Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm FAMOUS! My brush with fame as a "Scandal" tweeter

I do not commit to very much television.  As a busy graduate student I just do not have time, although I am not above the occasional (okay, regular) viewing of the time suck that is Investigation Discovery as well as the Sunday marathon of "Snapped" (it's on in the background; I'm not really watching it...).  However, in terms of scripted, professionally acted television, I don't get to watch much...

Except the highly addictive and well-written show "Scandal" which airs on ABC.  I have become one of "those people" who thinks that the world wants to hear my voice on this, and as such I have become a fairly regular live tweeter on Thursday nights.  A couple of weeks ago, Shonda Rhimes, the creator and my writing idol, retweeted me and I thought that was the pinnacle.  That is until I got a tweet from one of the show's producers that they had used my tweet in their weekly recap that is on the ABC website.  OH. EM. GEE.  So of course I have to share:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review - "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls"

Let's Explore Diabetes with OwlsLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book made me laugh out loud in the most unexpected places. David Sedaris can brighten any bad day with his droll, yet dead on wit. He is funny, ironic and twisted, just the way I like it! I listened to the audio book and he narrates it. I think it is far funnier than just reading it on a page.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review

Who Asked You?Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another GREAT McMillan masterpiece. There is no writer out there who can do dialogue and a sense of place better than this queen of writing. She is only matched by Grisham in her ability to draw a character so well that you can actually see them as you read. This book is told in alternate points of view by the characters and advances in time. The different points of view is a great driver of the story. I have met all of theses characters in my life, and many of the readers will relate as well. This is not "Black" book, simply a great book that has Black and White characters.
It is evident that Ms. McMillan's writing has remained standard in its depth. Her voice is as fresh as it was with "Waiting to Exhale" 20+ years ago. I was sad to see the book end, and I am hungry for the next. Please don't make us wait so long, Terry!

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Friday, September 20, 2013

So, you think you want to go to graduate school.

I am in my next-to-last semester of graduate school. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I am looking at questions for comps. It is because of these things that I feel that I can be reflective about something I am frequently asked about. Sometimes it's in casual conversation. Sometimes it's whispered to me. Sometimes it's emailed to me. What's this question? I'm thinking about going to graduate school and I'm over 30. What should I think about? What do I need to know before I make this life change? Well, I will answer, for all of those who want to know, but are afraid to ask. 1. Graduate school is a commitment. It does not matter how you do it: online, face-to-face, part-time, full-time, a mixture. Even if you are just taking one class. You had to endure testing, applying and acceptance into a program. This is now a part of your life that you must acknowledge. 2. Don't casually go to graduate school thinking that it's a stopgap measure or you'll use the time to figure out what you "really want to do." What you're in grad school to study should be what you "really want to do." Which leads to my next tip. 3. If you really don't like the subject area you are studying, grad school will be a drag. I love libraries. I love everything about them. I hunger to learn more. I read about libraries even when school is out. I easily see myself doing this for the next 80 years or so. And it's a good thing, because THAT IS ALL I STUDY IN SCHOOL. When I was in law school, I did not feel this way about the law. So I know what I am talking about. 4. Your weekends are not your own. Especially if you are working while in graduate school. Prepare yourself and your family and significant other and friends for this. It is real. 5. Your brain will be stretched in different directions. I have found that having some life and work experience has helped me to look at class projects and assignments differently. I have also had to learn new ways to approach things. 6. Being on a college campus is fun, but please don't try to relive your undergraduate days. I am on the campus where I had some of the best times of my life, made lifelong friends, was a total sorority girl, and for the first time in my life, where I had some modicum of 'popularity.' However, the undergraduates on this campus are children to whom I could have given birth. It would be ridiculous for me to try to hang out with my young sorority sisters. My point here is, don't go to grad school to relive undergrad. 7. Start thinking about career and job-searching during the very first semester. I don't have the luxury of doing a 2-year residency after graduation or going to London to work at the Inn of Court library. I've got to get a job and I think about that every day. I am a real grown up with real responsibilities, and that is real for me all the time. 8. Know why you're going to graduate school. My graduate school experience has been AMAZING! I love my curriculum, professors and colleagues. I am having experiences that are imprinted on me personally and professionally for the rest of my life. It is great, and I am having fun. However, if I could have gone straight to working in a library without graduate school, I would have totally done it. I know why I'm here. Librarianship is a profession, and there is a professional rigor about learning the mindset and how to do it properly. Ask yourself exactly why you're going and then examine the answer. Your gut (and pocketbook) will tell you if it's a good thing. 9. You can expect to make a major shift in your finances. Even if you are still working at your same job, even if you have a scholarship. Books,supplies, fees, other little things that crop up are real. 10. If you are thoughtful and smart about your graduate school experience, it will change your life. I experience a joy I hadn't expected. I am in my groove, and I feel like I am using the gifts I have, rather than just doing something that fulfills me and serves people. This is a generation of people who make shifts in their lives all the time. If you know that this is the thing for you, just do it. You're worth it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Revenge Wears Prada review

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil ReturnsRevenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let me begin by saying that I totally loved "The Devil Wears Prada." It was an enjoyable read and I liked the movie as well. I was looking forward to the sequel. What a waste of time. This book was awful. I gave Andy 148 pages to redeem herself and become a person that I wanted to root for. Sh'w whiny, ungrateful, selfish and completely unlikeable. I skipped ahead to the predictable, glib end and did not feel one inkling of empathy for Andy.

