Category Archives: libraries

happy august

yeah, um, i know it’s been several months since i’ve been here. but hey, i’ve been somewhat distracted. this is just a brief update to let you know that i’m still alive and typing.

i’m still in kc, for the time being, although i’m planning to move back to columbia sometime in the next few months. i’ve made an executive decision and this time it will stick (fingers crossed). i’m currently studying for the gre, with the intention of beginning library school at mizzou this coming january. i’ve toyed with the idea of staying here and working full time while going to school part-time. however, i’ve decided that it would be best for me to go full-time and blast through it in three semesters or so. this way i’m not dragging it out for years and can move on with my life, which i still would like to include coursework from the california institute of integral studies. but first things first.

actually, i should already be packing to move to columbia. about three weeks ago, i turned in a letter of resignation at the library, with the full intention of moving to columbia at the end of this month. however, you know what they say about the best laid plans… while visiting my sister, i got up in the middle of the night to pee and didn’t turn on the hall light to go down the stairs. i was watching where i was going, as i didn’t want to step on any kittens, but the last two steps blended into one in the dark, and BLAM! – i was on my ass with a busted foot. it turned out to be a hairline fracture, coupled with a sprain, and as a result, i’ve been somewhat gimpy over the last couple of weeks. however, it is getting better and this week i’ve been walking without my attractive star wars storm trooper boot. i’m hoping the limping will be over by this time next week. anyway…. because of this accident, and the fact that i currently have really good health insurance, i’ve decided to stay around a little while longer. the fact is that i really do like my job at kcpl, a lot, but it’s the main thing keeping me in kc these days. i fell for a reason, and i’m sure i’ll find out what that reason is, but, while it has delayed my plans somewhat, at this point i still plan to go hang out in columbia for a couple of years.


the thrilla in wasilla

yeah, that’s a dumb title, and it may not have anything to do with this particular post, but i like it… 🙂

when it comes to sarah palin, for me the bloom is now officially off the rose. as a good friend of mine says, ‘i no longer want to fuck her.’ (’tis just a figure of speech… 🙂 i still actually like her personality, and her ability to stand up to the ‘good ol’ boys’ network’, and the fact that she is a renaissance woman who can seemingly do it all. however, the fact is that she stands for most of the things i’m against, and is mostly against all the things i support, and where we agree, we agree for different reasons.

working in a library, i’ve heard a number of stories/rumors about her attempts to ban books in the wasilla public library during her stint as mayor. i believe that this article, ‘what’s daddy’s roomate doing in wasilla?’, by former ala president nancy kranich sheds some light on what actually happened. i have defended palin in the past partially because she never actually succeeded in banning books from the library, but this article tells the truth about what really happened, and makes me question what might happen should palin ascend to the presidency via john mccain’s demise. i still like much about palin, but i don’t want her forcing her viewpoints on me or anyone else. if she attempted to fire a librarian because of differing points of view on book censorship, what will she be capable of with the full power of the executive branch behind her?

next time, wipe the lipstick off your book jacket

my friend nikki is featured in this article (seen below in its entirety) on a supposed new kind of librarian, the ‘lipstick librarian,’ appearing back in april in the kansas city star.

On her way to being a ‘lipstick librarian’

Kansas City Star;
April 12, 2008
by Jeneé Osterheldt

When most kids get sent to their room, it’s not a welcome punishment. But as a child, Nikki Powell enjoyed her forced alone time.

Her grandmother would come to relieve her, but to her surprise Nikki would be reading a book.

“She always says it wasn’t really a punishment for me,” says Nikki, 27. “I was a bookworm. I would ask for more time to read one more chapter.”

The books of her childhood include the Strawberry Shortcake series, Sideways Stories From Wayside School, The Baby-sitters Club novels.

And then there was Little House on the Prairie. Nikki was about 9 years old when she got it, and she found herself up past her bedtime, hiding under the blanket with a flashlight, stealing away more time to read the book. Her real passion for reading started there.

By the time she was 15, she started working at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s Boardwalk branch in Kansas City, North, shelving books. At 19, she became the youngest person at that branch to work the checkout desk. It was then that she started to pursue a career as a librarian and
understand the value of the library.

“I realized that libraries are an institution like a college, but it is the kind of institution that connects the public at large with information,” she says. “And to do it for free, to do it without censorship, to offer that kind of information is cool. Public
libraries could be very censored and biased if it weren’t for librarians to
protect that access to information and freedom of speech.”

Becoming a librarian wouldn’t be easy. She’d not only have to go to college, she’d have to go to graduate school and get a master’s in library science.

Nikki, with her pale skin and long, coal black hair, looks more like a modern pin-up girl or grown-up Wednesday Addams than the stereotypical librarian with glasses and a tightly pulled bun. She’s used to people being shocked at her career choice.

