This is Circulating Ideas, I’m Steve Thomas. My guest today is Kristin LaLonde. She’s an Access Services librarian and Circulation Department Manager at the Chippewa River District Library in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. You can find her on Twitter @shinyinfo.
Kristin, thank you for joining me on the show today.
Well, thank you for having me, Steve.
Well, I, the first question I’ve got is, actually not so much of a question, but a rating scale that I need you to elaborate for me. I need you to rate the following from bad to the worst.
A) is Aquaman with a harpoon hand.
Okay, yes, yeah.
B) is the Season Five A-Team theme song.
C) is Murder She Wrote episodes without Jessica.
[laughs] and D) is Mainstream Media articles about how quirky librarians are.
Oh man, I was just complaining about this yesterday. Well, complaining about all those things probably. Okay, it’s, so you want me to say the least worst to most worst.
Most worstest of all. Oh, man, that season five theme song of the A-team is pretty bad, but I just watched the Murder She Wrote episode where Bill Maher was solving a murder and so that was pretty much the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
[laughs] Bill Maher with 80s hair too.
Right, 80s hair, he had a mullet, he had like part of his shirt was ripped so you could see like a nipple, I’m like why am I, why, why does this exist? So, I’d say that’s the worst of all of them and then the, I guess, one level above that would be the theme song for the A-Team on season five, which was completely unnecessary and the worst, well not the worst, worst obviously.
The second worst [laughs].
Second worst. And then I’d say the articles about quirky librarians because I’m really tired of hearing about that already [laughs] and Aquaman with the harpoon hand because, I mean it’s still Aquaman even though he’s got a crazy beard and no shirt and he’s just off, like completely gone crazy, but he’s still Aquaman man, so.
He still has all the same powers and everything, so.
Exactly, so, you know, that’s my rating, that’s my, that’s my determination there.
Yeah, I always wonder on those Murder She Wrote episodes was, was she off doing a movie or something at that time? Or were they trying to do some spin offs? I mean what was going on there.
Here’s some Murder She Wrote lore for you. According to Wikipedia.com, I think that’s where I read it…
America’s trusted source of information.
Exactly, as a librarian I can tell you, Wikipedia… Anyway from what I remember Angela Lansbury was like I’m doing too many of these episodes and I’m worn out. So, if you want me to do another season you’ve got to get these other people in here. And they did try to do a spin off, like the guy from Law And Order.
Yeah, Jerry Orbach.
Yeah, they tried to have him do, and none of them worked because I’m sure if I’m any indication, any of the true Murder She Wrote fans probably hated them all. But like, I want Jessica back, forever, so.
Yeah and I don’t think Father Dowling counts as a spin off since Tom Bosley left the show, almost a different character, so.
Wow, maybe he’s in witness protection.
[laughs] “You’re now a priest, Amos Tupper, you’re now a priest.”
Yeah, I mean [laughs], I mean there’s plenty of opportunities to witness a murder in Cabot Cove so I feel like it’s a really, you know possible.
I, I detected a Tumblr post coming from you about that, so.
That theory [laughs].
[laughs] Conspiracy theories about Murder She Wrote dot tumblr dot com.
[laughs] And how Amos Tupper talked his accent, so.
[laughs] Yeah, I mean he had the, he was trying to live his life in the witness protection program, it makes perfect sense. And then he tried to sell Glad bags later on.
[laughs] This is all after being, raising Richie Cunningham and all that too, so.
Yeah, he’s lived many lives.
Okay, well back to the reason you’re on the show which is of course Aquaman.
Oh right, yeah.
[laughs] You did write on your blog, it was about a year or so ago, you brought Aquaman and librarianship together.
I did, yes, it was when I, in the new 52, Aquaman is aware that everyone thinks he’s dumb and he’s a, but he’s still going out and saving people’s lives all the time and they’re not, they don’t really fully understand everything that Aquaman does for them cause they’re too busy, oh Batman, he’s so cool, whatever. Aquaman is out there saving your bacon, he’s keeping all these undersea creatures from coming up and murdering everybody, he’s doing his darn job, but he’s under-appreciated. So I feel like librarians often feel that way, it’s like hey, we’re doing all this stuff behind the scenes, protecting privacy, doing all these things and we feel like oh, we just don’t get enough press or recognition of the Batmans of the world. And I don’t know who necessarily would be the Batman that I’d be comparing him too in the world now I think about it. Whoever gets a lot of good press for doing cool things I guess.
