Tag Archives: libraries

Imagination Library

I sent A Shout-out to Books, Libraries, and Dolly Parton to Hellgate High School staff fourteen months ago. Since then, I’ve talked with fathers, mothers, and a grandmother who subsequently registered their children and grandchildren in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Their smiles and enthusiasm were heartwarming and made me wish I’d been able to offer Imagination Library to my Lamaze students years ago.

At times I carted board books and picture books to class, one for each student to peruse as I pitched our public library and its special children’s offerings. I hoped those efforts resulted in some library visits, not only because of my lifelong love of reading and libraries, but because one of my parenting highlights involved my lap, two boys, and good books, which segued to sitting on the couch, bookended by Eric and Colin reading “a page and a page.”

Bedtime reading with Colin and Eric. 1992.
Bedtime reading with Colin and Eric. 1992.

My days and nights of Lamaze classes, OB nursing, and read-alouds are long behind me. I miss the magic of birth, but I love the magic of books. Last week a teacher shared a conversation she’d had with her four-year-old grandson about a “chapter book” he’d recently finished, and about his pride at listening to longer books. We talked about Imagination Library, which prompted me to take another look at its website. Two days ago, the number of U.S. children (birth-age five) registered was 900,712. Today, that number has morphed to 939,462. Beautiful. I hope stories and books continue to thrill those kiddos into high school and beyond.

A Shout-out to Books, Libraries, and Dolly Parton

More than two years have passed since I left hospital nursing. The words I penned in my farewell note to my obstetrics colleagues, some of whom I’d worked alongside for nearly twenty-two years, were bittersweet. I’m replacing the magic of birth with the magic of books.

Since then, I haven’t looked back. I now have the pleasure of working with two exceptional teacher-librarians at Hellgate High School.

Teacher-librarian Julie Burckhard assists Evan with a scan
Teacher-librarian Julie Burckhard assists Evan with a scan
English teacher Jean Croxton collaborates with teacher-librarian Shaun Gant.
English teacher Jean Croxton collaborates with teacher-librarian Shaun Gant

Daily, I’m touched by interactions with students and staff. Students’ impassioned “you have to read this!” recommendations have introduced me to books I would not have chosen on my own. I’ve had occasion to suggest books as well, not only the gut-wrenching, realistic fiction I gravitate toward, but other genres too. Along the way, some students have confided heartbreaking experiences of their own.

Others have shared their interests and aspirations. Months ago I asked a student her last name in order to loan her a book. I’d remembered her first name, but had to clear out some of the nursing stuff in my memory bank to make room for more names, I explained.

“You were a nurse?” she said, not waiting for a response. “Was it worth it? I want to be a nurse.”

“It was.” We chatted about nursing as we walked to the stacks, to a collection of stories by nurses.

Hellgate High School stacks
Hellgate High School stacks
Nurses on the Run: Why They Come, Why They Stay
Nurses on the Run: Why They Come, Why They Stay

Flipping through the pages of my book she said, “I’ll have to read this,” then told me she’d read it later. As we returned to the front, she said again, “I want to be a nurse. I want to do something important.”

I told her that was great, that we need more nurses. I told her I’d been at hundreds of births, which had been important, “but sharing books is important, too.”

She shot me a quizzical look, unconvinced.

I’ve seen her several times since, and she’s borrowed a number of books. She hasn’t read my nursing book yet, but I hope she will. And if she does choose to become a nurse, I know she’ll be an asset to the profession.

She, and others, continue to affirm my conviction that libraries and books are two of our most precious resources. Thanks to United Way of Missoula  County and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the youngest among us—from birth to age five—may now begin building libraries of their own.

“Dolly grew up in abject poverty in Tennessee, as many of you know, but she always believed the world of books opened up life for her.” United Way of Missoula County CEO Susan Hay Patrick

Dolly Parton is a believer. I am too. We know that magic happens. In books. In libraries. And in life.

Thank you, YouTube

In the past several months, YouTube has become one of my go-to sources for information. My old website, created more than six years ago, was in desperate need of being updated. YouTube videos, along with books from the Missoula Public Library, schooled me on how to create a website using WordPress.

As you peruse this site, you can judge for yourself the value of my self-taught lessons. I admit, I am pleased with the results.

I also learned how to use Windows Live Movie Maker by watching YouTube videos. Not only did I learn how to make a movie, I learned how to create snapshots from existing footage. Again, after looking at the picture that follows, you can be the judge.

Nanny on the Run reading
Nanny on the Run reading

Nearly three weeks ago, I was introduced to the Prancercise video on YouTube. Then, it had more than three million views. I later learned that’s not so many, though to me, three million is a lot.

Days later as we joined thousands of Seattle Sounders fans marching into Century Link Field, my goal was to start a prancercising contingent. My accompanying friend and family told me they’d watch, and scooted away as I began my mission. I didn’t think it would be hard to find others who were willing to Prancercise with me.

