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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Destination: Iceland

"I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life."
--Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness

The initial reaction of those I discuss my upcoming research trip to Iceland includes a combination of dramatic eyebrow raises, jaw dropping, and an exclamation of "oh wow", shortly followed by the dreaded question asked of a newbie researcher... "What are you going to do there?"


As part of my undergraduate Education studies, I was always wanting to study abroad to further investigate how schools operated, and it would have been a dream come true if I had received one of the overseas jobs that I had applied for. (C'mon Hogwarts...I know you need me as a librarian on staff). For this Graduate study, I'm taking things a step further and investigating the correlation between traditional and technological literacy skills in school libraries in different cultures. TRANSLATION: how does the comprehension of using technology correlate to understanding what one has just read, and how does this compare across different cultures?

Iceland is known for their literacy skills and love for reading. In fact, five titles are published for every 1000 Icelanders, making them the global leader for literacy. The capital, Reykjavik, became a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) City of Literature in August, 2011, and joined the ranks of other distinguished cultural literary contributors Melbourne, Dublin and Prague. Icelanders also celebrate Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood, every holiday season in which gifts of books are given on Christmas Eve and the night is spent reading as means of frivolity. "Books are the backbone of the Icelandic tradition"says industry researcher Baldur Bjarnason, and shows that even though in most countries, a small portion of individuals buy a large amount of books, Icelanders stray from the norm and the majority buy books frequently.

Library use is also common. On average, Icelanders who live in Reykjavik will visit their library six times a year, and libraries appear to be well supported, despite the economic crisis in 2008.

Libraries in Iceland, or commonly known as Tara's finally getting to the point....

In 2005, the most comprehensive study to date provides data for key Icelandic libraries, as well as a history of their origins and use by patrons. Primarily focused in Reykjavik, these library systems are analyzed according to their classification

The first public library was created in 1955 when the Icelandic Parliament developed 30 library districts that separated the country. In each of these districts, public library services were intended to serve the small communities, but were hindered by the small amount of space allotted and materials provided for their library were small in quantity and did not suffice the public interest. Fees were often also charged for library cards, and libraries were also operated by volunteers, which paints a picture of how the budget for public libraries is maintained. Within the 2000's, redevelopment of the public library included open internet access, larger housing facilities for the space, as well as incorporating full time professional librarian positions to each facility. Almost all public libraries in Iceland are connected to the OPAC Gegnir (as of 2005), thus making the network more connected than in past years. The largest public library is Reykjavik City Library with six branches in the capital city that serves almost 651,000 annual visitors and circulates around 1.3 million per year.

Research Libraries
Because of the country's size, there are few libraries dedicated solely to the purpose of research. Many academic institutions, such as the Teacher's College at Kennaraskoli Islands have libraries that serve the students purpose, but none are developed and designed to cater to multiple levels of research purposes. (Such as mine.... phooey.)

National and University Library of Iceland
The National Library of Iceland was created to preserve the nationality of Iceland from the explorer's perspective Many manuscripts, Nordic bibliographies, and other texts that helped preserve the treasures such as the Eddas and Sagas and relay their information onto the general public and travelling minds. In 1994 the National Library merged with the Library of the University of Iceland to further strengthen information seeing across multiple departments; the schools of Theology, Medicine, and Law were in high need of information, and the best place to access this would be in one place, hence the merger. This library houses the National Collections of past Parliamentary documents, special collections and reference services, as well as large reading spaces and general academic research use.

School Libraries
Elementary school libraries were introduced in the 1970s as part of an integral program to convey information seeking skills and behaviors. During the beginning of this initiative, the government paid for 50% of the elementary school library's costs, including books, with having a goal of ten books provided for every student. School libraries in secondary schools (ages 16-20) were also being developed during this time frame, however, they were developed by donations of materials and funds, or with the latter being individually designated within the school budget. Recently, legislation has mandated that technology also be made available for virtual information gathering, thereby enhancing the belief that students will learn to become independent in their search for information and knowledge.

So what does this mean in terms of Tara's research??

The correlation between technological literacy and traditional literacy varies depending on the school culture. In diverse urban American schools, there may be more individuals who know how to operate the latest computer game or iPhone app, versus the text they should be reading in class. In comparison, Icelandic schools with smaller populations may not be as immersed in the technological aspects of literacy and prefer the written word version more. So---getting to the juicy part-- where is the line in which the balance of both can create the definition of a literate teenager ready to enter the adult world?

