Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Week in Review

I can't believe that the week is over. Monday was a holiday and Tuesday was my day off. So the rest of the week, I had a hard time figuring out what day it actually was. Monday, I hosted my first event down in the Rec Room. Mary and the twins had birthdays this month, so the usual suspects got together to wish them a Happy Birthday. I made a variety of salads and yaki-tori (teriyaki chicken on skewers) as well as having humus, shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers. For the most part I tried to keep things simple and mostly healthy. The chocolate ganache birthday cake, though, was squarely unhealthy.
Tuesday, Mary and I went to see Black Swan. What a powerful performance by Natalie Portman. And very disburbing. It took a while to recover from the film. Seeing madness creep into her life was un-nerving. Being left wondering what was real and what was imagined does not sit well. In some ways it reminds me of Robert Parsig's books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintance and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.
I also picked up my new furniture from Urban Home on Tuesday. I got a dining table, daybed to use as a sofa and an end table. Of course parts got left at the store and required an additional trip back to Stevenson Ranch. I am pleased with the furniture.
Tonight I go pick up a TV from Sears which means that once again I am flat broke until payday but this is the last high ticket item I want for a while, so beginning February, I should be able to tuck some $ into my bank account.
Wednesday was a normal work day--shipment, shelving, avoiding the pile on my desk. Thursday was our Regional Library Manager meeting in the morning and then in the evening Town Council. This makes for a long day. And leaving for work on Friday morning at 7:00 am after getting home closer to 11:00 pm. But I made it. Repeat of Wednesday. Shipment, shelving and problem solving.
Saturday, I did not shelve books--well, only a few--mostly straigtening shelves. I did not check in books, I did not have shipment to do. Rather, I spent one of those rare days of doing mostly Librarian work which included spending 5 hours on the reference desk, setting up a display, making staff schedules for February, and preparing for a Valentine's Display and the One Year Anniversary Slideshow that I plan to fun during the Crescenta Valley Jazz Band Performance.
I made a half sheet that says I heart My Library Because... I will post them as part of the Valentine's Display but I am also transfering them to my Powerpoint and will alternate photos with the the quotes. So far my favorite is... I am 6. I like I can play in the kid section. I also liked: The staff is really kind and professional and most importantly FRIENDLY, not like the staff at that other libray. Ok so that one will get a bit of editing before it is added. Lot's of kind words for the staff.
It is always busy but next week will be busy getting ready for the 1st Anniversary. We will have a Puppet Show, the Jazz Band with the Powerpoint, and birthday cake & punch. Last year, I was in a total fog most of the day. I was so thankful that Elaine the FOL president organized the Jazz Band and the Crescenta Valley Women's Club organized all the refreshments and Mike Lawler the Historical Society President organized the Medallion Dedication in the evening. It was a long but realitive easy day for me and I am positive I would have been completely overwhelmed. Thank you to my wonderful community, I have enjoyed the year working with the community and getting to know it better. I look forward to many more.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Did We Attend the Same Meeting?

Today in the Santa Clarita Signal, Tammy Marashalian wrote and editorial on the Thursday night meeting The Making of a Library System. I got a completely different take on the meeting. The article sounds all warm and fuzzy and that Mr. Dubberly was a competent individual--which clearly he is not. As one observer said, "This man makes slightly less sense that I do...When I'm drunk."
Ms. Marashalian makes it seem as if, there were no frustrations amongst the committee members with the process and the city. Clearly this was not the case. I don't remember seeing Ms. Marashalian at the meeting, so I suspect she got her information from Mr. Hernandez--the city mouthpiece.
This is what I heard at the meeting:
* "We are frustrated that the City is making decisions without giving us a headsup that they are coming or asking for our imput."
* "We are frustrated that city is not updating us on what is happening with the libraries."
* "We are frustrated with not having information provided to us for the meeting before hand."
* "We are frustrated that the city is up to it's same old tricks."
* "We are frustrated that we haven't been given a clear vision of what this committee is all about.
* "We are frustrated that Mark Smith has to jump in and answer a question directed at Mr. Dubberly who clearly did not understand the question.
Last Tuesday, the City approved joining the Inland Empire Library consortium. The city plans to truck books across LA County from San Bernadino and Riverside Counties. I am so thankful that the City of Santa Clarita is looking after its carbon footprint and is extremely environmentaly in their decision making. Wait while I clean up some of the dripping sarcasm.
Speaking of economics and environmentalism, city fails again on the economics of scale. The Inland Empire Consortium will not let out it's new title for about the first six months of ownership. Santa Clarita plans to do the same. Santa Clarita plans to use their enhanced book budget of 100K to buy additional copies of titles. Here is where the economics of scale comes into play. Let's say the title is super popular. The County has 85 libraries that share their materials. If an item is very popular each library will receive a copy and some may receive two copies. In all there would probably be at least a 100 copies available. Let's say that the item has 1000 people waiting for it. Mind you 1000 people on a waiting list does happen but when it does we usually have far more than 100 copies available--this is just for the sake of arguement. That means that these 1000 people would need to wait for 10 cycles for the item to go out and back. Let's say that 100 of these people were from Santa Clarita--this is not a way off figure because the Santa Clarita Libraries are among some of busiest in the system. Let's say that LSSI bought 10 copies of title so satisfy the demand--still we have the same math--100 waiting for 10 rather than 1000 waiting for 100. But when demand dies down and all these copies are no longer needed with the County, most libraries will keep their one copy and some of the larger ones may keep two or possibly three depending on demand. Economy of scale means that there is little waste. However, when demand dies down at least half of the Santa Clarita copies will be sitting unused on the shelf. This translate as waste. One hundred thousand dollars do not translate to much in the world of books. Santa Clarita will need this amount and possibly more to keep up with the same demand that a larger system is able to handle more economically and conservatively. Go Green Santa Clarita!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Even More Concerned Now!

Last night I went to the second City of Santa Clarita Citizens of Public Library Advisory Committee. It was a without a doubt a complete train wreck. I don't know if I can get all my thoughts on the fly here in the remaining minutes of my lunch hour but I'll try. Dubberly is at least one step below competent. He attempts to fall on his folksy Gomer Pyle Gosh by golly style to cover it up. But I'm not fooled. He needs to retire and stop calling himself an Information Professional.
*He clearly did not look at the agenda. If he had then he would have know that the first item was to Distribute and Review Revised Schedule. At the end of the evening a concerned task force member asked about it. He asked "Didn't you already get it?" Inside voice responded "No, you have been here as long as everyone else--did you see it handed out?" Then a Santa Clarita Official came through with "It's on the table next you." The pile of paper that is hanging out there.
*He clearly does not make logically connections. He holds up a huge pile of Vision Statements in his hand and says everyone take yours out. Inside voice again: "If you are holding them, how can they possibly already have them.?"
*After everyone took a few minutes to introduce themselves, he had them all go to that evenings task which was to create SWOT--Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats--of the vision statements. I know what a SWOT is, I have used them in creating Plans for the Institute of Intensive English for accreditation. I know that they can be valuable. But for most people, they may not have run into this planning animal before, so a little background on what the tool is why the process is helpful would have been appreciated. This was evidenced by his instructions which essentially amounted to "OK, hop to it." Hop to what? There were several questions about what they were supposed to do and how they were supposed to do it. Eventually everyone got on task and completed it. No help from Mr. Dubberly thought. I suspect that those members that have had previous planning experience lead the others through it--making the others feel rather stupid for not knowing.
Meanwhile. My little group of 4 sat at the back and talked about the SWOT of what the City was doing. Michael Wilkerson of made a very significant comment: The threat is that we will end up with less but save $400K dollars. The threat is that we will end up with less and not save any money. The threat is that we will end up with less and it will actually cost more. I think that this is very well put.
My comment on the SWOT was that before the City proceeded with hiring LSSI they should have done due diligence and hired an independent--non LSSI affiliated--consultant to lay down the SWOT of leaving County Service and going with LSSI or building their own system from scratch. Oh, yes, they did that didn't they--IN 1999!!! The world is a very different place now that it was then. These things have a shelf life. If the City had done this crucial step then I might actually have some respect for the decision do go with LSSI--which I am morally opposed to.
I'm about half way finished but must go meet the day.

