Meeting Killers of the Flower Moon author David Grann

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As a librarian and lifelong reader, any opportunity I have to meet authors is one that brings me untold joy.

When it was announced that David Grann had agreed to be the guest speaker for our university’s annual endowed lectureship, I knew this would be a big deal, attended by many guests from outside the university.

Grannpresentation

Grann’s third book, Killers of the Flower Moon, has now been on the New York Times non-fiction best-seller list for 37 weeks, was an Amazon.com top 20 picks of the best books from 2017, and a 2017 National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction. So, having him come to our mid-size, rural university was especially notable.

However, our university has distinctly proud tribal roots, and since the whole focus of his book centers around the murders of members of the Osage tribe in the 1920s, it was a perfect opportunity for a special spotlight to locally be shone on American Indians and Oklahoma history.

This story of greed and prejudice was expertly told through the lens of a talented journalist and researcher, with it taking 5 years for Mr. Grann to research and accumulate information from various archives and museums to write this book. We were also fortunate to have some Osage descendants in attendance, whose family stories were featured from the murders that took place almost 100 years ago.

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For those who have yet to read Killers of the Flower Moon, this tragic story will be one you hopefully don’t quickly forget; a segment of American history from which we all learn and hopefully do not ever repeat.

All photo credits: Peter Henshaw.


To read more about other authors I’ve had the privilege of meeting and books I’ve had signed, check out My autograph collection post.

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Read: January 2018

January has brought about a new year and lots of new reads!

Origin by Dan Brown

I have such strong and fond memories of reading The DaVinci Code in 2003 and Angels and Demons shortly thereafter. The subsequent Robert Langdon mysteries have fallen a little flat to me, including Origin, but I still enjoy this recurring character and his code-breaking, globe-trotting adventures.

Langdon once again returns in Dan Brown’s newest novel as he travels to Spain to reunite with Edmond Kirsch, a former Harvard student, now a computer scientist millionaire who is about to globally reveal the answers to humanity’s greatest questions, “Where do we come from? Where are we going?” But before Edmond can share his findings, tragedy strikes. Now Langdon must find a way to retrieve Edmond’s research and help make his findings public before the backlash catches him in the crossfire.

Book read via: public library

Moxie
Moxie 
by Jennifer Mathieu

My high school experience in the late 90s is a long way from what many young women face in public schools today. Even though Mathieu’s Moxie is a work of fiction, the realities of teenage boys harassing girls are all too real. And yet, when young ladies like protagonist Vivian and her friends decide enough is enough, this collectively empowered voice makes a difference, proving once again, that we are so much stronger together than when we are divided.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC https://www.netgalley.com/

stillme

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Third in the trilogy of Me Before You and After You, Still Me just released yesterday! For a more thorough book review, check it out here.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC https://www.netgalley.com/

DearFahrenheit451

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence

I kept hearing about this epistolary memoir throughout the end of 2017, so as a librarian and lover of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, this was at the top of my must-read list in 2018.

Filled with irreverent snark, Spence pens short letters, as if writing to books she encounters in her public library, home, and other peoples’ homes. I don’t work with the public nearly as much as she does, with a different patron base on the academic side of things, so these quirky collection development encounters allowed me to be a bystander in my own profession.

I particularly enjoyed her musings on books I also have read and enjoyed: The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, the Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris, and Belle’s dreamy library in Beauty and the Beast.

And now I have even more book recommendations to consider, including Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles, Two Across by Jeffrey Bartsch, and In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians by Michael Cart.

Read via: public library

CourageIsContagious

Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to be Thankful for Michelle Obama edited by Nick Haramis

Read over a weekend, this brief collection of essays looks back on the important, culture-shifting role Michelle Obama played as First Lady of the United States: educated professional, advocate of children’s health, working mom, supportive wife, and style icon, just to name a few.  Some of these accounts are written by people you’ve likely heard of, but many are not, proving how she was, and continues to be, a woman of aspiration for so many men and women in our country (including yours truly).

Read via: academic library InterLibrary Loan (ILL)

LeanIn

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

As mentioned at the beginning of the month, my words for 2018 are LEAN IN. While I’m wanting to apply this concept in all areas of my life, this manifesto from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was a helpful rallying cry to jumpstart my year of living with intentionality and bravery in my professional and personal life.

Book read via: academic library

NeedToKnow

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

I love spy stories and this is a good one! Released January 23, check out my book review for more details.

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC. https://www.edelweiss.plus/

KillersOfTheFlowerMoon

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Recommended to me by a colleague in the spring, I kept this on my radar throughout the rest of the year and at the end of 2017 I continued to see this on several “best-of” lists, along with nominations for numerous prestigious book awards. But the tipping point for me to buckle down and read (listen) came when it was announced the author, David Grann, is coming to our campus to speak in February!

Living in Oklahoma for less than a decade I’m still very much a student of its geography and Native American history. Thankfully, this book gave me a crash course in all of these areas, and more!

