Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: The March of the Crabs

   The March of the Crabs is a translation of a French graphic novel by Arthur de Pins. And yes, it is a graphic novel about crabs. Specifically, it is a story about a species of crab that has not evolved in millions of years.
    Cruelly cursed by nature with the inability to turn themselves, they are doomed to walk a straight line forever.... that is until the day one crab comes up with an ingenious method to change his direction, and his entire outlook on life.
   Of course, as you can imagine, this sudden change angers some of the more lunk-headed members of the animal community.
   With an amusing side-story about a pair of documentarians trying to make a movie about the crabs. this story is at once light-hearted and deep, silly and profound. Higly recommended!

4/5 Bookmarks!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Beauty

     Coddie is just a plain looking little girl who stinks of the fish she helps her mother clean and cook for their meager living. That is, until the day a fairy grants her a spell to make her the most beautiful woman in the world. Everything goes great until it starts to go horribly wrong: women hate her and are envious of her beauty, and men can't control themselves and try to have their way with her constantly.
    Pursued by angry villagers, Coddie is saved by a young lord and thinks she has found real happiness... for a time, but life's may harsh lessons teach Coddie that being beautiful has its own set of dangers and sorrows.
   Intriguing twists and uniquely beautiful artwork make this highly unusual fairy tale a must read!

4/5 bookmarks!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Librarian Post: Cosplay Meetup - What Kind of Meetup Are You Hosting and What Will You Need?

The first thing you need to do to host your Cosplay meetup is decide what type of program you want this to be?

Do you want this to be a special one-time program or a recurring event?

If the answer is one-time, then you had best find yourself an experience local Cosplayer to come in and speak or even demo some of their techniques.

If you want to do a recurring event, then you can either set it us as a mini maker space (this is what I do) and have equipment and tools available to people who want to work on their cosplay or you can do something like a monthly series where you will either teach a skill (wig styling, for example) or create a specific project (a mask, goggles or a cape perhaps).

I chose to make my program a recurring mini-maker space because I feel this is the most inclusive type of program for Cosplay. Say you offer a specific project - how to make some Steampunk Goggles for example - the only people who are likely to show up are the ones interested in a costume that uses that specific item or technique. I encourage people who come to my program to bring in projects they are working on so that they can share techniques with others, and so far that has worked out really well. I was also fortunate enough to be able to get some basic start-up supplies for people to use communally, and hope to add to the stash next time we have budget availability.

Basic Supplies You Might Need:
* Hot glue guns (and plenty of glue sticks).
* A couple of self-healing mats.
* Rotary cutters.
* Scissors: at least one good cloth-cutting pair, some basic paper scissors and if possible fancy scrapbook scissors with shaped blades.
* Nail polish. Cheap $1 ones are just fine. They can be used for painting ALL KINDS of things, including jewelry or small areas that require precise application.
* Paint brushes of various sizes and types including foam brushes.
* Acrylic paints.
* E6000 craft glue (it glues almost anything to almost anything else)

Additional Supplies to Consider:
* Various leather or cloth remnant pieces. (You can buy large packs of leather remnants from most hobby shops for very cheap).
* Ribbons, especially single-colored sateen and grosgrain. I avoid the wired kind. They're less versatile.
* Assorted Beads and buttons.
* Feathers.
* Cardboard of assorted sizes and shapes.
* Duct Tape in various colors.
* Spray adhesive.
* Mod Podge
* Craft foam.
* Spray paints, ESPECIALLY metallics.
* X-acto knives or box cutters.
* Interfacing in various weights, iron-on is especially useful.

For the REALLY advanced or REALLY adventurous: (use and supply with extreme caution)
* Modeling clay.
* Clay tools (can be bought in sets from most hobby shops).
* Air Dry clay.
* Plaster of Paris
* Liquid Latex
* InstaMorph moldable plastic (requires heat, so provide at your risk).
* Sculpey
* A sewing machine.
* Iron and ironing board.

Also remember to think about the space you are going to be using and the safety hazards they might pose. I lead my program, for example, in our basement auditorium, so ventilation is NOT good. Therefore I do not allow the use of spray paints or spray adhesives in the space. And use caution when setting out things like rotary cutters or box cutters, and find out beforehand if your library would require you to have some kind of release signed in order to allow patrons to use the items that might lead to cuts or stabbings.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Librarian Post: Cosplay Meetup = Adults and Teens at the Library!

So the great question at many libraries seems to be "how do we get teens and younger adults interested in our library programs?"

One type of program you can try, which has been very successful for my library is a Cosplay group.

Some of you may be asking yourselves: "what the heck is Cosplay?" Cosplay is the art of creating costumes that resemble your favorite characters from a variety of fandoms. Most people who Cosplay do so for conventions such as Comic Cons or Anime conventions. There are a huge variety of Cosplay subgroups and philosophies, and I will not even try to get into them here, because there are just so darn many. Suffice it to say those who Cosplay do so in large part for the social aspect of it. Going to a convention in costume can make you a star for the day. People ask to take your picture, and you get to embody a character you love and admire. Storebought costumes from places like Party City are NOT considered genuine Cosplay, and Cosplayers are expected (and in some cases REQUIRED) to make their own costumes and prepare their own makeup in order to enter into the competitions that the conventions offer.

