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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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews