Category Archives: Chicago

Belated Obligatory New Year Post (redux)

Hello fair readers,

I never get these things up on time! Just like last year

2010 was special. It was my year of change. I moved in with my boyfriend and headed to a new neighborhood—got a new job, in a new type of library, in a field I never imagined myself specializing in–I published my very first featured article in Library Journal–I turned 28, moving just a bit further into my late twenties–co-founded the Chicago Deskset. Also my little nephew Oscar turned 1 and started to walk and talk and become a tiny little person. There have been lots of big moments.

But as usual, this has been a year of good reads, great concerts and complete loves. How could it not? Here are my favorites…

Cut Copy at Lollapalooza

I wish I could find the perfect youtube video to show you how completely in the palm of Cut Copy’s hands we were…it was just amazing. He said jump, we jumped. A lot. It was a total blast. Everyone danced. Everyone leaped around. We just fed off each other. I haven’t been to such a perfectly in sync concert with the musicians and the crowd just vibing off each other like that in years. Made Lollapalooza definitely the best concert experience of 2010.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

What can I say, other than: Go read it. Now. You can thank me later. Don’t worry that it was picked by Oprah for her book club. Who cares? Just get to a library and grab a copy of this book. Seriously….now! Stop reading this silly blog and go!

Grand Canyon National Park

Sometimes I think about how much I underestimated the power and majesty of the Grand Canyon…and then I laugh at myself. This was simply the best. We did a great deal of hiking at the canyon. I have done small hikes but this was a whole new level. It was so challenging and so incredibly rewarding in ways I never knew possible. Nothing compares to hiking on an unmaintained path, up the edge of the Grand Canyon. It changes things. Going to the Grand Canyon was a much needed reminder for me. I cannot wait to go back and discover more. Some people feel patriotic when they see an American Flag? Well this makes me feel patriotic. America the Beautiful, indeed.

There’s more. More moments and songs and books and words. 2010 was pretty good to me, looking at it overall. Funny how each year just brings more surprises. More depth. I can hardly wait.

Happy New Year, fair readers. To the days to come!


Have you voted yet?

Let me give you another reason to vote for my library:

This video was created by one of my very talented co-workers. Watch it. Like it. Share it. And please, vote.

Attention Chicagoland Bibliophiles!

Hello fair readers!

This is an announcement to check out one of the very large projects that I have been working on with some really cool librarians…

Chicago Deskset

And most importantly our first event, a book drive for incarcerated teens at the Grafton Pub in Lincoln Square! This isn’t just for folks who work in libraries. Our mission reads as follows:

The Chicago Deskset is a group of bibliophiles, librarians, archivists, information professionals, friends of libraries and those just crazy enough to support us. Our goal is to create an environment in which collective intelligence can thrive through social events and give something back to our community, supporting charities near and dear to our hearts. We believe that our local focus will make our projects more effective and rewarding for everyone involved. In other words, it’s where social responsibility hits the streets of Chicago, librarian-style.

If that sounds like something you would be interested in then come check it out! You can RSVP to the event here:

Hope to see you there fair readers!

I’ll bet you write beautiful letters.

Hello fair readers!

Last night I went to a planning meeting for a super exciting concept that is in the works. Let me direct your eyes over to the Info Activist website for a little more detail…

A Chicago version of The Desk Set is in the works. There will be plenty more details to come. In the meantime, I have been given some homework…

That’s right. I’ve never seen it. Shame on me!

Have a lovely week fair readers!

Belated Happy Things!

Hello fair readers,

This is kinda late-ish to be posting but now that we are officially in the throws of a most glorious Autumn

Image from pntphotos flickr page

Image from pntphoto's flickr page

there is more time to cozy up inside, grab a cup of coffee and keep my blogs up to date.  Am I right?

Anyways the happy thing that I would like to thank the Chicago Tribune for posting a great article about libraries and guess who was in it?

Changing Face of Library Science

Changing Face of Library Science

Yay!  The is the first time I have managed to get my picture in the paper since my theater days circa 1995 and also that was the tiny Kalamazoo Gazette…not the Tribune…so needless to say I’m super excited.  The interview was fun.  It didn’t feel like a “death of the book” type piece, which has become so common these days.  And I’m so excited that I actually didn’t get cut from the article! Woo hoo!

