Tag Archives: Library

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. ūüėČ 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 ūüôā

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


Infographics!! WooHoo!

10 Oct

WHAT?! A new post!?

No I am not dead, just really, really, really, really tired! I have had a lot of changes going on recently in my little corner of the universe. For starters, I applied for and got a second job at Valencia College as a Reference Assistant. So I have been doing that on top of my full-time job at UCF (yay for 60 hour weeks!!!)

Then, because that wasn’t keeping me busy enough, my husband and I also decided to start adding to our little family. So I would like to formally announce (on the blog at least) that we are expecting a baby boy at the end of February! I don’t really recommend working 60 hours and being pregnant, I am starting to think I may be insane (my husband will gleefully confirm this for you!).

So that is why I have been mostly absent from my duties here. I have a bit too much on my plate!

BUT! Let’s get down to business! (Did you sing the Mulan song to yourself here? Yes? 10 points to you. No? For shame, go watch it on Youtube after reading this article.)

So working at the Reference desk at Valencia has been an interesting experience. I have learned that I am best at technology based questions,  formatting questions, and being really really patient while explaining the same idea to one student about 5161618 times (in a different way each time) before they finally understand it. This has given me more respect for instructors at all levels, you all are amazing.

I have also learned that I need to brush up on my reference interview skills as I tend to not ask some obvious questions. But I have been getting better and the ladies at the desk have been great at mentoring me and giving me advice when needed, so I have learned a lot.

One of my “it’s really slow today what should I do with my time” projects has been to play with infographics, which has been both fun and frustrating. But I have made three for the Facebook and Pinterest Pages at Valencia.


The first one:

Using Library Databases

This was my first go. Not my favorite thing I have ever made but it works. At last check it had a few hundred views so maybe it is helping someone! I wish there was a way to get some feedback or document the benefits some how. Oh well.


The second one:

APA Citations

This one I like a bit better. Aesthetically it is lacking a bit, but I am working on that. This infographic taught me several things:

1.) No matter how many times you proofread there will almost always be an error in the final product (see if you can spot mine).

2.) Plan out what you want to do BEFORE you start making the graphic. This will make putting it together that much easier and it won’t look thrown together and blocky like what you see above.

3.) These take a while to put together and you need patience to make one that is eye catching and informational.


The third one:

MLA Citations

So far this one is my favorite. Not only is it pretty (look at those colors!!) but it looks more cohesive to the viewer. I am still working on figuring out the best way to explain this information through graphics and am having a bit fun with it, but I really would like to see if it helps the students. The information can be as pretty as it wants but if it doesn’t help anyone then why am I doing it?

Anyway, that is all I really have for you all right now. But please feel free to give me feedback in the comments and let me know if I should adjust what I am doing or give me tips/advice/thumbs up……

Cross-training Opportunities for Library Students and Staff

17 Jun

MLIS Cross-training Experiences

This past May was the Florida Library Association Conference, where I was fortunate to be able to show a poster presentation along with two colleagues and friends of mine, Ariana Santiago and Natasha White.

The three of us have had various experiences in cross-training while working in an academic library, and thought that our experiences may be similar to those of other MLIS students and recent graduates. We developed a survey to gather information and opinions regarding library cross-training, and received survey responses from ten staff members at the UCF Libraries who are either currently enrolled in an MLIS program or have graduated within the past year.

Poster Presentation at FLA Conference 2013

Prior to¬†the FLA Conference, we also presented at our region’s FLVC Library Services User Meeting, sharing information gathered from our research. This presentation focused on the benefits of cross-training to both the individual and the library or institution. Here is a link to the¬†Prezi¬†from this presentation.

We got a lot of positive feedback and thoroughly enjoyed both both experiences. Hopefully we will expand on this in the future by refining our survey and distributing it more broadly. Here are a few selected articles for further reading on library cross-training, for those interested:

  • Carr, A. F. and Kawakami, A. K. (2002). A successful cross-training experience of reference service at UCLA.¬†Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 21(2), 15-19. doi:¬†10.1300/J115v21n02_02
  • Fain, M., Brown, M., and Faix, A. (2004). Cross-training reference librarians to catalog.¬†Technical Services Quarterly, 22(1), 41-53.¬†10.1300/J124v22n01_05
  • Gossen, E., Reynolds, F., Ricker, K., and Smirensky H.¬†(1990). Forging new communication links in an academic library:¬†A cross-training experiment.¬†Journal Of Academic Librarianship,¬†16(1), 18-21.


