understanding and not judgmental, my job is to:

-not make assumptions

-find and provide resources to all of our patrons

-listen to the patrons

-work with them

-serve them, and

-avoid judging them

As with many people, my first instinct is to judge people on first sight even though it’s not something I want to do. However, I have the choice to let my initial judgments rule how I treat people, or I can just follow the saying and treat others the way I would want to be treated.

In my line of work, I have the choice to acknowledge that I am not in the same shoes as the patrons I serve. Their lives differ from mine, and I don’t know what they might be going through (regardless of what they tell me or project to the world).

If we truly are a world that wants equity for everyone, we need to accept that, yes, we make judgments and assumptions about others, but no, we don’t need to allow those judgments to rule how we treat other people.

If we do that, then maybe we will be able to make progress towards an equitable world.

Moral of the story? Let go of our judgments and be more understanding towards other people. After all, we’re all in this whole living thing together; let’s do each other a favor and be good people.