I would skip this one and just let the memory of the first one hold you.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Mid-summer book reviews

Many of you have been asking me about book recommendations for summer. Here are a few that I have read and am reading, with my review. Remember, this is my own opinion, so if you have a different one, don't shoot me. Just share it with me and maybe we can start a wonderful debate. Happy reading!!! Let's Explore Diabetes with OwlsLet's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

View all my reviewsCrazy Rich AsiansCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviewsThese GirlsThese Girls by Sarah Pekkanen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviewsHelen of PasadenaHelen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviewsAnd the Mountains EchoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Twelve Tribes of HattieThe Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every so often you read a book that amazes you with the writing, astonishes you with the depth of the description of and voices of the characters, and finally annihilates you with the turn of events. This is that book.
This is not a light read, y'all. This is true literature. I always know that a book is good when I can't wait to pick it back up again at the end of the day, but my stomach is in knots about the things that I will read.
Ayana Mathis is our generation's Alice Walker. Definitely add this one to your list.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Burgess BoysThe Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very good book about the complex relationships between adult siblings. The character development and pacing are just amazing. I highly recommend it.

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Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap FashionOverdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book changed the entire way that I think about clothes. I was raised by a mother who refused to buy us clothes from the "trendy" stores and instead bought us high quality clothes and shoes that lasted. That has stayed with me, but I admit to having bought a dress or a top or a jacket here and there from Target, Zara and H&M. It convinced me that taking up sewing again is the right thing for me to do. I only give it four stars because the writing is a little inconsistent. But overall a good and important read.

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When Baldwin Loved BrendenWhen Baldwin Loved Brenden by Electa Rome Parks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good read. The unexpected twist at the end was a disappointment, as I think we as a society are past the issue as it was presented.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just a little Dewey fun

I was reading the blog of a mentor of mine, Michael Golrick and came upon this really neat site.  It's called and it will classify you in Dewey based on some basic information from you.  Try it out and let me know what you think!
Shannan Hicks's Dewey Decimal Section:
230 Christianity & Christian theology
Shannan Hicks = 981441489319 = 981+441+489+319 = 2230

200 Religion

The Bible and other religious texts, books about the general philosophy and theory of religion.

What it says about you:
You don't mind thinking about the unknown or other very big ideas. You will never feel like your work is finished. The 200-series is dominated by Christian topics, so you may feel like you're constantly surrounded by Christians.
Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Shannan Hicks's Dewey Decimal Section:
982 Argentina
Shannan Hicks's birthday: 10/12/1970 = 1012+1970 = 2982

900 History & Geography

Travel, biographies, ancient history, and histories of continents.

What it says about you:
You're connected to your past and value the things that have happened to you. You've had some conflicted times in your life, but they've brought you to where you are today and you don't ignore it.
Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Shannan Hicks's Dewey Decimal Section:
008 [Unassigned]

000 Computer Science, Information & General Works

Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.

What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You're working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.
Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Friday, May 10, 2013

I MADE IT!!!!!

Well, it appears that I have made it through another semester of library school.  I now have time to read things that don't have to do with libraries!!!  However, that does not mean that I won't be frequenting my public libraries...I'm on my way to my local branch to pick up some holds.  To hightlight the awesomeness of libraries, I am posting a TEDx talk by Mary Stein, who is the Assistant Director of the East Baton Rouge Public Library.  Mary is a really well-respected librarian, and I think her talk is reason for all citizens to get excited about libraries.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This hell will end soon...

I, along with my classmates, are in the throes of final projects and exams for this semester.  Dear readers, you'll have to give me some grace for the next week or so. 

Excuse me while I crawl back into my finals headspace...


Monday, April 8, 2013

Guide To My Blog

This little blog-o-mine started as a way for me to comment on things that I like in the world of libraries.  However, I have found that it is also a way to do two other things that I love: provide social commentary on any and everything and talk about makeup, fashion and style on a budget.  So, for those of you lovely enough to come on this site, here is a guide:

  • The main blog posts are about libraries, books, librarianship and related topics.  These could include book reviews, tech things as they affect the library world and interviews with people I want to know more about.
  • There will also occasionally be a post on social commentary, which could range from a new band I heard on NPR to why won't Kim Kardashian get some maternity clothes.
There are tabs that you'll find at the top of my blog.