Note: The numbering system is a touch off as we originally created it to jump from one question to another based on your answer. For ease of access we took out all of that and allowed you to see the blank survey in its entirety.

Social Cataloging: Goodreads & Library Thing

12 Nov

As someone who has around 300 books in their personal collection, I find sites such as Goodreads and Library Thing to be very useful to say the least. I have been using Goodreads for around a year and a half now, and although I had a Library Thing account for just as long I am just now coming around to using it again. Why? Glad you asked!

Even before I started my MLIS degree I was looking for a way to organize my books as well as a way to keep track of what books I have read and what I thought of them. I came across Library Thing first and played with it but for some reason dropped it and found Goodreads instead. I am not sure why I did that at the time, but now that I have been playing with them both here is what I think of both of them.


To get straight to is, I like Goodreads (GR) for their social aspect. I have it linked with my Facebook account so whenever I update my status on GR it updates on Facebook as well. I also have it set up so that when my Facebook friends create an account on GR they are automatically added to my friends list. It makes finding and following friends much easier.

I created this account for the sole purpose of helping me remember what books I have read and to keep a running tally of books that I want to read. It has a great, easy to use interface that is very welcoming to the new user. I won’t waste a ton of time here discussing how to use the website because a quick trip over there and five minutes of playing and you will just about be a pro! Within a few minutes of playing around you can add all the books you remember reading as well as adjust the edition of the books so that it reflects the exact copy you read (admittedly this is a bit gimmicky but also very fun).

When you select your book’s edition and add it to your “Currently Reading” list you are able to update your reading progress so that you can track how much you have read and when. Then when you have marked the book as “Read” you can write a review and rate it (5 star rating system) so that your friends can read it, or even the public if you have your settings¬†programmed¬†that way.

I love GRs for tracking my reading progress, however I don’t find GR very good for cataloging my own library. This is where Library Thing shines.

Library Thing

When I first playing with Library Thing (LT) I didn’t care for it much. I didn’t like the layout and the HTML feel of the site nor did I see a way to do what Goodreads did which was updating reading progress. However, now that I have gone back and looked through what LT offers it meets different needs. Although I still don’t see a way to notate reading progress (which may be there, but I haven’t played enough to find it) but what I do see, is a way to catalog a personal library.

This may sound unexciting, but it was a problem I had been facing for a while. As I stated above I have around 300 books and no real why to keep track of them. I tried to create an Excel spreadsheet which worked OK for a while, but it was very time-consuming (especially because I had to look up the call number I wanted to use which took quite a while) and very annoying to update. But LT is quite easy, again I won’t go into all the details because it is easy enough to play and figure it out.

When you search for your book you can choose the edition and all the details, but the best part is that you can choose how and what details you want shown. You can choose to show the Title, Author, ISBN, LC Call number, reviews, etc. etc. It also links to various book sites like Worldcat.org, amazon.com, google books, and Audible.com. This doesn’t make for good social sharing but it does help a Bibliophile like myself organize what I have at home!


So basically, both sites are great! They help users document what they have read and interact with fellow readers.


Networking through Social Media

18 Oct

In Libraries it is important to network, especially since most of us are looking for our first jobs. As most of you are aware, LinkedIn is a great resource for networking in a professional setting, but there are other sites that offer networking. Another thing to be aware of is your public image online. Here are some of the tricks I have learned and the sites that I have used.


This site allows users to upload resumes as well as create personal profiles that employers can search through. That is LinkedIn at it’s very core, however the last few years have seen several additions to the site. One such addition is discussions which allows you to interact with professionals in the field on a variety of topics. I have joined several of these discussion boards and have it set up to send me emails once a week collating all of the unread posts. I have come across many interesting articles this way.