Celebrities maybe? I don’t know.
Yeah, that’s right. Whatever the young people are into [laughs].
[laughs] I don’t know what the young people are into.
I don’t know either.
The Instagrams, or the Facebooks, I don’t know.
Right, Snapchatting around, swagging it up, from what I understand. But yeah, so when I was reading Aquaman I was like, oh man, I feel your feels Aquaman, I’m feeling them. I mean you’re out there saving our bacon and we just, we don’t appreciate you enough. But he’s, but also.
And librarians are, and librarians are saving people from undersea creatures and stuff too, so.
Yeah, I do that all the time. But also the cool thing with Aquaman, he also just like whatever man, you don’t have to like me, I’m just going to do my, do what I do and just deal with it, whatever, got my own stuff going on.
So do you think that’s what bugs people like you and me and other people I think, when those quirky librarians articles come out that it’s sort of, people are still, they’re not having that Aquaman attitude, they’re still craving that attention and they’re still, it’s like being in high school, they want to be, they have to be, you have to be the cool kid, you can’t just do the right thing and do it for the right reasons, you have to just, you have to be recognized for being cool too.
Right, I mean everyone likes getting recognition for doing good things and that’s totally, that’s totally understandable, but if that, that can’t be a means to your end, so if, if the only reason you’re doing something is so that someone might write an article about you, or have you on a podcast, then it’s probably, you’re probably, you probably should reevaluate maybe what you’re trying to do. One thing, I mean there’s several layers to why those always bother me. One being they’re not super, the people aren’t really super quirky anyway, they’re just kind of, they’re kind of just normal, like oh, librarians have dyed hair. I’m like whoa, nobody has dyed hair, that’s so crazy.
Is that a tattoo that keeps peeking out of that arm?
Right, like whoa, what, oh my god, that’s, they’re like norm, they’re like real people. And then also on the flip side, what if you don’t have dyed hair or tattoos, oh you look, you look like an old lady with a bun in her hair, suddenly that’s the worst thing you can possibly be. Like okay, now it’s, you’re flipping it to where oh we should all be, meet this different standard now.
Yeah, my thing I think I finally, after kind of thinking through it, especially after the latest round of those, I think it comes down to, I think it’s really important for us and I understand we want people to understand the work that we do, I think when those articles focus more on, the push side I don’t like is the look how great we are individually as people when we should be pushing look how, what great things we’re doing and that’s really what, to me, I mean because I realize there is a layer of seemingly hypocritical of me saying it because I’m doing a lot of podcasts about librarians, but my whole point of trying to do this is to, I’m not saying you were saying that, [laughs] I’m trying to push the look what great things librarians do, this is why you should love this profession because we do great things, not Kristin is great because she’s a great person and because she, cause you’re a horrible person right?
Right, yeah, obviously.
But you know what I mean, I mean the whole point of, once the thing is completed, sort of wow librarians do great things, which we’ll hear about the great things you do later. But that’s sort of what I, what my point is and what I would like those articles to focus more on.
Yeah, absolutely. My favorite thing is whatever pun title they use, like a librarian died, she checked out.
Or whatever, it’s like ugh.
It’s like every comic, every article about comic books has to be “Zap! Pow! Comics aren’t for kids any more!”
Yeah, exactly, like yeah, we all know that, please move on, please.
Well we’ve kind of been having a little fun here so far, but I wanted to translate that into what, a lot of times what people are reading on your various social media things that you’re posting on is that you obviously have a lot of fun at your workplace, not even just on social media, but you’re showing, you’re showing the things that you do there. Do you think that’s really important to make sure you’re having fun at work?
I do, I think so. So people don’t know, I am a circulation manager at my library, so I’m in charge of a lot of part-time staff, a lot of whom are college students, I’m probably, they’re probably only with me at the max probably two years, then they graduate and they’re really busy and I try to have fun with them and I also have fun with my colleagues as well. Where, it just makes things, I feel that it greases the wheels, to say hey we’re all trying to work together, we want to work together on a project, if we all get along really well, it, I feel like it’s easier to get people on board with your idea or your project and so yeah, I’ll help you out with that, or whatever. So yeah, I think it’s very important. It makes work a lot more fun, cause, I mean, being a librarian is fun regardless, but sometimes it’s not and then it helps you get through times when it’s not as fun as other times. So yeah, I think it’s great.
