Friday, November 13, 2015

My Mother-Daughter Book Club Idea

Not strictly library-related, but I had an interesting book-related project that I thought I would share.

For some background on me, I moved to Seattle, WA from Dallas, TX a year and a half ago. My parents still live in Texas and the separation has been pretty rough. I miss them and all of my friends and family that still live there. As I contemplated my mother's birthday gift this year, inspiration struck.

I had just tried out the monthly book delivery service, Uppercase. While I liked the idea of it, I found that for the two months I had the subscription I didn't read the book they delivered. I think that the problem was that, while strangers with Instagram accounts were reading the same book as me, no one I knew personally was reading it. I needed accountability and companionship in my reading habits.

This is when I decided to give my mom a year subscription to the 'Mother-Daughter Book Club'. Every month (I shoot for the first of the month) I send her a new book for us to read and discuss at the end of the month. I find my copies at the library, of course. :)

Here are the books I have chosen so far:

I have kept every month a surprise to my mom. This has led to mixed reviews. We started strong with The Martian. We both loved the book and went to go see the movie as well. This was a no-brainier seeing as we both love Science Fiction. 

Big Little Lies was not something either of us typically read, but we both liked it for what it was. This book was a fluffy murder mystery with a side of gossipy Australian moms. The ending was a bit of a shock, but also felt extremely gratifying.

Everything I Never Told you was a selection I thought about, but dismissed initially. My mom doesn't like depressing books and I don't like realistic historical fiction. But my husband read it and said it was really good. One of the points of the book club was to push the boundaries on what we normally read, so I went forward with it. Both of us had a hard time reading it. Once I got into it, I really got into it. This book has a story that needs to be told about often marginalized people in American culture. My mom, who raised two teenage daughters, however, could not get passed the emotional stress that slaps you in the face on the first page. She never finished it.

I decided for November to go with a new title from one of mom's favorite authors. I had to do some sleuthing to make sure she hadn't read it already, but I have a good feeling about this one. Dean Koontz to the rescue!

So far this project has been pretty successful. I love that I get to have this bond with my mom. It makes me incredibly happy to know that I am reading the same book as her and that, soon, we get to talk about this shared experience. Even if we don't finish the book, we are still able to discuss what we have read and make that 2,123 miles seem just a little closer.

Any suggestions for titles going forward? Any popular titles coming out in paperback that you enjoyed reading? Let me know.

Amanda Hua

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Amazon Books: Not a Community Library Experience

Amazon opened a physical bookstore in Seattle called Amazon Books. It's kind of weird.

As I scanned my Twitter feed, I was really irked when I saw the clickbaity Atlantic headline: Did Amazon Just Replace the Public Library?  Because the obvious answer is "um... no?" Bookstores are not intended to be public libraries and, while they can be excellent community partners, they are not designed to provide the same kinds of community learning and connection as a public library. I decided to go to the store to poke around and see what inspired such a strange assertion for that article. What I found was, frankly, not that exciting.

Here is Amazon Books. It's a storefront in University Village, a huge outdoor shopping center with stores like the Apple Store and Gap.

They had a good selection of new and popular titles with an interesting shelving model. There are no prices for any of the books because Amazon prices fluctuate. For an interesting take on the store's design and purpose, I will refer you to this Forbe's article

Much like Barnes and Nobel with their Nook stations, Amazon Books had stations set up to try out Kindle devices. I thought this was a pretty clever display to feature both physical books and Kindle Fire's video functions.

They also had Kindles every so often sitting on the shelf next to books. This reminded me of how libraries will often have signs promoting online resources out in the stacks. Any libraries that loan out eReaders may want to take note of this idea.

In the middle of the store there was a bench or two with televisions to try out Fire TV.

And lastly, like many bookstores, they had a counter to ask for information and counter to purchase your items. Pretty basic.

The store was extremely busy at 10:30am today. It was especially filled with children because school was out for Veteran's Day. The children's section was so packed I could barely even enter it. Tubs of toys were, unceremoniously, dumped out onto the floor and children played with them in the aisles. The children's area was small and crowded with shelves, making this activity inconvenient for anyone actually shopping for books.

I asked for help in the Young Adult section to find Winter by Marissa Meyer. A young woman with a hand held device searched for the title. While she was very effective at using the device, her knowledge of the store layout and the merchandise seemed spotty. At least at many local independent bookstores you get the expertise of booksellers.

After exploring the store I still have no idea why you would think that a small storefront like this would replace a public institution. Many independent bookstores in Seattle come much closer to acting like a library, like Third Place Books with their Third Place Commons and Ada's Technical Books with their free talks and programs on many interesting scientific topics. Amazon Books, however, is just a store. And this store, with its lack of personality and service, is literally like buying it yourself on the Amazon website. Well, except you have to put on pants and actually drive out to a store.