LinkedIn also added endorsements allowing you to ‘endorse’ friends, family, or coworkers. The endorsements are pre-selected, I think, and you just click on the bubble next to a contact’s name to endorse them. I know I am not explaining it very well, but go and check it out!.

Lastly, they have a newsfeed option that is very similar to Facebook. You can post status updates, comment, ¬†and ‘like’ friends’ posts. I personally don’t use this feature, but I do have this blog as well as my Twitter feed linked to it so that it posts all of my updates from these two sites to my LinkedIn wall (There is an option to link your Facebook account as well, but I like to keep that one site private, but it is an option).


I am fairly new to Klout, but I do find that I like it! It is easy to create an account just register using Facebook or Twitter. Once you have an account just update your profile with all the information you are comfortable with then link all of your social media accounts that you wish to link, sit back and wait for your score.

Your Klout score shows you how influential you are on the internet. (I am at 63! Which isn’t too shabby if I say so myself. I have some celebrity friends on here as well who are paid to be social media nerds and their scores are only about 5-10 points away from me…)¬†It tallies how frequently your Facebook posts are liked and shared, how many times your Tweets are retweeted or favorited, it basically tallies all the social media sites you subscribe to and lets you know how popular you are among your friends. It also shows your friends’ scores (assuming of course that they are on Klout as well). I am not sure exactly how this would get you a job, but there is definite networking potential here somewhere… I’ll find it eventually, probably when I have more free time!


BrandYourself helps you to create your brand image online. This doesn’t sound very important until you think about how employers seek you out and how they try to find information about you. This site gives you the tools and holds your hand while you help bring your positive search results to the first page of Google and subsequently bury the negative or unrelated links.

Currently my score is a D- (this task is proving difficult as I have a very common name, and my fellow Amanda Richards’ are very visible. There is a singer, a¬†Transsexual, and a¬†smattering¬†of other individuals by the same name). I have however brought my BrandYourself page as well as my blog page to the first page of Google results which is very exciting!

When you log on you are greeted with little thought bubbles that guide you. They have made branding yourself practically effortless. They show you secrets like adding your full name to the metadata of all of your social media accounts, as well as advise you to use the same name and photo on all of your accounts for continuity. It is very easy and free to use the basic service. However if you want more options there is a pay-for option as well.

I think that is about it for now. Using these 3 tools together I have noticed my LinkedIn inquiry count jump from 1-2 views a week to 8-10. I haven’t had and job offers yet, but that is probably due to my lack of applying for positions because I have been very busy preparing and taking Comps (Which I just finished 2 days ago!!!) So now I am going to settle back, and work on the copious amounts of reading and writing I have to do for the remainder of the semester.

Let me know if you have tried these services and what you think of them. Do you have other networking or Branding sites that you use? Tell me about them in the comments!

…One Giant Leap!

16 Oct

First things first… New layout!! Woohoo! It was time for an upgrade ūüėČ

Secondly, sorry about the lack of postings, I JUST TOOK FREAKING COMPS! But I am not really able to talk about it until after they are graded (I am pretty sure that is how that works… who knows).

Anyway, I am off to pass out from exhaustion and give my poor hands a break from typing. lol JK!

Yeah I wish, I have more homework to complete ūüėČ


26 Sep

So I was required for class to choose a Social Media platform that I use and create a tutorial for my fellow students to learn about it. I am sure you can tell from the title of the post that I chose StumbleUpon. If you are interested, Click Here for the presentation that I uploaded to YouTube.

So for those of you who are interested in how I created the presentation here are a list of the programs I utilized.


I like to use Prezi instead of PowerPoint because I like that the presentation has movement. I think the slides flying in and out of focus are pretty impressive and attention grabbing, especially for students who are used to a lot of movement in their daily lives (ever notice how much the camera angle changes in movies? How fast cartoons move and change?).

This is the first presentation I ever saw given with Prezi and it made me immediately switch. (Here is the presentation without the video)

Then this is the first Prezi presentation I gave for high school students.

I also recommend adding Prezi to your Facebook account as they typically post tips and new features there. Check it out!