Right, and you mentioned that you’re working with the student workers, is there anything specific you do about, to have that relationship you have with them? Is it just you have the fun, but obviously, I mean you’re supervising them too and.
Right, so yeah, that’s one thing I try to toe the line between I want to have fun with them, but I also want them to remember at the end of the day I’m still their boss and I did, one thing I try to keep in mind is when I was working part-time, sometimes when a boss would try to be like “Hey guys, I’m your friend!” “Hey, fellow young people, we’re just all hanging out, we’re just all equals around here!” and that really used to like make me made. It was like well we’re not really equals cause you could fire me at any time. But this is all just bull crap. So I try not to make it seem disingenuous, so, I do like to have fun at work, but I don’t try to force it. Usually what I’ll try to do, I always have the mentality of whatever you do, do not, don’t make anything mean, don’t, don’t demean anybody, make sure you pay attention to people’s particular needs, like I have several people on staff who are gluten free and have other allergies, I always ask, like is there anything you would like me to know because I like to bring in donuts or cake or pizza sometimes and the worst thing in the world would be like oh yeah, I’m bringing in all this stuff and you can never have any of it, ever. You can just watch other people enjoy it. So, whenever I do that I always try to like, okay well I’ll go get a bag of gluten free cookies as well, or when I was down in Detroit for something there’s a gluten free bakery down there so I grabbed a box of donuts and brought them in because you can’t get gluten free donuts here in my small town. So I always try to be inclusive and I also try to take into account people’s personalities because some people like to joke around in a specific way and some people don’t like that at all. I definitely don’t try to force my particular sense of humor on anybody, so.
“You will laugh at me or you will be fired!” [laughs].
“Get outta here!” I hear ya, yeah, no. And one thing I notice, [laughs], one thing I notice other places in the past, other bosses, they’d like to joke around, like ha ha you’re fired. I’m like ha ha you could actually fire me, that’s not really funny. Please don’t to, [laughs] stop joking about that. So I don’t, I don’t joke around, I don’t say those things. I try not to enforce me, like ha ha I want you to remember that I own you, but yeah, like you said, some, I like to joke around with some of them in different ways because I know, that’s just how, what the personality is and then I don’t with others.
Right and then, like you said, you know the balance, ‘cause those books still need to get shelved [laughs], so.
We can’t just sit around and joke for the whole day [laughs], so.
Exactly, right and what I don’t want to happen is set up a scenario where it’s like well I don’t want to tell you that you didn’t do something cause we’re buddies now, I don’t want you to not like me [laughs]. I don’t want them to not like me anyway, but I want you to know that I’m being fair here.
And you’ve mentioned you’re on Twitter before, your propensity for saying sorry to everything.
Right, I do, I always feel so bad about everything [laughs]. I can’t help it.
Can you go shelve those books? Oh I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
No, no, please. You know, I mean if you have time, you know. At first that’s how it was, really at first when I first started because everyone there, I didn’t hire anybody there and also I didn’t know what I was doing, so I was like well how do you do, how do you do this? And how do we, how does the library do this? So I didn’t, I was in charge of them, but I didn’t know how to do anything, so it felt really weird asking anyone to do anything cause I know, they all know more than me about this. Now though, I feel a little bit better about, oh could you, could you do this. And I always try to explain why, it’s not just oh if you’re so busy work, cause I don’t like you, definitely don’t, try to keep it in perspective. Why are, here’s why we’re doing things, so it doesn’t seem so arbitrary.
What’s like a typical day for you? What kind of stuff do you do as, well what’s your exact title? It’s not Circulation Manager, it’s Access Services.
