Days in the Life

As the newest member of the Chasing Reference blog, allow me to introduce myself: I’m Don Boozer, and I currently serve as the coordinator for Ohio’s statewide virtual reference service, KnowItNow24x7.

My first library job was as a Library Assistant at the Hershey Public Library when it was on Granada Ave, literally right across a parking lot from the chocolate factory. When I was at Hershey, the director encouraged me to consider making a career out of being a librarian. I discovered that librarianship opened up the option of constantly learning new things, sharing that knowledge with others, and being part of a larger profession. When we moved to Ohio near Kent and found that Kent State had the only library school in the state, I took that as a sign.

My first job as a pro librarian right out of library school was at Barberton Public Library, a mid-sized public library in northeast Ohio, as a reference/teen/jack-of-all-trades librarian.

Prior to my current appointment, I was a reference librarian in the Literature Department at Cleveland Public Library.

I’ve also been involved with OLC and ALA, and it is through the latter that I found that the Chasing Reference Team was looking for additional bloggers. I volunteered, and here I am.

As the coordinator of a statewide initiative, I have the fortunate opportunity to see library service from a broad perspective and how each library is essential to the whole. These past two weeks, I was on the road a lot. First, to a spring meeting of a K-12 school librarian organization in south-central Ohio. I presented information on KnowItNow24x7 and then provided a tutorial on efficient and practical uses of Google and Wikipedia. The attendees were very receptive, and one retiring school librarian expressed interest in staffing our service as a volunteer. Being primarily involved with “virtual” service, it is always gratifying to be able to interact with people in-person.

My second trip was to give a training session at the University of Rio Grande (That’s “Rye-O” rhymes with “Ohio”). I met some great librarians, found another library interested in volunteering staff time to the service, and got to eat at the original Bob Evans Restaurant.

Being a statewide coordinator also gives me the opportunity to be an ambassador of sorts, both for our specific virtual reference project but also for virtual services and resources in general. Talking about Google and Wikipedia and seeing people’s eyes light up when you talk about sorting Images by color to get that “book with a blue cover” is priceless. Talking about the differences between two different language versions of a Wikipedia article and why this is potentially important and seeing people nod in agreement is rewarding. Getting people excited about using the invaluable statewide databases we have here in Ohio gives you a sense of accomplishment. Sharing this kind of information with librarians makes them better able to provide quality service on KnowItNow24x7 but also equips them to share this same information with their patrons.

Every librarian in every library has the potential to see those eyes light up and get those nods of agreement. Continuing to engender that sense of wonder and curiosity (and, in my case, providing an avenue through virtual reference for people to come to us for help with their questions) is one of the great things about being a librarian.

I look forward to blogging with the “Reference Chasers” and want to thank them for welcoming me aboard! 🙂

What We’re Reading

Each month we share what we’re reading, which may include everything from magazines and blogs to novels and books for work or pleasure.

This weekend I’m in Nashville for the LOEX conference. I don’t get nearly as much time to read when I’m conferences as I do when I’m home, but I do treasure the time spent on airplanes and in airports to read. I started Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell, a new historical mystery set in gaslit London on the flights here, and it’s delightful historical armchair travel. Up next: Amanda Knox’s new memoir Waiting to Be Heard, which I just picked up at my public library. –Carrie

This month, I escaped into the pages of Harlan Coben’s latest thriller Six Years. Coben is an expert at tight plotting, cliffhanger chapter endings, and expert plot twists, of which Six Years is no exception. When Jake watched the love of his life marry another man, he promised her that he would leave them alone. He kept that promise for six years, until the day he discovered her husband’s obituary online. What begins as a simple desire to offer his condolences to a grieving widow leads Jake down a winding path of deception, deceit, and intrigue. Coben kept me turning pages and questioning what the next twist would reveal, resulting in an overall fun and entertaining read. –Heather

This week, I read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. Amelia is a high schooler at an elite private school in New York City. Everyone sees Amelia as a good student headed on to do good things. When she gets caught up in a secret school club, her life changes. Her mother is called to the school one morning because Amelia has gotten in trouble. When she arrives at the school, she learns that Amelia has committed suicide. Weeks after Amelia’s death, Amelia’s mother begins to receive anonymous texts indicating that Amelia’s death wasn’t a suicide, and using Amelia’s text messages, emails, Facebook posts, and interviews with girls in Amelia’s club, she begins to learn more about her daughter’s life, and her own life. This book is a good cross-over teen/adult novel. –Emily

I sometimes review books on language and linguistics for another blog and received a new title this month from Oxford University Press that immediately intrigued me: Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr. Note that the * is part of the title on the cover; I’m not just being polite. (Interestingly enough, the missing vowel is included in the Cataloging-in-Publication.) As soon as I was done with Throne of the Crescent Moon (A recommended read for any fantasy enthusiasts!), I started in on the new book. Currently well into Chapter 4 (“The Rise of Obscenity”), I have not been disappointed. Swearing seems to enjoy periodic attention in books aimed at a popular audience, and several others have written on the subject including Geoffrey Hughes (Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths, and Profanity in English, 1993), Pete Silverton (Filthy English: The How, Why, When, and What of Everyday Swearing, 2009), and even the well-known psychologist Stephen Pinker (The Stuff of Thought, 2007). Mohr’s work appears to be based on her 2003 doctoral thesis at Stanford University (Strong Language: Oaths, Obscenities, and Performative Literature in Early Modern England), but the current work is written in a very accessible and engaging style while at the same time providing intriguing, in-depth research. The book begins by looking at profanity from ancient Rome. Surprisingly, a large volume of written documentation of Roman obscenities survives on walls in the form of graffiti as well as in texts. Mohr then moves from pagan Rome to Jewish and Christian sources in the Bible and how different forms of swearing (both sacred and profane) grew out of that. I’m currently reading through the evolution of obscenities and profanity from the Middle Ages into the Elizabethan and Renaissance eras.The book provides a truly eye-opening, highly-entertaining, and (sometimes-embarrassing) romp through the history of this expressive area of language. If you decide to pick it up, however, be careful where you read it. Mohr acknowledges on the book jacket that she has “recently been dividing her time between writing this book about swearing, and hiding it from her kids.” Absolutely fascinating stuff! –Don

 

What We’re Reading

On the first Friday of each month, we share what we’re reading, which may include everything from magazines and blogs to novels and books for work or pleasure.

