Thursday, December 3, 2015

Best Books of 2015

It's that time of year again...this year's personal best list might be a little lop-sided with backlist, but I excluded anything I read for committee work.

Adult and Literary


Petropolis by Anya Ulinich

Some really robust writing that spans continents and eras as witness to the dissolution of the Soviet regime. Ulinich is a talented graphic novelist as well (Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel).

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If you have older relatives, you can’t help but laugh. And cry. And laugh some more. Chast gets it right.

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The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

For some reason, I had an entirely wrong idea about what this novel was about. Tartt shows her Mississippi roots by depicting a wide range of far-from-stock Southern types in a show-stopper of a novel. I should have picked it up earlier.


Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

It’s like The House of Mirth, but in the heady days of the oughts. Start up sensibilities, old money mores, and the corrupt Wall Street culture collide.

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This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

It’s about baseball, the Home Run Derby of 1998 as backdrop for a former minor league standout trying to liberate his daughters from the foster care system after his ex-wife's overdose. I had been disappointed by Cash's ballyhooed debut, but I loved this one.


The Foolish Gentlewoman by Marjorie Sharp

Marjorie Sharp wrote The Rescuers, and some surprisingly deft mid-century fiction for grown-ups. This one opens with the titular heroine cowering in the bath while the bailiffs come to re-posses her furniture.

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Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor

This pairs nicely with the Chast -- an elderly woman goes to live in a residential hotel filled with her contemporaries in decline. The loneliness resonates in Mrs. Palfrey's concoction of a loving grandson.



Glory glimpses a frightening future and rises to meet it in this exhilarating tour-de-force that manages to be about everything, but mostly about the way politicians can frame the most evil things as for the common good.


Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

It's not just about pageants, or fat girls. Willadean inspires every reader to find their place on stage.

Dazzling Debuts

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Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

O'Neill's future is only a little more remote than Glory O'Brien's. Women have value only as refracted through men. I hope this is a feminist manifesto for the fourth wave.

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

This was recommended, or I might not have picked it up, but I was thrilled I did. Silvera has a great ear for language and captures the cadences and communities of the Bronx rather perfectly in this twisty tale. Realistic fiction readers needn't be put off by the just-slightly-fantastical premise.

Things Get Dangerous


Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

It's like Gossip Girl meets Amanda Knox. What really happened among the group of vacationing friends? Who was at the beach when? Frothy, but fun.


The Fever by Megan Abbott

Abbott is pitch-perfect in drawing a largely female cast in this novel where the seemingly inexplicable is rooted in garden-variety high school dynamics. Abbott is hugely underrated, probably because she writes about women.

ALA Finds


Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Giles documents the unlikely friendship of two girls sent to live in a care-in-the-community set-up. This is a book which changes readers. Schneider Family Book Award, 2015.


Confessions by Kanae Minato

Your nipponophiles will love this peek into Japanese classrooms and culture as the mystery of the teacher's son's death is covered from so many angels. Alex title, 2015.


Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I didn't go see Cain when she was an auditorium speaker at ALA, but I sure heard about this book. When I finally got around to reading it, it made me feel SO MUCH BETTER. About everything. As only a great book can.

This year's list is a little estrogen-laden, but so was this year for me.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I have been to a half-dozen AASL National Conferences now, but this year's was one of my favorites. I'm adding Columbus to my list of lovely Midwestern cities (along with Minneapolis and Chicago). The sessions were stimulating, and the conversations with old and new friends gave me much fodder for thought. I got a particular thrill from hearing Eszter Hargittai at the closing section, as she is one academic whose work I follow closely and believe reveal fundamental truths about our society and the ways we relate to technologies.

As I wrote earlier, I spoke twice, at the ESLS research session and with Maggie Crawford from the Newseum on using social media in the classroom. I got to help several librarians send their first tweets!

On the whole, the vibe was optimistic, especially coming after what seems like years of gloom-and-doom. It seems like more school librarians are trying new things and pushing the boundaries. Like "making," innovation, design thinking, and guided inquiry are all new names for old tricks. Two years from now, the event will be in Phoenix. I hope we will all have as many triumphs and inclusive moments to report.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

On my way to AASL...

I was at a meeting today -- if I were staging my biopic, I'd want a whole committee deliberation where things are praised as being "literary" or decried as "not literary," which is ridiculous because so many amazing things are not literary and so many terrible things are literary -- and a retired school librarian asked me if I were going to AASL. Her nice recollections about the conference, which she described so sincerely as her favorite, made me slow down and appreciate the fact that I'll be in Columbus, somewhere I've never been, tomorrow morning for our every-other-year professional meeting. Thousands of school librarians...