Access Services Librarian, so it’s a small, I mean it’s big for the region, for the area, I’m in mid-Michigan and we’re in, I’m in a college town, so we have a main library and we have branches and smaller communities in the surrounding area, so everybody who works in our library has multiple jobs, so I’m Circulation Manager, but I also do collection development for multiple collections, I also do reference, I manage the volunteer program, I help with outreach, I do, I do a bunch of different things, help with programming, so typical day could vary. Right now I just hired five new pages so most of my days are consumed with being, either being on the desk or training pages or starting new pages, answering emails, anyone who has a problem with fines, or hey we can’t find this, there’s a book that’s been in transit for a month, here find it, they’ll try to find it. It’s a lot of that sort of thing, but also keeping, I have a lot of irons in the fire as far as schemes and plans for the library goes, different projects, they got to keep going. We’re going to be going to the Farmers Market again this year so I have to plan that out with our marketing guy and we’re doing free comic book day this year and I’m helping with that and all those sorts of things.
Well, let’s, let’s start with that. I imagine it would drive you crazy to use this term and I, and I’ve never heard you use this term, but embedded librarianship, where you put yourself into the community, that’s sort of the terminology that the library field likes to use. But you do do that, even if you wouldn’t use that term [laughs].
Where you’re putting yourself out in the community. You guys do that a lot, of, where you’re going to the Farmers Market, you’re doing things like that. How often do you do that? And what do you think is important about doing that as opposed to waiting for the community to come to you?
Well we started doing that more when I started because our ILS moved to Wednesdays to ILS and actually this was a, one of my pages, Angelo, he brought this up, where he said, hey, do you think it’s possible to go to the Farmers Market? I said, well, right now it’s not really possible, but we could make it possible. Well we’re going mobile with our ILS so what we’d need to do is get, how would we, what sort of services are we going to offer while we’re out there? What’s possible? We need to have access to the internet wherever we are, so we’re going to need like a MeFi or some sort of hot spot so we’ve got to, I have to submit requests with IT for that and I also have to get a secure laptop and a scanner and so, there’s a lot of planning that went into that. So, we kind of developed that together and I worked with the marketing, our marketing guy because I figured being embedded librarians, it’s important just from a circ point of view, but also a librarian point of view, but the marketing guy would really want to get in on it because we’ve got a lot of stuff to market and really being out in the community is kind of a marketing, is a marketing realm, so I talked to him about it and he really got on board because we’re doing the Geek The Library campaign as well. So it was this is perfect and anywhere we go we can promote Geek The Library too, as well as our services. Once I was able to set up with a mobile circulation desk basically, which is a tote with a laptop mobile WiFi and a select number of books and what not, depending on the subject, once we’re able to do that, we can really take it anywhere. Actually, this Friday, we’re going to be going to, there’s a senior services expo in one of our branch communities and so wherever our marketing guy goes to set up a table, he asks me if we can have a circulation desk there, which I feel underlines the importance of really connecting with people in your institution. That’s why I wanted to talk to the marketing guy first, so that it doesn’t, so hey we’re in this together, we’re working together. So, it moves from me trying to get him involved with one of my schemes into he just asks me if I want to get, you know, oh do you want to, do you want to get involved in this? And I’ll say sure, let’s do this.
So do you guys do those kind of things often?
Yeah, we do. Pretty much wherever we can set up a table. Like we were at, the last thing I was at was, it was like a business expo that the Chamber of Commerce puts on and so pretty much any of these, we’re a small town so there’s not like a tonne of big public events going on all the time. So, we try to get involved in all of them as much as possible. So like there’s a big business expos, or fairs, the Farmers Market, we’ve got the senior citizen expo, so in the past we’ve always had tables with information, but now that I, that we can do the mobile circ, we can actually offer services.
We can sign people up for cards, check people out, we can renew, I’ve renewed books before, I’ve answered people’s reference questions out there, like oh, how do I, do you guys have e-books, where do I go for them? Oh, let me show you on this laptop, boop, boop, boop, yeah we do that all, we do that all the time and I feel like its pretty important to really get out there because people will sometimes know where the library building is, but it’s, if we can get them where they are at, they’re already going to be where the crowds already going to be. Say hey, did you know, you haven’t been to the library in a while, did you know we have video games now? Or back when you used to come we used to charge for DVDs and now we don’t do that any more, come and get some DVDs. Or, you know we get $2 in free printing every day with your library cards? Those sorts of things.