*cue cliffhanger*

Hannesdottir, S. (2005). Library Development in the Electronic Environment: Iceland 2005. IFLA Journal 31(2). 151-161.

Teicher, J. (2012, December 25). Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual 'Christmas Book Flood' Retrieved January 7, 2015, from

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"The Almost Epic Adventures of an (International) Librarian in Training" Origin Story

Good morning my readers!

I was recently asked as to the purpose of this blog and the explanation behind it's purpose, and I felt compelled to explain it once again in blog format.

"The Almost Epic Adventures of an (International) Librarian in Training"--The Origin!

I started the blog way back when because my good friend (and motivator to become a librarian) Erin Cataldi had one and I was jealous. I wanted a blog that would get the attention of readers, authors, professors, and others so that I could become popular (like John Green status following--hey! a girl can dream!). Soooooo, I began a blog and wanted to document the reviews of books that I had read, as well as other adventures that I participated in.... that was the original vision.

There were moments where I documented my running training (see "Road to Disney" adventures on my Facebook), and where I even wanted to share with the world about a sale on Paul Mitchell shampoo, and I had lost the original purpose of the blog and what I wanted: an area in which I could share my ideas related to reading, researching and response, the latter being a term that I feel applies to motivation to do things yourself.

"Librarian in Training"
I will be done with the Masters of Library Science program in May, 2015 and wanted to share things that I had encountered within my graduate studies and research on this blog. There is a HUGE research trip coming up that I will be documenting on this blog, so please please please please please please follow along. #Iceland all the way baby.

See "#Iceland" above...I'm going to travel the world and see how different libraries work and how different groups of individuals learn and share information. This is the basis for educational systems, so in a sense, I'm making the world a better place by finding out how it operates...After all, the first step to success is to stay informed right?

"Epic Adventures"
There are things that I would have never thought about doing 5 years ago that I am currently doing. I never thought I'd be a librarian. I'd never thought that I'd be in charge of 11,000+ books and materials. I'd never thought I'd be in a brand new shiny space of a Media Center. I'd never thought I'd stay in Indianapolis AND love it! I'd never thought that I'd have the opportunity to travel the world to talk about books and learning and education! I hate that "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" question because the answer will always be wrong!! You can't envision yourself in the future, because amazing things take time to grow and minds change. And don't take anything for granted that you haven't worked your butt off for.... I've learned that many a times and sometimes the hard way.

Note: "epic" is a term that is defined as, well, epic. I never thought I was doing amazing things until others started telling me. People would call me "awesome" or that I "rocked"...and I never let it go to my head until I was completely stressed out in the dumps and thought about it.... I've worked hard, always tried to have a smile, and thought positively. I've tried to pray, ask for help, and apologize, and every time that I have, things have gotten a little better and I've become a better person because of it.

Now onto...

Things are only truly "epic" when others take part. I enjoy sharing my adventures, but they would be much more impactful for others to know what I am doing.... Hence, this blog. If you have a Google account, you can subscribe <--see what I did there?? ;)

"The" and "an" and "of"
Those are grammatically required words needed in the phrase so I don't look like an idiot.
That is all :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Curious History of Wonder Woman" Book Review

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous HeroineWonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 1 of the Wonderful Wonder Woman Reading Challenge!

How hard it is to give a four star rating to a book about my favorite superhero.... But let's begin the debate shall we?

I picked up this book because I love Wonder Woman. And I got Wonder Woman. I got the history behind the creation, backstory, art, publications, sales and controversy with this superhero, not to mention a kaboodle of others, I.e.) Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, The Atom, etc.. If you are a comic fan, you will want to read this book for those factors alone. However, if you want to focus on just the Amazon Princess, you may be a tad overwhelmed, hence my deduction.

This book also dived into the various controversies, which was something that I found very amiable. However, there's huge sections on human bondage (she's got a lasso guys-whatever could she be using it for?! *gasp*) and marriage (because as a woman, there was a time in history in which she can only aspire to that goal), and homosexuality (the Amazons rejected men from their culture? Lesbians!. These perspectives were interesting, but lumped in with this historical perspective made the book seem a bit unorganized... I would have done a separate publication altogether.

