30 January 2019

Another Theme to Explore

I have read it to be said that most writers work on a small handful of major themes over their careers. A couple few main ideas that they explore, even if through various avenues.

I don't mean writers who rarely venture out of their familiar genres. And I'm sure we could compile an impressive list of eclectic authors whose work runs across a whole host of disparate themes.

Yet, for instance, take Asimov, one of the most prolific, expansive writers I can think of off the top of my head. Was not an overarching theme of much of his work the exploration of intelligence? 

Look at Gaiman, a writer who--seems to me, at least--has reached the pinnacle of literary success: the ability to explore any idea in any form and expect it to reach a receptive audience. Perhaps even he might have a limited, though reliable, collection of themes--Curiosity, Loss, Uncertainty, Natural and Supernatural Wonder.

I've been writing for a little over a score now. It seems that most of my work--prose, poetry, even journaling--deal with the themes of Dream and Fate and Time. Many of my pieces--early on as well as recent--continue to explore ideas such as fantasy and reality, predestination, memory, expectation, the past and the future and the presence abiding between and beyond. I anticipate delving even further into such realms of wonder with stories and poems I have yet to write.

Nevertheless, since studying library science and becoming a school librarian, not only does it appear that much of my work is aimed at younger and younger readers, but it also seems that another theme keeps turning up in my own humble collection: that of information literacy.

Again and again, the notion of locating, evaluating, and using information shines brightly through in  the pieces I have been developing lately. It's exhilarating--also a wee bit frightening--to consider that I might be expanding my literary horizons. 

So it seems, for me, uncharted territory beckons.

22 December 2018

In the voice of a child

I have found that I cannot read Luke 2:8-14 without hearing the verses in the voice of a little boy, words reverberating through an empty auditorium, speaking such innocent and blessed veneration.

Thanks Charles Schulz, Lee Mendelson, Bill Melendez, et. al., and, of course, Chris Shea.

Image result for Linus on stage images

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

30 November 2018

No Novel for November

I didn't participate in National Novel Writing Month.
I was too busy with the mountain of shorter pieces I've been writing.

As of the end of the month, I have 13 pieces going simultaneously. 
(The month started with even more.)

Poems. Short stories. A children's book. Make that two children's books.
Every day--even before and after November--I do my best to work on each one, even if just a little bit, no matter what else is happening in my world.

It is not the most efficient, nor the most effective method for writing. One might liken it to one of those fevered jugglers who throws beyond a mere set of pins but also tosses in torches, swords, chainsaws, and a couple bawling babies to boot.

For those who did participate in NaNoWriMo, I hope the month went well for you. Perhaps I'll join you next year. That is, if I get all these other pieces finished first.

30 October 2018

Hallowe'en Poetry

It's Halloween by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner, was one of my favourite books when I was a child. It remains so even still.

I have been sharing its verses with the kids at home--and at school--over the past couple days. They have enjoyed its whimsical, yet frightfully bewitching rhymes, along with the terrifically stylistic pictures, in preparation for this week's tricks and treats. I have enjoyed sharing the the poems and pictures myself, passing down the book in what has become a wonderful tradition.

Yet it seems I might have to start a new tradition with a new book.

In setting out seasonal texts for display at the school library this month, I happened across a "seldom-circulated, candidate-for-weeding" copy of  Halloween by Harry Behn, illustrated by Greg Couch.
Originally written in 1949, the verse sets an entrancing tone, with staves populated by some of the elder spirits ever to have reveled upon the night between Summer's end and Winter's beginning. Couch's shadowy illustrations stir a mystical air of motion through every page.

The children have been spellbound at every reading.

So now, I look forward to sharing both books for years to come, establishing and expanding the Season's traditions in poetic honour of Hallowe'en.

It's Halloween


Image result for halloween images
CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)
Public Domain Dedication

30 September 2018

Library to Library

This fall, I began my second year as a school librarian. As I wrote in the previous post, I was excited to begin the year and to continue exploring ways to make the school's library the best it could be. 

