I think I am on the naughty list this year, because I have been a very bad blogger… I guess I took a break after Summer Reading and just kind of never started back up again. I’m not going to make any grand statement by promising that I’ll post more regularly in the New Year, but I’m hoping to do a better job of working it into my 2016 routine. That being said, I’d like to round out the year 2015 by celebrating a few of my favorite (library and non-library) things.
For the record, I totally jacked this idea from the amazing Miss Meg, who posted about her Top 10 faves earlier this week. It struck me as a great way to reflect back on the year and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I thought I’d make my own. Thanks for the inspiration, Meg!
So without further ado, here are my favorite things of the year.
10 Favorite Library Things
10. Finding my own rhythm
2015 was my first full year as a full-time Youth Services Librarian. I can’t quite put it into adequate words, but I feel like I’m finally starting to “come into my own” as a librarian. Now that I’m settled in, I feel empowered to assess the things I’ve been doing and make changes as needed. And *knock on wood,* but I feel like I’m finally starting to overcome the “imposter syndrome” that so many new (and seasoned) professionals experience. You know, that pesky bugger that whispers in your ear, “They can’t possibly be entrusting this whole department to YOU, can they? Soon enough they’re going to figure out you are not qualified…” Yeah, I think I’m doing a better job of squashing that little guy now.
Too hard to just pick one. Of the books I read this year, my faves were…
Picture books: The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak (surprise, surprise), Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre, Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead, and Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky
Middle grade: Space Case by Stuart Gibbs, Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson, and Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
YA: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, and Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
8. ALA-Midwinter Conference in Chicago
I love conferences. Not only did I get lots of new ideas and the chance to surround myself with like-minded people in the library profession, but I got to see Jason Segel and Levar Burton! WHAT?!
7. Science Saturday: Spooky Science
I started a new semi-regular program called Science Saturday (shout out to my super awesome library buddy, Alexandra Collins for this idea!). The first one was in October, so of course the theme was Spooky Science. I’m not a huge science geek, so I was a little intimidated to start this up, but with a little research and a lot of preparation it went off without a hitch! It was a blast and the kids were geeking out and exclaiming all sorts of excited things that made my heart swell. I wish I could share the pictures of their awed expressions, but these pics will have to do.
6. I found my Tween/Teen writing nerds!
Since meeting a couple of young aspiring writers at my very first Tween Book Club meeting last year, I have wanted to offer a writing workshop of some sort. I knew there would be at least two kids interested, but wasn’t really sure how to identify more. This fall, I brought in a local author to teach a three-part writing workshop for 5th-12th graders. It was a huge success! Take-away: the key is local celebs. 😉 After seeing how well that went over, I decided to take the plunge and start offering a monthly Tween/Teen writing club. The first meeting is in January, and I am so super stoked! This is something that I would have LOVED to be a part of when I was their age, so I can’t wait to try out all sorts of fun writing exercises with them and just generally give them a space to share what they are working on and get feedback from peers.
5. Cleaning out the Storage Closet
This might sound ridiculous, but tackling the giant mess of a storage closet was a big goal of mine this year and it felt SO GOOD. My library is pretty small, so we use just about every inch of space we have. Organizing that closet took the majority of my 8-hour shift, but it was so worth it! (Cue my husband asking me why I can’t get this excited about being organized at home…)
Contents of the closet
4. First Summer Library Program under my belt
Although I experienced a Summer Library Program in my first post-grad school job, this was the first one I completely planned and executed on my own. I did some fun stuff (see slide show below), kept some stuff the same, and made some changes–the most prominent one being moving away from physical incentives to a charitable-giving model. Read more about it in this blog post if you’re interested.
3. Saying YES to things
Things I’ve said “yes” to this year:
- Being the Communications Chair for the Friends of the CCBC
- Presenting at local organization meetings, like Kiwanis and Rotary
- Pulling a question out of a hat and answering it in front of my peers at a Guerrilla Storytime session (If you haven’t participated in a Guerrilla Storytime yet, I highly recommend it! It’s a great way to pick up new ideas, share your own ideas, and feel supported by fellow children’s librarians)
- Being interviewed on CWTV about the role libraries play in building Early Literacy and Kindergarten Readiness skills. That’s right, I’m gonna be FAMOUS! Well, local/library-famous at least. 😉 I’m so glad my friend Holly of Let the Wild Rumpus Start agreed to do it with me!
- Being the official “feedback giver” for the local 4H club’s Communication Arts Festival next month
- Helping start up a Storytime Underground Local Chapter for the Madison, WI area with some library pals–yay, Holly and Mary! If you’re in the area, look for more information about this soon.
OK, so I’m kind of a yes-man. If asked to do something or presented an opportunity, I rarely say no. But that doesn’t mean I’m super comfortable doing All The Things. It can be overwhelming, uncomfortable, and sometimes just plain scary. This year, I’ve tried to be strategic about what I say yes to, but it’s still something I’m working on. Which brings me to #2…
2. Saying NO to things
This is hard for a yes-man to do, but I’m working on it. I recently had a big win in this area, and it felt so good that I’m considering running around and shouting “NO!” at the top of my lungs like a toddler who just learned the word. Alright, I guess I won’t go quite that far. I guess what I’m getting at is that saying no is good sometimes, even if it’s hard.
