NELA roundup and marathon preview

Hello friends! I’m finally back from Busyland. (Or Busytown! Shoutout to Richard Scarry!) Well, I’m almost back. I still have a few things to do before I feel like I can really say that my crazy busy month is over. Mostly it’s the marathon that I’m going to be running in a few days. A few days! I can’t even believe it!

I wrote a bit about the marathon bombings back in April and that was the week I signed up for this marathon. My little runner’s heart broke a bit that day because as I’m preparing for this marathon, I’ve been through a whole range of emotions, and I can’t imagine anything other than triumph for Sunday. Sure, I may walk, I may be super cold, I may be in pain (correction, I will be in pain), I may be slower than I anticipate, but barring major injury, I’ll be dragging myself across that finish line. That will be a triumph because I’ve put in those miles over the last six months and I will have done it. Some of the miles were better than others. Some had me almost hyperventilating from tears at times (trust me, this is perhaps the most pathetic I’ve ever felt – crying while trying to run – so I’d recommend avoiding that), or sweating so much I thought my face was going to melt and sluice off, or realizing amazingly that I could say, “I only have to run 13 miles today. Easy peasy*,” or telling myself that I eat hills for breakfast, that they don’t scare me. And a lot of my friends will be there to cheer me on – I can’t imagine doing this without all of them. They have put up with me talking about running all the time, missing out on Saturday morning fun, and being not my usual fun-Anna throughout the last months.

So when I finish in triumph I’ll be so happy and grateful and relieved. I’ll post more after Sunday.

Lovely Portland Maine by flickr user ...-wink-...

Lovely Portland Maine by flickr user …-wink-…

Now onto NELA, or rather back to NELA. For those of you not in the know, NELA stands for the New England Library Association and this last weekend was their conference in lovely Portland Maine. My only regret is that I didn’t have time to hang out in Portland beforehand. I had a plan to get up there by 11:30 and spend at least an hour and a half exploring, but then I left my house at 11:30. So, not so much. Anyway, I had such a wonderful time catching up with old coworkers, NELLS friends, and new friends as well. It’s such a treat to be able to go to a place and know that so many people there understand your job so well and understand why you care about it so much. There were really great sessions this year. On Sunday I got to preview Leslea Newman’s presentation that she will be giving at our library March 13th. If you don’t know Leslea’s work October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, you should. Get it and read it immediately. Read it to your children and your friends, because works of such compassion and sorrow are what teach us not to hate those who are different. It’s important.

I also got to see how well it can work when a school district, library, the United Way, and other community organizations commit to collaboration. It can be amazing and innovative programs like lunch at the library and a organized, sensible summer reading program can happen. It seems like a no brainer but can actually be really hard to achieve.

Sunday brought together a lovely NELLS reunion dinner with a good contingent of us. It was so great to see everyone again and catch up on how they have been doing since librarian summer camp.

Monday brought some great sessions about media rating sites like Common Sense Media. Tiny admission: I don’t think Common Sense Media is as evil as the presenter did, but I do realize that it can be used for evil, censorship purposes. Hopefully, I’ll get around to writing a bit more about this in the later weeks. I think I need to write about it to work it out in my mind. Then I learned about book groups for adults who read YA (one of my dreams!), a cooking book group which sounds amazing and very time consuming, an adult summer reading program that actually seemed to work, and a nonfiction book group. This was a great session, but I did take issue with a comment by one of the librarians presenting. I don’t think that he was trying to be dismissive of people but his comment about fiction readers not being as serious as nonfiction readers rankled a bit. I tweeted:

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 9.25.11 AMBriefly, let me just say that you can discuss and mull over just as many serious things in a fictional work as you can in a nonfiction work. Some of the best explained philosophies and great thoughts come in fiction. Moby Dick, Pale Fire, and The Brothers Karamazov come to mind initially and there are hundreds more examples. Just a thought.

I also got some ideas on how to deal with difficult people in the workplace and I hope to use those ideas with some people. Perhaps the less said about those people better. Though, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of those people, so you’re safe.

Finally, I went to a session about advocating for teen services. We talked about trying to get institutional support for your teen programs and spaces. I have the best director in the world so this isn’t a problem at the director world, but I sometimes feel that there are people on staff who would really rather the teens not come into the library. It can be hard to be constantly explaining that teens are pushing the boundaries of acceptable library behavior because they probably don’t know what it is. That’s why they push boundaries – to figure them out. It’s a brain development thing. Their brains aren’t done cooking (the oven timer on my brain just dinged a few years ago and it’s nice to know I’m not going around gooey in the middle all the time) so they have to test the limits to find them. They have to occupy that liminal space in order to decide on which they want to live. Don’t you remember doing that, I want to some of my grumpy co-workers. It’s their nature and if we respectfully correct and guide them, they will usually be respectful back. Most of the time when teens are bratty or obnoxious they are not doing it on purpose, they’re just trying to figure out who they are. It’s natural, so let’s be compassionate about it.

I did get some ideas on how to approach coworkers about this, but I deeply fear confrontation, so it will be a work in progress for me. But I believe in my work and I care for those teens, so it behooves me to stand up for them. I’m trying.

So that’s my little NELA wrap up. If you’re looking for a more thorough and different report, check out the lovely Jenny Arch’s blog. She’s so much better at this sort of thing that I am. And she’s awesome.

See you all when I’ve officially become a marathoner.

*I just finished Code Name Verity and one of the main characters, Maddie, says, “easy peasy,” all of the time and it’s apparently crept into my own lexicon. Also, this book has a really horrible, shocking (I am not one of those people who see plot twists coming, I’m just not) moment where I shouted out “WHAT!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?” and had to re-listen to it three times to make sure I heard it correctly. A great book about friendship and the often overlooked roles of women in WWII.

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3 thoughts on “NELA roundup and marathon preview

  1. hollyida says:

    Really, really nice post, Anna. I’m anxious to hear about the marathon! I also want to thank you for the piece about teens and remembering that they really are ok. We’ve had some issues in our library lately and I’ve become that grouch who consistently kicks them out. It’s been difficult to find a balance for those that want a quiet space and the kids that want to hang out. We’ll just have to keep working on it!
    And good luck on talking to your co-workers. That’s never easy.

    • Thank you, Holly. It was so great to see you at NELA. I’m also anxious about the marathon! 🙂 It’s ok to be the grump sometimes – working with teens can be really hard even if you like them/choose to work with them. Do you have a separate space for teens or even a separate study room if they are there to do homework/group work? Sometimes we open up our study rooms for them so they can do work and be loud and it doesn’t matter. (We have a teen space but it’s not enclosed and it’s right next to the circ desk.)

      • hollyida says:

        Our teen room is also right beside the circ area and it’s also the public computer area. We do have a study room they can use downstairs and I only quiet them down when I can actually hear them upstairs. 😉

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