1Book 1Community: learning together

It’s no big shock – to anyone who reads my blog or knows me IRL or has interacted with me for more than 6 minutes – that I like my job. I am blessed with the opportunity to create work for myself, in addition, of course, to the everyday tasks of serving patrons, covering desks, attending meetings, leading programs, etc. Some of the work I create for myself is sitting on committees. In the short 2.5 years I have been with LCPL I have saw on the Summer Reading Program committee, New Employee Orientation committee, and the 1Book 1Community committee. It is the last one that I want to tell you about today.

My first experience with LCPL’s 1Book 1Community was back in September, 2011. I had only been with Loudoun for 3 months when I was asked by the manager of the Programming Division if I would accompany her and the 1Book author – Patricia McCormick – to the Juvenile Detention Center and Douglass School. Read about my experience here.

Six months after my day with Patricia I was invited to sit on the first-ever 1Book 1Community committee. Comprised of 9 public and school librarians and teachers, the committee met 3 times to meet and learn about the title-choosing process, discuss possible titles, and vote on the title. That first year I was assigned to read The Lottery by Patricia Wood, The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, The Wave by Todd Strasser, and When the Emperor was Divine by Julia Otsuka. The last one I read was the one that was ultimately given majority votes and chosen to be the 1Book. I find myself thinking of that book – and the shameful thing we did to Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants during World War II – often. It has true staying power, and I continue to recommend that title to teens and adults.

My second year as committee member began in March of this year. I recommended the titles Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Septys. Neither of my titles was chosen, but I simply adored the one that was – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba.

William is from Malawi, and just knew there was a way he could help save his family’s farm from suffering through another drought season.

I looked at my father and looked at those dry fields [in Malawi]. It was the future I couldn’t accept.

Using English-language library books and items found in the local dump, William built a windmill that successfully brought electricity to his village. You can see his TED Talk here:

I had the honor of dining with William prior to the 1Book program. He was so pleasant, so smart, and so willing to answer the questions of the 11 women who dined with him, some of whom are teachers who said William’s story inspired some of their students in ways they had never seen. In his modest manner, he simply smiled and continued talking about his studies, his experience on the farm in Malawi, his family, and his future. There were nearly 400 people in attendance at his talk. Elementary school children, seniors, families, and groups of high school students listened intently as William shared his experience, inspiration, and goals.


Afterwards, William signed books (and even a Kindle cover! What a great idea!)


We were very honored to welcome William to our library, schools, and community. I was honored to be a part of the 1Book 1 Community committee for 2 years. A big thank you to my mentor and friend Linda (in the picture below) for asking me to be a part of that team and passionate readers.


My 2-year term is up, but I am already making a list of books for next year’s committee to consider. Any suggestions?



non-fiction Friday: The World’s Strongest Librarian, a memoir of tourette’s, faith, strength, and the power of family by Josh Hanagarne


The World’s Strongest Librarian, a memoir of tourette’s, faith, strength, and the power of family by Josh Hanagarne is the true story of a comically tall librarian who can’t stay quiet. Or still. Or not-funny. Josh has Tourette’s, lifts weights, grapples with his faith, and tries to stay sane while working in an urban public library. These combined to make the most laugh-out-loud funny memoir I have read since Chelsea Handler’s Are You There Vodka, It’s me, Chelsea and Tina Fey’s Bossypants. And this guy isn’t a celebrity, he’s just a regular dude, which makes this story all the more relate-able.

Josh is my kind of librarian. His experiences in the Salt Lake City Public Library are both cringe-worthy and hilarious, For example,

The public restrooms at my library are vile. Every minute someone’s in there relieving himself or bathing in the sink. The air doesn’t circulate and the stench is palpable. But they have nothing on the teen section. To walk through the young adult area is to traverse a cloud of hormones and poor hygiene and lust and anger that’s as real as a thicket of skunky roadkill. Whenever the teenagers are quiet, I assume it’s because they’re impregnating each other on the library furniture.

Seriously…and the whole book is like that! I wasn’t even 11 pages in and my coworker Dan said, “Are you just going to read me the entire book?” (Okay he didn’t say that out loud, because he’s a gentleman, but I know it’s what he was thinking after I’d read him yet another line.) My mom – who I was traveling to Rhode Island with for a wedding – knew I had finished the book because I wasn’t laughing anymore.  (I had moved onto The Shining Girls…a very not-funny book.)