Centered around a string of Osage Indian murders in the 1920s, this is a story of white man’s deception and greed for Osage tribal members’ oil money and the founding of the FBI as agents came to Oklahoma to investigate these murders.

The one challenge I encountered in listening to this vs. reading it in print was keeping track of all the characters (since I couldn’t flip back pages to re-read), but this forced me to pay attention and keep moving forward, which I may not have done if I had been reading this visually.

Overall, this was a terrifically well-researched, narrative non-fiction, true crime novel; well deserving of the accolades it continues to receive.

Read via: public library audio book


Books I’m currently reading that I will likely finish in February: The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (illustrated edition by Jim Kay).

Embracing being an “expert”

What do you think of when you hear the term “expert?” Maybe it conjures images of a computer technician, a wizened professor, or someone wearing a lab coat.

According to Merriam Webster, an expert is someone “having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.”

Notice it doesn’t say anything about age, gender, or having to wear any kind of regalia. So in that case, I’m an expert!

I’ve been a member of the American Library Association since beginning library school in 2008 and for the past year or so the organization has adopted the theme of  Libraries Transform and have called on members to state their area of expertise.

At this time I would say that my main areas of professional expertise (“training and experience”) are teaching students how to search and manipulate results within EBSCOhost databases and assisting students with their research in our children’s and youth collection. I’m still very much a student in the areas of academic assessment, open education resources, and a whole lot more – but I’m learning!

LibrariesTransform-Expert


You might have heard about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule from his book Outliers, in which he claims this is the “magic number of greatness.” However, in this online article, Rob Nightingale from Make Use Of  debunks Gladwell’s theory (and takes a closer look at the research upon which Gladwell stated this philosophy) and looks at other important characteristics and traits of how we can be an expert.

This, no doubt, includes how teaching is a tactic to faster learning. But boy howdy – if I made $1 for every time I taught EBSCOhost or lead a student through the process of finding the perfect children’s book for their assignment…well, I would probably be the wealthiest librarian west of the Mississippi!

Part of me still balks at the connotation of how being an expert might come across as having “arrived” or “knowing it all,” when I obviously have not and do not. And while I desire to be a lifelong learner in so many areas, on this last day of the Fall semester it gives me a bit of satisfaction that I can be proud of what I have learned, and how it is my goal and ongoing responsibility to share this knowledge with others.


In what area(s) would you consider yourself an expert? Or in what arena would you like to strive towards being known as an expert?

A Very Hermione Halloween

I’ve never really been one of those people who was enamored by dressing up for Halloween. I’m a big wienie when it comes to scary things and the idea of wearing a costume to work isn’t my idea of professional behavior.

In fact, it’s been five years since I dressed up with several library colleagues as Waldo.

Waldos

However, this year, I’ve been inspired by one of my favorite literary heroines.

Hermione Granger.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1169942/hermione-granger-and-the-chamber-of-secret-cash-emma-watson-used-offshore-firm-to-buy-3m-home/

Image source

I’m convinced if she hadn’t have been such a loyal friend to Harry and a brave member of Dumbledore’s Army, she would have been one awesome librarian.HermioneLibrary
From Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Since Halloween has fallen in the middle of a workweek, I still wanted to look professional (as aforementioned) – a priority since I taught a face-to-face class and later lead a live video chat with an online class today.

My outfit came together very smoothly and all the garments I wore came from my existing wardrobe. I bought just a few extra accessories, but more about that in a moment.


Skirt: Banana Republic Factory, similar here
Shirt: Ann Taylor Loft Factory, similar here
Sweater: Talbots, similar here
Tights: Target, similar here
Shoes: Naturalizer, similar here
Bag: Gryffindor tote bought during my visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Robe: Bachelor’s degree graduation gown
Magical Cat: Sylvester (not Crookshanks) – he opted to stay home today rather than come to campus with me

My two accessories were this inexpensive Hogwarts tie (the child’s size fit me perfectly) and a semi-homemade wand.

After a weekend trip to Hobby Lobby to transform Clover bamboo knitting needles, The Optometrist handily stripped the finish, stained the wood, used his Dremel tool to engrave a swirly design, painted the engravings gold, and sealed it with a light coat of polyurethane. (Yes, I have the coolest husband who supports my nerdiness.)


In my tote bag (because Gryffindor is my house, too), I carried copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, since these would have likely been books found in Hermione’s personal library.

My full Hermione transformation!


Have you dressed up for Halloween today? If so, has a literary character inspired you, too? Please share in the comments!

 

 

Weekly Reader

The title of this blog post series pays homage to the beloved childhood informational news bulletin, Weekly Reader, as I highlight favorite finds from around the web.
weeklyreader

Books & Literacy

Take a peek at the Children’s Book Week poster by Jocelyn McClurg (USA Today – January 19, 2017)

Looking ahead to May when Children’s Book Week takes place, what a visually eye-catching and kid-friendly way to promote literacy!