What I didn't write was that back in August I got another job at the public library. I originally envisioned the position as just a way to make a little extra money during Summer break. But the Children's Services Director and the Executive Director convinced me that I could put my training to use in the Children's Department and that the position could serve to strengthen connections between school libraries and public library services. That has definitely proven true so far.

I am about to begin my third month with the public library, now working a few evenings and a couple weekends a month. (That was also one of the pieces that convinced me to accept the position--that they would work with me and my school schedule. Not too often is an employer so willing to do such a thing.)

The most challenging aspect so far has been to keep the two libraries separate in my mind, job to job.  I'm still learning my school's collection but now I'm working to familiarize myself with a whole new collection over thrice the size. Knowledge of one can help the other, but mostly they keep blurring together.

But more than that: the circulation system, the procedures, the conventions, even the foundational purpose of service, all remain fundamentally the same even while being completely different. Right away I likened it to SAE versus Metric--basically the same but just enough different as to cause complications.

Nevertheless, I look forward to keep developing as much as I'm able and to continue applying all I'm learning--in both library arenas.


31 August 2018

Back to School

This past week, I welcomed students and parents to their library during Back to School Night. Many of the Kindergartners--and parents--who visited appeared amazed at all the books, but even more astonished at all the fantastic materials and building sets in the MakerSpace.

Then, I visited my own children's new classrooms and teachers during Back to School Night at their school. The twins are terribly excited to start their adventures in first grade.

I share such excitement for the school year. Last year was my first as the School Librarian. I was filled with anxiety from the first day to the last. This year I feel completely different so far. Anxiety has turned to enthusiasm. Now I have a much clearer understanding of my position and all it entails. Plus, I possess at least a modicum of confidence in what I seek to accomplish with students and colleagues along with the directions I envision for their library.

In fact, my Principal told me this week that the library is really starting to look like mine. It was a very nice compliment and a great boost for beginning the new school year.

26 July 2018

Wyoming Library Leadership Institute

Leadership was the focus at the 2018 Wyoming Library Leadership Institute.

Mandy Fable from "Kindness Wyoming" spoke of efforts to transform "anti-bullying" campaigns into proactive promotion of "kindness"--in other words, shifting focus from the undesired behaviour of bullying toward the positive conduct of spreading good will. 

Larry Yatch delivered an instructive seminar.  His experiences and perspectives, his ideas and applications, all serve to present a whole new paradigm for Leadership.

Jake Conilogue shared his expertise about safety protocols, applying them to libraries in their various roles and community settings. 

Valerie Maginnis led an exploration in communication awareness for improving efforts at understanding others and being understood by others.

Janette McMahon presented her thoughts on Readers' Advisory and shared magnificent strategies to improve patron service.

Coordinators Anna McDonnel Smedts and Tasha Reeves did extraordinarily well to highlight Lander's vitality, promoting local artists, activities, and establishments. They arranged seminars and events in order for us to see the Eagle Spirit Dancers and Singers our first evening and then to allow us to enjoy a fantastic vantage point for attending Lander Live Music the next. They also honoured us with the opportunity to have lunch and then to "Graduate" within the hallowed space of Lander's Carnegie Library, built over a century ago.

I look forward to applying the lessons in leadership that I learned at the Institute.

Thanks to all!

Wyoming State Library - Leadership Institute

Mandy Fable (Executive Director of Kindness Wyoming)

Larry Yatch (Retired Navy SEAL, SEALed Mindset)

Jake Conilogue (Fremont County Resource Officer)

Valerie Maginnis (Teton County Library Director)

Janette McMahon (Fremont County Library Director)

My gratitude to my fellow attendees. Also, special  appreciation to Anna McDonnel Smedts and Tasha Reeves, as well as Chris Van Burgh, for coordinating this year’s Wyoming Library Leadership Institute!

There I am, the tall guy in the back, wearing the Wyoming shirt!