Friday, September 30, 2011

Think Tank Excitement

So, our library pre-AGM Think Tanks start next week (on Monday!) and I'm super excited about them. Our Chief Librarian sent the email inviting people yesterday (late, I know - I was sick Monday & Tuesday, and out of the office for most of the day on Wednesday and yesterday!), and I sent a reminder email today - and people are signing up! It's really exciting to me to get questions about it, and see the people who want to attend.

On that note, the questions I've received have been a great reminder to over-explain on a new idea. Most people get it after I explain... but there has been some confusion. Which is totally fair. A couple examples:
  • Is this going to be really gloomy? Is it going to be people getting together to complain? No! It's going to be upbeat, lively, and totally imaginative - we want a conversation that's totally blue sky, and not constrained by practical considerations... we'll get to those later. Certainly not a bitchfest! My co-chair and I will have none of that. 
  • Can co-op students participate? I don't want to take someone else's spot... YES! Students have a great perspective - they get what we're doing, coz they've worked with us, but aren't emotionally attached to the way we do things, AND they're likely talking to other students in other libraries... I WANT our co-op students there - I think their comments will be really valuable.
So yeah, I'm really excited about the next month at work - I think that these pre-AGM conversations, and the discussion of what we learned at the AGM, and going to be really interesting, and provide us with a nice infusion of enthusiasm and energy to shake things up. 

Destroy old ideas!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just Finished Reading - The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

[Before I get into this - could you please tell me where I'm finding time to read all of these books? Coz I'm not sure, to be honest.]

So, this is my second-to-last Kat Rosenfeld recommendation; The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice (read an interview with her here). It was eminently readable and quite good (although I found that it slowed down towards the end).

I once had a conversation with a friend about the gigantic old stone houses that litter the British countryside, and the incredible expense of maintaining them (which means that many of them simply rot away)... it was lovely to read a story that was partially set in one, and to see how the house influenced the characters' feelings.

It's ultimately a story of liberation, and learning, and one whose characters you don't want to leave when the book ends. Thumbs up!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whitewater Redux

So, this past weekend was awesome - dinner at the Fraser Cafe with the hubbub (deeelicious - we both had the Chef's Choice. Hurray for surprise meals!) and a lovely classical music concert (the violinist played a violin from 1715 lent to him exclusively by the Austrian National Bank!).

Saturday was a BBQ for the Board of a professional association I'm involved with. It was awesome to get together to hang out without talking about "work"... and I had a very good time. (Also, had tequila shots for the first time in a loooong time.)

I do, however, need to remember not to have such a good time on nights before early morning departures for whitewater rafting! Luckily the hangover dissipated pretty quickly... it was a good trip! Hubub and I brought my sister along too. The water level has dropped since we rafted a couple of weeks ago, so the water was tamer, but it was still a good time. And it didn't stop us from flipping our boat during a boat surf.
We went over sideways, like this.
We also did cliff jumping off of a higher cliff this time - 6m. In case you were wondering, that is more than enough time to really think about the fact that you're falling, and to shriek - twice. What can I say?

Not much to report on the injury front: a pretty contusion on my left forearm (banged it on the first aid kit while getting down for a rough spot; nice bruise & swelling), bumped my chin when we flipped but have nothing to show for it, and some bruises on my right shin which I suspect are rafting-related, but I can't prove anything.

So that was our last rafting trip for the summer, but what's next? I really want to raft the Ottawa next spring/early summer during high water, I'd like to catch the runs on the Magnetawan up in Georgian Bay, and the Petawawa sounds great... I think it's going to be a busy spring!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Reimagining Library Real Estate

So, I'm on the planning team for our library's AGM this fall, and we're going to be doing something a bit different - convening mini think-tanks on three key strategic areas, and then rolling up the discussions and reporting back at the AGM. This way, we get to hear more voices/voices that aren't usually heard, and really engage staff at all levels, and in all areas (our library system is country-wide!) on some important issues/potential issues for our library. Specifically, we're going to be talking about:
  • Reimagining Real Estate
  • Reimagining Technical and Access Services
  • Reimagining Library Services
My planning co-chair and I had an awesome discussion yesterday about the think tanks, and then we got to thinking about the space we occupy here in Ottawa... and we got REALLY radical. (I don't want to expand at the moment, because I don't want to influence the discussions...) And it was exciting. And now I want to build a business case to actually do it.

My hubbub pointed out last night that these are decisions "above my pay grade." True - but I've been thinking a lot about where my strengths are (as I said yesterday, I don't think they're in reference, even though I like it), and I think it's strategy. And planning. So I want to do more of that. So that's what I'm going to do, insofar as possible. The way to learn how to do it, for me, is to just do it... This is why I'm so glad to work in a library where it is okay to make wild suggestions, even if they're not strictly within your job description.