Meet the writers who still sell millions of books. Actually, hundreds of millions. by Karen Heller (The Washington Post – December 20, 2016)

A bit of insight into the success of literary household names.

Every book Barack Obama has recommended during his presidency by Ruth Kinane (Entertainment Weekly – January 18, 2017)

What a well-read President we’ve had! From this list I’ve read Brown Girl Dreaming,  All the Light We Cannot See, one of the books in the Junie B. Jones series, The Great Gatsby, Where the Wild Things Are, and the Harry Potter series. I am currently listening to H is for Hawk on Audible and want to read The Underground Railroad, Gilead (on my bookshelf), and Cutting for Stone (on my bookshelf).

Travel

Journey across Canada by train by Nancy Gupton (National Geographic – accessed January 14, 2017)

Beautiful, nostalgic, and romantic – what a trip of a lifetime this would be!

We the People

Watch Michelle Obama take a final stroll through the White House with First Dogs Sunny and Bo by Megan McCluskey (Time – January 18, 2017)

If you’ve ever moved before, you know how it’s never easy…even if you are the First Lady.

Pete Souza, Obama’s chief White House photographer, on making pictures for history by Mike Hofman and Alex Reside (GQ – January 19, 2017)

A candid interview with Souza reflecting on how he captured everyday and monumental Presidential moments over the past 8 years, his time also photographing President Reagan, and personal insight into the art of photography.

 

What encouraging, insightful, or fun information have you read this week?

Weekly Reader

The title of this blog post series pays homage to the beloved childhood informational news bulletin, Weekly Reader, as I highlight favorite finds from around the web.
weeklyreader

Libraries & Literacy

Moving forward together by Julie B. Todaro, American Library Association (ALA) President (American Libraries – Jan/Feb. 2017)

On the importance of libraries serving our patrons,
We must continue to be inclusive beacons for meaningful and equitable public discourse, push for social justice, champion intellectual freedom, fight for equitable access to resources and services for our constituents, protect privacy, commit to diversity, and strive to ensure that we help build and sustain a literate constituency.

How data and information literacy could end fake news by Kalev Leetaru (Forbes – December 11, 2016)

Today we have access to all the world’s information, yet we take no advantage of that information to be more informed citizens of the world.

Through a series of tests, the authors found that at every level of education, from middle school to high school to college students, digital natives found themselves unable to perform even the most basic of tasks of recognizing a news article from a paid advertisement or recognizing an editorial from hard news reporting.  (Emphasis mine.)

Instead, to truly solve the issue of “fake news” we must blend technological assistance with teaching our citizens to be data literate consumers of the world around them.  

Yes, this is my role as a librarian!!!

Ghostwriter: The Most Literary 90’s Kids Show by Nick Ripatrazone (The Atlantic – August 4, 2016)
I loved this show on PBS! Maybe you did too!

Spiritual

Epiphany: In celebration of the journey by Ruth Haley Barton for Transforming Center
Moving beyond advent to being obedient where God is leading me – yes and amen.

History

National park honoring Underground Railroad heroine Harriet Tubman made official by Nicole Gaudiano (USA Today – January 10, 2017)
Wouldn’t this be a neat place to visit?

Social Justice

A new type of food pantry is sprouting in yards across America by Deborah Shaar (NPR – January 11, 2017)
Look out Little Free Libraries, neighborhood food pantries are joining you!

 

What encouraging, insightful, or fun information have you read this week?

Just another day…well, yes & no

As an academic librarian I have a 12-month contract, so while today is just another Monday reporting to the university, it’s also the first day of the fall semester.

Thinking back on previous first days of school, I’m reminded that today marks my seventh first day of school working in my current library, and if you count the three years I worked at a community college (pre-grad school), this totals a decade of first days of school working in higher education. I’ve got to say, I’m pretty proud of that!

Last year our Provost shared with the incoming freshmen how, regardless of their chosen major and future career aspirations, they would more than likely be working in a profession that served others. These words of wisdom have stuck with me, helping me realize this broader goal of serving others as an extension of my life-service to Christ is what motivates me to keep-on-keepin’-on. Seven years in, I’m thankful I remain excited to partner with faculty and learn alongside them, plus connect with their students as I teach them effective and transferable research skills. Even though I continue to do the same thing year in and year out, new professional and personal opportunities continually arise and keep me feeling vibrant and fresh.

It’s also good for me to remember today marks a milestone in the lives of many freshmen stepping foot on campus. Their first day of college signifies something more than just “it’s what I do after I graduate from high school,” since many come from very rural areas and are first generation college students. The pursuit of a college degree changes not only their lives, but alters the course of history for those generations to follow. How humbling that I get to play a small role in their academic journey and eventual achievement.

Today also marks the first day of school for our nephew who begins 1st grade! Our favorite little strawberry-blond boy is excited about this new year of school and his new teacher. He enters 1st grade reading like a champ (!!!) and we are all excited for the good things in store for him this year.

So regardless of age, here’s to a renewed commitment of serving, growing, and learning!