“There is a whole new generation of librarians,” she says of her style. “Some people call it ‘lipstick librarians.’ When we were kids, librarians were old with a crabby look on their face. I was always scared to death to ask a librarian a question. But with the
new generation comes approachability. We’re flexible, open to change, embracing
technology and constantly changing and evolving instead of upholding the old-school ways.”

Now, just 10 hours away from getting her degree at the University of Missouri, Nikki is studying the art of storytelling and the world of children’s programs, such as puppet shows, music and more. She’s also a member of the Young Friends of the Library, and she blogs for The Star’s new weekly publication, Ink (

But her job is outreach assistant for the Kansas City Public Library. She helps pick books for the Books to Go program, which helps get books to preschools and HeadStart programs. She enjoys the opportunities to work with kids.

“I like that they know they can ask me questions, and I like the challenge of having a kid come in who has read everything,” she says. “I have to find something new for them to read.”

With the rise of technology, Nikki says it’s important for kids to read. Often, she sees children spending their visits to the library on the Internet. But today is Drop Everything and Read Day, an initiative to encourage families and kids to read for just 30 minutes.

“If a kid can really give a book a chance, and read for just 30 minutes, they would be
surprised and find themselves wanting to read more. That simple act could lead to someone becoming a lifelong reader.”

In summer 2009 she will study British children’s literature abroad in London. When she returns, she’ll graduate and hopes to become a librarian at an urban library and help libraries continue to evolve.

“I envision libraries becoming places you can come to get books, electronic resources, any type of information you need in any format. In my ideal world, my Libraryland, I want to see a 24-hour library with a coffee shop, a restaurant and even a playground,” she says.

“I want the library to be a destination place. I want them to become a community
center. I want libraries to keep growing and go beyond the boundaries.”

Jeneé Osterheldt’s column runs in FYI on Tuesday and Saturday. To reach her, call 816-234-4380 or e-mail

today i’m going to…

this is one version of my horoscope for today, from

Your Horoscope for AUGUST 06, 2007
Ahhh…you would like to get away from it all, wouldn’t you, Gail? Appealing as the idea of escape is, it is only by staying put that you will be able to resolve the personal entanglements you’ve gotten yourself into. If you think that moving to another country or to a different planet will put things right, you are dead wrong. You cannot escape who you are. What you have to change is not your location, but your attitude!

i sent this to a friend, with whom i had been discussing my desire to relocate and she sent me the following horoscope in response, asking me to decide which one fits:

PISCES(Feb 20 – Mar 20)Do you feel hemmed in? Are you aware of restrictions and
limitations? Areyou forever running out of time, money, energy or enthusiasm? That’s understandable but you should not consider any of this to be indicative of future circumstance. Think of a way in which the elastic, on a catapult, gets stretched a long way back before it goes flying forward. Any moment now, you are going to start hurtling towards success. Your progress will be a direct result of the process you are bravely going through now.

the thing is, i don’t see why it has to be either/or. they both fit. i may feel hemmed in, but ‘running away’ right now is not going to help that situation. ultimately i feel as though i need to stay here in kc for the time being and deal with some things, make some realistic solid plans, and go from there. running to albany or providence or philly or wherever just because i feel like leaving is just as much taking the easy way out as it would be to plan on staying here the rest of my life.

i’ve really been thinking about this a lot over the past 12 hours or so. of course i know i am liable to change my mind tomorrow or at any given point in time, but it makes the most sense for me to stay in kc for a couple of years, while i finish library school and actually *save money* (shudder!). the library will help me pay for school, plus with what i make per month, i should be able to save a substantial amount of money and still maintain my current standard (ha!) of living, even if i move to a larger place where the rent is slightly more (or if my friend would move to kc and we could be roommates…). my rationale is, i don’t want to move just to say i want to live in a different, more interesting place. the fact is that i do think bad things are coming down the pike for this country and the world, and it would be foolish to live in a city of substantial size (any city). plus, i really want a straw bale home, or a home built out of mostly natural materials, off the grid. by saving money as i finish library school, i can move somewhere of my choosing, after the proper research. the best place would be somewhere that i’d be able to buy a small plot of affordable land outside a college town (and preferably close to some water), so i can build this little cottage and be able to work in a library while doing my thing otherwise and when bad stuff starts to happen i (and anyone who happens to be living with me) will be self-sufficient. so this is what i’m thinking today. and i can do all the other stuff i’m interested in in the meantime, like writing and reading and reiki and soap making and learning to garden and spiritual interests, and life will be interesting, as always. plus, i will still be moving toward success as stated in the second horoscope, which in my mind is defined as knowing god through knowing myself and other people in my life.

