Projects and Inspiration

Derisive cat in box

#boxwatch2015: In which I bring home a box for Thelma

Background: Since she moved in last year, Thelma has frequently fit in boxes but will not sit in them. The one exception has been copy paper boxes. Her fits-and-sits have been few and far between (I did a double-take the first time she did it), and with a copy paper box just sitting in the recycling pile at work, I had to see what would happen. This is our evening.  Continue reading “#boxwatch2015: In which I bring home a box for Thelma”

User Experience

Creating Joy

Last month, I ordered a giant photo print for my apartment and had it shipped to work. As soon as it arrived, my coworkers swarmed. “There’s a package on your desk. It has DINOSAURS!”

FullSizeRender(1)Photojojo always makes me smile. And while I love the photo print, the memory stuck in my mind is how excited my coworkers were. One moment in a long work day but enough joy to brighten a dreary day weeks later.

And was there a dinosaur? Absolutely.

Dinosaur figure

Sometimes it takes something a little unusual to bring about a smile: an interesting architectural detail, a fun display, or even something as simple as a new toy. How are you creating joy for your customers?

p.s. The new dinosaur is happily settled with my Photojojo Brachiosaurus at home. It’s a very happy bookshelf.

Book Reviews

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

This book was an unusual read for me, both because it’s a historical romance (only my third EVER!) and because I kind of reviewed it on Goodreads. I spend far more time talking about books than writing about them, but I had to made a confession about this one, and the Goodreads review was as good of a time as any.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (The Rules of Scoundrels, #4)Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I totally judged this book by the cover.


For actual reviews of the book, I recommend Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ squee-filled review and the Dear Author recommended read review.

In the Workplace

Putting the “cat” in catapult

spoon catapultThis week we had an amazing training day to exchange program ideas. It was a blast — we got to be customers for little bits of time and connect with fellow librarians in the process. The final presentation was from a RAFT specialist, who let us try a few of their premade low-cost STEM kits. Armed with spoon catapults, the cotton balls and pompoms were flying, and we even got to keep the catapult, which I did, because hey, I own a catapult!

And this is where the cat comes in. It turns out a spoon catapult is the perfect delivery device for a cat treat and adds a bit of enrichment for the cat, who gets to track it down. I’m not entirely sure how the cat felt about the activity itself, but the total number of treats distributed has increased significantly since the training day, so it’s going over fairly well.

To build your own, you will need a plastic spoon, a rubber band, and a cork (one from a bottle of wine works great). Use the rubber band to attach the cork to the spoon. That’s it!

It’s also a great physical science learning activity. In an all-human environment, substitute pompoms, cotton balls, or other soft objects for the cat treats.

Spoon Slinger Instructions from RAFT (PDF)

In the Workplace

I would like a donut, please

The Art of Asking by Amanda PalmerThe Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer is one of those books I instantly wanted to put on five different coworkers’ desks the second I returned it. As someone who is asked questions for a living, it was fascinating to dive deep into the other side. And it definitely has value to reference librarians thinking about relationship building with customers.

That is not why I chose to blog about the book.

Amanda bravely talks about how she has made it through the years and how taking is continually a challenge for her. It is for many of us.

“To the artists, creators, scientist, nonprofit-runners, librarians, strange-thinkers, start-uppers, and inventors, to all people everywhere who are afraid to accept the help, in whatever form it’s appearing:

Please, take the donuts.”

Seriously, librarians, how do we make this list in a musician/artist’s book?

It’s not the act of taking that’s so difficult — it’s the fear of perception of accepting help in a service profession. What will people think?

“Try to picture getting angry at Florence Nightingale for snacking on a donut while taking a break from tirelessly helping the sick. It’s difficult.”

Take. The. Donuts.

Sprinkled donut

This is harder for me now, in a job I love, in a job where I could easily spend 60 hours a week trying to do more. Accept the help, the love, the donuts. Take vacations. Leave work in the library. Do great work, but don’t be a martyr. You can get eight hours of sleep, have hobbies, enjoy life, even with a job that requires selflessness.

In 2015, in addition to being quick to offer help, I’ll also be quicker to accept it. Because donuts are awesome.

Book Reviews

Favorite Books of 2014

Book Reviews

Favorite Picture Books, 2014

One of my favorite parts of working in a public library is being surrounded by gorgeous picture books, both new and old. These are the four best ones I read this year.

Peggy  Peggy by Anna Walker. An adorable tale about a hen who goes on a brave adventure in the city.

The Book with No Pictures The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Not technically a picture book, but a joy to read aloud. Best read with someone else nearby. Pets count.
Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers. Dark but beautifully written and illustrated. I felt quite content the morning I read this.
Smoky Night Smoky Night by Eve Bunting. I picked this book up after reading a phenomenal blog post on resources for talking with children about race. There were tears at my desk.

Coming Sunday: The full list of my favorite 2014 reads.
In the Workplace

On compassion

This has been a rough week, hasn’t it?

It’s easy to be angry. It’s easy to be filled with rage. And from my comfy seat on the corner of white and middle-class, it’s even easier to sit back and ignore it. Let it go.

I cannot do that. But I also have been reminded that rage gets us nowhere. It’s unproductive, a waste of energy. And in my very public-facing job, it’s not exactly an appropriate course of action.

Compassion is.

My challenge to myself has been to think about how I can encourage positive change in my communities. To help people open their minds, their hearts, their arms, and see the world a little differently than they did before.

Not sure how this works? Start with the two blog posts that have soothed my spirit and helped to remind me of the good each of us can do for one another:

And of course, there’s this video on empathy, “feeling with people” and helps us feel compassionate.

Challenge yourself today to feel compassion for someone you normally would brush off. Try for just a minute to see the world through their eyes. Listen to their story. And then take that experience into your next customer interaction. Grow your compassion, grow your community. Let’s do it.



I’m attempting to start something.

Since burning out of my newspaper reporting job 6+ years ago, I haven’t gotten my groove back. I still can write — and I sometimes do — but my attempts at bigger creative projects (and some even smaller ones) have failed. This is the first year I have had the time and mental space for #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or the related activities. No classes. No major work projects. No major life events *knock on wood.* But I knew if I tried to keep up in my current state that I would flop and be finished before the weekend ends. This is my solution:


It’s the PG Twitterfied version of the famous Dorothy Parker quotation:

Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.

I love the spirit of #NaNoWriMo, and I want to capitalize on the furor of writing action this month, even if a full novel is out of my reach. So here I am.

How do I see this working?

The real answer is I don’t know. I don’t have a consistent time to write or any habits. The whole point of this month is to build those. My journal has seen an increasing amount of action in recent months, and I expect daily journaling to be a big part of my goal.

(This dates to a somewhat competitive wellness program at work where journaling would get us points. Sometimes I’d put them in knowing I could journal later, and I would get an entry along the lines of, “I said I’d write in my journal, so here’s a sentence in my journal.” For #ButtInSeatMonth purposes, those entries count. You showed up; you tried. It will get easier.)

I also downloaded The Writing Prompt Boot Camp from Writers’ Digest to jumpstart my creative writing efforts. Need more inspiration? WordPress provides daily prompts and a full year’s worth in PDF form. For the bloggers, here’s a recent list from Don’t Get Caught.

I challenge you to join me in writing for the next 30 days. Writing anything you want. However you want. As much as you want. Let’s see where this can take us.