I used Screencast-O-Matic to record the audio and the presentation so that I could upload to YouTube, you know, just to make it easy ūüôā

I have used Screencast-O-Matic on prior occasions to record tutorials and have always liked the results. Some of the main things I like about this product:

  1. You don’t have to download it. You can use it straight from the site!!
  2. It has the option to have the cursor circled so the viewer can follow it easier!
  3. When you hit record it gives you a visible 3 second countdown until it starts recording.
  4. It is easy to save, or share directly to YouTube or Vimeo. No need to worry about the format or anything, it does it for you!
  5. It is FREE!
  6. It is pretty self-explanatory, aka fool-proof and user-friendly.

So if you need to record things, this is a pretty awesome free option.

Questions from my Classmates

Do you think that this will (or has) become something like Facebook Ads in the sense that advertisements that you see on the web will become more detailed and personalized based on your preferences in StumbleUpon?

According to StumbleUpon they do have paid advertising. The advertisers pay to have their pages added to the Stumble list of sites so that you, as a Stumbler, make it to the paid page instead of getting ads and banners and such. Click Here to read up on it some more.

However, I have been using Stumble since¬†probably 2005 or 2006 and I have to say I very rarely notice when I reach a paid page because the ads are usually so connected with my interest that it isn’t noticed.
And the software does ‘learn’ about you in that you are constantly rating pages (Thumbs up or down) and it ‘learns’ what kinds of things you would like to see.There is a little more info¬†Here.

How can StumbleUpon be used when doing research? Is there a particular way to search for peer-reviewed articles like with Google Scholar?

There isn’t a “Peer Review” Stumble option per se (at least not yet) but I can share how I use it for research.
I use it at the beginning of the research process when I need to learn more about  my topic (or looking for a topic in general). I narrow down the stumble interest to the topic I am interested in, say history, and then stumble the pages in that topic. This allows me to see some of the most interesting stories (from newspapers, blogs, websites, etc.). Then from there I read the articles and look through the Reference lists to gather more info.
To narrow the interests:
  1. On the Stumble Tool bar on the right side there is a search box and a drop down menu
  2. Use the drop down menu to select a previous stumble interest
  3. Or use the search box to input a new topic.

I came across this post in the SU blog, maybe it might help with your research? Also it better describes how to use SU for research. Using StumbleUpon to Get Ideas.

Is StumbleUpon a social bookmarking site, such as Diigo and Delicious, or a search engine? Is it true what I read somewhere that through this SM you can promote the websites that you like but not your own?

StumbleUpon is not necessarily a bookmarking site like Delicious or Diigo ¬†and it is not quite a search engine either,¬† although you can use it to do both if you wish. The term that I came across that best described SU was a “Discovery tool”. What I take this to mean is that you use the stumble feature to explore new media/topics/ideas and by giving those pages ‘thumbs up’ you narrow down or broaden you interests allowing you to discover new items the more you use the software.

Your homepage will save links to all the sites that you have given a Thumbs Up to so in that sense you are able to use it as a bookmarking site. And because you are able to use the search box on the taskbar to search specific interests I suppose you could call it a search engine as well. But effectively it is both, and it is neither. ūüôā
And in my experience, you can promote your own site, or at least you can add it to the list to be stumbled by others.
  1. From your homepage click on Profile.
  2. Then below where your picture is there is blue text that says Your Settings and Add a New Page. Select Add a new page.
  3. Then fill in the URL and the information.
  4. However if it gets enough thumbs down the page is removed from their system.

How specific can you make your search (when searching for pages to add)? Does it give you what you asked for or do you have to “fine tune” your search terms?

Well, it isn’t a search engine like Google or Bing so you won’t get results like that. When you do a “search” it is more along the lines of narrowing interests. For instance, you would wouldn’t search “library school journal articles” but you could narrow the interests to “library school”. Basically you are just browsing topics and getting associated websites instead of getting pages you would look for specifically.

And there isn’t really a way to fine tune the search terms. If you choose to put terms into the search box, there is a¬†predictable¬†text feature that tries to guess what you are typing as you input the terms (kind of like when you start typing into the Google Search Box) so you can choose from that as well.
I would say that StumbleUpon isn’t necessarily used for searching for something specific but should instead be used to search for a broad idea or topic. It was made for¬†entertainment¬†after all and not research. However I like to find a way to use everything for research!