sounds like a plan to me. 🙂

me and my universe

one of my personal mantras is ‘the universe is on my side’ (a mantra which has gotten me through quite a bit) and it seems to be proving that to me once again over the past couple of days. during the past couple of months, i’ve been going through some sort of crisis of meaning, trying to figure out what to do with my next 40-plus years. as most of you know, i’m currently enrolled at union institute and university out of brattleboro, vermont, working toward a degree in religious studies. now that i can see the light at the end of the tunnel, i’m thinking i’ve just wasted many thousands of dollars that i will have to pay back in loans, because i have no idea what to do with such a degree. i don’t feel led to teach or to go into the ministry or any of the ‘normal’ things that one would do with such a degree. in my ideal world, i’d sit around and write my thoughts about spirtual and consciousness related subjects and talk shit and get paid for it, but where does one find that type of employment? i’ve had a couple of people suggest that maybe i’d be good as some sort of a spiritual coach, because i’m a good listener and i have, as one friend put it, ‘strange wisdom’, and i could still write as some sort of a complement to that. okay, but to coach, to be a certified coach, costs several thousand dollars more in training. and i’m not opposed to dredging up the money for it, but how do i know i won’t change my mind when that is nearly complete?

the easy thing for me to do would be to stay at my current job at the kcpl. despite the many things i can and do complain about there, i love my job (or maybe it’s just that i love working in a library). and, barring some disaster, i know i could stay there for the rest of my working career, getting yearly raises and a decent pension paid to me at the end of it all. but if i do that, it then makes sense for me to go to library school, so i can give myself a $10k raise right off the bat, and be taken a little more seriously. in the meantime, i buy a little house in the volker neighborhood, get a couple of cats, and live happily ever after. this whole little scenario would have made my mother happy (well, except for the fact that i’m not married and have no intention of ever doing so legally), but is really not all that appealing to me. so, back to me and the universe…

…i’m trying to figure this all out, and one of my coworkers invites me to a reiki workshop given by cat running elk. i would love to go, except i have little money these days because of other financial obligations, so i kind of write it off. but i think about it and how i’ve had interests in so-called ‘new age’ topics, like auras and chakras and subtle energies in general. i do some reading about reiki in particular and remember things that people have said to me about my own energy and really wish i could do this, but think i’ll just catch her next time she offers a certification class. but my coworker keeps talking to me about it, and suggests i ask cat if she’ll work out a payment plan with me. long story short, of course she does, so by the end of next saturday, if all goes as planned, i’ll be certified in reiki I. but, it gets better: it turns out that cat is also a life coach. so, i’m going to use her services to help me figure out what the hell to do with the rest of my life, whether it’s eventually being a life coach myself or a writer or a healer or some combination of these things and/or other wonderful things not yet thought of. i really feel as if this was ‘supposed’ to happen the way it is going down. i’m no big fan of ‘the secret’, but i am a big believer in ‘ask and ye shall receive.’ i’ve been asking for some sort of direction, and believe this is all pointing me down a different path than the one i’m currently on. coolness. 🙂

the scrotum monologues

so i guess people don’t just fear the word ‘vagina’; apparently we are an egalitarian society and we fear words referring to men’s private parts as well. and this time, there are children involved, so of course we can’t have our children knowing the proper words for those parts, or even acknowledging that those parts exist.

right now there is a controversy within the library world over the 2007 newbery award winning book, the higher power of lucky by susan patron. (the newbery medal is awarded annually by the american library association to an outstanding children’s book published the previous year.) it’s a complex little book, chronicling 10-year-old lucky’s search for a ‘higher power’ in order to get over the recent death of her mother. the controversy begins at the beginning: after an incident involving her dog, lucky reveals to the reader that one of her favorite words is ‘scrotum’. she has no idea what it means, but likes the way it sounds. one of her goals is to find out what it means, but she can’t think of anyone she trusts enough to ask. (considering the reaction to the actual book, it’s no wonder.) this mention of the word scrotum has caused this book to be banned by libraries across the country. a fifth-grader somewhere might ask his or her parents what the word scrotum means, and gasp!, the parent will actually have to stammer out some sort of an answer.

this whole thing is ridiculous and would be unneccesary in an enlightened society. however, what really gets me is that the ala, the supposed champion of free speech and open access to all materials, is supporting the libraries who have banned this book. i agree with the author’s article appearing in the february 27 edition of the los angeles times. patron has no problem with parents choosing not to let their child see the book. however, when an institution severs access to the book, there is a serious problem. if a parent chooses to shelter his/her own child for whatever reason, that is fine (to a point), but those who support censoring this book need to realize that it is a parental responsibility to monitor what our children are exposed to, not that of the government, under whose umbrella public libraries generally fall. the fact that ala is okay with this is reprehensible.

scrotum is just a word, describing a body part that the majority of men have (barring some tragedy). can we get over our holier-than-thou selves, and let our children learn about the world from a good, positive, wholesome source?