  • LIBRARIAN BARBIE is my Tumblr page, and has things about librarian style (YES, THERE IS SUCH A THING), pics I like and things pertaining to librarianship.
  • My Twitter feed is also a tab, and Lord knows what types of fooleywang may show up there.
  • What I'm Reading is a link to my Goodreads account.  I keep that pretty accurate, so you'll know what I'm reading, have read and want to read.  I get a lot of questions about that and I am very interested in Reader's Advisory, so that is a passion I intend to grow.
Thanks for visiting my site.  Please keep coming back and please follow me.

Let's Talk About Rankings

Not sure if many of you caught this, but U.S. News and World Reports recently released their rankings on library schools.  As a skeptic, and one who knows that these rankings are:  1)subjective, 2) relative and 3) cause unnecessary stress, I wanted to talk about what these rankings might mean to us as library school students. 

The rankings are here:

As you can see, my school (LSU) is ranked at #24.  Does this matter to me?  Not one bit.  Would it have mattered to me when I was applying?  Not one bit. 

I attended (proudly, I might add), a Top 20 law school (Tulane).  That was great, made me feel really smart and justified the ridiculous student loans I had to take out at the time.  However, did it mean anything when I went into practice?  No.  Did it make my life as a lawyer any better?  Probably not.  Do I still have those student loans?  You betcha!

You see, most of us, when we thought about pursuing our graduate degree in library and information science, fell into 3 categories:
1.  I just graduated with a liberal arts degree.  What kind of job am I going to get without a masters?
2.  I've been working in a library and I can't move up professionally without an MLIS.   What is the most convenient way to get this degree since I work full time and maybe I have a family?
3.  My job sucks and I've always wanted to work with books and libraries.  Where's the nearest grad school where I can obtain this degree? 

I fell into category 3.  My extensive research brought me to the conclusion that to work in a library in any professional function, I was going to have to get a graduate degree in the field, and it only mattered that the school be ALA-accredited.  Since I have not yet married for money, I needed to go to a nearby school where I could get the degree without going broke and to a school that had a good reputation.  For me that was #24 ranked LSU. 

You see, these rankings are relative, because most MLIS students need convenience, and are likely going to stay in the community where they get the degree.  University of Illinois is a great school, but for me, it was not an option. 

The most important things in a graduate education, in my humble opinion, are convenience, cost, course availability, job prospects and easy access to faculty.  LSU has all of these for me.  For someone living in Seattle, those things will likely not be found at LSU. 

What I'm trying to say is, rankings are only as important as they are relevant to you and your situation.

Having said that, and with a little plug to my school,


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Rules for Libraries and Librarians

I am a fan of Bill Maher's show on HBO.  My favorite part of the show is when he presents his New Rules for the week, which consists of riffs on pop culture topics (except I can't go there with him on Catholic-bashing; I plan on going to heaven...). In the spirit of Mr. Maher, I am presenting New Rules for Libraries and Librarians, based on my experience as a grad student who works in two libraries.   Here we go...

1.  Anyone who wants a leadership role ever in their library career should be assigned to shelving books for one month.  You can't fully understand patron behavior, collection management, acquisition issues and cataloging until you see how books are organized and how important this task is.  You can have the biggest book budget, the best acquisitions librarian and catalogers trained by Michael Gorman himself, but if the shelving system, or the shelvers themselves are undervalued and not trained, the patrons can't find materials.  And patrons cannot use what they cannot find.

1.a.  There should be a law forbidding use of the bottom shelf for books.  It is easier to reach up than down.

2.  Libraries need to let people know what they have and what they can provide, especially in this economic  environment.  I was talking with a lawyer yesterday who had just gone out on his own and was lamenting his having to pay for Westlaw service.  When I told him that the public library provides that for free, I thought he was going to faint with joy. I haven't bought a CD in years, because of Freegal, the free and legal music downloading source.  There needs to be a better way of letting the taxpaying public know about all the services available.

3.  Stop treating librarians like they just walked in off the street and started checking out books.  Librarians are highly trained, professionally-degreed individuals.  They are constantly studying their craft.  They probably should wear capes, they are such superheroes.  So the next time you approach someone behind the desk with superiority just because they're behind the desk, remember, they can catalog and classify you from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet in less than 5 minutes.  They are service workers, not personal slaves. 

4.  Cutting funding to librarians should not even be a part of the conversational zeitgeist.  A quote I love says "Cutting libraries in a recession is like closing hospitals during a plague."The libraries are the great equalizers in a community.  The inmate who sends a reference question will get the same stellar service as the millionaire who donates to the library every year or the person trying to use the computer to apply for food stamps or the middle schooler who's working on their science fair project.  Good librarians see questions, requests and patrons, that's all. 

5.  Librarians have to start flying their freak flags higher.  Yes, we are a weird bunch.  But we rule the world...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Post conference + post midterm=REFRESHED!