Pick this up though my fellow nerds... You will enjoy it.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Sneaker Century" Book Review

Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic ShoesSneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes by Amber J. Keyser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG shoes!
Seriously guys, I just read a book about shoes! "le sigh"

I, like many others, own many pairs of shoes, specifically sneakers. I need a pair to run, to boat, to dance, for work, date outfits, etc and this book reaffirms everything I believe-- there is nothing wrong with a shoe obsession.

This book is a perfect concised look into the history of sneakers, the business and politics, as well as fashion trends... Including a focus on Air Jordan's, Converse and the Adidas vs Nike rivalry. I recommend to any and all who, like me, love shoes, books, and great history lessons.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why International Librarianship??

"Oh the places you'll go!" --Dr. Seuss

It is in human nature to explore.
It is trendy to visit places that intrigue us.
It is natural to want to meet others.
It is studious to seek further education about the global perspective.
It is being a librarian that will share the results of what is found with others.
--Tara Foor, from, well, this blog post.

I've always wanted to study abroad. In fact it is something that I regret not doing sooner in my lifetime. I have always lived with the belief that "everything happens for a reason", but still, I wish that I had travelled the World sooner. The adrenaline rush that comes with visiting a foreign place, unsure of your surroundings, getting the high of becoming more cultured, were all things that I wanted to become addicted to...and even though I'm a horrible packer, I would want to travel as much and as often as I could. As a former educator (former used loosely--after all, I still educate those who desire to learn), I have always wanted to learn more about anything and everything. I was THAT kid who looked forward to the first day of school, and whom everyone knew was going to become a teacher when she lined her stuffed toys up to play school. But, aside from all of the pretending, there was an unfed need to go around the World and see things in the flesh and satisfy my learning cravings.

So, now here's my chance!
As a Masters of Library Science student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, I have the option to pursue independent research into International Librarianship. The interest in this topic, well, arose from my yearning to live out of a suitcase and to learn more about how the World works, but moreover, how individuals learn from their libraries. Because I am an oddball and like to fit things into my own molds, I wanted to investigate how libraries worked in different countries and how the library as an information center helped increased knowledge gathering.... basically- how do libraries around the World help their serving populations? But there is so much more to International Librarianship than just hopping on a plane and visiting different countries and comparing libraries.

Peter Lor's Critical Reflections on International Librarianship
I owe much credit to Peter Lor, a scholarly researcher in the field of International Librarianship, and encourage any of my own readers to visit his website:, because his materials were some of the first that I began to research to gain more insight about this topic. Being an "international librarian" means that there must be certain criterion met and completed within this subject matter. As a student with no previous knowledge about International Librarianship, I found this both extremely helpful in providing a skeleton for guiding my own research, as well as insightful into what projects have occurred in the past, as well as issues with the research. The term "international librarianship" often limits search results to those synonymous with "foreign" and research that could occur in countries other than the United States and United Kingdom. This conflict arises due to the majority of Library Science research being completed in these countries, thereby making every other country appear under the "international" term.

NOTE: "Comparative Librarianship" and "International Librarianship" are misled as interchangeable terms.. Comparative relates to the comparison of library systems (2+), and can apply to multiple countries or within a singular one. International on the other hand, relates to relationships with multiple countries, thereby meaning multiple investigations and comparisons would need to be conducted.

How to Become an International Librarian According to Peter Lor
1.  Exoticism: This relates to curiosity. How are things done in different countries? Combine this with my love for traveling, adventure, and learning, and BINGO! To evaluate this, the researcher would need to take pictures (check), take notes (check), tour facilities (check) and just soak in the grand splendor of wherever they are (check, check, check).

2. Philanthropy: As defined by "the love of our fellow humans", the researcher would have to be personable and friendly, as well as seeking advice, assistance and/or input that could benefit both the researcher's and subject's countries. This is often achieved in third world country visits, so whereever I choose to go for my project would have to either provide or gain a benefit from my being there.

3. National Influence: Coinciding with philanthropy, how could the countries involved in the research project benefit from and to the researcher? This is also the element that influences which countries are chosen for research purposes. For example, if I am investigating roles of libraries in providing information to high risk health areas, I could visit African countries affected by AIDS, Ebola, or Malaria.

4. International Understanding: This one was the trickiest for me to figure out because it is divided into three subparts. Attitude, or the feelings of friendliness and willingness to cooperate; knowledge, understanding of behavior and strategic knowledge or the understanding of the intentions of others, are three things that a researcher would want to evaluate prior to their visit. Will the facilities you visit cooperate? Will they understand what you are looking for? What can be taken away from your research for all parties involved?