The pages he dedicates to librarianship are passionate as well. Surrogate-parenting of tweens and teens dropped off at the library for an entire day pains me personally and professionally. I want to hug them and feed them, but I also want to chastise the teens for gaming all day and being loud and rowdy. I don’t want adults to fear the teens who loiter at the library for hours on end, but I also want the teens to be comfortable spending time here. it’s a conundrum that even Josh answers with “I don’t know.” The struggle continues, but I appreciate what he wrote, and hope that his non-librarian readers take note.

The part of the book that was most educating for me was his experience with Tourette’s. I’ve never known anyone with the syndrome, or read about it. I find it fascinating that Josh learned to partially control his Tourette’s with weight lifting.

I might be the only person whose first three-hundred pound bench press was accompanied by the Recorded Books version of Don Quixote.

The way he wrote about his gym sessions made me reflect on my own 4-day a week sessions with pity. (I can walk after my leg workouts. Clearly I’m doing something wrong.) I’ve read other fitness memoirs, and this was just as good in that he didn’t use language I didn’t understand (or couldn’t figure out after a quick Google search).

Recommended for:
Josh didn’t exhaust discussion of one element from the title (Tourette’s, faith, strength, family, librarianship). Instead he gave each their allotted amount of time and respect, which kept me reading all through the 8-hour drive to Providence. I don’t think I paused once in Connecticut. I have recommended this book to fellow librarians, and also a Page who is leaving in a couple weeks for his own Mission trip (Josh’s re-telling of his own was heart-breaking, but an interesting glimpse into the life of a young Mormon for those of us non-Mormons). But this book would definitely appeal to non-librarians as well!

As I wrote earlier, Chelsea Handler’s Are You There Vodka, It’s me, Chelsea and Tina Fey’s Bossypants are similar in that they are not exhaustive of one element of their lives (acting, relationships, family), but all-inclusive and never boring.  Both are read by the author, making the audiobooks that much better.


Interesting facts:

The following image is of a sculpture hanging in the SLCPL, titled Psyche. It is 1,500 books and 850 butterflies made the look like a human head. In Greek, the word psyche means mind and butterfly. Some of the butterflies have writing on them, in 20 different languages, including phrases from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I just love this.


To see the value of a library, ignore the adults. Find an inquisitive child who doesn’t have an iPhone yet, take them to the library, and tell them that they can learn anything they want there.

The honesty of children

I was just perusing my favorite librarian blogs and came across this entry from the blog Screwy Decimal (get it?). It reminded me of a similar situation in which I feel the urge to share with you.

Back in the Winter of 2007 I was a server/waitress at a nice chophouse in Southern Maryland as a way to make a little extra money. (Because ‘full-time student’ and ‘part-time library associate’ weren’t enough to fill my time…) I had a table of a couple pretentious adults who thought it was a good idea to take their elementary-school aged daughter and her friend to a nice restaurant. The adults drank and didn’t speak to each other, the girls sat at another table, talked endlessly and enjoyed their chicken tenders, fries, and Shirley Temples. As they were preparing to leave, the girls handed me a hand-written note that detailed why, exactly, I was their favorite waitress ever. Amongst other things, they liked my curly hair, smile, and that I stopped to talk to them. I still have the note (is it in my storage unit? my desk?) and whenever I happen to stumble across it, it makes my day all over again.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I love children and young adults. They are honest, but not to a fault (a la grandma circa Christmas 2002 when she asked…well, you know what she asked). They are polite to adults who are polite to them. They are emotional, interested, and so different from each other. I am impatiently awaiting the day I can get back into a job field that allows me to work with and for these special little creatures.

ALA Day 1

Today was day 1 of ALA. Well, technically it was day 2, but day one for me so that’s the chronology I’m using. My first event was YALSA 101, a “get to know the Young Adult Library Services Association” hour-long event which went much like speed dating. But instead of getting a new partner every few minutes, we moved to a new table to learn something new about YALSA. I learned about the blog/website presence, YA Lit Symposium in Albuquerque in Nov., and webinars. Then I made a few new friends at the YALSA Happy Hour, two from Howard County (MD) and one from OHIO!!

All in all, a great start to the event.