Wow, I can't believe that I havent' posted in so long.  The last couple of weeks have flown by and in that time I've attended our wonderful state conference (Louisiana Library Association), received an award from them, taken midterms, turned in 3 projects, and worked  at all of my jobs.  WHEW!

I have always loved conferences.  When I was practicing law, I loved kicking it around at law conferences because you always got to see people you don't often see, get to know new faces, and learn something about the profession.  Librarians do conferences on a whole different level, however.  And I mean that in a very good way. 

Here are my top takeaways from LLA 2013.  I am going to be attending ALA in June in Chicago.  I welcome any tips from anyone who has attended. 

1.  Networking.  Librarians are a great group of professionals.  They are very welcoming to students and will place talking to you over other conference highlights, like exhibits.  I met a number of people at this conference, and not one of them ever shied away from talking about how great their jobs are and how wonderful a profession I was entering.


2.  It's a small state.  Many of us plan to stay in Louisiana, and the library world here is pretty small.  The person you sat next to at lunch may just be someone that will be interviewing you for a job.  It's always good to know names and faces.


3.  You make your job hunt easier.  I've been a hiring manager before.  Here's a secret.  People other than HR professionals HATE the hiring process.  It is not a natural part of the job and it takes time.  The savvy manager hires for personality, knowing that most smart hires can be trained.  Plus, the applicant pool can sometimes be very scary.  The path of least resistance is to compile a pool of interviewees that they know, or know of, or who someone they know and respect gives a great recommendation.  Early in my last career, a manager told me that people hire people they know.  That's generally true.  So making connections at no-pressure events like conferences makes it that much easier for you to get a foot in the door of that dream job.


4.  Librarians know how to pick menus.  The food was awesome!


5.  Book dinners.  I've been to 2 LLA conferences now and this events are always a treat.  This year, Charlaine Harris of Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood fame was the keynote speaker.  She was a delight.  This is also a great place to network.


6.  Expert seminars.  The seminars are top notch, and are great to use for paper or project topics.  There were so many good ones at the same time that I didn't nearly get to attend all that I wanted.  Highlights were:   Addressing Alliteracy, Serving Teens in Juvenile Facilities, RDA Blastoff, and The School Librarian as Archivist.


7.  SWAG. - The exhibitors have it and they want to give it.  I'm good on notepads and pens.  But I also learned about some library vendors that will be of interest to me when I am working in a library as a professional.  Many librarians have stressed the importance of developing good relationships with vendors.  Also, it turns out that many people who work for vendors are librarians themselves!


8.  You don't have to travel very far.  We live in Louisiana, not Texas, so the longest travel is 5 hours.  Even if you have to go to North Louisiana.


9.  It's a small enough conference that it's easy to meet people and make meaningful connections with them.


10.  You never know who you might meet.  The ALA President-Elect, Barbara Stripling, was at the conference.  She is super cool and very smart.  Y'all know I picked her brain.

Friday, February 22, 2013

And yet ANOTHER cool TEDx video

This one is one how you as citizens shape what the library of the future will be.
This is a really cool TEDX video from YouTube about the importance of libraries and what librarians really do.   It's quick and cool, so take a look.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Keeping It All Together...Or At Least Giving It the Graduate School Try...

One of the many things people ask me about my journey in library school is how I do it, what made me decide to do it, and how do I manage to keep lots of balls in the air.  In this post, I'll give you the quick and dirty on how my life is not complete chaos, along with some of the things that went into my decision-making to completely upend my life and follow a girlhood dream.

What Made Me Decide to Do It:

1.  I was about to turn 40, I had a job that I liked, but I wondered what I wanted to be doing for the next 30-40 years (since Social Security will be something for the archivists to explain).  My life was okay, but I knew that okay wasn't going to be enough for me and my personality. 

2. By chance, I made friends with the director of the library system in my hometown.  He is an amazing man and now a mentor.  I told him that I had always wanted to be a librarian, but that I would probably just wait and be the nice old lady at the desk checking out books in my retirement. This is, of course, when I thought I still would retire at a decent age.  He posed a query to me that stuck:  "Why wait?  You could go to library school and be finished in 2 years." I laughed, thought about my vow to never go to school again and waved him off.  He responded by putting me on an advisory committee for the strategic plan for the system.  This was in preparation in part to present a plan to voters about how the library would continue to be vital to the community (anybody hear millage renewal in all this?).  I was hooked, especially when the consultant, ALA legend Sandra Nelson, told me I was a natural librarian.  At this point, I thought, "Hmm, what if?" I quickly banished the thought and went back to my life.

3.  Four months after that conversation, my mother became very ill and subsequently passed away.  My core completely shifted and I knew that I had to get busy living or get busy dying.  The next year of my life was pretty crazy, but I look back now and know that God was simply preparing me for the next phase of my life.

