Tag Archives: librarians

How my mom fueled my love of libraries

24 Jan

As I get closer to my due date (34 days left! Holy cow!) I have been reflecting on how the library has influenced me throughout my life and how my mom is probably solely responsible for this love of reading. From how having access to a public library shaped me, to how I was treated by librarians versus other teaching staff, to not being censored from material I wanted to read, libraries and my mom have been key.

Expect a lot of tangents in this post. Sorry.

I have received several children’s books from friends and family members and which everyone coming to visit the nursery/library (they are currently the same room lol) I have been asked a couple of questions that I thought were interesting. Such as “are you really going to allow your son to read THAT book?!” (They pointed out my collection of Grimm Fairy Tales/Harry Potter/etc.)

This question threw me off guard because I had never thought about censoring my child’s, or any child’s, reading. I was never censored in my reading which, if you knew my parents you would be kind of surprised. My mother was very religious and wouldn’t let me watch certain TV shows because she felt that they were not appropriate. For example: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Beetlejuice, Salute Your Shorts, etc. Which wasn’t too much of a problem for me because I would rather have been reading anyway. (Although my husband loves to tease her about this! I am sure it drives her crazy!)

She would take me to the Public Library every weekend and let me pick out as many books as I could hold and I remember being so excited when I got my own library card with MY name on it! It was bright lemon yellow and the Librarian was so excited for me! I remember her face and her smile. It was one of the best days ever! But I digress.

My mom would walk me to the children’s section and sit in the tiny chairs with her textbooks and study Biochem or whatever she was taking at the time, while I sat and touched every book, pulled them out and looked over them, and gently placed them back. They were magic to me! I could learn anything and hear stories from people whom I had never met, go places I had never been, and make friends with the protagonist. As I was a painfully shy child this last point was very important.

After about two hours or so I would have a stack of books I could barely lift by myself and be ready to go. We would check out and I would spend the remainder of the day in the back yard or in a sheet fort reading. I learned about fairy tales, monsters, historical events, drawing, and so much more. I loved reading.

In the 3rd grade I was reading at an 8th grade reading level. This sounds amazing, but presents a problem. As a 3rd grader reading at a much higher reading level, what do you read? Nothing is technically “age appropriate” at that point. My school librarian realized this and would go out of her way to always have a book recommendation for me. I can’t tell you how special this made me feel. She knew me by name and knew what I liked to read. Even though there were hundreds of other students under her care she cared enough to help me.

Eventually it got to the point where I had read all the age appropriate books in my school, and I was bored and sad about it. So what did the Librarian do? She sent me home with a note to my mom explaining that I had practically read everything a 3rd grader could read and would it be ok if she started lending me books above my age. And then she wrote that she would like to recommend the book The Giver. My mother wrote back to her giving her permission to lend any book that she thought I would like whether or not it was appropriate for my age.

There was a caveat however. My mom sat me down and told me basically this: “I have given permission to the librarian to lend you any book you want. This is a big responsibility for you though, so you have to be careful. You have to choose what kind of information you put into your brain, whether it is good or bad is up to you. If you are reading something and don’t understand it or it makes you feel bad or sad or upset in anyway I want you to come to me. We can talk about it. If there is a situation that doesn’t make sense, come to me and we will discuss it. But you are now in charge of what you read, make sure you pick wisely.”

That talk empowered me. It also made me realize how powerful books were. The information that is in them has the power to change minds and influence people! If that isn’t a superpower I don’t know what is.

So I talked to the Librarian, and she told me about The Giver and how she thought I would like it, and that at one point in time it had been banned from the school. I had no idea a book could be banned! And that started a whole new obsession: reading banned books, which is a post all of it’s own!

Now that I am an adult, I still get excited when a librarian remembers me and recommends books and I get even more excited when I recommend stuff to others. This is probably why I started my own local book club.

But as I get closer to motherhood I can’t help but wonder how I will react when my son wants to read my favorite books, or wants to read something that I hated, or how I will react if he hates reading all together. I like to think that I will have the same approach as my mom: hands free. Give him free reign of the library and my own book shelves and let him make up his own mind. At least, I will try… Although I have been slowly purchasing all my favorites from my youth to stock the shelves in my personal library. šŸ˜‰ I can’t help it.

I will finish with this thought. I was mature for my age (at least I heard a lot of adults tell me this) and it always made me feel like a real person when the librarian or my mom would talk to me like a person, like an adult, like an equal. My teachers typically didn’t do this, but my mom and my librarians did, and it made me want to impress them, to live up to the expectations they had of me, to be better than what I was.

So, to all you children’s librarians, know how important your presence is in each child’s life you encounter. That library card you give to them is gold in their eyes and you are a super hero! Treat them like people instead of children because they will respect you for that! And moms (and dads!) know your children and understand where they are at! Kids are way smarter than we tend to give them credit for. Think back to your childhood and how adults made you feel and be the adult that you think young you needed!

That is the end of my “mini” lecture šŸ™‚

Librarians, THANK YOU! And I am so proud to be one of you now!


Tips, Tricks, and Google Hacks 2

26 Aug

So another school year has started and once again I volunteered my time and energy to help a group of students at Eau Gallie High School hone their paper researching and writing skills. This year however, the teachers were kind enough to have the students fill out a survey at the end of the presentation asking for feedback on things they learned, things that surprised them, what confused them, and what they would like to know more about. So I spent yesterday reading through them and compiling a list of answers for them and for you!

