An American passport, with a gold eagle embossed onto the cover.

Libraries Are Still For Everyone, Period

In my reference class this spring, we talked about the ethics of librarianship and our duties as reference librarians when creating our policies to think about how it impacts patrons. My professor said that we should think about who a policy harms as much as it helps, and it is something that has stuck with me: every policy hurts someone, intentionally or not.

Consider my old undergraduate library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis: alumni could check out books but could not use interlibrary loan or access consortia books. Non-UMSL affiliated could use our public computer terminals, but not our Wi-Fi, as it was tied into student and staff logins. Access for some people means less access for others, and there are varying levels of access for all patrons, on multiple levels.

However, when libraries start throwing up artificial accessibility barriers, that’s a problem. At Librarian.net, someone wrote in saying that a local U.S. library was asking for patron’s proof of citizenship before they could get a library card. The article writer gave them a lot of good resources, but it rankles that it should even be happening. They did say something worth repeating outside of the various links and organizations provided: Everyone should be allowed to use the public libraries and everyone should be welcome.

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Starting Summer Semester

Now that finals are over and I’ve finished moving into summer housing, I’ll be starting up the summer semester and my second semester overall as a library science graduate. I’d like to keep the blog regularly updated during the summer, with more posts on physics and books and library science, as well as more flash fiction. I’m also taking two classes and have a part-time job, so sometimes blogging will be lower on my priority list, but it will never be fully forgotten.

Anyway, until then, I’m totally obsessed with Carly Rae Jepsen’s EMOTION album, so enjoy the title track below:

I Just Entered The Adventure Zone

For those who haven’t heard of it, it is the Dungeons and Dragons-based podcast run by the McElroy Brothers of My Brother, My Brother and Me fame, only now including their father. It is quite delightful and I would readily recommend it for tabletop/roleplaying fans and MBMBaM fans overall. And you can listen to them on YouTube and iTunes among other sites; the first episode is below!

I had not shared a new favorite in a long time, so I hope people who haven’t found TAZ yet enjoy this first episode of a series that I believe is now 60+ episodes in.

Some News Re: “Did You Leave Any For Me”

For those who pay attention to the “my writing” tab up top on my website, you may have noticed that the rights to “Did You Leave Any For Me”, my first professionally published piece of fiction, have returned to the author aka myself. All of this happened a few weeks ago, but I’ve only now had the time to talk about it publicly. There is now also a note saying that new i.e. digital copies of this short story will no longer be available to purchase.

However, I know that not everything happens as smoothly as we may want, and there might be some vendors out there who haven’t gotten the notice yet. So, if you see the story on a website being sold or just being offered period, and I haven’t announced that I’m having the story republished, please let me know so I can go through the proper channels and have it pulled. At this point, if any vendor is still selling or offering “Did You Leave Any For Me”, I am not profiting from it, and need to know so I can take care of it or have someone else take care of it.

I will say that I would very much like to republish “Did You Leave Any For Me” and write more in that ‘verse, since I saw reviewers enjoyed both the story and the characters of Oliver and Sheridan. I don’t know when this will happen – being in graduate school kind of upsets having concrete plans or free time – but I’d like to come up with something in the next year or so. And I hope people who read the original version of this story will enjoy the relaunched version just as much.

Book Review: Spontaneous

A white girl with dark hair casually stands on top of an ice cream truck while blowing a huge bubble of gum. The second 'o' in the title is artistically splattered against the backdrop.

The cover of Spotaneous by Aaron Starmer.

Mara Carlyle’s senior year at Covington High in suburban New Jersey is going on as normally as could be expected, until the day—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to spontaneously combust without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason—Terrorism! Drugs! Homosexuality! Government conspiracy!—while the seniors continue to pop like balloons. (Source: Goodreads)

I only heard about this book because a homework assignment for my reference class had me looking through YALSA’s top teen books of 2017 as I was building a hypothetical reading display for a summer book club for local youths. And, as one can guess, SPONTANEOUS by Aaron Starmer was on a list of said topn teen books. Naturally, once I saw a story about teenagers exploding in class, I knew I 1) had to add it to my hypothetical display and 2) read it myself.

Folks who follow me on Twitter might be surprised that I am reviewing this book, maybe as much as they are surprised by how much my opinion of this book shifted from “it’s okay” to “I am going to possibly cry in a public area because this book has grabbed me by the chest and refuses to let go” — but I can explain.