5. Internationalism: Lor says it best--"citizens of the world with a strong faith that what they are supporting is really worthwhile". Translation- I am a Librarian (albeit in training) that wants to make the World a better place. And I'm going to do it.... one baby step at a time.

6. Cooperation: The ability to work with others is a HUGE HUGE HUGE endeavor that cannot be taken lightly. Working with professors, advisors and peers here is daunting enough, but then there is a whole other set of individuals that I can only communicate with via phone and email in a different country that will need to work with me as well. This is where the most energy is concentrated, yet wields the most results.

7. Innovation: Adopt, adapt, apply. Learn new things, tailor them to your own needs, then apply what you learned to the needs of others.

8. Advancing Knowledge: This, my readers, is where you document your findings. Describe what you are doing, analyze it, classify and compare your research to previous studies and future theories to make it one of the pieces of art that exist in the field. Library Science is all about sharing and gaining knowledge, and what you've worked so hard to put together is something that can be further learned from.

And finally...

9. Self-Understanding: who, how, why and what barriers exist in relation to the libraries investigated... what are some obstacles that are still being faced within the system of information sharing?

SOOOOOO--how does this help me become a librarian that investigates global libraries? Well my friends, I will proceed to investigate the different elements of research and will report back to you here. Until then, bon (almost) voyage!

Works Cited
Lor, PJ 2008, ‘Critical reflections on international librarianship’, Mousaion, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 1-15.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"The Girl Who Came Home" Novel Review

The Girl Who Came HomeThe Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Titanic disaster is one of the most documented historical events in the era of pop culture and fiction. I kid you not, but "My Heart Will Go On" was playing mentally while I began reading this book, simply because we combine our previous knowledge as human beings to help us understand new stories we encounter.

Grace uncovers the story of her great grandmother Maggie on the Titanic, and in the process of doing so, both women dig into their personal past and realize connections that they need to take advantage of... In a sense, this disaster brings them closer to the missing pieces of life, and it's great to watch them bond.

I thought the story dragged a bit in the beginning, but I think it's because I knew what was going to happen -- spoiler, the boat sinks.-- but the secrets revealed were something that I didn't see coming.

Overall, enjoyable for fans of historical fiction, Titanic aficionados, and those who want Celine Dion playing in the background.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Idea

"An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. That sticks, right in there somewhere." -Inception

 From a young age, I've always loved to read, but a more guilty pleasure of mine was to play pretend and act out scenes from the latest bedtime stories. For those of you who know me well (or will be soon by keeping up with blog posts), Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie is my favorite book. Growing up, I remember hiding in my tree house as if that was the Lost Boys lair, laying facedown on my swing set pretending to fly, or running from the "crocodile"--a part so lovingly dictated to the family's dog. This story, spoilers aside, is all about achieving your dreams, seizing reality, and ultimately living the biggest adventure.

 For me, I have many adventures that I want to cross off my list: educate others, travel, conquer impossible tasks, and be silly. After all, being smart, active, confident and always having a smile were all traits that my mother taught me when it came to being a lady ;) But how could I achieve all of those things in the little lifetime that we are given here in this world...especially when the logistics of actually making a living in this society?

 As a high school librarian (Media Specialist is the official title, if you want to get technical),I encounter students on a daily basis that have the same appetite for adventure that I do, but often these students feel isolated with their cravings, because they believe that no one else is like them in their search for further knowledge, adventure and exploration. How could I help this group of people (albeit young adults, teens are still considered people), especially when they are in the final stages of education before they venture into the adventure of adulthood?

 While working on my Masters of Library Science at IUPUI, I found that many groups of students in the United States are encouraged to read in the public school systems because it leads to increased test scores and overall achievement. In the American culture, and as a former student, now current educator, reading seems to have become a requirement for today's students. In contrast, the United States is often compared to other countries in achievement, and reading is a skill that is more often than not, included in the comparison. In classwork, graduate students discuss how users access their library, and how materials could be or are of value to their patrons... and every colleague I've ever encountered has always been examining this situation from the American Library Science perspective. With this being said, what are other countries doing in regards to reading, and how is school achievement correlating to the use of the library?

Now to conquer the impossible task.... How can American school libraries learn from other libraries in different countries? <--- That question right there makes me feel nervous and ballsy at the same time...But, I've been told that I often "Tara-ize" things by doing them my own way, so let's manipulate this situation as well.