There were some items that I was surprised they were asking questions about and the conclusion that I have come to is high school students have questions, but they are afraid to ask them. So we (the collective Librarian/University Professor/Etc. we…) need to think seriously about doing some outreach in local high schools. Did you know that one of the most listed items on the forms that surprised students (Just behind me telling them that there is a correct way to use Wikipedia) was that you can ask Librarians and Professors for help? Crazy but true!

So here I have listed several of the main ideas that students want more information about and I will probably add to this in the future.


A TON of questions were asked about Wikipedia. My stance is, it is a great place to begin research. If you know absolutely nothing about a topic it is fine to go to the Wikipedia page and read up on the topic. This site can give you a good foundation place to start. I understand that the information might not be 100% correct, but this site is just giving you a general idea of the topic, not facts. For facts you should be using books, journal articles, professors, Librarians, doing more research to get the full story.

“Is it true people can change Wikipedia, why would we use it then?”

It is true that you can change Wikipedia. It is as easy as creating an account and then editing the page. However, the information is usually verified before it gets posted. To learn more about what Wikipedia is, how it works, and who can edit it check out their Wiki page HERE šŸ™‚

I suggest Wikipedia as a beginning place to start research not because it is completely accurate, but because sometimes when you have to start researching something you have no idea where to begin. And for me personally, Wikipedia is where IĀ generallyĀ start. I can read about the history of the topic, see what the current issues are, and look at the pages citations. Once I have done this I usually have a better idea of what I want to write about as well as where to start looking for good resources to use. But if you prefer not to use Wikipedia, then by all means don’t, you can find all this information elsewhere and it will probably be more accurate. Keep in mind that these are just tricks that I use when writing papers and it is what has worked for me.


“I thought the Librarian only checked out books” “You need a Master’s degree to be a Librarian?”

The second most asked question/surprising fact was that Librarians needed a Master’s degree and that they did more than just check books in and out. When I explained that students can walk up to the Reference desk and ask for research help or schedule a research consultation many of the students were surprised. They had no idea that you could ask for help conducting research! No wonder students don’t come ask the Librarians questions, they don’t know that they can!

“How can Librarians help me?”

I like to think of Librarians as ‘that smart friend’. What I mean is, everyone has that one friend they trust and always asks for help in one way or another; Librarians are kind of like that. Someone you can trust, who you can not be embarrassed to ask questions to. They can help with a range of things including research questions, help with food stamps, resume questions, citations, applying to schools, and the list goes on. Don’t beĀ embarrassedĀ to ask questions! Otherwise you will never know the answer. And trust me, you are not ‘bothering’ us, we want to help that’s why we chose thisĀ profession! We don’t judge! Promise! šŸ˜‰

“Why are Professors so strict about papers?” “Why do we have to write papers?”

I think the easiest way to answer this is, Professors have a high expectation of you because you have made it to college. I don’t necessarily think it is the papers that are important to the professors but rather the ideas behind the papers. They want to test a few things: 1) Are you able to find accurate information on a topic? 2) Can you read through the information and pick out what is necessary to your argument and what is not? 3) Are you able to effectively make an argument? 4) Can you logically explain why you feel that you are right why those who oppose you are wrong? 5) Are you paying attention and following directions by using specific citation methods and by following the class rubric?

In high school and college most of the papers you write (in my opinion) are tests. The professor is looking at what you have learned. You can also think of it this way, would you want a Doctor looking at you and telling you what was wrong if they weren’t able to research the symptoms? Would you want someone working on your computer who had no idea how to look up what the problem was? A research paper is just a way to show someone that you are capable of doing research and finding information.

Plus, college is most likely your last step before you go out into the job market. And the higher paying the job is the more likely you are to write papers. I promise, 8 years ago I was asking the same question, “Why do I need this? I will never write papers after school…” but I promise you, I have written several papers for places other than school. You know what? I am writing theĀ equivalentĀ to a paper now! I am up to 1000 words at this point!

Doing Research/The Internet

There were a lot of general questions on how to do research and how I came up with my list of tips that I shared. To be honest, there is no correct answer. Firstly you have to find out what methods you are comfortable with and secondly, the internet and sources are changing. Now you will always have books and journals, and Librarians will always be here to answer any questions as well, but Wikipedia and Google might not always be around and they might always be the best places to look for information. So ask people who are doing the same things you are doing what sources they use and where they get your information. It may sound cheesy, but you can’t have a question answered if you don’t ask the question!

Places to get research tips:

Youtube.comĀ This may seem strange but people are always uploading tutorials here. Use them! One of my favorites isĀ Tekzilla.

GoogleĀ Where do you think I learned about the Google tricks? I googled “Google tips” and these lists are always updating! So check back a few times a year.

Yahoo/Bing!Ā I had one question asking if there where other search engines other than Google to use in case Google was ever down. I don’t really use Yahoo or Bing! but I know a lot of people who do and love them. So of course they are options as well.

Twitter/Facebook/Google+ Really any social media will do. Follow the tech people on these sites and they are constantly updating and posting on interesting things they are learning about. I get some of my best search tips this way. Some of the people I follow are: (I went ahead and linked their Twitter account here for you)

Tekzilla, Leo Laporte, Veronica Belmonte, G4 TV, Kevin Pereira, Nerdist Channel, and Attack of the Show.

The LibraryĀ It doesn’t have to be the school library, Public libraries are amazing too and the Librarians there are just as helpful! Also, library cards are FREE so go get one!

And if you ever have questions ASK! I left you all my contact info on your handouts so contact me!

Update!! Also Here is an infographic from Hackcollege.com that you can save to you computer for quick reference (I just found it!)Ā Get more out of Google

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