Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Holly Black Visits University Place Library

My friend and fellow librarian, Larissa, invited me to see Holly Black speak at her local library in University Place, WA. This library is a part of the Pierce County Library System, which I have yet to explore. Naturally, I had to poke around before the program.

The library is a part of the City Hall and has this really great open sign.

The lobby has a warm fireplace.

Inside, I discover the teen space.

Here is their cool media set up and a Holly Black book display.

The children's area is full of educational toys, which I played with, of course.

I noticed the Science-to-Go backpacks. Details about what's inside can be found on their website here.

As cool as this library is, the reason I am here is to see Fantasy/Paranormal YA author Holly Black speak and to meet her. Back in 2002 when her first book, Tithe, came out, I was a freshman in high school. One of my friends suggested it to me because of our shared love of fairies. I had unfortunate fashion sense and often even dressed like a fairy in my early teens. As an adult, I have had the opportunity to dress up like a fairy and get paid for it at the library!

Since Tithe, I have read the White Cat series and the incredibly creepy book, Doll Bones. I learned during her talk that she also worked on graphic novels, one of which was a collaboration with one of my favorite artists, Rebecca Guay.

Holly Black is a great speaker! She had lots of sage advice to writers, which Larissa and I appreciated since we both like to write whenever we aren't librarianing. The advice that stuck out the most were these three tips for writers:

1. Read a lot. Even books that you wouldn't normally read. You will learn a lot about structure, character, and world building.
2. Write a lot. Even if it's bad or complete gibberish. If you wait until you are 'inspired' you may never write a single word.
3. Have writing partners that can hold you accountable for work. If someone else is expecting you to write something, you will be more likely to do it. You don't want to let your buddy down, do you?

I also really enjoyed her talking about her characters. She explained to us that characters in her books never wanted to be characters in books. They wanted to be lazy fairies, drinking in coffee houses and miring in ennui. She also made a really good point that no one in their right mind would want to be a protagonist in a book. Everything goes wrong for you and your life is really very challenging.

Thanks to the local bookshop, King's Books, I was able to snag a copy of Tithe (my own copy, if I ever had one, lost to the tides of time).

Larissa and I awkwardly told Holly Black that we loved her and snapped this photo. Holly confessed to us that she was almost a librarian (all she had left to take was a cataloging course). Very cool.

I plan to go read a lot, write a lot, and bother my writer friends more. Thanks, Holly!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Library Profile - Sno-Isle Libraries, Lynnwood Public Library

I thought it was about time I paid another visit to a library in the Sno-Isle system, having heard so many good things from all the wonderful people I've met who work there. So, today I visited the Lynnwood Public Library.

Like many of the libraries I have visited in Washington, public art is displayed outside. Here is this cute guy.

And this fantastic piece. 

I noticed upon entering that Sno-Isle has a 'Best Bets' book display of popular titles. A librarian from the Snohomish Public Library once told me that these were popular books that could not be placed on hold. This way, patrons could happen across a book they were looking for while inside the library. King County Library System has something similar called 'Choice Reads' and Everett Public Library has 'Quick Picks.' I love the idea and that the systems share the concept. 

The Lynnwood library is also home to one of Sno-Isle's Creative Tech Centers. This sectioned off area is used for technology programing and open public use. 

The children's area has a lovely aquarium and bright signage.

There is also a designated Teen area and a nice skylight. 

I liked selection of the books in the Friends Book Sale.

And check out the incredible amount of programing they have going on!

It was nice visiting you today!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seattle Story Time Tour - Capitol Hill

Branch: Capitol Hill
Age/Type: Toddler Story Time
Storyteller: Ms. Rachel

I visited with Ms. Rachel once already for the Family Story Time at the Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch, however it was nice to see a different approach for a different age group.

The meeting room upstairs is all decorated for story time when I enter. Ms. Rachel has put together a book display and laid out name tags on a table. The front of the room has a map of the world and a felt board with Chinese lanterns. I am very excited to see it is going to be about Chinese New Year! My husband is Chinese-American and his family celebrates the holiday.

We begin with an opening song and a round of "Open and Shut Them."

Ms. Rachel tells us, that continuing with our tour of the world, we will talk about China. She points out China on the map and tells us how to say "Happy New Year!" in Chinese.

It turns out that there are a lot of ways to say this and I'm sorry to say I cannot remember which one she used. My personal favorite, and one I can't use because I'm married now, is "Kung Hei Fat Choy." This is basically a way of saying "Happy New Year, now give me my red envelope full of cash!" I was lucky enough to get the gift of Lai See from my in-laws last New Year when I was engaged. Now it is our job to give others money. Share the love!

There are more common ways to say Happy New Year, however. Chinese is a very tonal language, so it is best to listen to a phrase and attempt to get the intonation just right. Here is a link I found from Good Characters, a company that helps North American businesses translate copy into Chinese. My husband claims I am incapable of getting the tones correct, so good luck!

Book: Two Shy Pandas

Next we sing the color song, picking out colors on our clothing.

"If you're wearing red today, red today, red today. If you're wearing red today, stand up and say hooray! (repeat with other colors)."

Book: Red is a Dragon

This is a perfect book for toddlers. Bright pictures and simple words to teach colors.

Now it is time for scarf dancing. Ms. Rachel even lets me have one! She passes out brightly colored scarves and puts on a CD. The song we dance to is "The Rhythm in the Scarves" by Johnette Downing.

Once everyone has returned their scarves and settled down, Ms. Rachel does a flannel story with the Chinese lanterns on the felt board. She sings a song to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot."

"One Chinese lantern, shining bright. Use them to light your way in the night. If it's really dark, just light one more. That's what Chinese lanterns are for." Each time she adds one until she gets to five. At this point she alters the rhyme a little to wish us all Happy New Year again in Chinese.

