I’m Back! Kind of…sort of…

I'm Back

Heeeey, guys! Long time, no see! Soooooo…..back in January I “thought” that I had posted that I was taking a short break since I had my baby (adulting is hard; no joke). As I got back at it today, I realized that although I posted the page, I didn’t give the page anywhere to go. SO….no one saw my notice that I was putting myself on leave. What I said was

“Hi all!

I want to apologize for the temporary break in my posts. Baby is finally here and WHOA it has been an intense few weeks. So to all of those that were promised a review, I will get to them…but it will take a little longer than I expected. For those who just like to follow along, once baby and I are on some sort of schedule….because right now a good day is one where I actually put on something other than sweatpants…I will begin to post more regularly. You can also probably expect to see some children’s books, perhaps more personal posts, and will continue librarian posts once I go back to work.

I hope everyone has had a great start to 2017, and I will keep you posted on this temporary hiatus.

Pleasant Reading!”

Well, here it is April and I can finally breath a little bit. I mean, sure, I’m still wearing sweatpants all day everyday, but I have been able to carve out enough time for myself to both shower (sometimes) and READ! I had baby Zabka (that’s Polish for frog, and no that is not his real name) on December 1st. My hubs bought me a book for Christmas, and it took me about three months to finish it. So I went from reading about a book a week to barely reading at all. It was hard. HARD. But I finally have figured out how to get more reading in, so hopefully you’ll be seeing me more regularly.

As I sit here writing this sentence, Zabka is fussing on the monitor….”hopefully” is the keyword here. But I will try my best and give a valiant effort.

Now, I’m quite behind on my promised reviews, and I am truly sorry. I will follow through, but it will probably take me longer than one-a-month for a while. In any event. I’M BACK!!

 

When You’re Expecting

Hello Ladies and Gents!

So, I’ve been on a bit of hiatus lately and I wanted to apologize for my lack of posts. I’ve been feeling under the weather, and it’s been all I can do to focus just getting through the day. Why, you ask? Jamie, what is this mysterious illness? Well….I’m pregnant!  And so, in honor of my….ahem….condition….here is a list of 5 reads for the expecting parent(s).

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The Pregnancy Encyclopedia 

Pregnancy encycThe Pregnancy Encyclopedia is an engaging and accessible question-and-answer guide to some of the most commonly asked questions about pregnancy, packed with full-color photographs and illustrations.

The Pregnancy Encyclopedia has answers to all your questions—including the ones you haven’t even thought of yet. Top experts in the field offer encyclopedic coverage of the topics relating to pregnancy and birth, from fertility and family planning to nutrition and exercise to lifestyle changes, planning for the future, and more. In all, this comprehensive guide covers more than 300 topics of interest to expecting mothers and their partners.

The Pregnancy Encyclopedia is the only book that uses an engaging Q&A style with accompanying full-color photographs, illustrations, and infographics to help you understand what’s going on with your baby, your partner, and yourself.”

 

The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be

Expectant Father“We are expecting! The twentieth-anniversary edition of this thoroughly updated and revised parenting classic remains the most informative and reassuring book for expectant fathers everywhere. In addition to sharing the wisdom of the ages, Armin A. Brott, Mr. Dad, presents new insight into the emotional, financial, and physical—yes, physical—effects of impending parenthood on men. Thanks to this handy reference moms-to-be will know their partner understands and supports them during this anxious and exciting time, and that he has all the tools he needs to be a fantastic, hands-on dad.

This information-packed, month-by-month guide incorporates the expertise of top practitioners in their fields, from obstetricians and birth-class instructors to psychologists and sociologists. It also draws from Brott’s own experience as a father of three and from the real-world experiences of the thousands of dads he’s interviewed. With the humor of New Yorker cartoons and Brott’s gentle approach, The Expectant Father serves as a friendly and readable companion for dads-to-be seeking confidence, guidance, and joy!”

 

Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month

Your pregnancy“Based on ACOG guidelines and written by the experts in women’s health care, this new edition of Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month gives your patients the most accurate information available about pregnancy, childbirth, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, and the postpartum period. Key features include the following: Practical, straightforward advice about diet, exercise, prenatal visits and tests, and handling the discomforts of pregnancy Evidence-based guidance in making important decisions about issues such as pain management during labor, VBAC, and circumcision Separate sections on special concerns and complications, including obesity during pregnancy, diabetes, preterm labor, and preeclampsia Comprehensive, easy-to-understand coverage of the latest prenatal genetic screening and testing options, including risks and limitations New chapters on preconception care, reducing the risk of birth defects, and medical and non-medical pain relief options during labor.”