It’s just a good way to let people know, like you said, what’s going on at the library because if they’re not there, they’re not, cause usually libraries tend to just, oh we put up a sign in the library saying this. Well, but people have to number one come into the library and number two read that sign.
Right, yeah, and people don’t read signs pretty much ever.
[laughs] Right. Well you said, so you, you do all these things where you’re going out into the community, but you also obviously do programs within the library and one of them that you mentioned was the free comic book day one. Could you talk to us about that? Of how you do that and how that started and how that works out?
So, I’m not, we have a programming department in the, in the library which is really nice and our programming team is awesome and the lady that I work with in the programming department, her name is Rebecca, she is, she does all our family programming, so it’s basically any elementary school age kids up to teen and I approached her with the idea because I always wanted to do a free comic book day thing, even back when I worked at the museum, we wanted to do something with free comic book day but it was a little harder trying to fit it into the museum frame because we had the narrow point of view as far as like what services we offered and what, what, how could we spend. So, once we were in the public library, like oh, all bets are off. This is for the public, anything can be related to the public. We’re doing it. So, I approached her about it and she thought that was an awesome idea, so basically we.
So, so for people who don’t know, what is Free Comic Day?
Oh sorry, Free Comic Book Day, it’s a thing that Diamond Distributors does. Diamond Distributors is the big comic book distribution company, institution, anyway, they’re the ones who, where comic book stores buy pretty much all their comics from. And they have this thing, it’s called free comic book day, it’s the first Saturday in May where comic book stores will buy “free comics” which are really super, super cheap, they’re like, I don’t know how much they cost, like between 10 and 30 cents a piece from Diamond Distributors and on that Saturday they’ll give them away for free.
And each comic book store does a different thing. Like some people will turn it into this big, huge event, like Green Beret comics in Dearborn brings out artists and they do drawings and all this, they have a band and all this stuff and some other places just give out the comics. But basically the idea is to introduce people to comics, say this is a great way to learn about different things and the big publishers like DC and Marvel, they have specific free comic book day comics and usually they’ll be like here it’s, these are our free comic book day comic is going to have a short little story containing some of our more popular characters and they’ll help you kind of get into whatever’s going on at the moment. And then in theory you then go around, go and buy comics as well while you’re there. And really get into it. So.
“This Spider-Man is very interesting!”
[laughs] “What is this Superman?”
So yeah, it’s, yeah so you get, the cool thing with free comic book day as well, they have the big publishers, but also they have a lot of the independent publishers, and then Dark Horse usually will have the, well probably not any more, they’ll have the Star Wars ones and there’s a Simpsons one and a lot of, a lot of them focus towards younger kids, but also there’s whatever’s popular at the time. There was a Walking Dead one last year and there’s a lot of smaller ones and the store can choose whatever they want to give out. And the cool thing for libraries is Diamond Distributors will give you free comics and you don’t have to pay for them. So, but their deal is, oh a lot of the publishers donate a bunch of the free comics, the people didn’t buy, so whatever is donated throughout that year is equally distributed amongst the libraries that have signed up to participate in free comic book day. So you can get like a cache of free comics to give out at your library and might not have to pay for it. So, that’s nice too.
Free is always nice.
Free is always good, especially for library budgets.
And so, and so what did you guys do last year for, at your library?
So last year we hooked up with our local comic book store, which is Hall of Heroes in Mount Pleasant, Michigan and we said hey, would you be interested in prod, doing a free comic book day thing with us and we approached it in the way that we understood that for a comic book store, they want to get some profit out of it and so we didn’t want to distract anyone, or take anyone, that any of their crowds away, what we wanted to do was share a crowd basically, people who go to the comic book store, but don’t realize that the library has a big, graphic novel collection and alternatively people that come to the library all the time, but never think to go to the comic book store.
We tried to get people to move around. So, what we did, we came up with this idea of a punch card where if you come to the library, or go to the comic book store and get your free comic, you get it stamped and then go to the other place, get a free comic there, get it stamped and then put your name on it and drop it in a box to win a free long-box of comics from Hall of Heroes who is giving away a free long box. So we figured, that’s a really good, that’s a good idea to kind of drive people from one place to the next. And Michael, who runs the store, told me that he saw a big bump in the crowd when we decided to start working with him, so he was very interested in doing, doing stuff with us again. And last year, other stuff we did last year, since it was on May 4th, which is Star Wars day, we did a bunch of Star Wars related things as well. The 501st garrison in Michigan, which, if you don’t know, they are Star War, I don’t know, I don’t know if I, if it’s appropriate to call them cosplayers.