I was wrong. It wasn’t that the three people I asked were unwilling, it was that none of them had seen the video nor knew what I was talking about. My three strikes reinforced what I’d been told earlier that day. Three million really isn’t that many in the YouTube world.

Perhaps if I had tried to rally some fans to dance Gagnam Style, I would’ve had better luck. The problem was, though I’d watched P S Y’s video, as have—I recently learned—more than 1.6 billion others, I don’t know his dance. I don’t know how to Prancercise, either, but I was willing to give it a try.

Since I’ve learned what I needed to about WordPress and Windows Live Movie Maker, it might be time to resurrect P S Y’s video.

YouTube, thanks for giving me the opportunity to laugh. To learn. And to share.

Happy Library Lovers’ Month

A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.”  Lemony Snicket

Missoula Public Library's "Wall of Love"
Missoula Public Library’s “Wall of Love”

February is not lacking for days to celebrate. We have Groundhog Day, Fat Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, Random Act of Kindness Day, and Presidents’ Day. We also have the entire month to celebrate books and reading and all that our libraries offer, because February is Library Lovers Month.

I love libraries. As a young girl growing up in Butte, Montana, some of my fondest memories are of walking uptown with my sister, Laurie, and our best friends—sisters, too—to our public library. The quietness demanded by the librarians created a sense of reverence among the four of us.

Today, libraries aren’t always quiet. We no longer have to whisper about books, we can talk about them. Out loud. There are programs for book lovers of all ages, beginning with Tiny Tales for the youngest among us at the Missoula Public Library.

Library Valentine
A message of love from young library patrons

So it’s sad that we have to worry about library funding in our cities and in our schools. But we do. My high school library media assistant position is funded only through the end of this school year. I hope that will change.

I recently received an email listing the following talking points about libraries:

Public Libraries

  • 84% of Americans 16 or older have been to a library or bookmobile. In the last year, 59% of Americans used library services.
  • Throughout the economic downturn, patrons have increasingly turned to the local library for information on a wide range of subjects, including job searching.
  • In one year, 30 million Americans used library connections to search and apply for jobs.
  • Over 92% of libraries provide access to job databases and online job applications.
  • Although in the last 10 years the number of computer workstations has doubled, 87% of urban libraries do not have enough computers to meet the daily demand.
  • Libraries provide an important link between the government and the public. When people need to research court cases, look up a fact from an Environmental Protection Agency study or file their taxes they come to the library to do it.
  • Studies show that a child’s brain develops the most between birth and age three. Many of the 16,604 public libraries in the United States support parents and caregivers with early childhood literacy programs that train care givers in how to read to children, encourage parents in engaging in their children’s literacy development and are designed to help young children learn to read.
  • Support funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). LSTA funding helps libraries meet community needs, better utilize technology to provide enhanced services, reach underserved populations, and much more.

School Libraries

  • Research repeatedly shows that an effective school library program is an integral component of a student’s successful education. Across the United States, studies have demonstrated that students in schools with effective library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on assessments than their peers in schools without such resources.
  • Even though school libraries are where students develop skills they will need for the 21st century, only 60 percent of public schools have a state-certified school librarian.
Missoula Public Library "Wall of Love"
“They help people look for books”

Libraries. We love them. We need them. John Alfred Landford once said, “No possession can surpass, or even equal a good library, to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures that never cloy.”

He also said, “No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest of the children of men.”

Missoula Public Library "Wall of Love"
Library lovers span the generations

Happy Library Lovers’ Month. Visit your local library. Borrow a book. Read. Repeat.

A New Job!

In my first post, I wrote that I’d “be replacing the wonder of birth with the wonder of books.”

That was shorthand for two things. One: My forthcoming novel, Nanny on the Run, which will be out this spring. Two: I hoped to begin work as a library assistant. At the time of my writing, I’d applied for three positions. I’d interviewed for one (which I didn’t get), and I had an interview scheduled for another. I was hoping to be called for the third. I didn’t write about these facts, though, because I didn’t want to jinx my chances of getting hired.

By the time I learned that I didn’t get the second job, I had an interview lined up for the third. The old adage, third time’s a charm, delivered its magic and I got the job!

I was hired as the new media assistant in the Hellgate High School library.

Hellgate High School
Hellgate High School

For the past six years, I served as a library volunteer at Sentinel High School—my son Colin’s alma mater. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to the Sentinel library staff, but walking into Hellgate on my first day was another homecoming.

Hellgate High School library
Hellgate High School library

My son Eric graduated from Hellgate in 2006, and I had volunteered in the library for two years. The teacher librarians who were there during my volunteer tenure, Peggy Cordell and Julie Burckhard, welcomed me back.

Hellgate High School library
Hellgate High School library

I’m doing some of the things I did as a volunteer, but I’ve learned—and am learning—to do a lot more. I love my new job.