(Also, the BeerBrarian has a good post about transforming library spaces. I'm going to have to see how to apply his suggestions at our libraries.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Toughest Reference Librarian Questions

Part of why I love reference work (even though it isn't my strongest suit as a librarian) is that you get to learn cool stuff. So I thought that this article, "What are the toughest questions tossed at reference librarians?" was a very neat one!

Let me just say, the questions mentioned in this article are tough. If confronted with one, I think I'd look like this...

Have you had any especially difficult or amusing reference questions?

We're Married - I Thought the Nightmares Would Stop

This is not me. But it could have been.
So, I had a wedding nightmare last night - which is not fair, because I paid those dues! I had the pre-wedding nightmares, and I thought I'd escaped that scourge - shouldn't there be other things for my subconcious to freak out about? But nooooo, I had to have a nightmare about having a second wedding ceremony that I didn't even want, with basically all of the same people who were at our actual wedding (so I had to worry that they'd be bored), and all kinds of details (like chairs. And copies of the readings. And programs) were missing, and I didn't want to be there. And we were having the ceremony on a partially boarded-over pool, so I had to worry about people falling into the water.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oh, indiscriminate squid...

My favourite line from this article is definitely the very last one. Please go read it!

And speaking of sex, I just finished reading The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle.

I generally agree with this Washington Post review, although I don't "almost wish I hadn't read it." I'm quite glad that I read it - I found it to be quite the page turner - although I agree that it is disturbing. The exploration of how the insistence that it is "just sex" impacts the relationships between the characters; how Milk's devotion to work influences his view of and relationship with the most important people in his life; the slippery slope into questionable moral practices that the characters slide down so easily (bring to mind Malcolm's rant in Jurassic Park: "You were so busy thinking about whether you could that you didn't stop to think about whether you should," or something along those lines)... I found it to be quite an interesting exploration of the intersection between our humanity and our "human animal" -ness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Little Bit of Awesome

Saw this on Wild Olive's blog today - love it. Would have nowhere to put it, but love that it exists (and that the Irish coffee is a redhead!)

This poster is available on (where else?) Etsy

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm on the Vibrams Bandwagon

These are my new shoes. I feel like Tony the Tiger when I wear them
So, I've been toying with the idea of picking up some Vibram Fivefingers for pretty much forever. And Friday after work, I finally did! Need for appropriate whitewater rafting footwear + Sports4 Groupon = Vibrams!

I've got the KomodoSports. They have a "more agressive" sole than some of the other models, and a nice cloth upper. I think that will let me wear them longer this season. The bottom looks like this:
I wore them around lots this weekend, and I like 'em. I've had a bit of toe cramping, but other than that, the adjustment has been pretty easy. Maybe because I've been walking around barefoot as much as possible this summer?

Haven't been running in them (not sure I want to, honestly), but I plan on taking them for a test drive at the gym this afternoon. I picked up some socks for them too... and had one of the most hilarious conversations with the hubbub (who is not a fan of the Vibrams) of the course of our marriage. It went something like this:

Me: Would you object to coming to the store with me to get some creepy toe socks for my Vibrams? Would you object to having them in the house?
Him: (Deadpan look) I object to having them in my universe.
Me: But you didn't object to be bringing the shoes into the house.
Him: I think they're really weird. I tolerate them because I love you very much.
Me: Uncontrollable fit of laughter.

I wish all of my footwear brought this much mirth into our household.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How To Pick a Library School

The first thing you need to do is watch this video about why going to library school is a bad idea. And then you should watch the sequel, about library job hunting!

So, there is lots out there about picking a library school - most recently for me, a thread on reddit from someone who wants to go to library school, asking where people went. I suggested that people going to library school should not worry about school reputations (unless you're hearing terrible things and want to avoid it), because employers don't care where you went to school. And I stand by that.

Employers care about:
  • You having a piece of paper from an ALA-accredited institution
  • Your skills
  • Your experience
If you have a very specific area of interest (archives; specific data or information management interests), you should go to a school that will cater to that. But everyone does public libraries, children's libraries, cataloguing, etc. So if you just want to go to library school, don't spend a whole bunch more money to go to a "better" school because you think it'll give you an edge up. School names rarely do.

Also, I'm very familiar with the challenge of "I need library experience to get a job, but I need a job to get library experience." The best thing I did at Western, in terms of my career, was to participate in the co-op program. (My first job was with the consulting firm I worked for for my 2nd co-op term; I was eligible for a special hiring vehicle, bridging, for my current position because I worked for the Government of Canada for my first co-op term.) So take advantage of work experience opportunities. Take advantage of networking opportunities. If you're the kind of person who will do that, go to a school with a co-op program. But whether or not you'll use those programs is highly dependent on the individual, and most schools do have some kind of co-op stuff (in Canada, anyways).