The link to the article is here but because its a supplement, its a little strange and pdf-ish. Just to warn you.

So hurray for newspapers and long live print! (that’s right I said it)  Have a lovely Autumn day fair readers! 🙂

An Argument for More, Not Less, in Tough Times

Hello fair readers,

An annoucement today has really made me sit back and think.  Chicago Public Library is considering laying off workers and I’m sure they are not the  only ones.  What library isn’t suffering from massive budget cuts right now?  The economy is hitting its bottom, correct?

I blame you...and you...and you.

I blame you...and you...and that short one in the middle.

And  this has been going on for awhile now.  A quick Google News search pulls up many articles from the past year or so commenting on libraries during tough economic times, with headlines like: Patrons flock to libraries as the economy struggles.  The news is the same.  Patrons needs are increasing.  Meanwhile library budgets are being slashed.

This, my fair readers, is a huge mistake.

This is the first image that comes up when googling huge mistake

This is the first image that comes up when googling "huge mistake"

Libraries, in every setting, are invaluable during these times.  What has led us to this point? Ignorance and a lack of common sense or knowledge.  I’m not saying the people responsible are undereducated.  In fact many have their MBAs I’m sure.  But there is a degree and then there is knowledge.  And these can be two different things.

Libraries provide information.  They are the safety net in times of woe and in times of need.  We are here to arm citizens with knowledge and information to prevent future economic crises.

Knowledge is power...not just a cliche.

Knowledge is power...not just a cliche.

Slashing budgets, cutting corners, laying off workers, decreasing hours.  These are not the answer.  Not right now.  I am not saying that all libraries are in perfect fiscal working order.  I’m sure some need fine tuning.  But that is certainly not the case when CPL has announced it may be laying off over 100 workers, which is sure to hit every branch and every neighborhood.

And for those people who think this isn’t possible, that people will not want to continue to fund libraries in times of need.  Let us take an example, one I commonly turn to, with Kalamazoo Public Library.  As mentioned in a previous post, this library went up for a millage renewal at a time when most libraries would never want to and this millage passed on May 5, 2009.   This is a perfect example of a community that realizes it needs the library in times like these.

And they do.

So this is my argument for more, not less, when it comes to supporting our libraries in tough economic times.  This is when people need us the most.  This is our time to shine.  But in order to shine, we need our funding and staff protected and maintained.  Because we are not just the preservers of the past but also the building blocks for the future.

library addition at CSU - Dominquez Hills

library addition at CSU - Dominquez Hills

If your library is having funding issues, contact your elected representatives and let them know about the importance of this issue.

Have a great weekend fair readers.

Leah the Librarian Votes.

Hello fair readers,

Today is a grand and beautiful day.  It is Election Day.

And in the spirit of Democracy and full disclosure, here is exactly how I voted in Chicago, IL.

Proposed Call for a Constitutional Convention: No

President and Vice President of the United States: Barack Obama and Joe Biden

United States Senator: Richard J. Durbin

U.S. Representative, 5th District: Rahm Emanuel

State Senator, 6th District: John J. Cullerton

State Representative, 11th District: John A. Fritchey

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioners: Frank Avila (Dem), Kathleen Therese Meany (Dem), Nadine Bopp (Green)

State’s Attorney: Anita Alvarez (Dem)

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Dorothy A. Brown (Dem)

Recorder of Deeds: Eugene “Gene” Moore

OK so I’m not listing out all the judges who are running unopposed because that just seems silly and there’s a lot of them.  I will however list the Judges I voted for in the Circuit Court:

Thomas E. Flanagan, Themis N. Kamazis, James Patrick Flannery, Sebastian Thomas Patti, Michelle Francene Lowrance, Evelyn B. Clay, John J. Fleming, Kathleen G. Kennedy, Barbara A. McDonald, James L. Rhodes, David P. Sterba, Kenneth J. Wadas, Gregory Joseph Wojkowski, Robert E. Gordon, Lewis Noxon, Thomas J. Lipscomb.