4.  During said crazy year, in a passing conversation with a good friend of mine, he mentioned that his aunt was a librarian at a local university.  What he failed to tell me was that she is a diva librarian and the dean of libraries at that university.  On a lark, I called her and set up a meeting just to talk with her.  By the time I walked out the door, I was scheduled to meet with the dean of my library school along with one of the professors, who has since become a mentor.  This was November 28.  By December 10, I had applied, and I started school on January 14.  The stars really aligned.

How I Stay Sane and Casually Organized:

Being a full time student is a challenge.  Scratch that -- it is flippin' HARD!!!  I have to manage to go to class, study, prepare, complete assignments and projects and all the attendant work that goes along with that.  Since I didn't win the lottery, I also have to work.  This is good though, because it gives a dimension to my education that I really appreciate.   I also have to have ME time. 

1.  I have learned to say NO! As much as I would love to do a lot of things, like teach catechism to kids at my church, sew some of my own clothes, go on spur of the moment trips with my girlfriends like I used to do, I have to decline.  A lot.  I don't really worry about this, because I have wonderful friends who know what I'm doing and are very supportive. 

2.  I know that this lifestyle is temporary.  I won't always be in this crazy work/school mode.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that is a good thing.

3.  I don't worry much about what people think of this.  I've made a lot of sacrifices to graduate from library school debt free.  I moved home with my dad for several months to save money to be full time.  I cannot tell you when I've been on a real shopping spree.  I don't eat out very much at all.  My life looks very different from when I was a lawyer making (somewhat) lawyer money.  But I am happier than I have ever been in my life.  I know what my priorities are and what my outcomes my look like.  And that makes me leap out of bed every day.

4.  I don't need nearly as much as I used to think that I did.  This goes for clothes, cable, mani/pedi's, stuff and forms of entertainment.  I am very happy listening to music or watching a documentary on PBS.  I also got rid of a lot of STUFF that was beginning to overtake my space.  I have read about 50 books on simplifying my life.  Little did I know that it doesn't work until you actually do it. 

5.  I have a routine.  I must do this in order to balance 2 jobs and coursework.  I find that the routine almost completely eliminates stress.  I have a lot to do, but I don't have a lot of stress about it, because it's all on the calendar.

6. I get proper rest.  That is probably the biggest key to success.  If I don't get enough sleep, I am useless.  Therefore, my 8 hours is a priority. 

7.  I remember why I am doing this.  As busy as I am, I really love my work and my classes.  I can envision myself as a true information professional.  I know that in 15 months, I will be a degreed librarian, and I have faith that God will place me exactly where I am supposed to be.  This is a small sacrifice of time that I've invested for an amazing quality of life for the foreseeable future. 

8.  I lean on my family.  My family is very supportive of me having "hit reset on my life," according to my brother.  That means everything.  Plus, the free meals are a definite treat!

9.  Being a student is fun.  I had a great college experience, and I feel like I'm getting a do-over.  I mean, there are no more crawfish boils and keggers at someone's house or frat house any longer, but I feel like I am really soaking in this entire experience.

10.  I am infinitely blessed to be able to do this.  I know that there are people who dream of doing what I did, but they have kids, or other responsibilities that keep them from it.  When it gets hard, and believe me, it does get hard, I know that I have been given a gift.  I don't take that for granted.  Ever. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Library Is NOT just for kids.

I am often struck that people who are well educated, involved in their communities and generally cool as heck that I know are totally clueless about the library.  Libraries are like churches for some people -- you know they're good to have around and vital to the community, but they think there's nothing there for them.  The idea of a library is comforting.  But the reality is astonishing.

This couldn't be more shortsighted.  Whenever I tell people that I'm in library school, they often respond with, "Oh!  I love(d) taking my kids there for story time and for the kiddie programs!  As if there weren't a million other things that libraries offer that can make your life 100 times more totally awesome than it already is.  It's time for the Shannan Hicks Primer On Why You Should Go To The Library, Get A Card, and Start Living.

1.  Okay, to be fair, libraries are awesome places for kids.  When I put it together that I could go into a library and checkout as many books as my little hands could carry, I fell wholesale deep in love with the library.  Great children's librarians gave me suggestions on what to read next, got to know my reading personality and always had a great new book waiting (in Library World, we call this Reader's Advisory).  Libraries just smell like magic.

2.  The second most obvious is that there are FREE BOOKS!!!!!  My brother Michael often says that I have fulfilled Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point Theory because I have spent at least 10,000 hours reading.  He's absolutely right.  I read A LOT! However, people are surprised at how few books I actually own.  I get 98% of my reading material from the library.  If a book that I want is not on the shelf, I can easily put it on hold online or through my phone.  Usually, it's not a very long wait.  I can vouch for the fact that Shreve Memorial Library, East Baton Rouge Parish and Bossier Parish library systems have amazingly efficient hold systems.  Since I don't work for Barnes & Noble or Amazon, I can tell you that I could never afford to buy all the books that I read.  $28.95 for the new John Grisham?  No thanks,  I am a student...

Also, free music downloads (Freegal) are available at libraries.  It's like having a never-ending iTunes card.