Public libraries are a destination and community staple because they provide free and open access to information and resources. Amazon Books is not even remotely doing this. More importantly, Amazon doesn't even remotely claim to do that. It's a bookstore. It sells books. That's it, really. Libraries, meanwhile, provide community learning spaces and resources. They are doing really important and cool things to help the community like connecting at-risk youth to helpful resources, feeding hungry children over the summer, and teaching English as a second language to immigrants. Oh, yeah. And they also have books. A lot of free books.

Let's stop devaluing the public library with these assertions that the library is being 'replaced' or will soon be 'extinct.' It's an important part of every community and needs our support. Thanks!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Story Time Detour - Everett Public Library

Instead of visiting a local story time, I filled in as a substitute librarian today to do a Toddler Time. I had the honor of filling in for the fabulous Ms. Andrea at the Everett Public Library for her Wednesday Toddler Storytime. Since I know that story time crowds like to have some consistency week to week, I did my best to recreate the storytime from Ms. Andrea's outline while adding my own flair. Here is what we did today.


Warm up
The Tempo Marches On – Jim Gill

I normally don't do a warm up; I just dive on in with a hello song and announcements. However, I loved it! This is a great way to get people ready while stragglers come in. I picked The Tempo Marches On because I adore Jim Gill.

3 deep breaths
As we breathe in, we raise our arms above our head; as we breathe out, we bring our arms back to the ground.

What an easy and simple way to calm down the crowd and transition into listening. 

I'm Ms. Amanda filling in for Ms. Andrea. Welcome to Toddler Time, a storytime intended for Children 18mo-2yr. End side conversations and sit you’re your child. Participate!

Pretty standard greeting and setting the expectations.

Hello Song
Hello, Hello
Hello and how are you?
I'm fine, I'm fine
And I hope that you are too.

I added this in here because I just feel weird without doing it. This was my Hello Song for many years during Toddler Time.

Let’s say Hello to our Toes

Can you wiggle your fingers? Let’s say good morning to your fingers.
Good morning fingers (wiggle your fingers), goodbye fingers (hide fingers behind your back)
Good morning fingers (wiggle your fingers), goodbye fingers (hide fingers behind your back)
My fingers are feeling shy today (clasp hands together, and put near your face, like you are shy)
They see their friends, and they are happy! (Wiggle fingers)

Good morning toes…

I haven't done this rhyme before, but it was a perfect transition from the Hello Song to say: "Now we've said hello to each other, let's say hello to our fingers!" 

Criss-Cross Applesauce

Criss-cross, applesauce
Spiders crawling up your back
Cool breeze
Tight squeeze
and now I’m going to tickle you!

This is soooo cute and perfect for toddlers or babies. I did my best to demonstrate what the parents should do. A stuffed animal might have been a good idea here. Luckily, they were mostly regulars and know the drill.

Spot's Opposites by Eric Hill (Copy for every family, read together)

I have only done the individual books for Baby Storytime, but this works great with the toddlers. The parents all read along with me, which was fantastic. What an awesome, involved group we had!

Roll your hands (Tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Roll, roll, roll your hands
As fast as fast can be.
Do it now, let me see,
Do it now with me.
Clap, clap, clap your hands…
Tap, tap, tap your feet…
5 Little Ducks - Flannel

I found the flannel in their storytime closet and could not resist. I love singing this song. I connected it to opposites by saying: "If the ducks go out, what would be the opposite? If the ducks come back in! That's right. Let's see if they come back in after they go out."

Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli (Copy for every family, read together)

I love this book. I liked that it was a little different from Spot's Opposites. A lot of those opposite books can get repetitive.

Hap Palmer’s Rock and Roll Freeze Dance - with scarves!

This was on her outline and I had a lot of fun. I love using scarves. :) I was actually surprised that, as young as they were, they got the 'freeze' parts right. It goes to show what repeating songs and concepts can accomplish.  

Animal Opposites, a Pop Up Book

I choose this out of their storytime closet and it worked really well. This book is good for didactic reading and movement. I asked them about the different animals and told them to stretch and bounce with me.

Raffi’s Shake My Sillies Out (2 times, with rattles)

This was in her outline and it made me really happy. I've done this song for years in my storytimes. I used the CD this time for the beat, but I normally just belt it out acapella style.  

We Wave Goodbye Like This (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

We wave goodbye like this.
We wave goodbye like this.
We clap our hands for all our friends.
We wave goodbye like this

I used her goodbye song to finish off the storytime portion and they all sang along. Yay! 

Bring out the Toys and Bubble machine

Oh, boy. Did they love this part. My helper today, a library page named Jennifer (without whom I was doomed to fail) brought out the bubble machine and waltzed around the room, showering the toddlers in bubbles. I, meanwhile, dumped 4 large tubs of toys on the carpet. I've had toys and playtime at the end of Toddler Time before and I am very much for it. While some parents leave right away and don't engage, many others stay to play and the parents get to connect with one another.