I have plenty of access to American libraries. In fact, I possess 4 different library cards, as well as know double digits of librarians that would help me out at a moment's notice (Facebook--duh). But what would make this experiment into a true adventure would be to throw in a contrast element... let's say.... a different country, in which I could tour library facilities, observe librarians, and document interactions that occur within the libraries. From there, I could use the information I have gathered and researched into developing a larger picture into how libraries work.

It's getting real people...
I will be visiting Reykjavik, Iceland the week of March 21-27, 2015 to investigate how international libraries work. WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO

Monday, October 20, 2014

"The Drop" Novel Review

The DropThe Drop by Dennis Lehane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great crime-noir drama that mirrors the likes of "Mystic River" and dare I say the epic "Heat" saga with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

Bob is a bartender at his Cousin Marv's bar which acts as a "drop" for money being transferred between crime syndicates...Everything is hunky dory until the bar gets robbed and Bob and Marv have to come up with the money so that their lives aren't at stake. But there's more to the story that makes the reader interested.

Bob is a lonely man, but not in a creepy way. He attends regular mass and works frequently at the bar, yet he feels like his life isn't fulfilled. Others even question why he is so quiet and distant from everyone else...That changes when he finds a stray pit bull puppy in the trash, and his neighbor Nadia helps him nurse the puppy back to health. Believe it or not (and pet owners will understand completely where I'm coming from), Bob finds a sliver of happiness when he finds Rocco (christened after the patron saint of dogs and bachelors---clever touch I might add!), and even begins to bond more with Nadia. Both of these relationships save Bob and his "home life", especially when the going gets tough at work.

Theres great character development, multi-faceted story lines that intersect, and surprises that you may not see coming, especially one that explains why Bob seems to be so lonely. Did I mention that this is also the source material for Fox Searchlight's film version starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini? If it helps, imagine them as the characters and I guarantee you won't want to put it down.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Bible Stories for His Beautiful Princess" Literary Review

Bible Stories for His Beautiful PrincessBible Stories for His Beautiful Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bedtime staple for young girls to read and learn about various Bible stories at a young age, with a colorful, pretty,

Disclaimer: I do not have any children. However, I am a teacher and future librarian, so that should have credibility in some shape or form. As a former Girl Scout leader, I also evaluated this text in regards to illustrations, language complexity and format.

Shepard's book is a compilation of various Bible stories in their [supposed] chronological order. Each story is condensed into about 50 word summaries that are interpreted from their corresponding Scripture reading. i.e) "Make me willing to obey you."-Psalm 51:12 is expanded into a retelling of Jonah and the Whale. The large font, simplicity of the language, and positive words used help young girls understand God's message. Aside from the simple stories, I think that readers will enjoy the illustrations the most. Not only is this book a princess theme, but it has watercolor and pen drawings of princesses (of various ethnicities--which was a HUGE plus for me!), flowers, and otherwise positive illustrations. Every character within every story was smiling, which put emphasis on the positive experience that is strived for while reading this book. PLUS, not only are there the Scriptures and Bible stories, but a Princess Prayer to say after the reader has completed the story, as well as a "Princess Jewel", or otherwise valuable piece of knowledge that the reading princess should take away for her crown of knowledge.

I consider this a valuable read that I would recommend to anyone with a young girl and wants to help them with their comprehension of Christian stories.

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Happy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthy!" Literary Review

Happy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthyHappy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthy by J.T. Lundy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After receiving this book in the mail from Goodreads First Reads Giveaways, I was thoroughly impressed with this espionage parody and the adventurous misfortune that happened to besiege the protagonist throughout the fun, quirky plot.

Chris Thompson leads a simple life with a simple job, but receives a sporadic assignment from the President that then leads him onto a secret mission with guns, fast cars, political mysteries and the overall James Bond persona. His mission? McCarthyism is slowly inching its way back into the United States and he needs to stop it before its too late!

The premise of the book, along with memories of your US History class, may make you think twice about picking up this novel from author JT Lundy, but beware of a missed opportunity should you neglect to pick it up. Not only will you laugh out loud, you'll envision a story that reminds one of a slapstick comedy and spy thriller. It's "Pineapple Express" meets "Casino Royale", and the fusion is irresistible!

I received this book from Goodreads in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

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