A scavenger hunt

After two weeks of craziness regarding my alma mater (whose letter Obama ignored and signed an nondiscrimination executive order anyway! YAY!), a trip for a funeral to Kansas*, being sick, getting in a mini-car accident** where some jerk hit my two-month-old car, and a ton of library programming, I’m back into the blog. I want to write a little bit about one thing I did over the last two weeks that was library-related!

I mean, this is supposed to a library blog after all. I should write about libraries.

It was a scavenger hunt! I really like scavenger hunts or at least I like the idea of them when I put them on the schedule. Somehow I always manage to forget how much work it is to put together a scavenger hunt. This is my process:

  • write the clues
  • then makes sure they are solvable
  • then type them
  • find cute pictures – because it’s Random Fandom Summer Reading themed –  for the clues
  • decide which picture of David Tennant to use for the Doctor Who clue
  • learn about bronies
  • realize you probably have all these pictures saved somewhere but can’t find them….
  • print them out
  • cut them into little strips
  • get envelopes to put the clues in
  • put matching pictures from clues on envelopes because it’s fun and it makes it a bit easier
  • tell the staff you’re doing a scavenger hunt and warn them
  • send the staff the clues so they can help
  • let the director know I am NOT sending kids up the top quiet study floor where her office is
  • pat myself on the back for thinking of that in time…
  • put the clues into a few different groups so you can send the kids in different directions
  • put markers on each of the clues for each group (I used different colored stars)
  • put the right clues from the right groups into the right envelopes
  • make sure they all end where you want them to
  • put the envelopes in their clue places
  • run back and write notes on all the envelopes saying, “For a library program! Please do not remove!”
  • wait for the teens to arrive
  • tell them the rules
  • give them their clues and groups
  • send them off
  • help with clues
  • give really easy hints that they sometimes don’t get
  • wait
  • help more
  • wait more
  • finally they bring all of the clues back to you . . . or most of the clues
  • Give them candy!

Overall, I would say it took me maybe 4 -5 hours in setting up the program. That’s kind of a lot! That includes all of the writing of the clues, organizing – it takes a lot longer than you think to sort them into different groups and make sure the kids aren’t just following each other around the library, and set up. That’s a lot more time than I usually spend on a program. I always have a good time helping the teens with the clues when I’m done but in the middle of the implementation stage it’s hard not to feel really overwhelmed.

Sorting the clues into their correct envelopes in the right group order is a challenge!

Sorting the clues into their correct envelopes in the right group order is a challenge!

Have you ever thought of doing a scavenger hunt. It’s a bit of work, but really fun and worth it. Give it a try sometime!

*I think I became a a bit more of a New Englander in Kansas. It’s so open . . . I don’t like it. Where are all the buildings? Or the ocean?

**I’m totally fine. My new spacecar needs bumper work:

Sad U.S.S. Spaceship (that’s what I call my car sometimes….H.M.S. Spaceship if I’m pretending I’m from Britain)

HAHAHAHA. I destroyed you!

HAHAHAHA. I destroyed you, Other Car’s Bumper!

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Letter to Gordon College President Lindsay

I realize that this is not about libraries but this is important. Last week I read an article during a break at work shared by a friend on Facebook saying that Gordon College, my alma mater, had affixed its name to a document that urges the White House to  include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.

I was so angry I found it hard to concentrate. My school – the school that I loved, that gave me a great education, that gave me most of my current friends, that taught me to write a good paper thesis, that allowed me to study the works of Chopin, Bach, and more, that instilled in me a love of discussion and critical thinking, that taught about me about the human condition through literature classes – was asking for permission to discriminate against LGBTQ employees? Did I mention that some of those friends Gordon gave me are gay?

I knew that this would get picked up in the local press. And it did.  I am glad because so it is awful and hateful, and because some former Gordon students got to share their thoughts on the matter. Paul Miller, one of the alumni quoted in the article, is a close friend of mine. He’s gay and I love him. End of story. I have other gay friends from Gordon – some continue in their faith and some do not. They are still my friends.