1. Bringing Tween Book Club back to life
When I started my current job about a year and a half ago, there was already a pretty well-established Tween Book Club in place with 4 or 5 very loyal attendees (which is pretty darn good for a book club that’s not for adults). It quickly became one of my favorite programs to plan and run. However, when the school year came to an end I realized something horrible: Next year, my Tween Book Club kids were all graduating to 7th grade, which meant they were going to be… TEENS. *gasp!* When September came back around and no one showed up to book club, I was a pretty sad librarian. So I reached out to the middle school librarian and asked if I could arrange to visit the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes to promote book club. The next week, I talked up the program to 10 different groups and suddenly there was a waitlist for the next month’s book! The next book club meeting brought six new members to the table, and the month after that? NINE KIDDOS showed up! I successfully saved the beloved Tween Book Club from fizzling out, and for that I feel very happy indeed.
10 Favorite Non-Library Things
10. Binge-watching Star Wars *for the first time*
This was me up until like a month ago. It took me several tries, as I kept falling asleep (not because it was boring. It was like the music and sound effects were a strange lullaby to me), but I did it! AndNoIHaveNotWatchedTheNewOneSoDon’tRuinItForMe.
9. Chicago with my love
Chicago was another first for me. What’s even better is I got to travel by train! As mentioned above, I went there for the ALA-MW conference, but happily my hubby got to join me, so we did the whole tourist thing too. By “tourist thing” I mostly mean we ate deep-dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches, watched the Super Bowl at a bar, and saw ourselves reflected in “The Bean.” We happened to be there when a giant snowstorm hit, so we didn’t get to go to any museums or the aquarium like we had hoped, but now we have something to look forward to next time!
8. Craft brews with good crews
The Midwest is a great place to be if you’re into craft beer. The husband and I have decided that instead of displaying china like real grown-ups, we’re going to collect and display tasting glasses and growlers from brewery tours. This year, we hit up more breweries than I can count–both within and outside the Midwest–and we’ve just barely scratched the surface. Whether we’re with friends and family or just the two of us, tasting amazing beer is always a good time.
7. Discovering the joys of audiobooks and podcasts
For awhile there, I’d kind of gotten into a bit of a reading rut. I didn’t have the attention span to sit down with a book and just dive in like I used to. It worried me. What if I could never get back into it? Isn’t reading kind of a *requirement* to being a librarian? And then I discovered the joys of “reading with my ears,” as the great librarian and audiobook expert Sharon Grover puts it. Now I can read while in the shower, while walking the dog (something I’m happy to say I’ve done a whole lot more of this year!), while driving to and from work, while doing the dishes… I would talk your ear off about reading with your ears, but then you’d… have no… ears to listen with, so…
Books I read with my ears this year:
6. Crafting and discovering new ways of making
I’ve always enjoyed making stuff. Painting, drawing, writing, crocheting, you name it. But this year, I came to the conclusion that making stuff is one of the things that makes me happiest. Among other things, I attended my first Paint Nite after being invited by the mom of one of my TAB members, made a rustic-chic wall-hanging after being inspired by metal cut-outs of the states I love, and took a needle felting class which may be the beginning of an unhealthy wool obsession.
5. California trip with friends
This summer we visited our friends Jon and Amanda in California (yes, I took a vacation during Summer Library Program. No, the library didn’t explode.). Our friends Gabe and Leann came, too. We crammed as much fun into those couple days as we could: Lots of wineries, breweries, amazing food, sea kayaking, and we were even on The Price is Right! Sadly, none of us were asked to “Come on down,” but it was still a crazy cool experience.
4. We bought a boat!
We are currently renting a house on a lake, and after experiencing one summer on the lake without being able to actually get out on the lake, we decided to “take the plunge” (pun very much intended) and buy a boat. Best decision ever! We spent every chance we could get out on the water–floating, boating, and drinking gin gimlets all summer long with the dog, friends, and family. Also, due to the persistence of my husband and brother-in-law, I finally got up on skis for only the second time in my life. Whoop, whoop! Can’t wait for another fun summer in the sun.
3. My sister Angela is cancer-free
My sister beat her breast cancer and just completed her reconstructive surgery yesterday! She had such an amazing positive attitude throughout the entire process and always maintained her goofy sense of humor. Love you, Angel!
2. Negative Huntington’s diagnosis for my siblings and me
Last November, we learned that both my uncle and my mom have Huntington’s Disease (HD), a genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It affects things like mood, movement, and memory. HD has been called a mix of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS and as of now there is no cure. In short, it sucks. The good news that we received this year, though, is that my siblings and me (who each had a 50/50 chance of having the Huntingtin gene) all received Negative test results, which means we are HD free and cannot pass it on to our children. While navigating this new reality has made it an oftentimes difficult year for our family, knowing that we kids do not have it makes it easier for us to care for and provide support to my mom and other relatives affected by the disease. To learn more about HD, visit hdsa.org.
1. Getting more in touch with my Zen side
Speaking of the crazy rollercoaster ride of a year I’ve had, I learned a few tricks for managing stress and anxiety. Right around the time I was dealing with all the “getting tested for HD stuff,” I started a yoga class. It felt so good that I got a yoga mat and started doing it on my own at home, too. Although lately I’m about as good at doing yoga as I am at blogging. I think one of my New Year’s resolutions will be getting back into yoga. 🙂 I have also been dabbling in meditation, which helps me tap into my emotions and clear my mind. If you are interested, I highly recommend the Headspace app (yes, there’s an app for that!). Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, Sleepytime tea, and going for walks with the dog have helped me get through this crazy year. Along with my supportive husband, friends, and family of course.
With that, I’d like to say happy holidays to you and yours. May 2016 bring even bigger, better, and more favorite-y things!
Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite library and non-library things of the year? Even if you don’t share it publicly, I challenge you to come up with your own list. It’s a great exercise!