I'm doing two presentations, both on Saturday. I'm speaking on a research panel for the Educator of School Librarians Section (ESLS) early that morning and then with Maggie Crawford from the Newseum for the "Making a Change" session later in the afternoon. I'm most looking forward to hearing Eszter Hargittai, the really incisive sociologist whose work on the "second level digital divide" really inspired my own beginning doctoral work.

Now I'm really glad to be headed to AASL. What had seemed like a chore now feels like a thrill.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What October?

I can say without a doubt the last two months have seemed like an eon, replete with all sorts of onerous tasks, wasted time, and and tying of up loose ends. As much as I love Halloween and all the autumn changes, I'm ready for the calendar to turn to November.

The #IBBYNYC Regional was as amazing as I knew it would be. The walking tour with Leonard Marcus, talking about the picture book bohemia that was Greenwich Village not so long ago, was a definite highlight, but I think about all the listening I did -- I heard Lois Lowry talk about falling in love late in life and Chris Radschka talking about Vera C. Williams dying, Susan Cooper being skewered for writing about Native Americans in Ghost Hawk, David Almond sharing his notebooks, translators talking about being funded by supportive national governments rather than publishers -- a whole world of ways of living, the sort of treat that will keep me going. And I managed to see Hamilton, which was as good, and as strange as everyone said it was. A mixed race hip hop musical about the Founding Fathers? Isn't that a Simpsons' punchline? 

Now, I'm in the weeds with award committee reading. If you're more organized than I am, tonight and tomorrow night, the Library of Congress is hosting some interesting online sessions for teachers looking to do more with inquiry, questioning, and primary sources in the classroom. Sign up here.

Monday, September 28, 2015


I bought three brand-new shiny young adult books this month, and I plan to keep all of them for myself. That almost never happens. But I couldn't resist:

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill,  because Only Ever Yours really was that good. I imported this one.

Most Dangerous by Steven Sheinkin. After hearing the Pentagon Papers bandied about as the whistleblower touchstone in ALA Council chambers, I felt I needed to know more, and Sheinkin is never boring. Now I sort of have a crush on Daniel Ellsburg.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, because the ARC rocked my world and I wanted that adorable pre-order pin. Murphy will be in Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books next week, so I'm determined to shower her with the praise she so rightly deserves.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The greatest generation

My husband has some remarkable longevity in his family. Until just a handful of years ago, all of his grandparents were still living. The second of his grandfathers died last week at home. It was expected, but still difficult.

Harry was crazy athletic and physically active well into his late eighties, had served in the South Pacific theater (Guadalcanal), and was one of the first Marines to work with the nascent technology that would become radar. I never knew either of my grandfathers, but since I've been married for almost twenty years, Harry and my other late grandfather-in-law, Barry, filled those roles for me. They were funny, smart and unflaggingly supportive.

Harry was the archetypal patriarch, and a role model for us all. I feel especially fortunate to be a member of such a loyal and expansive extended family through marriage. Now, we will all worry about and dote upon his widow, left alone after seventy years. Hers is a position that seems both incredibly fortunate and incredibly difficult.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Setting a Watchman

I really didn’t want to read Go Set a Watchman. I was in shock, at ALA Midwinter, when it’s discovery was announced. I, like so many Alabamians, was so suspicious. To Kill a Mockingbird is such a part of our culture. What were they doing to Harper Lee’s legacy?

But it wasn’t just OUR story. In Massachusetts, I saw readers clutching their copies the day it came out in July. Will we ever really know the true story behind the discovery? Is it a draft? Is it a sequel? Is it “secondin a series” as the Overdrive metadata asserts? How much was it (and TKAM) shaped by an editorial hand? I would love to see a really talented literary scholar get their hands on those respective manuscripts.

Frankly, I can’t see it as a draft. If the cover didn’t evoke the other, if the authorial name were different, if not for the shared place and personal names, would I have even of connected the two works?

There’s just enough allusion to the “meat” of the Tom Robinson trial, and of Scout’s growing up, for continuity’s sake. But it’s very much about Scout as pubescent, as a teen, about Jean Louise as 1950’s era New York bohemian, about what happens when women in claustrophobic small towns get married. It’s more Shirley Ann Grau or Ellen Gilchrist than TKAM, laced with a much more modern feel. There were passages I loved. The description of the surreptitious ways that people in Maycomb drank was spot-on.