[laughs] That’s what I would call them, but yeah.
Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know if they, I don’t know if that’s the right term or not for this, for their specific thing because they go.
We’ll avoid “nerds.”
[laughs] These geeks go around, but no, they, you can, you can ask them to come to specific events, so for like a birthday party and they’re non-profit so they don’t accept money, what they’ll do is, oh you can donate money to a specific charity instead of paying us. So, we asked them to come, like have some people come out and do, we thought oh it would be really cool to have a photo station where people can come and get a photo taken with Star Wars characters. And they were really awesome because as you would imagine on Star Wars day, pretty much everybody who is in that group is already in demand for stuff. It was like oh yeah, I’ve got like three weddings to go to and all these parties going on today, so it was really nice that they came out. There was a Darth Vader, a guy dressed up as Darth Vader, Leah, and another guy.
Some stormtroopers probably.
There was a stormtrooper. They all came out, the guy, it was, it was pretty awesome cause the Darth Vader guy was huge and they had [laughs], they had a guy following them around with a boombox playing the Imperial March when they came through the library and when Darth, when the characters came through, because they got dressed in our annex and then came through the library to go downstairs, it was amazing ‘cause everyone was just like, oh and just like stand, stood to the side and watched, like oh my god Darth Vader’s coming, oh my god. And so that was really, that was really awesome. And they, they really, they liked being there and taking pictures with all the kids and so we did that. We had people coming through and talking throughout the day in our meeting room. We had Randall Scott, he runs, he works at Michigan State University, he’s a librarian there and if you don’t know, Michigan State has a huge comic book archive, it’s gigantic, it has, from what I remember it has, it’s pretty, it’s the largest one of comic books, if I remember correctly, in the country.
Because he collects, they collect not only American comics, but international comics, they collect absolutely, he collects absolutely everything. And they have extremely rare items, so he came in to talk about his stuff. We had a artist come in, a comic artist and he was giving away, he was drawing, but also giving away prints of his art and we had games and we were giving away comics, so that was really fun. So yeah.
Okay, so that’s obviously a big thing for you guys and you guys also, in your library, collect comic books as well and that is one of the things that is under your curfew I believe you said.
And you are now and recently we had a Twitter conversation involving a couple of comic book creators.
Oh, I know.
And so, and, is this a new thing that you’ve just taken over the graphic novel collection?
I did, yeah, actually, so normally I just collect non-fiction, my background is in history, but the director who was the one collecting for graphic novels, he knew I was really into comics and graphic novels, so he said hey, do you want to do this collection from now on? Like yeah, I do, heck yeah. So starting this year I was able to take over the graphic novel collection and I’m supes excited about it.
And you’re wanting to buy a lot of comics that are by female creators and more diverse creators and things like that, such as, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Gail Simone.
Yes I know, oh man, they’re.
And lots of other, and then there’s lots of other great, not so many in the mainstream comics, but. And there’s good characters that are, you can get as well, that are maybe written by men but are still good characters, like the Batwoman stuff.
Oh man, I love Batwoman, she’s the best. But anyway, yeah absolutely, so from a collection point of view, what the bread and butter of the collection is always the superhero comics, those always go out circ wise, so I do have, I always got to get those, I always got to get the new Batman and the new, all the new Walking Dead and all those things. So those are, those are, make sure, for the community make sure I get those ‘cause everyone really loves those, but I also want to try and get lesser known things. Things that people probably who read a lot of comics would definitely know about, but not necessarily everyone would know existed. Like I know Kelly Sue’s Pretty Deadly, that trade is going to come out and I’m like okay, got to get, got to get that.
Gail Simone’s The Movement just got canceled so when that, when that graphic novel comes out I got to get that. Things like that, where it’s like okay we got to have these things, they’re great, I want to make sure to get people hooked on them, so hey, I should read more of these. I mean that’s the idea anyway.
