Review: Kyoko M.’s Of Cinder & Bone

My apologies for the late review, but life has kept me busy these past few months.

I won a copy of the novel via the author’s GoodReads giveaway

Review:

The novel’s a great read, it has everything a reader can ask for in a sci-fi/fantasy book.

I applaud the author’s characters who are not only well-developed characters but are diverse and inclusive. It was great to see that one of the main characters is a WOC AND she’s not the only WOC present. Back ground characters are also not one dimensional and also given something to do which is a plus.

The thing that appealed to me the most was how much research the author did in their approach to bringing a dragon to life. The method used in the story has a realistic feel which piqued my curiosity.  Of Cinder & Bone also brought a sense of awe and wonderment, almost like the first time I watched Jurassic Park on the big screen.

The story features action, tension, drama, and comedy and goes at a decent pace. But I expect that from this author. It’s risky to end a novel with a cliffhanger, but the move pays off because I want to know what happens next.  Plus, it makes the book stand out in a good way.

Overall, Of Cinder & Bone is an excellent story. I look forward to the sequel.

5/5

2016 My year in books

books

2016 is officially over thank the gods. Books were one of the few things that got me through the horrendous year.

As you know, every year  I make a resolution to read a set number of books via the Goodreads yearly reading challenge. I’ve participated since 2013 and this year’s goal was to read 80 books. For 2016, I passed my goal and read 106 books!

leonardocongrats

You can take a look back at what I’ve read here.  There’s graphic novels, memiors, and more on my list. I also had the small goal of reading all of the James Bond novels written by creator Ian Fleming that I accomplished.

For 2017, my goal is to read 100 books as I double my reading goal each year. I’ve already started putting a list together and I’m looking forward to conquering this challenge.

With all the uncertainty in this country and around the world, books are vital. Literacy is important and we’ve seen how people are taking it for granted or just plain trying to take away freedom to read from others.

Books inspire us and that’s why their important. Books provide freedom, knowledge, imagination, and creativity. They challenge our beliefs and task us to do better for ourselves and our fellow man.

What are your reading goals for this year?

National Library Week Throwback Interview: The Library of Congress’s Jennifer Gavin

National Library Week has come to an end and I want to end this weekly celebration with a bang. Last year for Uncanny Pop, I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Gavin a Senior Specialist of Public Affairs at the Library of Congress. All photos courtesy of the Library of Congress. Read it below:

The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith
The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith

TA: Can you tell us what your job is at the Library of Congress?

JG: My title is Senior Specialist, Public Affairs.  I am the No. 2 person in the Office of Communications, behind the Director, and I act as office manager, do some blogging, edit all copy that passes through here (250+ news releases a year, a weekly newsletter, calendars, a bimonthly magazine and the annual report) and stand in for the director in her absence.  The director is the spokesperson for the Library.

TA: What inspired you to work be a librarian/library staff member?

JG: This is an amazing and world-renowned institution. It’s a privilege to work here.

Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress; photo by Michael Dersin
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress; photo by Michael Dersin

TA: What is one thing about working at the library that you love?

JG: Getting to see in person, as part of my job, major treasures that occasionally are brought out and shown as part of a display for dignitaries, in preparation for public exhibitions, or for the media.

TA: What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better librarian/library staff member?

JG: How to write and edit well.  And to do that, you have to read a lot.

TA: Why is it important to promote literacy?

JG: Reading at least reasonably well is the foundation of any working life. If you want to have a job that doesn’t pay badly, you MUST be able to read.

TA: How can libraries continue to promote library use?

JG: By being useful in their communities, by being proactive in promoting how useful they are in their communities, and by keeping up with the times (which may mean adopting digital approaches or reaching out to changing demographic groups – it means different things in different places).

Thomas Jefferson's Library Exhibition
Thomas Jefferson’s Library Exhibition

TA: What advice can you give someone who is interested in becoming a librarian/working in the library?

JG: In high school and college, get a good, broad undergraduate education, but try to get internships and off-hours work in Library settings.  If the work still fascinates you, figure out which aspect of it you like best and go get a graduate degree in that area (for example, archiving, or preservation, digital specialties, library management – there are many choices). To have a full career in this field, it is probable one will need a master’s degree.

TA: What impact has social media had on libraries?

JG: It has given them new avenues to reach out to the public.

Photo by Rob Sokol
Photo by Rob Sokol

TA: How can libraries use technology more efficiently?

JG: That’s a broad question, but the short answer is: the same way good managers do anything efficiently – there is usually money involved (hiring people and marshaling purchasing power) and getting the max for minimum outlay is the basic definition of efficiency.