And I think the pre-publishing indictment of Atticus as racist is a little pat. His joining the Citizen’s Council “to keep an eye on things,” him wanting progress, but at a more measured place, echoed conversations I heard growing up, but not from any one with malice in their heart, just people favored by the status quo, people who weren’t cut out to be crusaders. I guess I forgive them, and I forgive Harper Collins, and Tonja Carter.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The opposite of quiet


Reading Quiet this summer was a revelation. Since Susan Cain spoke at ALA Annual, I know I am late to this particular introversion insight. I had never thought of spending time by myself as anything other than a luxury, but Cain made me see it instead as fundamental to my own self-care.

Probably related to that introversion, I spend a lot of time and effort trying to keep a low profile. Maybe it’s because I believe, a la Banksy, in my heart of heart, there’s no such thing as good publicity.


But when SLJ asked me to appear on the cover of their tech survey issue, I agreed. It was too ideal an opportunity to talk about some of my favorite cutting-edge technologies. I was tickled to showcase Google Cardboard (my YALSA App of the Week review) because it is so utterly democratizing for VR, and the Sphero because I see the terrific potential for gateway coding through both the drawing and command line interfaces. These are the sorts of things I am super-passionate about but find it difficult to sell to teachers.

So this happened:

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I certainly never thought I’d appear on the cover of ANY magazine, and certainly not in my forties. I thought it would be more of a headshot, or I probably would have dressed a little differently, but it was fun. The fact I knew the photographer, one of my husband’s newspaper colleagues, helped.

Anyway, I really appreciate all the kind thoughts from my library world friends. The whole thing makes me feel incredibly shy, like a bit of a spectacle. Conversely, I might be a little weird in that public speaking does not bother me in the least. What does bother me is walking into a party. Even if I know everyone there. Just thinking about that makes me want to take a nap.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Glory Glory!

I have always enjoyed the Walden list from the Assembly for Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN), and I do think the Walden Committee has outdone itself this year.

The five finalists are splendid, and varied, and four of them are by women.

The 2015 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Finalists

Diamond Boy by Michael Williams
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Revolution (The Sixties Trilogy) by Deborah Wiles

We all know how I feel about Gabi... but the winner, Glory O'Brien, shook my world for weeks. I kept looking at people, wandering around like I'd drunk that bat and saw that same awful future where women were chattel without personal agency, in the name of protecting the family.

It was dark, but so so moving. Bravo A.S. King. See you in Minneapolis in November!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Find out who you are and do it on purpose

I just finished a book so good and so resonant I didn't want it to end: Dumplin', by Julie Murphy. Willowdean Dickson is a heroine for the ages. I know this will be a go-to recommendation and a regular re-read when I need a boost. In fact, I'm sure I'll revisit the painfully small Adobe Digital Edition text well before the pub date. 

Coming on the heels of reading Adam Silvera's showstopper More Happy Than Not, it seems like 2015 is shaping up as quite the year from YA voice. 

It seems like everyone I know is grappling with anxieties, body images issues, and forms of grief. Hearing someone else giving voice to their challenges and seeing it through to the other side can make reading a transcendental experience. But whatever will I read next?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Let's Get Real, Your Little Free Library is Just a Shelf of Books You Don't Want Anymore

In Nebraska. people claim that the books in those twee Little Free Libraries in front of their houses have been taken! More precisely, too many books were taken! From the shelf of books people are supposed to take. That anyone could feign outrage demonstrates a lack of fundamental understanding about what a library, and especially a Public Library, happens to be, and how that differs from an LFL.

Sorry, but there aren't limits on what someone can take when you put a box of things on your curb. And few of the inventories of LFLs equal the number of things one can borrow under checkout limits at my local actual Public Library in our county. So basically, these LFL promoters are dilettantes who want the minimal cachet of the profession of librarianship, but only want people to take one book at a time? Which suggests a basic lack of understand of reading behavior.

But I'm not surprised, because the LFL crowd doesn't get collections, either. I've looked in the LFLs that abound around my area. There isn't anything in there I'd want to read. A few potboilers, outdated self-help, poorly-bound book fair paperbacks from a decade ago, pages falling out. Clearly, the owners are no librarians, or they would have weeded all the contents wholesale. Let's call it what it is -- your cast-offs, Lady Bountiful.