By they way, I know this stuff because I AM a Cosplayer. I frequently attend conventions in several states and have cosplayed a variety of characters from different fandoms including:
Carmen Sandiego (old-school video game heroine/villainess)
Esmeralda (Disney leading lady and non-princess from The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Kiki (anime character from Kiki's Delivery Service)
Rowena Ravenclaw (founder of Ravenclaw House in the Harry Potter universe)

If you have been reading this post and all of this information is brand new to you, and you are not a Cosplayer and have never worn a costume that was not store bought, the best advice I can give you is DO NOT host this type of program by yourself. Find a local cosplayer (there may even be one or more on staff!) that is willing to partner with you to run a program like this. Geeks (yes, we call ourselves Geeks, but if you are not one of us, you don't get to call us that) want to learn from fellow Geeks, and will come to a Cosplay program if they feel they are going to either learn from someone more seasoned than they are, or be able to share ideas with others.

Cosplay is a very fast-growing hobby and has been starting to hit the mainstream more and more thanks to shows like Heroes of Cosplay and Cosplay Melee. If there are any Comic Cons in your area, if your library or town has ever hosted a Con, I guarantee there are Cosplayers or would-be Cosplayers in the environs.

In the next few posts, I will share how I run my program, some other ways you could try a Cosplay program, what you will need and how to go about getting the word out.

May the force be with you! Here are some shots of me in my Cosplays.

Me as Kiki with a home-made bow.

Carmen Sandiego with props. 

Esmeralda. Bpyfriend is Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Librarian Post: Adults Just Wanna Have Fun!

Do adults get to have fun anymore?

I am not talking about the type of fun that we think it's ok for adults to have - going out drinking or dancing or taking the kids to a movie.... I mean FUN fun... the kind of fun we used to have when we were kids.

Sure. some adults out there get to play with Legos or jump ropes or tether balls, but I am willing to bet most of those adults do these things with their kids, or BECAUSE of their kids. Do we do it on our own? Do those of us who don't have kids do these things? Probably not, because for some reason we are raised to think we have to give up these things in order to be REAL grown-ups.

I respectfully call bullshit.

This is why for the rest of the year I will be focusing my programming on ways for adults to have real, goofy, child-like fun in the library. Trust me, it's good for you! Playing with things like play-doh and blocks helps relax you, it helps with fine motor skills for older types and it gives your imagination an outlet! Having fun, good healthy laugh out loud goofy kid fun is good for your heart, your soul and your spirit. It heals the mind AND the body!

Stay tuned for my adventures in fun things!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review: Perfected

        Basically, what you need to know about Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch is that it is set in a future in which teenage girls have now replaced tiny dogs as the new "it" accessory for the rich. These girls are genetically engineered to be beautiful and taught absolutely nothing except how to sit and be pretty.... they are literally pets:  they are raised in kennels, and at one point, the owner of the book's protagonist (Ella) is actually given a freaking DOG TAG to wear around her neck.
      Because of the way she was raised, Ella actually thinks she has it pretty good. Her new family seems nice enough (even though they make her eat in the kitchen and she has a specially formulated super bland diet so she doesn't gain weight) and they dress her up and give her a pretty room. Plus she really likes the family's young daughter. And then her new owner starts acting kind of creepy. Sexually creepy. And she starts hearing about the LAST pet... and how she got "sick" and sent back to the Kennel. Plus she starts developing feelings for her owner's son, which the owner does NOT like.
     Just as she is trying to figure out all her confusing new feelings, Ella is kidnapped by a well-meaning but misguided person who thinks all pets should be set free. Penniless, illiterate, and completely terrified, Ella is left to wander the unfamiliar streets and must decide if she wants to go home, or try to start a new life out in the world.
    As far as the story goes - there's nothing new here: books about genetic engineering and people as pets have been around a long time. Still, the writing style is engaging, and though Ella is hopelessly dull as a character, some of the other characters, especially some of the other pets are interesting and fun.

Rating: 3/5 bookmarks, because I actually WANTED to read book 2 to see how this played out.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Librarian Post: Attack of the Smelly Patrons

      To say that summer is warm where I live is the understatement of a lifetime. Our temps are often in the 110's and higher, and it's sunny almost every single day. People say "but it's a dry heat," and that may be the case, but when it's 116 degrees how dry it is doesn't matter: what matters is that you burn your hands just getting into your car. Your power bill quadruples. You literally feel your skin sizzle if you stand in the sun for more than minute or two.
     As you can imagine, the nice, air-conditioned library is a favorite place for people to hang out in this weather. Especially for those who may not have a lot of money to spend on air conditioning at home, or who may not have a home at all. We welcome all of them, of course - and we expect anyone who ventures outside in this heat to be a little sweaty and smelly when they come in. But lately, it seems that some folks are going past sweaty-stinky into "been dead for 3 weeks in a pile of poo" smelly. We have one man who smells so bad he comes with his own swarm of flies, I kid you not. When these folks come in, not only does it make it REALLY hard for the staff to help them, but it makes life super uncomfortable for the other patrons who have to sit next to them at a computer or study table.
    The thing is, I am completely incapable of telling another human being they reek, unless they are my close personal friend and I love them. I can't go up to some poor stranger and say "I am sorry but you smell HORRIBLE, people are passing out around you and you need to go back out there into the 120 degree summer, away with you!" I would rather gag at my desk and even go puke real quick than have to have this conversation with someone! I feel like the worst person in the entire world having to tell someone their personal scent is making people sick... mostly I have been sending my boss and our poor security guard to do it, but I KNOW a time will come when I have to do it too and it makes me want to cry.
    How do you do it???
    Is there ever a "good" way of doing it? A nice way? A way that doesn't make the person you're talking to feel even worse about their situation?
    Sadly in my community there is not really anywhere they can go have a shower... we have one homeless shelter and it's closed during the day, so what is a librarian to do when the smelly patrons attack?
    I would love comments on this subject, because I am truly at a loss.