TA: What is a favorite book about libraries of yours?

JG: There are a couple of excellent histories of the Library of Congress by author Helen Dalrymple.

minerva
“Minerva of Peace,” a large marble mosaic of the Greek goddess of wisdom and war by Elihu Vedder in the East Corridor staircase in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Photo by Carol Highsmith.

TA:  What are some challenges affecting libraries today and what can be done about them?

JG: Most state and local governments have tight budgets. Libraries often aren’t at the top of the priority list.  Libraries need to get their supporters out to make sure their local officials know that libraries ARE a priority in budgets.

The Great Hall, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Photo by Carol Highsmith
The Great Hall, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Photo by Carol Highsmith

TA: Who is a librarian/library staff member who inspires you?

JG: Several staff members in our Music Division are very knowledgeable about music, with excellent training in that area, in addition to their duties as librarians. The Library of Congress holds a classical music concert series and some of the program notes written by David Plylar are just fantastic – he ought to be doing this for a major orchestra somewhere, or at Carnegie Hall.  But we get to have him.  That’s very special.

TA: What does the future hold for libraries?

JG: They will always be loved, but they need to get active to stay lovable.

View of the ceiling of the main reading room.
View of the ceiling of the main reading room.

TA: What library projects are you currently working on?

JG: The duties mentioned above; in addition I am a member of a special task force at the Library reaching out to the Latino community to improve its awareness of our offerings (we have extensive collections of interest to the Hispanic world) and to increase the number of Latinos (and other underrepresented groups) employed here.

Visit the Library of Congress’ website: http://www.loc.gov/

All photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.

And that concludes this year’s celebration of National Library Week! I hope you enjoyed the posts and I’ll see you here next year.

National Library Week Infographic: Types of Libraries

As we near the end of this year’s National Library Week, today’s post focuses on the different types of libraries that exist in our communities. Libraries can come in all shapes and sizes, they can be private or public and more. So here’s my infographic I created via Piktochart last year for Uncanny Pop.

typesoflibraries

National Library Week Throwback Interview: New York Public Library’s Brandy McNeil

Today’s post is an interview I conducted for Uncanny Pop last year with New York Public Library’s Brandy McNeil, manager of the New York Public Library’s technology programs, TechConnect.

The TechConnect program offers more than 80 free technology classes at libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Classes include learning about computers and tablets, internet basics, Microsoft Office, video chatting, finding a job online and much more.

Read the interview below as McNeil shares her experience in creating innovative programs that help educate and inspire library users.

TA: What inspired you to work at the Library?  

BM: I wanted to continue my love of helping people, to teach them something new. The non-profit world was one that I hadn’t tackled and I thought it would be interesting to really understand what engages and moves people when they have free access to something.

TA: What is one thing about working at the library that you love?  

BM: I love that every day is different:  New challenges, new tasks. I love trying to come up with new ideas that our patrons may love.

TA:  How can libraries continue to promote library use?  

BM: Libraries can continue to promote library use by showing people that we are changing with the times.  If we show people that we can help educate them on their journey or at least give them the first steps in the right direction, we will continue to have patron usage.  We are not just books, but unfortunately, most people don’t realize that.  We have to stay continuously engaged with our patrons from elementary school and up so that we take the journey with people throughout every stage of their life.  I find it sad when I hear people mention the last time they went to their local library was when they were in elementary school or only to get a book for their child because they are missing the benefits that we have for them.

TA: What advice can you give someone who is interested in working in the library?  

BM: My advice to someone who is interested in working at the library is to have a passion for helping people and a continued passion for learning and wanting to know as much information as possible. You never know what type of question or need might pop up!

TA: How did the NYPL TechConnect Classes project come about?  

BM: The library wanted to proactively invest in the digital literacy of NYC.  So we decided that we needed to brand a program of innovation for patrons at the library where learning technology was at the forefront.

TA: How can libraries use technology more efficiently to create innovative programs that allow Library users to learn new technology and digital skills that help educate and inspire?  

BM: The best way to do this is by having a variety of staff who have a passion for technology and the skills to teach it.  In addition, there must be some type of leeway given to allow for experimentation so that innovation can happen, which would include the purchasing of technologies that patrons may or may not know about and technologies that patrons may or may not be able to afford.

TA: What are some challenges affecting libraries today and what can be done about them?  

BM: One of the challenges affecting the library today would be trying to change the mindset of people so they realize just how important and all the many benefits that libraries provide outside of the traditional use of books.  Another challenge is having enough funding to renovate locations where the basics needs of the building hinder the focus on programs that could be done.  There are branches that need computers labs.  However, due to flooding issues with the city streets, it hinders a computer lab from being able to be included in a location.