After letting this all stew in my head all weekend and having a number of rants about it to let off some steam, I wrote a letter this morning. I’m going to send it to the president of the college tomorrow. If this cruel desire to discriminate, to have hatred allowed and encouraged infuriates you, write him a letter:

D. Michael Lindsay
Gordon College
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, MA 01984
Here’s a link to his contact information and the contact information for his staff. I will probably also email a copy of my letter.

If you’re an alum of Gordon, even better. Your words matter. This is our college and it shouldn’t matter if you are gay or straight.

Here’s what I say:

Dear President Lindsay,

I am an alumni of Gordon College and have been proud to say so for the last six years. Not so in the last week. I was horrified and hurt to read your name prominently displayed on a letter for the Obama Administration seeking a religious exemption to discriminate against LGBTQ employees.

Not that it matters, but I am straight. I always have been and have always known that I am. My sexual orientation is a fundamental part of my being and something that I haven’t had to defend because it is the cultural norm. I know that my gay and lesbian friends have always known that they were gay. This is also a fundamental part of their being. Being gay or straight has nothing to do with whether or not you can be a Christian and accept God’s love. So why therefore is Gordon College, an institution where I received an exemplary education, and a love and desire to serve others in my current job as a public librarian, saying that this is so? And why are you making what is a clear political statement – despite what you write in the letter – that these two matters cannot work together. Why are you saying, in fact, they cannot work together to the point that Gordon should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people in hiring practices.

Have you thought for a moment about the fact that you are desiring to discriminate? At a place that holds the foundational belief that grace, truth, and salvation come through faith in Jesus? Where is the grace and truth in a desire to discriminate? That does not sound like my Jesus.

I am not here to debate theological matters with you; I’m confident that you would know more than I. I would rather not get into a discussion of whether or not homosexuality is a sin: I don’t believe it is and I don’t believe the Bible is clear on this. I am here to say that I am disappointed and I know hundreds, maybe even thousands of alumni are disappointed as well. The Jesus in whom I believe loves all. The word of God is pretty clear on that point: Jesus loves and accepts everyone whether sinner, righteous, rich, or poor if they believe and confess their faith in him.

I urge you to reconsider your stance on this. When I was at Gordon I thought the student body was getting to a point where the intersection between homosexuality and Christianity was becoming a more acceptable topic of conversation. A student publication, “If I Told You” told the brave and challenging stories of LBGTQ students and their struggles with faith, acceptance, feeling physically safe, and extremely damaging anti-gay therapy. SoulForce, a nonprofit group of often Christian LBGTQ community members who travel to colleges to speak about LGBTQ issues and faith, visited Gordon during my time as a student. I was proud that we were having dialogues and showing Christ’s love to a community that other colleges and religious institutions have been hateful and violent toward.

But now I am not so proud. I believe this to be a large step backward in the journey of Gordon College toward compassionate, understanding, and accepting LGBTQ support. I also believe this letter to which you signed your name will be a turning point for Gordon. There is still time to change it for the better. I hope that you choose the right side of history and the right side of Christ’s love: the side that accepts all of God’s children, no matter who they are and who they love.

In closing, I’d like my close friend Paul who spoke to the Boston Globe in Evan Allen’s article from July 4, “Gordon College leader joins request for exemption to hiring rule,” to have the last word. If this heartbreaking sentence doesn’t make you pause and reconsider your actions, then I am afraid nothing will. What is more important for a college that has been a wonderful place for so many people: to make overt hateful and political statements for the sake of ultra conservative donors or to support people of faith no matter their sexual orientation? I would like to hope you will reconsider your actions. Please listen to Paul:

“I wonder, if Gordon had been affirming of LGBT people, if I’d still be a person of faith,” said Miller. “And the reason I’m not is the place that provided the most compassionate and intellectually robust and civic-minded Christianity that I’d ever encountered told me that I couldn’t be part of their community.”