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A visual map of various names of programming languages.

Think Like A Patron: Building A LibGuide

For my reference class this semester, one of our major projects was to build a library guide and present it to the entire class. For those who don’t know, a library guide is an interactive (to a point) guide that librarians create for their patrons, and each guide focuses on a particular subject or resource type or just something they know a particular sub-group of patrons is already interested in or will become interested in soon.

I have to admit, I didn’t realize crafting library guides were even a part of librarianship until this year, but now I’m noticing more and more libraries creating and putting these guides on their websites. They range from explaining certain library-centered services to telling patrons how they can teach themselves how to cook or knit or build a bike. They’re really an extension of the overall mission of a library: sharing information and helping people.

So there I was, having to build my own library guide, having never personally interacted with one. At least I had the freedom to create a lib guide for anything I wanted – but then what? That is the stumbling block I ran into when crafting my lib guide: what is this for? Who is this for? How will it be used?

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Readers Advisory: Smartphone Wizards In Time & Space

So, I am really really really into the McElroy Brothers, much like a good section of the Internet. And I just love everything they touch (especially their number one product, the podcast/TV series My Brother, My Brother, and Me). So I’ve kind of stumbled into Griffin McElroy’s work for Polygon, including the Cool Games Inc podcast that he co-hosts with Nick Robinson. But, because I can’t consume media right away in its intended primary form, I’ve started by watching animated versions of various CGI segments, including the one below.

And it’s hilarious, and I love Griffin’s adoration for Carly Rae Jepsen (and she really is a stellar artist that deserves more critical love, and here’s “Store” if you’re curious about why Griffin chooses it as The B-Side To Blow Mozart’s Mind With), but can we talk about the initial prompt for a second? Cause it’s time for a readers advisory.

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Wednesday Briefs: Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973

It’s been a while since I did a Wednesday Briefs post, so for the new readers, here’s a brief overview: every week, a group of writers post flash fiction pieces based on prompts provided via mailing list. A lot of people like to write series of flash fiction pieces; I have done that before, but recently have preferred stand alone pieces when I do write them.

Below is a new stand alone piece that may be expanded on in the future. It’s a story about two college age guys working in the library, and one dead artist. Please enjoy, and tell me what you think!

Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973. Prompt used: can you give me a hand here?

Can you give me a hand here? I can’t carry it down by myself…”

Henri recognized the voice on top of the ladder as one of the RAs from the history library, but couldn’t name the guy. “Sorry, my hands are full.”

He shifted the weight of a stack of bound art periodicals in his arms, nudging a step stool aside as he maneuvered down one of the tight aisles that made up the main stacks. Normally, he enjoyed working in the art section, but when he had to gather up multiple volumes of a journal for shipping purposes, it became more of a chore than a pleasure.

Ah, shit. I mean, shoot.” There was the soft slam of heavy books being pushed across a metal shelf. “Would I get in trouble if I dropped Picasso on the floor?”

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PAIGI: Math, And How To Know What You Don’t Know

Blog Note: This might not seem completely all together, but I wanted to have this post out before the weekend and I didn’t want a half-finished draft to just disappear from view. I’m dealing with losing the family pet tonight so some things aren’t going to be smoothed out until later. My apologies for that.

This is in response to the Big Think video included below, which is less than four minutes long and is presented by Po-Shen Loh, associate professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University.

Professor Loh starts out by saying, “I think that everyone in the world could be a math person if they wanted to,” which to my ears is a powerful statement. It is a statement that I want to believe in, because I am not a math person. I want to be one, but I currently am not one. And that is a problem.

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Book Review: Otherbound

cover_otherbound_mediumAmara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected. She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes… (Source: Goodreads)

Some vague spoilers that will only make sense if you’ve read the book are in this review. I’ll try to keep things vague but fair warning, they are in here.

Irony, kind of: I go out of my way to read the UIUC YA bookclub pick for last month – OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis – going so far as to say on Facebook I’m going, only to find myself stuck in my room during meeting time because I stupidly made a dental appointment the same day several hours before bookclub and have you ever spoke coherently and thoughtfully about anything after both a root canal and a tooth extraction? I didn’t think so. Thus, I was left to wallow in my OTHERBOUND thoughts, underheard, until now.

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