My husband and some of his friends own a microbrewery. Someone who works there wanted to start a "Public Library" shelf. What was on said shelf? Free community newspapers. So it's more a newsstand, but with only free things. I suggested they allocate a few cents from each sale to the purchase of quality materials. I'd volunteer to do selection. But then they got up in arms about how to get anything good back.

Welcome to librarianship.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Approaching Walden

Every summer, I like to learn about something totally new, another string to my bow....lately, I've been on an Americanist kick. Last summer, it was Emily Dickinson, where one of my co-NEH fellows testified that the best learning experience she'd ever had was at Approaching Walden, held at the Thoreau Institute.

I had the opportunity to go to Concord to immerse myself last week as part of that program. It was a little amazing how easily the aura of Thoreau was debunked by learning about his actual time in the woods near that titular pond. I realized so much of what we think we know about Thoreau was a consciously cultivated persona he crafted to be provocative rather than reflecting the actuality of his experience.

The biggest surprise was not the time spent hiking and observing in nature, but, and I think it was partly because of the makeup of the group of the two dozen excellent teachers, most from Massachusetts but others from all over, I came out of the week on a real social justice mission. It didn't hurt that we had a terrific lecture from visiting scholar Ali Taghdgarreh about translating Walden into Farsi, which got all us thinking a little more broadly about our own access to information.

I always enjoy New England, and in addition to Walden Pond, Concord is home to the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, the Old Manse, the North Bridge, and Orchard House, and close to Brook Farm.

I got to visit some of my friends coming and going. On the heels of a busy ALA, it had been a while since I've been so continuously social. As Thoreau wrote, "I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep. and if I don't get enough this year, I shall cry all the next." But it was worth breaking that summer quiet for the thinking and learning this last week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Librarians unite in San Francisco

Sometimes, I think this little blog is devolving into a debrief of my conference experiences. Well,  my very personal experiences, when you consider that I'm posting the more interesting bits to SLJ (Early Learning and Law and OrderThe Los Angeles Public Library Asks what's Your Queery?; and Teaching Kids to Deconstruct the Advertising Pitch).

I was in a funk before I left, what with the Charleston massacre. I was also feeling regionally shamed. Now we have to change the names of basically everything from the nineteenth century down here and suffer self-congratulatory editorials from Yankees about how, because of one nutjob, the south shames the rest of America? But of course that was offset somewhat by the Supreme Court decision.

The San Francisco Pride route went literally right through the middle of ALA. It was a joyous celebration.

My favorite thing this year was the 'zine pavilion. I really want to work on these sorts of old school self-publishing projects with teens. And I got to play with a letterpress, bonus! Thanks to Annemarie Munn of Ladybones Print Shop for sharing. I'm totally in the market if you run across one...

Another awesome creative thing at Annual: the Recovering the Classics display. Another great activity to borrow to get teens thinking and (dare I say it?) making things. I will at least add an object to that omnipresent verb.

On the work side of things, I presented with Sarah Hill and Laura Ward on the Common Core. My slides below.

I also got to help introduce Dutch picture book author-illustrators Ingrid and Dieter Schubert at the USBBY program. I love this picture of Jenny Brown, who is who I want to be when I grow up as she has not just one but two great gigs, as children's editor and director of the Center for Children's Literature at the Bank Street College of Education, snapping their picture.

My biggest personal event was the Odyssey Award celebration Monday afternoon (hence the rather bedraggled committee members at the top). After listening to them for hours on end, finally meeting Chris Myers and Dion Graham, Jayne Entwhistle, and Tim Federle was just mind-blowing. I think a good time was had by all, especially as Chris and Dion read H.O.R.S.E. all the way through for us.

Friday, June 26, 2015

It's all about the reading

If you are a school librarian, you know the anguish of closing the library for the summer. As much as we can work to promote our pubic library's summer opportunities, you know some students won't have access to books after school is out, because they don't have a ride to the library or have families grappling with either overdue obligations or anxiety about incurring future obligations...

Why is this so critically important? Research proves that minutes reading equals academic achievement. 

I was thrilled to see my doctor "prescribing" reading this summer...cute tie in with the cooperative theme!

In Alabama, we have the Summer Learning Challenge (for those with home Internet connectivity...)

If your child is a voracious reader, it's going to be pretty much impossible to sate their need to read with your home library. I feel like too many educators and policymakers don't understand what this sort of volume of reading is like and how public and school libraries have help to nurture generations of Americans. For the lucky ones, reading is a family experience, as is visible in this really lovely PTA Family Reading Challenge.