Sincerely,

Anna Tschetter

Class of 2008

 

 

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Teens online and grownups in the library

Just a quick note to say that I’m currently reading It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens and I’m not even done and I can already recommend it to everyone! Yes, everyone! If you work with teens, have a teens, see teens, hear tales of teens, think you might have once been a teen, you should probably read it. It’s a fascinating look into the ways teens use social media and social networking technology. The teens at my library are constantly using technology, together and alone, to communicate with friends, do homework, and play games together. (Ok, I’ve seen a few do homework…not that many.) Check it out; I’m finding it so helpful for my job.

Also, I read about a group of librarians in Pennsylvania doing a mental health sensitivity training so they could better serve their patrons. I love this idea! I think all librarians should do this and should make an effort to be aware of the services and resources in their community for people with mental health issues. This is something that I think every library deals with – yes, even wealthy towns like Andover – and it can be very hard. Sometimes (ok, a lot of times with me) the inclination is that it’s all a big joke and we all have our stories of strange patrons. They can be funny, but I think we do need to remember the humanity and vulnerability of some of our patrons and try our best to help. I know I should remind myself of this when I’m telling friends “patron stories.” Maybe I should stick to the ones where people are just weird and not potentially sick: that time someone brought a cat – unleashed and uncaged – into the library; the time someone cut a computer monitor off the wall in Andover and left with it without anyone noticing until an hour later; and of course, my current favorite, “The Fart Heard ‘Round the Library.”

That one you may have to hear in person.

Until next time friends, let’s be kind to those in mental difficulties and to teens. Teens are your future adult patrons, so be nice to them now!

 

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I’m not going to finish the Hub Challenge

Unless, that is, I can read 10 books before Sunday. Unlikely.

What is the Hub Challenge, you say? It’s put on by YALSA and their blog the Hub (I write for them, even as we speak I’m writing a post for Friday!). The goal is to read 25 of the books from YALSA’s award lists like the Printz, Morris, Best Fiction, Popular Paperback, etc. They are  lots of options and you just have to get to 25 between February and June.

I figured I could do it because I can definitely read that many books in that amount of time. The thing is is that I’d already read a lot of the books on the list that interested me. I read Winger when it came out and Beauty Queens, Ash, Etiquette & Espionage, Far Far Away, etc. But you can’t count them unless you read them in the February to June time period. For the record, I think it’s a great challenge but I just needed more freedom! Freedom within a framework of . . . um books or whatever.*

So I’m at 15. If you add in the books that I’ve read previously – which you’re not supposed to do – I made it to 25 at least. I didn’t really want to force myself to read a bunch of books that I wasn’t super interested in just to finish the challenge. By the end it was feeling a bit summer reading list-esque to me. I found myself thinking, “You can’t tell me what to read! I’m going to read Cloud Atlas because I want to and it’s going to take me a long time. So THERE!”

Stephen Fry - tell them how I feel, you delightful man, you!

Stephen Fry – tell them how I feel, you delightful man, you!

In a previous life, or you know, like a few years ago, not finishing this would have really bothered me. Maybe now because I’ve let the perfectionistic side of me go a bit or just that I value my reading time a lot more but I’m feeling ok. I tried it and it did encourage me to read a bit more widely than I might. I probably wouldn’t have read Dodger which I really enjoyed and it really reminded me to read The Sea of Tranquility.**

Overall, I’m glad I attempted it but also glad I let myself have the choice to read other things like Cloud Atlas and re-read all of Laini Taylor’s books in preparation for Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I’ll mostly likely try again next year, but no promises on holding off on good books. I just can’t wait that long.

What about you? Does a reading list make you chafe and yearn for the freedom to read what you want? Tell me your woes just in time for the compulsory summer reading happening all around the country!