Bottom line: Don't spend extra money to go to a "better" library school. In terms of your career, it doesn't matter what school you go to. You're going to learn on the job. Do some research, avoid library schools that have bad reviews from students, and maybe pick a school with subject matter depth if you have a specific interest. Other than that, you should probably go to the cheapest place you can.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fun With Eggplants

So, Sofya has done it again (again because I use her yogurt recipe) with her Easy End-of-Summer Moussaka recipe. We had an eggplant that we needed to use, so I picked up the other stuff we needed, and gave this a shot this past weekend. It actually was really easy, and super yummy. I actually had 2 eggplants, so I think I ended up with an unfavourable meat : everything else ratio, but I wouldn't change anything other than making sure to use enough meat next time!
Eggplants are so pretty! I love their purpley goodness.
 Of note, I did soak the eggplant to get rid of the bitterness, which I think was a good call. I've always been intimidated by cooking with eggplants, and I've been slowly making my way towards cooking them more (putting them in with other roasted veg; hubbub makes baba ghanoush), and this recipe is an awesome one for a beginner eggplant-cooker. The eggplant was easily my fave part of this dish!

Also, it makes great leftovers. Yum! I think next up I'll try my hand at ratatouille.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just Finished Reading - Flight of the Maidens

Yet another Kat Rosenfeld special - she recommended 6 books, and I've got 3 left to review - and one I really like. Flight of the Maidens is about 3 girls in post-WWII England preparing to go off to college, and learning a lot about themselves and their relationships with other people. There's a lot of reading between the lines for the reader, which I think allows us to better understand how much guesswork these young women have to do as they try to navigate a rather pivotal moment in growing up.

I wasn't blown away, but I liked it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Run For The Cure

Hi everyone -
For the third time, I'm going to be doing Run For The Cure again this year. If you're at all inclined to support me (I've got a fundraising goal of 150$), I'd be very grateful; if not financially, then I'd appreciate your warm fuzzy thoughts!
Thank you!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Whitewater Rafting - Heck Yes!

This weekend the hubbub and I went whitewater rafting with Esprit Whitewater. It was awesome. We got a great deal with a Groupon they had earlier this summer, and I'm so glad that we went for it. I had been rafting when I was 16 (in northern Quebec, but I don't remember which river), and could remember that I liked it (says the girl who bounced out of the boat on one of the rapids!), but that was pretty much it. Tim had never been.

We headed to basecamp (about a 2 hour drive from Ottawa) on Friday after work, set up our tent, and had dinner.
Basecamp at sunset. From

We turned in early because we needed to be up for breakfast at 7 (breakkie was pretty good), and were on a bus to the put-in at 8.30. In our briefing, the lead guide mentioned that anyone who is "thermally fragile" might want to rent a wetsuit, which I did. ("Thermally fragile," by the way, may be my new fave saying.) I'm glad I had it - the water was warm, but it was about 19 degrees out, so I think I would have been too chilly to really enjoy myself without it.

Put in. From Library Playground's Flickr

And enjoy myself I did! Our guide, Dave, was awesome, and we only had 3 other people in our raft - Dave, Tim, and Upalma (yes, two Tims and two Daves!). We made a great team, and had a blast. We only lost someone (not-guide Dave) from the boat in the rapids once, early in the day.

We totally did this.
We did this too...

We rafted two channels of the river, with a delicious lunch in the middle, and then headed back to basecamp for a bbq dinner (which was okay, but not worth the 25$ each) and another night of camping. All in all, a fantastic weekend, but I think we'll make it a day trip next time (oh, there will be a next time. Possibly in about 2 weeks...) Apparently, the Ottawa river is one of the top whitewater rafting spot in North America. I'm looking forward to trying it out in the spring - the rapids are different when the water is higher.

This is not us, but we looked like this at the end of the day. Thanks to Library Playground's Flickr.

Also, I'm mostly uninjured, but not completely unscathed (because it isn't a real adventure if you don't have something to show for it, right?). I've got a wicked bruise on the top of my right foot from where I kicked a bench, and an even more impressive bruise of unknown origin on my left ankle. Also, my right quad is killing me whenever I use it. But all in all, totally worth it.

Focus on the bruise, not the weird angle...
It's more impressive in real life.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday! Lovely Library Links

So, yesterday was great! Loooong, but great. I didn't end up touching a camera, but was the organizer-person for my team (we were 2 teams of 2 videographers and an organizer person), and it was great. Finding people we needed to shoot, making sure we had everything we needed, keeping an eye on the schedule (and rejigging frequently, oy!), telling execs that they had to use the bathroom at the other end of the hall coz we were filming... aaaah. Good times. And the people I was working with are awesome, which always helps. Next up: editing! Others have the lead on it, but I'm planning on lending a hand - need to practice, or I'll forget how to use Premiere!