 

 

 

Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5

Caring for baby“All parents want to provide the very best care for their children. This essential resource from the most respected organization on child health is the one guide pediatricians routinely recommend and parents can safely trust, covering everything from preparing for childbirth to toilet training to nurturing your child’s self-esteem. Whether it’s resolving common childhood health problems or detailed instructions for coping with emergency medical situations, this new and revised edition of Caring for Your Baby and Young Child has everything you need:

• a review of necessary basic care from infancy through age five
• milestones for physical, emotional, social, and cognitive growth, including red flags for preventing obesity
• a complete health encyclopedia covering injuries, illnesses, congenital diseases, and other disabilities
• guidelines for prenatal and newborn care, with spotlights on maternal nutrition, exercise, and screening tests during pregnancy
• an in-depth discussion of breastfeeding, including its benefits, techniques, and challenges, as well as nutritional needs and vitamin/iron supplementation
• updated safety standards: the very latest AAP recommendations, from CPR instruction and immunizations to childproofing tips and product and toy safety
• tips for choosing child care programs and car safety seats
• ways to reduce your child’s exposure to environmental hazards, such as air pollution and secondhand smoke
• the latest reports on cutting-edge research into early brain development
• updated content dedicated to sleep and allergies (including food allergies)
• new chapter on the effects of media and technology exposure on children
• special messages for grandparents and stepfamilies
• and much more”

 

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic“Women looking for authoritative, accurate information from a reputable source will appreciate this pregnancy book from the world-class Mayo Clinic. It provides hundreds of pages of helpful information parents can use. Features include week-by-week updates on baby’s growth and month-by-month changes for mom, a 40-week pregnancy calendar, a symptoms guide, and a review of important pregnancy decisions. In this illustrated book you’ll also receive advice on how to get pregnant, meal planning, exercise, medication use and parenthood. Plus, you’ll find answers to difficult or embarrassing questions. This pregnancy book is the work of a team of pregnancy experts who find nothing in medicine more exciting and satisfying to experience than the birth of a child. Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy is an essential pregnancy resource for parents-to-be.”

Fangirling over Pierce Brown

All good things must come to an end….or do they??

Brown is currently on tour promoting Morning Star, his newest novel and epic conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy. So I popped in for the signing. And by “popped in” I mean I totally fangirled out, and sent my totally wonderful and devoted husband, Kamil, to B&N before the place even opened to snag my wristband. He hand delivered it to me at work. Thanks, babe! I usually drive, but I never would have made it to the 7:00PM event if I had. So I took the bus, which takes twice as long as my normal commute and hit the subway to the city after work. This is after I pre-ordered a copy, read the book, then bought a second copy to get into the signing.

When I arrived at Barnes & Noble (86th and Lex) I had about 10 minutes to spare. I asked the security guard where the event was, he told me to look for the large crowd of people on the lower level. Check. The line was literally weaving in and out of the stacks. I thought I found the end twice before some incredibly nice people (read sarcasm…) pointed out that the line kept going. Check. When I got there, someone noticed my sweet wrist wear and was like, “What are you doing back here? You have a wristband, you can just go in.” Hallelujah! Then she told me she hated me and I was all…”I know. I’m awesome right now. Eat it.” Well…she really said that, and I just smiled to myself while thinking that. Then I snagged myself a decent seat and that was that. Check.

We had an hour of Q&A with Brown and his editor Michael Braff, with some time for fan questions. Found out some pretty amazing things. The first question was literally a round of Love, Marry, Kill with a few of the characters. Hil-arious! He killed off Pax (not a spoiler at this point…we are in Book 3 already people…) by drawing his name out of a hat. Sticky notes seem to be the ultimate in high tech writing gear, and Red Rising only took him 2 months to pump out a working draft. Brown also publicly announced for the first time that his next novel will be the first in a new trilogy called Iron Gold and will stay in the Red Rising universe. Woohoo! Morning Star also hit #1 on the USA Today bestseller list.  USA Today broke the story during the signing. The cheering was insane (we got all of the howls out before Brown took the stage). Please excuse the ridiculously poor quality of my pictures. I didn’t have my Nikon on me, just my dumb obsolete phone camera.
pbrownsigning-2 pbrownsigning-3 pbrownsigning-6

We chatchitted a little bit, me all shaking with nerves and telling him I am a librarian. That I read all of the time, and because of that, it’s rare for me that a novel really comes to life for me like his has. He signed my trilogy set in their proper colors, told me my yellow sharpie was more of a bronzie gold to which I replied I thought it was more of a pixie yellow, and we posed for a picture. Then….as I was walking away feeling 50 shades of happy…he told me I smelled good. Seriously. I practically floated all the way home. Totally. Fangirling. Out. I freaking win. And bonus, I smell lovely. I wish I could make this post scratch-and-sniff! Also, I’m pretty sure we are wearing the exact same pants.