I have the fondest memories of visiting both the branch and main public libraries during the summer, emerging with a pile of books to while away the hours. As a middle schooler, I spent months combing the silver screen celebrity biographies, perched under a towel at the swimming pool immersed the worlds of Frances Farmer, David Niven, Evelyn Keyes, and Lauren Bacall. There was another summer when I ripped through all of Dick Francis. And another summer where my grandmother told me she believed I was ready for Kathleen Winsor's potboiler, Forever Amber.

So what can we do for those without these sorts of family commitments? I'd love it if EVERY school library was open one day during the summer. I'd love it even more if we could send out books with postage-paid return envelopes to free-and-reduced lunch households. Failing that, I give away our donated copies and galleys. It's not really enough to get them through the summer, but at least it will keep them going for a week or two...and, in the world of Accelerated Reader and slavish lexile adherence, it acknowledges that just reading is more important than what they're reading.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summertime, summertime

This summer is practically pacing itself -- a week after school ends with no commitments, then our state association conferences last week, then another easy week before the particular madness that will be ALA Annual. ALA hasn't been back to San Francisco since my very first conference there in 2001, so it's sort of sweet to be heading in that direction.

Last week the amazing AASL President Terri Grief was our keynote at ASLA, the state school library association conference, and I was luck enough to hear here rapid-fire overview of 100 YA books she read most recently. I also got to listen to author Ted Dunagan and then have lunch with him and Dr. Betty Morris, one of my mentors.

I don't think we've ever had such an incredible turnout for ASLA, it was really thrilling to see us out in force and sporting the terrific #overdue tee shirts our vendors produced highlighting the necessity for state library materials funding. Our state superintendent spoke, said some nice things about the librarians present, and reassured us that funding would be incrementally increasing over the next few years. Four of the five school librarians in my district were there...

I spent a couple of nights hanging with my colleague Cyndy Dunning from Mt. Carmel Elementary in Madison County Schools. Cyndy has created lots of STEM activities in their space, and it was fun to hear all her little ones were up to there.

I love to present at AETC, our state ed tech event which follows on the heels of ASLA, and a few year ago, I started proposing the same session for both conferences in an effort to work smarter and not harder. This year, I presented on what started as an overview of design tools and ended as me waxing poetic about Canva, and got some really great feedback from attendees at ASLA and both my AETC sessions since then. Here's that....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The summer ahead....

Yesterday, I made a list of my summer commitments to give my administrators at school. It made me a little sad, seeing how few open days I have over the months of June and July. My friend Laura is thinking along the same lines.

I'm actually getting a little jump on things by leaving this weekend for a super-quick trip to Paris (if there is ever a tragic phrase, I think that might be it)...for the QQML conference, where I will be presenting with my dissertation advisor. It's the last of the lingering UNT things. A joint presentation was a condition of a faculty research grant we received, which will cover most of my airfare. I'll be back in time for graduation.

"Take a camera on your vacation" -- LC

The first week of May, I will be at home, having postponed my Haitian excursion due to vision issues, but my husband will be at a conference, then that next week is all our state conferences -- Alabama School Library Association (Monday, June 8), the Alabama Educational Technology Conference (Tuesday, June 9 to Thursday June 11), and our quarterly Alabama Library Association meeting (Friday, June 12).

June 24 to July 1 will be ALA Annual in San Francisco -- Batchelder meetings, Odyssey awards, and a presentation on the Common Core are on my horizon there.

July 7 to 9 I will be working with our state department of education in Montgomery on technology integration for our new Social Studies course of study.

July 11 to 18, I will be in the Boston area for the Walden Woods project for some Thoreau-based professional development.

July 24 to 28 will be an actual vacation -- Key West for Hemingway Days.

Our teacher institute is August 8. Eek!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The scariest thing ever to happen to me...

Not the tornado. No, Friday I woke up with a painful right eye. It got worse throughout the day. I spent the weekend in my glasses (which I almost never wear), noticing that my eyes hurt extra much when I tried to read Agatha Christie's Third Girl (my comfort reading). I listened to Z, Therese Fowler's Zelda Fitzgerald biopic, with my new bluetooth earbuds instead.


With my eye still very red and abraded feeling, I called into school this morning, and went to an ophthalmologist. It turns out that I have a corneal ulcer, something that, if not treated, can lead to "the loss of vision" full stop. I have pills, eyedrops, and an appointment to go back in a week. No contact lenses or eye makeup in the meantime (not exactly the look I was after in graduation season).  I am rather blind in my glasses, which the ophthalmologist said were too strong for me in any event. I have a feeling this is going to be a protracted ordeal.

