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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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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Lookaway, Lookaway" Audiobook Review

Lookaway, LookawayLookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To satisfy the Southern stereotype that is projected consistently by narrator Scott Shepard, "Lookaway, Lookaway" is a cool mint julep that soothes the reader's soul but leaves them woozy with family drama that rivals mobster movies and reality television shows.

Jerene Jarvis Johnston is a classic Southern belle who will do anything to maintain the class and integrity of her retired politician husband, and their four children, Beau, Annie, Josh and Jerelynn, despite decades of scandal and mishaps that targets the honorable Johnston name. Not only is this drama an entertaining read due to the engaging plot, but the presentation of the story from different characters perspectives just add even more to the story-- every family member has something to contribute to the family name, regardless if they want to or not. And get ready- actions have consequences, and this audiobook has the reader screaming at the characters ready to realize something pivotal...before it's too late.

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"Dune" Literary Review

Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hailed as a Science-Fiction masterpiece, there are many reasons why anyone who considers themselves an intellectual should pick up Herbert's classic.

1. There is a TON of planning in it! Down to political views, ecological standpoints, and hierarchies, there is nothing that comes close to the exemplary structure that unfolds within this three "book" compilation that takes place on a fictional, futuristic planet. However, one thing that I struggled with was losing track of what was going on. Read this in a secluded area, away from distraction, both physical and mental. AKA, reading this while starting back to school was NOT a good idea.

2. Paul, a "chosen one" figure, is well-developed, but what I particularly enjoyed was the development of others around him. Most stories with this stereotype, tend to focus on that character and their entirety, whereas this is not the case.

3. Sci-Fi addict? READ THIS BOOK! Nuff said. Whether you're hard-core, occasional or the oncer who has picked up a futuristic novel, then you would enjoy this novel.... If you've never picked up a Sci-Fi delectable, dive into something simpler, such as "Ender's Game" or even Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" to get an idea of the structure and absurdity.

Overall, a great book, there's no denying that, but this was a struggle for me to get through. I had to keep turning back due to distraction and it was a difficult read that I couldn't wait to shelve onto the "no way no how" shelf, simply because I couldn't wait for it to end and I could pick something else to read. :(

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