I had a blast today and was grateful for the chance to flex my storytime muscles. I learned some new tricks and met some pretty rad kids.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Ultimate Library Road Trip - US

I had a friend of mine recently say to me: “Wouldn’t it be cool to go on a road trip to visit a bunch of awesome libraries?” Why, yes. Yes it would be cool. I started to think about what that would look like and a map started to slowly form in my head. Of course, you would have to miss out on some of them because they take you too far out the way. A few that didn’t make the list simply because of that reason were the Geisel Library in San Diego (UCSD) and the McAllen Public Library in Texas. To go that far south would have taken the road trip way off course without much to see in between.

Before you get offended that you don’t see your library on my list, every library is amazing in its own way. Libraries serve their communities and provide much needed resources in times of need. One example that comes to mind is the Ferguson Public Library. This library did not make my list below either, mostly because it is these community libraries that are too small and too busy to support visitors on a large scale. I have added mostly larger, city center or specialty libraries to this list. Should you wish to make pit stops of other local libraries along the way, that is your prerogative. There are certainly no shortage of options.

I have also added other sights and places to stay along the way. Depending on your driving tolerances, you may want to stop more often on your journey. This is a cross country journey, from sea to shining sea. If you were to take this trip, you would probably fly to one coast or the other to begin and rent a car (or drive there from where you live). Since I live in Seattle, I started the journey itinerary there. If you live in the North East, you may want to start from the bottom and work the other direction. Here it is!

My attempt at a Google Map outline of the trip.

While in town also check out:
There are four or five bookshops in Pike Place. Half the fun is navigating the labyrinthine tunnels of the market to find them. The owner of Lion Heart Books, David, will sing to you upon request and makes excellent recommendations.

STAY THE NIGHT - Hotel Sorrento
This is a nice, old fashioned hotel near the downtown library. They sometimes host literary events.

Multnomah County Central Library
Side note: This is where my husband proposed to me.
Also Check Out: Powell’s City of Books
Powell's is a giant bookstore in downtown Portland that takes up several blocks and then some. It boosts 68,000 square feet packed with books. Not to mention the sister stores owned by Powell's in Portland and beyond. 

STAY THE NIGHT - Sylvia Beach Hotel
This literary themed hotel in the coastal town of Newport, Oregon is amazing. Each room is themed after a different author. Authors include Agatha Christie to Shakespeare. It has a library that looks out over the water and a restaurant. Personally, I would like to stay in the J.K. Rowling suite. 

While in town: Check out the Humboldt County Library and take a tour of the Victorian homes and architecture.

Also check out: City Lights Books

This classic hotel hosts many literary events and has it's own extensive library. Their Library Bar has many literary-themed cocktails. 

This library is pretty fascinating because it brings the great indoors outdoors. There is a large indoor garden complete with a pond.

Also check out: Unrelated to libraries, but could be fun to take a day off and explore nightlife and casinos in Reno.

STAY THE NIGHT - Whitney Peak Hotel
This hotel was selected because it is not a casino hotel. If you are feeling adventurous, there are plenty of casino hotel options.

The main library is a huge complex that includes shops and other community resources.

STAY THE NIGHT - Inn on the Hill

Also check out: Tattered Cover Bookstore

STAY THE NIGHT - The Crawford Hotel
This hotel has a LoDo Literary Society Package that includes an autographed book and a gift card to Tattered Cover.

The Kansas City Public Library - Central

This is the library that has the giant books on the building.

Also check out: Prospero’s Books

STAY THE NIGHT - Hotel Sorella

Also check out: Unabridged Books, The Violet Hour for literary themed cocktails

STAY THE NIGHT - The Drake Hotel

STAY THE NIGHT - The Bell Tower
While in town: Check out the University of Michigan libraries and department of Creative Writing. Cool town with plenty of charm.

Also check out: Caliban Book Shop
This bookshop specializes in rare and first editions. 

Library of Congress - Thomas Jefferson Building

Also check out: Atomic Books
This is a comic book shop and cafe.

This hotel has a library, literary art in the rooms, and literary inspired cocktails. 

Also check out: The Book Trader

STAY THE NIGHT - Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel
This upscale hotel has a literary design for their lobby. 

Also check out: Stand Book Store
This huge bookstore claims it has 18 miles of books. Goodness!

STAY THE NIGHT - The Library Hotel
This hotel is library themed from top to bottom. Each guest floor is organized by the Dewey Decimal System. For instance, the third floor has the 300's or Social Sciences. 

Also check out: Book Trader Cafe
This is a cute book store and cafe.

STAY THE NIGHT - Farnam Guest House

Brattle sells new and rare books in downtown and Trident has very delicious-looking breakfast items. I WILL HAVE ALL THE BRUNCH!

STAY THE NIGHT - Omni Parker House
This hotel is in the Literary District and hosts literary functions from time to time. 


Of course, you could always start in San Francisco or alter the trip an any number of ways if you decide to take this epic journey. Someday I hope to hit up some if not all of these amazing landmarks. If you do this trip or any part of it, tweet me your pictures @amandagracehua with the #LibraryRoadTrip.


All pictures found on Flickr creative commons. For credits, click on the image.