Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Calling Out Frank A Pezzanie

I have a bone to pick with Frank A. Pezzanie, CEO of Library Systems and Services (LSS).  The Shelf Awareness edition from Monday, September 27 talked about how LSS, a private company, is preparing to take over the Santa Clara public library system. This means that the public library system would now be run by a private entity. Although I feel a little trepidation about running a public library as a profitable business, I am not prepared to weigh in on the consequences of such a move at this time. We'll have to wait and see how it pans out.


I have worked in public and private libraries for ten years. I am especially passionate about public libraries.  In many ways, these institutions are our nation's agoras.  Everyone is welcome and the materials are free for everyone.  They are truly equal-opportunity institutions with something for everyone from children's programming to ESL education. 

Here is Frank A Pezzanie's take on people who work in public libraries:

Pezzanie told [the New York Times]: "A lot of libraries are atrocious. Their policies are all about job security. That's why the profession is nervous about us. You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We're not running our company that way. You come to us, you're going to have to work."

This is both ridiculous and offensive.  No one is banking a lot of money as a library worker (except maybe the library director).  And we work HARD!  As more and more budget cuts hit public libraries, library workers are faced to take on many more roles at the same pay. When I was still at the public library, I worked circulation, ran children's programming, did shifts at the Reference desk, processed magazines, covered all the displays, handled security issues and provided general back-up.  I do not hold a MLS and I never received any raise in pay for any additional duties I took on as a result of budget cuts. I worked non-stop every day, sometimes past closing, to the job done and to do it well.  I didn't simply sit on my bum at the circ desk reading a book all day. And I never felt any sense of job security as I watched jobs disappearing left and right.

Pezzanie comes off as both arrogant and uninformed. 

Working at a public library can often be like working at the DMV. I loved getting to know my patrons, doing storytimes, providing reader advisory....but I was also beaten down by a lot of abuse from patrons, arguments about fines and the destruction of library property, handling inappropriate behavior and security risks....this was hardly "never having to do anything."

Next time you go to your local library, give your librarian or circulation clerk a smile and a "thank you." You may be the only one to do that the entire day and they will appreciate it. 

And as for Pezzanie.....we'll see how much HE has to work.

Notes in the Margin

I am behind on reviews and just about everything else. I am sick and dragging around. I apologize for the lack of posting.  I am currently working on THE TOWER, THE ZOO, AND THE TORTOISE by Julia Stuart (a real charmer so far) and ADAM AND EVE by Naslund.  I gave up on KRAKEN. It just wasn't happening for me. I promise to get caught up on reviews soon!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

I was feeling low yesterday. We found out our landlord is raising our rent.  With my husband still out of work, we have been just managing to cover our bills. Trying to come up with another $300 a month is going to be very difficult.  I was trying to put this out of my mind for a little while and focus on my child when a knock came at the front door.

I have a dear friend who is a publicist for a local publishing company. She is helping to publicize Alice Walker's new book of poetry and had gotten one signed for me. She wanted to drop it off.  It was just the boost I needed. Did you notice the title of the book?

Somehow God knew I needed that knock on the front door.  And with friends like these, I know I will get by.

(By the way, the poems are great!  I read a few last night and look forward to reading a few more today.  Sometimes, you just need a poem to give you a boost!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

THE SLAP by Christos Tsiolkas

This book has received a lot of great buzz and it sounded to me like another read that I enjoyed, LITTLE CHILDREN by Tom Perrotta.  It definitely has the feel of LITTLE CHILDREN but it takes suburban dysfunction in a new direction.

A typical suburban barbecue in Melbourne takes an unexpected turn when an adult decides to disclipline a five-year-old child (not his own) by slapping him. The people at the party become divided in how they react to this act and everyone's lives are changed forever. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective as the individual's grapple with their feelings about the slap and the repercussions that it has had among through social group.

One of the interesting things I found about this book is that I didn't find a single character likeable from the 5-yr-old to the elderly father of the host of the party. Everyone is flawed and hides secrets.  It is interesting to see the aftereffects of the slap but the book is much more about the individuals in this community and how they are interconnected.  It is an interesting book but I would caution readers who are sensitive to profanity and explicit sex.  The book is filled with expletives and racial slurs and fairly graphic sex scenes.  While this is appropriate to the characters, it may be off-putting to some readers.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended with reservations.  While I think this book has interesting things to say about society and suburbia, I was put off by how much I disliked all of the characters. None of them seemed to have enough redeeming features to salvage them as people. It was also sometimes frustrating that you only got a glimpse into each character through their one chapter. Just when you were getting involved with a certain thread, the chapter ended and the author doesn't return to the interior life of that character again. Still, an interesting read.