Ms. Rachel gets out a nonfiction book that they have been using about world cultures and reads the section on China.

Book: Children Around the World

Now it is time to go and we sing a closing song, "Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink."

She has hand stamps for the children and a craft. Today's craft is a Chinese Dragon.

Happy Chinese New Year! I hope you have a truly calm and peaceful year of the sheep. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Library, Taxes, and You

Like many of you, I am yet to do my taxes. For those of you already done with this task and with refund in hand, well... la-de-da! My situation this year is a little more complicated since I have had multiple jobs and gotten married. I need to wait for W2s and other paperwork to come in and then I am filing together with my husband (who has also had multiple incomes).

This can a bit overwhelming to even think about, but in today's high tech world we can easily file for free online. Not everyone is this fortunate. Not everyone has a computer. Not everyone can use one. Even then, taxes can get pretty complicated and you may need to ask someone a few questions.

Enter the library!

If you want to file free online, but don't have a computer or super great computer skills, just head into the library and use a public access computer to go to this website.

If you need quick computer assistance, there is undoubtably a librarian nearby who can help. Librarians cannot help with the actual taxes. We would could get in trouble if any advice we gave you was wrong. We are not tax professionals.

Enter AARP!

If you need a little more help or have tax questions, a lot of libraries partner with AARP to provide tax help to people of any age. Find a location here.

Unfortunately, many libraries are no longer getting forms or information booklets from the IRS. However, a librarian can help you print anything you may need from the IRS website.

So do not fear! Get started at your local library today. This year the only stress April 15th will bring about will be because you forgot milk at the grocery store. Or something. :)


Thursday, February 12, 2015

6 Ways Libraries Spread Valentine's Day Love

1. Valentine's Day Crafts

Almost every public library will have a craft for kids to make Valentines, Valentine Boxes, or Valentine's Day cards.

2. Love Themed Story Times

It's also common for your local story time to be about love, but not always. Some librarians don't like to do themes or have some other theme planned. It may be good to call ahead to see.

3. Blind Date Book Display

This is a really neat trend that has caught on at many libraries. You check out a book without knowing what it is. Will it be love, or will your book date be a dud?

4. Romance Novels

Perfect for reading while curled up next to your cat with a glass of wine. Judgement free!

5. Cookbooks for Romantic Recipes

Eating out can be a miserable experience. Even if you make reservations, restaurants are so busy this night. Stay in with your sweetie and make your own tasty food together. Even if it turns out poorly, it will make a funny story (plus, Dominoes does deliver on Valentine's Day... just saying).

6. Valentine's Reference Questions

"What are Valentine's Day traditions in other countries?"
"What is the number for local chocolate makers or florists?"
"Who wrote that song that goes like this... ? We heard it on our first date."


Good luck!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Story Time Detour - KCLS Burien Library

I've been touring all the library branches in Seattle and observing story times, but this week I took a little detour. I volunteer for the King County Library System at the Burien Library and I asked the children's librarians at this library if I could sit in on one of their story times. Here is what we did today.

Library: KCLS Burien Library
Age/Type: Preschool
Storyteller: Ms. Gaye

This story time takes place in the building's multipurpose room that the library shares with city hall. It is a nice, big space. Ms. Gaye has name tags for story time goers and makes chit chat as people come in. She starts the story time with a great rhyme. KCLS has an excellent website that shares a lot of songs and rhymes called Tell Me a Story.

Here is the one we open with:

"My Hands"

Next we play a fun guessing game with four flannel houses. Ms. Gaye asks us to guess under which house the little duck is hiding. "Little duck, little duck, are you in the red house?" We repeat until we find the little duck under the last house.

We talk about how ducks go 'quack' and Ms. Gaye explains that today is all about the letter 'Q'. She takes out a 'Q' on a stick and asks us what words start with 'Q'.

Book: "Little Quack's Hide and Seek"

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, Ms. Gaye gets out a flannel called "Five Sweet Valentines." I've used this rhyme before. It's a great subtraction exercise.

Book: "Questions, Questions"

Next we sing "Roll Your Hands." I love this!

What else starts with 'Q'? Why, 'Queen' of course! Ms. Gaye does a flannel rhyme called "Queen of Hearts." A Queen gets new dresses with various shapes. We point out the shapes on our own clothing.

This next part is truly magical. Ms. Gaye has a bag of stuffed animals and she pulls them out as she sings the "When Animals Get Up in the Morning" song.

After this, we sing the "Alphabet Song" and clap to the beat.

Book: "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands" - a Pop-up!!

The last activity before the craft is the "Beanbag Song." Ms. Gaye puts on a song from a CD and hands out beanbags. The song is really fun and interactive. All the parents and kids get really into throwing the beanbags and holding them to different body parts.

The craft is creating a Queen with Q cut outs.

What a cool story time! Thanks for letting me observe today, Ms. Gaye.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Library Profile - King County Library System, Bellevue

I was visiting a friend in Bellevue today and I thought I would stop by the KCLS library here. This was an excellent decision. What a lovely library, and HUGE!

The first thing I started noticing was all of the art in this place.

Seriously, everywhere you turn you find something to entertain the eye. This makes me incredibly happy.

The library has three layers of space. The first floor has fiction, youth materials, and check out stations.

I like the story time room with castle turrets. 

The second floor and the mezzanine cover the non-fiction, reference materials, computers, and have plenty of space to bring your own projects.

This is where I settled down to write this post.

This is a great library! There were lots of people, and yet I was able to easily find a quiet spot to work. The drive from Seattle wasn't that bad, either (although I purposely timed it to miss rush hour). I'm glad I was able to stop by.