Author Archives: Liza

OMG It’s a seed library!

A seed library! How awesome is this – you “borrow” seeds, plant them, grow some of the plants for seed, collect the seeds, and return them to be “lent” to the next gardener. Great idea, right??


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Library blogs

Library blogs are, for the most part, really boring.

I have about ten in my Google Reader, 8 of which I read for practical and immediate ideas for programming, library instruction, etc. The other two are actually interesting (I’m looking at you, Nicole, and your HackLibSchool bunch) but even then, I usually just skim. But sometimes, there is really good stuff out there. Really good stuff out there that reminds me why I want to be a librarian, why I should read more good, formally published library stuff (there is good, interesting library literature! Library Juice Press, I thank you for that!), and – most rare of all – that I should write. Advocate. Speak up. Because no one else will do it for me – I am out of school. It is I, and my colleagues, who determine what libraries are now. No more blaming someone else – it is up to US. We will become the future of libraries based on not only the decisions we make, but also how we feel, emote, and speak, amongst ourselves and publicly.

I went to the ACRL New England conference this last Friday. The closing keynote speaker was Umberto Crecna, an artist who was a major player in getting the arts back into downtown Providence, and therefore revitalizing huge sections of the city. He was awesome to listen to as a librarian. And he didn’t talk about libraries, at all. He discussed how he helped to create huge changes in the downtown architecture, culture, and feeling, through creating what he calls alternative spaces – spaces for unjuried, unjudged inquiry and exploration. Exactly what the library should be, right? What I would like to consider us to be? And yet, it is easy for the general public to see that in an artistic space, and difficult for them to see it in a library. Even Umberto, speaking at a library conference, didn’t really get the connection.

How did Umberto get his community to where it is? By being “loud.” His own words. He created the spaces first and then collaborated with everyone he could think of, to ensure that they could stay there. He didn’t whine, or complain – he took action and then he talked to everyone he could think of about it. Most importantly, he talked to people who might have hated his ideas or even him. Bankers, politicians (although it did help that Providence’s mayor was Buddy Cianci…). My favorite line from his speech?

“Act as if and you will think as if and you will feel as if and you will become.”

The blog post that inspired this was written here (section X is especially good). I started this blog knowing that I would write about libraries, because I can’t help myself, but purposefully not as a library blog. Mike and I share this space and it is about our lives (well, should be) as much as it is about either or our professions. I want to bring library discussions into these alternate, non-library spaces but I struggle with knowing how to do so. I want to speak passionately and meaningfully about why the library is important without using buzz words and a marketing plan.

Maybe I need to take a step back my from brain and act first, think later. I need to stop asking “how” and start asking when, where, why.


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Happy Anniversary?

Four years ago today, I threw a Marathon Monday Eve party. Some drunk dudes I didn’t know showed up. One of the three managed to not pass out on my kitchen floor, and I live with him now. Bizarre. Happy anniversary, Mikey!

We don’t really do anniversaries but in honor of our fourth year together, tomorrow we are going to finish our garden beds in the community plot and plant some seeds! What better way to celebrate, right? (Not that this isn’t exactly what we’d be doing, even if it wasn’t our ‘anniversary’, ha)

Kinda crazy to see the juxtaposition between now (gardening) and then (partying). I am so wholesome now. Still haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or a bad thing…

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Friday Reads

I love the trend of posting “Friday Reads” on blogs – and I intend to try and do it weekly here! Now that I am out of school (this is going to sound like a counter-intuitive statement), I am reading constantly again and it. is. awesome. I hope to never stop!

I’ve got two books going at the moment:

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers

I am like, the only person from my generation to have not read this book yet. I love Dave Eggers from McSweeny’s (and the column – he doesn’t write it but – Dispatches from a Public Librarian. It’s AMAZING) and from his work on the 826 Writing Centers. I started this book earlier this week and was crying before the end of the first chapter. I was thinking (and I don’t know why) that it would be funny so, uh, I’m hoping the whole this isn’t quite *this* heartbreaking. But it’s good. So. Yeah.

Performing Qualitative Cross-Cultural Research, by Pranee Liamputtong

This is the nerdiest book one could ever possibly read for ‘fun’ (as Mike likes to tell me every time he catches me reading it) but I am actually enjoying it. I am a co-chair for one of the training conferences for a unique study abroad program called InterFuture and all of the conference chairs are reading this book together (nerdy book club!!). We are having a discussion on it on Sunday so I really have to finish it soon. I am finding it interesting outside of InterFuture life, as well, as it provides tips that can be applied to both working with cross-cultural students and practicing the evaluation of library services (not specifically but things I’ve learned from this book can be applied there).

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Just a few days late for World Water Day

World Water Day took place on Tuesday of this week, March 22nd. Sadly, I didn’t know about it until it had passed. Still, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about water (an issue I take somewhat personally).

The theme this year is “Water for Cities.” It is rare for those living in cities to think about where there water comes from but this is a huge issue and one of the most unsustainable aspects of urban areas. In Boston, for example, all the water for the city (and surrounding areas) has to be pumped all the way from out close to where I currently live, in Western Mass, from the Quabbin Reservoir. It is fed from several rivers and is the kind of beautiful, clean, safe water we are lucky to have and dependent on having in abundance in New England.

But if so much water from Western Mass is being pumped all the way across the state (taking a tremendous amount of energy to get there, ps), what are we left with out here? Piecemeal – various wells, reservoirs, and watersheds left over. And the result? The city gets the good water, and the residents of Northampton are left getting notices in the mail every few years that drinking the town water may lead to an increased chance for cancer.

And what about Boston? What happens when that massive piece of infrastructure – the pipes and pumps that bring the water nearly a hundred miles east – fails? Well, that happened last summer. And it was a shitshow. People freaked out – not least of all because they could no longer get coffee at their local Dunkin’ Donuts, whose coffee makers connected directly to the water supply. Luckily, repairs were able to be made enough to allow water from a backup reservoir in Newton to keep the pipes flowing. It was unfiltered water, but it was water, and a week later everything was fixed and forgotten about. But what if there hadn’t been the backup? There is said to be a three day supply of food and water at any given time in urban areas in the US. What happens after those three days? Imagine, in New York City?

In Baja, water was an even greater issue. It rains TWO INCHES A YEAR – the amount of rain we sometimes get in a week here. Water limits what food can be grown, what the land looks like, everything. And those two inches of rain? It all comes in the same month, and so quickly that it can be more destructive than helpful. The urban/rural water phenomenon also exists there. We would drive to the city, San Jose del Cabo, and see massive resorts, complete with fountains out front, and accompanying golf courses, covered in lush green grass – and right across the street, a dusty, barren, destroyed piece of land. Those resorts were pumping the water from all over the peninsula, often purchasing water rights from rural landowners, tempted by the money. It is not a sustainable model.

So that’s my rant for the day. How often do you think about water?

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