It's only the briefest suggestion of what it would be like to be restricted in my most normal practice, but it gives me a new appreciation for my senses. I cannot wait until I can read again.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Sometimes, when I attempt to describe my dissertation research, I feel ridiculous. "I found that kids who read comics and other forms of visual narrative enjoy reading more and use the library more than peers who only read text."

Of course they do. But we live in an era where we have to prove *everything*.

Just like it's obviously beneficial to read aloud to children, and it helps to let them choose the books.

Really, have we lost all sense? When we have to go around constructing experiments to prove the worth of the arts and other public goods, I get even more apprehensive about our society.

Meanwhile, our president wants to hook everyone up with ebooks, just like Comcast wants to provide low-cost internet to households in poverty. There are such better ways to spend our money, but I guess it's up to us to prove it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Librarians: Information Superheroes!

In my last activity as Alabama Library Association president, I spent the bulk of last week in conference mode.

I had an incredible bay view from my quarters

My welcome note from the program:
It is truly and honor and privilege to be able to welcome you to our annual association convention. Like many of you, I have fond recollections of family trips to the beach, which in my childhood always meant Gulf Shores. Alabama’s gulf coast holds so many memories. I can vividly remember my first glimpse of the indelible bloodstain at Fort Morgan and especially treasure a romantic visit to the Malaga Inn in downtown Mobile. From the azalea trail to the first American Mardi Gras and the Moon Pie drop on New Year’s Eve, the Alabama Gulf Coast is home to a very special way of life, and I am especially thrilled that we will be able to include our colleagues in the Southeastern Library Association for this joint conference.
The lovely and historic setting at The Grand at Point Clear made it a natural choice for reconnecting with colleagues, recharging after a busy school year or semester, or gearing up before summer reading begins, and I hope that you will join me in taking the time for reflecting upon our tremendous privilege to work in such a valuable and fundamental role in our communities. Our event theme, “Information Superheroes,” is a nod to all we do. We hope that you will begin to recognize and publicize the Herculean tasks you accomplish daily and your many skills which you so selflessly deploy.

Last summer, I heard Discovering Alabama’s Doug Phillips describe our state as one of the richest places on the planet in terms of environmental diversity. This is one of the most special and unspoiled places in an area overflowing with natural beauty. Whether you are a native or a newer Alabamian, I think you will gain a special affection for the landmarks and landscape of Baldwin County over the course of this conference.

The conference committee is eager to share their local knowledge with you, and do let the members of your association’s governance know if we can help you with anything during the event. We have worked hard to make sure that there are a variety of speakers of both general and niche interests among our program, and hope you will enjoy this annual celebration and rejuvenation of the libraries of the state of Alabama.
Preconference tour of the bay front with local historian John Sledge
I picked a downright amazing convention committee chair who made the four days in Point Clear edifying and fun for everyone with a really adorable and apt superhero theme, which I wrote about here in The Communicator, our Association newsletter.

Keynote speaker Longmire author Craig Johnson with convention chair Wendy Congiardo

Best theme tie-in goes to my friends from Mountain Brook
I really only got the kindest feedback from the attendees and exhibitors who attended.

The exhibits were hopping every time I happened by.

Highlights included:
Rachel Hawkins delivered a sunny and heartfelt talk at the President's Luncheon.

The groundbreaking Lilly Ledbetter was among our Alabama Author Award winners.

What we all need: more silver!

My talk on leadership for our Emeritus Council program:


How could you not enjoy yourself with a setting this idyllic?

Then I spent Saturday repping the Association at the Alabama Book Festival.

Now that this year of heady responsibility is behind me, there are so many things I want to do in the library, so I'm hoping I can turn my attentions to some long-term planning. I feel like I've been overly reactionary for the last few years, making things work as best I can, and I want to spend the spring and summer shifting into a proactive mode in our great new space.
Special thanks to everyone who made the trek down south and those who make Alabama libraries services such a force for good -- I am convinced that we do indeed punch above our weight.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Front list reading problems

When you keep seeing reviews and even paid advertisements for a particular book, and you request it via one of those eARC services which can be such a demoralizing process, and then you get approved and try to read it and are just thoroughly nonplussed?

A sort of Easter-y bunny

It sort of calls into question the whole amateur reader-reviewer exoskeleton that is the bookblogosphere... and then if you don't review that eARC, because you can't say anything nice, what will that do to your NetGalley completion stats? These modern conundrums...