It’s been a particularly hectic and busy spring semester, which is at least partly due to the fact that I spent January teaching twenty hours a week rather than preparing for the spring semester. I’m still finding time to read, but I’ve been finding myself craving mysteries more than my usual literary fiction. When my husband and I went to Chicago for a spring break mini-vacation, I continued a long tradition of reading books set in the city I’m visiting. For my trip I picked the first novel in two different Chicago-based mystery series: Clare O’Donohue’s Kate Conway series, whose protagonist is a documentary film producer, and Michael Harvey’s Michael Kelley series, whose protagonist is a thirty-five-year-old disgraced Chicago cop turned P.I. I enjoyed both of them so much I quickly devoured the second books in each series and am about to begin the third Michael Kelley mystery (I have to wait for Clare O’Donohue to write a third Kate Conway book.) –Carrie

I went on a wild and rollicking road trip this month with the delightful novel You Don’t Know About Me by Brian Meehl. When 16 year old Billy Allbright receives a package in the mail from his father, a man Billy thought was dead, his life is turned upside. The package contains the first clue in a wild treasure hunt across America, in search of Mark Twain’s lost sequel to The Adventures of Huck Finn. As Billy travels the country in hunt of his elusive treasure, the people he meets and the adventures he has mirrors those of Twain’s Huck. The result is an amusing and charming tale of adventure and self –discovery, that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. –Heather

On this week’s edition of the Slate Culture Gabfest, Stephen, Dana, and June joked about hating to read books that are over-reviewed and over-recommended. In doing so, they liberated a problem that I’ve always struggled with as a reference librarian: There’s little that makes me less inclined to pick up a book than to hear a chorus of praise, made undoubtedly louder by the fact that I am a known librarian. You must read Lean In! You haven’t read Franzen? You need to now!! To be fair, I’m pleased that people enjoy printed stories enough to spread the word, and I appreciate thoughtful suggestions from avid readers. It is in this spirit that I would like to complement the authors of Chasing Reference for their off-beat recommendations. I also wish to beg their forgiveness for promoting an excellent collection of short stories called I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro It’s really well reviewed, everyone is talking about it, and I loved it to pieces. I immediately reread several of the stories after finishing them. Stephen, Dana, and June will resist this one, but you must read!  –Amy

I’ve just started reading Helene Wrecker’s forthcoming fantasy novel The Golem and the Jinni. I’m usually don’t read fantasy, but this book has me hooked. The golem was created in Poland and brought to the United States. Her owner dies during the crossing shortly after he wakes her up. She arrives in New York City literally quite new to the world. In a parallel story a tinsmith, while rubbing a scratch out of a flask, awakens the jinni living within it. The jinni, a Syrian over a thousand years old, suddenly finds himself living in New York City at the turn of the century. Of course the golem and jinni are going to meet up. The book is a lovely mix of fantasy, folklore, and historical fiction. –Emily

Being the new guy on the block, I felt some pressure to be all professional and “I’m reading [fill in the blank with a dense, academic tome concerning librarianship].” Well, the book I’m actually reading right now is Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. It’s been on my must-read list for a while, but I’ve finally just picked it up recently. While it is firmly in the fantasy genre, it has some intriguing twists. The world in which the story takes place draws its inspiration from Middle Eastern and North African influences rather than the stereotypical medieval-European milieu. The protagonist is not a young unsuspecting wizard or peasant with a secret past but rather an old experienced “ghul hunter” who is ready for retirement but gets dragged back into an adventure due to circumstances beyond his control. The book has won wide recognition: Reddit Fantasy’s Debut of the Year for 2012, multiple “Best of” lists, and Nebula and Hugo Award nominations. I’m very much looking forward to diving into the Crescent Moon Kingdoms! –Don

Chasing Reference: One Year Later

This week, Chasing Reference is celebrating our first anniversary. After meeting in person and beginning to plan this blog in January 2012, we quietly launched in April 2012 by posting about what the typical day is like for each of us. (Want to reminisce? Check out what Carrie, Heather, Amy, Sarah, and Emily were up to this time last year.)

In celebration of this anniversary, we’re taking the entire month of April to celebrate. Today we’re highlighting some of our personal favorite posts from the past year. It’s no surprise these also proved to be some of our most popular posts too. On Friday we’ll share our monthly What We’re Reading post. Starting Monday, we’ll be writing brand new Day in the Life posts each Monday and Wednesday. How much has changed in a year? Here are a few teasers:

  • one of us changed jobs (you can read all about her new job on April 17!)
  • there’s now a brand new Chasing Reference contributor (look for his introductory post on April 24!)
  • you’ll also be treated to a special guest post from our fearless adviser on May 1!

April will be full month of posting here, and May will mark a return to regularly scheduled programming with posts each Wednesday, as well as the first Friday of the month.

We’re also always looking for guests posts. If you’d like to contribute, send us an email with your idea(s).

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite Chasing Reference posts from the first year:

Last but not least, do you remember how we came to call ourselves Chasing Reference? It all began with C-H-A-S-E.

Thanks for reading. We hope you’ll continue on this journey with us for many more years to come.