TA: Who is a librarian/library staff member that inspires you?  

BM: The library staff member that inspires me are the TechConnect training staff.  They really have a passion for technology and figuring out ways to help others with their digital literacy and that inspires me.

TA: What does the future hold for libraries?  

BM: Technology will be one of the biggest roles in the future for libraries. I think the future of the library will be about how quickly libraries can adapt to the changing needs and wants of patrons.

TA: What library projects are you currently working on?

BM:  I am currently working on Interactive Testing for patrons where they can assess themselves, as well as a Phase 2 to the very popular 10-week coding program called Project Code that boasts a waiting list that would probably wrap around a NYC block.

 

National Library Week Throwback Interview: Florida Department of Corrections’ Dean Peterson

For today’s post, here’s an interview I conducted for Uncanny Pop from last year’s National Library Week.  It’s with librarian Dean Peterson. Since 2001, he’s worked for the Florida Department of Corrections and all but two of those years were in library services-the other two were in education.  For the first nine years he supervised the libraries at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida.

You can read the interview below:

TA: What inspired you to be a librarian/library staff member, particularly one that works in a prison?

DP: In 2001, the Florida Department of Corrections had an opening for a professional librarian. Although I was not initially a librarian, I was a lifelong library user and supporter. I then earned a Master’s Degree (MLIS) from the University of South Florida using the state employee tuition waiver.

TA: What is one thing about working at the library that you love?

DP: I couldn’t get enough of the tough reference questions inmates asked.

TA: What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better librarian/library staff member?

DP: Speaking strictly from a correctional point of view, the importance of taking your time and getting things right, and not letting anyone rush you into decisions or actions. A large part of what we do is law libraries, and you’re dealing with legal deadlines real and imagined. You are often pushed for a fast response, sometimes in an attempt to trip you up. The number one thing I tell new library people is to take your time, step away, and find out what rule and procedure says. There is almost never a need to make a snap decision.

TA: Why is it important to promote literacy?

DP: Again from a correctional standpoint, the goal is to reduce recidivism. The vast majority of inmates will return to Florida’s communities. I want them to succeed in life and stay out of prison. Being literate is a proven route to success after re-entering society.

TA: How can prison libraries continue to promote library use?

DP: Keeping our libraries stocked with current reading a legal materials, and making them welcoming places for inmates to visit goes a long way toward promoting inmates to use the resources we offer. We’ve also seen success when implementing interactive programming such as writing and poetry contests and inmate book clubs.

TA: What advice can you give someone who is interested in becoming a librarian/working in the library?

DP: Embrace technology. Learn it. Get an entry-level non-professional position to get your foot in the door. Get your MLS or MLIS. Be flexible and resilient. Be reliable.

Photo: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/annual/1314/stats/index.html Photo: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/annual/1314/stats/index.html

TA: What impact has public opinion have on prison libraries?

DP: Public opinion usually does not have an impact on prison libraries.

TA: Is there a stigma about working in a prison library?

DP: None that I’ve ever identified.

TA: How can prison libraries and the community that they’re located in work together?

DP: Community efforts help prison libraries tremendously. Book donations from community efforts have been invaluable for prison libraries.

TA: What is a favorite book about libraries of yours?

DP: I have not read a book about libraries, however this question might inspire me to do so.

TA: What are some challenges affecting prison libraries today and what can be done about them?

DP: Delivering general library services on a tight budget is a challenge, and building a working relationship with the community is one way to deal with that challenge.

TA: Who is a librarian/library staff member that inspires you?

DP: There have been three women who have played huge roles in my library career. First is Diane Walden, who is head of prison libraries in Colorado. She is the one who originally hired me when she was in Florida, and she is a giant in correctional libraries. She gave me a great deal of guidance in a relatively short period of time. Then there is Janet Coggan, who pushed me to get my MLIS and imparted a lot of good practical advice, along with being a good friend. Finally, there is Marty Morrison, the head of prison libraries in Florida. Marty is also a good friend, and it’s been my privilege to work closely with her the past year and a half. What I’ve learned from her (and continue to learn) has been immeasurable.

TA: What does the future hold for prison libraries?

DP: Libraries in the prison system faces similar challenges to public libraries. The fast pace of technology is a factor.

TA: What library projects are you currently working on?

DP: I continue to work on a series of training videos for library staff in Florida prisons.

National Library Week Infographic: Did You Know? 5 Library Facts

National Library Week is in full swing and today’s post is an infographic that features five facts about the library. I made it last year for Uncanny Pop via Piktochart.

nationallibraries