So yeah, definitely, it’s like okay, I want to highlight, with some of my budget I want to go towards like the really big blockbuster stuff obviously, but I want to highlight some of the, like we have the drawn and quarterly catalog, a lot of their, a lot of those are memoir type things that are pretty good.
Well it’s like when you’re doing an entire, just even the book, the regular book collection, you got to buy the James Pattersons and the John Grishams and the like too because people want that. But then you fill it out with some other stuff as well that you want to introduce people to.
Right, right, exactly, things that you think have a lot of really good merit as far as artistic value.
Unlike you James Patterson, slam!
Ohhhhh, boom, burn.
[laughs] Yeah, gotcha, you millionaire.
[laughs] Oh, he’s going to blacklist this podcast.
Yeah, he is, coming after you. But yeah, pretty much that’s how I, that’s how I approach it. So you definitely want. Some things are a little harder to find, like any, ‘cause I also read a lot of webcomics and they usually will come out with physical books and Kate Beaton will have stuff, the people who do Diesel Sweeties, I just put one of his new books on my list. Thinking oh these are great, but you wouldn’t necessarily know about them unless you read about it. So, I’ll book talk it and put them on display.
That’s Rich Stevens, is that his name?
Yep, yeah, who, who has interacted with me on Twitter cause I’m super cool [laughs].
I know, I did a cross stitch of Patrick Swayze from the movie Road House for my mom for her birthday and it says Pain Don’t Hurt, but I did it in the style of Richard Stevens’ characters so they’re basically pixelated. So I tweeted it, tweeted the picture to him and he enjoyed it. I’m like yay, we’re best friends now.
[laughs] It’s not creepy at all that I stand outside at his house and look into his windows.
[laughs] Oh I see you fading that tweet friend. Yeah.
Now, when I first met you on Twitter a couple of years ago you were still at the Arab American National Museum. And that sort of ties into what we were just talking about, about bringing diversity into things. Did you learn a lot about, at that job about more bringing diverse cultures into the rest of the larger culture?
Right, yeah. Well it’s pretty much the mission statement of the museum is to highlight Arab American culture and contributions of the Arab American community to people who wouldn’t necessarily know about them. So, they have a lot of class visits and they do, there’s a lot of teacher orientations, talking about, talking about these things, trying to get things like that into classrooms as well as just the general public who’s interested in those sorts of things. So I was in, I was the librarian there, so my main job was to collect anything written by or about Arab Americans, which is difficult to find because there’s not like a catalog that says these are all the new things that are written by Arab Americans.
[laughs] Right [laughs] coming in this month.
Right, exactly, that would be great. So what it really taught me was to connect with the community because the only way I was going to find out if something got released was somebody telling me about it. So I made a point to connect with people like authors and artists and musicians, so, like on the internet, on Twitter, but also emailing them and just getting them involved and most people are usually pretty excited about a museum wants to include them in some way. Especially if they’re younger ‘cause it’s, oh museums are for people who won a Nobel prize, or whatever. It’s like no, no, it’s a living museum, we’re talking about people’s day-to-day lives and you are artists contributing great things, making awesome things, well of course you want better stuff in our libraries. So, you know, like tell me, oh you have a new thing? Tell me about it. Tell me about other things you like right now. All that kind of stuff. So it really taught me to really, the, we were talking earlier about getting out into the communities? That’s really where it came home for me at the museum, because I really had to, to find things to put in the library, I really had to connect with people and get that information.
Right, and when you were there you also used to write a lot about how to be a solo librarian because you were kind of by yourself and that was sort of a thing that happens a lot in the special library community, but other, some of the smaller libraries have to deal with that and I assume social media helps that out a lot with that because you are able to connect with people outside of just yourself [laughs].
Oh yeah, absolutely. It is kind of hard as a solo librarian if you’re working in an organization and you’re the only librarian there, it’s sometimes really difficult because you like, you’re always having to show your worth, like, ah this the library, this is the library, this is what we can do for you, really try to jump on people’s projects, hey the library can help with that, I can help you with that, this is why, this is why we need a library everybody, it’s super important and so that gets really tough sometimes. So it’s really nice, the internet’s a really great way to connect with other librarians. Like well, have you encountered this situation? What did you do about it? Here’s some, here’s a specific scenario, what kind of, what kind of tools have you used for this? And it’s really nice to be able to talk to people across the country in that way, especially other solo librarians who are kind of in the same boat. In some ways I miss being a solo librarian because I was in charge of the whole library, so my.