3.  Interlibrary Loan System - Did you know that your local public library has relationships with other libraries throughout the nation.  So if they don't have a book, they can get it from another library.  That means that your free library card entitles you to get books from virtually any library in the country?  What is that I hear?  Realization?  Yes, I thought so.

4.  Overdrive.  The sole reason I purchased a Nook is that at the time it was the only device that allowed downloads from this free amazing resource at the library.  Overdrive basically adds an e-branch layer to the library.  In the same way that you would download a book to your Nook, Kindle or iPad, you can do the same with Overdrive and the library.   There are both downloadable books and mp3 audiobooks. You are crazy if you are paying for a subscription to Audible.

If you are a crazy book lady like me, you have several library cards from living in different places.  You can use all of their Overdrive libraries, too.

5.   Reference librarians are the mistresses/masters of the universe.  These gods and goddesses can help you find the answer to any questions, whether it's help with a science project to accessing public programs to telling you how to fill your own tooth.  Because of a reference librarian, I found two scholarships that got me through college.  And this was before the Internet!  Reference librarians totally rock.

6.  The library has databases full of information that you would not believe.  You can literally find something on any topic, and librarians are trained to know these databases and help you decode them.  There are also LibGuides, written by librarians, which may be information of local interest, or just anything in which the librarian has an interest or expertise.  And librarians have some cool interests.  These are worth checking out.

7.  Public resources.  It has been stated that only 30% of people in my home state of Louisiana have consistent wireless access and computers at home.  In our wired world, it can be easy to assume that everyone has an iMac perched in their home and a Kindle Fire in their bag, but an overwhelming amount of  people do not.  The library is usually the only place that they can go to use the computer.  And not for just surfing the Net.  Many government services are online only now, such as unemployment benefits.  (The paradox is that if you don't have a job, you may very well not have a computer, but please don't get me started on that).  Also, many employers only take online applications.  Therefore, the library is an economic driver in communities.  I have helped people apply for food stamps, jobs, unemployment, find out how to give to charity, and many other things that you simply would not believe.

Many libraries also offer checkout of laptops, test guides (ACT, LSAT, PRAXIS, etc.), iPads and e-readers.

Pretty surprising, huh?

8.  Access wherever you are.  Libraries often have very good and informative websites that you can access wherever you are.  There are also apps available to help you keep track of what you have out and when it's due.

9.  Libraries welcome everyone.  Don't have a job and need a place to set up during the day to do a job search without feeling obligated to buy $5 coffee?  Go to the library.  Homeless and want to get out of the weather?  Go to the library.  Want to hide from everyone for a couple of hours and read in the quiet?  You guessed it.  Go to the library.  Nobody judges you in the library.  Well, most people don't.

10.  And well, frankly, the library is a great place to take your kids.  Why don't you take a kid to the library today, see if they don't fall in love a little too.

Please look at the links to really great libraries at the bottom of this blog.  Dig around a little.  I promise you'll find something that you didn't know and will improve your life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Library Student True Confessions

One of the listservs that I follow is the ALA-YALSA listserv, which is a part of ALA that deals with young adult services.  The most recent viral thread is confessing love or distaste for books that librarians are supposed to love or despise.  It has been hilarious and eye-opening.  It prompted me to do my own true confessions.  As is my custom, I did this in a list.  I would love to hear any response to this and to what your true confessions are about books and libraries.  You don't have to be a librarian or library student to answer, just a book lover.

Shannan's True Library Student Confessions

1.  I don't like cats.  I am horribly allergic to certain types of cat hair and I must have Benadryl handy.  Besides, cats look at you like they can see your soul.  It kinda creeps me out.

2.  I have never read any Twilight or Hunger Games books.  I don't like trilogies.  The master of dystopia is George Orwell and the master of fantasy is Ray Bradbury.

3.  The classics mostly bore me.  When I was about 8, my mom bought me a set of classics that were sort of adapted for a child's understanding.  They were great!  That's how I read "The Count of Monte Cristo", "Treasure Island", and piqued my lifelong love affair with "Little Women."  However, when I got to high school and was expected to read the real ones, I was bored out of my skull.  Kids don't learn to love reading from classics.  They learn to love reading from Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.  

3.a.  Books that everyone should at least read once:
Little Women, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Long Dream (a little known Richard Wright - brilliant), Invisible Man (Ellison), Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe), Jane Eyre and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Original, not bastardized version, please).
3.b.  Books I hope to never have to pick up again:
The Sound and the Fury, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Heart of Darkness, Catch-22, Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter.

4.  I am more Bronte than Austen. When I was 9, my dad offered 3 months of "Right On" magazine if I read "Jane Eyre." Hey, it sounded like a good idea in 1979 and so I went for it.  Best line in all of literature:  "Reader, I married him.   I have been to the Bronte sisters childhood home in England.  It really is Wuthering Heights!! 