And finally, “Shall the Illinois Constitution be amended to establish a recall process for the office of Governor and other statewide elected official?”


Welp, get out and vote fair readers!  And be a good American. 🙂

Rest in Peace Studs.

Hello fair readers,

As I’m sure many of you know a great Chicago intellectual passed away over the weekend.

Studs Terkel.

For many of us in the Midwest, Studs was almost like a close friend, even if you had never met him.  His voice was a comfort.  And it told your story because he told the stories of everyone.  Of the workers and the folk singers.  Of the wives and the husbands.  The sons and the daughters.

He told the story of everyman through Chicago and in turn showed the world that everyone has a story to be told.  Radio shows like This American Life would simply not exist if not for Studs.

My family has a bit of a special connection with Studs.  When my grandparents and my mother were much younger, and in the case of my grandfather, still alive, Studs Terkel came to stay with them.  My grandparents were very involved with the Unitarian Church of South Bend, IN and would actively recruit intellectuals to come and speak to their church.  People like Pete Seeger.  And people like Studs Terkel.  If you ask my Mom about it all she really remembers is how he pronounced my grandfather’s name kind of funny.

“Well Rawlie…”  (his name was Rowlie)

And it’s a small thing to remember but it’s huge.  Because it’s that voice.  The voice of Studs Terkel that for almost a century helped form the sound of the American Dream.

In honor of this great man, please listen to his “This I Believe” piece from NPR.  He speaks of living through the Great Depression.  A “Community in Action”.  And my god, right before this election…in this time of economic woe.  Well this piece could not resonate anymore.

Community in Action.

God bless you Studs Terkel.  Thank you for your gift to us, the people.  We will be forever grateful and in your debt.

Leah the Librarian vs The Mortgage Crisis

Hello fair readers!

Anyone who has been following my Twitter or my Facebook has probably picked up on the fact that I recently moved in an apartment, approximately 3 months ago, that I now have to move out of again.

I’m sure everyone has heard of the mortgage crisis by now, unless you are hiding under a rock without NPR or even Fox News.  And if you are still struggling with the concept of what the hell is going on, I highly recommend listening to the show on This American Life explaining it: The Giant Pool of Money

I didn’t entirely understand what was going on before listening to it.  I just kind of thought a bunch of people who didn’t understand mortgages were able to get their hands on one and then didn’t make payments.

Not really the case.

So, what a lot of people don’t know about the mortgage crisis is there are a vast number of rentals that are going into foreclosure.

I have heard numbers as high as 50% of the foreclosures in the Chicago area are rentals….

Guess who’s new apartment building fell into the throws of the mortgage crisis?

Yep.  Lucky ol’ me.

Great timing too.  What with the just beginning my career phase of my life.  And adjusting to full-time work thing.  And the whole seriously hating commuting thing.  Yeah.  Just throw in a little last minute move.  I don’t mind.  Seriously.


Thankfully I wasn’t immediately thrown onto the streets, which I have heard is the problem in some areas.  But still, I was delivered a 30-day notice to vacate thing or told that my apartment’s rent will be raised by $400 a month starting on March 1st.


And I’m pretty sure I could fight this.  With oodles of money and an attorney.  But is this apartment worth fighting for?

Hell no.

So when it comes to Leah the Librarian vs the mortgage crisis, what is my tactic you might ask?

Find a way cuter apartment that has financially secure ownership, long term tenants, built-in bookshelves, and a fenced in back yard.

Now I just have ridiculous amounts of packing to do.

Have a lovely week fair readers!  And check up on your landlords finances before signing leases!!

Space is the Place

Hello fair readers,

As you may have noticed my blogging has trailed off a bit. Apologies abound.

The job search is certainly taking a toll, not only on my time but also a wee bit of my sanity.

Don’t worry. We’ll get through this.

In the meantime, I would love to share this video, created by library students, about library as place.

It’s clever. It’s well made. It’s such a damn good point. It centers on the Harold Washington Library.

Plus, they use a really good Aphex Twin song at the end…which makes me oh so happy.

So soon I will be back to my regular opinionated self, blogging probably more than I should. Promise. Until then….voila