My question is, while StumbleUpon looks like it could be a lot of fun (and possible timesucker) what really sets it apart from other services. i.e., why should I use it? Would you recommend someone replace a site they are using such as Delicious with StumbleUpon, or use it in addition?

StumbleUpon can be a timesucker, but it can also be quite helpful.

For me personally, what sets SU apart from other services is that you don’t really have to know what it is you are trying to accomplish. It is similar to Pinterest in that you have a general idea what you are looking for “Crafts” and the site shows you everything that it has in that area. But unlike Pinterest instead of just getting thumbnails of an image and then trying to link back to the original post (if you can make it that far) you are given the original page so that you don’t have to hunt it down.
I don’t typically use sites like delicious or diigo for personal use (I reserve them for bookmarking school related items so that they show up on my blog widget) but I do use Stumble to ‘bookmark’ stuff for personal use. For instance I like to stumble ‘recipes’ and when I find one I like I give it a thumbs up, then later when I want to find it, I go to my profile and in the “search¬†favorites” search bar I type in¬†Guinness Cupcakes¬†and it brings up the page I had favorited. So basically, I don’t think it should replace your bookmarking sites completely, but it will definitely be useful.

Libraries have found ways to use sites like Facebook and Pinterest to promote products and services, so my question is, how do you think libraries could use StumbleUpon as a marketing tool?

This question had me a little stumped for a bit. Ironically I hadn’t really considered how SU could be used to market the library (although now it seems quite obvious that this should have been my focus). I have always used it as a discovery tool for learning new things and hadn’t thought to market with it. And to be quite honest I am not quite sure how to use it to market your library locally (I will continue looking into this however).

After doing some “research” by stumbling the “Library” interest I have found that several Academic (and a few public) libraries have added their webpage to the SU lists. I have stumbled upon a few special collections pages, law libraries, newspaper articles about collections, special libraries, etc. that all showcase what the library has to offer. It isn’t like marketing to local patrons where you will have people liking you on Facebook and coming in to see what you have, but rather more like advertising that your library exists and showing the Stumbler what you have.
I foresee it being more useful for maybe academic libraries or the genealogical sections of public libraries. However I have seen it used to advertise events at public libraries as well. For instance this page for a local craft session was something I Stumble on, and it is for a Public Library.
So there are marketing uses, and I think that if the Librarian was creative they could get SU to work for them. If anything, you get your website hits up.
You can also inform small business owners of the resource in classes to help them with free marketing. ūüôā
Marketing with StumbleUpon:

I was wondering if there is a way to set privacy such as making some likes public and some likes private? You may not care that someone saw you liked a certain book but you may not want to admit to liking that Disney channel star.

As far as I am able to tell, there is currently only 3 privacy settings options.

Settings–> Privacy–>

Show my likes & Interests to…

  1. Only Me
  2. Everyone
  3. Everyone, but hide any adult likes and interests
I have sent an email to the programmers asking if there is a way around this or if there is a way they can adopt a “Thumbs up” and a “Thumbs up but¬†private” option. I will keep you posted on anything I hear back.
Me: Is there a way to publicly like some webpages while privately liking others, like a drop down system similar to what you have for the dislike button?
SU: Hi, You can choose to hide your Likes from other Stumblers by making them all private or making only adult Likes private. Instructions on how to do this are found here.
Me:¬†Yes, I saw that. But I was wondering if there was a way to hide likes that aren’t “adult” private but still have a public profile. For instance, I don’t mind showing that I liked a site about books, clothes, computers, etc. But I may not want to show that I liked a site about pagan religion, Disney Stars, or something that isn’t necessarily ‘adult’ but rather just embarrassing. I hope I explained that better this time. ūüôā
SU: Hi, We understand your request, but unfortunately do not have a feature like this for Likes. Our new Lists feature does allow you to keep Lists private and they don’t necessarily have to be adult to be private. There are currently ways to add to Lists without Liking, but as it is in beta, this could change. Apologies for any inconvenience.If you would like to join that¬†conversation¬†on the forum¬†click here.
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