You can go mad with power.
My main, yeah right, exactly, my dictator exists inside my soul was super excited, like all right, this is my domain. So when I moved to the public library and it was like okay we’re a team now, we’ve got, I’m connecting with all these different departments, we’re all going to be buddies.
At the museum, you were Aquaman, leader of, king of Atlantis, but then you had to join the Justice League when you went to the public library.
Exactly, that is exactly true. Like listen, I got my own stuff going on in this department, known as Atlantis, is a circ department, but you know, sometimes you gotta talk with Superman about stuff. Superman being the director. I guess it would depend who you believe is the head of the Justice League. Whether it’s Batman or Superman.
Poor Wonder, poor old Wonder Woman it’s never her…
I just love, that’s [laughs]. In my heart it is.
All right, well let’s wrap it up with bringing those two important topics together, Aquaman and libraries again, what do you think the, the libraries in Atlantis would be like?
Wet. They’d be soggy. I think, I was trying to think about this, like how would that work where they’d be able to have, pass along information under water, maybe some sort of cuneiform-like tablet, like clay tablets, those stick around under water. Something, I couldn’t think of anything. E-books definitely wouldn’t work down there.
[laughs] No computers in Atlantis.
Right, all the paper would get soggy, so it’s got to be on some sort of impermeable surface, so maybe they have like a Sumerian cone, then again they all, they can, they might be able to just, it’s an oral history tradition so it’s mostly probably programs, there’s a lot of programs, story time.
[laughs] A lot of fish talking and learning about this.
Right, exactly. So there’s a lot of really cool, there’s like cool demonstrations, so I mean, it’s a lot of that going on.
Make it happen, fish.
Kristin, tell everybody how they can find out more about you online. Where are you available online?
I’m available everywhere online. I am @shinyinfo on pretty much every social media platform, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, my Tumbler is mostly gifs of Benedict Cumberbatch though. So, it’s not like super library related. And Instagram, again not super library related, but if you want to chat, hang out, internet wise, that’s where you can find me.
And you have a blog which you don’t post to every often. But it’s very library related if you go there.
I don’t update it, I’m a terrible person and I can’t. Right, I try to make a blog library related which is why it’s not updated very often, oh I should make this super like professional [laughs] and I’m like oh I can’t.
I will create this Benedict Cumberbatch gif though, so.
Right, exactly. If I can just kind of inter, I have a really short attention span, which makes Twitter suit way easier for me to handle. So, occasionally, in between talking about MacGyver and the A-Team I’ll talk about libraries occasionally on Twitter. So you might catch me there.
All right, well, Kristin thank you so much for being on the show today.
Thank you for having me.
I’ll talk to you later.
I got to make sure that everything’s recording cause I don’t want to talk for an hour and then go back and start recording. Let me ask you the same questions again.
[laughs] I’ll try to sound as enthused as the first time around.
“Wow, what a great question I’ve never heard before!”
“Whoa, this is new information!”
You go “Whaaat?”
What? Such as name-dropping Kelly Due… [laughs] nice cause I don’t wanna say her name wrong. I’m going to edit that out.
I have Super Friends, I just checked it out from the library, so I’m going to watch that at some point, watch Aquaman, surf, like a dolphin. I was expecting that to happen, I don’t know if that’s really going to happen.
Well we did watch one Super Friends where Wonder Woman and Aquaman are a team together going somewhere and she hops in her invisible jet and flies there and then it cuts to Aquaman swimming there. It’s, like, come on, you couldn’t have given him a ride in the invisible jet?
Right. Like oh no, no. Cool, oh no you catch up. See, you see what Aquaman has to go through?
Oh, well, see, I will say they do arrive at the same time, so.
Well, there you go.
So he’s a pretty fast swimmer,so.
He is, I mean if anyone was a fast swimmer you’d definitely expect Aquaman to be. It would be pretty sad if it was like “Oh, I can’t really, ugh.”
[laughs] I’m kind of afraid of swimming, I can only do a doggy paddle.
[laughs] Right. Like, oooh, you had one job.