Who is that fox? Oh right...that's me! Just kidding, its Pierce Brown. I'm in the picture too though. :)
Who is that fox? Oh right…that’s me! Just kidding, its Pierce Brown. I’m in the picture too though. 🙂

 

How to Nail the Library Interview: from job description to offer

My spouse was recently transferred back to New York City after a short hiatus in Virginia. While he simply changed locations, I was left to face down the dreaded JOB HUNT. Not so fun. Like….at all. Not only are librarians fighting for work in a saturated market, they are fighting against budget cuts, lay-offs, hiring freezes, fierce competition, and competition from paraprofessionals. Let’s also not forget that librarians tend to get pigeon-holed into one particular aspect of librarianship and it’s not so easy to cross into unfamiliar territory. But coming from someone who just spent months becoming incredibly intimate with the process, both as the interviewer and the interviewee, I’ve learned that the key to a successful application process is very simple: be prepared. After that, everything else should fall into place. Now, a successful application process will not necessarily land you the job, but it will afford you great practice, lessen any anxiety, and allow you the space you need to evaluate your potential employer. After all, interviewing is a two-way street. So let’s dig in, shall we?

The Position

Let’s start with the position itself. The job description that is posted by employers is not written in stone. Think of it as more of a guideline than the end-all-be-all of what the position requires. It’s ok to reach! With that being said, be mindful that someone is on the other end sifting through possibly hundreds of resumes and/or applications and you should at least be somewhat in the qualified range.

Speaking of which, even though it is possible to get a job without meeting all the requirements specifically, you should be able to back up your experiences with related qualifications. For example, if a job requires a Master of Library and Information Science or equivalent, you should only apply if you have the degree. If a job requires 5+ years of experience, you may be able to get away with less if you can address the issue in your cover letter. The hardest part about job searching is that there are no hard and fast rules.

So go with your gut, pick your positions, and let the race begin!

The Resume

The best advice I ever received came from Alison Green, writer of the uber fantastic Ask a Manager blog, who suggests that your resume should be results-oriented as opposed to task-oriented. In other words, don’t make a list of your responsibilities. Instead, talk about specific outcomes that you experienced because of those responsibilities. Statistical information works really great for this. For example:

NOT THIS:

badresume

THIS:

 

goodresume

For me, that was the biggest shift, and once I switched it up, I was getting call backs immediately. There are many other factors that go into making a great resume, and a great cover letter to match, but switching to a results-orientated resume was probably the best thing I could have done for my job search. If you have to fill out an application, you can use that to fill out your responsibilities and tasks. I suggest you scope out Alison’s blog for resume, cover letter, and interviewing tips, as well as for advice for all things “workplace.” I also found that she has quite the following of librarians, so check it out. I highly recommend.

The Interview

Setting it up:

Hooray! Your application has been reviewed and you’ve been selected for an interview. Now what? First things first, make sure you receive all pertinent details about the place, time, and people that will be involved. It never hurts to send a follow-up e-mail confirming those details because even employers make mistakes during the process.

Once you have the details, most employers will ask, “Do you have any questions at this time?” It’s so early in the game that you might not think you do, but do yourself a favor and ask what the rest of the process will be like. I recently forgot this tiny little question and got surprised by being called back for a second interview when I only thought there would be one!

By far my most complicated interview process was for the university. I had a 45 minute phone screen with the Campus President, a panel interview, a phone interview with the Library Director, and a teaching demo, which I had never done before. It pays to ask that question, trust me.