5.  I adore Southern writers, being Southern myself, but I cannot abide Faulkner.  I love Welty, Percy, Lee, Capote, Flagg, Toole and Andrews, but I just can't deal with Wild Bill.

6.  Hemingway is largely unreadable.  This dude is majorly overrated.  "The Old Man and the Sea?"  AAARGHH.

7.  Unless I am in a movie, I am not standing in line for hours on opening night to pay for a ticket to the midnight showing.  (See Twilight and Hunger Games referenced above).

8.  I love everything Alice Walker has ever written, especially her short stories and short novels (Meridian should be required reading for every girl going to college), but I have tried to read The Temple of My Familiar about 12 times and I can't get past the first chapter.  

9.  I have tried to read "The Hobbit"and I just don't get it.  I really love The Chronicles of Narnia, however.  My dad bought me the boxed set when I was a kid.  (Yeah, I had amazing parents).  

10.  I freely admit to my addiction to Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins.  I can't tell you anything about the Dark Ages, because I was sitting in the back of my 10th grade World History class reading "Lucky."

11.  The appeal of manga, anime and most graphic novels totally escapes me.  

There, AAAAAAHHHHHHH.  Off my chest.  What are your true confessions?

Friday, January 25, 2013

How Many Librarians Can I Be? Let Me Count the Ways...

As I was sitting in one of my classes this week (fully engaged of course), hearing about yet another cool library job, I thought about how many times I've said or thought, "That looks like such a cool job/ environment/set of materials or patrons, I think I want to be a ________ librarian.  After a year into this and some different job experiences, I have found out what I am suited to and what I am not.  However, I know many library students go through this.  You stand up at orientation and declare that all you've ever wanted to be is a children's/teen and YA/medical/art librarian.  Yet by midterm, you're signing up for the school librarian conference.  I thought I'd list the areas of librarianship that have turned my head over the past year.  I'm sure many library students and librarians can relate to this.

1.  Public Library System Director - I LOVE the public library.  I figure, hey, I've run businesses, I could do this too. In every city I've lived in, I've signed a lease and then immediately taken it to the nearest library branch to prove residency so that I can get a card.  The public library means so much to me.  When I was a little girl, my father used to take my brother and I to the big downtown library in every Saturday and let me get whatever book I wanted, even if it was an adult book.  By the way Dad, thanks for being so liberal as to turn a blind eye when Shannan Hicks, age 11, started checking out Jackie Collins books.  Hey, it's all contributing to my literacy, right???  When I was older and job hunting, the library was my office, a place to get out of the house and feel productive.  The library welcomes everyone without judgment.  I am always going to be an active and avid patron.  A public library director remains a major mentor to me today (Thanks Dr. Ron Heezen).  I think that they are awesome people who do a tough job with little thanks.  I learned exactly how hard public librarians work after working a summer as a circ clerk.  It's no picnic.  But our communities are nothing without the public library.

2.  School Librarian - I promised myself that I would be open and explore every part of librarianship.  When the director of our program sent out a message that she would reimburse for attendance at LASL (Louisiana Association of School Librarians) last year, I decided to go, largely because it was close to home for me at the time.  I met so many awesome school librarians and realized that the work they did was important, different every day and really touched lives.  I thought I had found my calling.  I immediately scheduled times to shadow librarians at an elementary, middle and high school.  Thank you so much to Mrs. (soon to be Dr.) Gail Griffin, Ms. Sandra Smallwood, Dr. Judy Nicholas and Ms. Lorna Crosswhite.  I still think that this is an awesome way to serve as a librarian.  Plus, you are mistress/master of all that you survey.

3.  Academic Librarian - I love being on a college campus.  There is something about helping students to access what they need that really does it for me.  LSU has some amazing, smart librarians who do a little bit of everything, including outreach. It's just astounding.

4.  Indexer - I was reading an awesome book by Priscilla Shontz and Richard Murray - "A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science."  The chapter on indexing sounded so interesting and creative.  Basically, indexers created indexes in all sorts of books.  The American Society of Indexers is a great resource for this area of the information profession.  I am still looking at getting this certification as something to do on the side.

5.  Cataloger - I have literally never met a cataloger that I did not immediately love.  My friend Teresa, Head of Cataloging at the Bossier Public Library, schooled me about what catalogers do.  Basically, without catalogers, nobody would be able to find anything in the library.  It would be a literal Tower of Babel.  Linda Smith Griffin supervised me in a service project at LSU's Middleton Library.  She is heavily involved in the changeover from AACR2 to RDA (this will be another post). I am telling you, I am overcome by the humility and skill set of these folks who wield immense power.  I work with Susan Morrison, law catalog librarian extraordinaire and she is teaching me the finer points of cataloging materials in a library that is at once academic, special and public.

6.  Acquisition Librarian - Well, they get to buy books all day.   How much more could you want????

7.  Teen Librarian - If you talk to any teen librarian, including my friend LaVette Fuller at Shreve Memorial, you will want to be a teen librarian too.  This lasted just until I realized that it would mean that I would have to actually deal with teenagers.  God love these people.