Should you wish to purchase this title, this book link will take you to IndieBound.
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Friday, September 17, 2010


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Spanning the years from 1895 to 1924 in rural Texas, WAKE OF FORGIVENESS follows the life of Karel Skala from his birth that resulted in the untimely death of his mother to his own experience with fatherhood.  Left in the care of a brutal father and three older brothers, Karel never learns the feeling of feminine affection or care.  When an opportunity arises for 13-yr-old Karel's brothers to escape their harsh family life by winning beautiful Mexican wives and land through a wager, Karel is forced to ride in a race that will change everything.  The consequences of this race and Karel's difficult childhood affect him as an adult and husband and father. 

While this book will remind many of Cormac McCarthy in terms of style and content, it is really a story of how a single event can change everything and how formative relationships can shape who we are but not who we can become.  Fans of stories about the complexities of father/son relationships will enjoy this one.  It is sad and bleak but also beautiful in what it reveals about the nature of the human soul.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. This may be a bit bleak and dark for some but those who appreciate a good father/son conflict in a western setting will enjoy this one.

Should you wish to purchase this title, this book link will take you to IndieBound.
I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a small commission on any sales:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another First

Well, it was an eventful weekend. I took Noodlebug to his Spanish class that we attend together every Saturday morning. He was having one of those mornings where he was a little ambivalent about participating. One of the final activities of the day was to hold hands and make a human "choo-choo" train. In the middle of the song, Noodle decided he didn't want to participate anymore and threw himself on the floor while I was still holding his hand. I didn't want to drop him on his hand so I was slow to let go and his dead weight twisted a little bit. He started crying and said his arm hurt. He sat in my lap whimpering and I waited to see if it would pass but it didn't. He cried every time I touched his arm and couldn't lift it. I packed him into the car and headed to the emergency room down the street.

I had visions of a broken arm and people looking at me askance wondering what kind of mother would allow her child to get hurt like that. I felt responsible for the whole thing. My husband met me at the hospital and tried to gingerly remove Noodle from the carseat while I checked us in. I was almost crying too hard for the intake lady to understand me but she was very patient. The nurses and staff couldn't have been nicer. They reassured me that I did nothing wrong and that he would be okay. The doctor decided it was "nursemaid's elbow" which is pretty common. He basically dislocated his elbow. The doctor popped it into place and gave him some Motrin. Soon after that, he was chipper again although I felt as if I had been put through the wringer. They x-rayed him just in case but everything was fine. We were in and out of the emergency room in less than two hours. We went home and Noodle and I both crashed for two hours.

I think I cried more than he did during the whole ordeal.

He is fine. None the worse for wear. But I felt like the worst mother in the world. I finally get to spend some quality time with my child and I dislocate his elbow! But I am glad that this was his first experience with a hospital. When my husband asked him if his arm felt better, Noodle said, "The doctor fixed it." Everyone was kind and gentle with him and he got to see that these doctors and nurses were working to make him feel better. It was a good experience.

I was distracted all weekend and only tried to finish my Anda dress and succeeded in butchering the hem. Why can't I do a hem? What is my problem?

I did teach my first Sunday school class and it went pretty well.

Today I start Jenny Doh's Crafting Your Best Life class so I have that to look forward to. But I am mostly looking forward to going home and hugging Noodlebug.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

ONE DAY by David Nicholls

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

This story takes place during a single day each year for two decades. It follows the lives of Emma and Dexter.  The story begins when Emma and Dexter have a brief hook-up immediately following their graduation from college. These star-crossed lovers don't become an official couple but instead embark upon a decades-long friendship.  Dexter is a "Ryan Seacrest"-type--a privileged golden boy who falls into the profession of a television presenter.  Emma, secretly in love with Dexter but settling for friendship, is a bookish sort who bounces from profession to profession before ending up a writer.  The book follows the evolution of their friendships over two decades checking in on them on the exact same date each year.

At first, I found the construction of the plot a little distracting. Jumping into the lives of Dexter and Emma on one day each year could be a little jarring. It took a moment to get your bearings as a reader. Still, this technique allows the reader to view how the individuals grow and change and how a person's life can change a great deal in the space of a few months.

I didn't find either Dexter nor Emma particuarly likeable but I found their story compelling.Once I got to used how the plot was unfolding, I got caught up in the story. I thought it unfolded well.  My one complaint was that the ending went on too long. It felt as if the story had already come to a close but there were thirty more pages to read. Overall, the book was a very decent read.

This book is currently being made into a film with Anne Hathaway as Emma.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended.  If you can get past the sometimes jarring nature of the plot device, you will find an interesting story about the evolution of the relationship of two people over two decades.  It provides some insight into how small events can have great impact on a life and how much people's lives can change in the space of a few months.

Should you wish to purchase this title, this book link will take you to IndieBound.
I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a small commission on any sales:

Friday, September 03, 2010

Notes in the Margin

I am behind on reviews again but I hope to get caught up this weekend. I just finished ONE DAY and I'm working on KRAKEN and THE WAKE OF FORGIVENESS although I am on the verge of throwing in the towel on KRAKEN. Has anyone else read it yet? Should I stick with it?

Hope you all have a wonderful long weekend!!!