The Interviewer in Me:

As an interviewer I look for a couple of key things:

  1. Honesty! I want to see if you would truly be the best fit for the position. It’s usually pretty obvious when someone is feeding me answers they think I want to hear. For example, my last position was very administrative. I hired someone else to tackle the creative aspect, i.e. displays, outreach, programming, etc. And she was fantastic at it, let me tell you! So when I was hiring my replacement, I asked a very simple question: “Do you find yourself drawn to more administrative or creative tasks?” The answer I got from almost every single candidate was immediately “BOTH!” with little to no specifics on why. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Specifics! Not all interviewers will ask situational questions. They might ask a couple, but regardless if they do or they don’t, please back up all your answers with examples. These should come from your professional experience, but if you don’t have any, or you are at a loss, drawing on your life experience works as well. Don’t answer questions with one word, we are looking for insights into your personality and thought process. It’s also OK to say “I don’t know,” but we are still going to want to hear how you approach problems you are unsure about. You just have to mentally work through it.
  3. Professionalism! This covers a whole range of things, including your wardrobe, but I’m mainly speaking here of how you approach your interviewer. When I ask personal sounding questions, such as the standard beginning question of “Tell us about yourself,” I’m asking about the professional you, not about your pets, your kids, or your hobbies. With that being said, it’s ok to relax and be personable. I’ve found the most successful interviews, coming from both sides of the table, is when we have been able to laugh and just enjoy the process for what it is: getting to know a candidate in the hopes of becoming colleagues. Professional doesn’t have to imply “stiff” but keep the digital pictures of your adorable puppy butt in your pocket. And turn your phone off!!
  4. We aren’t here to judge you! And if you do end up with a nasty interviewer, take that as a sign that you might want to seek employment elsewhere. Do you really want to work with people who are disrespectful when you are feeling vulnerable and nervous? I don’t. In fact, I’ve withdrawn applications from places where I got a weird vibe. The employer is not your judge, jury, and executioner. If they act like it, get out fast and don’t look back!

Commonly Asked Interview Questions

These questions will change based on what kind of library you are interviewing for, but here is a list of questions that I have asked, and been asked:

  1. Why are you interested in the position at “_” Library?
  2. Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult patron/student/coworker.
  3. How would you start a new partnership?
  4. Tell us about any programming or outreach you have done.
  5. How would you develop a program for adults/children?
  6. How do you deal with a situation where a patron wants to ban a book?
  7. How do you keep up with professional development?
  8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  9. Describe 3 genres and name 3 authors for each genre described.
  10. Define what customer service means to you.
  11. What are you reading right now?
  12. What’s your favorite database? Least favorite?
  13. Tell me how you approach the reference interview.
  14. What tools do you use for reader’s advisory?
  15. What was your favorite teamwork experience and why?
  16. Tell us about your experience with tech/web 2.0.
  17. How would you approach a group of teens that were being disruptive in the library?
  18. How would you handle a situation where a patron violates library policy?
  19. How do you feel about e-books?
  20. Where do you see the library headed? What will libraries look like in 5, 10, 20 years?
  21. What is your management style?
  22. Describe your work ethic.
  23. Tell us three qualities that set you apart from other candidates. Why are YOU the best candidate?

The above questions seem to pop up over and over again regardless of where I am. Of course, the questions will become more specific depending on what kind of position you are applying for, and how high up ladder you are climbing. I find the higher you go, the more resume focused the questions become. The interviewer will often tailor the interview based on what information they already know, and what they would like to see more of. Also be prepared for follow-up questions based on your answers.

And of course, there is always that one time when someone asks you a totally bizarre question. Totally not fair, but they happen anyway. Three real questions that I and my colleagues have been asked in interviews before are:

  1. What does your desk/personal work space at home look like? Describe it in detail. -I found out later that the previous librarian was a bit of a hoarder.
  2. If you were a song, what song would you be? -We still can’t figure this one out.
  3. How many hot dogs does the average American eat in a single year? -This was asked to feel out the candidate’s ability to solve statistical problems under pressure. The successful candidate was the one who thought through it and broke it down. They were wrong, but they got the job. Everyone else was stumped.

Asking Questions

After the interviewers have completed their questions, it’s your turn! Ask away! This is a pretty critical step. Good questions are a good indication that you have a serious investment in the position. However, there has to be a balance. Don’t ask questions that will put the interviewer on the spot, but DO ask questions that will reveal more about the position and the people you will be working for.

DO ASK:

  1. Can you walk me through a day in the life of someone in this position?
  2. How is this position evaluated?
  3. Where does this position fit in the organization?
  4. When can I expect a decision?
  5. What are some of the challenges someone in this position faces?
  6. Is there room for growth, opportunity, and development?
  7. Can you talk a little about the culture of the library and the community?