8.  Embedded Librarian - This sounds so James Bond.  I learned about this type of librarian in my Special Libraries class first semester.  It is a librarian that works in a business as part of the project team.  This librarian provides all the information needs for that team.  This is usually seen in large business units that are broken up into teams.

9.  Outreach Librarian - I have the type of personality that cannot be kept in a cubicle.  I need to be out, and amongst the masses, spreading my vocation throughout the land.  Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but it shows you what I like about this type of librarian, who goes into the community, whether the community at large, or the community of their school, business, etc, to educate and "administer" librarianship wherever needed.

10.  Law Librarian - Clearly, because of my background, this is a fit for me.  I know the materials, I've been a law student, I am a lawyer and so things like reference are easy to me.  I really love the teaching and publishing aspect of law librarianship.  I happen to work with some smart, generous and really cool law librarians who are teaching me and encouraging me, so I really love this type of work.

So there you have it.  Librarianship is not just a lady in a bun shushing people.  Librarians are awesome and I am happy to be training in the profession.  You can go all over the world and do all kinds of things in librarianship.  I hope this has been an eye-opener for folks who had no idea why I am in library school;-)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why You Should Worship a Librarian

I am attaching a link to a great site called Librarian Avengers.  I think, in this age of information, the work that librarians do is not fully understood.  It is certainly not appreciated.  Have a look at this.  Let me know what you think.

Until the next post...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A little introduction

Well, I've been threatening to do this for a while now, and, here it is.  My blog about my journey in librarianship.  When I was in law school, a professor of mine told me that the skills of a lawyer can always get better.  That's why they call it the practice of law.  My approach to librarianship is the same. Even after I receive my MLIS (targeted graduation date:  May 2014),  I am always going to be a practicing librarian.  Contrary to what many believe, librarianship is a profession.  It is service in the truest sense of the word.

A little background:
I have always loved books and libraries and have been interested in how libraries serve a community.  After college, I graduated from law school and practiced law for 12 years. In 2010, I served on an advisory committee for my local library and participated in building a strategic plan using Sandra Nelson's  Planning for Results Model endorsed by the American Library Association.  It changed my life.  I knew that I wanted to work in a library somewhere, somehow.  After conducting my research, as any good lawyer does, I discovered that the only way to work as a professional in a library was to have a graduate degree in library and information science.  I was encouraged to consider library school.  Of course, I scoffed at this, as I was planning to NEVER go to school EVER again.  However, God had other plans for me, and after a series of crazy situations and time to think and pray about it, I answered the call.  You'll probably be hearing more details about this as we journey together in this blog.

In January 2012, I began library school at Louisiana State University's School of Library and Information Science, or as it is fondly known, SLIS.  (By the way, everything starts with SL-, so the lab is the SLab, the office is called the SLoffice, you get the drift).   Because we have to declare a track, I chose Archives, because I am interested in it, and it is a part of every librarian's job.   I was fortunate enough to be selected as a Library Fellow at the LSU Paul Hebert Law Center Library, and I also am a student worker at the State Library of Louisiana in the Talking Books and Braille Library.  Both jobs are really awesome, and I am learning and using so many skills.  Conventional wisdom is that I would definitely want to be a law librarian.  That is certainly a possibility given my background, and I love my position at LSU, but as I am learning, there are about a million different ways to be a librarian.

I am at the beginning of my fourth semester, and I am very excited about my courses.  Here's s list of my courses:

Information Technologies - we're learning HTML and CSS among other things.

Evaluation of Information Systems - exactly what it says, learning to evaluate ILS, OPAC and other library systems and software.

Digital Curation - This is of interest to me because of the ubiquitousness of it.  There are definite links with my legal background in terms of e-discovery and other digital documents and evidence.  Additionally, I worked on a project at the law school last fall creating metadata for all 72 Louisiana Law Reviews.  It was an interesting to look at the history of Louisiana from the last century.

Public Programming and Outreach in Museums and Archives - I am taking this through the Archival Education Collaborative, which includes LSU, Auburn, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Middle Tennessee State University.  This class is being taught to us in real time from Middle Tennessee State University.  My advisor suggested this class, probably because she knows that I like to run my mouth, so this is a good way to channel that!  Besides, you can't put Baby in a corner...

I have already taken the following:

Special Libraries

Research Methods for Library and Information Science

Information Needs Analysis

Management for Librarians

Electronic Information Resources

Foundations of Library and Information Science

Cataloging and Classification

Media and Services for Multicultural Populations

I'd love to hear from other librarians, library students, or just interested looky-loos in this blog.  Please feel free to leave comments.

People often ask me what I am reading and for book suggestions.  They do this mainly because most people who know me know that I read A LOT.  See the above link to my Goodreads page for my lists.  Doesn't every good bibliophile have a Goodreads account?

Until next time...