Monday, January 10, 2011


We are a week into the new year. I have been flat broke since the end of last year and can't wait until payday on the 15th. Some people are good with money--Karen and my younger brother and some people aren't. I fall into squarely into the AREN'T category. I am trying and I am making some improvement but when you start in negative territory then some improvement doesn't seem to even ripple to the pond. I can't even blame it on "Well, I was never really taught." because my younger brother clearly learned. Maybe I was out shopping when that lesson was introduced. I do plan to make 2011 a better year in the fiscal department. I am out of debt so I should be able to move at least some of that money into a savings account.
The cats are back to waking me up at well before 6:00. Last Tuesday night, Misha became inconsolable at 2:30 in the morning. The only when he took his aggressions out on a paper shopping bag did he calm down. Since then they have been alert from about 4:30 wanting attention. Jeez, we were doing so well for a while. Yesterday the sisters asked me when they slept. Here is a picture of them comfortably napping in the chair when I came home early one afternoon. Obviously they save all the good stuff up for when I am home.

Diet seems to be going better. I am making an effort to reduce the fat in my diet. I haven't noticed any weight loss--DRAT--but that isn't the point. The point really is my insides need to come clean. I haven't gotten the exercise down yet. But I feel that I am usually so busy at work that I really get enough there. At least I hope so.
Speaking of work. We are taking the time to do some weeding now that we are in our slow season. Our shelves are beginning to get packed so we are removing some of the items that haven't checked out since before we opened the library. It's slow going. Last Saturday, I spaced the shelves in the Children's Fiction a little wider. We try not to use the bottom shelves of the stacks in many of the areas. I lowered the second shelf to as far down as it would go and then spaced the other shelves so that some of the taller books that were laying on their sides are now upright. I had a volunteer help me with the project that took about 1:45 to finish. I gave the shelves a good dusting as well. They are beginning to get grimy behind the books. At least our janitor does seem to keep the open end of the shelves fairly dust-free.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goals for 2011

I am refraining from the word Resolution because, I always think of the Japanese phrase Mikakan bozu which roughly translates into a Three Day Saint. I don't want these goals to spiral down the drain before the week is out.
My first goal is to lower my cholestorol. Right now it is freakishly high and I have been prescribed some very scary medicine to lower it. I would prefer not to need the meds. The only way this is going to happen is if I radically change my diet into one that includes more than fat and sugar as the major food groups. One that I take the time to think about.
My second goal is to get out of the funk that I have been in for longer than I care to remember. This is of course tied to the first goal because when I feel bad about myself, I abuse my body by eating the wrong food, not excercising and spiraling down deeper into the funk. No more of this self-abusive behavior. Just good things for me.
My third goal also tied into with the above to, is to exercise more. The better I eat, the more I move, the better I feel about myself. That is all there is to it.
My fourth goal is to make KISS--Keep It Simple, Sexy--my mantra. I chose to substitute Stupid for Sexy because my final goal: Number 5 is to end a lot of the self-abusive running interal dialog. For obvious reasons Stupid just doesn't jive. I like Sexy better anyhow.
What have I done to prepare for this. First to get myself out of my rut, I decided to get a simple-easy-to-take-care-of haircut. I cut about 10 inches off. I used Emma Watson's new haircut as a guide. Then to jazz me up a bit--I went ultra-blonde. I have never been ultra-blonde. But I was a blonde once upon a time, so I thought that I could probably carry it off. So here I am doing a double take in the mirror now. But that is good. I have been taking the time to put make up on--which is something I forwent for a while on my days off. Heck, even a shower on my days off was a stretch--that is how far gone I was.
Second, I have cleared a lot more of my extras out. I am getting rid of everything--well most everything--that I don't use on a regular basis. Keeping it Simple, Sexy--I have gotten rid of most of my notebooks--I am a paper addict. It is true. Show me a cute notebook and I covet, I want those fresh blank pages of possiblity. So I have kept one at home and one at work and that is it. No more!! No more buying fresh possiblities--I need to create them for myself.