We're going camping & whitewater rafting this weekend. I can't wait. So excited. And here's some excitement for you (library types, anyways)!

15 Incredible Libraries Around the World (saw this on Twitter, and Facebook - thanks, K!)

Soooo pretty.
Meet The Guy Spending 10 Days in Jail for Overdue Library Books

Poor Guy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Now For Something Different

My library had an extensive video collection, and a Video Community of Practice, of which I am a part. We were asked to film parts of the Deputy Minister's Leadership Forum. So I'm spending the day at the brand new Ottawa Convention Centre (I really like what I've seen so far) with a couple hundred execs, a bunch of scientists, some awesome facilitators, and my VCoP peeps. We've got a tight shooting schedule, and I anticipate being exhausted by end of day, but it is awesome to be here!

Also, when I pulled out my phone to blog this, I realised I didn't charge it last night. Damn. Rookie mistake.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just Finished Reading - Freedom, The Gargoyle, Rex Libris

It was a busy reading weekend for me! Helps that I was off on Monday. Now I have some reviews for you!

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

This book was definitely "meh" to me. For some reason, it was a very slow read (maybe because I didn't love it, or something about the language? I dunno). It gradually got better, but I could easily have walked away from it at pretty much any point. I kept reading it because Kat Rosenfeld said I should, but it turns out that not everything that comes out of her mouth (blog) is Gospel. Only most of it.

The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson

Another Rosenfeld recommendation, and this time I agreed. I read this one in two days. I don't think it compares with Life of Pi as someone claims on the dust jacket, but it's definitely a good read - a love story of the definitely-not-Nicholas-Sparks genre (I'm guessing here, because I've never actually read a Sparks book or seen a Sparks movie). Plus, Davidson is Canadian, which is always exciting.

 Rex Libris: Book of Monsters, James Turner

Um, who doesn't love a graphic novel about an ass-kicking librarian who is always setting about saving the world? I love the literary references in this series. So fun!

Soup Weather, Carrot-Ginger Style

So, it's been cooling off here in Ottawa. Saturday and Sunday were ickily humid, but yesterday - yesterday's weather was perfect. I love the fall so much - not least of all because I can cozy up with a delicious bowl of soup. Ever since picking up an immersion blender, the idea of blended soups has gotten MUCH less daunting.
Love it. Use it all the time.
Yesterday I made an amazing carrot ginger soup, from Eat, Live, Run. Seriously, try it. I'm on my own for dinner tonight, so I may have to make more (the hubbub ate the leftovers), because it is just that good.

Plus, I now have a bag of shallots I need to use up. Anyone have suggestions on what to do with them?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labour Day! Maxims edition

Hi friends! So I'm sitting here on my couch, all Lululemon'ed up, coffee in hand. The plan is to do some yoga at some point this morning. They say to dress for success, right? I think I'm much more likely to go through with it now that I'm not in pyjamas anymore.

Saturday we spent a couple of hours grocery shopping, including a trip to Costco. As we were walking down the cereal aisle, I saw a Super Jumbo box of "New Chocolate Cheerios!" I expressed my skepticism to my hubbub* and some random guy was like "No! Get them! They're so good! They're not overly sweet - I get them for me, not my kids." Still skeptical, but deciding that 8$ is a fine price to pay for not offending the friendly man, I grabbed a box - and they're delicious. Definitely a treat, but yummy and cocoa-y, and I agree - not too sweet. They say to try new things.

Anyways, my plan for today is breakfast, yoga, shower, some light housekeeping, maybe some reading, probably watching Jurrassic Park. They say to do one thing a day that scares you...

*My phone autocorrects hubby to hubbub. Which I think is awesome, so I've taken to calling him that. Hahaha.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's back to school time! Yay! I always loved going back to school, and since finishing school, the beginning of September always makes me nostalgic, and a little sad that I'm no longer a student. (I'd love to be working on a school campus right now!) And then I think about how nice it is to make real money, and that helps brighten things up. Anyways, September always seems like more of a "New Year" than January 1st. After the schedule craziness that always comes with summer, September 1st is the ideal time to start getting back into regular habits - for I truly am a creature of habit. I'm much happier, and feel much more in control of my life, when there's a consistent rhythm to the things I do (work, exercise, household duties, leisure time, etc).

 Of course, I've gotten out of the habit of having habits, so the first thing I need to do (tonight!) is hash out a schedule that I think will work for me/us. And then... to implement!

Yes! Just like that. This guy gets it.