*Sorry. Sorry. Terrible undergraduate inside joke. Points for Gordon people!

**I also read that because of Jenny and her impeccable taste in books.

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John Green, Summer Reading, and Librarian reunions

It’s been a full week! The Fault in Our Stars movie adaptation came out last Friday, and while I still haven’t seen it yet, it seem to have been on everyone’s collective mind. I really liked the book – it was a really personal read for me as I had a friend in high school die of leukemia and let me tell you, it’s just as heartbreaking and more in real life – but I’m a bit befuddled at the hype of John Green being the “Savior of YA.” To be succinct: lots of people write realistic YA and lots of them are great at it, some of them maybe better than John Green (my vote’s for A.S. King). Realistic fiction has been around for a long time and so has quality literature for young adults. John Green has just made it more visible by being a good writer and a savvy Internet-er and marketer. That’s it. He’s not here to save it, he’s just one writer doing good things in the midst of a lot of writers doing good things. A lot of those writers are women, too, and none of them have the fan base of John Green. What’s up with that, hmmm?

Mary Ann Badavi at The Atlantic* says it the best here:

John Green’s book deserves acclaim, regardless of his race or gender. But by choosing him to be the crown prince of YA, the entertainment industry has continued its cycle of promoting the work of white men as “real” work, and the work of women as “simple” or, in Graham’s [Slate article here] words, “uniformly satisfying.” It’s a triple blow, being a (1) woman who writes primarily for (2) girls who are (3) teenagers. Three strikes, and you’re out of the mainstream narrative.

These issues have been kicking around in my head all week and I’d like to write about them a bit more at a later date. Stay tuned for that. Or sometimes I get ranty on Twitter if you need a mid-week pick me up!

On a different note, my coworker and I have decided to depart from the Collaborative Summer Reading Theme that many states do and make our own. Here’s part of the reason why:

Ew.

Ew.

This is the art for the teen summer reading theme. Ugh. It’s a . . . machine that uses imagination to spit out books on one end and dirt on the other!? What?! The theme is supposed to be science/STEM-based because that is really “hot” in libraryland right now. I’m fine with that, but has the person who made the art ever seen a teenager before? Or even talked to one? It just seems to me that this art has zero teen appeal. (And at least to me, little librarian appeal…) So instead Clare and I are doing this:

fandom_background_by_carcar1994-d6foy92

It’s basically an excuse to do whatever we want with a lot of different “fandoms” that our teens are interested in and would want programs about, like Hunger Games, Divergent, Sherlock, Minecraft, Star Wars, Adventure Time, the Avengers, Star Trek, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Supernatural, and more. (And don’t forget everyone’s favorite: SuperWhoLock. Just Google it….) Currently, being really geeky and into something (a show, a book, a game, etc) is pretty acceptable for teens and I think that’s great!

Awww, Sam, Dean, Cas, the Doctor, Sherlock and John are all friends!

Awww, Sam, Dean, Cas, the Doctor, Sherlock and John are all friends!

It’s going to be a very nerdy, very awesome summer.

Finally, this week I got to reconnect with some librarians from my old job (HEY! NEVINS! LOVE YOU!) and from NELLS (HEY CAMPERS!) and it was delightful. I love having librarian friends all over the place!

One last thing before I go: what are your favorite fandoms if you have any? What do your fangirl or fanboy over? I’ll admit to Star Trek, BSG, Pacific Rim, Doctor Who, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone books, and Hunger Games. Some of you know my secret fandoms….or you can try and guess!

*Who is surprised that the Atlantic writes a great article about YA and Slate writes the worst? Oh right, no one. I still maintain that Slate has been awful ever since Christopher Hitchens died. You know that if Hitchens wrote an article about YA, while he may be dismissive of it, at least it would be 1) entertaining, 2) well written, and 3) well researched. I swear Ruth Graham read like very popular two YA books and decided to condemn the whole section.

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