DON’T ASK:

  1. About the salary or benefits. This should come up once an offer has been made. However, I have found that in most libraries, this is non-negotiable anyway, but should be asked when you are ready to make a decision, not before.
  2. Do you have any concerns about my candidacy? This really puts interviewers on the spot. They need a minute to process everything, just like you. If you ask this, you risk making everyone uncomfortable.
  3. What is your management style? In the lucky event that you will be interviewed by the person who is managing you, this is another one that puts people on the defensive. I was asked this once and I was floored. Some people will say that this is totally appropriate to ask, but I would steer clear of it. You should get a good sense of how the person communicates, their body language, how they interact, just by being in the same room with them for an hour. Just don’t do it.
  4. No questions at all. Always come prepared with a few questions. If you are really interested in the position, some questions should come naturally. But remember, as I had to be reminded once, this isn’t a pop quiz. Ask questions until you are satisfied that you know enough about the position to make a decision should an offer be made.

The Follow Up

The follow up is not necessarily a deal breaker in the library interview process. Most of the time I can’t even remember how to tie my shoes after an interview let alone remember my panelists names and titles. I find that getting in contact with the person who initially contacted you about the process is the way to go.

Don’t just thank them for the opportunity, 2-way street, remember? Take some time to process the interview. Think about how you did, and any concerns you might have. When you are ready, compose a follow-up (an e-mail will suffice, no handwritten letters, cards, gifts, or phone-calls are necessary. PLEASE! Please, don’t send gifts). Reiterate your interest in the position, ask any additional questions you may have, and briefly highlight anything you think it is necessary to address from the interview. Keep it brief, but thoughtful. Perfunctory follow ups will not make or break your candidacy, but a genuine follow up will never hurt and can only help if it gets down to that point. But usually, once a decision has been made, the follow up doesn’t count for much.

And that my friends, is the library interview process in a long, long, nutshell. I hope you found some helpful advice! Please feel free to comment below! Share your interview questions, nightmares, advice, and tips!

Happy Job Hunting and Good Luck!

 

Goodbye, Book Club!

Goodbye, Book Club! I’m in the process of moving back to New York City, and these last few weeks are full of….well…lasts. On Wednesday I attended my last Book Club meeting. My wonderful fellow booktasters gave me a going away basket of bookish themed gifts! It was one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received, and I am so very grateful that I was able to get to know them and their unique tastes!

Let me set the scene for you. Every third Wednesday of the month, we get a table at 2nd Street American Bistro and order a round of Moscow Mules, onion rings, and Thai Poppin’ Shrimp. It’s delicious. There’s nothing better than books and beer (or in this case, vodka with a splash of ginger beer and a lime twist)! In fact, we have lately come to call ourselves the BBB, A.K.A. Books, Beer, and B*tches! Its become a bit of a ritual, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do without it. I can feel the loss already.

Anyway, as we sat down I was presented with a lovely basket full of the most ridiculous things. It took me a couple minutes of sifting through the assortment of seemingly unrelated things until I realized each gift represented a book we have read at 2nd Street.

The Gifts:

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and other lessons from the crematory by Caitlin Doughty

-Cigarettes. Thanks, but they aren’t menthol soooo…..

 

Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler

-Moscow Mule mug. Drinks go in here. That makes me happy. Every time I drink from it, I’ll think of 2nd Street!

 

The Glass Castle: a memoir by Jeanette Walls

-A glass friendship decoration. They tried to find one with a castle on it, but found a cottage instead. Eh, close enough…

 

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

-A red teacup and a trowel. My very dear colleague and friend Casey decided to use it on the way over to dig some bamboo up from the side of the road to transplant at her house. Plastic and bamboo don’t mix. I’ll be using my lightly used trowel for potting soil. I will treasure it forever!

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

-A porcelain bird in an iron birdcage. I can’t even. It will make a great edition to the garden and when I look on it I will think of The Bird.

 

They also gave me a copy of the next BBB book, You Deserve a Drink: boozy misadventures and tales of debauchery by Mamrie Hart. I’ll drink to that. Leave a seat open in my memory, Ladies!

 

 

 

The Moving Picture Words

Image by www.flickr.com/photos/cblue98/

Whenever I hear about people complaining that reading is unenjoyable, I’m always a little bit floored. I mean, to each his own, but I can never seem to wrap my head around it. When I read, it’s like watching a movie in my head. I hear the dialogue, I watch the scenes unfold. I’m not seeing the words on the page, the words transform themselves into something else entirely. Each word emits a color, a sensation, a tone, that I can see and hear on the great silver screen that is my mind.

I recently stumbled across this article from Scientific American that confirms that this is what is actually happening. As our eyes relay words on the page, the same part of the brain that is used for sight and sound is activated.  So cool. On the downside…turns out I don’t have super powers after all. How do you read?

When We Read, We Recognize Words as Pictures and Hear Them Spoken Aloud